Imagine seeing the numbers in your bank account going up and up every single month…
Sounds nice, huh?
For a number of Americans, this is becoming a reality, all thanks to starting a side hustle or two.
In fact, as many as 1 in 3 Americans have a side hustle now. And 1 out of 6 is making a minimum of $500 extra each month.
It seems that traditional jobs just aren’t bringing home the bacon like they once were.
Many people are searching for supplementary income to cover their typical expenses, pay for fun extras, or set themselves up well for retirement.
This is where taking on a side hustle can help.
But, since you’re here, the side hustle meaning may still be unclear to you.
So, if you’ve been curious about what side hustles are, whether they would be worth your time, and all the things to consider before starting one, then here’s everything you need to know.
What is a side hustle, and how do they work?
Side hustle definition
What does side hustle mean, exactly?
Simply put, a side hustle is work you do on the side of your regular job to make additional income.
The way people define side hustle tends to vary, but to most, it involves some type of self-employment—like freelance gigs—or an entrepreneurial endeavor, as opposed to a traditional second job.
This might look like starting an affiliate marketing business, selling art online, or walking your neighbor’s dogs.
One great thing about side hustles is that they often serve as an opportunity for people to pursue something they’re interested in or passionate about.
In fact, there are many reasons and benefits involved that lead people to take on a side gig.
But perhaps the greatest reason more and more people are starting a side hustle comes down to the financial security it can provide.
Starting a side hustle is a valuable tool for easing your financial burdens and growing your wealth.
How do side hustles work?
The point of a side hustle is making money, and there’s no magic trick for that—it takes work. But if you’re giving up your free time for more work, make sure it works for you!
So, how do side hustles work for people, anyway?
First things first, your side hustle should be flexible and not drain you.
For this reason, a side hustle tends to fit into people’s schedules in two ways: 1. it remains part-time only until you decide you’re ready to scale, and 2. its schedule is ultimately dictated by you.
The second part of this is the most important ingredient to making a side hustle work for you.
Sure, a side hustle can mean working for someone else, but the most successful ones, and the ones most frequently chosen, involve being your own boss and setting your own schedule.
So, this typically looks like making time for your hustle before or after work, on the weekends, or during any other break you might have.
Many side hustles can be grouped into these categories:
- Freelancer: Freelancing involves monetizing your skillset by selling services, like website building or content editing, to an individual, agency, or company under a contract. With freelancing, you can set your own rates.
- Gig worker: A gig worker trades piecework services for money, like delivering food or babysitting. These often have a predetermined rate, and their work may not require a contract.
- Entrepreneur: Being an entrepreneur means building a marketable business that depends on repeatable systems, automation, and often employees. You sell products or services as opposed to your individual skills, and there’s no guaranteed income. With entrepreneurship, there’s a greater risk and sometimes greater reward.
As I mentioned, many people also opt to choose a side hustle based on it being something they’re already passionate or curious about.
But while passion is a key factor for your success, keep in mind that passion alone won’t be quite enough for you to be successful at your side gig.
Let me preface this by saying that, more often than not, you won’t need a degree or certificates to start a side hustle—which is awesome.
BUT you will typically need to research and learn. Sometimes before getting started and, often, as you go along too.
Of course, some side hustles will require much more knowledge ahead of time than others.
For example, building a website will require a lot more education to get started than selling your belongings does—though the latter still takes some know-how to do it well.
There are very few side hustles that take almost zero prior knowledge, like taking online surveys.
As you can imagine, the less knowledge and skill a side hustle takes, the less money you’re likely to make.
Because of this, many choose to start a side hustle in something they’re already pretty skilled at.
That way, you don’t have to invest too much of your time in getting started and, instead, can jump right into the money-making part.
Keep in mind that there are other factors to consider before picking a side hustle, but I’ll go in-depth on this down below.
Are side hustles worth it?
Side hustles can be worthwhile in a lot of ways.
This TEDx video by speaker Monica Bassi highlights some great points on the life-changing benefits you can reap from starting a side hustle.
Side hustles can bring a sense of personal and professional empowerment
You may relate to the feeling of wanting more authority in your life. If you’re spending 40+ hours a week dealing with one or more people telling you what to do… that feeling is only natural.
With a side hustle, you call the shots. This provides a valuable feeling of personal autonomy and control over your life. And, as a result, it can also bring you greater happiness.
