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11 Steps to Starting a Side Hustle While Working a Full-Time Job

11 Steps to Starting a Side Hustle While Working a Full-Time Job

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11 Steps to Starting a Side Hustle While Working a Full-Time Job

Starting a Side Hustle When Working A Full Time Job 1

Figuring out how to start a side hustle can be a tough task at the best of times, but figuring out how to do it while still working a full-time job presents a whole new set of challenges. 

In this guide, you’ll discover 11 essential steps to help you successfully navigate your side hustle journey without steering too far from the 9-5. 

1. Decide Which Side Hustle to Start

From freelance writing to becoming a part-time delivery driver, there are a million and one possible things you could do to make some extra cash. 

To determine which side gig is best for you, it pays to consider the following.

A. What do You Enjoy Doing?

When you get home from your day job feeling tired, the lure of additional income alone may not always be enough to motivate you to work on your side hustle, but doing something that you genuinely enjoy most likely will. 

A lot of people may tell you that you need a genuine passion to be a success. 

There’s nothing wrong with that at all. For example, If you’re passionate about photography, pets, or graphic design, these are great side hustle ideas to pursue. 

Still, passion is pretty powerful stuff, and some people take a long time to figure out what theirs is.

The good news is that if you haven’t found your passion yet, you can still succeed without it.

The trick is to think about what you would enjoy doing and how you could make extra money from it.

I’ve yet to meet an Uber driver who said they were truly passionate about driving for the ride-sharing company, but I’ve spoken to many drivers who said they enjoyed getting out of the house, meeting new people, or simply experiencing the freedom of driving around. 

Related: How to turn your passion into profit

B. What Can You Do?

This question can also be phrased as “what side hustle can you realistically start with the skills and resources available to you?

After all, there’s not much point in planning to work as a Lyft, Uber, or Instacart driver if you don’t have a car. 

So, while you’d have to rule those out as options, owning basic essentials like a laptop and a smartphone means you’ve already got most of what you’d need to start a virtual assistant business or pursue a second career as a freelance writer. 

C. What Can You Get Paid To Do? 

Your new venture won’t get very far if nobody is willing to pay you for your services or products, so the next step is to figure out how you can monetize those skills and resources you just identified.

Sometimes, this may be pretty obvious. 

If you’re really into gaming, for example, there’s money to be made by launching a YouTube channel or streaming your gameplay on Twitch. 

If you have unique experience and expertise in a particular industry, you could start a consulting business on the side or share your wisdom through books and podcasts. 

Also, see our Business Idea Library with over 300 different types of businesses

2. Validate Your Idea

Now that you’ve got an idea for a lucrative side hustle, it’s time to test whether that idea is going to work.

The easiest way to do this is go out and find at least one paying customer. 

Don’t go overboard here. This isn’t yet the time to invest heavily in an expensive marketing campaign. It’s simply time to validate whether your side hustle has merit as a viable business opportunity. 

If you offer lawn care, home repairs, or, indeed, almost any type of service, post an ad on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and other free platforms. 

If you don’t get a single response, that shows that there isn’t a market for your services, and it’s time to go back to the drawing board. If you do, that’s a green light to pursue your side business with gusto. 

Of course, it may not be immediately obvious how to validate your idea. 

For example, what if you want to make extra income by starting a blog that doesn’t have customers in the traditional sense?


Create a few sample articles about your subject, post them on a free platform like Medium, and share them through your social channels. 

Unless you’re really lucky, those first few posts may not be a major game-changer, but if they get views and positive feedback, that’s a good sign that people are interested in what you have to say, thus making blogging a worthwhile idea. 

Other than proving that there’s a market or audience for your idea, there are two additional benefits to validating your side hustle: 

A. Experience What’s to Come

Giving your potential future side gig a test run allows you to experience what it’s really like to do the work.

In some cases, it may not prove to be as glamorous as you first thought, or it may be even better than you could have ever imagined. 

Either way, this process will help you determine if this is something you could see yourself doing over the long haul. 

B. Identify Problems and Challenges

Trying out your idea gives you unique insights into what difficulties you may face in your new business and how to overcome them. 

