Why is everyone suddenly talking about side hustles?
Because for many they deliver the purpose and profit that isn’t fully being provided by their day job.
A side hustle is a passion-driven product or service that you create and sell without leaving your day job. The benefits are multiple. It gives you the opportunity to grow through experience in an area of passion. You add to your income. And — most importantly — it tends to boost happiness because you spend a little bit of time everyday creating something you love.
Sound like a side hustle might deliver what’s missing in your current day job? Here are 5 steps to help you get there:
1. Pick a side hustle that aligns with your passion — especially if your day job doesn’t.
The passion component is what makes a “side hustle” different from traditional moonlighting. It’s for everyone who ever said something like, “I work as an accountant, but I’m really a jewelry designer.”
Whether you love dogs and decide to launch an evening dog walking business, are an artist and sell digital greeting cards, or you make the world’s most delicious pot pies and become the Pot Pie Lady, the commercial aspect to the side hustle forces us to get better at what we do in a way that a hobby never will. We have to figure things out because people are paying for it.
If the side hustle isn’t passion-driven, then we quickly run out of the energy and enthusiasm needed to build our skill enough to make it successful.
2. Don’t spend too much time (or money) on the plan. Create something and get it out there.
Side hustles are particularly vulnerable to “paralysis by analysis.” Because side hustles are so uniquely personal, there are few templates. You will be building the bridge as you walk on it.
The best way to launch a side hustle is to put your product or service out there and begin testing ideas. You are looking to launch what Eric Reis defines in the Lean Start Up as a “minimum viable product.” Do the least amount of work necessary to get your offering in front of people so you can start testing what sells.
In our dog walking example, this is the difference between waiting to launch until you have a perfectly designed website, matching leashes, and promotional dog biscuits, or just ordering business cards from Moo.com and distributing them in your neighborhood. Start the work, then let the trappings catch up with you.
3. Set boundaries around your side hustle from the beginning (aka. don’t get fired from your day job.)
It probably goes without saying that working on your side hustle at your day job will get you fired. But what you may not realize is that you need to set those boundaries ahead of time. Pursuing a passion can easily win your affections and make it hard to keep it out of your normal work life.
Define when you will work on your side hustle and carve that time out. You might get up an hour earlier or go to bed an hour later. You might devote every Saturday morning or every Sunday afternoon to the side hustle.
Make the decision of how it fits in your life at the beginning, then defend those timeslots as essential.
4. Refine your side hustle in real time as you receive feedback.
One of the best parts of launching a side hustle is that the scale makes it easy to test ideas and respond to market feedback in real time. You then, pivot your strategy until you find what works.
For example, if you launch a line of personalized leather bracelets on Etsy but find more men buy them than women (or that women are simply buying them for their husbands) you might shift your designs toward more masculine styles. Or if you are a copy writer selling resume services, you might find you have more clients interested in recrafting their LinkedIn page than formal resumes and can tailor your website feature that service more effectively.
5. After you make 1k, get your bookkeeping in order.
The thing about side hustles is that they usually evolve. In the beginning, you probably won’t think much about tracking expenses or keeping the income separate from your personal funds, but there will come a time when that becomes advantageous.
Once you break $1,000, set up a separate bank account for deposits from your side hustle and begin to track expenses. Whether you use a spreadsheet or a service like Freshbooks which delivers real profit/loss statements and makes it easy to invoice clients, separating your business funds as a real business allows you to make intentional decisions about the extra income and can save you money in dealing with taxes.
What should your side hustle be? Here are 40 ideas to inspire you:
- Launch an Etsy shop to sell handcrafts.
- Deconstruct old motorcycles and sell the parts on Ebay.
- Upcycle fashion by turning old clothes into something new and sell online.
- Make homemade pet food and deliver.
- Get a table at your local farmers market and sell something in a Mason jar (jam, salsa, homemade beauty products, ready to bake cakes, etc).
- Craft and sell cosplay costumes.
- Create a graphic design around your hobby, upload and sell at CafePress.com.
- Make personalized gifts and signs with vinyl letters.
- Start your own mail-by-the month subscription and craft boxes that people receive each month.
- Make and sell holiday gifts for expatriates (ie. Christmas crackers for Brits, colorful Holi powders for Indian expats, etc.).
TEACH OR COACH
- Launch a “Mid-Life Crisis Music Class” (Everyone has an instrument they wished they’d learned when younger.)
- Become a professional mentor. (Certifications are available through ICF)
- Teach fitness classes or become a personal trainer.
- Teach classes on essential oils, herbs, teas or DIY beauty and household products.
- Sell your fashion sense and help people craft an image.
- Launch a YouTube channel with explainer videos in your area of expertise.
- Become a makeup artist. (You can work part-time at a store that offers training like Sephora, Mac or others to increase your skills and take advantage of employee product discounts.)
- Use Kindle Direct Publishing to sell your eBook.
- Become a podcaster and sell coaching as your product.
- Launch a business as a professional organizer and teach people to better use their personal space.
- Serve as a tour guide in your own city and organize day tours around your personal passions of sightseeing, restaurants, wine, hiking, etc.
- Create a space in your home to rent out via Airbnb.
- Design a show for children’s birthday parties, 50th wedding anniversaries, etc. (Once friends of mine designed a 1940’s radio show that was hired by nursing homes.)
- Create cooking experiences in your home where people taste and learn about different foods.
- Host mini spa experiences where people learn to make their own bath products.
- Write encouraging letters that people receive in the mail via paid subscription.
- Organize an experience that lets people come in contact with animals. You could bring your pet to someone’s lunch break.
- Offer ideas to parents for experiences they can do with their kids across summer vacation.
- Organize a retreat around your personal passion: yoga, fitness, writing, meditation, scrapbooking, etc. You take on the details of arranging lodging, food and activities. Participants pay a flat rate — which you set to cover costs and a profit for you!
- Become a sports explainer. Accompany people to a sporting event and explain what is happening. (They pay a fee and buy your ticket.)
OFFER PROFESSIONAL SERVICES
- Write resumes.
- Walk or groom dogs.
- Offer party planning services (it helps to specialize in engagement, children’s birthday parties, showers, etc.)
- Become a voice over artist for professionally read audio books. Check out acx.com.
- Offer graphic design or virtual assistant services on Upwork.com.
- Become a notary.
- Provide in-home IT services.
- Serve as a weekend nanny.
- Identify a task that people typically don’t enjoy — but you do — and sell it as a service.
- Consult professionally in any area in which you have expertise to offer.
The beautiful thing about side hustles is that they don’t require a big investment to get started. So, decide what you want to offer and start experimenting. You might discover that not only do you reconnect to purpose, but you also fund a nice vacation!