We have spoken in previous articles about the importance of budgeting and controlling spending as the two key strategies for acquiring financial freedom. What do you do when your budget confronts you with a stark reality—your expenses exceed your income? This is where most people go into debt. You don’t want to go there. Think side hustle.
The Side Hustle is Disrupting the Narrative of Being in Debt
When your expenses, such as housing costs, credit card bills, loans, etc. exceed your income you have only two choices: increase your income or reduce your expenses. There are a few ways to increase your income. One way is to ask for a raise, especially if you are overdue or underpaid. Another way is to look for a new job that will pay you what you are worth. A third option is to tough it out, for now, pare down your living expenses to the barest of necessities and return to school. With a new degree or enhanced educational/training credentials so you will qualify for that raise you need.
There is another way too—the channel of the side gig or side hustle. Thousands of people of all ages are finding the side hustle to be one of the most enjoyable ways to bring in extra income. The side hustle has become so successful that in many cases it turns into full-time entrepreneurship. If you find a side hustle that you really enjoy, you can increase your income and at the same time have fun. What could be better than this?
Here are 8 tips to help you get your side hustle working for you.
#1. Identify Your Passions and Strengths
Your side hustle needs to be something you enjoy while also playing to your strengths. Do a personal assessment to identify your professional strengths, your personality, and passions in life. If your side hustle is not a good match for you, then it is going to feel like slavery just so you can pay the bills.
The internet is filled with almost endless side hustle possibilities. For instance:
- Like to teach? There is tremendous demand for online English teachers. The pay is pretty good too, and your upfront costs are practically zero. You need an excellent internet connection and skype, headphones and a quiet space. Log on to Remote.co or Learn4Good for leads.
- Along the same lines, if you have a particular skill that you can teach to others, visit Skillshare or Udemy to begin your side hustle career as an online career teacher.
- Like people? The Global hospitality platform Airbnb was created for the side hustle. If you have a spare room or portion of your house or an extra apartment, then you are ready to start now. The entire business side of your side hustle is taken care of by Airbnb, you just need to take care of the guests.
- Is travel your passion? And you are an experienced traveler? Your side hustle can be serving as a travel consultant. Start out with friends and family and ask them to write good reviews for you. Then head over to travel sites, which will connect you with an audience of potential customers. You can make pretty good money just from sharing your travel tips with others.
#3. Formalize Your Side Hustle
If you are going to be offering services or selling a product, you need to formalize your side hustle—decide what kind of business is it going to be and then register. Consult your local Chamber of Commerce or other business associations to learn about your registration options and how to file with the necessary government authorities. Setting up your business structure is very important and should not be done without professional assistance.
#4. Financial Preparation
No matter your side hustle, whether it be something like hiring out your tutoring or coaching services, blogging, joining Airbnb, or renting out your car, there is going to be some expense involved. You need to get your name out, perhaps invest in upgraded digital equipment, and fix up that spare room, whatever, you are going to need some start-up funds. First thing is to draw up a basic budget based on the real costs of your side hustle. Do a little research to see how much it will cost to market your services, to buy new furnishings for your rental, or to purchase new computer equipment. Determine what will be the start-up costs and ongoing costs. Your side hustle should not add to your debt.
If you decide to join an existing gig community, your digital presence is going to take a lot less work. You merely need to upload your property or service to the host’s website. But, if you are going to launch into selling services or products, you need an engaging digital presence, meaning website and social media platforms. Unless you are a web designer, chances are you are going to need some help getting your digital presence up and running. The good news is that there are quite a few, free or nearly free platforms to help you out. Square Space and Weebly offer user-friendly website builder templates. You can have your website online in just a few hours. If you want something a little savvier, try WordPress. You have an option of using the WordPress URL or to purchase a package of upgrades which will give you a personal domain name and other tools.
#6. How are You Going to Get Paid?
The entire point of the side hustle is to earn income, right? So, you need to figure out how your customers are going to pay you. Many side gig platforms, such as Airbnb, pay you through PayPal. Your goal is to make it as easy as possible to be paid for your services. If you are going to be busy with a lot of clients, you may want to set up an invoicing system. There are quite a few available on the internet, or you can sign up with a freelance invoicing company. Doing it yourself is better because an outside provider will charge you money. You can easily open a PayPal account and your income can start streaming in within the same day.
#7. Discipline and Time Management
It may be your side hustle, but you need to treat it with the same respect as you do your full-time job. Additionally, a disciplined schedule will save you from getting burned out as you juggle two jobs. A careful separation between the two will eliminate the need to multitask which can also lead to burn-out or the sacrifice of one job over the other. In fact, in spite of what we think, experts say that we accomplish much more when we focus on one task at a time. Before you embark on your side hustle do a quick inventory of how you spend your time.
- How are your after-work hours invested now?
- How much “free time” do you really have?
- How much time is wasted?
- What are your sleep requirements?
With this assessment, you will have some idea of how much time you can give to a side hustle. The assessment will help you discover where to start in the gig industry.
Remember, all beginnings are difficult. It may take some time before you get business or customers. After six months, you may find that a different gig would have been a better fit. Be flexible and be prepared to pivot to match whatever situation appears.
That’s it. You’re ready to go.