It’s better to have this experience now so that you can prepare to better serve future customers than it is to build up a client base and suddenly find yourself with a whole host of problems you never saw coming. 

C. Lay the Foundations for Growth

If you’re providing services, your first client can become a valuable asset, providing you with your first positive review, word-of-mouth referrals, and proof of the quality of your work, all of which can be invaluable for growing your business. 

If you’re creating content or products, those first samples will serve as helpful building blocks that you can use to start growing an audience. 

3. Set Long-Term and Short-Term Goals

For most people, the ultimate goal of taking on a second job in their spare time is to make some extra money. 

Still, that’s a pretty vague goal. It doesn’t do anything to help you determine if your side business is a success, and it may not be enough to keep you motivated when the going gets tough. 

As such, it pays to come up with a more specific and clearly defined long-term goal, which you can do by answering the following questions: 

A. Why Do I Want to Make Extra Money?

Is it to replace the income from your 9-5 so that you can do this full-time?

Put cash aside for your kid’s college fund or to save for retirement?

To get yourself out of debt and improve your personal finances?

Related: 10 reasons why you should start a side business

B. How Much Money Do I Want or Need to Make?

The equivalent of a year’s salary so that you can eventually transition to a full-time income without worrying about how you’ll pay the bills?

Enough to pay off your credit card balance?

A set figure such as $10,000?

Don’t forget that there will be expenses and startup costs to consider for your side hustle as well, so be sure you are making enough to be worth your time. 

C. When Do I Want to Make This Money By?

By this time next year?

Before the kids graduate high school?

By the time you turn 30?

Take the answers to these questions and put them together to create a specific, actionable goal, such as: 

“My goal is to make $40,000 so that I can quit my job and pursue my passion full-time within the next 18 months.”

To make that big goal seem more manageable, break it down into smaller milestones. 

If your goal is to make $40,000 in 18 months, what will you need to have accomplished in 12 months?

How about six months?

What will you need to achieve by next month?

How about next week?

4. Create a Plan to Achieve Your Side Hustle Goals

Now that you’ve got your short and long-term goals in place, it’s time to create a plan for how you’re going to achieve them. 

The extent of your planning will largely depend on how you plan to bring in that side money. 

If you’re starting your own small business, you’ll benefit from learning how to create a business plan, whereas if you’re planning to join an existing business, such as by becoming a delivery driver through Amazon Flex, your plan probably won’t be so in-depth. 

Either way, here’s a few things to consider: 

A. What Resources Do You Need, and How Will You Get Them?

By resources, I don’t just mean any tools or supplies you may need to meet the needs of your customers, but also anything you’ll need to attract those customers in the first place, such as a website, social media accounts, and business cards. 

Related: Side hustles that you can start with no money

B. How Will You Fit Your Side Hustle into Your Schedule?

With some side hustles, your schedule will be determined by what you do and the clients you serve.

For example, if you’re starting up a part-time party rental business, you’ll need to be available in the evenings and at weekends.

Other roles will require you to exercise discipline and set your own schedule. In that case, consider what free time you have and how much you’re prepared to sacrifice to grow your side business. 

Designate that time for working on your hustle and nothing else. Tell people that you’re not to be disturbed during this time and be prepared to turn down invitations to anything that may get in the way of getting the work done. 

C. What Actions Do You Need to Take? 

To answer this question, you can lay out the goals and milestones you defined earlier, and work backwards from each one to identify the actionable steps you’ll need to take achieve them. 

Here’s how this might work. 

Let’s say your goal is to make $1,000 per month renting your spare room on Airbnb within the next six months. 

To make that happen, you first need to list the room on the platform. There’s one task. 

However, before you can list the room, you need to take high-quality photos that make guests want to stay there. 

Before you can take those photos, you need to redecorate the room to make it more appealing. 

Before you do that, you need to choose a color scheme, pick out supplies, may be find a reputable contactrator.

You can see where I’m going here.

With each “before I can do X, I first need to do Y,” you come up with, you’re essentially creating a To-Do list in reverse order. 

