How to Start a Side Hustle

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How to Start a Side Hustle

How would your life change if you made an extra $500 per month? How about making an extra $1,000 per month or more?

If you’re interested in making more money, you have a few choices.

You could go out and look for a higher paying job. You could work overtime, if it’s available to you. Or, you could find a flexible side hustle that allows you to make extra money without impacting your current job.

A side hustle is anything that makes money outside of your job.

Starting a side hustle is a great option for making extra money, regardless of whether you work a full-time job, a part-time job, are a stay-at-home parent, or are unemployed. Side hustles are even a good choice for those who have retired but would like to bring in some money.

Sound interesting?

If you’d like some extra money but you’re not sure where or how to start a side hustle, this article is for you.

If you’re looking for specific ideas for a side hustle, please see my list of more than 150 side hustle ideas

Why Start a Side Hustle?

Before we look at how to start a side hustle, let’s look at some of the reasons why you might want to do it. This is important because (as we’ll see in a minute), knowing your motivation is an important part of choosing the right side hustle.

Here are some of the most common reasons people start a side hustle:

1. Extra Money to Pay the Bills

if you’re having trouble paying your bills on your current income, starting a side hustle could help to make ends meet. While side hustles are an option with any work or family status, they’re especially popular with stay-at-home parents. Sometimes just making a small amount from a side hustle is enough to allow a mom or dad to stay home with the kids instead of working a full-time job.

2. Pay Off Debt

The popular debt snowball and debt avalanche methods both involve throwing as much money as possible at your debts. Obviously, the more money you make, the faster you’ll be able to pay off your debts. In this case, the side hustle could be a temporary thing until your debt is paid off, or you could keep doing it and pocket the money after your debt is eliminated.

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3. Build Up an Emergency Fund

Saving for an emergency fund should be one of your financial priorities if you don’t already have a sufficient emergency fund. The emergency fund will help you to be pay bills if something unexpected happens, like the loss of a job, a health issue, or a family emergency.

How much you need in an emergency fund will depend on your family situation and how stable your income is, but as a general rule of thumb, you should have enough money in an emergency fund to cover 3-6 months of living expenses.

If you don’t already have an emergency fund, or if you need more money in your emergency fund, a side hustle is a great way to reach this goal.
The money in your emergency fund should be quick and easy to access. I recommend a high-yield savings or money market account. You’ll earn some interest, and you can access your money whenever you need it. My wife and I keep our emergency fund with CIT Bank (their interest rate is more than 20X the national average).

4. Work Toward a Savings Goal

If you’re trying to save for a goal like a vacation, a child’s education, a car, or anything else, a side hustle can help to speed up your progress. Having extra money to save every month can help to make any savings goal more achievable.

5. Start a Business with Hopes of Going Full-Time

Sometimes a side hustle can turn into something bigger. Starting a business as a side hustle allows you to minimize risk by not quitting your full-time job. As your side hustle income increases you can consider if/when you want to leave your job and pursue your business full-time.

6. Extra Money to Invest for Retirement

Side hustles are very popular in the FIRE (financial independence, retire early) community because they can be extremely powerful for helping you to reach financial independence faster. If you are saving and investing the extra hundred or thousands of dollars you are making with a side hustle, your net worth can snowball.

If you want to see a breakdown of how this is possible, please see my article 9 Steps to Financial Independence (How to Retire Early).

7. Produce Small Income in Retirement

If you’ve already retired or reached financial independence, maybe you prefer to have a side hustle to keep you busy and to make some money, even if it’s not as much as you could make with a full-time job.

Many people who have reached financial independence and “retired” early are still doing something for income on a part-time basis. The benefit is being able to choose something that you enjoy and working a flexible schedule.

Related Reading:

My Side Hustle Story

I love side hustles because my life has changed as a result of my own side hustles.

Back in 2007, I was looking for some extra income so I started a web design blog. I worked on that blog for 1.5 years until I left my job (in 2008) and it became my full-time income. For the past 10+ years, I’ve been working full-time from home managing my own websites and blogs. You can read a few stories about this here:

How to Start a Side Hustle

Now, let’s move on to the steps you can take if you’d like to start your own side hustle.

1. Think About Your Goals

First, you need to know what you want to get out of a side hustle. This is critical because not all side hustles are equal. Some options will be a great match with certain goals, but a terrible match with other goals.

For example, working as a freelance writer is a side hustle with loads of potential. But if your goal is to make a few hundred dollars in the next two weeks, it’s probably not your best option. As a freelance writer, you’ll need to find clients, do the work, and then get paid. You’ll need a little bit more time before you start making money.

Another example… taking online surveys is a really popular side hustle. It can be a great option because it’s very flexible and requires no specific skills or experience. But if your goal is to turn your side hustle into a full-time income, it’s not the best choice.

As you consider your goals, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • How much money are you hoping to make from your side hustle?
  • Are you looking for something that has the potential to turn into a full-time business?
  • Do you need to make money immediately, or are you able to wait a few weeks or months until you start making money?
  • Are you planning for the side hustle to be temporary (a few months or less), or are you looking for something long-term?

2. Consider the Possibilities

Once you have an idea of your goals for the side hustle, you can start to look at the different possibilities to see what would be a good fit with your goals.

I have a huge list of more than 150 side hustle ideas that you will want to check out. That list gives a brief description of each and it should help you to find at least a few possibilities that might be good options for you.

Related Reading:

3. Start with Your Hobbies and Interests

As you’re considering the possibilities, I highly suggest that you start with your own hobbies and interests. This is especially important, in my opinion, if you have a full-time job. After working 40+ hours per week at your job, you’re not going to feel like coming home and working on something else unless you enjoy it. Choosing a side hustle that interests you will increase the chances that you’ll stick with it.

