in Earning, Guest Posts

What to Look For In Your First Side Hustle

The following post is contributed by Martin of Studenomics, where he tries to make personal finance fun since you have enough to stress about. You can click here to check out the wide range of content on everything from student loans to getting paid to drink coffee.

Are you looking to start your first side hustle? Are you excited about the idea of making money on your own?

I think you’ll agree with me that there’s a lot of confusing information out there about making money. You start reading about one income source and then end up with an information overload. You don’t know if it’s all a scam or if you’re missing out on an opportunity of a lifetime.

Keep on reading if you want to know what to look for in a side hustle so that you don’t spend the next six months stuck at day one…

I’ve been writing about making money for 12 years now. I’ve never seen it as a scam but I’ve heard from new readers who are very hesitant about the whole concept of making more money because they don’t want to get caught up in some scheme. I totally understand that.

There’s a plethora of information out there about how to make money. It gets very intimidating. You go from looking for how to make a few bucks to finding courses on courses for $1,000 that promise you to get rich.

Let’s make sense of your first side hustle so that you stop delaying…

What are the signs that the side hustle isn’t worth your time?

Sign #1: Everything is vague.

Can you explain how you’re going to make money with this idea? Where will the income come from?

You have to be able to explain how this business will be making money or it’s a scam.

Here are some examples of explanations of making money:
  • As a freelance writer, you write articles on topic X in exchange for $75 per article (or whatever deal you arrange).
  • As a photographer, you take wedding pictures in exchange for your rate.
  • As a graphic artist, you charge $125 for a logo with two revisions.
Do you see where I’m going with this? You clearly know how you’re going to make money in those examples.

What will you do for money with this side hustle?

Here are signs that you’re being lied to. Watch out for these phrases:
  • “Don’t worry about the money, it will come.”
  • “You have to attract more money into your life.”
These expressions don’t mean anything. This is what charlatans say when they want you to join their scheme. I would also avoid anyone who speaks vaguely with no specific tactics.

Sign #2: You don’t have the skills.

This may seem controversial because I’m all about learning new skills, but you can’t chase side hustles where you don’t have anything that remotely resembles the skills required.

I’m all for taking the time to build a business and to invest in yourself to learn new skills. That’s a long game and side hustles are about working on ideas that can bring in money in the near future.

You may not have the time to learn guitar or to become a master copywriter overnight. You want to do something where you already have the skills needed.

Sign #3: There’s a lot of legwork involved before you’re even going to see a penny.

Yes, you do have to put in time and effort to grow a business. No, you don’t have to wait a year to make money from a side hustle.

The entire point of a side hustle is to make more money on the side. You don’t want another full-time gig or a volunteer position. You want to make money. You want to use your time wisely.

If there’s no clear sign of when or how you’re going to get paid, you need to be skeptical. You’re in this venture for the money. You’re not looking for a volunteer position.

Sign #4: There’s nobody else doing this at all.

Do you know anyone who’s doing something similar? Is this something that you’ve never heard of before?

If nobody’s doing this, then it’s a scam. You’re not on the ground floor of a new business venture. You’re just being lied to and I want you to know this so that you don’t waste your valuable time.

Those are the signs that a side hustle is a scam.

What should you look for in a side hustle?

Here’s exactly what I look for when analyzing a new business opportunity.

A simple path to profit.

Is there a simple way to make money? I’m a fan of simplicity and keeping things clear.

You have to ask yourself these questions about money with that side hustle:

  • How will you make money?
  • How soon will the money arrive?
  • Where will the money come from?
You have to be able to answer these questions. For example, Airbnb would deposit the money into my account 24 hours after every experience that I ran. When I write an article, I send an invoice through Paypal at the end of the month and I wait a few days for the invoice to get paid.

Something that will solve a specific problem.

Will you be solving specific problems for people? What will you actually be doing? The world doesn’t need any more of the following:

  • Vague life advice.
  • Empty motivational quotes about chasing greatness.
  • Detox teas.
  • Complicating investment systems.
What are the specific problems that you can solve?
  • Creating content for a website.
  • Taking photos for a company.
  • Performing tasks for a company so they can save time.
  • Editing videos.
  • Cooking food.
There are many more examples of specific problems to be solved. I’m not even that creative. I’m sure that you could find something in your life that pays you well.

Where can you look for side hustle gigs?

How can you start looking for side hustle opportunities that actually bring in money for you so that you don’t waste your valuable time?

Freelance work.

As a freelancer, you get paid for your services every time. I started off as a freelance writer since I was already writing articles about personal finance for my website. You have two options when searching for freelance work:

  1. There are so many job boards. You can look through job boards for postings that match what you’re offering.
  2. You create your own portfolio. You can use your social media as a platform for hosting your work. You can post examples of your work on Facebook/Instagram to land clients.
What are freelance job boards worth checking out? These websites are pretty self-explanatory and serve as a decent starting point. You can track jobs and apply for gigs that interest you. Your goal is to land your first paying client so that you can start gaining experience in the field right away. The next step is to build your portfolio up so that you can eventually find clients on your own so that you can increase your income as you get more comfortable as a freelancer.

Find an established platform to host your work.

The legwork has already been done before and you can easily offer services on an established platform instead of trying to guess on your own. What are examples of publishing your work on established platforms?

  1. You can self-publish books on Amazon.
  2. You can sell your crafts and printables on Etsy.
  3. You can upload your program to Gumroad.
  4. You can rent your extra bedroom out on Airbnb.
  5. You can deliver food for Uber Eats or become a ride share driver.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to side hustles. You can use an existing platform to post your work or you can look for gig opportunities that match your skills. I just want you to try something so that you don’t spend any more time reading about making money.

Let us know in the comments what you plan on doing for extra money.

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  • December 2020 update – The Frugalist May 9, 2021

    […] month I had the opportunity to share a post from Martin at Studenomics, he shares his thoughts on what to look for in your first side hustle – things to watch out for and how to choose the right […]