Keep going with this until you identify the first task you need to complete, then simply work through your action plan in that order.

5. Make it Legitimate

For most small businesses, one of the first steps in the action plan should be to ensure that you properly form a business structure and that your business is legitimate. 

If you’re running a sole proprietorship, this means registering your ‘Doing Business As’ (DBA) name, while those of you going into a general partnership or starting a Limited Liability Company (LLC) will have other legal requirements you need to have in place before you can operate. 

You should also check if you need business licenses or permits to operate legally in your area. 

If your side money comes from selling products or services to customers, then it’s also a smart idea to get business insurance so that you’re well-protected should something go wrong. 

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6. Define Your Unique Selling Point

You’re almost at the point of starting your marketing efforts to build an audience and sell what you offer. 

However, before you can do that, you need to determine exactly what it is you’re selling, and here’s a little secret for you:

It isn’t the product or service itself. 

Rather, it’s the unique qualities of that product or service and the way they add value to your customers’ lives that are the real selling point. 

Think about it: 

Yes, you can tell customers that you could mow their lawn for them or write a high-quality article for their business website, but so too can lots of other people, so why should anybody hire you?

The same goes for selling products too. Let’s say one of your hobbies is creating jewelry which you decide to start selling on Etsy and at craft fairs. 

Related: 10 hobbies that make money

You can tell people that your jewelry is beautiful. You can even show them, but there’s lots of beautiful jewelry out there. What’s so special about yours that people should want to buy it? 

This applies even if you’re not directly selling anything to anybody. 

For example, if you decide that you’re going to generate extra income by starting a blog about one of your favorite subjects.

Chances are there are already hundreds -if not thousands- of blogs about that subject, so what can you offer readers that they can’t?

Think carefully about what value you provide, what problems you solve, and what makes you stand out from the crowd. These factors form the basis of your Unique Selling Point (USP), which will form the basis of your marketing. 

7. Gather Proof of Your Work 

Telling potential clients what an amazing service you offer is a good start, but you’ll have more success with your side hustle idea if you can actually show them what you can do. 

This is where it pays to create a portfolio. 

If you’re starting a creative side gig such as freelance writing, photography, or web design design, this is fairly straightforward; gather samples of your best work and determine the best way to showcase them online. 

If you’re a writer, you may want to create your own portfolio using a website builder such as Wix or WordPress. Alternatively, you can use sites like Contently to showcase your work and even pick up writing gigs. You can also start a Canva side hustle to offer services like designing book covers, social media graphics, or promotional materials for authors and publishers.

If photography is your thing, see our guide to starting a photography business on the side for recommended portfolio platforms. 

For service-based businesses such as home repairs, lawn care, or auto detailing, there are still plenty of opportunities to showcase your skills by taking before and after photographs and videos to demonstrate the difference you can make for your clients. 

8. Build Your Client Base 

You can now start to use your portfolio and USP to begin attracting clients. 

To do this effectively, start by doing some research into your ideal customer and how to reach them. 

For example, if you’re targeting a younger market, then social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram will produce better results than they would for a business whose ideal customers are over 50. 

At a bare minimum, your marketing efforts should include: 

  • A mobile-responsive website optimized for SEO keywords relating to your business
  • A presence on social media platforms that your audience uses 
  • Business cards to hand out when you meet potential clients
  • Attendance at professional networking events where appropriate. 

Don’t forget too about marketplace sites like Fiverr and Upwork, where you can upload a portfolio of your work, pitch for jobs, and work directly with clients. 

9. Gather Feedback and Reviews

Once you’re up and running, remember to encourage clients to leave reviews as this will help boost your reputation and ultimately help you grow your business even further. 

If you’re finding clients through a marketplace site like Fiverr or you’re working for companies like Uber, it makes sense to grow your list of reviews on those platforms. That way, when potential clients see your glowing feedback, they’re more likely to want to hire you. 

If you’re starting your own small business, sites like Google My Business and Yelp will prove indispensable for gathering and showcasing positive feedback from your customers. 

