If you’re wondering, “Should I start a side hustle?” or trying to decide if side hustles are worth it, then read on. I’m going to share everything you need to know.
Side hustles can be lucrative and worthwhile, but only if you choose the right side hustle and go in with the right expectations.
I turned my side hustle into a six-figure online business, but I’ve also met plenty of people who failed at side hustling.
Some side hustles are a complete dead end.
Other side hustles can make you rich but take months or years to generate any money at all.
So coming up, I’ll share the pros and cons of side hustles, and my best tips for which types of side hustles are worth it.
Side hustles can provide you with extra money in the short term and much more. If you choose the right side hustle, it can even replace your day job or help you build skills that will get you further in your day job and earn you promotions/raises.
I prefer the idea of ditching the day job completely, though. That’s what I did via my side hustle, this blog that you’re reading now.
It’s absolutely possible and coming up, I’ll share more on how to do it.
There are also quite a few secondary perks/advantages that make side hustles worth it in my opinion.
Through my side hustles, I met amazing, talented people who I’m still in contact with.
We shared info and tactics and all grew our side businesses together.
I also built more confidence and general business skills like negotiation, pitching/selling, etc.
So while I’ll never return to a day job again (and for me, that’s the number one benefit I gained from starting a side hustle), I do have quite a few skills that would make me more valuable to an employer now, ironically.
Every employer values confidence and business acumen, which you’ll almost certainly gain as a side hustler.
There’s often a trade-off between time and money needed to start a side hustle.
Service-oriented side businesses (like dog walking, tutoring, business consulting, etc.) cost almost no money to start but require your direct time, and will continue requiring that time until you hire employees.
Whereas, a product-focused side hustle like opening an online store will cost you more money to start (for merchandise, advertising, etc.) but will require less of your time in the beginning and certainly in future months/years as you scale up.
Coming up, I’ll share more about which side hustles are worth it and which to avoid, especially if you want passive income, so keep reading.
The following are all examples of side hustles:
Side hustles come in all shapes and sizes, but only some are worth it.
To choose the right side hustle, you need to determine your goals, aspirations, and available resources (time and money). Also consider your current strengths, skills, and knowledge, since starting something in a field you already know will often be faster/easier.
You can earn anywhere from a few dollars per hour (completing online surveys) to seven figures per year (creating an online agency, selling a successful course, etc.) The amount your side hustle will make depends on the business model and then the success you have in growing this side gig. However, without the right business model, your extra income will always be limited.
To make money as quickly as possible side hustling, you want a business that separates your time from income. Do not trade your time for money.
That means don’t complete online surveys or participate in the gig economy, such as doing grocery delivery or driving for Uber/Lyft.
With all of these side hustles, you only make money while you’re working. It’s just a part-time job, essentially.
If you want to truly gain freedom and make six or seven figures in income from your side gig, then you must earn money through actions that don’t involve your direct time.
It’s absolutely possible to make a full-time living from a side hustle. The right side hustle can earn you six figures per year after one to two years of hard work and growth.
Top bloggers in niches like personal finance earn millions of dollars.
So do top YouTube content creators.
You can earn six or seven figures by starting a service business, too.
You can begin by freelancing as your side job and then hire people to help perform the work and transition into an agency.
I know people who have made $100,000 per month through the side hustle business model described above.
These are just a couple of the ways in which you could make a living off of side hustles.
I also know people who have built seven-figure brands by selling physical products as well… with Shopify or Amazon FBA. They’ve accomplished this by selling supplements, sportswear, and more.
Finally, I know people who have built up knowledge in a field (usually by pursuing one of the high-potential side hustles listed above) and then gone on to create a course sharing their knowledge. Some of them have made more than a million dollars selling their course, too.
It’s amazing what a part-time side hustle could turn into.
I’m not suggesting everyone will see this level of success. Your results will vary and depend on so many factors. But this is only possible if you go pursue something and give it a shot.
You have to try, or you have no chance!
That was the mindset I had when I started my blog as a side hustle, and it paid off big-time.