As Monica Bassi discusses in the TEDx video, the sheer act of making decisions for yourself actually increases dopamine activity in your brain—the chemical responsible for feelings of happiness.
With a side hustle, there’s often no one to tell you what to do—and YOU get the final say. This may feel a little daunting at first.
But by having the ability to call all the shots involved, you’ll effectively boost your trust in yourself, overall confidence, and sense of empowerment, both personally and as a professional.
Side hustles give you a chance to pursue your passions
A side hustle provides a great opportunity to dive into a project you’re already passionate about or explore something you’ve been interested in learning more.
Pursuing your passions via your side hustle can provide a great sense of motivation and purpose, helping you to stay excited and committed, and improving your ability to grow your wealth.
And what’s better than working on something you love AND making some dough in the meantime?
Side hustles provide an additional source of income
Of course, the main benefit of starting a side hustle is the opportunity to make more money.
Having a side hustle can be a great source of extra cash to help you lessen any financial stress or give you the resources for fun things, like that trip to Tokyo you’ve been dying to go on.
Life is uncertain: having an extra financial cushion and a greater skillset from your side hustle can provide valuable security in your life—as well as further your sense of personal autonomy.
Yes, from increasing your income, paying off your debts, or saving up for the future, having extra money coming in from a side hustle is a huge benefit.
Side hustles allow you to improve your existing skills and learn new ones
While financial growth is an amazing side effect of side hustling, another key benefit is personal growth.
There’s often some degree of a learning curve when taking on a new endeavor, but with that comes an influx of new, valuable skills and the betterment of your existing skills.
Not only can this provide personal fulfillment and give you the know-how to scale your side hustle, but it also can provide you the means to upgrade your day job or persist well in the face of job uncertainty.
Side hustles open you to new connections and opportunities
When you take up a side hustle, you’ll also have the benefit of being exposed to all of the new people and opportunities that come with it.
Who knows what exciting things might open up to you if you start writing for that magazine or selling your art in your free time? Anything is possible if you first open the door for it.
What to consider when choosing a side hustle
While the benefits are undeniable, let’s go over the things you’ll need to weigh before you dive straight into one too.
One of the main things you’re going to want to weigh before picking and starting a side hustle is simply how much you can make from it.
The fact is, not all side hustles will generate a profit, and you don’t want to waste your time.
If you’re trading your time for money in the start (or throughout), you want to make sure it will be worth it.
Your time is valuable, so don’t sell yourself short.
Keep in mind that any given side hustle will vary from person to person in terms of profitability. It can depend on your skills and knowledge level, your time, as well as other factors.
Make sure you do a lot of research and read unbiased testimonials on your profit potential with a given gig before jumping in (this will also help you avoid any scams).
And don’t forget to weigh other factors, like your skills, interest, and time. More on that below.
When you’re first beginning your search for the right side hustle for you, start with a list of your current skills and interests.
As I mentioned, the better-paying side hustles tend to be the ones that require a higher degree of skills.
So, if you’re really skilled at something, leverage that!
And if you already have the skillset needed for a hustle, you’ll be able to start making money much faster than if you’re attempting one green.
Passion is a key ingredient for success.
If you love doing something, you’re going to be so much more willing to dedicate time to it.
Yes, you’ll be considerably more motivated to work on your side hustle if you’re actually interested in it!
So, if you don’t know anything about photography and it doesn’t genuinely excite you at all, you’re not going to end up putting much time into your photography business.
Instead, you’ll likely end up with a bunch of equipment sitting in the back of your closet, denting your wallet instead of stacking it.
The fact is, it’s all too easy to give up on something that you don’t have a lasting drive for. So, consider this thoroughly ahead of time—especially before investing money into your side hustle.
Start-up and ongoing expenses
Speaking of costs—once you’ve determined that you’re actually willing to dedicate the time needed for the duration of your hustle, make sure you identify which costs are associated with it. And then weigh whether those costs make sense for you.
Not all side hustles will require an investment, but some do. It’s very important to research and plan for any costs needed ahead of time.
For example, if you’re actually interested in or committed to photography, you will need to make sure you have the appropriate camera body, lenses, lighting, accessories, and editing software to be successful.
Knowing this and creating a plan from the start will help you determine if it’s a wise and worthwhile move for you.
