SKILLS DEVELOPMENT / 08 October 2019
How to Determine If You Should Start a Side Hustle
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Dillon Chen

Finding a full-time job post-college graduation can be a daunting task. You’re probably trying to find the best balance between your desired position and level of pay. Working a high-paying job that you absolutely hate isn’t worth it. But, working the job you want for minimal income may not be the best option either.

This is why many millennials have taken up side hustles. College degrees are far more common than they used to be, making it increasingly harder for grads to distinguish themselves. Side hustling is a way to earn a supplemental income while developing new skills.

The Gig Economy

These days, more and more side hustles are possible because of the gig economy. You’re likely familiar with the gig economy as side hustles or part-time jobs available through apps like Uber, Lyft, Etsy, Amazon Flex, etc. The gig economy encompasses a wide range of services and people who provide them. 

The gig economy is a free market system where flexible jobs are commonplace and companies bring on independent contractors and freelancers instead of full-time employees—in most cases, these are often short-term engagements. Traditionally, examples of gig employees in the workforce have included freelancers, independent contractors, project-based workers, and temporary or part-time hires. 

This means that in today’s tech-reliant age, anyone with a smartphone and unlimited data plan (or a good indie café with fast wifi and a power outlet) can work from just about anywhere. 

When you begin gaining skills outside of your job description, you can become a unique contributor to both your regular and side job. Having a side hustle means you’ll be able to solve problems and bring unique skills to your day job. Plus, a number of side gigs can be done from your own home with low startup costs, meaning that you start earning right away.

When it comes to finding the side hustle for you, there is a plethora of options. Side gigs such as freelance design, photography, or wedding planning allow you to flex your creative muscles. If you enjoy management and logistics, then e-commerce or managing social media may be good options. 

To prove that there are opportunities for every personality type and financial level, Self Lender developed a list of 51 side hustle ideas

Side Hustle Statistics

As you can see, people have taken up side hustles to combat debt and the rising cost of living. Unfortunately, these flexible jobs reflect the gender income inequality. Don’t let that discourage you from picking up a side hustle -- they are beneficial to everyone.

Side hustlers can garner an additional $8k annually. Not to mention side hustles are more flexible and generally more fun than your day job.

Furthermore, side gigs allow you to pursue any creative or business endeavor you desire. Whether you recently graduated, have been in the workforce for 20 years, or retired, it’s time to finally realize your passion. 

Look at the flowchart in this infographic from Self Lender to see if you should start a side hustle.

Going Full-Time

If you’re contemplating making your side hustle a full-time gig, you’re not alone. In fact, 30% of Americans would quit their current job to go work the gig economy if that meant they could make the same amount of money. 

However, becoming successful as an independent worker in the gig economy can take a lot of trial and error. Below, are some best practices and tips for you’ll want to implement if you plan on making the leap. 

  1. Decide what services you’ll offer—Know if you can take a more general approach in your field of work or if you need to specialize in a particular service. 

  2. Decide your rates—We all have to get paid, so this is likely top of mind for you. Research what rates other independent workers charge for their services to help you set a benchmark. Setting the right price is a balance of getting what you’re worthwhile remaining attractive to clients. 

  3. Determine your target market—Establish who will need your services and is there a broad enough market to support a consistent flow of work. Once you’ve done that, it will be important to establish a unique selling proposition. 

  4. Create an online portfolio—While most gig platforms allow you to set up your portfolio within their site, it’s important to go the extra mile. Build a website that promotes what you have to offer and examples of past work. Doing so can offer you more customization and flexibility.

  5. Market your services—Marketing doesn’t have to break the bank. Test out different ways to market your services through social networking, offering consultations, word of mouth referrals and email marketing.

With more and more people making the move to some kind of gig work—whether full time or as a side hustle—it’s important to set yourself apart from the masses. Fortunately, there are a lot of resources available to you. To learn more about the current state and history of the gig economy, best practices and tips to navigate this rapidly changing industry, read more in this comprehensive guide to the gig economy.