The Side Hustle: Take Control of Your Life (and your finances)
So much of what we do is dictated by how much money we have available. We all have things we’d like to do, like spend a week in Europe, but it’s not something we’re likely to afford. In my last blog, we talked about ways to save money so that you can enjoy life a little more. This week we’re going to look at ways that you can take control of your life, and your finances, with a side hustle.
If you’ve got a good job, keep it!
A lot of us live in an area where the number of places to work are pretty limited. You might even be maxed out on what you can earn without moving somewhere else, and with spouses in their own career, and kids in school, moving isn’t always a good option. That’s okay! You can increase your income right from home if you’re willing to put in the time and effort.
Invest a little, advance a lot
One of the positions I inherited when I began running the business aspects at our veterinary clinic was Webmaster. Ooh, sexy title, right? I didn’t know the first thing about websites, so I spent about two minutes on Google and found an online class through my local community college. For $109, I took a six-week online class in basic WordPress. When I got done with that, I took the advanced course for another $109. (ed2go.com offers a lot of affordable classes, check them out.)
So, in three months I learned all about building WordPress websites. After practicing on our website for a while and finding my groove, I built a website from scratch for a friend. Then I built one for another business here in town, and then one for a social organization. Suddenly, I had a side hustle of building and maintaining websites. I don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to it, but it generates about $600 a month for me, and I use that money to pay for the editing and production of my upcoming books, writers conferences, and so on.
YouTube is your friend
Depending on what you want to do, you might not have to spend any money to learn what you need to know. I have an artist friend who is a hands-on, crafty kind of person and likes making her own stuff. She found some how-to videos on YouTube about making your own watercolor paints, and decided to give it a shot. It took her a few tries to find a really great blend, but she stuck with it until the paints were just right. She decided to open a shop on Etsy.com and try selling her handmade paints, and that has blossomed into a thriving side hustle for her.
Find Your Groove, Build Your Side Hustle
Handmade items are all the rage these days. People are choosing artisan crafts and products over mass-produced items, and they’re willing to pay the extra price for them. You can easily learn how to make really nice scented hand soaps and laundry soaps, hand-carved wooden spoons for the kitchen, crocheted personalized potholders, candles, jewelry, and a million other things. Are you a welder? People LOVE horseshoe art, giant chickens made out of scrap metal, and things like that. Websites like Etsy, eBay, and Amazon give you a ready-made platform to sell your wares, and you can do it all from home on the weekends.
If you are into more intellectual things, you can do bookkeeping for a local business, or create marketing emails. Almost all local businesses need someone to create and post social media content on Facebook. Do you know how to make quality memes? It’s not hard, if you’re willing to learn. Were you an English major? There are a lot of authors out there who need an editor, or a proofreader. Maybe you can sell your photos on Shutterstock, or become an event photographer for local weddings. Do you have a drone? Drone videos of events or businesses can be a good side hustle, as well.
What are you willing to sacrifice?
Having a successful side business requires a lot of commitment and self-discipline, just like having your own fulltime business. You’ll have to change your lifestyle to fit it in. You’ll probably have to cut out something to make the time, but for most people the only thing being sacrificed is sleeping in on the weekends and watching TV. You have to decide what you want out of life, and what you are willing to do to get it. If your purpose in life is to binge-watch TV shows and movies, or play video games, then this probably isn’t a viable option for you. If you want to take control of your life, your time, and your money so that you can do more, then creating a side hustle is a great way to make it happen.
Crossing the I’s and dotting the T’s
No one wants to get in trouble with The Man over taxes. As you are gathering information and forming your plan, make sure you read up on the business regulations in your state. It’s important to track every penny you spend and earn with your side business. You might need to form a legit legal business entity, which is much easier than you think it is. $300 and ten minutes on Legal Zoom will take care of most of that, and the only other big thing is opening a separate bank account for your business. Some towns or counties require you to pay an annual business license fee (mine is $100 a year), but again, a few minutes on the internet will help you find out what you need to do.
Go Do What You Do!
If you’re tired of watching others live the dream on TV, then sell your TV and do something productive with your time. You’d be amazed how good it feels to do something like this; to create your own business and know that you made this happen, your hard work and effort brought it to life, and it’s generating the money you need to go to Comic-Con, or DisneyLand, or to buy that new car, or to build a nice retirement account. Don’t be a victim. Take control of your life, and live it!
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J. Boyd Long is an author, blogger, website developer, and the CFO of Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic. In his spare time (ha!) he likes to paint, read, canoe, and hike in the wilderness. You can subscribe to this blog in the blue block, and future blogs will be delivered to your email. Warning: Subscribing may increase your awesomeness quotient. Please feel free to comment, and share this blog on your favorite social media page! To learn more, please visit JBoydLong.com.