While America is a land of opportunity and prosperity, not everyone is sharing in the wealth. Sure, unemployment remains low (around 4.4 percent), but recent reports show that wages have barely grown during the eight years since the Great Recession. Some experts even say that, after accounting for inflation, minimum wage is worth less than 50 years ago.
And, there are other statistics that show our collective financial pains. A new study from GoBankingRates.com just revealed that more than half of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings, at a time when the average indebted household owes more than $16,000 on credit cards.
The merry-go-round of depressing news never ends. But, what should we do? Lay down and die?
Could a Side Hustle Be Your Best Investment Yet?
While you can absolutely settle for your salary and make the best of what you have, some experts say there is a better way. Imagine if you could earn more money without switching careers or getting that raise you’ve been praying for.
What if you could give yourself your own raise during your spare time? What if anyone could hatch a plan to build a second (or third or fourth) stream of income to supplement their full-time work?
What if the answer to your financial problems can’t come from your boss, but only from within? What if your best investment is a side hustle?
Author and entrepreneur Chris Guillebeau believes this could be the case, and has been studying the concept of side hustles for years as a result. After completing numerous case studies, Guillebeau has found that nearly anyone can take an idea and make it profitable if they’re thoughtful, strategic, and realistic enough.
And, this is why Guillebeau wrote Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days. Through a series of case studies and actionable steps, he wants to help people earn more money on their own terms.
But, this isn’t some get rich-rich-quick scheme. Guillebeau isn’t asking you to quit your job to sell body wraps on your smartphone or flip houses with borrowed money. [tweet_quote display=”"With a side hustle, you earn money without quitting your job" @chrisguillebeau”]With a side hustle, you earn money without quitting your job[/tweet_quote] (that’s why it’s called a side hustle).
According to Guillebeau, so many people are sold on the idea of quitting their jobs to become entrepreneurs. But the reality is, [tweet_quote display=”"Most people have no desire to become an entrepreneur; they just want to earn more money" @chrisguillebeau”]most people have no desire to become an entrepreneur; they just want to earn more money[/tweet_quote] .
“I wanted to provide a proven process for anyone who wants to create a new source of income without quitting their day job,” says Guillebeau. “There is no downside to a side hustle. There are only benefits to building more than one source of income,” he says.
The Benefits of Hustling On the Side
So, what are the perks of hustling during your spare time? Guillebeau’s book explains it all:
“[tweet_quote display=”"A side hustle is more than just another stream of income, it’s also the new job security" @chrisguillebeau”]A side hustle is more than just another stream of income, it’s also the new job security[/tweet_quote] . When you receive paychecks from different sources, it allows you to take more chances in your regular career. More income means more options. More options equals freedom. You don’t need entrepreneurial experience to launch a profitable side hustle. You don’t have to have an MBA, or know how to code, or be an expert marketer. You don’t need employees or investors.”
What you do need is an idea, some time, and the determination to see your dream through to the end. If you can make it work, the financial rewards can be well worth your time.
While we’re commonly told that mo’ money equals mo’ problems, that couldn’t be further from the truth. For many who hustle, the extra cash they earn can mean the difference between barely squeaking by or having money to go on vacation. It could mean paying off that $16,000 in credit card debt or building a real emergency fund with 3-6 months of expenses for the first time.
It could mean the difference between subsistence and prosperity – between earning a living and building a life.
Side Hustles vs. Part-Time Jobs
But, why not just get a part-time job? Why build a side hustle you have to visualize and nurture on your own?
As Guillebeau notes, his concept isn’t about just getting another job where the powers that be decide everything – it’s about helping people create assets for themselves.
“A side hustle isn’t a part-time job,” says Guillebeau. “I’m trying to help people think about not just trading time for money but building this asset that provides the potential for passive income.”
Some people just make $500, $1,000, or $2,000 per month, he says. It’s not small money, but it’s not huge, either.
“But $500 or $1,000 per month can change someone’s life. And when they create that for themselves, it is really empowering.”
Occasionally, something miraculous can happen as well, he says.
Some people start side hustles that take on a life of their own, and they end up in some pretty spectacular circumstances where their lives are truly changed.
“I see a lot of people who go on to make six figures or more from their side hustles,” says Guillebeau. “Once you go down this road, you never know what’s going to happen.”
But, none of that can happen with a part-time job because the potential for growth just isn’t there. Plus, you’re still under someone else’s control and your income will always be dictated by them.
What Side Hustle Should You Invest In?
Guillebeau has helped thousands of people turn their ideas into hustles that bring in real income. But, what are these people doing?
The reality is, they’re providing services or products just like any other business – just without a boss or overlord determining their hours or pay.
Some side hustlers teach piano lessons. Others design and sell shirts on Amazon. Some start photography businesses, while others start consulting businesses using skills from their day jobs.
