“I’m so excited to graduate, then get accepted to a job where everyday, I show up and work hard at tasks that don't make me particularly excited, do work that doesn’t feel meaningful at all, but I mean, it pays the bills… and I guess I can have fun and rest on weekends!!!!!"
… Said NO person-with-big-dreams ever.
If you’re someone who wants to get paid while doing purposeful work that she is fiercely passionate about, then you know that the “traditional” career ladder is not for you.
The New Work Economy
Lucky for you (and me), our generation lives in a time where new technology and online tools have become so powerful, that we can work wherever we want, invent fluid job descriptions that our parents could never have thought possible, and create small profitable projects with just a few clicks and uploads.
Whereas our parents only had their immediate circle of friends to talk to...
Our thoughts and opinions can be heard through blogs and social media, and we have countless of digital platforms to show our work to hundreds, even thousands of people at a time.
Whereas our parents’ sources of education were only through years of traditional schooling...
We can become experts at a topic just by learning through videos, articles, and online courses. We can watch a free video, and produce a fully-coded website a few hours later.
Whereas our parents’ choices of jobs they can apply for were only limited to what their parents or friends knew or recommended...
We have freaking Google — where we can find job openings locally and internationally. We live in a time where remotely working for global brands is completely possible (and profitable) as a full-time career.
Pause for a moment, and think about that.
Think about how incredibly LUCKY our generation is, and the explosive amount of opportunities we have. And yet, despite that, many of us are still stuck in soul-sucking desk jobs, sometimes overworked, often underpaid, and with savings accounts that barely grow.
I get it — it’s a familiar, safe concept, there’s a “ladder” to follow and climb, you don’t need to figure it out on the fly because you get told what needs to be done and when it needs to be done, and most importantly, it pays the bills.
But let me quote an original #girlboss, Maya Angelou, to you:
"I’ve learned that making a ‘living' is not the same thing as ‘making a life’."
Let me introduce you to the Side-Hustle
Again, we totally lucked out as a generation: These days, it’s pretty normal for people to hold a full-time job while juggling different projects on the side.
This is called a side-hustle.
A side-hustle is pretty much anything you do outside of your current 9-to-5 job, to earn extra money to supplement your income. (Or for some people, to make enough money to replace your full-time job completely!)
It’s also called other things, like a sideline, a part-time business, a side-racket, or moonlighting.
99% of the time, a side-hustle allows you to pursue something you’re very interested in, or very skilled at. It can come in the form of a product (handmade accessories, papercut art, vegan cookies), or a service (graphic design, copywriting, interior design, events hosting, tutoring), or maybe even a platform (a blog, or an app).
Different people have different reasons for why they pursue side-hustles. It might be because of:
- They really need to earn extra cash -- whether it’s for paying down debt, building up a rainy-day fund, or saving up for a big goal (trip/laptop/home/tuition)
- They want to have a creative outlet, or to pursue work that makes them feel alive with passion (that they may not find in their 9-to-5 desk job)
- While some people consciously build it in such a way that they can eventually make their side hustle their main hustle — but for now, they need their day job to pay the bills. So, sort of like a stepping stone to building your own brand and being your own boss.
Whatever your reason for pursuing one, side-hustles can become deeply rewarding: in finances, career growth, and personal development.
3 ladies who side-hustled their way to success
Sophia Amoruso of Nasty Gal:
From dead-end jobs to fashion empire
Many of you might know Sophia Amoruso from her book, #GIRLBOSS, and her internet-famous brand, Nasty Gal.
After being fired as a sales assistant at a shoe store (for her “shabby attitude”) in 2005, Amoruso had to find another dead-end job: this time, a desk job, where she started spending a lot of her desk time browsing the social media website, MySpace.
Here’s her story, as told to Fast Company:
"In 2006, while working the security desk at an art school, Amoruso opened an eBay store to sell vintage clothes, after noticing that similar stores were friending girls like her on Myspace.
Directionless as she was at the time, she had an eye for style, photography, and thrift stores, and knew she could make cast-off pieces look irresistible by using her cute friends as models.
...“If I saw a sequined Golden Girls tracksuit on the floor of a warehouse, I’d take the jacket and sell it. Anyone could have sold it for $9.99. But to put it on the right girl, with the right hair and the right attitude, showing people how they could wear it—that was everything," she said.
