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Making the Most Out of Your Side Hustle

2 August 2020

Author: Lote Larmane

These days everyone seems to be side hustling. And who can blame them? With modern technological advances and the ubiquity of internet, the World has literally become our playground, allowing us to find side gigs both near us and across the oceans. What’s even better is that the barrier to entry is fairly low and almost everyone – high and low skilled alike – can find something to boost their income, improve their skills, and build new and valuable networks. Don’t believe me? Surveys show that 45% of all working Americans and 40% of British workers have a gig outside of their primary job. Having a side job is no longer an anomaly, but a norm in many countries across the globe.

I myself have had my share of experience with side gigs – from an online apparel store I run to infographics I make for different projects.  So take this article as a brief 101 on side gigs coming from a semi-professional side hustler.

Why do people get side gigs?

Economic necessity is usually the primary motivator. Studies seem to corroborate this assumption, as the extra income people make primarily goes towards supplementing disposable income, covering living expenses, or building savings. Circumstances differ, but supplementing your monthly paycheck by 10-20% is a good call and will go a long way towards improving your financial security.

Side jobs can also help you improve a skill through practice. Whether you are a recent graduate who wants to apply her creative writing skills or an experienced software developer eager to refresh a neglected programming language, the global side gig market can offer you an endless sea of opportunities. The great thing about this is that the skills you develop or improve while side hustling can help you land a better full-time job in the future or help you develop the necessary skills to start a new business of your own. More often than not a side gig may even boost your career prospects at your current job. Given that your primary job performance is not affected and you are not in breach of any job-contract terms, an employer will appreciate your ability to manage time and set priorities, as well as the new professional skills developed along the way.

Finally, as is the case for me, your side job can be a hobby. Doing something you are passionate about can also benefit or be of interest to others. Do you like making art? There is always someone looking for a graphic designer or just a regular artist. Even if you don’t like taking orders from others, make your own artwork and sell it on Etsy. Do you love animals? You better believe there are people looking for someone to walk their dogs. Want to explore the world and learn about new cultures during the pandemic? If you are reading this article, chances are your English is good enough to teach English online to someone on the other side of the world. The point here is that every one of us is different – some may enjoy tinkering with numbers or code, others like writing, drawing, or improving photos. What unites us, however, is that these days almost everyone can find a side job that not only supplements your bank account but also nourishes your soul.

4 tips for a better side hustle

Now I don’t claim to be an expert in the realm of side hustling, but here are some things that could come in handy for anyone considering starting down this path. They have definitely helped me.

1) Think it over. I know – a side hustle is not a contract job. It doesn’t carry the same commitments and obligations. It is more flexible and often times less demanding. So why not just jump right in? Thorough consideration and proper planning is at the core of every successful venture. Without a clear understanding of (1) your motivation, (2) the skills you can offer, (3) the time and resources you can devote, (4) the level of your commitment and ambitions, and (5) the things you want to get out of your side job, any efforts at a successful side gig may fall short. Conversely, having these things figured out will set you up for success.

2) Do your research. Once you have a vision and a clear understanding of your capabilities, motivation, and resources, do the necessary research! This includes such basic things as understanding the supply and demand aspects for the service/product you want to offer, finding out what competition there is locally, nationally, or globally, setting a potential pricing range for your service etc. Doing proper market research is especially important if you want to sell a specific product that requires start up costs. Before making/producing anything, make sure that you know what exactly consumers want, what the current market provides insufficiently, and most importantly – how to develop and market your product so that it reaches as many potential customers as possible. 

Probably the most important thing to have sorted out is the fiscal side of the equation. I know – taxes and side HUSTLING seem like irreconcilable concepts. Still giving the government its dues will benefit both you and the society in general. Just be aware that it could take some time figuring out which tax regime applies to you and how exactly you go about paying them (per product or once a year for example).

3) Remember to keep balance. If you are already struggling to maintain balance between work, family, friends, and hobbies, chances are getting a side hustle will reduce your quality of life more than any additional money will improve it. Lack of balance in and of itself does not doom your side gig intentions, but it means that you have to make time for additional work and balance it with other commitments whose share of time may be reduced. If balance is already a problem, I suggest getting everything in order before starting a side hustle.

Once you have things sorted out, do not forget to plan and schedule. Consider how much time you want to devote to your side job, create a schedule that includes all the aspects of your life that you want to foster, and most importantly – stick to that schedule! In addition, setting goals for your side gig (and other commitments) will help you to manage your work and time better. Remember – side gigs are work! And since we humans tend to skew our time in favor of work even in regular conditions, setting goals and putting aside time for self-care, family, or hobbies is essential to maintain your sanity.

4) Be ready to weather difficulties. Starting a side business or working additional hours every week will not be easy. If you start a new business you have to be prepared to be in it for the long haul as the fruits of your work and investment may only appear in a year or two. Even if you offer a service, the initial phases may be more exacting and less rewarding as you are still finding your niche, attracting interested customers, or setting the right rate for your service. In any case, it may take a lot of time before everything really takes off.

Furthermore, even if you do find balance, your side hustle will still probably take anywhere from a few of hours to full days which could have been spent with friends or family. This is why you should consider doing something that you are passionate about as it will be less strenuous on your mental well-being.

Finally, keep your day job instead of taking a leap of faith right of the bat. In fact, to avoid breaching contractual obligations, don’t work on your side projects while at your regular job. This doesn’t mean that the skills you acquire at your side job or the skills you develop at your regular job cannot reinforce one another. It’s just that you should not jeopardize your position at your regular job to pursue additional profit.

This is, of course, not to say that you shouldn’t seek to make your side hustle into your full time job. But before diving in make sure that:

  • you are passionate about what you do and want to pursue it full time;
  • you have set SMART goals and concrete milestones for growth;
  • you have a sustainable flow of customers who provide reliable feedback;
  • the income from your side gig is at least 50% of what you make at your regular job;
  • your hourly income is the same or higher as it is at your regular job;
  • you have enough money saved up to last you through a couple of rough months.

If you have all of these things covered, there is a good chance that you are ready to take the first steps towards turning your side job into something bigger. Who knows? It may even be the birth of a new and promising entrepreneur.

Now all of this may seem like quite a lot for something that is only meant to bring in some extra income on the side. Still, regardless of your line of work and ambitions, it is important to understand what you are getting yourself into. It is not uncommon for people who start side hustling to ditch their efforts and return to their regular day jobs either because the whole venture did not pay off, they felt burned out, or they never had the commitment.

While this article may have drawn a more complex picture than normally imagined, it will hopefully help you make the most out of your side hustle in a sustainable way. I’m all for earning some extra money on the side, but thorough research, preparation and motivation should be at the basis of any such attempts. In the end, all that side hustling and extra money is only worth something if it makes you happier and better off.

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Life doesen't have a do-over.
Commit to it! BePrime!
Life doesen't have a do-over.
Commit to it! BePrime!