Starting a side hustle: what my journey taught me

Published: August 25, 2021 at 8:08 am

Last Updated on August 25, 2021 at 8:08 am

Side-hustle seems to be the buzz phrase in the current era. Thanks to the infinite need for money and creative fulfilment. Well, that is right. A side-hustle is not just about income but also about creative satisfaction in addition to the financial rewards. In this article, author and content writer Smriti Tuteja shares some side-hustle lessons from her entrepreneurial journey. 

About the author: Smriti is an author, freelance content writer and avid reader. She quit her six-year-long IT career to embrace her love for writing. Her article – How much money can I make as a content writer – went viral. She writes content across genres and takes pride in her ability to research and carve magic with words. Over her six years of content writing experience, she has developed a knack for technical and digital marketing content.

She also passionately writes about parenting and is currently working on her book. When not writing or reading, she can be seen running behind her two kids or learning Deutsch. Reader’s may recall Smritis is the lead author of this popular book published via freefincal: How to profit from content writing.

Other articles by Smriti:

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When I started writing content, I was still working my IT job. The job was in a premier organization of the country but paid peanuts. Also, I was burnt out working for Americans and Brits without getting any credit for the hard work I put in. However, quitting to do something I liked would have meant uncertainty.

Some google searches later, I stumbled upon the idea of side hustles. I realized the idea was to increase profitability without compromising the safety of the job.

If you landed here, you’re probably looking for additional income. You have likely been on a hunt for a side hustle but haven’t kickstarted for some reason. Most of us are looking for that extra income to complement our regular job or business. However, finding the right side-hustle is important, so is being prepared for what the path has in store for you. 

From writing content a few times a month to being a full-time content writer to working with a team to deliver big projects, I have come a long way. However, the journey was everything but ideal. A major takeaway for me was that knowing what the path entails is critical. Being prepared for the challenges helps reap the intended benefits without losing motivation.

Here are some valuable lessons my journey taught me:

  • Push your limits, experiment, but do not quit until you have tried enough: Contrary to the popular perception, side hustles are not just freelancing gigs that you can do based on your comfort and availability. It could be as demanding as your current job, and you will have to sustain the pressure in the available hours. While pushing your limits has its rewards, you will have to decide if it is worth it.

Content writing is not the only side-hustle I have tried. Right from making chocolates to personalized gifts, I have done it all. I have even tried selling diamonds too. That I was labelled stupid by others is another story. 

What I was looking for was satisfaction and also enough money to support the lifestyle I always fancied. However, what I missed was accounting for the stress of my current job. I was working in rotational shifts, and my routines were all over the place. I’d buy materials over the weekend and try to complete the deliverables over the week. I had to write articles too. There was a point when I hit the wall. I didn’t get enough sleep, content writing clients were demanding, and I had very little time to focus on the crafts and chocolate business. This was when I decided that experimenting had to end, and I had to choose a single side hustle rather than doing anything and everything. So, content writing it was.

  • Do not expect a lot; make the best of what you have: This holds specifically true for time. If you already have a job, you do not have 10 hours a day to dedicate to your side hustle. But that is what hustling literally means. Your side-hustle will require you to hold the fort despite the time challenge. Twilight hours are the best bet for most side-hustlers. This also needs candid communication with your clients or customers. I decided to not take any projects with immediate deadlines. I always promised a turnaround of a minimum of 4 days, so I could use the time to deliver up to the expectations and not overpromise and underdeliver.
  • Not all hustles are equal, hustlers neither: While you may think that a hustle has immense potential in a certain season, it also means that your time crunch will mean less earning despite the potential. What works for others may not work for you. Thus, it is wise to research well and find something that suits you and your schedule. My personalized gifting business seemed very lucrative to me. I had enlisted festivals and times when it would reap great returns. Diwali was an obvious time when sales would soar. However, working for American clients meant no Diwali leaves. I practically had no time to market or deliver a huge volume of work. Turning back customers meant a sour reputation. The same happened in February when appraisals were round the corner, and so was valentine’s week. A good tip is to look for flexibility and opportunity for growth in your hustle.
  • Assess the idea based on your schedule: If you plan to keep your job too, it only makes sense that your side-hustle doesn’t stress you out. It is wise to assess if working on your idea will be possible in a way that doesn’t interfere with your current schedule. If not, try and figure out if you can alter your schedule to accommodate both. Also, make sure that you leave space for any unexpected things that may come up at your job. I realized later that counting 24 hours as time available for work is the quickest route to burnout. Good that I did.
  • Know if your venture is in sync with your interests: One reason that you are looking for a side hustle is that your job zaps you completely, and you’d like a better pursuit to route your creativity. It doesn’t make sense to get into another pressure cooker that will only add to your woes. Finding something close to your interests and passions will help you focus better and invest your heart and soul into the side hustle. Had I been writing codes as a freelancer, I would be one of the most frustrated people alive. I am thankful that better sense prevailed.
  • Will the venture make financial sense? While I strongly endorse the fact that not all hobbies need to be monetized, a side hustle is beyond a hobby. That you are spending time beyond your work hours warrants income. I am not telling you to expect profits right away, but it is a good idea to keep costs minimal during the initial stages. If you feel the idea is financially viable, it is worth spending time on.

It takes significant thought and energy to achieve a sustainable side hustle. You must not be carried away by what looks profitable but will leave you no energy to do what already gets the money. Find something that will help you maintain the balance and not what will make the entire equation lopsided. All the best!

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Pattabiraman editor freefincalDr M. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the founder, managing editor and primary author of freefincal. He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. He has over ten years of experience publishing news analysis, research and financial product development. Connect with him via Twitter(X), Linkedin, or YouTube. Pattabiraman has co-authored three print books: (1) You can be rich too with goal-based investing (CNBC TV18) for DIY investors. (2) Gamechanger for young earners. (3) Chinchu Gets a Superpower! for kids. He has also written seven other free e-books on various money management topics. He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India,” an organisation promoting unbiased, commission-free investment advice.
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