Side hustles are all the rage these days. People are looking to earn more money without having to work a traditional job role for “the man”, so to speak. But does side hustling really work? Or a better question might be why does side hustling work for some people rather than others?
Ever since I started staying home with the kids, I’ve been looking for side hustles to help supplement our income. Most have failed. One has succeeded.
We All Have Side Hustle Potential
There are many reasons you might want side hustle money. Maybe you want to pay off debt. Or save to buy a house with cash. Or save for a trip to Europe. Or save to pay for college. Whatever your reason is for wanting to pick up a side hustle, you’ve got to make sure you do it right.
I’ve done side hustles in many genres. I’ve sold makeup and skin care. I’ve sold specialty foods. I’ve worked part-time jobs. I’ve tried dozens of different types of side hustles. Each time I’ve had some success, but all of the side hustles and businesses ended up failing.
Pat Flynn is THE go-to guy on earning passive income. Will It Fly? How to Test Your Next Business Idea So You Don’t Waste Your Time and Money
Until 2013. I started my blog in January of 2013 and within six months I was getting job offers to freelance. A couple of years after that I decided to start monetizing the blog itself. The first year of side hustling through blogging I made $4,000. The second year I made $8,000. The last two years I’ve made $15,000. This year I’m on track to exceed that number.
But making side hustle money isn’t just for freelance writers and bloggers. There are reasons why my blogging side hustle was the one that worked for me when all others failed. And in order to help you avoid the tried-and-failed path to the right side hustle, I’m going to share how YOU can find the right side hustle for YOU – one that will earn you serious money. Here’s how it’s done.
Make 3 Lists
Before you decide what your side hustle(s) will be, I want you to make three lists:
- A list of what you can do
- A list of what you like to do
- A list of what you’re good at doing
Know that you may or may not find the same things on all three lists. The goal of the three lists is to give you potential ideas for side hustles. My lists would look sort of like this:
What I can do
Host Social Gatherings
Function in an assistant role
What I like to do
Function in an assistant role
What I’m good at doing
Narrow Down Your Lists
You might notice that not all the things I can do are things that I like to do or am good at doing. This is important to address as you’re making your lists. I’ll share why that is in a bit. You might also notice that my lists get smaller as they go.
The reason for this is because I’m trying to narrow down what talents I have that I can turn into jobs that I would be happy making money at – and jobs that I am good at. I do this by both gauging my interest level in each thing I’m good at and by gauging how well my personality is suited for each skill.
For instance, I like editing and proofreading, but I’m not especially good at it. I’m not exceptionally detail-oriented and I’m a person who likes to get tasks done quickly. Also, I’m not professionally trained in grammar. I never went to college, but instead have been practicing “learn as you go” grammar skills.
For this reason, editing didn’t make my final list. A good editor is super detail-oriented and has a thorough knowledge of grammar rules. That ain’t me. 😉 I’m working on it, but I’m not there yet and if I chose editing as a side hustle I’d likely leave myself and my clients frustrated.
Determine How You Can Make Money from Your Final List
List number three will be your final list: things you know how to do, are good at and like to do. Now it’s time to figure out which of the things on list 3 you can feasibly make money at. Let’s take my list as an example:
Okay, there are a few different ways I might be able to make money with my cooking skills. I could:
- Write a cookbook
- Teach cooking classes
- Do one-on-one cooking coaching
- Start a cooking blog
Next, I need to decide if any of these are valid ways I could and would want to make money. I’ll dissect them one-by-one.
Write a Cookbook
This could work. I love to cook, I’m good at it and writing is also on my final list. But there’s a problem. I’m a bit of a fly-by cook. I don’t often measure ingredients and many of my fan favorite meals I don’t have finite recipes for. I’m a “little of this, little of that” cook. This wouldn’t bode well for a cookbook.
Also, since I’m not detail-oriented or super patient, I’m not sure I’d have the where-with-all to follow through on completing a cookbook.
