Side hustles are a great way to find a creative outlet, generate extra income, build your skills and eventually launch your own business. The great thing about side hustles is their flexibility. You’re in control of your hours and the products or services you want to offer. They’re a great way to bring in extra income. And the relationships you make could ultimately lead to a new full time job offer.
“There is no such thing as a perfect job, but you can proactively take hold of your career and pursue your interests by developing a ‘side hustle.’” - Camille Styles, Founder & Editor-in-Chief of CamilleStyles.com
What's a side hustle?
Your side hustle is anything you do to create extra income that isn’t your full time career. Side hustles take many forms. You could thrift items from local antique stores and resell them on eBay. You may create a physical product like artwork or jewelry and offer it for sale. Or, your side hustle may be a spin-off of your career skills like marketing professionals who offer campaign strategy or consulting services to clients.
Finding a side hustle that fits
The best side hustles bring a return on your investment in them. At a minimum, your side hustle should cover your expenses to run the side hustle. If you are creating a physical product, your sales should cover your supplies costs, vendor fees at markets you attend and any marketing expenses you incur. If you are providing a service, you will focus mostly on the cost of your time. But don’t forget about things like hardware, software, website and internet expenses. These are all costs of running your side hustle.
The time you spend running your side hustle is also valuable. Be sure that your side income covers the cost of your time. To value your time, consider what you make at your job or research salary ranges for the role you’re doing by looking at career websites.
Consider your goals
What do you hope to get out of your side hustle? Extra income? A creative outlet? New skills that can benefit you in your future career? Once you know what your goals are, you can compare opportunities against these goals and determine the right fit.
Use the skills you already have
It’s easier to launch a side hustle that’s adjacent to your current career. “Find a side hustle that you enjoy and can ‘do in your sleep,’” says Janay Douglas, a digital marketing professional who maintains a side hustle as a digital marketing and social media consultant.
Explore your passions
Side hustles are a great way to explore your passions and see if you’d ultimately like to incorporate them in your career. Something you think is your passion may ultimately turn out to be just a hobby.
Check your schedule
Great side hustles are high income, low investment. Before saying “yes” to a side hustle, see if it realistically fits into your schedule. Any side hustle will require time, and that time has to come from somewhere—your family time, your working time, your personal time. Be sure the time investment your side hustle requires is worth the benefits.
“Always be honest with your time. While the extra cushion is nice, it’s not worth sacrificing the free time you do have.” - Janay Douglas
Determine how much time you actually have
Create a spreadsheet and track your daily schedule for a couple weeks. Include everything—coffee dates with friends, brow waxes, working hours, errands, school pickups and dropoffs. Then, identify the must-dos—those things like commuting to and from work, working hours, parenting responsibilities, taking kids to sports practices, etc. Next, identify the activities that could be cut if needed. This serves two purposes: To help you identify how much time you could have to put toward a side hustle, and how much time you would actually like to put toward a side hustle.
Get some advice
Talk to friends who juggle a family, working and a side hustle. See what their advice is for getting started and how they maintain balance.
Feeding passion with a side hustle
It’s okay if your full time job isn’t your passion. Sometimes a job is just a job, and that’s okay! Side hustles can give you a creative outlet and feed your passions. Chrichelle Fernandez is a graphic designer and the founder of Sweet Pineapple Shop where she sells custom gifts and wood crafts.
“Growing up, I had always been the artistic type and went to college for graphic design,” she shares. “I switched jobs at my current company to become a usability analyst. I love my team and our company is amazing, but after awhile I realized I missed the design aspect of work.” She and her husband bought a small laser machine and started making personalized decor. Through word of mouth and social media, her side hustle took off.
Finding balance with a side hustle
A side hustle is just that, a hustle. It means extra hours, time away from your family and another thing to manage in an already busy schedule. No matter how small or large your side hustle is, the secret to success is taking yourself seriously as a business-owner.
“Even though it’s a side hustle, it’s only a business if you don’t treat it as a hobby.” - Sara Chambers, Founder, Elly and Nora Creative
Be prepared to sacrifice to make your side hustle work. You have to carve out time from your schedule to dedicate to your side hustle. Side hustles exist in those quiet hours while the kids are in school, after bedtime, and yes, even before the morning routine begins. You may need to restructure your weekends and avoid your latest TV binge.
👉 It’s important to establish non-working hours, too. In the same way that you look for consistent time to work on your side hustle each week, create specific non-working times.
Balancing full-time work
As tempting as it is to check in on your side hustle during your working hours, don’t. Keeping separate hours for your full-time job and your side hustle reduces stress because you can give each the focus they’re due.
“My full-time job is still my main focus during the day. Although it’s hard sometimes, I’ll silence my phone to avoid distractions from people contacting me,” says Chrichelle. “I know if I respond, my mind will wander into new projects for the business and shift my focus away from regular work.”
Taking a side hustle full-time
If you’ve recently lost or quit your job, are working less hours, or your side hustle is ramping up, it may be time to consider taking it full time.
Sarah Chambers, founder of the Elly and Nora Creative agency, did just that. “When I was laid off from my day job, I knew it was time. I dove in headfirst and didn't look back. For me, it was knowing that I needed more control of what projects I took on, how much I got paid, and how I showed up in my career. I couldn't possibly imagine sitting behind a desk convincing someone that I was a great fit for a job when I didn't want a job anyway.”
Signs your side hustle could be a full-time job
When your side hustle begins to require enough time that you have to start saying no to other priorities in your life, it’s time to reevaluate. Do you want your side hustle to become your full time gig? If so, it could be time to make the leap.
Your side hustle has a chance to be a successful full time job when:
You start receiving new business referrals from happy clients
You consistently turn down new business because you don’t have enough time
You’re making enough income to consistently meet your monthly expenses
📖 Read more: Think you might be ready to take your side hustle full-time? Check out our Freelance Work Guide for more information on getting started.
Facing side hustle burnout
If you find yourself resenting your side hustle because of the time it’s taking away from your other priorities, or because it’s causing unnecessary stress in your life, it’s time to re-evaluate your priorities.
Refer back to the list of priorities you created when you first considered taking on a side hustle. First, are those priorities still the priority? Second, what order are they currently taking in your life, and is your side hustle causing them to rank lower than they should?
When it comes to side hustles, Chrichelle recommends keeping your priorities in focus: “For me, family is first - always. And the career I’ve worked so hard to build also deserves my best attention.” It’s okay to say no to side hustle requests or new projects, and it’s okay to accept the offers of help you receive, too.
Is there a financial need to keep your side hustle going? Your side hustle could be an essential part of your household budget. If that’s the case, start by identifying expenses you can cut that would make it easier to live without your side hustle income.
Is your goal to have a hobby or a business? Hobbies are easy to put on pause. If your side hustle is a business, you need to notify your clients well in advance that your hours are changing or that you’re taking a break.
Is this break temporary or permanent? If you know your full-time job or family need more time during spring break, the end of the quarter, or over the summer, plan a break around those times. If you aren’t sure when you’ll be taking clients again, be clear when communicating to your clients.
How can you preserve your relationships? Communicate early and frequently that you’ll be taking a break. Be clear about when orders will stop or you’ll stop taking new business requests. When possible, refer your customers to another trusted provider in your space.
Whether you’re just thinking of launching a side hustle or considering putting even more time into your side hustle, remember that you’re in control. You control the amount of time you give your side hustle in your schedule (and often, this time translates directly to the income you can generate with your side hustle). Side hustles are a great way to give yourself a creative outlet, help you develop a skill you can use later in your career or simply boost your income in a tight season. Give it your all, and make it work!
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