When the year 2020 kicked off we all had different plans. Perhaps your life was about to take off with new opportunities? You had your sights on a new career path? Holidays planned? All of these were impacted by a “black swan” event. The pandemic. From an economic viewpoint millions of people suffered and will continue to be negatively impacted. But some have survived and even thrived. No, not due to illegal activities, but rather through a simple thing called a side hustle.
In this article you will learn more about how you can start a side hustle for your creative activities. Plus resources you can use to build your side hustle.
What is a side Hustle?
Typically a side hustle is an activity you do alongside your existing job or career. A side hustle could be a hobby or a passion project that you enjoy doing in your spare time. You might have seen an opportunity to sell a few of your items you create. Maybe you've got a service that helps other people and you get paid for it.
The side hustle could be anything that makes you a bit of extra money or it could become your primary source of income. But in most cases a side hustle is something that, as the name suggests, is something you do on the side for a bit of extra income and because you enjoy it.
Important Requirements for Successful Side Hustles
The central concept to understand about a side hustle is:
It might be an activity or a service or product that takes off and becomes very popular even for a short time and ends up generating a lot of money for you. But at a basic level making a profit is important otherwise it isn't a side hustle but more like a hobby where you don't mind spending more money than you make. Being able to distinguish the side hustle from a pure hobby is vital.
A side hustle is a business.
We cannot ignore that a business is an activity designed to provide a product or service for monetary compensation and you make profit from it. In a few cases it could be bartering of goods or services. Getting paid in some form other than money but where the value of the trade can be regarded as a profit to you.
I think it is important to add a few extra things such as, the side hustle must be legal and does not put you or anyone else at considerable risk. In other words you are not gambling with your children's inheritance. Although the stakes can be high in uncertain times you don't want the pressure high risks spoiling a side hustle. As mentioned before it should be a fun activity .
Alternative Income Sources
In 2020, thanks to the pandemic, many people (to put it mildly) have found themselves in severe financial stress. The few lucky ones that have had sufficient savings to ride out the storm may be able to get through this problem, but they have still experienced a depletion of savings.
What was regarded as a secure job turned out to be fatally wounded by the pandemic. Think about people who were using AirBnB for instance as their primary source of making money. Or those running restaurants or tourist activities. In fact anything requiring the attendance of people in person has either failed or been put under such severe pressure. Even with lockdown easing it will be a few difficult years ahead.
Will We Learn from History?
Some people will have learned from this time and are looking for a way to protect themselves in the future. Make no mistake history repeats itself. The circumstances may change, but the pain is the same. Please do not be one of those who laughs off these lessons.
How does this influence creative people?
As an artist I did experience an immediate impact to my business. 2020 was meant to be a big year for me as far as art markets were concerned. By February I had three big art fairs signed up and bookings confirmed. All were cancelled. I expected to sell practically my entire inventory of paintings. Not happening this year.
What about art workshops? All cancelled too. If those two strings to my bow were all I had it would literally mean an income free year. Not good.
Many artists globally discovered virtually overnight that they could no longer sell their art through markets or galleries or art fairs.
Even a side hustle that has become a main source of income could have been put out of business by the pandemic. Talk about a shattering event!
However others who had diverged into multiple streams of income were able to survive. In many cases today a side hustle needs another side hustle. In practical terms the side hustle was broken up into different streams of income generation. Make a note of this idea, because it is very important. As a creative person you need to see the many opportunities branching out of your side hustle idea. Does this make you an entrepreneur? Sure it does and that is a good thing.
Side Hustle Plus Multiple Streams of Income
Hold on Malcolm, do you think I have abundant free time on the side for all of this? Fair enough. You may have your old job or business still going. That means you have limited time on the side. The point is though you can start today with planning multiple streams of income. The beauty of this is that these streams are closely related and do not require you to double your workload.
A good example is physical art workshops. Traditionally you have five to ten people in one space. Limited time and space mean limited income. Plus oodles of preparation and it can be exhausting too. It may take a few days to recover!
Now what if you supported your workshops with digital products?
1. Record your training to DVDs,
2. Sell demonstration videos online either streamed or downloaded;
3. This in turn could also be turned into online courses
4. Then the materials into books,
5. Other forms of paid for digital products like bundles of these together.
That is five alternative ways to turn one workshop into multiple streams of income. All of these run simultaneously 24/7/365 to millions of people worldwide.
Do you think you could match the income of your single workshop event? Perhaps make even more income. Hopefully you see the potential.
Do those two words make you shudder? Yes they are awful, but you know what I say? Screw it, just do it! (Sorry Richard Branson) We all need to make friends with amazing technology that makes entrepreneurship possible.
