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Do you have a side hustle yet?
An estimated 44 million Americans have at least one side hustle going. And the ranks of the side hustle nation just keep growing.
Because I don’t mind telling you, it’s pretty dang awesome.
Flexible hours? Check.
Making killer money doing something I’m good at? Check.
Being able to be there for my kids? Double check.
Running a successful side hustle is something I think virtually any mom can do with the right plan.
But it’s intimidating when you have no idea how to get started.
How do you choose what to do? And how do you grow an income from it?
If you’re here because you’re ready to learn how to start a side hustle, pull up a seat and get comfy mama. I’m going to walk you through it step by step.
By the time we’re done you’ll know exactly what to do to launch your side gig and start making real money.
My Start a Side Hustle Story
Before we dig in to the details of starting a side hustle let me share a little of my own side hustle story with you. (And feel free to skip ahead to the good stuff if you want. 🙂 )
In 2009, my second child was born. My-then husband and I decided it made more sense for me to stay home with the kids than pay for expensive daycare so I could keep my sales job.
I didn’t love that job so it was easy to walk away. But for someone who’d always had a steady job since age 11, it wasn’t so easy for me to not work.
I decided to look for something I could do from home, partly to make money, mostly to keep busy.
My mother-in-law hooked me up with a family friend who ran a virtual assistant business. I got hired on as a part-time VA and started making money doing simple tasks from my laptop while my kids napped.
Being a VA was fun but I didn’t feel like it was “me”, so I decided to try freelance writing.
I initially started writing for content mills for peanuts. As I built up my portfolio and my skills, I got the courage to start applying for better-paying jobs and left the mills behind.
Fast-forward to April 2014. By now, my freelance side hustle was bringing in around $1,500 a month, which I was pretty happy with. Then, my marriage ended suddenly and I found myself with two kids to support.
I could have gone back to my sales job. Or gotten another job. But I didn’t want to do that.
So I decided to turn my side hustle into a full-time business.
These days, I make a six-figure income as a freelance writer. All because I decided to start a side hustle.
Why Moms Should Start a Side Hustle
There are a lot of reasons why you might be thinking about starting as a side hustle as a mom. For example:
- You might need to boost your household income so you don’t feel so stretched thin all the time.
- There may be a specific money goal you’re working towards that your current income doesn’t allow you to save for.
- You need a creative outlet or there’s something you love to do that you think could make money from.
- You’re tired of your day job and you want to find a way to replace your income so you can ditch it and stay home with your kids.
- You’re inspired by other boss moms who are living the side hustle dream and making money from home.
- A major life change means you need more money coming in, pronto.
I started a side hustle because I still wanted to contribute financially to our household and I like to be busy.
(Seriously — when my to-do list is empty I don’t know what to do with myself.)
Knowing your “why” is an important step if you want to start a side hustle.
Your why matters because it’s the thing that’s going to keep you motivated to chase after your side hustle dreams when things get tough.
And trust me, there are days when you’ll want to quit. But if you can start a side hustle and stick with it, you can reap some amazing rewards.
How to Start a Side Hustle as a Busy Mom
How you start your side hustle has a big impact on how you finish.
Ready? Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.
1. Define what starting a side hustle means to you
Side hustling can cover a LOT of things.
And what a side hustle is to you might be something totally different to another mom.
It all goes back to your why.
Do you want to start a side hustle just to earn a little extra money?
Or, do you want to start a side hustle that you can eventually turn into a profitable business?
There’s a difference between working as a VA and driving an Uber on the weekends. Both can bring in extra cash but only one has the potential to be a stand-alone business.
Think about your long-term vision for starting a side hustle. Obviously, you want to make money but what else?
I assume that if you’re here reading this, it’s because your ultimate goal is to be a mompreneur. If that’s the case, you’ll need to treat your side hustle like a business from day one.
And if not, that’s okay. But it’s important to know exactly what purpose you want your side hustle to serve.
2. List out all your side hustle ideas
If you’ve been thinking about starting a side hustle for a while, you may have a clear idea of what you want to do. But if you’re totally clueless, I’ll help you figure it out.
Here are five questions to ask yourself to help you brainstorm some side hustle ideas:
- What am I passionate about or interested in?
- What am I good at?
- How much time do I have to put into starting and running a side hustle?
- What do other people always ask me for help with?
- What’s something that has the potential to make money?
Answering these questions can help you come up with a list of side hustles. For example, your list might include:
- Being a virtual assistant
- Freelance writing
- Starting a blog
- Proofreading in your spare time
- Opening an Etsy store
- Selling stock photography
- Being a virtual coach
- Selling clothes on Poshmark
The last question really matters because you don’t want to waste your time pursuing a side hustle that’s not profitable.
