In my first post, I shared that I’ve always been a writer. Whether it was letters, stories, plays, greeting cards, or essays, words have come easily to me. In fact, they flood my mind. But, when those closest to me discovered that I was having a book published, they wanted to know if I had resigned from my job, or, at the very least, had given my notice. As I shared more details about the project, the people closest to me were confused by the fact that I had no intention to walk away from my 9 to 5. But, for me, writing is my side hustle.
In most uses of the term, a side hustle is any type of employment performed in addition to a person’s full-time job. Typically, side hustles involve doing things that the person is passionate about, but the hustle is primarily performed to supplement the person’s income. I’ve come to realize that this definition is what causes confusion about what I am doing.
I published my first book, Cross Your Fingers, because it had been a dream of mine. I did not presume that it would lead to fame. I did not write it with the intent to resign from my career. I write, because I have something to say, something that I want to share. I think my writing adds to my community and to my identity.
While writing can be an occupation, a business, a hobby, and/or a passion, for me, it’s something that I couldn’t stop doing even if I so desired. While it happens to create income, I was not seeking to escape the rat race.
However, if the right conditions present themselves, who knows what I might consider. 😏
HOW IT WORKS
People who are unfamiliar with the term, side hustle, will feel uncertain of its usage and think of it as a newly created concept. At times, the phrase is used interchangeably with part-time job. But they are not the same. A part-time job is a secondary employment in which the person has no direct stake in the business. In short, if you are a part-time employee, the business will not fail if your efforts fail. In a side hustle, you are the entrepreneur, the creator. You are the person who organizes, maintains, and operates the activities; hence, for you, the financial risk and gain is greater than that of being an employee.
Nonetheless, a side hustle is not uncommon. Furthermore, I would argue that it is happened for generations.
In the 1960s, business models began tapping into a previously underutilized market, the housewife. Yes, products in stores had been advertised with them in mind for years. But, by the early sixties, housewives became direct sellers of cosmetics and home products. The women would plan parties, gather with other housewives, perform demonstrations, and purchase products.
While these women had no primary employment outside of the home, they sold what was of interest to them with no intention of gaining great fame. This is the prototype for the side hustle. In most cases, their acts were a show of socioeconomic independence created by the sale of products they liked without any intent to seek further employment outside of the home.
Fast forward to present day and there are side hustles of varying specializations and skill sets.
This includes, but is not limited to:
- Driving – people who use their car and earn extra money driving their fellow citizens around.
- Food Delivery Service – people earn money delivering take-out orders.
- Renting Your Home – using a part or all of your home to generate additional income.
- E-Commerce – Reselling inventory online from retailers to produce extra cash.
- Cooking/Baking – Catering local events or hosting parties and weddings are areas where homegrown chefs can display their talents, practice their passion, and earn a few dollars.
- Proofreading – If you have an eye for detail, you can read the works of other people, provide feedback, and earn decent money.
- Hand-Crafted Goods – If you enjoy creating décor, e.g., wedding accessories, quilt-making, jewelry, your creations can be more than gifts. You could earn money selling these items online and at local fairs.
- Pool Cleaning/Lawn Maintenance – If you have experience with these activities, that knowledge can create extra revenue.
- Tax Preparation – After taking a class at your local community college or tax preparation company, you can be trained to help others overcome their annual apprehension.
- Residential or Commercial Cleaning Service – Few enjoy cleaning and will pay others to do so for them.
- Photography – With an eye for composition, a quality camera, and app or program, you can earn money capturing the best moments in people’s lives.
Let’s be honest. Turning a hobby into a side hustle may ruin your relationship with the thing you love. Or, starting your side hustle for extra money, but continuing it beyond the financial pinpoint may become a psychological trap.
Think of this way, you are working a 40+ hour per week full-time job. In addition, you are working on your side hustle, which accounts for mornings, evenings, lunch breaks, weekends, and moments in the shower and the car. This lack of balance will cause burnout. It will distance you from your friends and family. It will consume your time.
I love writing and creating, but it could easily become all-consuming. Planning, writing, editing, creating, and distributing a book is a massive effort. While it is less true for smaller works, that is not to say that I do not think of them all the time. The time spent writing is time I am not spending with the ones that matter the most.
To combat that reality, I try to devote time to sleep, seeing friends, spending quality time with my wife and family, and working on non-writing projects.
The term, side hustle, has been limited, by its definition, to those people who work a full-time job and supplement their incomes by doing other things with the intent for the side hustle to replace the employment. In my opinion, this definition is unnecessarily narrow. The contemporary side hustle is any activity performed by a person with full-time employment, or close to it, who engages in an entrepreneurial enterprise. The side hustle may yield financial gain. And, although it may replace the full-time employment as the primary source of revenue, that is neither an intention nor requirement.
Yes, I know my definition is broad. I have created it that way by choice. Side hustles exists for a variety of reasons:
- Need-Based: There are those who need the side hustle, because their primary employment does not cover health care costs, housing, food costs, or college tuition. However, they prefer, or need, the flexibility and independence of the side hustle to work at varying hours.
- Intentional Passion-Based: There are those who work a primary employment with all basic needs being met by it. But the person has a passion that can create a source of revenue that could allow him/her to resign from the primary employment and become a small business owner – and they are hoping to determine if that is true.
- Unintentional Passion-Based: This person is passionate about a skill they possess. They have a primary employment, which provides an acceptable life. They are not seeking to replace their primary employment, but they engage in their passion, for pure enjoyment.
All these reasons, and others not mentioned, for a side hustle can be encapsulated within my definition. While my suggestion is broader, it allows more human activity to be recognized as the actions of the passion-filled to express themselves entrepreneurially.