While I feel a side hustle is worth it for most people (90%+ of people), sometimes a person will come to me and ask, “Should I start a side hustle?” and I say no because of how well their current career is going.
If they’re earning an extremely high salary ($150K+), and/or have equity in a company that’s growing quickly, then adding a distraction and splitting their time/focus may not be a smart move.
But that’s rare. Most of us aren’t high-earning tech workers with equity in a start-up or a salary of $150K+.
So for everyone else, I believe a side hustle is absolutely worth it and could turn out to be the best career move you ever make.
There are side hustles that can generate seven figures per year after a few years. Yes, a million dollars per year. I’ll share more on this coming up with specific examples.
If you are limited in time but have some extra income to invest into this side hustle, consider a product-based business.
You could open a Shopify store, sell products via Amazon FBA, etc.
You could also create a content-focused business like a blog or YouTube channel and outsource some of the content creation process (writing, editing, etc.)
On the other hand, if you don’t have much money, start side hustling with a method that allows you to use your time to earn income.
You don’t have to trade time for money forever. You can eventually transition into hiring a team and earning money without spending time.
While you’ll be limited in how much money you can make, because you have limited time in a day to work, I still don’t consider this a dead-end because you can transition into the agency model later, with employees or outsourcing some or all of the operations.
However, I consider tasks like completing online surveys or driving for Lyft to be dead ends.
These side hustles are only good for making some extra money over the short term.
They don’t lead to opportunities to earn exponentially more money. So many side hustles do that it’s silly to pick one of these “dead end” side hustles in my opinion.
As mentioned above, decide whether you’re looking for just a short-term financial boost or something more.
Some side hustles will make you near-instant money, such as grocery delivery apps, but lead to little else.
Always know your long-term goal or you risk choosing a side hustle that’s completely wrong for you.
It’s critical to start with the end in mind when beginning a side hustle. I chose a blog because I didn’t care about my income in year one. I had a full-time job that paid me well and I was willing to wait.
Yet, I knew that five years down the road, I did NOT want to be working in an office or have a boss.
Then I researched blogging and discovered that it’s a side hustle that fits that goal.
If you can find a side hustle idea that leans on any previous knowledge or experience possess, you’ll have an easier time starting up and making that initial money.
So consider experience from your main job/career but also hobbies and interests, like music, sports, art, language, etc.
You could tutor, create a course, or offer group classes on a variety of topics.
All of these are great ways to make money with a side hustle.
You could start simple and offer individual lessons. Let’s say in guitar, for example.
Then, offer group classes.
Then, record a video course so that you can earn passive income and get paid for each new student signup, instead of trading your time for money.
Depending on the side hustle you choose, you may find it easier to launch and make money if you have industry connections.
This is especially true if you plan to offer consulting/freelancing services in a business-oriented field.
However, it’s not a requirement that you have a network/connections in order to start a side hustle.
And you’ll build valuable connections along the way, too. Keep that in mind.
I didn’t know a single successful blogger when I began my blog.
But through the process of learning the business and growing it, I met those folks and made those connections.
So while it’s nice to have connections for service-oriented side hustles in particular, and some physical product businesses, it’s not always necessary. You’ll make connections as you go!
Some side hustles will generate income almost immediately (service businesses tend to do this fastest).
Others take longer.
Side hustles like blogging or YouTube take years to start making you significant money (with the trade-off being that top bloggers and YouTubers earn millions).
So as you look for your side hustle to start, always consider your time horizon and money goals.
Do you want to earn a bit of extra money over a short period, millions of dollars over the long term, or just something in between?
Decide how much money you want to earn before you pick a side hustle, and research that idea to find out the income potential.
This article has the most lucrative side hustle ideas to help you get started.
If you’re an introvert, you may want to choose a different side hustle than someone who is extroverted.
If you’re going to be in constant meetings and Zoom calls with your side hustle, you may get burned out even if you earn great money.
So always consider whether you want to be able to run the business from a laptop, how many conversations you’re willing to have, etc.
I personally wanted very little human interaction, since I was getting plenty of that in my full-time job as a recruiter at the time.