How much time you’re willing and able to put in
Make sure you know how much of a time requirement is involved with a side hustle before jumping into it too.
The best side hustles are going to be flexible with a schedule determined by you.
Be realistic when approaching how much time you want (and need) to spend on your side hustle; you don’t want to end up feeling burnt out and miserable or having it affect your day job.
Knowing how much time you need to put into your side hustle—and if the amount is doable for you—will be crucial for your success.
Can you scale?
Last but not least, figure out from the start if you’re going to want to eventually grow your side hustle into something bigger or if it’s just a means to an end.
This is another factor that will take some research; some side hustles are great for scaling while others are not.
For instance, freelancing and affiliate marketing are great for scaling, while things like being a nanny or delivery driver are not.
Here are some things to consider when determining a side hustle’s scalability:
- Can you differentiate yourself in your market?
- Is it even possible to up your rates or make more?
- Is it possible to automate tasks?
Typically, scaling means putting systems into place where you’re no longer solely trading time for money—or if you are, you’re able to raise your rates appropriately to justify it.
Side hustle FAQ
Why is it called side hustle?
It’s actually pretty straightforward: a side hustle is simply work—or hustle—you do on the side of your day job.
What is another word for side hustle?
“Side job” and “side gig” are often used synonymously with “side hustle.”
Many people often use the term freelancing in place of side hustle too, but they’re not quite the same thing.
Freelancing can be a side hustle, but it can also be a full-time career. And side hustles can also include other types of work, like owning a business or even traditional employment.
What are some examples of a side hustle?
Here are a few top examples of side hustles you can start to grow your wealth in your free time:
Freelancing allows you to take control of your growth and monetize your skills and knowledge. It’s incredibly flexible, and there are thousands of opportunities at any given time.
One way people start freelancing is through freelancing websites, like Fiverr or Upwork. These walk you through finding work, talking with clients and submitting work, and allow you to get paid securely too.
In fact, there are several methods for finding freelance clients fast, making it a great side hustle to get started with right away.
Blogging is a great side hustle option, especially if you already have a knack for writing.
There’s a limitless number of things you can make a blog about. You can write about your passions or something you’re curious to learn more about.
For example, you could start a blog about travel, working as a barista, or becoming a homesteader.
And there are several ways to monetize your blog, like ads, affiliate marketing, selling products, or sponsorships.
Getting set up and creating content can take some time, but blogging can be a great source of both active and passive income.
Selling art or printables online
Another awesome side hustle to jump into is selling art or printables on sites like Etsy, Amazon, or Redbubble.
And you don’t have to consider yourself an artist to do this. You could create things like checklists, wedding invitations, and more.
Typically, you will need an understanding of software like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, but you can also use Microsoft programs or beginner-friendly tools like Canva to get started.
To be successful, you’ll have to put some time into marketing as well—which may mean setting up a social media account to build a following around your art or products.
This can be a pretty lucrative side hustle; especially if you put together digital products, you can just sit back and watch the passive income roll in.
If you want to collect more side hustle ideas, you can read all about the best side hustles here.
What is the best side hustle in 2022?
Freelancing is easily my favorite side hustle to make money online.
Anyone can start freelancing right away, whether you’re a writer, a designer, or a SaaS professional.
Freelancing provides one of the best opportunities to make a ton of money without the risk of entrepreneurship.
It’s also incredibly flexible; with freelancing, you get to choose who you work with, where you want to work, when you want to work, and so on.
AND you get to take control of how much you want to make by setting your own rates.
Take your next steps with freelancing
By now, we’ve answered that pressing “what’s a side hustle?” question, including its definition and whether or not a side hustle will be worth it for you.
I think taking on a side hustle can be incredibly valuable—just be sure to do your research and plan ahead!
And it’s no big secret that I think freelancing is the best side hustle out there. It’s a low-risk and lucrative path that anyone can get into immediately.
Yep, I’m a big proponent of the benefits that freelancing offers. I’ve seen so many people build the lifestyles they want for themselves through freelancing.
As a freelancer myself, I love helping talented people like you take control over their personal and professional growth through freelancing.
Whether as a side hustle or a new career path, if becoming a freelancer interests you, don’t wait to start growing your wealth and living on your own terms.
I put together a free email course to teach people like YOU to increase their earning potential with freelancing. Interested? Sign up for my FREE email course here.