It’s 2017 and everybody needs a side hustle. Yes, everybody. I’m not really a fan of the word “hustle.” It sounds shady, like you have to game people in order to make extra money. But, every time I’m working one of my side gigs, it feels like a hustle, so I’m just going to go with that terminology.
Everyone needs a side hustle because job stability is a thing of the past, and you don’t want to end up out of luck if (and when) you get a pink slip. It can take weeks to find a new job, and even if you find one immediately after being terminated, you can experience a gap in income. In order to protect yourself and your family, you need to develop a side hustle that produces a steady stream of income now, before it’s too late.
A side hustle can technically be a second job, but you can get fired from a “second job,” too. A hustle is a little different because you can control how much or how little money you make, when you work, and you can’t really get fired from it because you are not a traditional employee.
I like to think of contractor jobs, side businesses, and individual projects as the ideal side hustles, and I’ve tried all three. Check out my guide below on each type of side hustle, and how you can get one NOW.
A contractor job is a role when you are commissioned to do work independently. These roles often have a set end date and a set start date. They also have a set fee, or per hour payment, and neither party is bound to one another beyond the terms of the contract.
The benefit of a contractor role is the freedom to walk away when your work is done. Your liability for the work is often limited because the person who is contracting you has to do a lot of the leg work. You just come in, do your part, and bounce.
One of the biggest downsides to a contractor role is the lack of benefits. You are also bound for at least the time that it takes to complete the contract. Contractual work can go on for some time, and it can start to feel like a “job,” only won’t be getting paid holidays, vacations, or healthcare.
I took on a contractor role a few years ago that has repeated seasonally. In that role, I interview a number of applicants for a particular role. I have a set script to follow, and I have to interview the applicants and type in my notes. I’m paid an hourly fee, and I have to be professional, prompt and efficient.
The actual organization that I work for is not my “employer,” meaning they don’t owe me the benefits bestowed upon an employee. This doesn’t seem like too big of a deal, except when you’re putting in long hours with no sick pay. I, personally, like it because I can set my own hours and I don’t have to work more than I want to.
I like that the work is seasonal/recurring, and I’ve gotten to make some great connections and meet some cool people. I also learned more about different types of virtual co-working technology, and how to interact with a nationwide team.
Contractor roles can help you learn a lot about what company you want to work for. Sometimes independent contractor roles turn into full time gigs. Other contractor roles remain just that. One example would be working for Uber.
Uber drivers are contractors, which is good because Uber drivers can “set their own hours.” But, being a contractor in that role has its drawbacks because drivers take on the risk of liability for an accident, and they incur the cost of long-term wear and tear to their cars.
Overall, you have to weigh the pros and cons on contractor roles, but they may be a great supplement to your 9 to 5 income. Certain types of contract work also look great on your resume if you do lose your full time job.
If you’re interested in driving for Uber, check out my experience, and use my referral link to sign up! You get a sign up bonus, and I get a referral bonus, too. https://partners.uber.com/i/xaad9
A side business is different from a contractor role. A side business is an actual business that you are conducting with all of the responsibilities of a business owner. Instead of just getting paid to do work, you have to go out and find clients, you can potentially have your own employees, and you may formally incorporate your company.
Technically, a contractor role can be related to a side business. Your business can take on contractual work. For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to focus on a side business with a traditional model, where you go out and serve individual clients, or sell a product to individual customers.
A full-fledged side business is one of the harder types of ways to hustle. The responsibility of a business can be overwhelming, and it can involve some financial risk. The two types of business that I’m going to discuss are service-based businesses and product-based businesses.
A service based business is the easiest to start. You simply have to think about what types of services you can sell, start marketing, and go out and get clients. You can offer a physical service like mowing lawns or babysitting, personal training. You can also offer an online or white collar service like writing or graphic design.
The service-based business that I have is a law practice. Yes, a law practice. For those who don’t know, I’m a licensed attorney. For several years, I worked to grow my law practice on the side. But, the law is a hard type of business to run “on the side.”
