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Side hustles are a great way to start a business, while keeping your day job or a smart way to start or test an additional business. One increasingly common side hustle is selling products online. But what’s the best way to do it? Here’s a closer look at the best platforms for starting an e-commerce side hustle.



There are two basic options for selling online if you don’t want to build your own e-commerce site:


  1. Online marketplacesare like digital shopping malls. You rent a “space” in a larger marketplace.
  2. Hosted e-commerce platforms are like freestanding stores with landlords. You customize your online store using their software; they handle the behind-the-scenes stuff like site hosting and software maintenance.


Online marketplaces



Almost half of all U.S. online spending takes place on Amazon, where 83 percent of U.S. consumers have bought something in the past six months. The third-party sellers who account for over 50 percent of Amazon’s total unit sales are benefiting from that exposure.


Amazon’s Individual plans (starting at $0.99/sale) are an affordable way to test the waters but limit the number and type of products you can sell. For unlimited items and product categories, choose a Professional plan (starting at $39.99/month). Simplify your life and use Fulfillment by Amazon to handle packing and shipping for you.



You can sell handmade goods, craft supplies or vintage products (at least 20-years old) on Etsy. The Standard plan is free to join. Just create an Etsy account, select a shop name, create a listing ($0.20 per item, plus fees when it sells), and choose how you want to be paid and pay your fees. Accept payments via credit and debit cards, PayPal, Google Wallet, Apple Pay and more.


Etsy offers tools to promote your products, customize your store and design a website powered by Etsy; it also providesshipping labels and discounts. Upgrade to a Plus plan ($10/month) for additional marketing tools; a Premium plan will launch later this year.



eBay isn’t just an auction site anymore. You can sell both used and new items and choose from auction-style or fixed-price listings. You can start with a Personal account, but for those looking to scale, a Business account offers more functionality. Listing up to 50 items per month is free; you pay $10 of the Final Value after an item sells. eBay provides shipping labels and postage discounts.


For additional selling tools, bigger shipping discounts, and lower Final Value fees, set up an eBay Store. This lets you designa custom homepageand access a wide range oflisting tools to help you manage your business better.


Hosted e-commerce platforms



If you have big plans for your side hustle, BigCommerce could be for you. Big businesses and small startups alike use BigCommerce to create e-commerce sites using responsive design templates with best-in-class SEO built in.


BigCommerce also features built-in selling on Amazon, eBay, Google Shopping, Facebook and Pinterest—with no transaction fees. The Standard plan ($29.99/month) is ideal for startups and offers a free trial.



Basic Shopify ($29/month) is also great for side hustles. Design your e-commerce website and blog using one of Shopify’s theme templates with drag-and-drop ease. You get 24/7 support and can sell via online marketplaces and social media.


Want to start reallysmall? Use Shopify Lite ($9/month) to sell on Facebook and communicate with your customers via Facebook Messenger. Want to do more? Shopify offers tools to help you do everything from choosing your domain name to marketing your business and accepting payments.



Use Volusion’s responsive website themes to create an e-commerce site with features including inventory management, unlimited storage and product listings, and secure checkout and payment collection. It accepts payments via Stripe, PayPal or Apple Pay.


Volusion has built-in SEO tools and a comprehensive management hub that lets you see customer details, create discounts, and enable flat, free or special shipping rates. The personal account ($29/month) has everything you need and offers a free trial.


Take some time to explore all the options. By choosing the solution that best fits your budget, product mix, and target customers, you’ll put your side hustle on the road to success.





About Rieva Lesonsky


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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.


Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.


Web: or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here


Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.


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In the past, employees of large enterprises had careers lasting 20-30 years with the same company that would in return come with a company retirement or pension benefit.Times are different. In the U.S. today, there are 42 million formally identified freelancers which makes up more than 40% of the workforce.


75% of employees employed as freelancers/contractors/gig workers plan to start their own business at some point in the future.


When working as an Independent Contractor/Sole Proprietorship, the key word is flexibility. You can work as a freelancer or even run a physical, on the ground business. Depending on your career/businesses evolution, the lines of personal vs. business transactions/expenses can be blurred. That being said, it is always a good idea to keep at least a separate credit card designated for business expenses so that when the time comes to write off business expenses it isn’t overwhelming. As a sole proprietor, you can even write off a home office as long as certain IRS guidelines are met. Whether the business has achieved sustainability in revenue or the day to day operations have simply become too complex, these are typically good signs to start looking into the type of business to incorporate. Another good reason to consider incorporating is the potential for limited liability.


The difference between someone who is self-employed and a small business owner is that those who are self-employed typically do not have employees and do not hire contractors. Small business owners tend to hire employees and contractors.


There are many factors that come into play when deciding what type of business entity to create. It would be prudent to make this decision while incorporating the contractor’s long term intentions. Factors to consider are the type of professional practice, if you are simply an independent contractor, if you will be creating a product/hiring employees, or if you’re acting as a freelancer providing a service. Once this important decision is defined, the logical next steps would be to solidify routines of how your business will be tracking expenses, type of benefits to offer (retirement/health), how you plan on keeping track of/paying taxes (state/federal/self-employment tax), and to leverage the advice from an attorney/tax advisor.


Simplified steps to consider in creating and operating a small business


1)    Determine, with the assistance of your attorney/tax advisor, an appropriate business type (LLC / S corp / partnership / C corp / single member LLC)

2)    Apply for a Tax ID Number and other Tax Registrations

3)    Register your Business Name

4)    Open a business checking account

5)    Establish a Business Record Keeping System (business credit card etc.)

6)    Determine what type of benefits to offer yourself/employees (retirement/health, etc.)

7)    Decide on what type of business expenses you can deduct (travel expenses/home office, etc.)


Consulting with a Small Business Banker can help you review account types for the business and the different services to consider to run your business.


As pension plans become a thing of the past, there is increased uncertainty surrounding retirement for contractors/small businesses. In addition to the phase out of pensions, many individuals that participate in the gig economy are not offered an employer 401(k) plan either. The end result of this is for the contractor/business owner to determine what type of Small Business Retirement Plan may best suit their needs.


Small Business Retirement Plan offerings


1)    Small Business 401(k)

2)    SEP IRA



Consulting with a Financial Solutions Advisor can help you identify appropriate retirement account types (when the time is right) and considerations in the decision. If working with Bank of America and Merrill Edge, a joint meeting can be set up with both a Small Business Banker and a Financial Solutions Advisor in order to address your needs.




Neither Bank of America, Merrill Lynch nor any of its affiliates or financial advisors provide legal, tax or accounting advice. You should consult your legal and/or tax advisors before making any financial decisions.


The external links provided above will take you to a third party's website that is not sponsored or endorsed by Bank of America Small Business Retirement.




Bank of America and the Bank of America logo are registered trademarks of Bank of America Corporation. Banking products are offered by Bank of America, N.A., Member FDIC and wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation


Bank of America, N.A. provides informational reading materials for your discussion and review purposes only. Please consult your tax advisor, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.



Merrill Edge® is available through Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (MLPF&S) and consists of the Merrill Edge Advisory Center (investment guidance) and self-directed online investing.


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