Practical Advice for Winning at Your Side Hustle

We’ve previously discussed the idea of pursuing our passions outside of the workplace here on the blog, expounding upon the life-giving benefits of finding time in the margins to do the things we love.

Today we want to take this concept one step further by sharing some practical ways that we can monetize our interests, turning them into real side hustles that can bring in additional funding, ignite our passions and even turn into a full-time job.

Evaluate how you spend your time.

One of the main roadblocks that can prevent us from launching our side hustle projects — writing a book, building a business, starting a blog — is the belief that we don’t have enough time to dedicate to the dream. We are working full-time, we have other responsibilities and relationships to pursue and we carve out time for rest and rejuvenation. So how can we possibly squeeze one more thing into our agendas?

The key is remembering that we often have underutilized pockets of time where we can be working on our side hustles. Use a time assessment tool to document the amount of time it takes to accomplish your weekly tasks, including everything from work and sleep to exercise and meal preparation. You’ll get a clearer picture of the nooks and crannies of time that can be made available to work on your side hustle.

Once you determine how many free hours you have to dedicate to your project, create a schedule that dictates how to use them. For example, if you have four available hours per week, prioritize the tasks you need to complete and schedule specific times for those to be done within your available four hours. Whether those hours are tackled all at once or spread out amongst several days is irrelevant; what’s most important is that you follow through with the schedule you have set for yourself.

By creating a habit of carving out previously unused (or, in some cases, poorly used) time to pursue your passion, you are one step closer to making your dream become a reality.

By blocking out segments of time on your calendar, you are committing to accomplishing necessary tasks for your side hustle in the same way you would at work or at home. As much as possible, try not to cancel these scheduled side hustle hours. Treat them as you would a work deadline or an important appointment, rearranging your schedule only if something crucial comes up. By creating a habit of carving out previously unused (or, in some cases, poorly used) time to pursue your passion, you are one step closer to making your dream become a reality.

computer plant

Find mentors in your field.

Eliminate some of the guesswork related to your project by identifying role models in your field who are willing to give you guidance and insight. Invite these prospective mentors for coffee or happy hour or a Skype date. Prepare for your conversation by identifying a few concrete questions that you’ve struggled to find the answers to on your own. Ask for advice and input and really listen to the answers. Jot down ideas so you can refer to them later and make sure to send a thank-you note afterward expressing your gratitude for their time and expertise.

For those who you really connected with, consider asking them to serve as a mentor as you build your side hustle. Ask if they’ll serve in an advisory capacity as you grow your business/launch your brand/write your book and set up monthly meetings to help with accountability and vision.

Forming relationships with people who are passionate about the same type of work as you are will not only provide necessary connections in your industry but will also give you the guidance you need to fulfill your dreams and avoid mistakes in the process.

Simplify, simplify, simplify.

Often in the world of side hustles it can feel like there is no limit to what we can do. While we love encouraging others to dream the biggest dreams, we also believe that a quality project, business or brand is the result of a focused vision.

When you’re in the throes of launching your passion project, it can be easy to get caught up in the excitement and decide to add all sorts of layers to your already brilliant idea. Resist this temptation in favor of simplifying your vision and your brand, thereby perfecting your product or craft in such a way that makes it desirable for others to consume. Set yourself up for success by honing in on the one thing you want to do really well and delineate a list of steps to achieve that goal.

Less is more!

Set yourself up for success by honing in on the one thing you want to do really well and delineate a list of steps to achieve that goal.

Prepare for the leap.

Everyone has different outcomes that they want for their side hustles. Some people really love their day jobs and simply want a passion project to pursue on the side. Others need a way to generate additional income, while still others want to leave their current jobs in order to transition a side hustle into a full-time gig.

Regardless of the path you choose, start considering the ways you’ll need to plan your calendar and your finances in order for your vision to be seen through. Do you need to contribute more to your savings account each month so you can go part-time in your day job or quit entirely? Do you need to say no to an impending commitment or hobby or opportunity because it infringes upon the time you need to complete tasks for your side hustle? Do you need to seek out investors to contribute financially to your project?

By understanding the sacrifices you’ll need to make in advance, you are setting up healthy expectations and boundaries that ensure you’re taking the necessary strides towards achieving your goal.

Do you have a side hustle? What is it and what do you hope it grows into?

Images via Sarah Dorweiler

Rachel is the Development Director for the Touch A Life Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to the rescue and rehabilitation of exploited and trafficked children in West Africa and Southeast Asia. She currently lives in Dallas, TX, with her husband, their baby girl Ruby, and their cuddly English mastiff.

