Recently I was talking with Ruby Lee on her Own Your Hustle podcast. As her guest we were talking about side hustles and my journey from selling cookies online to making a full-time income 100% on the drop ship model.
As things are, the conversation took a turn to something very common when it comes to ‘side hustles’: why do people fail? Ruby and I ended up talking about why people fail trying to create a second stream of income. This conversation inspired me to put all the advice in a video on my Drop Ship Weekly YouTube channel, which you can watch below:
From my experience and seeing so many side hustles, I’ve picked up on what does and doesn’t work. Here are some of the tips I shared on her podcast:
- Whenever possible, work on something that compounds over time.
- Don’t have a skill or money? Give your time for free at first. You’ll learn more by doing.
- Focus on cutting rather than adding.
- Treat your “side hustle” as a real business.
- Sell expensive products and/or services
I want to go over these tips with you and share some other advice so you can avoid failure on your side hustle. And please leave me a comment if you’re struggling with your side hustle or trying to find one that’s right for you! I’d love to see if I could help.
What is a Side Hustle?
First, let’s take a step back and look at what a side hustle actually is. If you Google, ‘side hustle’, you’ll see all different types. And that’s because this term simply refers to doing something outside of your primary source of income. However, that's not how I look at side hustles.
Say your primary source of income is working during the day as a schoolteacher, your side hustle might be what you do on nights or weekend to increase your earning power. You could be driving for Lyft or Uber on the weekends to earn more money.
The clear way that people could succeed or fail with the more ‘traditional’ side hustles is if they don’t show up.
Just know when I’m talking about side hustles, I'm not talking about delivering pizzas on the weekends or going around the city charging all those electric scooters that are everywhere.
Even though yes, those are all technically side hustles, what I mean when I’m talking about side hustles, is building something that is actually valuable to you. I’m not here to knock anyone doing what they have to do to make money. I’m here to talk to you about doing something that will build and make you more money over time.
Tips for a Successful Side Hustle
That’s the first thing I want to address before I share my tips for side hustles. The types of side hustles I’m talking about could be offering your services. If you’re a teacher, you could do tutoring to make money on the side. You could do that online, or even in person in your town.
- A great side hustle could also be building a business such as a drop shipping store using the Drop Ship Lifestyle Model. That is definitely a great side hustle.
Or you could do affiliate marketing and write blog posts and create videos. All of these are side hustles that I would recommend. Below are my seven tips for people looking to get started with their own side hustle.
Side Hustle Tip #1: Responsibility
You have to take responsibility for everything. This is the first place where I see people who aren’t so ‘entrepreneurial-minded’ fail. If you don't already have entrepreneurial experience, if you don't think like an entrepreneur when you first try your side hustle, you’re going to fail.
Then if it fails, you might start thinking, “Well it doesn't work, of course it doesn't work...How could I possibly do this on the nights or in the weekends?”
Well, the truth is, whatever it is that you wanna do, whether it be affiliate marketing or making money via AdSense on YouTube or building a drop ship store, there are a ton of people out there doing it!
And the reason it's failing is because of you, if you're not making it work. It really does come down to that. First of all, even though a side hustle is something you do in your spare time, you have to take responsibility for getting stuff done.
Side Hustle Tip #2: Compounding
Now the next tip for side hustlers is something that I really don’t see people work towards. Building a side hustle that compounds over time is a great way to get closer to hitting your end goal.
Now, I survey all of our students at Drop Ship Lifestyle from time-to-time, and I actually ask them what their end goal is. Do they want to make a second stream of income– or do they wanna quit their jobs to spend time with family?
And what's funny is there is a 50/50 response to that question. About half of our members say that they want a second stream of income, and the other half say they want to leave their jobs because of their new income.
Either way, if you wanna get to that point it’s going to be a lot easier to do it online than it is in the traditional world of building a business.
You have to know it takes time. Especially in the beginning, because you're going to have limited hours to invest. Again, this is a side hustle to your full-time gig. You have to be sure that everything you do in your business, in your side hustle, is compounding.
If you wanna make a few extra hundred bucks a week, and you're driving for Lyft, that isn’t something that compounds. Maybe you get better reviews, but nothing's going to build on itself, with that side hustle. Driving for Lyft is not something you're going to quit your job for.
Now if you do want to quit your job, maybe you have a terrible boss, maybe you are underpaid, maybe you're just not happy. Then what you do in your free time should build on itself.
If you're tutoring, my advice would be don't do it locally in your hometown. Instead, record different lessons that you can then sell online. Turn it into more assets, and don't have your time tied directly, where it's x amount of dollars per hour.
Not only will you be able to make money from that content while you're at your normal gig, but it'll also build on itself. A year from now, as you've been doing your side hustle, maybe you'll have a series of 30 videos online that bring you affiliate incomes, or so on and so on. There's so many different ways to monetize it.
Overall, your side hustle should build on itself and become something that's worth more overtime. That way your side income will go up and if you want to leave your job you'll get to a point where that income either exceeds or matches your normal nine to five.
