The Do’s and Don’t’s of a Successful Side Hustle

Chances are that even if you earn a living wage, you’ve toyed with the idea of side hustling to fund a dream vacation or luxury car. Whether your goals are big or small, here are some do’s and don’t’s to help you see more green and a little less red: 

Do What You Enjoy

Don’t crush your side hustle dreams by selling Avon if you’re anti-social or freelance blogging if you don’t like to write. For a side hustle to succeed you must want it to succeed–and work hard. If you don’t enjoy it, don’t make doing more of it a goal just to get a little cash! Tighten your budget, donate plasma, anything but torture yourself for Uber or Etsy.

Think outside the box. Do you like hiking? Pick up some fallen branches and turn them into coasters. Enjoy taking photos of things, not people? You don’t need specialized cameras to sell stock photos, and there are no screaming children involved.

Don’t Let It Take Over

Maybe you started a side hustle so you can pay for a vacation full of quality time with your kids. If your precious after-work hours are consumed by “side” work, your hustle is robbing you.

List your priorities and set a realistic goal. If you want $500 a month, then when you hit $500 take a break or pace yourself more next month.

Control your business, don’t let it control you.

Do Charge What You’re Worth

Although the phrase “pay your dues” is painfully accurate, if you feel like you’re paying more dues than receiving payments, take a look at your pricing. Are you charging what you’re actually worth?

“But Mr. PhotoGuy is doing sessions for $20! How can I ask for $100?”

Well, Mr. PhotoGuy isn’t charging what he’s worth, either. He might be scoring himself $5 an hour or less. That’s a side hurt, not a side hustle, and Mr. PhotoGuy is going to burn out fast.

Take pride in your business or product and charge what you’re worth. Customers bummed out by their photos from super-rushed Mr. PhotoGuy will look for quality next time and you can charge them for a product that makes you both happy.

Don’t Make Someone Else Rich

“Become a [insert company] Rep today and make $10,000 in your sleep!”

Sounds great! A free lunch!

Be extremely cautious if a side hustle sounds too good to be true. If a company is selling becoming their rep for a “low investment” more than they are selling their products, take a step back. Pyramid schemes are proliferating, disguised as great side hustles, but 99.7% of multi-level marketing representatives don’t turn a profit. If the company’s “work” consists mostly of finding other representatives, run, and run before you put money down on inventory You can get mlm companies reviews online and see how people have been mistreated over the years.

The work should be real and all the profit should go to you.

You Can Do This

The good news is that starting a side hustle is relatively easy. Research existing hustles and find a good fit. Advertise your skills on Craigslist or sell your products on Amazon.

Thanks to free cloud technology from easy-to-use accounting programs like my company ZipBooks, payment readers attached to your smartphone like Square, and any other of the hundreds of small business services, it’s now easier and cheaper to find tools for a successful side hustle than ever.

Your dream vacation can be sooner than you think.


Jaren Nichols

Author profile

Jaren Nichols is Chief Operating Officer at ZipBooks. Jaren was previously a Product Manager at Google and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.