So you want to start a side hustle but don’t have any extra time. As a mom of 3 elementary aged kids, 1 dog (we had 2 but, sadly, one died a few months ago), 2 hamsters, a full time job, tons of kids sports and other kid activities and a busy family life, if I can do it so can you. I set aside 2 hours a week to devote to it. That makes it a slow process but I look forward to that time every week and I have found it gives me more energy instead of taking it away.
Part of my side hustle journey is that I want to share my learnings, successes and failures with others to help them on their own side hustle journeys. I want to help create a community of people who are passionate about what they do and have the freedom to follow their dreams.
Here are my 10 tips to help you start a side hustle.
1. Look at your resume to review your skills. Get a blank piece of paper or open a new doc and create 3 boxes and write the following: 1. Skills you have and would enjoy using 2. Skills you have that you but don’t enjoy using and 3. Skills you don’t have but would be willing/happy to learn. You know could do what’s in box 2. but you don’t want to do spend your precious extra time doing things that don’t give you positive energy so ignore box 2. I got this little gem of advice on the following podcast.
2. Write a list of everything you like and love. Write everything down that you can think of that you like and love and what gives you energy- you don’t have to show it to anyone so be honest and creative. Maybe you love dogs, snow skiing, salsa dancing, skydiving or painting rocks. It doesn’t matter how out there it is, just write it down if you would find it an enjoyable way to spend your time. I listened to a podcast from someone who liked to sleep so he now writes blogs about which mattresses are the best. Not my cup of tea but it’s making him happy (and a lot of money).
3. Compare the two lists and see where there is overlap. Now compare the two lists for overlap. It doesn’t have to be just one thing- you can combine 2 or 3 of your interests. I looked at my resume and have business skills but am a generalist so I don’t have niche expertise. I looked at what I liked and I had written that I love being a Mom (although it’s often very hard), hanging out with friends and family, feeling part of a community and I like to write. My first attempt at a side hustle combined all of those when I started a parenting Facebook Group (now called The Ordinary Parent Community) and the website of www.theordinarymom.com. I didn’t have any experience creating or managing a Facebook group, blogging or creating a website but I was open to learning so I just did it.
4. Use the free resources of a Small Business Development Center near you to come up with a business plan and get started on a side hustle. Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) are funded by the government and offer free business consulting to anyone who wants to open a small business. It’s the best kept business secret out there. When I was thinking about starting a business (one that I never started) I had 2 meetings with my SBDC consultant and he really helped me think through details such as what I needed to do to form a company (each state is different), set up a bank account, what taxes I’d need to pay etc. I didn’t feel like I needed to go again when I started my websites/blogging but I knew the free help was there if I needed it. It’s an amazing resource that not many people take advantage of. Find one near you at: https://americassbdc.org/small-business-consulting-and-training/find-your-sbdc/
5. Find a consistent time and place to work on your side hustle. I try to go to the public library one night a week for 2 hours. I sit in the “quiet room” and either wear ear plugs or listen to white noise on my phone. Yes, I do this in 2 hours a week but I’m efficient. If I don’t get my night at the library during the week, I spread the two hours out at night after my kids go to bed or over the weekend.
6. Keep moving forward one step at a time. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you keep moving forward. It’s like compound interest, that little amount you take out of your paycheck every month doesn’t seem like much but it adds up over time. My 2 hours a week doesn’t sound like much but in the last 9 months I have 1. Started a closed Facebook parenting group (The Ordinary Parent Community) 2. Paid someone to create a website for selling t-shirts and learned how to create t-shirts to sell on Teespring and Amazon (www.ordinaryisthenewawesome.com) 3. Learned how to create my own websites on WordPress and created www.theordinarymom.com and www.thesidehustlejourney.com 4. Created another closed Facebook page for The Side Hustle Journey and 4. Started blogging on both The Ordinary Mom and The Side Hustle Journey sites. I look back and think “thank goodness I did something”. I don’t know where this journey is going yet but I’m going to keep moving forward to give it a chance.
7. Document everything you do. This allows you to easily pick up where you left off and not have to spend time remembering what you did last week or month. I use Evernote & Google Docs for anything I want to write down and Voice Memos (free on the Apple app store) to record any ideas I have while driving (which I do a lot for work). One advantage of my extensive documentation has been that when I decided to create www.thesidehustlejourney.com website and blog, I was able to go back to my notes and recreate the journey so far pretty easily.
8. Create an ongoing “to do” list. Since I am doing this slowly over a few years, I have ideas and inspirations all the time while just living my regular life. I write them down in Google Docs or do a Voice Memo and then can go back when I have more time and explore them. I find that I always have more on my to do list than I can handle (just like real life) but it helps me prioritize what I need to do and where to spend my time.
9. Have one person keep you accountable. I have my sister to keep me accountable. She is a writer and has been writing screen plays in her spare time (and with 2 kids and a full time job her time is limited like mine) so I can tell her when I worked on my side hustles and she encourages me to keep going. She is the one who gave me the idea of going to the public library to focus and it’s made a huge difference.
10. You can learn anything on Youtube. After I hired someone to build my first website and didn’t have a great experience with her, I decided I should learn to create my own websites in the future. I had 0 experience with this so I was starting from square one. Like many others, I turned to YouTube for help. There are so many people who want to share their knowledge and can walk you through anything. I once learned how to fix my Keurig coffee maker by watching a Youtube video. Here are some YouTube videos I watched about creating a website that I found really helpful:
I hope these tips help inspire you to just put one foot forward and start your side hustle journey. I have learned so much in these past 9 months since I started and I wish it was my full time gig but, for the time being, I’m making do with 2 hours a week to learn new skills on this journey. To read more about my side hustle journey go to www.thesidehustlejourney.com.
Extra tip for bloggers:
If you are blogging, every time you have an idea for a blog, create a new Google Doc (or in your documentation software of choice) with the idea and go back to it when you have time or inspiration. I always have 5-10 blogs going at one time and I switch between them to add more depending on how I am feeling at that time. I also like to have 1-2 blogs completely done so I can post them in the future if I’m busy or out of town and don’t have time to write one.
I have not had to worry about writer’s block because I always have multiple ideas ready that I just need to flesh out. This technique also allows you to sit with a blog and reread it multiple times over a couple of weeks before you have to publish. When I first decided to start blogging, I was worried that I wouldn’t have enough to write about but that hasn’t happened at all. Instead, I have found that it has expanded my creative side that I wasn’t using in my day job and I now have ideas all of the time. When I do, I just open a new Google doc with my new idea and go back to it later to start writing more about it.
If you want to create a WordPress website, you can go to: https://wordpress.com/alp/?aff=13401&cid=2093430 (fyi- this is an affiliate link so I might get paid if you sign up). When creating my websites on WordPress, I needed some help so I went to a WordPress MeetUp group in my area and was able to sit down with some WordPress experts who made some changes to my website on the fly– for free. Just another great free resource.