You don’t have to aim to make a ton of money right out of the gate, but if increasing your income is a priority, you have to be purposeful about where you put your time.
That’s especially important if you’re a busy mom.
When I first started doing VA work, I only worked about two hours a day. Which was fine because I had a toddler and a newborn and my husband worked out of town 21 days of the month.
When I became a single mom, though, I had to put in a lot more hours in the early days to grow my freelance writing business.
In between homeschooling, spending quality time with my kids and doing all the mom things, I was working 8 to 10 hours a day.
These days, I work about 20 to 25 hours a week but I hustled HARD in the beginning.
And you have to be realistic about how much time you can (and want to) invest in growing your side hustle.
3. Narrow it down and find your niche
Go back to your big list of side hustle ideas.
Which ones stand out to you the most? Which ones look most interesting?
Get rid of anything that you’re just feeling meh about or doesn’t pique your interest.
Now, think about your time commitment. Some side hustles are more time-intensive than others.
Blogging, for example, takes up a HUGE amount of time if you eventually want to make money from it. (That’s just one of the hard lessons I’ve learned as a new blogger.)
If you can’t put a ton of time into starting a side hustle right now, strike it from the list. But, keep it on file so you can come back to it when you’ve got more room in your schedule to commit to that particular hustle.
Finally, look at the side hustles that you think could be most profitable.
Cross off anything on the list that doesn’t have the potential to deliver the kind of income you’re looking for.
Ideally, the equation for choosing your side hustle should look something like this:
Awesomely interesting idea + Realistic time commitment + BIG profit potential =
Your perfect side hustle idea!
Eh, but what if there’s more than one thing on the list that fits the formula?
That’s okay. In fact, I’d be surprised if you weren’t able to come up with more than one side hustle idea.
If you think you can manage both, then by all means, you can work on starting both.
But if you’re like I was back when I started hustling, you probably only have time for one.
So pick the one that’s speaking to you most right now and save the other for later.
4. Spend some time learning more about your side hustle idea
When I first started out as a freelance writer, I was laughably clueless. Only, I didn’t realize it at the time.
I knew how to write, which was important.
And I had some knowledge about the topics I was writing about (budgeting, saving money, credit).
But when it came to promoting myself and finding work and treating it like a business, I was completely in the dark.
I learned as I went and I’m still learning even now. But I could have made things a lot easier on myself if I’d done some research before just diving in blindly.
And that’s the same approach you need to take when starting a side hustle.
Check out the competition.
The simplest way to learn more about your side hustle and how to make it profitable is to look at what other people in your niche are doing.
If you’re starting a blog, for example, (and again, if you’re looking for a great host for your blog, you can get started with Siteground today for as little as $3.95/month) some of the ways you can make money include ads, affiliate marketing, offering services or selling products.
If you’re interested in offering VA services, look at what other successful VAs are doing.
Just make sure they actually are successful in their niche. I studied other freelancers when I was first starting out and I learned more from some than others.
At this point, you might also be thinking about whether you need to take a course or a masterclass to expand your side hustle knowledge. The answer to this question really depends on what you already know and what you think you still need to learn.
I started freelancing with a laptop and a determination to make money.
I didn’t have a journalism degree and I never took any of the online freelance writing courses I saw many of my early freelancing mentors offer.
That doesn’t mean taking a course isn’t a bad idea, though.
In fact, there are a ton of great courses out there that are definitely worth looking into. Just make sure you’ve got the time and money to commit to taking them.
5. Connect with other side hustling moms
This step is really important if you want to start a side hustle or an online business.
I had absolutely no tribe at all when I first began hustling as a VA. And I didn’t really have one as a freelancer either.
When I decided to try my hand at blogging, I knew I had a LOT to learn. So I started joining Facebook groups for boss moms and mompreneurs.
At first, I just lurked, checking out what other people were posting.
I’m a major introvert and talking to people is not my best skill. (Which is why I’m a writer 🙂 ).
Then I started posting links to my blog on promo days.
And I started asking a question here and there. Then I started answering other people’s questions.
Joining these groups has been a huge help to me in a few ways.
First, I’ve learned a lot.
While there are a lot of beginners in some of the groups I’m in, there are also experienced side hustlers and boss moms too who don’t mind helping out a newbie.
Second, it’s nice to have someone to commiserate with when I’m feeling frustrated about what’s happening (or not happening) with my blog journey.
I feel better knowing I’m not the only mom blogger who isn’t killing their Pinterest game or has yet to start building their email list.