10. Don’t Get Fired From Your Day Job

As easy as it can be to get completely wrapped up in pursuing side hustle success, it’s important not to let other aspects of life fall by the wayside. 

This is particularly true of your full time job, which at this stage of the game still has an important role to play, even if you’re planning to eventually leave and run your business. 

Apart from the fact that your 9-5 income is keeping the bills paid (and may even be funding your side hustle business), your current position can be a valuable source of contacts and potential customers down the line.

Related: Can a conflict of interest stop your side business?

Who knows, once you are ready to take the leap, there may even be an opportunity to return to the company as a consultant or contracted service provider, but only as long as you don’t start burning bridges.

Keep showing up on time and delivering quality work. The last thing you want right now is to wind up in trouble for breach of contract.

Even if you’re not exactly the best of pals with your employers, it’s still not a good idea to resort to underhand tactics like poaching clients for your own business or using company time and resources to grow your hustle. 

Doing so -and getting caught- is only going to land you with a whole host of problems that demand your time, attention, and possibly money, ultimately derailing the momentum of your business.

Instead, keep doing what you’re paid to do to the best of your ability, and, when the time does come, you’ll be able to part on good terms with your head held high and your reputation intact.

Related: Things to consider before starting a side hustle

11. Take Time Out

Even if you absolutely love what you do, there’s no escaping the fact that working a full-time job and side hustle in your spare time can be incredibly tiring. 

Overdoing it can have a significant detrimental impact on your physical health and mental well-being, leaving you fatigued, burned out, and run down.

Should that happen to you, don’t be surprised if you find yourself so physically and mentally drained that you’re unable to work at either your day job or your side job, meaning less income and ultimately defeating the whole purpose of starting as side hustle in the first place. 

With all that in mind, you’ll see why it’s so vital to take time out once in a while to relax and recharge. 

Not only will this help you stay healthy, but it will also help you return to your side gig feeling reinvigorated, with a renewed focus and enthusiasm for what you’re doing.

Frequently Asked Questions About Starting a Side Hustle

What is the easiest side hustle to start?

Any side hustle can be easy to start if you already have the required skills and resources.

Got a car, insurance, and a driver’s license? 

You can start making money as an Uber driver right away. Talented at a particular skill like writing or graphic design? It’s easy to set up a profile on a site like Upwork and start attracting clients right away.

While not necessarily in the realm of starting a business, if you need an easy way to start a side hustle or as a way to fund your new business, it doesn’t get much easier than doing online surveys like Survey Junkie or Branded Surveys.

How do I make side money ASAP?

Ride-sharing apps and other gig-based platforms like TaskRabbit allow you to sign up and start making money within the same day, though their payout terms may mean that it still takes an extra day or two before your earnings land in your account.

How much time should you put into a side hustle?

Spending at least an hour a day on your side hustle is a great way to get up and running and start making money sooner. However, this time shouldn’t come at the expense of other important aspects of your life, such as family, health, and your day job.

Find a side hustle schedule that works for you without tipping your work-life balance too far in the wrong direction.

How to Start a Side Hustle Without Giving up Your Day Job: Final Thoughts

With such an enormous array of side hustle opportunities out there, the exact steps needed to succeed will vary from hustle to hustle.

Regardless,  the steps listed above can still be broadly applied to most side gigs.

After all, no matter whether you’re a freelance designer or a food delivery driver, you’ll still need to:

  • Set an over-arching goal for your side hustle – Defining what is you want to achieve will help you determine the exact steps needed to achieve it.
  • Take care of the legalities – For some side hustles, that may mean registering your business. For others, it may be ensuring your vehicle is insured or your licenses are up-to-date.
  • Build a client base – Demonstrating your Unique Selling point with a portfolio of your best work will help you land more customers. Doing great work for those customers will lead to positive reviews, which can help you grow your business even further.
  • Look after yourself – Financial security may be important, but not as much as your health and well-being.

And if you’re ready to start but don’t have the money to launch your side hustle? Learn where to get it in our guide to finding funding for your business.

11 Steps to Starting a Side Hustle While Working a Full-Time Job

11 Steps to Starting a Side Hustle While Working a Full-Time Job

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