In 2016, I quit my full-time job at 35 to pursue a life of travel and adventure. Two of the biggest contributing factors in my ability to call it quits is the money that I had saved when I worked full-time, and continued cash flow.
And, you might be surprised that earning a consistent income does not require a full-time job.
In fact, I love the challenge of earning money by doing things that I enjoy outside of an office.
These things make great side hustles.
For example, I write a lot on this site, and I also contribute regularly to major media publications like CNBC and MarketWatch. I run my own YouTube channel and maintain a very small business with three other partners. Each of these hustles brings in a little money.
I’ve learned a thing or two over the years about running side hustles, and I want to tell you the plain truth. I love what I do, but there’s another angle to the side hustle story.
Three truths about side hustles
1. Side hustles are not passive income
I’ve found that the terms side hustle and passive income get intertwined a lot, but they are very different concepts. Your side hustle is what you do on the side. But, it’s active. It requires your attention, and that’s part of the reason why it’s called a “hustle”.
Passive income, in contrast, is not active. It is income generated without you lifting a finger.
For example, a dividend from stock is completely passive because you did not physically do anything to earn that income. Or, maybe you stepped back from a business that you started and no longer actively work, but still earn income. That’s also passive.
Side hustles are typically not passive. You must actively work your hustles. It may not be “easy money”.
2. Side hustles are not for everyone
While a side hustle is a great option for some people, they may not be right for everyone. After all, lucrative hustles take quite a bit of effort to set up and run. Nights and weekends are often required. They definitely demand your attention.
I’ve felt the stress of maintaining our YouTube channel, for example. The need to get out more content, design pretty thumbnails, and keep people tuning in can be relentless.
How can you tell if a side hustle isn’t right for you?
- Does the hustle make you feel tired or stressed?
- Do you have the time to actively pursue the hustle?
- Are you avoiding responsibilities in order to run your hustle?
- Are you spending more money on your hustle than you are making from it?
The answers may indicate that a side hustle is not your best course of action.
3. Side hustles can consume you
I am the type of person who dives right into whatever is important to me, and that includes my hustles. I think about them all the time. That can be a good thing.
But, it can also destroy relationships and maybe even your full-time job.
If you spend so much time on your hustles that you are avoiding your job or sacrificing your relationship with your spouse, then your hustle could be a recipe for disaster.
Proper time management is critical with your side hustle. It cannot consume your life or you risk sacrificing everything else. Balance is key.
Side hustles are great options for many of us. They keep us busy and focused. And, they could even pad our wallets with extra cash. But, they also demand a lot of our time, and if you ignore other responsibilities of your life to pursue your hustles, you risk damaging other areas of your life that are important to you.
My advice: if you’re curious, try and see. Pick something you love to do, then ask yourself if there’s a way to make some money with it. If there is and you are properly motivated, give it a shot. But, the key is to pick something that you like. Otherwise, you’ll never stick with it.