Do side hustles really work to bring in extra income?
While the average side hustle can bring in an average of $473 a month, some side gigs like freelance writing and graphic design can create up to $20,000 of extra income a year.
A side hustle can help you cover expenses, save for a dream vacation, pay off debt, and more. It’s also a great way to develop your career as well. You can build new skills, flesh out your portfolio, and expand your network.
However, just because it’s a side hustle doesn’t mean you should treat it lightly. A common mistake that side hustlers make is to treat their side gig like a hobby. A side hustle is a business and should be treated as such. And in order for your side hustle to really work, it’s important to do your research and create a solid plan. This way, you’ll minimize the financial risks and prevent yourself from burning out quickly.
Here are some tips and strategies to help ensure that your side hustle is a successful one.
How to create a side hustle that really works
First and foremost, you’ll want to have a great idea for a side hustle.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- What is a skill that I can utilize? If you’re unsure, then ask yourself: What do people always go to me for? Maybe it’s editing or coordinating logistics or illustrating invitations. Don’t worry if it seems too mundane. Just because it’s easy for you, doesn’t mean it’s easy for others.
- What is a problem that I can help solve? Maybe the people in your building are always looking for pet sitters. Can you offer to walk their dogs and feed their pets? Or maybe there’s a lack of creative writing classes in your area. Can you teach a class or organize some workshops?
Ideally, your side hustle is something you’re genuinely excited about and interested in. Side hustlers spend about 10-15 hours a week on their gig, so you’ll want to make sure that your new business is one that you’d like to spend time on.
Define goals for your side hustle
If you want your side hustle to work, you’ll definitely want to set clear and specific goals for the year.
A common side hustle mistake is to ignore your goals and metrics. Unless you identify your goals, how will you know how much income you are earning? Or how much money you’re spending?
Goals give you something to aim for and measure. And they can inspire you to work hard and stay the course.
So take some time to really think about your financial and professional goals. How much money do you want to bring in each month and quarter? What steps do you need to take to reach those goals?
Do research for your side hustle
It’s important to do your homework and research upfront so that you can be well-prepared before launching your side hustle.
Questions to consider:
- Who’s your ideal client? What do they need? Where are they located? What sites and social media platforms are they using? How will they find your business?
- Who’s your competition? What are they offering and at what price? How can you set yourself apart?
- Do you need a permit or license to conduct your side business?
- Do you need a lawyer or accountant?
Be realistic about your time and energy
When you’re in the early stages of your side hustle, it’s easy to be idealistic and imagine yourself spending all your time and energy on it. But you have to be realistic about your internal resources. Ask yourself: How many hours can I spend on my side hustle every week?
Just because you have nights and weekends off, doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll want to dedicate every free minute of it to your side hustle. Take into account time you’ll want to spend with family and friends. And don’t forget to include time for breaks. Now that you have a secondary gig, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting enough rest.
Have a marketing plan
Knowing how to market your side hustle is an important part of developing your business.
If you feel clueless about marketing, don't worry. There are tons of online courses and resources available. You can also study your competitors and peers to see how they’re marketing their goods and services. What do you like about their marketing? What do you dislike? Emulate the practices you like and ignore or adjust the ones you’re not connecting with.
Marketing ideas to consider:
- Making business cards
- Creating a website for your side hustle
- Developing a social media presence
- Sending out a regular newsletter
Have the right business tools
With a side business, you’ll need to have the proper tools on hand to help you stay organized and productive.
- Use project management tools to track your workflow and stay on top of deadlines.
- Use a goal-setting planner to develop your yearly, quarterly, monthly, and weekly goals and measure your progress.
- Stock up your favorite pens and notebooks for brainstorming and note-taking.
Build your reputation
When you’re starting out with your side hustle, you’ll have to rely on word of mouth to grow your business and attract new clients.
Whether you’re a dog walker, copywriter, or software engineer, you’ll want to develop a good relationship with your clients and customers so that they can then refer you to their friends and peers. It’s essential that you be polite, professional, and clear with your communication. This is why it’s so key to have a side hustle that you’re truly excited about. When you’re excited, your genuine enthusiasm will reflect in your work. And your clients will love working with you.
If you’ve had a particularly positive experience with a client, ask them if they’d consider writing a testimonial for your website. Or ask if they wouldn't mind giving a referral. You can also offer promotions and discounts to existing clients for client referrals.
Set aside funds for quarterly taxes
So you put in the work and now you’re seeing some money coming in from your side hustle. Congrats!
Don’t forget that you’ll need to pay estimated quarterly taxes on your side income. So make sure you meet with an accountant to help you calculate your taxes and figure out your deductions.
As you can see, a side hustle does require a fair amount of work and patience. But with preparation, planning, and the right tools by your side, you can make your side hustle really work for you and flourish.
Written by JiJi Lee.