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Side hustle ideas — A beginner’s guide to planning a venture outside the nine-to-five

7 min read
Tom Rankin

This post was originally published on Feb. 9, 2018, and was updated on June 6, 2019 and Sept. 8, 2020.

Sadly, it’s rare to find a day job that is both fulfilling and pays well. Add the current economic insecurity on top of that and you might have a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. Don’t despair. Today it’s easier than ever to implement a side hustle — that is, a venture outside of the nine-to-five where you pursue what’s important to you and, hopefully, make a little extra cash in the process. It starts with coming up with a few side hustle ideas.

A new term for an old tactic, side hustling is a method many are embracing to make extra income and pursue their dreams.

If the venture is planned and launched correctly, you could stand to earn a sizable chunk of money to do with as you wish.

In this article, we will deconstruct exactly what a side hustle is, discuss some methods for choosing one that works for you, and provide some resources to help you implement it. Finally, we’ll outline some key factors to keep in mind as your side hustle develops over time. Let’s get cracking!

What is a side hustle (and should you pursue one)?

Person Screenprinting A Design With Multiple Paint Colors

In short, a side hustle is another name for part-time self-employment.

Although it’s important that side hustle ideas are lucrative, it’s arguably more vital for it to be something enjoyable and fulfilling. At the least, it should be a job you are willing to commit hours to that would otherwise be spent on leisure.

In the current environment, a side hustle can also be a profitable distraction from the ongoing pandemic.

The popularity of side hustles has grown rapidly in recent years, and it’s poised to grow explosively in the coming years. The global economic climate is a major contributing factor, as is the current widespread issue of underemployment.

Thanks to the wealth of options available, it can be safely argued that turning side hustle ideas into reality is easier than ever before.

Running a successful side hustle requires a solid work ethic, a flexible time schedule and (most importantly) the desire to succeed. If you have all three, you’re ready to start preparing.

A beginner’s guide to planning a side hustle (in 4 steps)

At this point, you’ve likely decided that a side hustle is for you. That’s all well and good, but how do you actually formulate side hustle ideas and put them into action?

  1. Choose side hustle ideas and test their validity.
  2. Develop your side hustle ideas.
  3. Launch and market your side hustle.
  4. Analyze and refine your side hustle.

Let’s take a look at the process!

Related: Exploring new opportunities — from side jobs to full-time ventures

1. Choose side hustle ideas and test their validity

First, you’ll need to find killer side hustle ideas.

For example, maybe you want to create a specific app catering to an affluent niche. Whatever you’re planning, choosing and testing side hustle ideas carefully before you start will save you a number of headaches down the line (particularly financial ones).

Having solid side hustle ideas that you’re excited about will keep you focused as you develop them.

Make a list of all of the side hustle ideas you have, regardless of how good you think they are.

Next, you should refine that list until you’ve decided on the most practical, exciting and profitable side hustle to pursue. Once you’re good to go, the next step is to refine your chosen idea.

2. Develop your side hustle ideas

Expanding and developing your idea is an obvious step because, without it, there’s no side hustle at all!

You should consider the resources, time commitment and (if applicable) the overall expenses required to get it up and running.

Begin by noting the different aspects of your side hustle that you’ll need to consider, and then set deadlines and targets for each one.

In the case of our app idea, you’ll need to develop a framework, decide whether you need to source APIs or “devkits,” and much more.

Next, start thinking about what you’ll need to achieve each milestone. It’s always a smart idea to conduct continuing research throughout the process to help ensure you are making good decisions.

Finally, you’ll need to consider your finances. Many fledgling hustles have little or zero capital, and you’ll need to figure out whether yours needs it — ideally at the early stages.

Related: How to fund a side hustle

3. Launch and market your side hustle

Person Taking A Photo Of Their Creation

After carefully developing your side hustle ideas, you should be ready to begin launching your side gig. You’re actually developing something called a Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

An MVP is a smart way to launch your side hustle quickly and ascertain its viability with greater accuracy.

The idea is to develop your idea just enough that you can analyze its performance — without spending an unreasonable amount of capital. Fortunately, there’s plenty of advice available to help you create the optimal MVP for gauging how to develop your hustle.

For example, you might start by creating an app that only does one or two things well, and it might even be free. That way, you get vital user feedback right now, and you’ll have a solid base to develop further if there turns out to be an audience willing to part with their cash.

Of course, marketing should play an important role in your launch strategy.

With that in mind, you’ll want to consider having the following in place at the bare minimum:

Side hustle marketing is certainly a rabbit hole you could get lost down, so make sure you’re balancing your marketing strategy with the principles of your MVP. It’s best to save complex overarching strategies for your project roadmap and give priority to more immediate concerns at this point.

Related: How to create and test a minimum viable product

4. Analyze and refine your side hustle

Once your side hustle is up and running, the work isn’t done. You’ll need to make sure it’s performing optimally and react to any metrics that could impact your income.

Person Reviewing Statistics To Validate Their Side Hustle Ideas

In simple terms, you’ll want to take some time after launch to consider whether you want to continue on with the side hustle or start again with a fresh idea.

For example, maybe you’ll find that your app didn’t take off as well as you’d hoped, or the target users were only interested in the free version. In contrast, the feedback you’ve received so far could spark your creativity, prompting you to add new features you hadn’t previously considered.

Of course, if the base numbers (i.e., income) don’t look good and you’re losing enthusiasm in the side hustle, it might be time to reevaluate. However, if you’re still excited regardless of how it looks on paper, analyzing your side hustle’s performance will be a primary concern at this point. That way, you can perform a course correction moving forward.

Related: How to make data-driven decisions using Google marketing tools

Side hustle ideas can work

Coming up with side hustle ideas can be an excellent way to earn some extra cash while bolstering your sense of fulfillment. For that reason, it’s worth determining whether taking on a side hustle is the right approach for you.

In this post, we’ve looked at how to launch a side hustle quickly and easily. Let’s briefly recap the four steps:

  • Choose an idea, and make sure it’s valid and feasible.
  • Develop your side hustle idea, and assess what you’ll need to pull it off.
  • Launch and market your side hustle, taking the principles of an MVP into account.
  • Analyze your side hustle, think about committing longer, and then refine it.

Who knows, after careful evaluation and a successful launch, you just might have a new, full-time option on your hands.