How to start a side hustle

Can you imagine what it would be like to make money on the side?

I can show you exactly how to start a side hustle.

The best part is that I just did it myself, so you can avoid all the mistakes I made and do it faster.

I actually started side hustling when I was a lawyer with massive student loan debt.

I started a blog and turned it into a side hustle.

Then, I turned my side income into my full time gig. Now, I have complete time freedom to work from wherever. It’s amazing.


Why Start A Side Hustle?

There are so many reasons to start a side hustle.

Here are some of the main reasons to start a side gig:

  1. You don’t make enough money every month to pay your basic bills.
  2. You have financial goals, like paying off debt or saving for a down payment on a house, that you don’t have extra money for.
  3. You only have one income stream and want to diversify your income.
  4. You want to start something on your own but don’t want to quit your job.
  5. You want to explore a passion as a business.

(Here’s a post I wrote specifically about five reasons you need to start a side hustle.)

I’ve had an evolution of why I side hustle.

First, it was for extra spending money.

Then, it was to support starting a blog.

Finally, it was to pay off debt.

Whatever your reason, I want you to know that if you have a reason to start a side hustle, you can absolutely can.

Okay, here’s how to start a side hustle…


How To Start A Side Hustle

I want to define what I’m even talking about as a side hustle. There are a lot of definitions of what a side hustle is!

Some people define it as any money you make on the side of your full time job, including a part-time job.

Others say it has to be more than a part-time job, like starting your own business.

For purposes of learning how to start a side hustle, I’m using the second definition of starting a business, but at the end, I include some side jobs you can consider, too, if starting a biz isn’t your thing.

Okay, here’s my framework for starting a side hustle…


Step 1: Brainstorm ideas to start a side hustle

Think about:

  1. What you love to do or are really good at
  2. What other people are already doing to make money
  3. What is painful for you

These are all great areas to consider for starting a side hustle.

What you like to do and what is painful for you are both places that you’ll find ideas of topics that will resonate for you.

It’s also important that other people are already doing it because that means there’s a market for it. Your side hustle needs to be profitable – it has to make money. There is no point in starting a business that won’t be profitable. So, make sure there is a market for it. People mistakenly think that because an area already is filled with people making money that it’s too saturated, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. That just means there’s money to be made in that space.

Finally, if there is a pain point in your life that you want to learn more about and solve a certain problem then that’s a really good option to go with, too. This is what I did – I started a blog because of the pain I felt with my student loan debt.

A few examples of ideas for a side hustle are:

  1. Start selling something crafty on Etsy that you could learn how to make (e.g.: jewelry, t-shirts, pillowcases).
  2. Start a blog about something you’re either good at, like a lot, or is painful for you (e.g.: your health and wellness journey as a personal trainer.)
  3. Start a photography business.
  4. Start a babysitting, house sitting, or pet-sitting business.

I started a blog, and I made $45k blogging in 1 year while working full time.

I never thought it was possible, but I did it and it turned out to be the best thing ever because now it’s my full time business!

If you’re interested in blogging as a side hustle, you can join my free email course to learn how to start a blog.

Come up with a list of 5 side hustle ideas that resonate with you.


Step 2: Choose two ideas and plan out what each looks like

Take your two best ideas from Step 1 and plan out what each idea looks like for you.

To do this, look at how other people are already making money from a side hustle in the same niche and see if you like the end result. Write down what each scenario looks life for you in six months, one year, and three years.

From my example above, babysitting, freelance writing, and blogging all have very different six-month, one year, and three year outcomes.

My life would be a lot different if I stuck with babysitting as my side job or freelance writing. I gave up both to focus on my blog as my one side hustle (read about how I made $45k blogging in 1 year while working full time here). It’s the most scalable, which is why I chose it over the other two.

The key is to see which option you like the best down the road. The time is going to pass anyways, so you want to make sure you choose the right side hustle for you.


Step 3: Decide on one idea to pursue for your side hustle

Once you know what your different side hustle ideas look like in short-term and over the next few years, choose one to start.

You can always change course later, but for now, you have to pick just one.

I was babysitting and freelance writing to make extra money while I built up my blog. I did all three at once while working full time. I had a lot going on, and I’m so glad I stopped babysitting and freelance writing, because I was barely making any money blogging at the time. It took stopping these other side gigs to be able to focus on my one side hustle, blogging.