If you’re looking for some ideas, see my article 40 Exiting Hobbies That Make Money.

Making money from a hobby may seem like an unrealistic dream, but it’s actually quite possible, and there are a number of different ways you could do it. You could start a blog, podcast, or YouTube channel. You could offer a service (like music lessons, dog walking, or gardening). You could create and sell products on sites like Etsy (handmade crafts). You could write ebooks.

4. Consider Your Skills

In addition to things that you enjoy, also think about your current skills. Do you have some skill or ability that is in demand? Is there something that people would pay you to do for them?

Here are a few examples to get your mind rolling:

  • Baking
  • Photography
  • Design
  • Carpentry
  • Painting
  • Fixing things

In some cases, your full-time job (or a previous job) may have given you some experience or allowed you to develop skills that you could use in a side hustle. Of course, you’ll need to be sure that your side hustle doesn’t present a conflict of interest or compete with your employer, but there are plenty of situations where you could make this work.

5. Consider Your Schedule

Schedule and availability is also a huge part of finding the right side hustle. Take a look at your existing schedule and see which hours would be available for you to use on a side hustle.

This is especially important if you have a full-time job, but it can also be important if you’re working part-time or if you have some other commitments. For example, if you’re a stay-at-home mom and you’re responsible for young kids, you may want to find a side hustle that you can do during naptimes or after your kids are in bed at night.

Some side hustles have great income potential, but they may not be a good fit for your schedule. Other side hustles may not offer an extremely high-income potential, but they do offer excellent flexibility.

In order to have success, you’ll need to choose an opportunity that will work well with your existing schedule and allow you to make some money without taking away from your existing commitments and responsibilities.

6. Decide on a Side Hustle

After you’ve considered all of these factors you should decide on the side hustle opportunity that seems like the best fit for you. Some people have multiple side hustles, but I wouldn’t recommend starting more than one at a time. If there are several things that interest you and you think you can manage more than one, start with one and wait until you’ve had some success with it before adding anything else.

One of the nice things about side hustles is you can move from one thing to something else pretty easily. If you try something and it doesn’t work out or you decide it’s not right for you, it’s not hard to move on to something else.

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7. Lay the Foundation

Once you’ve decided on your side hustle, the next step is to get started by laying the foundation. The details of this step will vary depending on the side hustle that you’ve chosen, but basically, you just want to do whatever makes it possible for you to start making money.

Let’s look at a few examples:

If you decide to work as a freelance writer, laying the foundation may include setting up your own blog with a few writing samples, and creating a bio page.

If your side hustle will be driving for Uber or Lyft, the first step is to complete their application and make sure that you meet all of their requirements (and also check with your insurance company).

If you’re going to be taking online surveys for your side hustle, your first step would be to create an account at a few survey websites, complete your profile, and take the introductory survey about yourself so they can match you up with other survey opportunities.

If you’d like to make money as a dog walker, laying the foundation may involve creating a profile at sites like Rover and Wag.

8. Find Your First Customer

After you’ve laid the foundation, it’s time to start making money! If your side hustle involves a service, that means it’s time to look for your first client. You could tell your friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors about what you’ll be doing and ask if they know of anyone who might benefit from your services. You can also post your services to Craigslist or specialized websites and forums.

If you’re selling a product, you’ll be looking to make your first sale at this stage. That could involve selling at an online marketplace like Etsy, selling through social networks like the Facebook Marketplace, selling from your own website, or selling in person or locally.

→ Related reading: 17 Apps and Websites to Help You Sell Your Stuff

If your side hustle involves doing something online, your goal at this stage is to do whatever work will allow you to get paid. For example, take a few paid surveys or land your first transcription job.

Landing your first customer/client or making your first dollar may not seem like a big deal, but really it is. It allows you to validate your idea. Once you know it is a legit way to make money, you can continue your efforts to scale up and make more.

9. Market Yourself

Once you have validated your idea and you know it is truly possible to make money with your side hustle, now you want to take it to the next level.

If you’re offering a service, you’ll want to promote yourself and your services where your ideal clients will be able to find you. This could involve creating listings on Craigslist, apply to opportunities on freelancing job boards, building out your profile and getting some reviews on sites like, creating some ads or flyers to post on local bulletin boards, creating a Facebook page and building a following, or any number of other things.

If you are selling a product, promoting yourself could involve running some ads online, reaching out to bloggers who may be interested in reviewing your product, or networking to make your product available at a store or website that would reach your target audience.

If you want to make money on Pinterest, you could reach out to small businesses that may be interested in hiring you as a Pinterest virtual assistant.

For some side hustles, marketing yourself may not be necessary. Instead, your task at this stage should be to do more of the work that will help you to get paid. For example, that could mean taking more surveys, testing more websites, finding more items to flip, doing more transcription work, etc.

10. Use Your Income with Purpose

Now that you’re making some money, be sure that you are using that money in a way that allows you to reach your goals. It can be tempting to blow that money, but remember the reason that you’re doing the side hustle in the first place.

Once you see the progress that you can make with a side hustle, you’ll probably be even more motivated. If your goal is to pay off debt, you’ll love how your side hustle income makes that debt go down so much faster.

Now It’s Time to Take Action

I’m assuming you came to this page because you have some interest in making extra money. If you’ve read through the article, now it’s time to take some action and put these things into practice.

Start at the beginning. Clarify your own goals and take a look at the possibilities and opportunities in my list of 150+ side hustle ideas.

Best of luck with your side hustle!

READ NEXT: 40 Exciting Hobbies That Make Money

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