Starting salaries in Malaysia are falling. According to one report, the average starting pay for fresh graduates have dropped to minimum wage level (that's RM1,100 for the unaware).

In 2021, "salaries are not keeping up with inflation" has become real in every sense of the idea.

With the path to pandemic recovery far from sight, Malaysians are seeing their day job incomes dwindle, or even disappear altogether.

If you're a Malaysian uncertain about your income, you're left with two options:

Downgrade your lifestyle, or... find a way to make up for the lost income with new money making opportunities.

If you don't want to downgrade your lifestyle, or if there's no room to do so, your only option is to create a new income stream with a side hustle.

❓Did you know?

According to a study of 411 participants by The Centre, side hustles have become a primary source of income for 54% of those surveyed.

What's a side hustle?

A side hustle is something you do to make extra money on top what you're doing to get a primary income source. While the typical side hustler is a working adult, anyone can start a side hustle, even students 🧑‍🎓.

Other than being a great way to get a much needed cash injection into your bank account, side hustles can also be a low-risk way to see if a new business idea is worth pursuing full-time.

How to find the right side hustle

Ask yourself these questions

The most important step to finding the right side hustle is to get to know yourself and how ready you are to start a side hustle:

  • What's your end goal? Is your side hustle a stepping stone to a business you see yourself running full-time in the future? Or are you using it to bring in some extra money? If so, how much?
  • How much time can you (realistically) spare? How much time can you commit to your side hustle, given what you have to juggle with right now?
  • What skills do you have? Are they marketable? Do they match with the side hustle you're interested to pursue? If not, are you willing to learn the skills necessary?

Some side hustle ideas

Be a rider or driver in the gig economy

There's a reason why so many Malaysians side hustle as a rider or driver for gig platforms like foodpanda, Grab, and airasia to make extra money: you don't need any special skills.

Plus, it's also pretty flexible and, with the pandemic keeping people indoors, you won't run out of a job.

All you need is good work ethics and a means of transport (a car, motorbike or bicycle).

How much can you make as a rider or driver? Delivery partners typically take in anywhere between RM1,000 - RM3,000 a month. Although, in edge cases, this number can be much higher (like this guy who earned RM18k in 2 months 😱 - unbelievable!).

💡Hustle tip for riders: Make sure to keep yourself safe. Between the risks of contracting COVID-19 and busy roads, delivery can be risky business.

Sell handmade products on Instagram or Etsy

Are you crafty? Take your handmade creations to the next level by setting up your own brand on Instagram or Etsy. Invest in a logo, packaging and learn some basic e-commerce skills to get started selling.

How much can crafters make? If you are committed to your craft and find a loyal following, the sky is the limit. Artists can make upwards of RM10k or more a month from the sales of end products.

💡Hustle tip for crafters: Don't be afraid of going beyond the shores of Malaysia to find a buyer. A lot of non-Malaysians can appreciate a touch of Malaysia in their artwork.

Sell stuff on Shopee

Shopee is the biggest online marketplace in Malaysia right now. If making money is the main goal of your side hustle, set up a shop on Shopee, and start selling anything. Don't have enough capital? Consider drop shipping to make things easier on your pocket.

(By the way, here's a nifty guide to get started selling on Shopee)

How much can sellers make on Shopee? Established sellers on Shopee can make up to 7-figures a month. But, if you're just starting out, a couple of hundreds of RM a month shouldn't be a problem.

💡 Shopee seller tip: Get in on the action by joining Shopee campaigns. These help to give your store much-needed exposure and help improve your store's credibility by gathering real customers reviews.

Make affiliate sales

If you know how to set up a website, and write articles, consider side hustling as an affiliate marketer. Pick products you have an interest in, sign up for their affiliate marketing programs and start promoting.

Don't know how to set up a website or write articles? Go the social media route by setting up niche accounts and promoting your affiliate links there. As long as you have a reasonably large enough reach, you'll make bank with affiliate marketing.

How much can you make through affiliate marketing? You probably won't make much at the beginning if you're starting from scratch, but if you persist, you could easily make at least RM1k from this. Some affiliate marketers from Malaysia make 6-figures a month!

💡Affiliate tip: Start where you are. If you don't have any following yet, start by sharing your affiliate links to your existing network of family and friends.

Sell digital services

If you know how to run ads, write compelling articles, set up a website, or do graphic design, offer your skills as a service. With COVID-19 keeping Malaysians indoors, and businesses left with no choice but to digitise, demand for these skills are at an all-time high.

(On the flip side, if you don't have any of these skills yet, but want to learn, check out my online workshops)

You can offer a service yourself, or adapt a drop service model.

How much can you make selling digital services online? If you're working solo, you could earn up to RM12k a month offering digital services. Hire a few VAs, and you might be able to expand your business further. 

💡Hustle tip for digital service providers: Package your services fairly, take care of your customers well and go in with a mindset for the long-term business.

Pursue your passion

Starting a business? Now? While businesses are shutting down?!

Yes.

If you've had an idea brewing for a while now, consider bringing it to life, especially if you have some extra time on hand. If it solves a real problem, people will pay for it.

How much can you make running a business? NGL - you might lose money. Just make sure to bring out the calculator and invest only what you can afford to lose.

💡Hustle tip for entrepreneurs-to-be: Get rid of imposter syndrome and get comfortable with being a jack of all trades to get your business up and running. Balance your risks, and don't over-leverage yourself 🙂

Don't limit yourself - here are more ideas

Here are some cool resources to find more side hustle ideas:

Conclusion

For a good portion Malaysians, starting a side hustle isn't a nice-to-have anymore. It's a real way to supplement an ever decreasing income streams.

The good news is, even with the pandemic roaring, there are still many ways for Malaysians to start and make extra money from a side hustle.

What side hustles are you working on right now? Share them in the comments below!

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About the author 

Lu Wee Tang

Lu Wee is the founder and writer of Entrepreneur Campfire. She started her journey in e-commerce and SEO after leaving her engineering career behind. Now, she consults small and medium businesses in Malaysia and Singapore on how to digitise and grow their business.

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