Turning a Side Hustle Into a Career: How to Start Your Own Business
Can a side hustle that started as a way to make some extra cash turn into a replacement for your full-time job? For many people, it’s a real possibility. That being said, it’s not always an easy road to follow. It takes hard work to make a side hustle full-time work. To turn a side hustle into a successful business, you’ll need a business plan as well as the time and determination to make it work.
Best side hustles that could turn into your own business Here’s the thing — you’ll most likely need to start small. No matter how much you might want to get out of your current job as soon as possible, it can take a while to make a side hustle profitable enough to support you fully. Some people start a side hustle as a passion project and enjoy the benefit of using it to make extra money. Others may look for lucrative ideas and start a side hustle with the intention of turning it into a full-time business. No matter where you’re starting from, it might be helpful to familiarize yourself with some examples of side hustles that could get you to your end goal.
Selling your services
There are a variety of ways for freelancers to earn some extra cash. All you need to do is build up a skill set that business owners may be seeking out. Think about what types of services businesses need these days — graphic design, website building, social media management, and so on. While some businesses have an in-house team to take care of these needs, there are also those that outsource this type of work.
A good way to start building experience as a freelancer is to partner with a new business that may need help. This requires doing some “cold calling,” but it doesn’t hurt to reach out to a small business to ask if they need help with your freelance skill of choice.
Platforms for freelancers
There are a few different ways to find work as a freelancer. You can always reach out to local businesses to see if anyone is interested in the service that you’re offering. You may also want to consider donating your time to non-profits and other organizations when you’re just starting out to build your portfolio. There are a variety of freelance websites that can connect you with potential jobs, as well.
Upwork allows both businesses and freelancers to create listings. You can set up your freelancer profile including your top skills, a profile photo, and your background. Upwork also allows you to add any certifications that you have and an introduction video. You can search for available jobs using keywords and apply for those that interest you. Employers and clients can also view your profile and send you an invitation to interview for their job if they think that you may be a good fit.
Fiverr is another popular marketplace where freelancers can offer their digital services. As a freelancer, you can create “gigs” that you can perform. For example, if you offer logo designs for businesses, that would be your “gig.” Like Upwork, you can create a seller profile and you’ll want to describe what you offer well so that it stands out to buyers. You can also upload work samples to increase your chances of being hired to perform your gig.
Another popular side hustle among millennials is to create and sell your own products. There are many different directions that you can take this in. If you enjoy graphic design or illustration, you may want to try your hand at creating artwork or offering custom portraits in your medium of choice. Other products that you could consider include:
- Bath and beauty products, such as bath bombs and soaps
- Cross stitch patterns and/or completed cross stitch projects
- Knitted blankets, hats, or other accessories
- Plants that you’ve propagated
- Faux floral designs
- Custom woodwork, such as signs and cutting boards
- Pet bandanas, collars, and leashes
While the options are close to endless, it’s important to do your research if you want to turn creating and selling your own products into a full business. You’ll want to do some market research to see if people seem to be buying the items that you want to make, how saturated the market is, and how much similar items are selling for.
Platforms for sellers
Turning a side hustle into a full-time business can be a lot of hard, time-consuming work. Fortunately, there are some products that can help support your goals. Before you can sell anything, you’ll need a platform where your customers can find and order your products.
Etsy is a popular online marketplace for sellers worldwide. You can find everything from stickers to wedding dresses sold on this platform. To sell on Etsy, you’ll need to create your Etsy shop and then add listings for each product that you’re offering.
Since Etsy is such a popular place to sell products, it can be difficult to be seen among all of the competition. It’s important to make sure that your listings have good SEO so that it’s easy for your target audience to find them. You can also advertise your listings using Etsy Ads.
Facebook Marketplace allows you to list your products both for local drop-off/pick-up or for shipping. If you’re selling larger products such as handmade furniture or other items that are difficult or expensive to ship, Facebook Marketplace may be a better platform for you. However, you should keep in mind that only offering your products to local buyers can greatly limit your customer base and make it difficult to turn your passion project into a profitable business.
Like Etsy, Society6 is an online marketplace that can benefit artists that are looking to turn their passion into a full-time business. To use Society6, you’ll create an artist shop and upload your designs. Then you can choose which products you want your art to be able to be printed on.
Society6 is unique in that once you’ve taken these steps, there’s nothing more for you to do. The company prints and ships all of the orders that include your artwork. All you need to do is promote your artwork and direct people to your Society6 shop using your social media platforms.
