How to Choose Your Side Hustle
When you searched for your current job, you probably had a plan. You figured out the types of work you were interested in and qualified for based on your training and education. You had wage or salary goals and some idea about how this job could lead to your next one or shape your career path. Then you searched for openings, networked with your friends and colleagues, and interviewed until someone hired you. The same principles apply to your side hustle. In this chapter, you’ll learn what goes into choosing a good one. Learn to identify your saleable skills; you’ll find you have more of them than you may think. Read about how to fit your side hustle to your circumstances so you can reach your earnings targets as well as any goals beyond making money to supplement your income. Get information to help you create a strategy for finding your side hustle. You’ll also hear from a graduate student, a former air force officer transitioning to a new career, a retired systems engineer, and a yoga instructor, who offer their insights about choosing and finding a side hustle.
TURNING WORK INTO A HUSTLE
Nearly any work that people do can be turned into a side hustle, whether low-skilled tasks such as running errands and cleaning houses or high-skilled trade and professional services like electrical work, nursing, and accounting. Your artistic ability, cooking prowess, or fluency in a foreign language can be turned into an income stream, as can your spare room and bargains you pick up at yard sales.
People who work in industries where freelance work is typical earn their living by matching their knowledge and skills to a variety of projects and clients. A guitarist might perform with a band, teach music lessons, write songs, and produce recordings. In a future where
jobs may become less secure due to automation or decisions by companies to hire fewer permanent employees, work as a series of gigs rather than a job people go to every day for years could become more common. Millennials, whose expectations about work were shaped by the Great Recession, have taken this idea to heart. They are more likely to freelance at least part time—one way to describe a side hustle—than workers from previous generations.
Many university students, in fact, anticipate a career full of side hustles. “Even if I do get a ‘real job’ I may have a side hustle of a blog, or teach on the side, so I have freedom to do what I want with my time and not choose one kind of career path,” says Jeanelle Horcasitas, a graduate student. The side hustle isn’t only about getting some quick money by walking dogs or cleaning houses. Students are applying their classroom and laboratory training to gigs with potential to become independent businesses.
That’s a good model for any side hustler. Entrepreneurs—whether their business is a tech startup or a garden design service—succeed by identifying a product or a skill they have to offer that fills a need. Doing work you are good at will help you to maximize your earnings. As you gain experience and increase your expertise, you’ll be able to get more work—and potentially higher-skilled work, enabling you to earn higher rates. You’ll also be building your resume. With experience, your side hustle could provide you with more options for work should your career interests or employment status change.