People have been doing side gigs for a long time to stack a bit of extra cash.
But after the pandemic, more people than ever have realized two things:
- How job security isn’t always a given
- How easy it is to start making extra money (especially online)
Earlier this week, I wrote an email about a few quick things to look for in a side hustle.
But I didn’t offer much detail.
So today, I wanted to flesh out those ideas and expand on them with some new ones.
With that in mind, let’s look at some things to consider when picking a side hustle. We’ll start with the things I had written in the other email before jumping into new factors to consider.
1. Low Time Investment
You’re picking a “side” hustle here, not a brand new, full-time job.
You only have 24 hours — about a third of that is sleep, and the other third is work. In between those are various other activities that push that total even higher.
So you don’t have much time left for a side hustle. Spend too much time, and you’ll burn yourself out. You might start doing worse in your regular job and get chewed out or even fired. If you already run a business, your performance might slip.
I’d say budget about an hour a day for your side hustle. That offers enough time to get some work done without making work your entire life.
Of course, everyone’s different. If you’re single without dependents and few financial responsibilities, you could put 2-3 hours a day in. I’d even encourage it for some younger people, as it could help you get a step ahead in building your wealth and income.
But if you have a spouse and 3 kids, an hour is a good limit. You need some time for your family.
Even if you want your side hustle to turn into a business, take it slow. Continue to give your best at your job while slowly building up your side gig.
Note that if you’re willing to work weekends, you could bump the numbers up a bit. I like to relax on my weekends, but you do you.
2. High Potential ROI
Going off the first tip, you want your side hustle to pay well relative to the time and effort (and maybe $$$) you put in.
After all, side hustles are riskier than your main income. You’re launching something brand new, whether or not you have experience in it.
With a high-ROI side hustle, you don’t have to spend a lot of your personal resources — especially money — to see a return that moves the needle.
Survey-taking is a great example of a low-ROI side hustle. Sure, it’s easy, and it’s not that risky. But you effectively earn far below minimum wage. There are better uses of your time.
On the other hand, high-ROI side hustles usually involve a skill. More on that in a minute.
3. Easy to Start
Want to know what kills a lot of side hustle dreams before they start? Jumping through 100 hoops and learning a ton of new things just to make a few bucks.
For example, say you don’t know a lick about how to write code. Becoming a programmer is among the last side hustle ideas you want to try (unless you truly plan on making programming your career someday).
If you just want an extra income stream to pad your bank account, it’s not a good idea to spend months learning a whole new field.
Now, don’t avoid a side hustle just because you have to learn something. Like I said earlier, most side hustles that pay well require a skill.
The key is to find a skill that’s simple enough to learn the basics. From there, your abilities can grow — and your income along with them.
So with that said, either find a way to leverage an existing skill for extra income or pick a side hustle with little to no barrier to entry.
For instance, if you do know how to code, well, then doing some freelance programming or building an app might be on the table (and that second option offers the holy grail: passive income).
If you want something with a lower barrier to entry, you could pick something as simple as walking people’s dogs on the side (hey, that one sounds pretty killer to me).
4. Interesting (to You)
Since side hustles use some of your precious free time, you’d hopefully find something you enjoy doing. Kills two birds with one stone — a bit of entertainment, and a bit of extra cash.
But more importantly, it helps you stick with the side gig and stops you from jumping to a new “shiny object” every month.
For example, plenty of businesses need freelance writers. But if you hate writing, it doesn’t matter how easy work is to find — you’re not going to buckle down and do it over the long term.
I’ll admit this criterion isn’t too important if you pick something you can scale upwards without much time investment. It becomes more important, however, if you do something (like writing) that requires more of your time and doesn’t scale as well.
This leads me to the last thing…
A scalable side hustle is one where you can grow your potential income without investing a proportionate amount of time.
Now, not everyone wants to turn their side hustle into their main thing. Some people love their current line of work. And you might find a less scalable side hustle (like delivery driving) that you love to do.
But hey, if you pick something that’s easy to grow without a proportionate increase in involvement from you, and you enjoy doing it, then that’s all the better. Doesn’t hurt to earn more money in the same amount of time.
Back to that app example: In general, you build an app once, and you’re done (aside from minor maintenance and bug fixes). Yet, that app could pull in more money for you as time goes on without you having to build an entirely new app.
Another example would be (and maybe I’m biased here) trading. That is, if you follow a specific strategy that delivers consistent profit potential.
Your account could potentially grow at a predictable rate. You’d theoretically earn more money on every new trade in the exact same amount of time.
I mean, trading isn’t my side hustle. It’s my main source of income. Yet, I bring home enough to be financially free “working” no more than an hour a week.
If you have a trading strategy that can deliver consistent wins, trading becomes one of the most scalable side gigs.
And it’s easy to start if you have someone to guide you through the markets.
Notice how trading meets all the criteria?
(Except for the interesting part, but the scalability nullifies that).
I might be biased, but as you can see, I have my reasons.
By the way, I can be that person who helps you start trading on the side.