The brand she built, named Nasty Gal after funk singer Betty Davis's 1975 album, earned such a following that it spun off to its own site and, in 2012, attracted nearly $50 million in backing from Index Ventures.”
YOUR KEY TAKEAWAY:
Sophia Amoruso basically took something she found fun — digging through vintage stores for fashion finds — and blended it with something she was skilled at — styling, conceptualizing, visual merchandising, and turned it into something she can make money from.
FIND YOUR OWN BLEND: Make a list of your interests and skills, then try to find a business idea in their intersection.
Alicia Shaffer of ThreeBirdNest:
From crafts-loving mom to a $1M-a-year company
Alicia Shaffer's business, ThreeBirdNest, makes almost 1 million dollars a year selling handmade legwarmers, scarves, and headbands on Etsy. (She has now migrated outside of Etsy and into her own site.)
She shares her story on Fast Company:
"[Alicia] launched ThreeBirdNest in 2011, when she knitted a few headbands for the small women’s clothing boutique she ran in Livermore. They were so popular she decided to start selling them online.
"I opened an Etsy shop, figuring I'd help pay for my kids’ soccer and dance lessons to supplement the boutique's sales," she said."
Now, from being a busy mom knitting socks, scarves, and headbands by herself, her business now has 15+ employees, and makes about $80,000 a month, with an average of 150 orders per day.
YOUR KEY TAKEAWAY:
While Alicia has grown WAY bigger than when she first started, look at how she saw her very first endeavor -- she wanted to sell some products so she can help pay for her 3 kids' soccer and dance lessons.
Set a very clear goal of what you want to achieve from your side-hustle. What will you use the money for? Why is this important to you? Get clear, get tangible, set deadlines.
Tracianne Estrada of Float Swim:
Using her hobby to fund her hobby
While Tracianne Estrada hasn’t turned her side-hustle into her main hustle (yet?), her story is just beginning. She launched Float, her swimwear brand, mainly because she really loved surfing and swimwear, and so she can to help “fund more surf trips in the future.”
Now that’s a passion-begets-passion cycle we’d all like to ride. Here’s her story, as told to Off Duty Lifestyle:
“[Tracianne] holds a 9-5 corporate job in real estate, something that only a few people actually know about her. But despite the busy schedule, she makes it a point to find time for her many interests, which include photography, skateboarding, travelling with twin sister Trasienne and surfing.
A self-confessed beach girl, her passion for the sun, sea and sand has also led her to launch her own swimwear line, aptly named Float.
'Well, a lot of my friends have been telling me to start my own swimwear line because they've seen how much I love the beach. At the same time, style has always been important for me and I hate those full rash guards that are either too tight to take off or too loose on the body!
Those things really pushed me to finally work on Float, not to mention the fact that I also wanted to start a business that will be able to fund more surf trips in the future,’ she laughs."
YOUR KEY TAKEAWAY:
Sometimes the best things start as just fun ideas (in Tracianne's case: surf, sun, sexy swimwear!) -- so don't get pressured about the profits or the business plan in the beginning.
A side-hustle is hard work, and takes up a lot of your time and energy, so FIRST make sure it's something you enjoy.
Be observant: What do your friends always ask your opinion for? Maybe you're an expert on preparing healthy post-workout meals. Or maybe you love being the designated events planner for your group of friends, because you're just SO GOOD at it. Find something you enjoy, then find a way to get paid for it.
Are you going to let the opportunity pass you by?
Following your passion or living out your purpose – it doesn’t have to be an impractical hobby, or an impossible dream, or something you just do on the weekends.
But side-hustles are the best of both worlds: You get to dip your toe (or whole leg) into your passion and purpose, while having a “practical" job to make sure your bills are paid.
Don't just wait for your boss to hand your next opportunity to you -- create your own:
- You can be an executive assistant at a law firm — while doing singing and event hosting gigs on the side.
- You can be a customer service rep at a big boring company — but come alive each night when you’re baking gluten-free cupcakes which you sell online.
- You can be an IT specialist stuck in a cubicle all day — but a free as bird when you get home and you’re coding websites for startups all over the world.
We live in ridiculously exciting times.
Are you going to just sit and watch from the sidelines?
PS. Don't forget to check out my new e-book, 33 Awesome Side-Hustle Ideas, now available for FREE download. Click the image below to get your free copy!