So I chose blogging as a side hustle in part because it was a solo operation with almost no need for live communication, meetings, calls, etc.
If you hold a full-time job and plan on making money in that same industry, make sure you haven’t signed a non-compete agreement with your employer that prohibits you from operating in the space.
You don’t want to start an operation making money on the side only to discover that you’re violating a company policy.
This could open you to lawsuits and termination of your employment, which isn’t worth the bit of extra cash you’d make.
So always ensure you’re in compliance with any legal agreements you’ve signed with your full-time job before venturing out into your part-time business ventures.
I’m not a big advocate of wasting time on menial tasks and business setup before you’ve even found a single customer or validated your business idea.
It’s better to just put yourself out there, try to get a few people willing to pay for your idea, and use that to verify that it could work long-term.
But the one pre-launch step I recommend is to think about how you’ll actually get paid.
I like Stripe and PayPal for accepting card payments.
PayPal also allows you to send invoices via email, which is useful for freelancing.
And some platforms will handle some of this for you. For example, if you launch an online course on a site like Teachable, or open a store to sell physical items with Shopify, they’ll give you a checkout page.
You may still need to integrate with your bank account, PayPal account, etc., and this can take time to verify/set up even after you’ve requested or created an account.
So for this reason, it’s smart to implement and test the personal finance/payment part of your side business just to ensure you’ll be able to launch when you’re ready.
You can figure out the rest of your side hustle operations as you go, but it’s worth thinking a bit about how you plan on getting paid and collecting your income to avoid potential disasters or delayed launches down the road.
Aside from this, I don’t recommend worrying too much about administrative business tasks as you start your side job. Just dive in and test!
I once read that you shouldn’t bother starting an LLC until you’re at $50,000 in annual income. That sounds reasonable to me.
Some business advisors will tell you to go get an LLC immediately, which I think is ridiculous unless you’re in a business that has some serious liability (renting apartments, giving boxing lessons, etc.)
Side hustles are on the rise as more employees feel mistreated at work, or simply cannot find suitable work in a full-time position. Instead, they look to side hustles to make extra income without an employer.
Gig economy apps like Uber, Lyft, Doordash, etc., have also contributed to the rise in side hustles by eliminating barriers to entry and making it easier to start your side hustle.
Finally, anti-work sentiment on social media may be inspiring more professionals to look for alternative ways to earn money.
For example, Reddit has a popular “r/antiwork” forum where people share pushy, overbearing messages and requests from their boss, or conversations of them quitting their job when they’re fed up.
Other social media sites like Twitter are also seeing significant discussion around problems in the current employment landscape and hiring process.
People are frustrated with the job market and are becoming aware of the other available options to make money via side hustling.
The internet has made it easier than ever to learn and start a side job, and additional people are taking advantage each year.
You don’t need a side hustle, and it’s possible to have a successful, high-earning career without a side hustle. However, if you’re not satisfied with your career and/or you want to escape the corporate world, then a side hustle is an excellent path to try. It could potentially be life-changing.
And if you simply need some extra money over a short time period, then side hustles can also be worth pursuing.
For the typical worker, side hustles are absolutely worth it. You’ll make money, build skills and confidence, and potentially begin building an asset/business that can replace your full-time job in a couple of years.
The only people who shouldn’t consider a side hustle are those who are doing exceptionally well in their careers and don’t have the time/energy to commit to learning something new.
Otherwise, I cannot recommend side hustles enough.
You’ll make money. You’ll build skills. You’ll potentially discover something you love, or are passionate about, or are just really, really good at! (Or all of the above).
Most of those benefits happened to me when I started side hustling.
Going into business for myself through experimenting with a couple of different side hustles, and finally choosing to blog full time, was the best thing I ever did professionally…
…And it ended up making me as much money as any day job I’ve had (okay, more).
And I only spent a few hundred dollars to start my blog, so I risked relatively little except for my time.
My life would be completely different if I hadn’t started a side hustle.
I’d encourage you to give a side hustle a try and see how much money you can make for yourself, and what skills/opportunities you gain.
Biron Clark is a former executive recruiter who has worked individually with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.