5 Things Most People Get Wrong About Side Hustles
“Okay, if you can come up with some great keywords about farting, I’ve got to go see if this guy will settle for $500,000.”
By day, my friend is a lawyer. By night, he writes books about farting princesses. He said the words “I want to create a tooting princess empire” last week, and I laughed until I cried.
The children’s book is his side hustle. He has no illusions that it will become a second career. He doesn’t dream that Cindertoot will replace Sesame Street in the daytime television slot.
Do you know what John really wants?
He wants to make enough money on his farting princess book to write more of them. He wants to keep having fun. That’s the first thing people get wrong about side hustles — they don’t have to be a grind. They can be fun. Remember fun?
Since everyone is mesmerized by side hustles these days, it’s worth taking a look at a few more common misconceptions around them.
Your Side Hustle is About Leverage, Not Riches
The difference between not having enough money and having plenty is much thinner than you think. Purdue University performed a study that $65,000 is enough to give a feeling of emotional well-being.
If you live in a developed nation, odds are you are within $10,000 of that number. For less than $1,000, your life can look completely different.
$10,000 is tiny. You can make that by writing and selling an ebook. You can do it by taking one freelance client. You can do it by coaching 10 hours a month for $100 per hour.
Imagine what you could do with an extra $10,000 per year. You might not be showing up on Forbes “Richest People” list, but you’d have plenty extra for an emergency. You’d have enough to start investing. Or — you can pour all of it back into your side hustle to work toward a bigger return.
Stop thinking of your side hustle as a ticket to fancy cars or big houses. Instead, imagine them as your pass to freedom.
Your Side Hustle Is Not Another Job
Most people try to squeeze a side hustle into a schedule that is already jam-packed. A police officer becomes a security guard in his off-hours. A technical writer freelances as a sales copywriter late into the night. Although this can lead to success, it is more often a crushing blow to your energy.
Side hustles take extra effort. Of course they do. But be sure to consider the long term — do you want to be pinned to more than one job, every day, forever?
John taught me about this too. Minutes before he asked whether royal toots should smell like falafel, cabbage, or navy beans, he gave me investment advice.
I explained to him the details of my situation — my wife and I were considering renting out my home and buying a new one. Having never owned a rental property before, I didn’t even know how to analyze whether or not it was a good idea. He gave me some advice I hope to never forget:
“I have four kids, which means I have zero time. When I think about side incomes, I think about systems.”
John’s side hustles are not jobs. They are systems. That’s because he understands fully what most people don’t: Each day offers 24 hours.
Use them well.
You Don’t Have to Be an Expert to Start a Side Hustle
It’s the opposite — you start a side hustle to learn.
Internet marketer Abbey Woodcock recently started an interesting side hustle. After spending a career writing sales copy for various knowledge products, she’s now in the business of… wait for it… cheese.
Yes, cheese. And yes, you should be jealous.
Abbey didn’t start the business because she is the queen of dairy. She started it because she wanted to learn about cheese. Take a look at what she wrote in a recent email to customers:
“The cheese business is new to me, so I’ve spent much of 2020 learning everything I can about the business side of cheese. I am so excited to share my journey with you and pumped you decided to come along for the ride!”
An entrepreneur friend of mine had the same experience starting when he started his education company. He didn’t know anything about instructional design, the theory of learning, or what led to knowledge retention. He knows now.
School can be a good teacher. Side hustles are often better.
You Don’t Have to Hide Your Side Hustle
It’s an odd game, trying to juggle a full-time job and a part-time side hustle. This is especially true in the age of the Internet. LinkedIn makes it particularly difficult to run a sneaky side gig. How are you supposed to announce your business when posting anything about it will likely lead to your manager asking awkward questions.
“Are you trying to leave us?” he’ll ask, glaring at you under the fluorescent lights.
Ugh. Nobody wants that.
This is not the fault of the boss. It’s the fault of the hustler.
Many people slack off at their jobs while trying to grow another business. This is a mistake. Few things knock out side hustles faster than an angry boss.
If you have a reasonable leader, simply explain what you’re up to. If you don’t have a reasonable leader, find a new job.
The benefits of side hustles are enormous, but they are often different than what people imagine.
A side hustle can make you a true expert in a topic you’re interested in. It can earn you respect when you proudly run it alongside a full-time job. It teaches you to make money that doesn’t require your time. And, it can provide that extra level of income most people are never lucky enough to find.
Put simply, side hustles make you better.
It’s up to you to learn how exactly that happens.
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