Sean Meyer
Dec 6, 2017 · 7 min read
Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash

I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t want to earn more money and have fun while doing so, which is also why I don’t think (lack of) motivation is the reason more people aren’t starting side hustles…

But instead, it’s having the clarity and direction on how to start.

This is what happened to me anyway, and even though I always dreamed of starting a side hustle that’d eventually flourish into a full-fledged company…

I never did, until the day I was fired from my job and had to quickly figure things out.

The elements of a successful side hustle

So there’s a lot of “fluffy” advice out there and I came across most of it when starting my side hustle…

And even though I’m sure some of it was helpful, most of it was complete brain clutter that slowed my progress…

Which is why I want to skip over all of that and instead, go straight to the foundation of a profitable side hustle, because once you have that in place — it’s hard not to succeed after that.

Now the first thing I guess we should do is define “successful”, as when most people hear this, they (reasonably) think I mean making money…

And don’t get me wrong, that’s a big part of it, but it’s far from the only thing you should consider.

So what else should you look for?

3 things:

  1. Can you control/handle it?

The last thing you want to do with a side hustle is enter something that can quickly spiral out of control and do more harm than good.

This is also why I never advise starting a “passive project” in the beginning as that can create a bunch of wildfires right off the bat, and the purpose of a side hustle is to make your life better, not more hectic.

Most people instantly think of jobs when they think of this as they’re usually a set number of hours that they can control, and I do understand the logic of this…

But I also don’t think a side job is your best choice as it doesn’t have a lot of flexibility and that can cause some unneeded stress.

2. Something that’s enjoyable and almost refreshing

40 hours of work already takes enough toll on the body, so there’s no need to pick up another side hustle that feels like work.

This is why you should have something that’s almost refreshing and exciting, as it can then double down and serve as something that you look forward to as you get off work.

3. Something that teaches you a new skill

Now I think most side hustles will inherently give you a new skill as it forces you to learn something you’ve never had to use before (i.e. contract negotiation), and that’s good enough as it is…

But if you can take this one step further and gain another skill out of it, then that’s even better.

A good example of this that I see most people benefit from is writing.

Whether that’s starting a blog about a topic that you enjoy or writing the book you’ve always wanted to write…

Writing is a skill that enhances many areas of life, especially thought and communication.

That’s why I think freelancing is the best start

Okay, so now we have our foundation in place and if you can find a side hustle that fits all 3 of these elements, then you’re off to a great start…

But the one form of this that works time and time again is freelancing.

And I know this might not sound like the ideal side hustle at first as everybody wants to focus on “passive income”…

But as somebody who’s seen this I dunno, 173 times over the last 2 years, I can tell you that passive income isn’t so passive in the beginning.

Why?

Because of all the time, learning and effort it takes to build your passive source of income…

And that’s bad enough, but on top of this they rarely ever make money right away, which is a motivation killer that stops many people from going any further…

All things that are mitigated by freelancing.

How to find your freelance career

Now that we know a sure-fire way of starting a profitable side hustle, we have to tackle the next obstacle that most new freelancers face…

Figuring out what in the hell you want to do.

I know when I first started this was extremely overwhelming as I treated it like my career, thinking I had to find the perfect job as I wouldn’t be able to change once I got started…

And this got so overwhelming that I had to hire a coach just so I could figure it out…

But you don’t have to do this as there’s only one thing you need to know…

Once you start one freelance career, millions of doors open.

What do I mean?

Well, after talking with my coach and going over everything I could do right away, we decided it’d be best for me to start as a freelance bookkeeper (as I had my Master’s in Accounting)…

So I did just that, and as I was looking for bookkeeping gigs I came across an interesting opportunity where a company was looking for somebody to write tax blogs for them.

Now I’m an IRS Enrolled Agent and understand a lot about Tax, but I wasn’t really comfortable with my writing skills…

So I hesitated for awhile, but after seeing that this job was open for a long time and didn’t have many applicants yet…

I decided to give it a shot, and 4 days later I had a writing client that paid me $45/hr.

Now this was amazing and I loved writing about tax for a living, but the more I wrote the more I started to understand how online business worked…

So that’s when I doubled down and learned how to do sales letters, then after learning this skill, I decided to start writing sales letters for online CPA firms…

And let’s just say, that paid A LOT of money…but it didn’t stop there.

After seeing how amazing my sales letters were and what they were doing for clients, I decided to learn Facebook Advertising so I could help them drive traffic to those sales letters…

And before I knew it, I started to combine these services, giving me jobs like:

All because I started as a freelance bookkeeper and saw somebody looking for a tax writer.

Why (and how) you could start a side hustle in 48 hours

It seems like whenever we hesitate on something, we always find reasons not to do it, and that’s why it’s important to find your side hustle and get started right away.

But how do you do this?

Well, I’d highly advise just starting with something that you already understand and maybe even used in a job before.

This would be just like me starting out as a freelance bookkeeper, where I had my Master’s in Accounting and knew I’d be able to do this easily…

But if you’re concerned about what skills are actually in demand, just think of anything that small companies would need you to do for them…

And if all else fails, always choose writing.

This is actually something that I advise to most people as it opens a lot of doors and will always be in high demand…

And even if you don’t think you’re a good writer, that’s okay, it can actually be an advantage (easier to learn other forms of writing that way, like sales copywriting).

At the end of the day, it’s hard to find a bad freelancing skill as you’re cutting out the middleman (i.e. bosses) and working directly with the client, meaning you’ll be able to make good money no matter what you do.

Okay so there’s the why, now here’s the how.

There’s honestly about 172 different ways that you could start a freelance business, and unless you need some special form of software, then it costs you $0 to do so…

Which leaves us with one barrier, how to find clients.

In the simplest form, you could easily start searching around the internet and asking people if they need your service…

Which does work and I’ve seen a lot of people succeed this way, but I also think freelance job boards (such as Upwork.com or Freelancer.com) are a great place to start as the clients on there are already looking for a freelancer to take care of something for them.

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Sean Meyer

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Sales/marketing consultant.

The Startup

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