You already know about selling art through websites and other online galleries. You know about social media too. But the most important part is finding new ways to engage potential collectors and other potential customers. This is the key ingredient to growing your side hustle. Experts call it growing your platform. More on that in the next article.
Do You Need to be an Expert?
Fear makes many people shudder from standing up and offering their services or products. Just get a job and be done with it. Leave the marketing to others. Now that that plan has been broken by lockdown rules let's move on shall we?
I believe almost any activity that you are good at will be of interest to someone else. Read the bold bit again until you remember it.
Therefore you can create online courses, demonstration videos, books and any form of training media that can be communicated in a digital format. All of these activities can be sold to somebody who has an interest in them. Or who find them useful in solving a need. Simple as that really.
So you are already an expert. Put those doubts aside. Now it is time to figure out how to help those people waiting to hear from you.
Compound Interest Digital Style
You have heard of compound interest. This force of growth was once the answer to a lifetime of saving. Not anymore. Financial investors have found ways to deplete our savings through inflation and fees. Even downright lies. There is another way.
The biggest advantage of digital media is that you can sell 24 hours a day and you don't have to be involved in the process except for the initial setup. You can scale up your work through repurposing or repackaging your existing digital goods. The main thing is to provide value to your customers.
You can sell and deliver digital goods as much as you like while you sleep using many forms of online services that make delivery and sales an automatic event. No rent. Not time wastage. Hardly any overhead. No employees.
Your side hustle can generate real compound interest.
But it’s the Economy!
For many artists the complaint is that world economies have been shattered by the pandemic. Nobody has extra money to spend on luxuries and unfortunately art is lumped in with it. (By the way this argument has been around for centuries … anyhoo)
This negative sentiment is not true. There will always be people who have the means to purchase art. But even people who find themselves short on spare money to purchase artwork will still take an interest in artists. They may simply move from purchasing an original artwork every now and then instead of every month. Or purchase something smaller. Or they decide to grab something else like your book or a print or a video or simply contribute a small amount to your Patreon account to support their favorite artist. When you have multiple streams of income to your side hustle you have the advantage.
Is Patronage Dead?
I have discovered using YouTube's membership function there are in fact many people who will contribute a few dollars a month simply because they enjoy what I produce and find it useful. Gather enough of these supporters and you will have a nice side hustle income stream. Many streams gather together to form a river and … you see the analogy so I will leave it at that.
Want to Start Your Side Hustle but Not Sure What to Do First?
What is the first thing an artist should do when thinking about creating a side hustle? I assume you know what your special “thing” is going to be. Also you have some money coming in from a job or business already. If you have zero income and savings now then you have different priorities. It is emergency time. I am going to assume you are not in that position.
Well before jumping in consider starting with a basic website. You need to be able to:
1. Describe who you are and
2. what you do in an artist’s statement or “about” page.
3. You need to have a gallery where you can show pictures of your work,
4. What you charge for them and also a payment system.
In short this is your offer. Very important!
You must make it easy for people to purchase from you. Plus getting paid must be quick and secure. There are dozens of services, but perhaps the most common is PayPal or Stripe and many other variations.
5. The next item to add to the website is a Blog. You tell people:
5.1. why you create your art and
5.2. what is important to you and
5.3. provide useful information and solve problems for your followers.
You are a Helper and a Giver
The overriding idea that you need to have is:
The next thing is to open up your social media accounts and differentiate them from your personal accounts. Be disciplined about what you promote on social media for your side hustle and stick to that format.
You can't dominate all social media channels and you shouldn't even be thinking about that. Pick one or two that you really enjoy and share information on a regular basis. Follow other people who are established in your field and learn from them. “Always be Learning” is the key to long-term success.
Then learn how to communicate. This sounds simple but of course communicating in a way that is engaging and helpful to other people is not something everybody is doing. You need to be able to write, illustrate with pictures (photo and video) and be present. Even introverts (like me) had to learn this.
None of this is easy to be perfect, but that shouldn't be the objective. Perfection is procrastination so forget about that straight away.
It Takes Time!
The most damaging lie out there (besides those who say it is impossible) is that you can make your profits within six months. Maybe three months or whatever short time charlatans can suck out of their thumbs. Usually to get you to pay for their “unique get rich quick” scheme. Exceptions prove the rule. Building a solid business takes time. That is why I love the side hustle approach.
Think of the side hustle as a transition to something else. Keep it small or grow it. It is up to you. Never let time stand in the way. You have today - only - so what are you going to do with it? The point is to make more streams of income to build your river of wealth. We all know that time is the key so start now. Today.
There is more to this topic, but you can start your initiative now. I have a ton of resources here. Plus a bundle of training here for a nominal sum. Go for it!
Side Hustle Bundle
Malcolm Dewey: Artist. Country: South Africa