Step 4: Commit, focus, and practice discipline

Before you start your new side hustle, I want to talk about commitment, focus, and discipline (fun, I know!).

You need to commit to your side hustle as your new “side-job”. This means you’ll have to be disciplined to allocate your time and other resources to it. It has to be your sole focus outside of work and relationships. Other things have to go to the wayside.

You should disproportionately focus on your side hustle. Sacrifice other things in your life that you don’t care as much about (Netflix, anyone?). Put your side hustle high on your list of priorities.

This may not make sense now, but once you get started just remember this! You can also check out my list of 21 easy ways to be more productive for extra help.

It’s no secret I’m not a fan of balance in all areas of your life. This is a perfect example of why. If you’re going to have a side hustle, then by definition, you’re doing it on the side of something else (probably your day job). And if that’s the case, you’re not going to have much time for other things. Take a look at my YouTube video on my daily schedule working full time and blogging to get an idea of how I do both.

Obviously, everyone has different things going on in life, so if you’re in a season where you can’t focus on your side hustle, it may not be a good time to start one. You could wait to start one until a better time for you (although I recommend putting a date on the calendar for this if there’s ever going to be a chance you follow through). If you’re just “busy” in life but it’s a normal season, they just go for it and give yourself a set schedule of when you’ll work on it every day.


Step 5: Research how your competition is doing it

Now it’s time to start. Sort of… 🙂

It’s time to start researching. The first part of your research is to look at how your competition is already doing it.

Look specifically for how your competition built their side hustles. Use Google, Pinterest, and Amazon for this. Try to find out exactly what they did, or take a look at their websites and analyze their business models. There’s no need to re-invent the wheel. Of course, you’ll make it your own – you’re not stealing anything from them. But everyone learns business from everyone else (something this took me a long time to learn). So, take a nod from the best in your niche and start there to research how you can start your side hustle.

In the blogging world, it’s easy to do this because so many bloggers offer courses where they teach their own business model. This is how I learned how to make money blogging.


Step 6: Talk to people in your niche

After you’ve done your own research, get on Facebook and talk to people in Facebook groups to see how they started their side hustles in the niche you’re starting yours in.

Talking to other people to see how they did it will help you create a plan for your side hustle that’s more likely to be successful.

One of the great things about blogging is the community. I’m constantly learning from other bloggers, and that’s how I’ve made most of my money blogging. I use Facebook groups for this all the time. You can check out my blogging Facebook group here.


Step 7: Come up with a plan for what the next six months looks like

Once all of your research is done, you’re ready to create a six-month plan for launching your side hustle.

Plan out monthly goals and weekly goals for the first six months of your side hustle. Start at the end and work your way backwards. This tip alone is worth gold.

If your end goal is to be making an extra $500/month from your side hustle in six months, then set a one-month goal, two-month goal (and so on) to meet specific income and growth targets. You should create a specific plan for measuring your success over the next six months.

If you’re stuck here, research your competition again and talk to people already doing what you want to do to see how their first six months went. People love to talk about themselves and share their stories, so don’t be afraid to reach out to someone and ask to talk with her only to hear about her story (don’t ask for anything in return, though, just ask to hear her story).

You need to have a plan (or at least an end goal), so find a a way to come up with a strategic way to make money from your side hustle.

You can also use The Freedom Journal, which is a goal-setting journal to help you accomplish your #1 goal in 100 days.

I made this mistake in the beginning of blogging. I didn’t have a six-month goal, let alone an end-goal, so I made a lot of choices that led me down the “popularity” path (more of an influencer) instead of the “profitability” path (specifically for making money blogging). I could’ve saved over a year of time if I focused on the end goal of profitability from the beginning. It’s really easy to get distracted when you start a blog (something I talk about in my blogging course) – something I learned the hard way!


Step 8: Get started

Now that your research is done and your plan is in place, it’s time to get started.

Start your side hustle as soon as practical for you. The longer you wait to start, the more friction you’ll feel about starting and the less likely you’ll be to start. Even if it’s just doing the smallest action to get started, small action is 100 times better than no action.

I remember staying up until 2am to start my blog on a work night (and I am in bed at 9pm normally!). I was so excited, I couldn’t help myself but go all in and start. This is the type of enthusiasm that works really well with starting a side hustle. The more excited, committed, and focused you are, the more likely you’ll be disciplined and therefore, successful.

