Side Hustle: How to Choose That’s Right For You

What “side hustle” means

I have a side hustle, do you? Seems like those two words, “side hustle” have been gaining tracking in the U.S. lexicon for a few years. Magazines, entrepreneurs like Gary Vaynerchuk have been preaching for people like you and me to “get our hustle on” while we work regular jobs. 

This is cute but what is a side hustle? You might know it by other names, here a few:

  • sidegig
  • making money online
  • making money from home

A side hustle is a way we can make money while we stay gainfully employed somewhere else. But it is not like a part time job flipping burgers or delivering pizzas. A true side hustle is one of those things we create and do. Think of it as a micro business. Yes it generates income for a variety of reasons, but affords us the latitude of ultimate flexibility.

In 2007 my family I relocated from Great Bend Kansas to Dodge City Kansas. For years I had been collecting 1/32 scale farm toys and the home we moved into did not have space where I could enjoy them. 

Rather than let this collection set in boxes taking up space, I began selling them off. This money I created let me dive into a new hobby. While I stayed in the farm toy genre, now I could explore a new area that fascinated me for years, custom harvesting models (traveling harvesters of grain crops). My new hobby required a specific style of trailer that was not made. At least I didn’t know who to ask or where to find them if they did exist.

3 Axle Double Combine Trailer

The model that started it all, a trailer for hauling two combines.

If these trailers I wanted were meant to be it was up me. I called a few people that used the real version of the trailer I wanted. They agreed to give me basic dimensions of what I was seeking and my hobby took on new life. Now I could make what I wanted.

As enthusiasts do, we share our new creations with people that like what we like. The toy farm and truck world is vibrant online and was excited at what I created. It didn’t take long and the emails, PMs, and comments came in. “Can you make me one of those?” 

For three or so years I would make a few trailers by hand for different people. As I did this, people asked for other things, “Can you make this?” “Can you make that?” Through lots of trial and error I found a niche that really brought me life, 1/64th scale replica trucks. In 2012, Rockin H Farm Toys was born. 

Now, I offer a variety of 3D printed parts in my online store, our signature service is making replica trucks for people, and a membership site designed to teach the skills I have gained.

Combined income streams generate between 20 and $30,000 gross income per year. And I get to work when I want while I keep my dayjob. 

This is the definition of a side hustle.

Why start a side hustle?

To increase income and reduce debt

I didn’t intend to start a side hustle at first. I was enjoying my new hobby. As people bought things from me I suddenly had money to enjoy my hobby a little more. No more line item on the family budget for Eric’s hobby. There have also been occasions where my family and I could do some things we wouldn’t ordinarily do because guess what? I had a little fund over there waiting to do something cool.

This was my motivation to take my hobby seriously and create a side gig that is not only fun, but makes me money while I’m at it. Let’s face though, how many of us work a day guys and gals wouldn’t like to increase income for a fun vacation or reduce debt? These two reasons are among many that we could fund while making extra money from home. And the really cool thing? According to Bankrate, the average annual income for a side hustle is over $8k in 2018.

To have a safety net in the event of a sudden job loss or economic downturn

I have the good fortune to live in the high plains, that giant piece of farm ground and grass between the “midwest” and the Rockies. I call this good fortune as most jobs in this area are pretty stable. Even during the financial crisis that caused so many people to lose homes and savings, we were pretty insulated from the downturn. Not isolated for sure, but we did not feel the full effects the way California, Michigan, Ohio and Florida did for example.

This is worth noting if you are reading this from outside the plains states. If we are making money from home while working out day jobs, we are creating a safety net when the economy slips up. It is reasonable to say, when the economy takes a downturn, not if. 

Creating a side gig gives us fuel if we lose our job, get injured or are laid off for a bit. What is really nice, once we get our side hustle going, it doesn’t much more effort to create more income as the foundation has been laid. In the event of a job loss we will suddenly have more time to gin up work so we do not feel the pain of our day job income missing for a time. 

It is easier to sleep at night when we have hope that the work we are doing at our kitchen table, desk, garage, or workshop will get us by for awhile.

To Fuel Your Passion or make a difference

This reason, to fuel your passion or make a difference is why I continue my Rockin H side hustle. I admit it, I’m not curing cancer, building homes for the homeless, or feeding starving children. But I do get to do several things that give me life. One, I get to create which is very satisfying. Two, it is really cool to make a retirement gift replica of a vehicle a guy spent his career in. Three, I get to teach everything I know which helps a ton of people start a new hobby or indulge their imaginations. Because teaching is an active part of my side hustle, I’m bringing new people into a hobby I enjoy so much. 

