How I Run a $6,000+ Per Month Side Hustle Empire Without Burning Out
I keep reading about how everyone needs a side hustle. It’s always made out to be something easy and manageable. People lie.
When I started, I had no intention of becoming a side-hustler. I was meant to write as a hobby and maybe if I got lucky I’d make a few dollars. Fast-forward a year and I have 5 volatile streams of income bringing in more than I could have imagined.
I’m not going to tell you how to make money because there are a million other stories to sell you that. I’m going to share how I’ve managed to cope with the pressure of juggling it all whilst not sacrificing everything I love. I’m no Gary Vaynerchuk.
Many online side-hustlers end up miserable and I want to prevent you from becoming one of them.
Over the last 6 months, I’ve turned down many lucrative opportunities because they would interfere with my day job. There’s no fuzzy line here for me at all. I put my job first out of respect for the employer paying my wages and have not had performance concerns.
If you try so hard to hustle that you end up getting fired then you’ve only hustled yourself. Being in trouble at work is stress no one needs and most side-hustles aren’t worth it. Do things right and you won’t be paralyzed by a guilty conscience.
When you find the opportunities you need to turn down are too great, you know it’s time to quit the day job and go full-time. Strictly protecting my normal career makes my life easier because I’m forced to take on much less work than I’m capable of.
Multi-task on mindless tasks
Some people have the image of side-hustlers hunched over their desk smashing away at the keyboard until the early hours of the morning.
I’m far more likely to be sitting on my sofa with my feet up watching sport on the TV whilst chipping away at my to-do list. I’m not giving up what I do to relax out of a distorted loyalty to the grind. It means I can get some of my more boring tasks out of the way while I’m being entertained.
I could get those tasks done faster by locking myself in my room but it would be a lifestyle I hate. Not everything is measurable in output/time.
See in your life where you have these opportunities to combine mindless side-hustle tasks with something else you enjoy.
Read the manual
What I’m doing isn’t groundbreaking and nor is what most other online entrepreneurs are doing. The majority of the information is out there on the internet for free. And you can always speed up the process by paying for expert advice.
Too many people start a side-hustle and waste huge amounts of time because they don’t do all the basic research at the start. There’s no glory in taking the long route because you didn’t bother to check a map.
The most underrated skill for online entrepreneurs is being able to Google and find the information you need. Don’t struggle to work things out for yourself when others want to teach you!
How did I learn to write on Medium? Google.
How did I learn to start a Substack? Google.
How did I learn to build an online course? Google.
Don’t try to make time
My side-hustles work around my life, not the other way around. The bulk of my available time is at the weekends and if something doesn’t get done then it will have to wait. My window of opportunity to produce something is small so I need to make the most of it.
It’s a slippery slope if you start making decisions to cut sleep or social time to squeeze out more time to be productive. You’ll have less motivation to be efficient because you can just make short-term sacrifices. Yet these add up and wear you down in the long run.
Consider Parkinson’s law which states work will expand to fill the time you have available. I’ve found it to be true. Whenever I give myself more time to do a task, I end up spending more time staring out of the window too.
Be ruthless with your availability
Dunbar’s number is the number of meaningful contacts our brains can handle and is estimated to be around 150.
Once I started gaining some momentum online, this limit was challenged aggressively. I’ve had months where well over 150 people I’d never met have messaged me to try to form a relationship. This is on top of all the people from my regular life!
I found this crowding out my actual loved ones and taking up far too much of my time. I now ignore 90% of the messages I receive from strangers. I’m sure many people are genuine but I’m not willing to sacrifice something else from my life to make space for them.
If I actually replied to everyone, there would be no time for me to continue creating the content they enjoyed in the first place!
Make friends not a network
There’s always going to be times when your side-hustle feels like a burden and it makes a big difference to have friends with who you can share the journey.
I talk to several online entrepreneurs every single day. I know about their families and how their weekends were. They make me laugh and without them, I’d have given up a long time ago.
I see people preach the importance of networking in the online world and for me, they miss the point. Superficial relationships based on scratching each other’s backs tire me out as I struggle to fake a smile. If I’m going to make time for someone then I’m coming at them with open arms and no tricks.
Online entrepreneurship can be a lonely and confusing world and a few friends who understand are more important than the size of your contact list.
Be a tinkerer
I’ve never understood how people live by rigid routines to be as productive as possible. I wake up at a different time every day as long as it’s before when my day job starts!
I have a messy list of tasks I want to get done for my side hustles and I pick what to do based on what I’m inspired to do. Let’s be real, for a side hustle, nothing is truly urgent. Anything I don’t do might affect my growth but my life is more important.
Keep trying out different ways of working to find what resonates with you. I find some routines can work for a while before becoming stale and I switch things up again.
If you’re burning out, the worst thing to do is to keep things the way they are and hope you’ll feel better. It’s close to the definition of insanity according to Einstein.