How to Find a Side Hustle

how to make extra incomeHaving a side hustle is like having a girl on the side: it sounds more glamorous than it is.  I currently have five sources of income (my main job, and side hustles: writing, website, real estate, and Craigslist arbitrage) which when combined are solidly in the six figure range1.  I save 60% of that income annually.  Sounds as good as a handy during the football game, right? Not really.

Side hustles are incredibly time consuming, like painting your house with a toothbrush time consuming.  Everyone would like to make more money on the side through a side hustle, but not everyone has the stamina.  Most people burn out in their side hustles faster than John Candy running a marathon.  If you have kids, hobbies that don’t pay, or are addicted to porn be prepared to make some serious sacrifices at the altar of your side hustle.  If you are still determined, then read on my soon to be sleep deprived friend.

Find the Discipline and Time

The first step towards establishing a side hustle is to find the discipline and time required to have one.  We all have the same 24-hours in a day, so it isn’t a matter of creating time but rather finding it.   If you don’t know 5am from a hole in the wall, get familiar.  Here are a few solid strategies I have used to find the time to manage my multiple side hustles:

  • Get up very early.  I wake up nearly every day at 5am and begin working on side hustles as soon as the morning stinker-tinker time is over.  Begin winding back your wakeup call by a half hour every week until you hit your personal limit.  Hint: your personal limit is probably an hour earlier than you prefer.
  • Write a schedule.  I write out a schedule for every two weeks where I outline when I will work on what side hustle and specifically on what aspect of that side hustle.  This is how I balance the various responsibilities of each side hustle.  Life of course gets in the way, but I try to hold myself accountable at all times.  I am my own employee with my side hustles; I can’t let that lazy S.O.B rip me off, right?
  • Be honest with your stakeholders.  You family and friends are your stake holders when it comes to the business of your life, and now that you aren’t going to have as much time to spend with them you need to inform them.  Sure, they may like it less than handsy mall Santa but you need to be firm and upfront.   In the end, your side hustles benefit them as well.

Get Creative… or Better Yet Don’t

You aren’t trying to change the world here.  If you think having a side hustle involves inventing the next big thing then do yourself a favor and light all your money on fire now.  Being creative is handy in side hustles only to the extent that it saves you time and money.  For side hustles, consider “creative” as you would a pick up line: to be used sparingly.  Research what works and is a fit for you, and make it your side hustle.  Don’t step out of your area of expertise, don’t sign up for any courses, and don’t buy any books.  If it isn’t fairly obvious to you from the get-go, find another side hustle.  You’re trying to make some money, not go back to college.

Narrow down the Side Hustles

Now that you have a list as long as Tommy Lee’s inseam it is time to narrow it down.  This will depend greatly on your individual situation.  I have written out pros and cons before and found it helpful.  Talk to your stakeholders.  It helps to determine your own criteria for an appropriate side hustle.  Do you want it to be something you enjoy, or something that makes a lot of money?  Should it require an investment and if so how much is too much?  How much time will it take?  Answer these questions for each possible side-hustle and narrow it down to numero uno.

Pick one and Set a Time Limit, and don’t get Emotional

Don’t be like Tiger Woods and try to juggle five side dishes at once.  Start with one at a time, build a system and then look for a second.  So just pick one.  Once you have your side hustle, establish a time limit that is just this side of too-long and commit to it.  For example, my website has a little over one year to begin bringing in a minimum amount of money before I move on to another project.  I am willing to commit lots of time and a certain amount of money to it, but if it doesn’t pan out after my time limit I have four to five other ideas I would like to begin work on.  I will not be emotional about it, although I will obviously be disappointed.  But I will pull the plug.  You should do, should your side hustle not pan out after your time limit is up. There are a lot of ways to make money on the side out there—a lot of side hustles—you shouldn’t get caught up on just one.

After all, you won’t have to pay alimony if you just up and leave.

Author Bio:  Mitchell is the hilarious owner of  He brings a funny and truthful side to personal finance.

1My job alone is in the six figure range, and the side hustles are perhaps 40% of that.

Image courtesy of Mixunit

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Leave a Comment:

FI Pilgrim says December 31

I can attest to the extra time needed for side hustling. It was something my wife and I had to seriously weigh before I starting consulting on the side. Get ready for early mornings or late evenings, or both!

Brian says December 31

It’s all about time management. You’ll be amazed at how much time you can find if you cut out TV or limit surfing the internet.

Michelle says December 31

Great post! I’m all about finding a side hustle. They are now my full-time business, and they also helped me pay off my student loans. There was no way that I could have increased my salary at my day job as much as I wanted, so side jobs were the way to go for me 🙂

Liz says December 31

I am working on finding my first side hustle. What I’ve learned so far is that I need to be really really organized to make time for everything.

Money Saving Dude says December 31

I agree with you on that. Side hustles will indeed need your time and hardwork. That’s why time management is important for a person to succeed with his goals.

Broke Millennial says December 31

Haha, as soon as I read the porn line I knew this had to be SnarkFinance.

Waking up early is an ambition for me this year. I usually take the reverse route and stay up really late to get my side hustles done. I need to be more selective though and focus on those with the solid ROI.

Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life says December 31

I’m amazed your able to sustain as many side hustles as you do. I feel like I’m always trying to keep up with just my blog.

Laurie says January 1

Wow, Mitchell, you do amazing on your side hustle income!! Great tips here – thanks for sharing!

Jon @ MoneySmartGuides says January 2

I have to work on creating a schedule myself. I have a few things going on and some always seem to get lost in the shuffle. I’ll focus on one at the expense of the other, then focus on that one and ignore the other one. I need to get better at managing my time so that I get the most out of my day.

Kayla says March 10

Getting any side hustles or sources of income to be mostly automated is what’s key. You don’t want to be giving yourself infinitely more and more work each day. Instead, it makes sense to have one side hustle, make it successful, automate it, and leave it. Add slight management when necessary.

Owning a rental property is a great example — purchase a rental property or turn your current home into a duplex+, up-front work with much more minor maintenance in the end. Or write a book, and use your next side hustle to market it. Start a blog, and eventually hire out writers for post consistency.

    Grayson Bell
    Grayson Bell says March 10

    Automated side hustle income is great, but that is hard to achieve for many. Many forms of income are not automated or passive unless you have a lot of money to start with upfront (ie real estate and investing). The other require work over time. Blogging is by far not an automated way to earn income. You have to build it for some time before you will even make money. That’s when you can hire out writers, but there are still other tasks you have to accomplish besides just writing.

Michelle says April 10

There are a couple of different websites that I go to in order to find an easy side hustle.

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