The Ultimate Side Hustle

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LET YOUR SKILLS AND INTERESTS GUIDE YOUR CHOICES

Everyone has saleable skills. With online platforms to match work with people who want to do it, even the most basic tasks have value. You don’t need formal work experience to wait in a line, but if you have patience (and books to read or smartphone games to play), you can make $25 per hour or more as a line waiter.

Think about everything you do in a typical day at work and at home. If you focus on tasks or activities where you excel or that you especially enjoy, you’ll come up with a list of skills and expertise that you can turn into a side hustle. These might align with your education

or your primary job, but they may just as easily relate to a way you think, a hobby, a household task you’ve mastered, or your family responsibilities.

Tune in to what your friends and colleagues admire about you, or the areas where they rely on your advice or experience.

  • If people ask you for help with their presentations, you might be able to create a side hustle crafting slide decks, critiquing presentation delivery, or selling an online course that teaches others how to improve.
  • If your wardrobe is full of thrift store purchases that you have tailored, embellished, or otherwise altered, you might be able to provide mending and alterations, or sew clothes to order.
  • If you have an abundant garden, you might help others choose plants, give advice about garden feeding and maintenance, or help with outdoor chores.

Don’t forget about making money from things you own or that you can easily and cheaply acquire. Your eye for bargains or love of yard sales can become a resale business or provide raw materials you can use to create and sell upcycled goods.

MATCH YOUR SIDE HUSTLE TO YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES

Whatever your reason for starting a side hustle, setting goals will help you to choose the best work to fit your skills, your location, and your time—and maximize your earnings. If it takes you two hours to put together a coffee table, and you’re also fluent in Spanish, tutoring two students in the same amount of time could potentially earn you more than assembling furniture for a flat fee.

For most people, their side hustle contributes a small amount to their household finances. The supplemental income may be essential, helping to cover regular expenses. It may pay for family fun, like vacations and summer camp for kids, or fund a home renovation. Or it may provide a financial cushion. “I’m past having security. Now it’s about options,” explains Jim. While serving in the US Air Force, he

actively invested his own funds in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and real estate.

How fast you need the money may be a factor in the side hustle you choose. Some side hustles enable you to work for an hour, or a few, and get paid right away. If you’re selling your homemade soaps, you will have to buy supplies, spend time making your products, and market them before you see any return. With experience, you may find that some side hustles aren’t for you, and you’ll become more strategic in what you seek out.

You may also have goals beyond making money: to fund a hobby or otherwise get paid to do something you enjoy; to get entry-level job experience or practice a skill you need for the future; or to have a flexible source of funds for when you can’t work full time due to caregiving responsibilities, have a reduction in salary or wages, or experience a layoff.

For people who are working in industries that are shrinking, or where jobs will be lost to automation, having a side hustle offers a way to ease the transition by updating their skills or learning a new field. The same is true for anyone facing a career change or retirement. If you’re retired, a side hustle can help you to stay busy and connected to people in your community in addition to picking up extra income.

Whether you’re starting your career or starting over, a relevant side hustle while you’re still employed offers a way to make contacts and gain the skills you need to get a job in a new industry or start your own business. You will also be able to learn which aspects of the work you enjoy the most, figure out how to deal with any challenges you may face, and explore different ways your business can grow.

Be aware that some side hustles—particularly in healthcare, education, law, personal finance, food service, and any work that directly impacts public or individual health and safety, such as electrical work—may require you to be licensed, certified, or otherwise trained. In some fields where credentials are not required, having them can make it easier to find work or earn higher rates.

As side hustles, jobs that require an academic degree or formal training are best for people who already have the qualifications or who are looking for a long-term career change that makes the time and expense a good investment. When I talked to Jim, the retired air force

officer, he had qualified as a tax preparer and was in the process of becoming accredited as a financial counselor so he could start a part-time business.

But you can train quickly for other side hustle jobs. Learning to referee grade school soccer takes only a few hours. Tutors, like Steven, a retired systems engineer in Houston who teaches math and science, can easily add a new subject to their repertoire. When he took on a student who needed help with advanced calculus, he filled the gaps in his knowledge of the subject by watching online lectures.

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