"If you don't build your own dream, someone else will hire you to help build theirs." - Tony Gaskins Jr.
Okay, I really shouldn't need to convince any millennials why they need a side hustle. Student loan debt is at an all-time high—an average of $25,000 for a four year degree, unemployment rates still aren't the greatest, and the actual dream job that you thought you’d get after graduation? Well it’s more of a dream than a reality these days, or at least a few years of work experience and/or another degree away for most of us. But probably the biggest reason to start a side hustle is to begin fabricating your dream for yourself in the time you’re not spending building someone else’s dream. Like a wise person once said to me: if you can work 40-50 hours a week for your boss, surely you can work a few hours a week on something you’re really passionate about, and earn a few bucks to boot!
So, you ask, how do you get started?
Well, the first step is to brainstorm all of the things you’re good at, everything that you’re an expert on, and any interests you have. For me, it was writing, career mentoring, and inspirational speaking, so I started this blog! You may be a computer whiz, an animal lover, an arts-and-crafts guru, or a sports fanatic. Whatever you’re good at, write it down, make a list, and don’t leave anything out! You may be surprised at the things you know and other people don’t, that they’d be willing to pay you for. Also, don’t forget to include your day job, especially if it’s one that you like! Are you an accountant by day? Well who’s to say you can’t start your own accounting or tax side hustle by night?
The next step is to research how you can turn your hobby or interest into an income-generating hustle. This can be as simple as offering your expertise to your family, friends, and neighbors, or as complex as starting a website, building a brand, and incorporating your new business! Really, the possibilities are endless and the length you want to go with your hustle is completely up to you.
Here are a few examples of legit side hustles, which you may or may not have heard of, to help you get your innovative juices flowing:
Start an Etsy Store
If you love arts and crafts, or have a hobby that you love there is probably a way that you can turn it into a profitable Esty business! Etsy is an online platform that artists and artisans from around the world to customers interested in buying their products. Starting an Etsy store is a low-overhead way to turn your hobby or start-up craft business into a profitable enterprise!
Start a Blog
Do you enjoy writing? Starting a blog is a great way to get your ideas and opinions out there, while providing a chance to improve your writing skills and a reason to write on a regular basis. When your blog gets a significant number of followers, companies will actually pay you to advertise for them on your website. Check out WordPress, Blogger, or Tumblr, or if you’re tech-savvy, create a website of your own!
Freelancing is simply doing what you’re good at or what you love, and charging for it on your own, instead of earning a salary through a company. The best way to get started with freelancing is to do it as a side hustle. Some of the best websites for freelancing that I’ve come across are Fiverr and Freelancer. The best part about freelancing is that you do it on your own time, and you can literally market yourself as the expert in anything that you have experience doing, not just what you have a degree in or full-time job doing!
Teach a Class
Everyone is an expert at something. Why not share what you know in your free time and earn some money doing it? There are many ways to accomplish this. For example, you can tutor local high school and college students in a subject that you were always good at in school, or you can work with a local community college and actually teach courses. Another option is to create video lessons and publish them on a website like SkillShare or SkillFeed. Unlike YouTube, these sites will compensate you for the time and energy you spend recording your lessons, and the best part is, once the video is created people can watch it an infinite number of times without you having to do any more work!
Start a Photography or Event Planning Business
I know a few women who started their own photography or event planning businesses while working full-time or raising a family. My friend Liz, for example, studied photography on her own while a Navy Reservist and full-time mommy of two, and started Clay Jars Photography on the side! If you have an eye for beauty, this may be a great way to put some extra cash in your pocket!
Likewise, if you’re incredibly organized and find yourself planning your friends’ birthdays and engagement parties one after another, you should start asking them for a small compensation, reviews and referrals. You might as well turn what you’re already good at doing—obsessing over details and plans—into a new side hustle!
Start a Food Business
Do you love to cook or bake? Do you spend all day drooling over recipes and obsessively pinning them to your Pinterest boards? Well believe it or not, there are hundreds of thousands of people out there who don’t! I know, total shocker. Some people would much rather have you put together a delicious recipe or desert for their next event or special occasion than to cook it themselves. Starting a food business is super easy too, my best friend started hers when we were in high school just through word of mouth! Start advertising within your inner circle, give away some free samples, and you’ll be in business in no time!
Rent Your Home
No, I’m not suggesting you move into a cardboard box, or worse: back in with your parents! Eeekkk! But, if you have a spare guest bedroom, a comfy couch, or if you are going to be out of town for the weekend you can build a profile on Airbnb and rent out your space for hundreds of dollars per night. Your profits are dependent upon location and amenities of your home, and of course how great of a host you are! If you’re a social person who likes meeting new people, and you don’t mind having strangers in your home, this is a great option for you!
Become an Uber or Lyft Driver
Uber and Lyft are two of the largest car sharing services right now. If you have a car that you don’t mind keeping clean, and a few spare hours per week that you don’t mind driving around, joining one of these companies part-time can definitely put a little extra change in your pocket! My dad even drives for Uber on the weekends when he’s not too busy watching the Ravens win!
Remember, the easiest and most successful side hustles are born out of your interests and hobbies, they’re probably things you already think about and invest time in. To get your side hustle started, start by being customer focused and easing your way into charging for your services—freebies and word-of-mouth referrals can go a long way when getting your business going! And for more motivation, check out Side Hustle Nation, a great website created by a side hustler, dedicated to helping people with their side hustles!
If you’re game to try a side hustle in 2015, leave a comment below and let me know what your plan is and how I can help! Or if you've already got a side hustle, let me know how it’s going and how you got started—and how I can get some of those free sample cupcakes! :)