4 Ways To Start A Side Hustle That Is Realistic For Your Life & Skill Set

What would happen if you lost your job today?

How would you fare if your boss called and said, “Don’t worry about coming to work today. We’re giving you two weeks’ severance pay, but are no longer able to employ you”? For many Americans, just the thought of this causes their heart to skip a beat. We depend almost entirely on our employer for financial security and wellbeing. With 63% of Americans unable to cover the cost of a $500 emergency, going several months without a paycheck is unimaginable. But the reality is, most of us could lose our job within the next couple of years. Not only do we need to be planning and saving for retirement — we also need to be planning and saving for any career changes that may appear on the horizon.

Now, don’t let this discourage you. The main point here is that life happens — and having a Plan B is always a good idea. As Alan Lakein so clearly put it, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

By investing time and energy into a side hustle, you receive two clear benefits. First, you establish a skill set that can be used to earn an income, if you ever do lose your job. Second, you can make more money today! This extra money can go to anything from paying for your next vacation, to covering education costs, to saving for retirement.

Now that we’ve determined the value of making extra money on the side, let’s discuss the real purpose of this article: How can I develop a side hustle income?

Understanding the “Side Hustle Equation”

For someone who’s never earned money outside of their day job, the idea of launching a side hustle can seem like climbing Everest. But the reality is, the basic equation is pretty simple. The Side Hustle Equation is:

Time x Creativity x Financial Investment = Income

In short, if you aren’t creative and don’t have any money to invest in a side hustle, then you’re limited to simply your time. Although time is certainly valuable, when you pair it with creativity and a few dollars, you can turn a $25 website into a million-dollar business. Therefore, as you begin brainstorming your side hustle, ask yourself: What resources do I have available? What can I invest in regards to time, creativity, and money? Generally speaking, the best combination is a lot of creativity, a moderate amount of time, and a few dollars.

Once you have an understanding of what attributes you can invest into your side hustle, it’s time to get started! The following four strategies can help you earn anywhere from a few dollars right now, to thousands (or even more) over the next couple of years.

1. Sell your time (no skills required)

If you don’t have a solid skill set and need money now, selling your time is likely the best place to start. There are a plethora of opportunities for someone looking to sell their time for money. From tried-and-true classics, to activities brought about by the age of technology, here are a few examples of time-heavy side hustles with minimum need for creativity or money:

  • Seek out manual labor jobs on Craigslist (lawn care, moving assistance, etc.)
  • Take care of the elderly, the young, and pets via Care.com
  • Sell your time online with Mturk.com, Fiverr.com, SEOClerk.com, and similar sites

2. Build off of your day job by freelancing

If you have a bit of free time and experience with a specific skill set, then freelancing is an exceptional way to make extra money. If your employer pays you $25/hr you could very easily charge $50/hr to do the exact same task for other businesses that don’t have a need for a full-time employee. From accounting, to writing, to marketing, to analytics, to data entry — if you do your job on a computer, you can do it as a freelancer.

But how? I’m glad you asked! Although starting your own website(s) can definitely help in the long-term, the fastest way to start is by setting up a freelancer profile on one (or several) platforms that can connect you with potential clients. Some of the most popular include:

3. Make and sell a product

If you’re a bit more creative and love the idea of making money from your creation, that’s a perfect place to start your side hustle. If you find a creative niche, you can make a significant amount by selling unique products that you’ve made yourself.

If you’re looking for a place to sell your own products (and perhaps, seeking inspiration as well), consider the following platforms:

4. Sell your current network (or grow a new one)

Are you an avid networker with 1,500 Facebook friends, a Twitter following of 10k, or a blog with decent traffic? Then you could very easily start making money by connecting your current network with relevant brands and products. Of course, you don’t want to spam your friends or followers, but a bit of strategically placed content can actually benefit your network while making money for you.

There are three ways that you can monetize your network:

  • Introduce them to new brands through online affiliate programs: There are hundreds of affiliate programs that make you a commission on every sale that your friends make through clicking on a link you provide.
  • Sell sponsored posts, tweets, etc directly to brands: If your following is large enough (or niche enough), it can be relatively easy to find brands that will pay you anywhere from a few dollars for a tweet to several hundred for a sponsored blog post.
  • Sell products directly to your network: From companies like Mary Kay to your own products or services, many people within your network will be happy to buy and/or share your product.

Now, the most important step — do something!

After reviewing the lists above, everyone should be able to find a side hustle that works for them. Regardless of your education level, age, or time availability, you should be able to increase your income using at least one of the methods above. So what’s next?

Do Something! Anything.

Sit down and write out a plan to earn that first dollar, then get started. If not today, then this weekend. Go to a yard sale, explore a freelancer platform, or consider making your own jewelry. Even if your first idea fails, that’s completely okay. Each failure gives you more experience and knowledge that can be used for the next venture. Success isn’t about avoiding failure; it’s about doing, failing, and doing again.

So, what will your next step be?

Rob Erich writes about the digital nomad lifestyle on MoneyNomad.com and discusses personal finance for InvestmentZen.com. You can find him, stalk him, and interact with him on Twitter.

Image via Unsplash

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