Side Hustle Tip #3: Volunteer
This next side hustle tip might sound counter-intuitive at first, but let me explain. If you don't have money to invest then you should do your side hustle for free. People go wrong here too because they think of making extra money as a short term win. And it might be a quick little win, but it doesn’t building into anything.
So what I’m saying, is at first maybe your side hustle is volunteering your time. I don’t mean at a local pet shelter, which would be awesome if you wanted to do that. But what I mean is with a company that’s doing what you want to do.
For example, if you want your side hustle to be drop shipping and building a Drop Ship Lifestyle store, then you could go through our eCommerce course. But let’s say you couldn’t afford to join, what do you do?
Well, you could do it yourself, it'll take a little bit longer, but you could do it.
Or you could reach out (and I'm not saying we're going to do this with everybody reaches out) and say, “Hey listen, I love your stuff, I love what you're doing. I really wanna build my own highly profitable semi-automated store, but I can't afford to invest in your courses yet. Is there any way I could help you guys out, right?” And you could kind of barter your services in exchange for our training programs.
Even though you're not getting paid for your hours in that scenario, it is compounding. Because what you're learning is going to be turned into an income and it’s going to build over time. So whatever skill it is, that's something you should seriously consider, especially early on.
Side Hustle Tip #4: Focus
Now, another thing that definitely is counter-intuitive, is when people are trying to build these side hustles, they think they should do everything and anything.
Let’s say that right now you're working a nine-to-five, and you're driving 45 minutes to work and an hour and a half home in traffic. Maybe to pass the time driving you're listening to all these podcasts. And let's just say, they're talking about building Shopify stores, right?
You're getting all of these ideas in your head about running direct response Facebook ads or Instagram story ads because CPMs are so cheap. Maybe you hear an episode that has you thinking you should start a YouTube channel, and do X, Y, and Z.
By the time you get home it’s going to be impossible to do any real work on your side hustle because of all the new ideas you want to start.
As someone trying to earn an income from a side hustle, you have to focus on cutting the fat and only doing the smallest percent of things that are going to work. Cut until that gets you where you want to be be, then you can add in.
If I was building a new store or if I was advising someone to build a new drop shipping store as a side hustle, I would say, only focus on the most expensive products you could find that are eligible for drop shipping. Only focus on the best suppliers you can get approved with and then only focus on Google paid ads, through Google product listing ads, and stick there.
A big mistake people make when starting on their side hustle is they have free time for learning. That learning can quickly turn into a backlog of things you’ll never be able to accomplish in the limited time you have for your side hustle. So make you focus on the main goal and scaling the strategies that work.
Side Hustle Tip #5: Respect
One of the biggest tips I can give to side hustlers who want to succeed is to respect your side hustle. Whatever it is, whether that be a drop ship store or a tutoring service, treat it as a real business.
Just because it’s taking one or two hours a day from you, doesn’t mean it’s something you can mess around with and hope it works out.
If you’re not willing to put in the time to make it real, someone else will. Respect the business and respect the hustle it deserves or it’ll never become what it could truly be. So treat your side hustle as a real business, give it the respect that it deserves.
Side Hustle Tip #6: Start
If you’re reading this right now, you might be afraid to start your side hustle. But I want you to really think about your fear and then try to justify it.
Is the fear that you’re having, just a fear of failure? Are you afraid that you’re going to waste your time only for it all not to work. Is this the actual thing that’s holding you back from starting?
If it is, then treat it as a real business. Maybe work for free to get you in the mindset of what works and give you more confidence to pursue your side hustle.
Even if you fail just three months after starting a side hustle and your time only went into building something that never became money to you. Then it's still experience, you're still gonna be better off on the next one.
I can't tell you how many times I've failed, in many different businesses, industries, campaigns, employees, and so on. Anybody that's ever had any success, has failed so many more times than they can count.
So don't be afraid of failure, it's part of business, it's part of life, that's how you learn, that's how you get better.
Side Hustle Tip #7: High-Ticket
Beyond the previous six tips to starting a successful side hustle, I wanted to offer my philosophy that I teach heavily in Drop Ship Lifestyle. And that’s to focus on expensive products!
Again, your time is limited, so you want every transaction that occurs on your website or on your Facebook page to actually pay you. Focus on expensive products, focus on expensive services.
If you're a consultant, focus on promoting expensive products as an affiliate. That way when people do take action on your website, it's gonna be worth your time and you'll be able to scale a lot faster.
Now You Know How to Build a Successful Side Hustle
Hopefully these tips shed some light on why so many people fail with their side hustle. Learn from these tips and remember to apply them as you work on your second stream of income. To recap:
- Take responsibility for everything.
- Build a side hustle that compounds over time.
- Barter your time as an investment to growing.
- Focus on what works and scale those areas.
- Respect and treat your side hustle as a real business.
- If you’re afraid to start, justify those fears.
- Focus on expensive products or services.
And as always, leave me any questions or side hustle tips you want to share. I’d love to keep the conversation going!