10 Side Business Ideas That Only Work Thanks to Facebook Ads

Are you bored of your day job? If you’re looking for side business ideas, don’t discount the amazing power of Facebook ads!

Facebook is rich with opportunities to get you started, especially if you’re wondering what to sell, and who you could reach.

You can invest your downtime into a side business that thrives off of the specificity of Facebook ad targeting.

We’ll walk you through 10 ideas to show you how your side hustle is nourished by Facebook targeting.

Without it, these side business ideas wouldn’t be viable—let alone flourish—the way they do today.

Let’s dive in.

Whether you like to make crafts, write, design apparel, or are savvy at dropshipping, there is a world of new possibilities for your side hustle.

That’s because there are over a hundred Facebook targeting categories you can work off of to find the right audience, right away.

Just read to believe…

10 Side Business Ideas Made Possible By Facebook

Millions of people all over the world are making money through social media. Some are “influencers” who are paid to advertise a product in their Instagram photos. Others have used social networking to connect with job opportunities that they might never have found otherwise. And as for small businesses? This is where it gets really interesting.

Before Facebook, a small business would have to print flyers and hope that their future customer found it in a magazine or in their mailbox. But with Facebook’s targeted ads, you can find the right audience by using the power of custom audiences.

Let’s discover the 10 side business ideas that showcase the power of targeting on Facebook.

1. Hybrid T-Shirts – Intersecting Interests

Interests > Taco

Interests > College football

T-shirts are a classic DIY item, well known and loved all over the world. That leads to a large market for T-shirts with all kinds of designs. You can stand out from the crowd (and narrow into your select customer base) by selling shirts which combine two different interests into one design: a hybrid T-shirt. Say you want to design a shirt that speaks to football fans…who love tacos. Intersecting those interests in Facebook means selecting users that match all of these interests.

Hit fans of both football and tacos. As they’re scrolling through Facebook, they’ll stumble upon your shirt and think: “that’s so me.”

Why this only works with Facebook ads

What other avenues allow you to specifically cater to someone who likes both the football and tacos? If you were to open up a shirt shop, either on a busy street or online, you may be able to find people of 1 interest, but the smaller sub-section within that group that’s interested in thing 2 is much harder.

Before you go forth and post your ad, get a sense of how big your audience is for intersecting interests by going into Facebook Ads Manager.

Compare the numbers for users who have both interests (“and”), versus any of them (“or”). If the number on the right is too small (and CPC too expensive), then you might want to reassess which interests your shirt is representing.

2. Expat Apparel – Expat by Country

Behavior > Expats

If you love international travel and culture, and have a penchant for the expat experience, then you can make some money off of expats on Facebook.

You can target specific expat groups by their country of origin and residence, then sell them clothing that speaks to their specific cultural experiences.

Below is an example of American Expat Apparel’s logo, a modified American flag.

Source: American Expat Apparel

There are a multitude of international experiences that are waiting to be proudly represented, and aren’t in the apparel that’s out there.

Why this only works with Facebook ads

Expats are by definition living away from their place of origin. Facebook lets you easily market to both sides of that international experience, without having to spend time digging into expats within India who are, say, specifically from Canada. Facebook targeting gives you the flexibility to market your wares to the expat experience that you know best, right away.

Once you’ve identified your expat community, you can also target family members of expats who might be really invested in sending over a shirt or a scarf to their loved one abroad.

3. Art Inspired by Where You Grew Up – Hometowns

Away From Hometown > New York City

Facebook events and event ads all spur people to be in the moment, wherever they are currently located.

Geolocation ads make what you’re selling about where people currently are, but targeting where people are from is an opportunity to cater to people’s nostalgia for home.

A great way to do this is to make (or dropship!) hometown-themed art, like framed vintage maps, landscape paintings, or photography.

Source: Pinterest

You’ll find your audience by using the “Away from Hometown” target option, and filter by the place that your art is representing.

Why this only works with Facebook ads

The primary contexts for selling hometown-specific art are at a tourist stand or local art stores. Without any of the brick-and-mortar costs, you can sell exclusively to a niche audience of people who miss home, as opposed to tourists who are just passing through. Your niche is especially impressionable, as on Facebook they’re already scrolling through their feed, likely seeing photos of friends and family from back home.

When it comes to showing art in ads, make sure to choose a piece with strategic colors in order to catch your customer’s eye amidst their feed. A color like red, for example, will stand out well.