14 COMMENTS
  • Cade James Davis July 21, 2017

    Great read Rachel, always looking for extra ways to make cash around the office. I just wanted to share something I’ve been doing recently. I run an office and have noticed that unused toner was piling up in storage. Looked into returning but that was no good. Tried out the site http://www.tonerconnect.net/ and was impressed. They had quick service and that payout was nice.

  • Raydene Salinas July 13, 2017

    What a lovely piece! I can really relate to the limitlessness of a project. I’ve come to believe I’m a serial side hustler — I’m always finding ways to use my skills and passions to create!

    The big hustle: I just launched a new digital mag called Made Of on my website Lady Guns Global — here’s our first issue: http://www.ladygunsglobal.com/made-of-purpose-issue-1 I’d love for this to grow into a space where women across the globe will think to come for inspiration and to recognize the women they know for doing the wonderful things they do (we accept nominations: http://www.ladygunsglobal.com/nominate/) and a place where writers, photographers, content creators will want to share their work or offer their expertise as freelancers, and maybe eventually full timers! I think of my website as media filled with kindness.

    My other hustles: I’m also a vinyasa yoga teacher in NYC (http://raydene.me), an aspiring acroyoga teacher, a ceramicist (http://www.sprigandarrow.com) and a photographer/photo editor (http://raydene.co).

  • Cassidy July 11, 2017

    Your article was so helpful – super simple but powerful advice. I’ve been building an ethical box business that fights human trafficking. Basically, you would get a box full of give-back products and part of the profits goes towards care packages for human trafficking survivors. It’s fun but hard work. 🙂

    • Rachel Brown July 11, 2017

      Cassidy, that’s incredible! What an awesome idea. I would love to connect with you about this, as I serve as a Development Director for a non-profit organization that provides long-term rehabilitative care for children rescued from child trafficking in Ghana, West Africa. Email me at rbrown@touchalifekids.org to connect!

  • Angie July 10, 2017

    I’ve been painting to satisfy my passion for creating and wanting to share my love of Art with the masses which in turn made my hobby become a side hustle for myself. I commit to going to my studio every day and sharing at least one image daily with my followers. It’s helped me grow as an artist with all the time I spend behind the easel and becoming more comfortable talking/sharing my Art.

    • Rachel Brown July 11, 2017

      That is fantastic, Angie! Thank you for sharing.

  • Anonymous July 10, 2017

    I resigned today 7/10, from a job that I have been at for 24 years. I didn’t feel that it had grown into a place for me to be any longer. The depression that has come over me is a surprise needless to say. Over the years I have had 2 or three dreams that I have never let go of. Without having a degree, i.e. is pretty much out of the question. The other two are for my pleasure and to give fun to others. I have the faintest clue how to even begin. Where to start. What comes first. I love hearing how these woman have taken the reigns and stepped into a new beginning for themselves. Congratulations to you all.

    C.

    • Rachel Brown July 11, 2017

      Thank you for sharing your beautiful, genuine thoughts. You are so brave for quitting your job in pursuit of something new. Good luck to you!

  • Janine July 10, 2017

    I recently left my full time job for my side hustle. It has been a dream come true for me, I was drowning in an unhealthy way at my previous job. It’s been a struggle but the joy overpowers it. I build and design custom tables and business has been steady and healthy. I’m so, extremely grateful!

    • Rachel Brown July 11, 2017

      Janine, that is amazing! Good for you!

  • Anita July 10, 2017

    What a timely article!
    I am branching out in photography and writing. I love both and I’m always looking for more time in my day to dedicate to learning and perfecting each skill. I like the idea of tracking time spent on all my current tasks to find extra time as well as reaching out to mentors for guidance!

    This article is a great reinforcement for me right now. Thank you!

    Anita
    http://imagerybymcgee.com
    http://vignettesavannah.com

    • Rachel Brown July 11, 2017

      Your photography and writing projects sound fantastic, Anita! Thanks for sharing.

  • I blog as a sort of “side hustle”. Well, that’s stretching it a bit, because I don’t actually earn anything, but it’s my hobby and keeps me sane when I feel like I’m losing my head at work!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

    • Rachel Brown July 11, 2017

      I think your blogging work is still totally a side hustle, whether it’s monetized or not! Love that it helps bring some stress relief and peace for you. Thanks for sharing, Charmaine!

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