Side hustles. It’s been a hot topic in the last few years as a result of the changing careers, and as I mentioned earlier, I think side businesses should be considered a part of anyone’s career journey because they can serve so many purposes. It can be a creative outlet, it can be a second form of income if you love your job (but it doesn’t pay enough), or it can just be a way to explore different things and challenge yourself (but don’t want to quit your job cold turkey).
I’ve personally been a side hustler for a long time, even before I knew what the world side hustle really meant. Today, I am going to share my journey from side hustles, and in particular, my side hustle mistakes. I’ve made a lot of side hustle mistakes, so if you are looking for an outlet for your career and want to pursue a side hustle, make sure to keep reading!
1. Pursing “side hustles” instead of creating a side business.
When I first started learning about side hustles, I was kind of like a ping pong ball, jumping from one thing to another, trying to find the next “hustle” to try. I was in search of quick money but sacrificed a lot of time in the process. My most notable hustles were doing surveys, mystery shopping, and close captioning videos. Now I will say that these things did bring income. However, these were really short-term hustles, and they didn’t really build on a skill that I can monetize later on. Also, they were super time-consuming.
For mystery shopping, I was sometimes riding the bus for an hour or more, then doing the shop for 30 minutes, just to get $10. Close captioning videos was also super time-consuming although it was easier. I would sometimes spend a whole afternoon doing work for $30-$50. So yes, not super great money, but it was more significant. Instead of trying all these “quick” money-making hustles, I wished I had built a side business sooner, even if it didn’t immediately reward me. I now make money as a freelance writer and through coaching services, and while this took a little longer to take off the ground (I was blogging for free to get my foot in the door), this is now something I can build upon, and something I also own.
I will say though, that sometimes there are really cool ways to make money. The one “side hustle” that did bring me a lot of money was Job Spotter. This app that was created by Indeed a few years ago, where you take pictures of hiring signs and send them to Indeed. These were jobs that didn’t have a posting, just signs on doors. They paid you in Amazon gift cards and I made well over $600 by myself doing this, my boyfriend and sister also made a lot of money. They then lowered the number of points allocated to each posting and when COVID hit, they pulled it all together, but it was some good times for a while.
Short-term side hustles can be great, but they are come and go. When you build a side business, this is something you completely own and have full control of.
2. Just because you enjoy something, doesn’t mean you will enjoy doing it as a side hustle.
One of the most common mistakes people make when trying to find a side hustle is looking solely at their interests without understanding the type of work involved. For me, this was candle-making. I LOVE candles. And because I loved to buy candles and burning candles, I thought my side hustle should be making candles. The problem was I only loved burning candles but didn’t like the science behind them. I’m actually very sensitive to most smells and only like fruit/herb fragrances, so basically things that remind me of food. However, I don’t like heavy scents because it either throws me into a coughing fit or it gives me stomach aches. I’m really sensitive to stuff like cigarette smoke and I cannot even walk into a Lush Soap store.
Just because you enjoy consuming something or a certain activity doesn’t mean you will like all the work that goes behind creating it. The same goes for make-up, just because you like make-up, doesn’t mean you start a makeup brand, because that is actually a lot of science and testing, it’s not the same as just putting it on.
Make sure you enjoy the skills you are doing in your side hustle.
3. It will never be ready or “perfect.”
If you followed my blog for a long time, you’ll know that I used to sell resume templates. What you don’t know is that I spent 1 full year creating those 6 templates, and only sold 1 version of it. In 2019, I sent a survey to my community, asking what they would like to see from MLA and most people said resume templates. So I got to work.
I did the research, and then I stayed in that phase. I got so stuck in research, that it took me 6 months to launch them. I wanted them to be absolutely perfect so I researched the ATS so hard and then compared myself to every other resume template seller out there. And by doing that, I created 6 different versions. Then I wanted to have custom workbooks for each of them, which was a whole lot of work in itself. And then a cover letter template, and then a references template. It just went on and on because I just wanted them to be perfect.
But they never were, and it’s important to launch and do things before you are ready because it is never going to be perfect. One thing I remind myself is that because I am such a high achiever and perfectionist, my quality would be super high without all these little nuances that I think make it “perfect” like the colour scheme of each template.
I also completely overthought everything. The bestselling resume was the template I personally use, not the ones I created because I saw Etsy sellers doing different versions. In the end, I just ended up focusing on selling my own template.
I now know that it’s more important to work on the personal growth your career, which is why I no longer sell resume templates. However, trying to the “perfect” product by my own overthinking standards really held me back. If you are interested in hearing more about this decision, make sure to check out this article.
If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you launched too late. This is one of many common side hustle mistakes.
4. Choose one thing.
Everything works. You can have an Etsy store selling digital templates and handmade goods. You can have an Amazon store. You can be a freelance writer. You can be a blogger. You can be a coach. You could have a successful Youtube channel or Instagram. You can be a Tik Tok star. Everything works. What doesn’t work is doing it all at once. It’s so easy to get caught in the indecision of trying to make the right choice and then jumping from one thing or the next. But building a successful side hustle, like most things in life, is about consistency. Choose one thing and do it really well, not have 5 things that you only complete at 10%.
Side note: What doesn’t work though is working in an MLM. I am very much Anti-MLM. Please do not join one because the results are proven to not work from the company themselves through the income disclosure statements. Making money in integrity also means making money not based on the failures of others.
5. Not Choosing Mindset Over Strategy
One of the biggest side hustle mistakes I made was focusing on strategy over mindset. I was so into courses and strategy when I first started because I was just looking for someone how to tell me to the perfect thing. I bought e-books ranging from $7 to courses over $600. I was searching for what to do next thinking this course would be the answer. But instead of focusing on courses, I wish I would have looked into coaching earlier because that was what made the biggest difference in my building my business.
The problem wasn’t necessarily the strategy behind it, people can give you the step-by-step process for something, but if you aren’t able to address the mindset issues behind those problems, then you never grow and prevent yourself from fulfilling your side hustle potential.
If you make a product and no one buys it, or start a YouTube channel but no one watches, but allow the limiting beliefs in what others think of you, how success should look, etc. stop you from continuing, then you will fail, because you quit. But there’s no course that forces you to continue or addresses your personal situation, that level of support comes from coaching.
I now see this so often where people start projects, don’t get the traction they want even though they followed a course to a tee, and then give up. This is a big side hustle mistake I made myself. I wasn’t scared of writing or blogging after a while, but I was scared to pitch myself. Focusing on mindset goes such a long way because it is a repeatable process.
6. (BONUS TIP) Don’t wait to get started.
The time passes either way. As a high-achieving perfectionist, it’s so easy to think that we don’t want to put the effort into things if we don’t see the results, but when you create a side business, the skillset builds. I’m much better at blogging now, because I started my first blog in 2012 and subsequently abandoned it on Blogger. I used to be a travel blogger, and then I changed into adulthood and then into personal finance/career, and now career. However, the skills I learned throughout the years, build upon each other. You can read more about my failed blogs here.
Side hustles can be fun, they can also be stressful, and I hope you’ve learned a lot from my side hustle mistakes. I’ve come a long way from my beginner days, and I wanted to share that it does look messy. It looks messy for everyone even if that’s not how it is portrayed online. But building a side business can be such an integral part of your career. If you need help, look into my 1:1 coaching program!