4. Timely Travel Guides – Currently Traveling

Currently Traveling > Portland

Most people who organize their own travel have a lot of details to keep in check. Lodgings, food, attractions, transport—the list goes on. Things are sometimes unpredictable on the road, and that’s when travelers need the most support. You can swoop in to save the day with well-timed e-travel guides. Your target audience would be people who are “currently traveling” and in need of advice about, say, places to eat in Portland, Oregon. If you’re an expert in local cuisine, you can schedule an ad to go on at noon PST.

Source: Landing Standing

The beauty of the side business is that you can play to your strengths and hobbies, so if you love writing, then this ad would be a great opportunity to link to your food blog. Maybe you love designing infographics and maps—then you can give your travelers a handy PDF of one that they can download on mobile.

Why this only works with Facebook ads

Travelers usually buy travel guides, or do their research before they travel. For people who check their Facebook on the road and in the country where they’re staying (if that country allows Facebook), official travel guides aren’t as handy as mobile PDFs or articles for local, up-to-date, immediate information.

More and more people use their phones as a way to navigate and make travel decisions on the fly, so having a stronghold on Facebook is a great way to make a side business out of people’s existing travel behavior. When choosing your ad placement, be sure to keep in mind that mobile users have a different reading pattern than desktop users, and their attention span is shorter. To combat these differences, make your copy snappy and use more visuals.

5. Career Pride Gear – Job Titles

Job Titles > Doula

When you look up “career pride gear” in Google, you get online stores that try and stock clothes for every kind of job imaginable. As you can see, there’s a lot to cover:

Source: RedBubble

With the Facebook target option of “Job Title,” you can sell gear about whatever career you want—and be dead-on in advertising to people in that very career. You can dropship shirts to product managers and sales assistants and doulas, without having to stock up on shirts about every other profession imaginable.

Source: Pinterest

Why this only works with Facebook ads

Your buyer persona is someone with a particular career. In a brick-and-mortar or online store, it’s hard to reach the full potential breadth of your buyer persona—people may not even think to celebrate their career until they see something on Facebook just for them. Stocking a store based on that strategy would be hit-or-miss, whereas with “Job Title” targeting, it’s always a hit.

When it comes to career pride items, you’ll hit the right design note with something humorous and catchy, often something that is a cultural reference. Look on sites like Etsy and BustedTees for in-the-moment ideas.

6. Pre-Anniversary Prep – Anniversary Within 30 Days

Demographics > Anniversary Within 30 Days

You can build your side hustle helping anniversary planners get what they need for the big day. It’s simple if you focus on one aspect of the planning, like flowers, catering or stationery—and let Facebook’s anniversary targeting take care of the rest. With the “Anniversary within 30 days” option, you can focus your services on people who definitely 1) have an anniversary coming up and 2) would need your service, urgently!

Source: The Flower Expert

Why this only works with Facebook ads

When you offer planning services off-line—say, at a flower shop or a catering service—you get a lot of different people coming through, only a portion of whom are looking to celebrate their anniversary. With Facebook, you can systematically narrow down your clientele to just the people who have an anniversary coming up, and within a specific time period.

Anniversaries are quite reminiscent of weddings, of course—so the aesthetic of your ad matters. It’ll help to keep your overall image pastel, with cool tones that are remarkably popular with sites like Pinterest (often used to plan events). That way, your ad will not only answer a functional planning problem—it’ll also get your customers excited about the look and feel of the celebration.

7. University Swag – Education

Education > Undergrad Years

You don’t need an official on-campus store to sell apparel and trinkets that harken to ye olde college years. University swag—sweatshirts, mugs, keychains, etc—is most likely to resonate with someone who’s thinking fondly of their college years. They say that in college, you make friends for life—and it’s a good bet that those friends are on the Facebook feed. That’s why Facebook is the perfect platform for a side business that deals in alumni nostalgia.

Recent grads (whose feed is likely still full of college scenes from current students) and older alums (those faithful to college reunions) are most likely to want to get their [Insert College Name] [Class of XYZ] swag on. You can target those specific classes on Facebook with “Undergraduate Years.”

Source: Pinterest

Why this only works with Facebook ads

University merch is a great dropshipping opportunity because it allows you to sell only what customers specifically ask for. If someone wants to buy a mug that declares they were a member of the Class of 1987, you can get that very mug to that alum without having to stock mugs of every class year. Facebook targeting also gives you the option of selling only to a particular graduating class, which no on-campus store can filter its customers for.

