The podcast Don’t Keep Your Day Job with Cathy Heller showcases creatives who make a living doing what they love. It tells the stories of people who have figured out how to pursue their life’s purpose and get paid for it (it was also, incidentally, the #1 podcast in the “New Year, New You” podcast category on iTunes this year).
One of the most inspirational parts? That a lot of the time, these purpose-driven entrepreneurs didn’t start out by getting $3M in startup capital to go after their dreams … they started with side hustles.
One of Cathy’s latest guests, Chris Guillebeau, was a perfect guest, then, given that he is all about the side hustle. He’s also the author of a book you should read if you’re serious about getting something lucrative going fast. It’s called: Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days.
Guillebeau argues that everyone should have more than one source of income — even if you like your day job. Being dependent on a single revenue stream makes you vulnerable.
You’re less likely to feel free to leave your job should it stop making you happy; or be in a position to quickly pay down debt; or save for an epic trip; or have extra cash on hand to invest in crypto; or any of your other goals.
You Never Know How Big It Could Get
Case in point: Teresa Greenway was a baker with a passion for sourdough bread. She was also a bit older and not as familiar with technology, so when her daughter came to her and said, “You should teach a class on sourdough,” she said, “How does that work? Do I rent a room at the library? Make flyers?”
Her daughter said, “No, we do it online. I’ll just film you in your kitchen, you’ll talk to the camera as if you’re talking to a group of people, and we’ll put it up on Udemy.com” (a site for online courses).
Sure, OK, that sounds fine.
But check out the revenue numbers: Teresa’s sourdough bread course brought in $25,000 the first year. The next year she branched out, creating 4-5 other other courses (including one on “extreme fermentation”). That’s 4-5 times the revenue streams.
Last year, she pulled in close to $85,000 with her sourdough empire.
The best part of this story isn’t the side hustle itself; it’s what it did for her. She was struggling when she started the endeavor. She was on food stamps, with a son on the autistic spectrum, working as a housekeeper in a motel.
Side hustles are more than a small thing. They have the potential to change your life.
Here are the three most important principles from the book:
1. Do Something You’re Already Good At
Teresa didn’t need to learn any new skills to get her side hustle going. Her daughter helped her with the technology part, but the core element of it was something she already know how to do.
Guillebeau says that when it comes to a side hustle, you should be using skills you already have, not developing more. No need to attend a coding boot camp, take an online MBA, or enroll in a course to learn about how to do social media marketing.
Instead, take an inventory of what you already excel at and enjoy. The book shows you how to choose from one of your many skills in order to create a side hustle.
2. Get It Going Fast
There’s a reason the book takes you through a 27-day course of action — because a major part of a good side hustle is testing.
You can’t test something you haven’t launched. You’ve got to have something to start with, ship it, and then revise. Side hustling isn’t about waiting forever; it’s about starting and iterating.
3. Make It Fun
Guillebeau says your side hustle shouldn’t be too closely related to your day job. If you’re extremely passionate about what you do, then it might be fine … but the human brain loves variety.
One notable thing about all the best side hustle ideas is that they’re simple, clear, and easy to understand. There’s not a lot of jargon involved with, “I ship live crickets to reptile owners,” or, “I give parents who are home-schooling easy books to teach Spanish fast,” or my personal favorite from the book, “I sell an alarm clock that works by electrocuting your nipples.”
What would you do with an extra $1,000 a month? In six months, you’d have $6,000. Would you pay off debt? Take that safari you’ve always wanted to go on? Save for a down payment? Invest in Bitcoin?
Most of the side hustles described in the book make more than $1,000 a month. In fact, some people make up to $3,000+ a month with concepts they’re doing alongside their full-time job.
It’s worth noting that Cathy Heller, the host of that original podcast, is a side hustler herself. Did she start with some big list, some immense following, some perfect platform?
“I started the [podcast] as a side hustle to my music biz, with no notoriety, no famous last name, no email list, no publicist, no marketing department, no talent booker,” she said. “But I had a genuine desire to say something valuable and I was committed to give it my all. I didn’t overthink it so much, I just jumped in with both feet.”
She started it almost exactly one year ago (January of 2017). It now accounts for 80% of her income.
Every day she’s hustlin’.
So can you.