A law practice really requires a full-time commitment to market to clients, service clients, and take care of the back-end of the business (websites, filings, taxes). Since I didn’t have the time to fully devote to my “side business,” I had a hard time turning a profit.
You must consider the fact that to run a business well, you’ll need to spend money on at least some overhead. You’ll have expenses like your business license, required training, an online or physical space, business cards, advertising, business insurance, and so on.
If you don’t have a solid business plan, it can add up quickly. I recommend that, even for a service-based business, that you keep your overhead as low as possible. Utilize free or low-cost targeted advertising, and make sure that you price your services in a way that allows you to turn a profit.
A product-based business is a business where you are selling a product either to other businesses or consumers. Popular product-based businesses that are easy to start are companies like T-shirt businesses, simple paper products, and hand-made arts and crafts.
You can use a medium like Etsy to sell physical and digital products with lower overhead. Customers are also searching Etsy, Pinterest, and other websites for unique goods made by small businesses.
There are other types of hybrid businesses like restaurants that sell food products and offer a service (serving food). Many of these businesses like restaurants and stores require a physical location, specialized licenses and insurance, employees, and lots of start-up capital. For a business like that, wait until you are ready to go full-time into the business to get a physical location and employees.
Instead, you can start out by catering on the weekends or holding “pop-up” shops in partnership with different companies in exchange for holding an event that could drive more business to their locations.
As you can see, a business can require a lot of commitment and a focused plan. But, if you start small on the side, you can build it up and make it profitable. Be sure to have a good business plan, and chose an industry that you are passionate about, and where you can fulfill a need.
Like a business, an individual project also has aspects of a contractor position. I differentiate a project from a contractor position because a project is self-directed, and usually more of a creative endeavor than work as a contractor.
An individual project can be a type of content creation, like a book, blog, or piece of art, film project, or a YouTube channel. You can contact this type of work out for projects to help other businesses as well.
Out of all the types of “side hustles” I’ve tried, this one is my favorite.
You can probably tell by reading this post that I love writing. I think that sharing ideas in written word is one of the greatest forms of creation. I’ve taken on freelance writing jobs, written my own e-Book, and I happily maintain this blog. Websites like Upwork make it easy to connect with individuals and businesses who want to hire you for quick and long-term projects.
One way that you can find the type of “individual project” that might work for you is by exploring your hobbies. What do you like to do for fun? What do you pay to do that you would like to get paid to do?
For example, I don’t mind paying for this blog. I paid for blog hosting, plugins, fonts, etc., willingly for years in order to pursue my passion for writing. It’s better, of course, to get paid to do what I love. So, I turned my writing into a way to get paid by doing freelance work, and finding small ways to “monetize” (make money) from my blog.
Once you figure out what types of projects and hobbies you like to do, you can research ways to get paid for the same work. Projects are great for creatives and artists because you can create something once and get paid for it later, or get paid for it over and over again.
If you do take on clients, they likely recognize your work as unique and valuable, and you can charge what you are worth. Website designers, for example, can charge hefty fees for individual design project once they build up their portfolios, because clients will see how much they are worth. They can also likely work on their own time, and make more money than they would have made in their 9 to 5 jobs.
If you are a creative type, and feel like your creativity is being drained from working in a cubicle all day, or commuting back and forth for hours, then finding a profitable project to work on like a blog, or developing a skill, just might be right for you.
So, what’s next?
What’s next is brainstorming ideas for which type of role will work for you. If you’re ready to hustle hard, you can pick more than one type of side job, until you find the best fit!
Once you have some idea, make a plan. Set aside time each and every day to work on your side hustle until you find the hustle that is actually a passion that you can use to fuel your individuality and creativity. Pretty soon, the profits will come rolling in and you can decide whether to continue working in your day job, or to pursue your side hustle and make your dreams come true.