Teach Cooking Classes
This could work too. I love to cook, and “teach” is also on my final list. However I do better when I work alone or in smaller groups. Plus there are food safety rules that must be adhered to when cooking in a classroom setting, along with food allergen issues. Much too detailed for me. I’m out.
Do One-on-One Cooking Coaching
This could work. I love to cook and to teach, and it’d be a small crowd so I wouldn’t be annoyed by having to facilitate a large group of people. However, I would likely be coaching during daytime hours (when I need to be home schooling our kids) or evening hours (when I want to be with Rick). Not for me.
Start a Cooking Blog
Again, this could work. I love to cook and I love to write. And on a blog I could probably get away with my “pinches” and “dashes”. I could write on the blog in the early morning hours when I work best (and when the kids are asleep), and it wouldn’t have to interfere with my family/friend schedule. I’ll keep this on the list for sure.
The goal is to keep narrowing down your list until you find a side hustle (or two or three) that fits in with your schedule, your peak working hours, your interests and your lifestyle.
As an example, our oldest daughter loves comic art and animation. At 17, she’s already making money on art side hustles. Here’s how.
- She has a DeviantArt account where she sells commissions and originals. She’s also working on a plan to expand to EBay and Etsy.
- She has a Redbubble account where she makes designs for t-shirts and other items. When one sells, Redbubble gives her a commission
Because Madelyn works best during late night hours, she usually heads up to her room after dinner and either watches tutorials on how to become a better artist, or practices her drawing. Madelyn is doing what she loves to do and making money at it too. Her end goal, though, is to get a job working in the comic or animation industry.
Maybe you’ve determined from your lists that business ownership isn’t for you. You might be better suited to clean office buildings at night, to tutor kids at a local tutoring center or to deliver pizzas in your spare time.
Great book on side hustles: Hustle Away Debt: Eliminate Your Debt by Making More Money
There’s no wrong answer. It’s about doing something you can stomach doing and doing well in order to accelerate achievement of your monetary goals.
Pound the Pavement
Once you’ve found the side hustle(s) that will work best for you, it’s time to start pounding the pavement and getting your name out there. If your side hustle is blogging, you’re going to have to start a blog and start networking to get your blog name out there. You’re going to have to write quality articles on a consistent basis and read articles that will show you how to produce a quality blog that people keep coming back to see.
If your side hustle is going to be a lawn mowing biz, you’re going to have to acquire the equipment you need to mow lawns. You’re going to have to create flyers that you can put in mailboxes and post on local business billboards.
If you want to have deliver pizzas as a side hustle, you’ll have to start putting in job applications at local pizza shops.
If your side hustle is selling a handmade item or printable on Etsy, you’re going to have to start creating what you want to sell, and making your Etsy account visible through social media channels, etc.
This is likely the toughest part of side hustling. The work won’t just come to you, whatever your side hustle is. You’ve got to get out there, make your services known and possibly take lower than expected pay in order to get clients to give you an opportunity to prove yourself.
But the good news is that if you offer a needed service, continuously produce quality work and run your business with professionalism, your client base will grow. Don’t expect growth to happen overnight. It will likely take time. But if you’re giving the people something they want and need and doing it exceptionally, your side hustle will eventually take off.
YOUR Side Hustle
The number of side hustle ideas available for people to consider is endless. Take the time to make your lists, narrow those lists down to ideas that fit your time, your personality, your work schedule and the other factors in your life, and you’ll find the money will start coming in and you’ll be reaching your financial goals faster than you think.
Having a side hustle is a great way to pay off debt. It’s usually extra money that can go 100% to debt repayment (which strangely makes it feel less difficult than budgeting). Side hustles are typically flexible which can be great when you’re doing it on top of your regular job.
PS. I’m super impressed your daughter is making a bit of money on the side with her art. My daughters still just little but in the future I really want to share with them this online world of side hustles/blogging etc. This wasn’t really an option when I was young. To make extra money you had to get a part time job.
I agree, Owen!! Since I’ve found the world of side hustling I’m working really hard to get our four kids on board. I love the control it offers!
This is a great guide, Laurie. My wife & I went through these similar steps a couple years ago and still do it occasionally as we try to have a diverse set of income streams.
