Finding a side hustle is an excellent way to pad your income and reach your financial goals sooner, Grownups.
If you’re like me, you love to side hustle. Many of us experienced our first taste of it when we were kids—before we knew it as side hustling. You might have peddled candy in between class, babysat, or mowed your neighbor’s lawn. Whatever you did, the feeling of having extra cash in your pocket was empowering: It was money you discovered how to earn all on your own, and it was yours to spend on whatever you wanted.
As a Grownup, the money you earn from a side hustle can be used to get ahead, maybe to set aside for a rainy day to stay on top of your bills. But it’s actually much more than a great way to make extra cash.
Here are some ways a side hustle can enhance your life:
Do Something You Love
Side hustling can give you an outlet to pursue something you love doing and get paid for it. If you’re an animal lover, you can use your side hustle to spend more time with your favorite furry creatures by pet sitting. If you have a passion for carpentry, you can set up an online shop for your creations. I currently catsit for people (in their homes) on the regular, and it’s pretty awesome. Not only does it gives me quality time with felines, but I also get a free Airbnb-type stay thrown in the mix.
You might love what you do for a living—regardless, what you spend 40-plus hours a week getting paid for can be draining. Burnout is inevitable, and it happens to everyone. If you choose a side hustle that’s different enough from your day job, you can use it as a break from the daily grind. Plus, it can also expose you to new experiences and people.
For instance, if you have an office job, dog walking could be a welcome respite from sitting in front of a computer all day. If you love flowers and have a creative bent, working at a flower shop during peak seasons could help recharge your batteries.
I love to write, but there are days when I’ve been staring at the screen all day, and I feel as if my eyeballs are about to fall out of their sockets. To add balance to my life, I occasionally do some work for my friends’ small art gallery. It’s simple, manual work, such as framing prints for a show or assembling shipping boxes, but I get to spend time with my friends—and it’s a nice, active break from sitting all day.
Learn a New Skill
Having a side hustle gives you a reason to expand your skills and gain knowledge about a hobby. It can also give you a reason to explore something new. For me, it’s easier to justify spending money on some new equipment or enrolling in an online course if it will go toward making money.
Look Ahead (and Maybe Change Careers)
You might find great success in a side hustle. Who knows, selling crafty wares on Etsy or walking dogs could gain traction and become a small business. If turning a hobby into your full-time job is something you aspire toward, trying it out part-time is a great way to get your feet wet without too much risk.
Before venturing into freelance writing full-time, I worked at a calendar publishing company during the day and did copywriting and proofreading on the side. Moonlighting not only helped me establish connections but also was a good way of testing the waters to see what other types of editorial work I would enjoy doing as my primary job.
If you’re new to the world of side hustling, here are a few quick tips on how to get started:
Do What You Know
If you need to make money quickly, do something that showcases your talents. Chances are you’ll have a harder time finding work and getting paid well if you’re new to something.
Then again, you can throw what I said out the door and take on a side hustle doing something you would like to learn about or gain experience with a skill you have only used sporadically. This will probably take a little longer to build your side business up, and you’ll be up against people who have been doing the job longer and know more than you. If you’re not too concerned with making a quick buck, this may be worth your while.
Do What You Love
There are probably a million creative ways to make an extra buck. If you hate mowing lawns, why would you put yourself through that misery? Pick something that you enjoy and enhances your life.
Study the Competition
As cliche as it sounds, see what your competition is up to and learn their strategies. Figure out what exactly makes them so successful and the path they took to get there. You can adopt their strategies to enhance your side hustle business.
Come Up with Rates Beforehand
Do research to figure out how much you should charge. If you’re doing a side hustle through an established site—such as TaskRabbit—sometimes there are recommended rates based on your level of experience and the type of service you offer.
Come up with package deals—clients love package deals. Throw in a discounted rate or freebie to first-time clients. It makes it easier for both you and potential customers.
You might be thinking: Can’t I do these things just because I want to? Sure, but why not get paid while you’re at it? Side hustles are an awesome way to bulk up your savings, and if you have the right approach, they can be a lot of fun, too.
Jackie Lam is the creator of Cheapsters,
where she helps freelancers get by in the gig economy.
She lives in L.A., where she is on the perpetual hunt
for the perfect breakfast burrito.