Finally, hanging around other side hustling moms, even if it’s online, is a great motivator to keep plugging away at my blog.
Because when I see other moms making money from their blogs, it gives me confidence that I can do it too.
6. Create your side hustle launch plan
You can only research your side hustle so much — at some point, you have to put what you’ve learned into action.
There are a few different things to consider here as you shape your plan.
First, how much time can you commit to working on your side hustle every day?
I won’t lie; the more hours you can put in, the faster you’ll see results. But you may have to go the slow way and build your side hustle in the cracks of your days. If that’s the case, go ahead and acknowledge that up front.
Create a schedule that lets you maximize the time you do have.
I set up a blogging schedule with specific things to do on specific days. I don’t have 40+ hours to commit to blogging each week, so working with a schedule helps me tackle my most important tasks.
Next, think about your specific side hustle goals.
If you’re not sure what the big picture looks like yet, focus instead on what you want to achieve in the next three, six, nine, twelve months.
The most important thing with goal-setting is to be realistic about your expectations.
I set some really lofty goals for this blog when I was just getting started and I way underestimated my ability to actually achieve them.
Once you have a list of realistic, achievable goals, set a timeline for reaching them. Then, break those goals down into specific action steps.
For example, if you’re starting a freelance writing hustle, one of your goals might be to connect with three clients in your niche in the next 30 days.
Your list of action steps might look like this:
- Send connect invitations to five editors or content marketing managers on LinkedIn every day
- Cold pitch three brands or businesses that fit your ideal client profile each day
- Apply to three jobs via freelancing job boards daily
These are all things I did in my first six months of transitioning my side hustle to a full-time business. What goes on your action list should reflect the most critical actions you need to take to achieve your goals.
7. Decide how to promote your side hustle
Starting a side hustle won’t do you much good if no one knows about it. The whole “if you build it, they will come” approach doesn’t really apply to launching a hustle.
There are a lot of ways you can make your side hustle visible. Some of the tools I used to promote my freelance business and now my blog include:
- Facebook groups
- Your own website or blog
- Pinterest (a must for bloggers)
- Cold pitching
Those are just some of the things you can do to get attention for your hustle.
Writing for Medium, answering questions as an expert on Quora, setting up a Facebook page for your business and guest posting on other peoples’ blogs are also ways to get noticed.
When it comes to promotion, I recommend trying out several different things to see what works. If you don’t have money to invest in Facebook ads or other paid promotion tactics, just stick with the free stuff in the beginning.
Above all, when you’re promoting your side hustle remember to emphasize the value you have to offer.
Being that person that a client can depend on is what will set you apart from other side hustlers. If you can consistently deliver the goods, people will want to hire you or buy whatever it is you’re selling.
8. Grow your side hustle
Learning how to start a side hustle and launching it are the easy part. The next step is figuring out how to grow it so you can eventually turn it into a business if that’s your goal.
The early months of starting a side hustle are one HUGE learning curve.
During the first three to six months, you really want to pay attention to what’s working and what’s not. You should also be aware of how your goals or feelings about your hustle might have changed.
For example, you might start off wanting to blog but find that coaching is your real passion. Or you might be creating logos on Fiverr when what you really want to do is design websites.
That’s the truly awesome thing about side hustling: It can evolve as you evolve.
Right from the start, be sure to track your progress towards your goals and your income. If you’re not making as much money as you expected to, revisit your goals.
Ask yourself if the goals you’ve chosen are the right ones, and whether you’ve chosen the right steps to achieve them. You may need to tweak your plan to get the results you’re after.
9. Keep expanding your horizons
Running a business is a continuous process of learning and improving. As you grow your side hustle, remember to set aside time to polish your mompreneur skills.
That could mean reading blogs that focus on the boss mom life or books on productivity.
Or it could mean taking a course or a workshop that teaches you something new.
You should also be thinking about ways to grow in your niche.
Offering new services or developing a product of your own, for example, could open up an entirely new side hustle income stream.
The sky is really the limit if you’re committed to starting a side hustle and making an income.
The key is being tuned in to what you really care about it and open to exploring new opportunities when you find them.
Are You Ready to Start a Side Hustle?
Yay, you made it to the end! I hope that you’re walking away from this post with a clear idea of how to start a side hustle and be a money-making mama.
Now tell me, what kind of side hustle will you start?
Head to the comments and tell me about, then pin and share this post if it helped you!
And before you go, be sure to join the Boss Mama Resource Library if you haven’t yet! It’s packed full of good stuff to help you launch and grow your side hustle, including a detailed Start a Side Hustle Checklist.