Mastering your side hustle can mean different things to different people. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been blogging since before they called it ‘blogging.’ My entire existence for the past 22 years has involved a series of what they call today the side hustle. And I’m here to tell you if anyone has mastered their side hustle, it’s not me. Nope. I’ve done well and have been working for myself (and my clients, of course) for over two decades. But mastering? Not so much. However, I’m planning on changing that in 2022. Wanna watch?
Mastering your side hustle will depend on factors beyond your control, such as age, experience, and the time you have to put into it. But I am no longer willing to believe that mastering your side hustle means you have to spend all your waking time in front of a computer because I know for sure it also doesn’t mean that you can get away with working 4 hours a week from the start and turn it into the best income of your life that way.
Mastering Your Side Hustle Step One: Set Goals
So the first thing is that you have to set some goals. Don’t get too obsessed with the idea that mastering your side hustle means developing outrageous plans. I’m going to set myself up with some such as this:
- Choose a max of TWO side hustle projects to delve into for 6 months solid. I’ve been freelance writing for ages because the money’s there but it’s not something I have to commit to. I’m going to carry over the time spent on it to here, and to sites like medium. LifeGlitter is my main hub of side hustle activity, so it makes sense to do my best work here.
The other project is going to be expanding my printables line and doing better at getting them released and posted up for sale. I’m aiming to release one new printables pack/set per week – at a minimum. Once I get better at managing my time and faster at creating them, I may up this goal a bit. For now, I’m staying reasonable with one per week. I may enlist a VA to do some of this, but it depends on what the ROI would be.
The reason for choosing two side hustle projects? Diversifying. One, the writing, is active income. I have to do it to be able to earn from it. The other, the printables, are passive income. Once they’re created and set up, all I have to do is market (which is a whole other topic). Marketing can be done on automation even, so it’s much more passive and ongoing.
You might be wondering why I’d choose two things instead of putting all of my focus into one. Because I’ve diversified my plan of attack, both of which require some level of activity. I can actually design my work time around what I have time for, plus I can evaluate as I go.
Plus, printables aren’t going to generate 5 figures a month, at least not in the beginning. I have plans, my friends, but I have to build up what I’ve got going first.
- Set a designated amount of time per day to master your side hustle projects. Is it reasonable to suggest that a self-employed, homeschooling mama like me can devote five hours a day? Probably not. So what’s a girl to do? I’m going to actually “punch the time clock” on this one.
Since my daughter is an early bird like me, it’s hard to work by getting up early in the morning. Then, because I’m such an early bird, I tend to crap out right around 9 pm. I really am least productive after dinner, so that’s not a good time to work on anything deep. What we’ve been doing is to get her settled into her morning and then sit down to work. I’m always hoping that whatever she’s working on gives me at least an hour (but it’s rare haha). I break things down into 30-60 minute time chunks. Then I alert her that the next 30-60 minutes is a “no bugging mom” zone.
I know. It’s ridiculous. But when you’re juggling all the things, setting boundaries is key, even with your kids.
My goal is to get one hour of uninterrupted time before lunch, and one after lunch but before dinner. That one’s usually easier — by then she’s done with schoolwork and is doing chores or playing Roblox with her friends. Yes, the iPad is a “babysitter” of sorts, and no, I’m not worried or ashamed of that. I limit her time, and she’s never given me a hard time when I’ve said time’s up, so we’re good.
Total weekly hourly goal: 5-10 hours.
Mastering Your Side Hustle Step Two: Track All The Money
Tracking the money is one I’ve got loads of experience with, considering I’ve been in business for myself for the past 20 years. Annnnd, I’ve made loads of mistakes. I mean, everything from overdraft fees to full-blown shutdowns of tools and websites. It was an awful thing to experience, and that’s why I’m so big on it.
Especially when you’re starting things up, it’s important to track more than just your time (though that’s super important, too). Things like subscription payments, expenses, income, and anticipated tax payments are critical. I’m currently managing everything in my bullet journals, but I’ve been thinking about creating some printables and digital planners to help keep it all in the same place. If I do, you’ll be the first to know!
It’s been a thing for me, as I mentioned earlier. Trying to remember to track everything in the past. Then before I’d know it, I’d wind up with some annual subscription payment out of nowhere that would hit my account and do some severe damage. So every time I subscribe to something or even sign up for a free trial that I can cancel before getting charged, I put it in my Google Calendar and set two reminders – one for a week before and one for three days earlier. It syncs with my phone, so even if I’m not at my desk, I can click and unsubscribe or make sure that money’s in the account or change my payment method even.
If I’m honest, it’s actually the ‘case’ for business credit cards. But that’s what works for me. That way, if something strikes but I don’t have the money in my checking account at that moment, I know I’ll have 30 days to pay it off. If you are not good at paying off your credit card balances every month – I do NOT recommend this method. Just use your business checking account and keep tabs on every penny. There are loads of great tools that will help you with that. Just make sure you’re tracking income AND expenses and when those expenses come due. Like you’d budget your household, budget the business.
One last thing about money: You have to make sure you pay yourself. If you don’t, you’ll wind up feeling like you’re hustling your ass off with zero to little compensation, and you’re going to lose your drive. I can almost guarantee it. My suggestion is to start small, and pay yourself 50% of your PROFIT each month, on the first of the month. It’s a side hustle, after all, so until you’re earning the big bucks, you’re still going to be making money on your day job. Once the business begins profiting at the level of your day job income, then you can talk about paying yourself more. For now, keep 50% of the profit (again, that’s after expenses and taxes) in the business and 50% for yourself.