The popularity of side hustles cannot be underestimated. With generalized wage stagnation throughout the developed world, side hustles provide an option for increasing your income without an expensive and time-consuming change of career.
The extra income is a known benefit of side hustles, but there are hidden advantages to be enjoyed also. Perhaps the most important of these is the fact that entering into a side hustle, such as pet sitting, marketing or SEO, or freelance writing, can actually make it clear that you have a genuine talent in this area. Even if you don’t wish to change careers to focus on making your side hustle your main career, there is no doubt of the power of discovering a skill and your own entrepreneurial flair can bring.
If build a side hustle where you are able to demonstrate genuine ability, then you will naturally want to capitalize on this to ensure your income is as high, and as reliable, as it can be. In this case, your side hustle morphs; it is no longer just a handy way of making money, it’s a small business in its own right – and that means it needs to change.
Why do successful side hustles need to change?
First and foremost, it’s important to note that your side hustle doesn’t need to change in the obvious sense, i.e. becoming your full-time income. Instead, the change required of a genuinely beneficial side hustle is more about the appearance of the side hustle.
If we’re frank, some side hustles are barely worthy of the name. While beneficial, side hustles such as completing surveys online are never going to generate a continuous stream of income. They generate pocket money, which isn’t to be underestimated in these cash-strapped times, but this kind of minor, occasional side hustle is never truly going to be able to reliably contribute to your income.
Some side hustles, however, have the power to contribute more and more to your monthly income. You can still keep other irons in the fire – including your main job – but these side hustles are genuinely viable, and involve you making use of a genuine skill. We’ve mentioned some of the types of side hustles that this works with above; freelance writing, marketing, et al. What these side hustles can offer is a genuine extra income stream, but they also have an important component in common: they’re all viable businesses.
What does this mean?
If your side hustle is filling out online surveys or entering competitions you can do very well for yourself – but you’re not engaging in a profession. If, however, your side hustle is freelance writing or marketing, you are engaging in a profession. A huge number of businesses, agencies, and freelancers do nothing but freelance writing, marketing, SEO, etcetera – and this is why your side hustle has to change.
Essentially, with these side hustles, you have competition from genuine professionals. It’s important to note that this doesn’t mean they are better than you are; it just means they prioritize this work as their sole source of income. With this prioritization comes professional touches; a focus on ensuring their business services appear to be as legitimate as possible.
How do the full-time professionals legitimize their services?
Full-time professionals make a concerted effort to ensure their services appear to be as professional as possible. There are a huge variety of different ways this can be done, with popular options including certifying their abilities, engaging in dedicated promotional activities, networking, creating social media profiles for business use only – and many more besides.
Full-time professionals do this to create a name for themselves. They want to be recognized as an expert in their field; to solidify their reputation; to ensure that they are perceived as the successful professional they are (or hope to be).
Why does what full-time professionals do matter to you, a side hustler?
Simple: they’re your competition.
Let’s say your side hustle is providing ad-hoc SEO services to a number of clients. You will likely have gone to certain lengths to achieve recognition in the field; you’ll almost certainly have your own website, separate social media handles, and you will usually make mention of your abilities throughout your online presence.
However, it’s highly unlikely that you will have moved to the next level of legitimacy: sending clients promotional gifts, networking, providing insight into your industry to news outlets, and so on and so forth. You haven’t done this because these elements aren’t necessary for you to pick up an SEO client here or there.
While it is understandable you have not taken the next steps to legitimize your side hustle, this can be problematic if you intend for this work to produce a genuine second income that you can rely on. You’re competing against professionals that invest time, money, and effort into legitimizing their business – and, unfortunately, this means that your efforts may pale in comparison.
How can you legitimize your side hustle?
If you decide to really take your side hustle seriously, then you need to go to extra lengths to appear just as legitimate as your full-time competition. This, however, can be challenging, as you simply don’t have the time or resources to dedicate to this pursuit – because you have at least one other job that demands your time.
In this scenario, the best solution is to take approach the goal of extra legitimization with a “one step at a time” method. In month one, you could offer your services as an industry expert to news outlets. In month two, you could attend a networking event. In month three, you could send a branded gadget to your existing clients and so on and so forth. A professional would usually seek to perform all of these legitimizing steps in a single month; your approach will have to be gentler and more suited to your schedule, but your efforts will be just as beneficial.
If you have a viable side hustle that demonstrates an ability to contribute to your overall income, then striving for legitimacy can really help to improve your overall earning potential. By going slowly, you can build your side hustle in a way that suits you. This may not produce results at the speed a full-time professional may experience, but you will still steadily build your reputation and legitimacy as a genuine professional in your chosen field. It may “only” be a side hustle, but by practicing legitimizing tactics, you can be sure of a side hustle that is able to provide a considerable impact on both your finances and your life as a whole.