Making money on the side — or having a side hustle, if you will — has become an industry in its own right.
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With student loan levels at all-time highs and an increasingly competitive job market, bringing in a little extra bacon with a side gig is a great way to stay on top of bills, pay down debt or, if you’re lucky, help fund some of your dreams, like that European vacation, or a down payment on your first house.
If you’re interested in making some money on the side, here’s how to go about it:
How to make money on the side
1. Come up with an estimated amount you’d like to make
Remember that not all side hustles are created the same, and some will net you a larger earning than others. Before you settle on an actual side gig, it helps to start by considering how much money you’d like to make on the side. This may dictate where you actually start looking for side jobs.
2. Factor in your time
If you already have a full-time job or stay home with your children, time could be a real issue when it comes to finding a profitable side gig. You’ll likely want to find something that pays you a certain amount of money per hours spent on the job, even if your overall pay is in the form of a lump sum.
You might not know exactly how long it will take to complete a side gig assignment until you get started, but it helps to do some preliminary math ahead of time and figure out just exactly what your time is worth, especially when this time is likely taking away from other things, like hanging out with family or friends or focusing on self-care.
3. Think about what the job will require
Besides your time, a side job could require additional resources, as well. If your side job requires driving, you’ll want to take into account the distance (and therefore time) to and from the job, as well as gas and wear and tear on your car. You may need to buy equipment, upgrade your Internet or phone service, or download computer programs. All of this should go into your consideration for an overall hourly wage that is acceptable to you, as well.
4. Consider your skill set
Arguably one of the easiest ways to make the most money on the side is to dig into a need that’s not being filled within your current industry. Tapping into the skillset you already have through your job means you won’t need to spend time or money learning how to do a new job, and you may even already have the resources at your disposal to find people looking for freelance or contract work within your field.
5. Tap into resources
If you decide to divert from your regular profession for your side job, that doesn’t mean you need to reinvent the wheel. Plenty of websites allow you to search for jobs that would make good side options, and most even vet out any possibilities of scams, so you don’t have to worry about that, either. Indeed, Monster and Flexjobs are all good places to start. You may also want to consider task-related jobs that are usually very flexible, like becoming a driver with Lyft, completing chores for TaskRabbit, or walking dogs with Rover.
6. Make yourself invaluable
Once you decide to pick up a side job, the only way to really become profitable is to commit to it. Just like with your regular job, by making yourself invaluable to your side job customers, you’ll be ensuring a steady stream of work for the foreseeable future. That means making deadlines and going above and beyond what’s asked.
7. Keep track of your payments and expenses
Picking up a side job can become overwhelming quickly if you aren’t organized. Be sure to stay on track of the hours you’re working and your income, and follow up promptly with any payments that don’t come through when they are supposed to.
Make sure you discuss with an accountant whether or not you need to make quarterly tax payments, as well as how much you should be saving from each paycheck to do so, if your taxes aren’t taken out for you. Discuss any new things that might become write-offs, as well, like any equipment you need to purchase for your side job, or any classes you take to increase your skills.
8. Be purposeful with your new income
There’s likely a reason that you wanted to use your free time to make some additional cash. Whether that was making more payments towards your student loans or other debts, or saving up for a down payment on a house, or to put towards a trip, put actions into place to make sure you don’t spend that hard-earned money elsewhere. It’s easy to do so if you set up direct deposits or automatic payments.
9. Set a timeframe to reassess
Give yourself some time to get adjusted to the side job you go with, but set a reminder to reassess in six or 12 months to see how things are going. Are you making as much as you’d hoped? Are you stressed out attending classes and working two side jobs? Have you become so wildly successful at your side job that you could maybe consider making it full time? Whenever you’re dealing with your financial goals, it’s always a good idea to reassess occasionally and to make any necessary changes to meet your goals while staying sane in the process.
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