How much of a difference in the world could each of us make by sharing that skill or thing we make that makes us lose track of time? How much more life can we get by indulging our passions? Imagine coming home from a day at the grind and losing ourselves for a few hours by making a video tutorial working on a car or repairing a lawn mower. What building a website or editing someone’s podcast? Perhaps we would evaluate a rare set of salt and pepper shakers for a group of enthusiasts or teach a new stitch for people who like to quilt.

The list is endless and we get to be in the driver’s seat every step of the way.

What are good side hustle business?

If you are reading this right in the middle of the middle class, you likely don’t haaaaave to create a side hustle. It is worth considering what are good side hustle businesses. 

If we want to gin something up quick there all sorts of platforms where we can create income without a ton of effort. By now most of us have heard of Uber and Lyft. And I bet a large number of us have used both services. We can easily generate cash by driving for both services. In Addition, Fiverr or Mechanical Turk are great online platforms where we can perform a variety of tasks that fit our skill sets. 

If working offline is a better fit other great side hustle businesses can include mowing lawns and snow removal, babysitting, dog walking, personal chef, personal trainer to name a few. A friend of mine has a side gig doing routine maintenance on homes for people that do not have the skills, tools, time or ability. He loves it and he is providing a valuable service.

The idea is to think about services a person simply may not have time to do but wants or needs done. I myself can see there will be a point when I do not want to climb on my house to hang Christmas lights. I really love the way these lights make my house look during the holidays. I can see paying someone to hang my lights. Then, take them down after the holidays. 

Longer term side hustle idea would be creating tutorials on Youtube, writing an eBook, creating sales funnels, or blogging. I say these are longer term as generally speaking, most people do not go viral on Youtube or blogging. Most of us publish content and build an audience over time. Building these kinds of side gigs requires patience as income is generated.  

How to choose a side hustle that’s right for you.

I can already see decision paralysis setting in for when considering the side hustle that’s right. There is a good formula to make it easier to choose. 

  1. Consider our present skills. We all have skills learned in our various professions we can use in other areas. From editing film to painting rooms there is someone that will pay us to use the skills we have. 
  2. What interests do we have? Is it teaching? Playing piano? Indulging interests we already have monetizing them is a great way to work from home and create income.
  3. What are our hobbies? You read my story. I have monetized my hobby and this particular hobby is not a large group of people. Imagine what could happen hobbies with larger audiences. The nice thing about hobbies is we are enjoying them already, now we can take them to a new level.
  4. What is our budget? It is not uncommon in my hobby to hear guys say “I’m going to become a dealer of farm/truck models.” This is a great idea for a side hustle but a person will need deep pockets to pull this off. The biggest reason is inventory takes substantial investment. This would go for a variety of retail type situations. Looking for a side hustle with little start up costs might be the way to go. My side hustle, for example, can cost a $100 or less to get going. 
  5. Time is a huge consideration. With a regular job, family and civic functions, fitting another thing in can be daunting. What kind of side hustle can we create in the available space we have? What gigs require small amounts of time for payouts? Or, what can we create that give us the flexibility to work a couple hours today, then a couple hours two days from now? Those types of gigs are out there.
  6. What tools or equipment do we have on hand? There are all sorts of specialty tools not everyone owns. We have a residential grade carpet cleaner that works for our occasional spills and oooops around the house. Owning that tool doesn’t stop me from hiring the guy that has the commercial grade steam cleaner. I simply do not want to afford that kind of machine nor take the time to do it myself. How many tools or pieces of equipment do we have around the house that could be monetized by using them in a meaningful service for others? A great consideration for uncovering ways to make extra money.
  7. What resources do we have access to? My son was laid off from his part time job he had while in university. Recalling a side hustle he had when was 15 he thought to resurrect that gig where he lives. What is so nice about ginning up again? He has all the resources around him get going. He has the skills, tools, space, time, to start creating income while attending school. Another great thing, at this moment, most resources we need are only a few clicks away. With imagination and good keywords we learn, then create what we wish. 
  8. What opportunities are around already? It is not uncommon for a community to have some sort of buy sell trade facebook page. These are great places to search for what people are asking to have done. From cleaning gutters to giving people a ride to the doctors office the tasks are varied and somewhat endless. Being open to opportunity is important too. Our local community college is regularly looking for adjunct professors to teach a variety of classes at different times of the day and evening. This idea is out of the ordinary and golden for those of us that can be matched up to the right class. 

A side hustle is a rewarding way to gain additional income and pursue areas of interest and meaning. In the following entry, How to Turn Your Side Hustle into Meaningful Income, we will dive deeper to help you achieve a little more.  

Learn how to How to Turn Your Side Hustle Into Meaningful Income. Read the next article in the series where I teach you how to go from some income to meaningful income.