Is a Side Hustle Right For You?

woman walking dog side hustle

You know that managing and maximizing the money you make is important.

But if you don’t have a lot of money coming in, no matter how well you manage it, you may feel like you’re always struggling just to make ends meet.

So while you can and should always look for ways to get more for your money, eventually, you’re going to run out of things to maximize.

Your capacity to earn more though, is limitless. Which is why starting a side hustle can be a valuable strategy in the pursuit of financial freedom.

What is a Side Hustle?

In its simplest form, a side hustle is a way to make extra money.

For some people, a side hustle supplements their traditional 9 to 5 job. My little brother, for example, works full-time for a healthcare company. He side hustles as a cycling instructor on mornings and weekends at a local studio.

He’s able to live entirely off of his side hustle income and use his primary salary as a way of funding his financial goals — like buying a home.

For others, a side hustle is one of a portfolio of earnings streams. At one point, my entire income consisted of side hustles — from writing to personal assisting to babysitting.

In addition to supplementing your income, side hustles can be a great way to build new skill sets, get exposure to different industries, meet new people and even test out business ideas.

What Can I Do to Make Money?

The most important thing to consider when starting a side hustle is where your skill set, knowledge, experience or offerings intersect with others’ needs.

If you have some extra time, you can definitely leverage it for income.

While some side hustles may require a highly specialized skill set, like graphic design, or a large initial investment, like becoming a certified yoga instructor, many don’t, like dog walking and delivery services. But all have the potential to earn you money in your spare time.

If you’re searching for a side hustle idea, start by taking inventory of your skills, knowledge, experience and potential offerings. We tend to overlook the things we already have or do easily that are valuable to others, so challenge yourself to recognize and appreciate the value you can provide — even if it seems mundane.

For example, I live in New York City and have access to a car. Though I think of that as a very mundane element of my lifestyle, the reality is, access to a car is valuable to New Yorkers because most NYC residents don’t have their own. I could probably earn an income by renting it out or by using the car to help people move small items or by ridesharing.

So once you’ve created your list of skills, knowledge, experience and potential offerings, consider how those things might overlap with others’ needs in the form of a side hustle.

For example, if you have a tool that lets you digitize old VHSs, you could start offering that as a service. Or if you’re great at sewing, you could offer tailoring services.

Keep in mind that the greatest need for many isn’t a specialized skill or tool, but simply a matter of time. Time to clean. Time to cook. Time to wait in line for the latest Apple product or tickets to Hamilton. If you have some extra time, you can definitely leverage it for income.

Where to Find Side Hustle Opportunities

Being in touch with people’s needs is definitely one of the top strategies for side hustle success, as is figuring out where they typically go to fulfill those needs.

So if you’ve decided you want to start babysitting or cleaning houses for extra income, consider where people typically go to hire those service providers so you can start offering your service there too. It might be an online platform like taskrabbit or, if you’re a freelance writer or designer or social media manager, a platform like upwork or fiverr.

As you start your new side hustle venture, remember that side hustles are not get-rich-quick schemes. They take a lot of hard work and, sometimes, a long time before you even get paid and start seeing a real return.

Or maybe it’s just word of mouth. Let your own friends, family and community know about whatever you’re offering. Even if they don’t need your service, they might know someone who does.

The more people who know what you’re offering, the more likely you are to find someone with a need you can fulfill.

Before you decide what, if any, side hustle is right for you, here are a few considerations to keep in mind.

As you start your new side hustle venture, remember that side hustles are not get-rich-quick schemes. They take a lot of hard work and, sometimes, a long time before you even get paid and start seeing a real return.

That said, some side hustles have the potential to become extremely lucrative. But serious income growth doesn’t happen overnight, so align your expectations accordingly and be prepared to put in the work.

Finally, remember that choosing what you do next doesn’t mean choosing what you’re going to do forever. Like any extra earnings endeavor, you don’t need to know exactly how you’re going to arrive at your income goal to take the first step towards it. So dive in, have a willingness to get started, then pivot as you learn. Ultimately, the best opportunities don’t arise until you’re already in motion.