What Is a Side Hustle?

By Jackie Beck   Updated 10/31/2022 at 1:48 pm

A side hustle is just extra work you do in addition to your normal job. A side job or side gig, in other words.

The phrase “side hustle” doesn’t have a bad meaning the way like the word “hustle” alone sometimes does. It’s more like hustle in the sense of “get a move on and work hard”. (Like your gym teacher might have yelled.)

It can be work you do a few hours a week, no set number of hours, or even a lot of hours if you are full of fire.

Usually a side hustle is done as a freelancer or independent contractor/entrepreneur (aka working for yourself), so those are the kinds of things we’ll focus on here.

But working part time for an employer can also be called a side hustle if you’re doing it on top of your regular job.

Why Do a Side Hustle?

You may be doing it solely to make extra money, because it’s more fun than your regular job, or both.

But let’s face it, it’s probably for the money.

To have a side hustle, you might need things like:

  • being able to do physical labor,
  • technical skills
  • an internet connection
  • or creativity

On the other hand, for some you’ll just have to put yourself out there and get some clients. Note that you can also probably just do more of whatever your day job is part time somewhere else, as long as they allow it.

Whatever you choose, remember that taking action is the key.

How to Choose a Side Hustle That Works For You

First, think about your goal. Is it purely to bring in more money? If so, how fast do you need the money? If not, is it that you want to do something you like better? Do you want to test the waters in a small business? Learn new skills?

Next, look at what it will cost to get started. If your main goal is to make money fast, try to avoid things that need an investment up front. (Especially if it’s something sales-related *cough* MLM *cough*.)

Because contrary to popular belief, you do NOT have to spend money to make money. You can make money without spending a dime. Or you can start out with things that don’t cost you anything, and put money into it later if you want to grow.

Finally, look at the skills and equipment you have. Do they match any of the ideas? Or are any of them easy to learn or get?

Once you’ve thought about those things you can choose from the side hustle ideas that are the best fit. Don’t spend a ton of time trying to find the “best” idea ever.

Pick something that appeals to you and give it a solid try.

How to Start Your Own Side Hustle

If your goal is to test the waters with a side hustle that you hope to maybe take full time someday, you’re basically starting your own small business. That doesn’t have to be hard.

If you’re a sole proprietor, sometimes all it takes is saying you are in business and getting your first customer. You don’t need to make a business plan, create business cards, build a website, form an LLC or S-Corp, etc before you start in order to, say, write a few articles a week as a staff writer for someone’s blog. You just need to get a customer and go make some extra money.

But do be aware of any laws that apply in your area. For example, you may need to get a business license and permit. You may want to get bonded and insured, etc.

And always make sure to meet any legal, health, and tax requirements related to what you want to do. You’ll also want to set aside money for taxes from every dollar you earn. I set aside 30%, but check with someone who knows your situation for advice.

If you aren’t sure what’s needed to start a business on the side, start by googling your state’s name + corporation commission. You can usually find plenty of info online from government sources. Check with a pro who knows your situation to be sure.

One Last Thing: How to Find Customers and Work

Put the word out among your friends, relatives, neighbors, and coworkers. Tell them about what you offer or what you want to do, and ask them to send people your way if they know of anyone interested.

Word of mouth is a great way to find clients or work, since people trust the recommendations of people they know. Really, it’s by far the best way, especially if you can get people piping up to recommend you all on their own. (You do that by being super helpful and flat out asking them to refer you if they hear of anyone who could use your services.)

For example, if you want to tutor students in German, you could pass the word to local high school and college teachers. (Who could then give out your name and phone number for you.) You may be able to post in neighborhood groups online too.

The important thing is to get started, ideally with something that’s not going to cost you much (or anything) up front. Which will you try?

What is a side hustle?

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