On Guillebeau’s podcast, Side Hustle School, he’s profiled people that earn money in ways you would never dream of – a British man who earns $700 per month writing reviews of fish tanks, someone who makes bank hawking saddles for pet chickens, a homemade gin kit that’s sold 75,000 units.
In the words of R. Kelly, “If you can see it, then you can do it. If you just believe it, there’s nothing to it.” And if someone can earn money selling saddles for chickens no one can ride on, well then, anything is possible.
Six Figure Side Hustlers to Follow
If you look around, it’s not hard to find people who started a side hustle that changed their life.
Take Jeff Jones, a drummer who noticed a fun trend and used his spare time to turn it into a business for himself.
When a band he played in was opening shows in Texas in 2009, Jones noticed brightly colored, customized drum sticks available at another band’s booth. They were the coolest, full-color printed drumsticks he had ever seen, he says.
After realizing what a good idea this was – and that the market was completely untapped – Jones intentionally developed a relationship with the manufacturer. He then launched a website – CustomStix.com – with the goal of bringing these sticks to consumers all over the world.
While Jones didn’t necessarily want to quit playing in a band, he wanted to earn more money. And he also wanted something even more important – more freedom to live life on his own terms.
“In the back of my mind, I saw this as a potential tool to help me find my way off the road so I could be a better husband and father,” says Jones. “Now it’s been over eight years, and with over 400,000 drumsticks shipped, I can say it’s been more than I could have ever dreamed.”
Jones also says that the time he spent nurturing his idea was the best investment he’s ever made.
“I started the company with $600 cash and zero debt, a laptop computer and a cell phone,” says Jones. “This was the best-case scenario for someone like myself who couldn’t commit to working for someone else but needed the extra income to supplement the roller coaster ride of the music business.”
These days, Jones has expanded his empire to include 18″ Personalized mini-baseball bats at www.CoolBats.com.
While Jones’s interest in graphics, design work, and the music industry helped him launch a hustle, some people opt to sell their skills on the side instead.
That’s exactly what Holly Johnson – a mother of two in Indiana – decided to do with her spare time.
After Johnson and her husband Greg started popular frugal travel blog ClubThrifty.com in 2011, Johnson learned to leverage her writing skills and expertise to get freelance gigs on the web. During her first year as a part-time content creator, Johnson earned an extra $30,000 while also working a 9-5 job.
That early success prompted Johnson to quit her traditional job so she could write 40 hours per week – a decision she made so she could spend more time at home with her kids. Just a few years later, Johnson was earning more than $200,000 per year writing content online, which allowed her husband to leave his job to work on their blog.
Since getting bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, Johnson has also launched a freelance writing course – EarnMoreWriting.com. The course has become a passive income stream for Johnson, plus she gets to help other writers learn the ins and outs of starting a profitable freelance writing business.
“It all started because I was tired of getting paid less than I was worth and only getting a 3 percent raise every year,” explains Johnson. “Once I found out I had marketable skills, I decided to take my earnings into my own hands.”
Robert Farrington is another side hustler who has changed his life, yet his entrepreneurial journey started when he was just a teenager.
“I started selling stuff on eBay to earn extra money to spend on things I wanted,” he says. “Back then it was video games, car accessories, and more.”
Once he entered the adult world of work and school, Farrington started his blog, TheCollegeInvestor.com, as a hobby. Fortunately, it didn’t take him long to realize he could earn money blogging and use it to accomplish his goals.
While he had a day job he liked, Farrington wanted to earn more so he could pay off his student loans, buy a house, and build wealth on a much faster timeline.
Over the years, Farrington worked on his blog until his online income eclipsed what he earned at his day job. After a few years with dual incomes in the six figures, he quit his full-time job to focus on his online work. That wasn’t necessarily his goal, he says, but he got tired of juggling both responsibilities and decided to bet on himself.
Farrington still has to pinch himself because of his good fortune – and the fact his new life emerged out of what he accomplished during nights and weekends.
The best part is, he risked almost nothing to get started.
“My side hustle is by far my best investment because it cost nothing to start except time,” he says. “So, for essentially a $0 investment, the ROI has been amazing.”
The Bottom Line
And that is really the crux of the issue Guillebeau is trying to solve. Everyone has some time to spare, but that doesn’t mean they always know how to put it to use.
Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days takes the concept of the side hustle and breaks it down into 27 days of actionable steps. Read the book, brainstorm some ideas, follow the steps, and you could join the ranks of people who are taking control of their incomes and their lives.
“Even if you only earn $100 per month, what else would have you done with your time that could have earned that?” asks Farrington.
If you desperately want to earn more residual income, it might be time to invest in an idea you may have previously neglected – yourself.