Recent college grads in particular are good targets for ads that are time-specific, according to research about Facebook habits. A lot of these grads are transitioning into jobs, new apartments, and don’t have time until the very end of the day (late evening to night) to scroll through their feed. That’ll be when most of their friends are on, too, leading to a positive feedback of college nostalgia.

8. Birthday Cards – Birthdays

Demographics > Upcoming Birthday

Everyone’s got a birthday, and there’s a size-able chunk of Facebook users who love celebrating it in their feed. Facebook has built-in reminders for upcoming friend’s birthdays. It’s a good bet that some people in the birthday person’s orbit will at least want to get a birthday card. With Facebook “Upcoming Birthday” targeting, those friends won’t even have to leave their Newsfeed to find a cool and quirky card.

Source: Design Taxi

You can sell your card—whether they’re handmade or dropshipped—at exactly the time that Facebook users need to buy them. There’s a lot of variety in the kinds of cards that people like to give and get, so it’s also a good idea to intersect the birthday audience with a more specific interest or demographic.

Why this only works with Facebook ads

Facebook is functionally a massive birthday database, unrivaled in any capacity other than, say, official government databases (not that anyone has access to those). Facebook targeting for birthdays gets you to do fine-grain advertising to those just on the cusp of a birthday, and more importantly, to their surrounding friends.

Unless a drugstore has a strong grasp of neighborhood friend groups, it’s hard to get the word out about the right cards to the right social groups. Facebook is the perfect place to do just that. That said, a drugstore’s advantage is that they’re convenient and there’s no shipping cost. Consider ways to advertise cards in bulk to reduce shipping costs. Perhaps include a variety of designs, and make it obvious that many friends all have upcoming birthdays.

9. Niche product – Related Interests

Interests > Hip-hop production

If you want to build a side business on a single niche product, you probably know the world of that product pretty well. Facebook interest targeting gets you to the heart of your customer base in one fell swoop, so you won’t have to dig around specific online forums for the real potential fans of your product.

Travis Brady, an Alaskan hip-hop producer and entrepreneur, cites Facebook advertising as a source of early success with his business the Drum Broker, the #1 source of hip-hop drum samples on the web. Facebook helped Travis cull a large group of aspiring and professional hip-hop producers.

Source: The Drum Broker

Drum beats are the backbone of hip-hop, so it made sense to advertise the Drum Broker not simply to those who love samples, but to the people would be interested in using them in their own musical endeavors. Facebook marketing allows you to branch out your audience to people whose interests intersect with your product from different angles.

Why this only works with Facebook ads

Once you have an idea for a niche product, it’s easy to get tunnel vision about who might buy it. Facebook advertising allows you to sell your product to audiences that are not only themselves niche, but also to audiences with interests that are closely related to the world of your product. Try getting breadth and depth elsewhere on the Internet for a single product—it’s pretty tough without the directness of targeting.

A powerful strategy is to use Google to look for various niches that might be interested in what you’re selling—from associations to websites to smaller magazines—and then use your Facebook ads to target them more closely.

10. Niche E-Book – Demographic

Behaviors > B2B

Behaviors > E-commerce

If you love writing, then e-books might be the right side business medium for you. You can easily self-publish an e-book with free services like Kindle Direct Publishing. But with all the books out there (print and digital!) how do you reach your readers?

Fundamental rules of writing say that you should always know your reader, and that’s true in none other than Facebook targeting. In the example below, Callan Rush targets people within B2B and e-commerce.


Knowing who might be interested in your book is intuitive—you can assess your content and its reach for your reader’s gender, age, occupation, and other aspects of their lived experience.

Why this only works with Facebook ads

Traditional book marketing happens within a publishing house, which has a specific audience attached to it. That audience is still not as specific as what you’re going to get with Facebook targeting. Writing an e-book and spreading the word online is best facilitated by the people who will buy, relate, and talk about your work with their friends.

With a great landing page, promotion, content to support your launch, and Facebook ads, you can make sure your eBook gets in front of as many people as possible.

Simple Ideas Thrive on Specific Targets

Facebook targeting makes it easy to reach the people who would love your product the most (and thus convert the deepest). There’s a world of possibility out there for your side hustle, so what are you waiting for?