Freelancer Tips

How to Pick the Right Side Hustle for You

Katherine Penta
March 9, 2016
Caroline Beaton, award-winning writer

Caroline Beaton is an award-winning writer, millennial expert and brand consultant tackling the psychology of millennials at work.“If you act like that bee acts, You're working too hard.” -- Baloo, The Jungle Book

Why do you want to make extra money?

You might be reading this because you hate your job, you’re trying to pay off student loans or you’re saving up for a vacation. Whatever it is, define why right now.Now answer this: a) Do you want to be busy? or b) Do you want to make money?If you answered “b”, it’s time to abandon your deep-seated assumption that the more ways you’re making money, the more you’ll make.In fact, just the opposite is true: busyness often precludes sustainable income.Why? For the same reason multitasking is unproductive: distraction is debilitating. Research shows that it takes 27 seconds to return to the task at hand after losing focus. Your brain gets frazzled by the arrival of small bold letters in your inbox; when you switch whole fields in less than a day every day, “processing error” appears across the screen of your whole life.Thus, though side hustles are trendy (and often the only way to become your own boss), their very existence compromises your goal. This is why, if you want to be productive, build up a viable income stream and free yourself from stuff you hate, you need to choose just one side gig. But, given the infinite ways to make money out there, how do you choose one side hustle that maximizes the return on your time? Five tips, below:

1) Pick a hustle your future self finds elementary

Everything you do is paid training to eventually become your own boss. So pick a side hustle that’s ingrained in the kind of work you dream about doing. If you want to be a marketing master, you might choose a side hustle copywriting. If you want to be a sales guru, you might decide to write email pitches for pay. Think of your side hustle as the first building blocks to becoming You 5.0.

2) Don’t get too complicated

When you’re selling yourself, don’t overthink it. You might crave an ostensibly catchy tagline, like “I enact your vision”. What does that mean? Potential clients won’t wade through another four sentences to find out what you actually do. Wherever you’re advertising yourself, include 1) your strengths/skills and 2) the best possible result of that particular combination. Example: “I craft copywriting that sells.”

3) Choose one freelancing platform

Don’t waste your time creating a million profiles. Try out a couple, and then make yourself decide. Or ask other freelancers what they did. Personally, I tried out Elance (now Upwork), Freelancer, Writer Access, and a few others before landing on Fiverr and setting up camp. I love how Fiverr allows me to customize my offerings and market myself. Even though I sometimes have to do some un-fun work for only $5, the consistency and user-friendliness of the platform is a no-brainer for me.

4) F.O.C.U.S.

As Entrepreneur on Fire Founder John Lee Dumas commands, “F.O.C.U.S.: follow one course until success.” Make everything you do lead back to the specialty building blocks you established in step one. It’s easy to get caught up in a million things, but the more you narrow your offering, the quicker you’ll become a high-priced expert. I spent two months honing my content marketing skills on Fiverr until I was, at least according to reviews, one of the best writers on the site. This allowed me to substantially raise my rates (in the form of “Extras”) without losing money. Even though my rates were steep, once I’d been singled out as the best, clients were willing to pay more for a job well done that they didn’t have to worry about.

5) Remember your purpose

There will come a time when you feel overworked, underpaid and totally burned out. This is the nature of side hustling. That’s when you come back to this article, reread the first sentence, and remember why you decided to side hustle in the first place. If you realize your reasons no longer apply, it may be time for a break. Or, your goals will be reinvigorated and you can recommit.Juggling side gigs means spending more time sending emails, networking and creating freelancer profiles than actually getting paid. And the whole point of side gigs is to get paid. I hope these tips have outlined a better strategy to free yourself from busyness and focus on the bare necessities.

Katherine Penta
Brand and copy expert with over six years of experience developing brand personas, managing content, and writing copy for brands like Neutrogena, Visa, and Adobe.
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