The Ultimate Side Hustle



When you have ideas about the type of work you want to do, and you know your goals, you can create a strategy to find work. The time-tested ways, such as networking with personal and professional contacts, and getting referrals from customers, serve most side hustlers well. Social media extends that network. On-demand and freelancing services platforms are emerging as another source of work.

Most freelancers find work through their family, friends, or professional colleagues. Every industry has conferences, meetups, and other gatherings where you can meet people who may hire you for side work. People who know you can provide references and referrals even when they don’t have work to give you. Meanwhile, if you are starting a side hustle doing work that is unrelated to your regular work, your friends could become your first customers. Because they already know and trust you, they will likely be more confident in your skills and abilities than a stranger, and these early jobs will help you build your reputation.

You may also be able to find part-time work through online classified ads, and by cold calling organizations you would like to work for. When Andrea, a social worker who teaches yoga on the side, wanted to offer a class for retirees, she introduced herself to local community recreation directors, which led to a short-term gig.

Social media platforms are also an important source of connections and help to expand your network beyond people you know. Facebook

and other social networks such as Nextdoor support community-based groups, where members often ask their neighbors to recommend home improvement contractors, tutors, housecleaners, and a wide variety of other service providers. These platforms also provide ways for people offering services to advertise their availability and interact with potential customers. Meanwhile, business networks—LinkedIn as well as industry-focused platforms—provide a venue for making connections with professional colleagues who may hire you for your side hustle.

If you haven’t tried to find work using an online freelance marketplace or on-demand service for independent work, such as Uber or Lyft for driving, TaskRabbit for household tasks, Catalant forprofessional services, GigSalad for event planning and entertainment, or Thumbtack for a wide range of personal and home services, you’re not alone. As of mid-2018, most independent workers have not joined these platforms. However, it’s wise to become familiar with how they operate because they have potential to play a larger role in finding gig work in the future.

On-demand and freelance platforms are supposed to make finding gigs easier: once you join and set up your profile, the platforms generate opportunities for you based on customers’ requests. This happens in one of several ways:

  • The platform matches you to customers’ criteria and presents you with gig offers. Ridesharing, delivery services, and household task services work this way.
  • Your profile is presented to customers as the first step in a hiring process. Platforms for hiring nannies, tutors, home improvement contractors, and professional consultants tend to work like this.
  • You can search for available gigs and bid on them, similar to searching and applying for a conventional job.

Regardless of the process for matching you with tasks or projects, you have access to a wider range of customers and opportunities than you would be able to find by yourself. These platforms also facilitate finding work you may not think to market yourself for, but for which you are qualified.

Though on-demand and professional services platforms are still new to many people, most people who sell things have been doing so online for more than twenty years: eBay launched in 1995. Peer-to-peer rental platforms, such as Airbnb for home rentals, are newer but gaining popularity. You can list your rentals on craigslist or other online classified sites the traditional way, but you can also find peer-to-peer rental platforms covering many types of property—from boats to RVs to your driveway.

Meanwhile, if your side hustle is selling stuff, eBay is just one option. For example, Facebook has its Marketplace and numerous yard sale groups, while Nextdoor has For Sale and Free sections. And there are platforms that specialize in specific types of products, like Etsy for art and crafts. If you want to set up an independent onlinestore, there are tools for that as well.

With a clear idea about what you can do, goals for what you want to accomplish, and a strategy to find work, you’re ready to side hustle.

Where People Find Freelance Work

  • Friends and family: 43 percent
  • Professional contacts: 38 percent
  • Social media: 37 percent
  • Online ad/classified: 27 percent
  • Previous employer as a freelancer: 24 percent

Source: Edelman Intelligence/Upwork and Freelancers Union,September 2017

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