9 BEST Side Hustles for Felons (That Don’t Discriminate)

Struggling to find work after serving time?

Side hustles provide a painless path to income for felons.

Beat the challenges of stigma and background checks.

Side Hustles for Felons
Side Hustles for Felons

Discover smart, legal side gigs to get your finances and future back on track.

This guide examines the top side hustle options to restore stability and opportunity.

Challenges Felons Face Finding Work

Felons looking for work after release face considerable challenges:

  • Many employers require background checks and dismiss applications from felons
  • Gaps in work history due to incarceration raise questions for employers
  • Lack of education, experience, and references common among felons
  • Some professional licenses and certifications are denied for those with criminal records
  • Society often rejects and stigmatizes people with felony convictions
  • Parole conditions may restrict the type and location of work allowed
  • Depression and loss of confidence after long-term unemployment

Starting a side business allows felons to overcome these obstacles and prove themselves until they can find full-time work.

Benefits of a Side Hustle for Felons

Starting a side hustle provides many benefits for felons struggling to find employment:

  • Earn extra income to pay bills and meet financial needs
  • Gain skills, experience, and references to improve future job prospects
  • Create a flexible schedule that allows time for job searching and interviews
  • Tap into talent and passions through entrepreneurship
  • Boost self-esteem by being productive and successful
  • Demonstrate reformed character to prospective employers

9 Best Side Hustles for Felons

Here are 9 smart side hustle options for felons trying to earn an extra-legal income:

1. Freelance Writing

Felons can start freelance writing businesses from home, at their own pace, with minimal start-up costs.

Freelance Writing
Freelance Writing

Writing skills are needed, but no specific education or experience is required.

Many freelance websites connect writers with clients needing content for websites, marketing materials, newsletters, and more.

ProConGetting StartedEarning Potential
Flexible scheduleInconsistent workSet up accounts on freelance sites like Upwork$10-$50 per hour based on experience

Pay averages $10-$50 per hour depending on ability and client budgets.

Writing side hustles teach communication skills that boost future job prospects.

2. Virtual Assistance

As virtual assistants, felons provide administrative, social media, scheduling, data entry, and other assistance to clients remotely.

Virtual Assistance
Virtual Assistance

Minimal experience is required, just strong organization, communication, and computer skills.

The average pay is $15-$25 per hour for part-time work.

ProConGetting StartedEarning Potential
Work from homeCan be isolatingGet training, build a website, and reach out to businesses$15-$50 per hour based on services offered

Build a client base through online job boards and social media ads.

Virtual assisting allows for creating a flexible schedule while demonstrating reliability.

3. Affiliate Marketing

In affiliate marketing, felons earn commissions promoting other companies products and services on a website or social media.

Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate Marketing

No inventory or overhead is required, just an online presence and marketing skills.

Research affiliate programs to join, then build traffic to your site through search engine optimization and social media.

ProConGetting StartedEarning Potential
Passive income opportunitiesDelayed rewardsBuild a website/blog, apply for affiliate programsCommissions vary based on niche, 2-20% per sale typical

Affiliate marketing teaches digital skills employers need while allowing a location-independent income.

4. Selling on Etsy

Creative felons can sell handmade crafts, jewelry, clothing, artwork, and other items through the popular Etsy marketplace.

Selling Handcrafted Items on Etsy
Selling on Etsy

Use skills like sewing, woodwork, painting, or technology to make unique creations.

Set up an Etsy shop and use social media for marketing.

ProConGetting StartedEarning Potential
Creative outletTime spent creating productsSet up an Etsy shop, create product listingsIncome varies greatly, with $10-$30 per item typical

Income potential is unlimited based on product appeal, marketing abilities, and order volume.

An Etsy shop demonstrates entrepreneurship even before securing full-time employment.

5. Consulting

Leverage professional knowledge and industry connections through consulting.


Former bankers could advise small businesses on financing.

Those with construction experience may consult on building projects.

