How to Start a Side Hustle and Make Extra Money
You’re thinking about starting a side hustle. It’s a topic that comes up in conversation more and more. And while you may be in a standard 9:00 to 5:00 position rather than working the gig economy, you are still looking for something more.
- You have a hobby, and you’re looking to finance your interest by making a profit from an activity you enjoy.
- You could be looking to supplement your income. Finding a skill to turn into a side business could help you reach your financial goals
- You may want to start your own business and a side hustle could help you test the waters before making a plunge into the entrepreneurial world.
No matter what you’re looking to make your side hustle, you’re about to start a business. You can no longer take a passive stance once you have the expectation of profiting from your side hustle. And since this is your side job (with an emphasis on side), making money is easier said than done while also managing your full-time job.
COMMIT TO THE LONG GAME
Starting a side hustle isn’t easy. If it were easy, every one of your 9:00 to 5:00 coworkers would already be moonlighting as a serial entrepreneur. Your side hustle is going to require an effort to succeed. It will take away time each week that you would spend with friends and family or relaxing. Remember that most of your time each day still goes to your full-time job.
Before you commit, take some time to decide if you're willing to make the necessary sacrifices to achieve your side hustle goals.
Create a list of all your activities and commitments during a typical week and calculate the amount of time they take up. Decide which of those activities you can either spend less time doing or completely cut out. Unfortunately, this is going to mean losing a lot of leisure time. You can expect to start by cutting down time spent playing video games, watching TV, and randomly surfing the web on your phone.
KNOW YOUR SKILL SET
The last thing you want to do is to start a side business that you don’t have the skills or knowledge for. You must support your side hustle with relevant skills, experience, or industry knowledge. This will increase your chances of having a profitable business and help you rebound quickly if you face some unexpected challenges along the way.
When I started publishing board games as my side hustle, I needed to understand the inner workings of the industry, which took years of learning from my peers. While I came with an extensive background in design, marketing, and illustration, I still had to take the time to learn about retail sales and crowdfunding. Getting familiar with these new processes slowed down my progress considerably.
In short, the more you can use your existing skill set and knowledge, the more quickly and likely your side hustle will succeed. For example, many musicians monetize their skills by offering online music lessons. Illustrators and artists also have profitable freelance jobs by being open to commission work.
What skills and knowledge do you have that others may benefit or learn from?
CREATE A ROUTINE
With time being your most valuable resource, you’ll need a routine to keep you on track. If you start working on your side hustle every night after dinner, you’ll train yourself that after dinner, it’s time for work. This will take some getting used to. At first, you may have the strong desire to scroll endlessly through Tik Tok or Instagram each night. But once moonlighting is part of your routine, it will feel less like a drain on your time and more like another part of your day.
Of course, you’ll need to be sure that your routine is based on solid goals. Sketching designs after dinner could go on forever, so what’s the end goal? When time is a limited resource, you need to be specific and realistic about your goals. When you are working on your side hustle, you are your own employer and no one else is holding you accountable.
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Setting up a side hustle doesn’t mean doing everything yourself. In most cases there isn’t enough time to do it all yourself, even if that was the idea. Play to your strong suit. Remember those skills that we talked about earlier? Maximize everything that you can do with your skill set, and delegate the items that you can’t. Services like Fiverr, Upwork, or Freelancer are full of capable freelancers who specialize in a skill set you may not have.
Take stock of all your processes to figure out what you might be able to delegate. You’ll find that the tasks you have the least experience in will take you the longest to complete. By delegating these tasks, you will free up your time for the projects you’re best at and be able to set clearer expectations for clients—and for yourself.
GET FEEDBACK EARLY AND OFTEN
Get feedback as early and as often as possible. You are likely working on your own for the very first time and your side hustle will be at serious risk of failure without input. Look for others in the industry, your potential customers, and other start-ups to offer feedback every step of the way. Without objective, external assessments of your side business, you’ll likely work on a plan, invest considerable time, money, and effort, and then fail because you worked in a vacuum. You will need to learn how to take positive, negative, and sometimes very negative feedback to learn the process, improve your business, and create something truly outstanding for your customers.
It is important to define what your idea of success is. Look back at the goals that you set for your side hustle and make sure the work you do every day is getting you closer to that end.
If you are looking to achieve financial success or independence, the best time to build a side business is when you have a full-time job that covers your living expenses. Having a steady income from another source alleviates the stress of needing your freelance work to pay the rent and put food on the table. Instead, you can focus on progress before success. Think of your regular employment as a hedge against the risks you're taking while you test the viability of your side hustle.
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The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of VSECU.
About David Tepfer
David Tepfer is the creative marketing specialist at VSECU. He spends his time focusing on the design and presentation of VSECU’s messaging and communications. He has a passion for all mediums of visual art, is an avid cyclist, and is an influential member of Burlington’s gaming community.