It seems like everyone has a side hustle.
The real-life numbers support this: 44 million Americans report having a side gig, says a recent study from Bankrate.
Earnings range in this avenue of entrepreneurship, but in some instances, it can be extremely lucrative. (You may have heard about this 28-year-old woman who’s raking in $1 million from her side hustle.)
I’m one of the 44 million who spends her off hours exploring a passion project. I also have a teammate, who’s crushing hard on her monetized hobby. But, money isn’t our motivation.
My side gig provides an outlet for my creative skills that I can’t really utilize at my day job.
Side work also teaches new skills, forces one to maximize personal efficiency, and provides an ounce of career insurance — you have something to fall back on if the unexpected were to happen. The extra cash doesn’t hurt, too.
If the gig economy is calling your name, here are seven things I’ve learned about managing a side hustle outside of a busy 9-to-5.
1. Make time.
Even when you think there is none.
One of the hardest things about taking on a side hustle is time management. You have your day job and your life outside of work to balance — which sometimes can feel like a lot for one person.
Carve out a set amount of time each day or each week to commit and tackle at least one project. Whether it’s starting something new or finishing something old, set little goals for yourself to keep it manageable.
If it’s something you truly, innately love, you’ll find the time.
2. Don’t overdo it.
Once you’ve set your sights on a sweet side hustle, it’s easy to completely immerse yourself in making it happen.
Many make the mistake of spending too much money and time at the outset, setting themselves up for deep debt and disappointment.
Slow your roll on the road to perfection. Be sure to validate what you have to offer by putting yourself out there first.
With time and affirmation from customers (and, oh yeah, some extra pocket change), you can feel confident about investing in a killer website and other necessities — without the gamble.
3. Find your trusty sidekicks.
I don’t know where I’d be without my side hustle supporters.
It’s so important to find people who have your back when embarking on something that you care about — people who will sing your praises, support your ideas, walk you through your fumbles, and lift you up when you’re down.
Finding a tribe of other side hustlers can provide you an audience that’s least likely to judge your experience and ideas. They know your struggle and will dish out an overdose of inspiration.
You also can make believers out of friends and customers just by doing great work. These are the people who will share your badassary with the world.
4. Check yourself.
Don’t let your side hustle distract you at your day job. When you’re at your 9-to-5, do your best to show up 100 percent — mentally and physically — for your coworkers and yourself.
Giving your best effort will help you maintain a strong rapport with colleagues (no one likes to work with someone who’s checked out) and keep you off the chopping block (Read: You don’t want to get yourself fired when your side hustle isn’t big enough to support you).
This “be here now” mentality will easily help you flip the switch when it’s time to dig in on your side gig.
5. Spy on the competition.
When you’re managing your day job and a side hustle, sometimes your creative brain can feel absolutely tapped.
At these breaking points, don’t be shy about peeking around at like businesses and other one-man wolf packs. Seeing what they’re up to on social media can help keep your creative brain fresh.
You may find a new thing to try, get the boost you need to take that next step, or discover a series of clues that lead you to your next great idea.
6. Ask for feedback.
It’s necessary — no matter what stage you’re in.
Ask your trusted friends, family, and sidekicks to give their honest feedback about ideas you have or things you’re already doing. Don’t be afraid to ask customers and strangers, too.
If you want your side hustle to succeed, you must embrace your wins and face your failures. An outside perspective may be just what you need to overcome a roadblock.
7. Make it fun.
Side hustles can help you figure out what you want to be when you grow up (even at age 40). But ultimately it should be an outlet to satisfy your creative cravings.
Treat your side gig as the awesome thing that it is: Good for the soul.
Don’t take yourself too seriously, especially as you launch. Make it a passion project that allows you to daydream without pressure or punishment.