Our time is limited.
On the surface, one might assume that everyone has the same 168 hours in a week, but with competing demands for our time and commitments to family and friends, there isn’t much time left in the week.
An argument could be made that we choose how we spend our time. We choose to prioritize those competing demands in the present over the unknown potential of the future.
Sacrificing that which is most important to each of us, whether that be family, friends, work, hobbies, or something else, is out of the question. You love spending time with your family. You love hanging out with your friends. And knitting has become your new favorite hobby. You love your life and you don’t want to sacrifice anything.
But there’s something else. Something that’s been nagging you.
It might be a credit card bill. It might be a car loan. It might be a student loan.
You’re already working a full-time job, making enough money to pay your bills. You make your monthly payments easily. You can comfortably afford lunch at Chipotle on Tuesdays with your friends.
But you’re thinking about that debt and how to get rid of it faster.
You might consider selling your stuff to pay off your credit card debt faster. Selling stuff is a good way to cover a gap in your budget or pay off a small debt. If it’s a student loan, you likely don’t have enough stuff to sell in order to crush that student loan.
Enter the side hustle. You have a side hustle or you’re thinking about starting one soon.
Before you get started, consider these three questions…
“What is my time worth?”
After you subtract the hours you work, the time you sleep, the time you dedicate to cooking, and the time you spend with your family and friends, how many hours are left in a given week?
On the surface, you might think that there isn’t any free time in your week, so assessing the value of your time might be irrelevant.
At this point, you might think about throwing in the towel before you even try side hustling, so I challenge you to dig into your week. You’ll likely to find at least an hour or two that is free time.
Right now, you might be using that time for social media or watching television. Tally the amount of time you’re using to check Instagram, send snaps, or binge watch using a tool like RescueTime.
Once you’ve identified the amount of free time you think you have, consider what that free time is worth.
Of all the questions that aspiring side hustlers have to consider, this is the most important question, so I encourage all side hustlers to spend a few minutes reflecting on the value of free time.
James Clear offers many different ways to figure out how much free time is worth, but I like to keep things simple.
“How much money do I want to make per hour?”
Your response might be “as much money as possible.” This is your FREE TIME we’re talking about. We’re talking about taking away some of that free time and adding in more work, so if you’re like me, you want to make as much money as possible.
Of all the ways to calculate what the value of your time is, the easiest way is to consider the hourly rate for your job and the skills you have today. If the skills you have today can be turned into a side gig without violating the terms of your employment contract, then you have little barrier to entry, so you can get started quickly. If you looked at the salary in terms of an hourly rate, how much money do you make per hour? (Here’s a link to a calculator if you need it.)
Let’s say that you are a recent college graduate with a full-time job as a social media manager making $40,000 each year. Assuming you work 40 hours each week, the rate for your job is $19.63 per hour.
Could you start a side hustle as a social media manager without impacting your job? If so, how much do you want to make as a social media side hustler? $30 per hour? $40 per hour? $50 per hour?
Choose an hourly rate that is both fair and worth the time you spend hustling! Too many side hustlers (including myself) have made the mistake of expecting too little.
Whether you’ve already started or you haven’t begun, decide today what your time is worth. If you need more help deciding your rate, read these tips from Morten Rand-Hendriksen on how to set your freelancing rate.
Take a couple of minutes now to put your desirable hourly rate on a sticky note. You’ll be grateful in the long run with the decision that you’ve made this commitment to value your time!
Now, what if you don’t have a skillset that could easily become a side hustle? What if starting a side hustle using the same skills you use for a job could cause you to lose your job? What other opportunities could you pursue?
“What side hustle can I pursue that is worth my time?”
Your side hustle might be something you enjoy that you consider worth your time.
Your side hustle might be something that pays you well enough that you consider it worth your time.
Your side hustle might even be BOTH! You might LOVE what you’re doing and get PAID to do it.
Regardless, set an hourly rate for your side hustle that makes it worth your time and then expect to be paid well for this time.
I’ve made the mistake of not setting a good rate for my time. I’ve spent my free time working minimum-wage, seasonal gigs at retail stores. I’ve spent time selling college football game programs for peanuts. I’ve delivered newspapers.
I wasted a lot of my free time pursuing the low-hanging fruit: gigs that hire almost anyone and pay almost nothing.
I was fed up, tired, and working way too many hours for too little money.
What you choose to do for your side hustle should, at a minimum, satisfy these conditions:
- Your side hustle should be something you enjoy doing.
- Your side hustle shouldn’t take away from your ability to do your full-time job.
- Your side hustle should be in demand.
- Your side hustle should pay well.
- Your side hustle should help you achieve your financial goal.
Rather than investing more time in gigs that didn’t pay well, I decided to focus on one side hustle and grow my skill set in one area: digital marketing. For me, digital marketing satisfied all of these conditions, so I knew it was the side hustle I should focus on.
Initially, I priced my services too low at first, but I learned quickly the headache this causes.
Today, I know what my time is worth and that value I provide my clients. I have a high hourly rate for my in-demand skillset, but that’s not what matters. What matters most is that I know what my time is worth.