What does it mean to hustle?
There are multiple variations of it, but I like to frame it as doing something you like and making it work.
A side hustle takes that concept and builds it into something tangible – in other words, you go pursue a hobby, a passion, or a side gig outside the work hours of your full time job.
To some people, the concept of side hustling is hard to grasp. Why would anyone want to waste personal time after work to… work?
After all, every one of us has just 24 hours a day and we strive to balance between work, play and rest. Some of us have families and other commitments too, which makes it harder to pursue something after work.
But I think it’s important to stress the word side – the goal isn’t to spend all your time and energy on it and disregard your day job and other commitments, but to spend small amounts of time each day at the side and slowly build towards a bigger dream or purpose.
Why build a side hustle?
I think there are many reasons people build something on the sides. For me, it’s about an alternative sense of purpose – you could do your day job just fine, day in and day out. Sure, you might make good money – but are we living just for money, or is there something more that we haven’t seen?
Some people build side hustles to learn and network, others build to earn more money. There are some that want to give back to the community, mentor and teach others. Some do philanthropic work and use money to help others. Some just want to rediscover themselves and find inner peace.
Regardless of your reason, I think one of the biggest push factors is also uncertainty in this fast-changing world.
Job security is mostly dead unless you’re working in the government sector, although the quality of your job could be more desirable. Maybe you just hate doing administrative paperwork all day and want to learn something new?
My side hustle story
My side hustle in university was taking photos of graduations while I was pursuing my degree.
Every odd week I’d spend a couple of hours on the weekend taking photos for others and editing those photos, which not only earned me some pocket money per photoshoot, but it also helped me build a network outside of school activities when I had to interact with my clients.
It was a safe environment to not only pick up people skills but also some entrepreneurial skills like marketing, social media management and maybe bookkeeping.
While it didn’t make me rich for sure, there were a lot of positives that came out of the experience – life skills that I wouldn’t have learnt in business school – and I was thankful that I could learn them when I was just 25 years old.
You might want to turn your hobbies into a hustle too
Speaking about hobbies, before we jump straight into them, it’s good to understand that there are different types of hobbies and you can divide you them into several categories – providing a service, product, information, access, or labour.
Some of these hobbies which are more information (or content) driven take a lot more upfront effort but are more easily scalable through digital distribution channels like the Internet. The problem becomes how you can grow both your content and audience over time, and retaining them with value.
Others like physical products (e.g. if you’re baking a scone or cake) are less scalable but people are willing to pay highly for good quality products.
Then there are those that are service and labour oriented, like photography, video creation, consulting or illustration. These require you to trade significant amounts of time – less if you’re more experienced – in exchange for a payment for your expertise. The good thing about services is that prices can go up really quickly – and it becomes more of a perceived value of your service rather than its real value.
I think the important point is regardless of which hobby you choose to pursue as a hustle on the sides, it’s wise to choose to do something you’re good in – which makes it not only financially rewarding when others are willing to pay for it, but also a sustainable one in terms of your dedication and effort put into it.
There’s really no reason not to build a hustle
Technology today has made it much easier for anyone to start a side hustle they love. If you need a product/service idea just find a problem that no one has solved effectively and start working on it.
Distribution and getting customers can be handled via social media, websites, digital advertising and content marketing. Most of them are mostly free to start. It’s not like in the old days where we had to publish an advertisement on the newspaper or identify a primetime television slot. Digital ads can be run with small budgets!
If you’re a service provider, there are also platforms like Upwork, Behance and Fiverr to help you get gigs. Locally, you can use classifieds like Carousell or portals like CultJobs to find creative gigs.
I think the biggest reason most people have against doing it is lack of time. To be honest, I completely agree— after all, you can always earn more money but you cannot get more time.
But if you think deeper… how can you get yourself more time?