Selling your time
Side gigs begin because you have free time that others don't have. Side hustlers giving their time earn extra income that can lead to entrepreneurship. Ways you can grow into a full-time gig include:
- Virtual assistant – organizing someone else's days, booking travel arrangements, and taking care of the business they don't have time to do. This could eventually lead to a service you provide to multiple people
- Ridesharing – Use your free time to drive for Uber or Lyft, whether it is transporting people or delivering food. Drivers control their schedules and, in some cases, find the work so lucrative they can leave their day jobs and become a full-time driver who controls when and where they want to work.
- Teaching English as a second language – Virtual teachers are in high demand and your hours can be spent helping others learn to speak English. This work can also lead to full-time careers teaching. Some educational systems will hire full-time teachers and cover living expenses for those who move to foreign countries for in-person work, which could also lead to a career that involves travel.
- Babysitting or dog sitting – People who are busy need help with their children and their pets. Enough so that you could become a full-time dog walker and care for pets while others are traveling. Full-time nanny positions may not be the route you are interested in but with enough babysitting services, you may find yourself in a position to open a childcare center over time.
Platforms for selling your time
While selling your time isn't a typical route for launching a full-time career, there are no rules when it comes to running your life. These platforms can help.
Working to connect people both locally and virtually, TaskRabbit has short-term gigs that range from a variety of things on someone's to-do list they just don't have the time to complete, from picking up dry cleaning to making a minor home repair. You can set your profile to as many tasks you are willing to perform, set your fees, and pitch to offer your services to those requesting help.
A leader in connecting parents and pet parents with people who can help them in a pinch, you can create a profile as a childcare or petcare giver and reach out to those requesting help, be it one-time or steady work.
You'll need to commit to a 6-month schedule but teaching English through VIPkid can give you $14 to $22 per hour in earnings from the comfort of your own home. The platform currently has more than 100,000 teachers working with more than 800,000 stydent in 5 million monthly classes.
Costs to consider
It’s important to understand that there are startup costs involved, especially if and when you decide to transition your side hustle into a full-time business. Before signing up for any online marketplace or platform, you should find out what fees are involved. For example, Etsy charges a small amount for each listing that you create. Most platforms will also charge a commission fee for each item sold through the platform. When setting your prices, you should take the commission amount into consideration to be sure that you’re setting your prices high enough to cover your costs after the fee has been taken out by the platform.
Even though there are some costs involved, these platforms can offer an easy and relatively inexpensive way to start your side hustle. However, at some point, it may be more cost-efficient to sell your products or offer your services using your own website and social media platforms. This will allow you more control over your listings and eliminate the need to pay out commission fees to the platforms. Setting up a basic website is relatively easy, and usually, you can find a deal on website hosting costs through influencers or bloggers that partner with website hosting providers such as Bluehost. If you want or need a more complex website that allows you to sell your products directly, the setup can be a bit more complex. In some cases, you may want to hire someone to set up and manage your website for you, so it’s important to consider that cost as well.
No matter what services or products you offer, you’ll likely have routine costs to consider. As a freelancer, you’ll need a computer, internet access, and maybe even software to allow you to perform your services. If you’re making and selling products, you should consider the costs of the materials that you’ll need to create the products. When setting your prices, be sure to consider the costs that you incur just to run your side hustle to ensure that you’re bringing in enough money to actually make a profit.
Pros and cons of turning your side hustle into a business
- Turning your side gig into a business can allow you to turn your passion into a full-time profitable business.
- Running your own business allows you to set your own schedule, in most cases.
- You can decide how often you want to work.
- You can set your own prices for your services or products.
- Building a lucrative side hustle can be very time-consuming, especially if you’re doing it while working a “day job” or even a part-time job.
- You may need to spend money to buy supplies and set up your online platforms before you make any money.
- Your income will most likely not be reliable or steady, so you’ll need to account for fluctuations instead of expecting a steady paycheck.
- There’s no guarantee that your side hustle will turn into a profitable business in any certain amount of time, which can be frustrating if you’re expecting results quickly.
The bottom line
There are many avenues you can take to start your own business, and using a side hustle is a great way to get started. By going about building your business this way, you can take your time building up a following and keep working a “day job” until your side hustle is bringing in enough money to fully support you.
As fun as it sounds, though, it’s important to remember that turning a side hustle into a business isn’t for the faint of heart. It will take a lot of time and determination to stay committed to your goals. It can also require flexibility if your initial idea isn’t working out the way you planned.
No matter what your passion is, there’s no better time to start your side hustle and see what you can make of it.