If you’re looking for side hustle ideas, you’re in good company. In 2022, the gig economy – a term that refers to workers making money via short-term projects, or “gigs” – is alive and well. With so many during the pandemic deciding to work from home or even quit their jobs, there is no shortage of people taking advantage of the plentiful opportunities for gigs or side hustles made even more accessible by the internet.
According to the Pew Research Center, as of December 2021, 16% of Americans made some kind of income from online freelance work. A few side hustle ideas include gigs like driving for Uber, delivering food, providing child care, building websites or commissioning art. You can easily promote both in-person and virtual services via the internet. Plus apps like Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, TaskRabbit and others put a world of side hustle ideas right in the palm of your hand.
As gig work becomes more popular, many people have and continue to consider the idea of taking on a few extra hours of work a week to supplement existing income. Dipping your toe in the freelance pool could be helpful for networking, exploring your talents and building skills – all while making money.
Of course, not every facet of your life has to become a way to make money. In fact, making a hobby into a revenue stream can result in ambivalent feelings toward your leisure time.
But, taking on a side hustle or two to better equip your wallet can be useful when trying to save up for something – like a wedding or a vacation – or when building up a resume, portfolio or CV at the start of your career. If you’re looking to be compensated and have some downtime to spare for a little extra work, then taking on a side hustle may be right for you.
Read on for some tips on how to start a side hustle that works for you.
What kind of work is right for you?
Considering what kind of work to take up in your free time can be more complicated than you think. First, you have to consider what kinds of services people actually need. Then, you have to consider what you’re qualified to do, what you like to do and what you can do in a limited amount of time.
This is your side hustle, which may not be all that lucrative when you first begin working at it. So, ask yourself: what is it you don’t mind doing, and what do you have time for?
According to the freelancing platform Upwork, some of the most popular freelancing jobs in 2021 were software developers, writers, digital marketers, web/mobile developers and graphic designers. The diversity of skills for this range of jobs is supportive of many different kinds of experience and credentials.
Of course, there are other freelancing jobs available that make for excellent side hustle ideas. Photography, copywriting, designing and recruiting are viable options for freelance work, according to freelance platform ZipRecruiter. If you’re looking for work that’s in-person and local rather than remote, then traditional freelancing is probably more your speed.
Tutors, babysitters/nannies, housekeepers, handymen, movers, furniture assemblers, personal shoppers and others are also in high demand through websites like TaskRabbit and Care.com. Additionally, selling homemade wares is an option through commissioning or setting up an online store on marketplace platforms like Etsy and Zazzle.
Considering what you’re good at and capable of is a good place to start brainstorming side hustle ideas. If you already have experience in an area through previous work or your current job, there’s no need to start from scratch. Or, if colleagues, friends and family are always asking for your help with something in particular, that could point you in the right direction.
For example, are you always getting compliments on how you’ve done your makeup or your web design skills? Or are you someone that knows how to throw a great party or make a killer strawberry jam? Not only does this give you insight into your strengths, but you may already have a market for it. Not to mention, there may be a built-in network of people that can vouch for your talents.
How to start freelancing
The idea of freelancing can be freeing – and overwhelming. After all, it’s difficult to know where to start if you don’t already have a list of clients or a lot of experience. Figuring out what kind of job is right for you is the first step, but then you need to put your service out there and begin building a base of consumers.
Scheduling your time
Instead of just allowing your freelance work to take over all of your free time, it’s important to schedule when you will be working and when you will be separating yourself from your projects. For example, how many hours a week will you be freelancing? And on which days?
Planning your time like this will give you an idea of how many projects you can take on and how to price your service. The Harvard Business Review conducted studies with over 1,000 participants on the subject of side hustles and made this discovery:
“The most common time for our participants to work on their side hustles was weekday evenings. Although it is tempting to slide straight from your full-time work into your side hustle, or to work each weeknight or all weekend on your side hustle, you should find time to unplug from both your full-time work and your side hustle.
“Individuals in our study worked on their side hustles an average of 4 days per week – so limiting your side hustle to certain days of the week would be a good first step to managing your energy. Side hustlers should also consider taking time between full-time work and side hustles rather than starting side hustles immediately after work.”
Building a portfolio
In order to gain clients or customers, it’s advisable to have some sort of demonstrable experience or credentials, usually in the form of a portfolio. A portfolio can consist of different documents, images and links that serve as examples of your work.
If you don’t have much professional experience in the field you’re entering, you can add a case study, which is basically an outline or story of how you helped a business or solved a challenge. You can also include snippets of your work, screenshots of spreadsheets, social media posts, the results of your work in graph or chart form, testimonials and reviews from those your work has benefited in the past and samples from previous projects.
If you’re using a freelance platform to promote your service or find work (i.e., Upwork, Fiverr, Flexjobs), you can upload these documents and work examples to the sites directly. Alternatively, you can create a portfolio website using a page builder like Squarespace, WordPress or Clippings.me.
Marketing your service
Before the internet, freelancers were kind of on their own as far as marketing went. Think newspaper ads, posting flyers in the local library and depending on word-of-mouth. Now, though, there are so many interesting and useful ways to generate interest in your work.
Setting up a page on a freelancing platform is probably the easiest way to ensure that someone in need of what you’re offering can find you. However, you can also get the word out through social media or create a blog or website dedicated to showcasing your expertise. Plus, you still can post a flyer in the local library, if that’s your thing.
Pricing your service
While it may be a bit disheartening, starting your services at a lower price is usually the way to go. Then, as you build up a clientele and become more experienced, you can raise your rate. There are two main types of freelance pricing: hourly and project rates. Depending on what kinds of services you’re offering, one may seem more appealing than the other.
A project rate is a fixed amount that you will receive once the project is complete, and it’s decided on before actually seeing how long it will take you. An hourly rate is what you expect per hour, regardless of the project at hand. When doing the math, you can look around different freelancing platforms and see how other people are pricing similar services. It is also worth noting that freelancing platforms often take a cut of the final payment should you choose to use one, so you may need to factor that into what you are billing your client.
Is a side hustle right for you?
Looking to earn extra money and explore new job prospects is exciting and can also be a low-risk way to investigate a new career direction. While it may sound like a lot of time and energy to invest, that doesn’t mean that starting a side hustle has to be exhausting or tedious. You can also consider seeking out a mentor in your field to help you out. Whichever side hustle you decide to develop, using your time and skills wisely to really see what you can do allows you more autonomy and a little extra money in the bank.
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