How To Start A 'Side Gig'

If you’ve read enough posts on Nurturing Big Ideas, you know that we are all about the “side gig” or the “side hustle” or the “second act career.” Why? Because it is a way to ease into doing something you love — that just might make you money — while either having a safety net of a full time gig or another source of income as a safety net.

One thing to keep in mind, though is that your safety net can eventually become your reason for procrastination and you will hold onto the full time gig and not take your new endeavor seriously. Believe me, I know.

I started my full-time writing career more than a decade ago. I was working as an office manager for a drug and alcohol clinic and I hated it. I cried every day when I pulled into the parking lot. When the door closed behind me it felt as though I was in a prison and my sentence was to get through the next eight hours before I could go home.. Once out of the office and breathing sweet freedom I cried again from the stress of having spent yet another day of my life in a job that sucked the very life out of me.

how to start side gig

I knew I couldn’t keep living like that, but we had a young child at home and rent to pay so I was forced to stay there BUT I knew I had to get out. I redoubled my efforts to become a writer. I started writing freelance newspaper articles, I picked up some editing gigs, I entered writing contests (and won one with a romance story I’d submitted. I spent more on the framing of the story than I made in the contest!)

Eventually, my husband and I agreed I could work part time and pur more of my efforts into finding writing jobs. I was hired at the local newspaper and my writing career took off. I had arrived.

How To Start A 'Side Gig'

  • Know what your start up costs will be. For my writing career I needed a great computer and the Internet. My start up costs were on the lower end of the scale. Depending on what your side gig will be, you need to know what your costs will be. You may need to save money in order to get your start up materials — that should be priority one.

  • Be willing to experiment and be willing to fail. Even if your idea seems really whacky there might be a need for it in the market. If you can fill a need, you are on the path toward side gig success.

  • Tell people. If I hadn’t been willing to tell people I was looking for writing and editing opportunities, they wouldn’t have known. If you’re knitting booties for babies you need to tell anyone and everyone you have booties for sale. You never know who might know someone who knows someone who is having a baby. Don’t assume people know that you’re starting a side gig and what it is.

  • Be mindful of your energy. If you’re working full time when will you work on your side gig? Do you have the energy at the end of the day to work on it? Will you need to get up earlier in the morning to devote time to it? Will your weekends be for side gig only work? You need to claim your time, mark it in your calendar, tell your family and guard it zealously.

  • Find beta testers. Ask friends and family for help and for honest feedback. The “honest” part of the feedback is key to your success.

  • Be organized from the beginning. Don’t wait until you’ve “made it” to clean your office or organize your supplies. Organization is key to success and I don’t just say that because I work with solopreneurs on getting and staying organized. You need to organize your time as well as your supplies. You need to have organizational skills to work on your social media and your marketing so that enhances the time you spend on your side gig and doesn’t detract from it.

Being a solopreneur is a gift. It is a gift you give yourself. You nurture your big idea until it not only feeds your passion, but your bank account.

You’ll notice I had a HUGE driving force to get me out of that job. I also had a marketable skill — writing and editing — that I could (and did) parlay into a full time career. My writing business has allowed me to work from home so I was home with my children, buy a second home and have my diva poodle, Henrietta, at my side all day.

I am living my dream. Is there any reason you can’t live yours?

Where are you getting stuck in the pursuit of your big idea? I’d love to know!