They do take a little effort to get started. But, are worth it for accomplishing short or long-term goals.
That’s great, Josh!! Glad you guys still use the steps to help keep yourselves open to potential side hustles. It’s a great way to work!
This is a great way of honing in on a side hustle that fits you perfectly. The choices are endless but if you align your talents, with what you enjoy, what fits your schedule, etc., you’re more likely to succeed.
Just throwing this out there – could you do a cooking workshop at night for people who work during the day? Maybe focus on easy ways to make home cooked meals on a 9 to 5 schedule? Like how to prep and cook for a week’s worth of meals, freezer meals, etc.
Great idea, my friend! I could, but then I’d be gone at night and I’m not interested in that at this point. Blogging has been great because it allows me to work when I’m at my best – in the early morning hours. By 7 or so, I’m on the couch and not getting up. 🙂
Awesome post! I think everyone should have a side hustle and diversify their income streams. I only wish I was more pro-active when I was younger and had more free time. I spent way too much time watching television and surfing the web. Now with 2 little ones, free time is lacking but I can still probably find more time for it if I really focus. I know you’ve mentioned it before but I’d love to read a more detailed post about making money blogging!
I’ve got one here!! Two actually! https://www.thefrugalfarmer.net/4-ways-make-money-blogging/ and https://www.thefrugalfarmer.net/how-to-start-a-blog/ near the bottom of this post. Read up and let me know if you have any other questions, Andrew!
I’ve had many side-hustles over my years as a stay-at-home mom. Some involved something I loved, but when it became something I had to do, it stole the joy I previously had. Blogging works for me because I enjoy it and I love the connections. Though I’m not making much money yet, I consider the first couple of years an investment.
As a side note, I think you and I would get along great in the kitchen, Laurie. I rarely use a recipe. A dash of this, a pinch of that. That’s how I roll! 🙂
LOL, I love it! Another experimental, never-go-by-the-rules cook! I’ll have to visit IA some day so we can try out our theory! 🙂
This is a great process! I have my blog and my freelance writing, which brings in a little bit of income here and there. I tend to use the income for non-needs, but I should start applying it to savings and debt.
You should!! I’ll bet you’d reach your goals in no time!
Awesome overview Laurie! You can side hustle for some many reasons, paying off debt, savings for a vacation, not happy at your 9 to 5, extra income, etc. Diversifying your income and building additional or improving skills is an important thing to do in today’s job market.
I agree, Brian. After losing Rick’s income due to a job layoff, we’ll never be without multiple streams of income again.
Side hustles can sometimes turn into huge career opportunities too. They can lead to new positions with other companies – or the hustle can grow into a big business of its own. My fist side hustle (back in the 90s) ran evenings and nights for almost five years then reached a point that it paid me more than the work I was doing. Over time we employed dozens of full-time staff and we able to positively impact a lot of people. It was a huge blessing – to us and others.
That is an awesome story, Brad!! It’s true: sometimes side hustles can turn into legit multi-employee businesses. I know a few people that has happened to!
Great tips. I recently started blogging after being a sahm for the past 6 years. Previously in marketing, I have decided to go back to my roots. So many new trends and ideas out there. Lots to catch up on but looking forward to the challenge!
Good for you!! I hope it’s a fun and lucrative adventure for you! Thanks for stopping by – we appreciate it!
Great article, love the list idea. We just started our blog a few months ago because we both enjoy writing and talked about personal finance pretty much every day anyway, so it made since. We will have to learn the montization part like you encouraged above.
Thanks for sharing !
LOL, might as well create an outlet for your obsessions, right? 🙂 I’m the same way. Very few people IRL can stand listening to me talk about personal finance. It’s so fun to have the blogging world to spit out all of my opinions and to learn from others as well!
I too think the list is a great way to nail down one’s options!
Your history of not-so-successful side-hustle attempts is great to read. It’s refreshing to see that your success now is based on hard work and repeatedly putting yourself out there. I always love these posts and think they’re inspiring even to those who have no inclination to follow the same path.
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