ProConGetting StartedEarning Potential
Share your expertiseIrregular incomeCreate marketing materials, reach out to businesses$50-$200 per hour based on niche

Marketing executives can offer strategies to startups.

Consultants set their rates and hours to suit their schedules.

Consulting shows leadership abilities that make felons more appealing job candidates.

6. Ridesharing

Rideshare driving for Uber or Lyft provides flexible income between jobs.


Some parole boards restrict this, but where allowed it offers independence and cash flow.

Use an eligible vehicle to give rides when convenient through a rideshare app.

ProConGetting StartedEarning Potential
Flexible scheduleWear and tear on personal vehicleApply to drive for Uber/Lyft$8-$20 per hour on average

The average pay is $15-$25 per hour after gas expenses.

Demonstrate responsibility by maintaining high ratings to impress future employers.

7. Pet Sitting/Dog Walking

Animal lovers can earn $10-$20 per 30-minute visit caring for pets while owners are away.

Create a Dog-Walking or Pet-Sitting Profile
Pet Sitting/Dog Walking

Market services through neighborhood flyers, social media, and pet-sitting websites.

Set appointments based on availability. Consider housesitting as well.

ProConGetting StartedEarning Potential
Flexible scheduleRequires physical laborReach out locally via Rover or Wag$10-$20 per 30-minute walk/visit

Bonding with clients’ pets shows compassion and people skills.

8. Multi-Level Marketing

Direct sales companies allow making extra money through multi-level marketing programs.

Multi-Level Marketing
Multi-Level Marketing

Sell wellness, beauty, nutrition, and other products to friends and family.

Recruit others to your team to increase income potential.

ProConGetting StartedEarning Potential
Residual income potentialOften pyramid schemesJoin an established MLM companyMost earn little, top performers can earn 6+ figures

Low startup costs but requires sales skills and perseverance.

Provides experience in team building, marketing, and public speaking.

9. Online Surveys

In their spare time, felons can complete online surveys for cash rewards and gift cards.

Online Surveys
Online Surveys

Find survey opportunities through survey aggregator sites like Swagbucks and Survey Junkie.

The average pay is $1-$5 per 20-minute survey.

ProConGetting StartedEarning Potential
Very flexibleExtremely low paySign up on survey sitesTypically $1-$5 per survey, with bonuses available

Offers flexible earning from home while developing market research skills.

Demonstrates tech abilities and consistency.

Wrapping Up

Side hustles present needed income opportunities for felons during the post-incarceration period.

More importantly, they provide transferrable skills, experience, and references that improve future employment prospects.

Felons willing to think creatively and work diligently at a side business can prove their value while boosting income until the right career opportunity comes along.

FAQs: Side Hustles for Felons

What Are the Best Side Hustles for Felons With No Experience?

Look into freelance writing, virtual assistance, affiliate marketing, online surveys, and multi-level marketing which require minimal experience and allow creating your schedule.

How Can I Make Sure Potential Clients Don’t Discriminate Against Me as a Felon?

Operate your side hustle anonymously online, or be upfront about your past and emphasize how you’ve changed and the value you provide. Focus on quality work and client satisfaction.

What Paperwork/Licensing Is Required for Felons to Operate a Side Business?

Most side hustles require only basic business licensing like occupational/sales permits. However, businesses involving transportation, financial services, or children may require additional clearance.

How Much Can I Earn From a Side Hustle as a Felon?

The income potential varies widely but expects $10-$30 per hour to start. With hard work and smart strategies, you can scale lucrative side hustles to eventually equal or exceed a full-time income over time.

Should I Avoid Side Hustles That Require Interacting Inside People’s Homes?

It depends on your parole terms, but avoid in-home gigs if possible to minimize discrimination risks. Many quality side hustles can be done remotely online.

I'm Rahul, a money-making expert who helps others make money online through survey sites, side hustles, the gig economy, and more. On Moneyfreed, I share actionable tips and tricks to help you create a flexible and profitable online income stream.

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