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Why a side hustle isn’t just nice, it’s now necessary

side hustle

With this four-step strategy you can turn a bright idea into a profitable business

You need a side hustle. In this day and age, it’s not just nice, it’s necessary.

Even if you love your job and have no plans to quit, a second – or third – income can bring you security and a backup plan. Oh, and it can also be fun … because a side hustle should be something you look forward to spending time on, not something that’s a chore.

When I use the phrase “side hustle”, I don’t mean a part-time job that drains your energy after you’re already tired from your day job. I mean an asset you create that has the potential to produce passive income.

Here’s an example. For the past seven years, Mike Benkovitch in Sydney has earned an average of $800 a month from a project he made long ago and has hardly updated since.

This is an audio system that helps medical students memorise the human anatomy. When they purchase Mike’s course, the students learn faster and get better grades. Meanwhile, Mike gets paid month after month.

How can you create a success story of your own? It all starts with an idea.

Step 1: Find an idea

Ideas for viable side hustles come through the power of observation.

Mike knew that there were a lot of medical students, and that memorising anatomy was particularly complex. His side hustle was an experiment that took off – it took a few months to create it in his spare time, and once it was out he refined it for a while before walking away to pursue other projects, leaving it to produce income on autopilot.

Curiosity is a valuable skill for side hustlers, and it’s a skill that can be developed. As you go through your day, look for problems and think about what kind of solution someone could create for those problems.

Then think about how to turn that solution into a product or service that people can pay for.

Step 2: Prepare to launch

Make a long list of everything you need to get going. Much of the time you’ll need a website. A website doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive; plug-and-play platforms like WordPress and Squarespace will do just fine. You can register a domain and set up a basic landing page in an afternoon.

Beyond the basics, you’ll need to create specific deliverables for your hustle: a scheduling calendar for coaches or consultants, a payment system for ecommerce sites, an email list where interested site visitors can sign up to learn more, and so on. By getting specific on exactly which tools you’ll need, you won’t waste time trying to install every app or fancy feature.

Step 3: Launch your idea

An idea on its own doesn’t have much value. To actually make money you’ll need to transform your idea into an offer. An offer includes three elements: a promise, a pitch and a price. What, exactly, are you selling? Why should people purchase or pay for it? Then, when they’re ready to do so, how will they do so?

Next you need to get the word out. “If you build it, they will come” is a pipedream. You have to let them know! Make a list of five people who will help you get the word out.

Ask them for specific help, whether through sharing a post on Facebook or connecting you with a popular blogger who accepts guest posts.

Don’t spend much money but consider investing a small amount in Facebook ads to see how strangers perceive your new offer. Feedback from potential customers is more valuable than advice from friends.

Step 4: Regroup and refine

Only when you launch your offer into the world will you truly know how people will respond to it. You can’t just ask them about it in advance, because they won’t always give accurate answers.

Most new side hustlers think that one of two things happen when you launch an idea: it’s either a huge success or a miserable failure. But much of the time the initial outcome falls somewhere in the middle: your idea works, sort of. It doesn’t completely flop but you’re also not going to retire to the beach anytime soon.

That’s OK. No plan survives contact with the battlefield. Once your offer is out, pay close attention to see what needs to be tweaked. If it’s working, great; do more of that. If it’s not, go back to step one and choose another idea. By reducing risk (not investing a lot of money and starting quickly), your costs of failure are low.

You need a side hustle and there’s never been a better time to start one. The costs are low. The rewards are high. It’s like a hobby, except that instead of draining your wallet, this hobby makes deposits in your bank account. What are you waiting for?

Written by Chris Guillebeau

Chris Guillebeau

Chris Guillebeau is the bestselling author of books including The $100 Startup, The Happiness of Pursuit and Side Hustle. He also hosts the Side Hustle School podcast.

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