Should You Hustle On The Side?

By Danielle Bilbruck

“No thanks, I make enough money right now and I don’t want anymore.”

…said no one ever.

Everyone wants a little extra cash they can use to pay off debt, build that savings account, put toward that big ticket purchase, or just have on hand in case a rainy day or an emergency should befall them. But unless you’ve got a raise coming your way, or unless you’re adhering to a strict budget that doesn’t allow for “extra” purchases right now, “extra cash” can be hard to come by.

Enter the “side hustle.” A side hustle is something (or many things) you do in addition to your full-time job to generate extra income on, you guessed it, the side. Many people advocate for a side hustle to diversify oneself the same way one might diversify a stock portfolio: it’s good to put your eggs in several different baskets in case one is harboring more promise than the other. Having a few different income streams that aren’t reliant on one another means extra cash while you have them all, and it also means that if you lose one of them, you’re not stuck with nothing. For some people, their side hustle begins to explode and can even overtake their full-time job–what a nice problem to have!

Before you take on a side hustle, however, there are a few things you should know about how to properly manage additional work, as well as how to really benefit from it:

  • Know what’s in your tool-belt. First things first: what is your side hustle going to be? In the gig economy, there are many different directions you can go with an extra money-making opportunity, but first you have to know your strengths. What are your talents? Are you handy around the house? Have you been told you’re good at writing? Could you teach an exercise class? Maybe you have a car and can drive people, or you’re an outgoing personality who could be an MC at events or a host at a trivia night. A lot of people never begin their side hustle because they can’t think of anything they could really do. Here’s the thing: your strengths, no matter how big or small, can lend themselves easily to a side hustle. Whatever they are, sit down and start to map out your talents. After you’ve compiled a list of things you’re good at and that you could enjoy doing, you can start asking yourself where you could find an extra gig putting those things to work.
  • Know where your gigs are coming from. This is critical knowledge, because this is how you’re going to make money. For many of us, there are places online that seek to connect those inside the gig economy with those who need the work done. Sites and apps like Fiverr, UpWork, and TaskRabbit are good places to start. If you have a niche like babysitting or dog-walking, do a search for that online–there will likely be an app or site that wants to connect you to future clients. If you’re still stuck, there’s always Craig’s List as well! No matter what, be sure that you feel clear and safe before moving forward with a job online, especially if it requires an in-person meeting.If you’re taking on a direct marketing/MLM gig, or trying to break into acting or modeling, your type of freelancing is going to require an up-front investment of either time or money before it really starts to pay off. In this case, ask yourself: am I really able to make this investment? Don’t invest your last dollars, and do understand that success stories are sold to you: be sure that you have the time and the money to invest in the side opportunity of your dreams.
  • Know how much time you have. Sometimes people take on side hustles without realizing the time investment it requires. If they overestimate the amount of time they have available to devote to something else, they end up in an unfortunate place where they’re not giving 100% to either their full-time job or their extra gigs. Don’t end up in that place.After you have established what you’re good at, what you want to do, and where you’re going to find that work, realistically ask yourself how much time you have. Most of us have at least a couple hours a week we can devote to this, but if you stretch yourself too thin, you won’t be successful. Don’t be afraid to start small and see where it leads you: take on one yoga class to teach per week, be a handyman or -woman for two Saturdays a month, host one trivia night every other week, etc.

A side hustle can be good for your bank account, but it can also be good for your soul: sometimes it’s nice to get out and do something you’re good at that has nothing to do with the other 40+ hours a week you spend at your regular job. Don’t be afraid to pick up the extra work, but do make sure you do your research and plan appropriately before jumping in!