Here are a few tips for when you start your side hustle:

  1. Work on your side hustle every day (even if it’s just 30 minutes to 1 hours, it’s important that you do it every day).
  2. Start a website (people expect to be able to find you online. Use my how to start a website tutorial to get set up.)
  3. Get on social media (people expect to see you on social media).
  4. Research what type of legal business entity you want to be (you can do nothing and be a sole proprietor, but there are other options, including a Single Member LLC).
  5. Track your expenses (use something like Excel to start tracking your income and expenses) .
  6. Keep your business income separate from your other income (don’t mix personal and business funds).
  7. Avoid going into debt (the whole point of a side hustle is doing it on the side, so you should have a main source of income to pay for business expenses).
  8. Research before you price what you’re selling  (pricing services, products, or anything else is an art — research how to price what you’re offering based on how your competition is pricing).
  9. Stick to your plan and review it daily (keep going over your goals and plans so you don’t get distracted).
  10. Focus on your most important task first (just a good productivity hack for anything you do, including your side hustle!).
  11. Value > Profitability > Popularity (meaning providing value to your customer or client is #1, profitability is #2, and popularity is #3 — don’t mix this order up).


Step 9: Launch & promote

Once you have everything in place, you’re ready to launch and promote your side hustle.

By now, you will have a written out plan, have a basic spreadsheet to track your income and expenses, and a general idea of how you would like the next six months to look for your side hustle in a perfect world.

Now it’s time for you to launch your side hustle idea and promote it.

You technically “launch” just by starting your business activity. Promoting it and selling it (getting leads and making sales) comes later but is the secret sauce to making money from your side hustle.

Social media marketing, email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and display advertising, are a few of the most common ways to promote your business online.

I use ConvertKit for email marketing and highly recommend it if you’re doing an online biz. It will be super useful for getting leads. I also use other services like ClickFunnels and Lead Pages for more advanced sales and marketing.

Take time to listen to some good sales and marketing podcasts and read a few books on the subject if you have time. It will pay off (literally!) down the road. I can’t stress how important marketing and sales are for growing your side hustle.


Step 10: Invest in growing

Once you start working your side hustle plan, you’ll have to invest some money to grow it. You’re already investing your time, which is probably the easiest investment for you. But investing money is also part of growing your business.

What gets you earning $100/month won’t get you to $1,000/month. And what gets you to $1,000/month won’t get you to $10,000/month.

Each time you want to scale, you have to do something different. You may not think this is difficult, but it can be very challenge. You’re used to doing things a certain way, and then all of a sudden you need a whole new plan to scale up exponentially.

To do this, and get your side hustle to the next level, you need to learn how to do it. The best way I know how to do this is to invest in growing your side hustle.

I highly recommend investing in it by taking a course, buying books, getting a coach, going to a conference, or something similar.

Every time I’ve invested in myself for my blog, it’s been worth it.

I created Blog With A Full Time Job to help people do what I did in half the time. Instead of making mistakes and taking years to get results, I show people how to start a website, grow it, and monetize it all alongside their full time job.

Blog With A Full Time Job

Investing in the right course is worth 10x what you pay for it.

I took one course and went from making $3k per month to over $10k per month.

That’s why I create Blog With A Full Time Job – to help people do the same.

Here are the other courses I recommend for scaling a side hustle that is either a blog, freelance writing, or virtual assistant:

If your side hustle isn’t a blog, freelance writing, of VA work, then look at other options for investing in yourself to learn how to scale your business.


Step 11: Track your progress

Once you have your side hustle up and going strong, you need to track your progress.

This is SO important, yet I see people forgetting to do this alllll the time.

If you don’t know what your numbers are for your side hustle, you won’t be able to evaluate if you’re headed in the right direction or if you need to change course.

I struggled with creating spreadsheets to track my progress because it’s the least sexiest thing about blogging (for me, anyways!). But since I started doing it the right way, and checking in to update my progress every Sunday night, I can evaluate what’s working and what’s not. The results have been amazing. I wouldn’t be able to get this type of insight without tracking my numbers.

Get out a spreadsheet and start tracking your income, expenses, and other relevant numbers for measuring the success of your side hustle.


Step 12: Evaluate

Once you’re tracking, you need to start evaluating.

Ask yourself if what you’re doing is working. Decide whether you’re getting your desired results. If not, then you need to change your strategy.

