Are you working hard to pay down debt while building up an emergency fund and contributing to retirement -- but just don't have enough money to meet those financial goals? Do you find you come up short at the end of the month, despite working a full-time job and sticking to a tight budget?
It may be time for a side hustle.
A side hustle is a gig you work on the side of your full-time job, and it's one way many Gen Y and Gen Xers are making ends meet when their day jobs just aren't allowing them to make the progress they want to see with their money goals.
Your side hustle can be anything, but ideally it will incorporate what you love with what you're good at -- and what someone else wants to pay you to do for them. From dogwalking and babysitting to freelancing and consulting, the options are endless. It's all about what you want to make work for you.
Ready to side hustle for yourself? You are if you want to earn a little extra money each month and put your financial goals in the fast lane. Here are 3 smart ways to follow that passion and turn it into your full time hustle:
Hang Out Your Shingle
Start by marketing your skills. The best way to do this? Build your own platform online so anyone can find you and your work. In other words, set up a website.
You don't need a fancy brand -- that may develop over time. Try buying yourname.com, then set up something basic that includes a home page, about page, and contact page. Include a portfolio of some kind: for photographers, it would be a photo gallery. Writers might want to list out their recent works. If your side hustle deals in less tangible goods or services, use social proof via a testimonials page.
Don't have anything to show off yet? Do some work for free -- just for one or two people. This serves to:
- Build your experience
- Get referrals or recommendations from those you did the free work for
Also consider writing up your own blog (even if you're not a writer). Write on your niche, your field, or your industry. Doing so helps drive traffic to your site and helps establish you as an expert who knows what they're talking about.
You can also use social media to help share your work and content with the world, and to connect with others in your space (other side hustlers, influencers, and potential clients).
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70 percent of all jobs are found through networking – that’s a lot of jobs! This is a powerful tool for any stage of your career, even just for side hustles and gigs.
Use your network to find new opportunities (and new paying clients). Tell friends and family about what you want to start doing, and ask if they know others who may be able to help you get started or might be interested in what you're offering.
And again, use social media to reach out to others that may be outside of your personal bubble. The best way to get noticed? Remember that social media is a conversation. Liste, engage with others in a meaningful and helpful way, and provide value when it's your turn to "speak."
Don't forget to network amongst other side hustlers and influencers, as well. Don't think of them as competition that's out to take work from you -- consider them collaborators and look for ways to work together.
Once you develop these relationships, these people may be your best sources of referrals. They won't be able to take on every single client that comes their way, and they'll be looking to suggest another service provider to that prospect. Work to become part of a community of similar workers, and you could be that person.
Cold Call (or Cold-Email) and Put Yourself Out There
It may sound scary or risky, but another way to get things moving for you and your gig on the side is to simply reach out and get in touch with your ideal client.
Email makes this easier than ever to accomplish, and it creates a way lower-pressure situation than picking up the phone and calling someone out of the blue. (Plus, if you're side hustle is something like freelance writing and you work with most people virtually, it's always easy to find a contact email -- phone numbers are usually much more private and not freely given out.)
When you cold-email someone, you want to do remember that you're doing so from a place of service. You're reaching out to see if you can help this individual. That's the best way to word your email, as well: something like, "I wanted to see if you needed any help with X."
Never ask for them to do you a favor, or make demands. Always look to add value and seek to genuinely help the person on the receiving end.
The worst they can say is no. But they could say yes! Or that communication could turn into a new opportunity that you would have missed otherwise. You never know unless you put yourself out there.
Remember, half the battle is simply starting. If you want to establish your own side hustle or gig, start with a single baby step in the right direction.
Just set up your website. Write a single blog post. Respond to one person who asked a question on Twitter. Attend one meetup or networking event.
That first step is the hardest, but once it's out of the way you'll be amazed at how fast momentum builds. And don't forget about your motivation!
The sooner you start with a gig on the side, the sooner you'll be making a little extra money to put towards your most important financial goal.
Do you have a side hustle? What kind of gig would you like to do on the side?