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How to Start a Side Hustle? Plus 3 Ideas to Get You Going

Barchart - Mon Sep 18, 6:27AM CDT

In today's dynamic economic landscape, more and more of us are turning to “side hustles” to bolster income and navigate the challenges posed by stubbornly high inflation and interest rates. A side hustle is any additional income stream that provides supplemental cash - and it's different than a traditional part-time job in that it typically offers greater flexibility and autonomy, both in terms of hours worked and commitment level. And side hustles are seemingly becoming ever more popular.

According to a recent Bankrate survey, nearly 39% of U.S. adults have a side hustle of some kind - and for many, it's become a crucial source of income to help support everyday expenses. One in three U.S. adults surveyed said they need the money from their side hustle for day-to-day living expenses - outpacing those who use the cash for discretionary spending, at 27%. In fact, 28% of those with a side hustle believe they’ll always need one to make ends meet.

Digging deeper, about 42% of side hustlers with a household income under $50,000 a year say they need the extra income for day-to-day expenses. So, it's fair to say side hustles may not be just a temporary solution for some Americans. 

That's not to suggest necessity is the only reason to start up a side hustle. The Bankrate study found U.S. adults with a side hustle make $810 per month on average - and beyond those using the funds for day-to-day and discretionary expenses, another 25% use the extra income for savings, while another 12% use it to repay debt. 

So, let's look at the pros and cons of starting up a side hustle to make extra income. Plus, we'll highlight some easy ideas to consider if you're ready to unlock another revenue stream of your own.

Benefits of a Side Hustle

The most obvious benefit is that a side hustle provides an opportunity to earn extra income. This makes it easier to cover bills, contribute to savings, or meet various expenses. Moreover, this additional income can help transform your side hustle into a growing business over time.

One of the primary advantages of a side hustle is the ability to manage your own schedule. This flexibility allows individuals to seamlessly integrate their side hustle into their existing commitments, such as a full-time job. 

Furthermore, many individuals use their side hustle as a means to explore their passions and interests. This not only provides personal fulfillment, but also offers the potential to turn a hobby into a profitable career.

Drawbacks of a Side Hustle

That said, not all aspects of starting a side hustle are positive. Balancing a full-time job and a side hustle can leave little time for relaxation and non-work-related activities. This constant workload can strain personal relationships, and even lead to burnout.

Furthermore, an all-consuming side hustle can negatively impact your primary job, potentially putting your career and main source of income at risk. Setting clear boundaries and limits is essential to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

And remember that with any extra workload comes extra stress. Adding more tasks, meetings, or to-dos to an already busy life can increase stress levels. Plus, handling additional necessary responsibilities, such as record-keeping and tax filings, can complicate matters further.

Then there is the question of pricing your products and services in a competitive market, which can present its own set of challenges. Researching market rates and setting fair prices is essential to attract customers and ensure profitability.

How to Start a Side Hustle

The first step in launching a successful side hustle is to take stock of your existing skills and equipment. Consider what you're good at, and what resources you have at your disposal. Your skills could include: writing articles, graphic design, photography, coding, etc. While necessary equipment might range from a computer and camera to woodworking tools or even a spare room in your home. Identifying these assets will help you choose a side hustle that aligns with your abilities and resources.

From there, one of the biggest challenges of starting a side hustle is finding the time to dedicate to it. To overcome this hurdle, it's crucial to establish a clear and realistic schedule. Look at your daily and weekly commitments and determine when you can carve out time for your side hustle. Consistency is key here, and even dedicating a few hours each week can yield substantial results over time.

Setting clear income goals is another essential part of staying motivated and tracking your progress. Begin by defining how much extra income you want to generate from your side hustle. Be specific and realistic. Consider both short-term and long-term financial objectives. Having these goals in mind will help you focus your efforts and measure your success along the way.

Luckily, there are a slew of mobile apps and online platforms that make finding side hustle opportunities easier than ever before. Explore apps like Uber (UBER), Lyft (LYFT), or DoorDash (DASH) for flexible opportunities that can fit around your schedule. Additionally, platforms like Fiverr(FVRR), Upwork(UPWK), and TaskRabbit can connect you with freelance work, while marketplaces like Etsy(ETSY) and eBay (EBAY) allow you to sell your handmade or vintage items.

In addition to these essential steps, remember that successful side hustles often require dedication, adaptability, and a willingness to learn. You may encounter challenges along the way, but with the right mindset and persistence, you can turn your side hustle into a lucrative source of income.

3 Easy Side Hustle Ideas for Extra Income

If you're looking for the extra income a side hustle offers, but you're not sure where to get started - easiest is best, with low to no start-up costs. Here are three potentially lucrative side hustles that fit the bill.

1. Online Print-to-Order Store: Create and sell custom products like T-shirts, keychains, or home goods online. Effective marketing through platforms like Instagram, Facebook (META), and TikTok can help you reach a broad audience. Consider selling in-person at local farmer's markets and other areas for added visibility. While this won't cost anything to start up, it will take quite a fair bit of leg work to keep your audience and customers interested and coming back. 

2. Photography: If you have photography skills and equipment, turning your hobby into a side hustle can be lucrative. Offer services in areas like weddings, promotional photography, or headshots. Utilize social media and websites to showcase your portfolio and attract clients. Furthermore, you can also upload your photography to websites such as Getty Images or Alamy to bring in revenue through stock images. Again, this could take some time commitment in terms of uploading photos, as well as creating and maintaining clientele.

3. Virtual Assistant: If you're looking for extra income without leveraging your favorite creative hobby, consider becoming a virtual assistant. In this gig, you complete administrative tasks remotely for busy professionals - think meeting schedules, inbox management, and corporate travel arrangements. These assignments can generally be done in your free time, and may have the potential to evolve into a full-time work-from-home opportunity. 

Bottom Line

Side hustles are becoming increasingly vital for many of us, especially as inflation concerns remains elevated and economic uncertainty lingers. Side hustles offer flexibility, extra income, and even a chance to pursue passions. However, it's crucial to be aware of the potential drawbacks, such as reduced downtime and added stress. 

For those seeking additional financial flexibility on their own terms, a carefully selected side hustle can be crucial in achieving these goals. Whether you're looking to start an online store, delve into photography, or become a virtual assistant, the world of side hustles is brimming with opportunities for those willing to put in the effort and dedication to succeed.

On the date of publication, Amy Legate-Wolfe did not have (either directly or indirectly) positions in any of the securities mentioned in this article. All information and data in this article is solely for informational purposes. For more information please view the Barchart Disclosure Policy here.

Provided Content: Content provided by Barchart. The Globe and Mail was not involved, and material was not reviewed prior to publication.