I see bloggers get stuck at a certain level because they’re comfortable, even though it’s not where they want to be. But it often takes a lot of time, energy, and focus to change course and learn a new way of doing things.

Always remember to learn and have a beginning mentality. By doing this, you’ll be open to new ideas, including changing course.


Step 13: Make a steady income on the side while working full time

Once you start working your plan, you will start to make money from your side hustle if you’re doing things right.

Remember that if other people are doing what you want to be doing, then you can do it, too. And if you’re not, then there’s something you don’t know that they do.

Starting a side hustle as a scalable business takes time. It may not give you money for this weekend, but it could give you money long-term.

I chose to babysit and freelance write when I first started my blog. I did this until I realized I could make more money from my blog. Then, I quit those side jobs, and I focused solely on my side hustle – blogging. But I needed that initial income from babysitting and freelance writing at first until my blog was making money.


The Results Of Starting A Side Hustle

If you start to grow your side hustle, you’ll start to feel alive and on purpose as you build your side hustle.

You won’t feel stuck. You’ll be super excited and committed. You’ll feel like you have freedom and can achieve your dreams.

If you want, quit your day job once you build your side hustle up enough. But you don’t have to. It can just be an extra income stream to diversify your income or help you achieve your other financial goals.

The possibilities are endless. 🙂


5 Tips For Side Hustle Success

Here are a few tips for side hustle success that I need to mention.

  1. Don’t take huge risks and quit your job right away. Let’s be honest, this is a terrible idea. Be realistic.
  2. Your side hustle will happen on nights and weekends (not between 9am-5pm). Expect to sacrifice fun time and down time. After all, you’ll have to put in hours for your side hustle to be successful.
  3. Forget about balance. You’ll be out of balance, and it will be totally worth it.
  4. If someone else is already doing what you want to be doing, then there’s something you don’t know. Talk to these people. Learn what they learn, so you can do what they do.
  5. Always give more value than you’re paid for. Value > Profitability > Popularity.

Okay, that’s it for my how-to guide and tips for starting. Now, I want to give you a list of side hustle ideas.


23 Side Hustle Ideas

Here’s a list of 23 side hustles you can start.

The list of side hustle ideas is a mix of side hustles that are scalable business ideas and side jobs that you can’t scale. There’s no right answer which one you should start with. It’s up to you!

As I already mentioned, I started a blog while working full time, babysitting, and freelance writing. Eventually, I wanted to build a scalable business, so I quit babysitting and freelance writing, but I initially used money from those jobs to help grow my blog. I needed that income for the side jobs (babysitting and freelance writing) to help me grow my side hustle (my blog). So, you can find ways to grow your side hustle by adding in a side job to the mix while you need it. I highly recommend it!

Here’s a list of 23 side hustle ideas you can start now.

  1. Start a blog
  2. Affiliate marketing
  3. Virtual assistant work
  4. Take online surveys
  5. Become a freelance writer
  6. Sell products on Amazon, Fiverr, eBay, etc.
  7. Sell services on Upwork, Design logos on 99 designs, Sell on CafePress
  8. Open an Etsy store and sell homemade items you make
  9. Sell digital products like eBooks and courses (learn how in Six Figure Blogger)
  10. Sell your clothes on Poshmark or become a Stylist online (e.g.: Stitch Fix)
  11. Review and write resumes, or start proofreading
  12. Become a social media manager
  13. Start bookkeeping or tax prep work
  14. Deliver for Postmates
  15. Drive for Uber
  16. Start doing childcare (I used to use, pet care, dog walking, or house sitting
  17. Become a consultant, coach, or tutor
  18. Start doing handyman work, lawn care services, or cleaning homes
  19. Become a mystery shopper
  20. Start working for a multi-level marketing company (not my fave and not a fan of this, but listen to this Ohio kid talk about being a millionaire and you just might be inspired – Alex Morton: How I Made a Million Dollars Before Age 25 on KFM)
  21. Rent rooms out of your home or apartment on Airbnb
  22. Teach dance lessons, become a bar instructor, or personal trainer
  23. Get a regular, ole part-time job (teach drivers education, work at a local restaurant, etc.)


A Final Note!

My final piece of advice for you is to read Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days by Chris Guillebeau. (He also has a podcast if you’re into podcasts!)

This book is a step by step guide that shows you how to launch your side hustle in 27 days.

Cheers to making more money from your side hustle this year. 🙂


P.s – here are my favorite online business resources: