Did you know that over 44 million Americans already have a side hustle, according to CNN Money?

Something that’s also worth mentioning? 36% of those side hustles are bringing in at least $500 extra dollars a month.

Owning and operating your own independent business, apart from your full-time job, is a great way to hone your skills, make some extra cash, and build a business that could end up replacing your full-time income.

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5 Steps to Finding Your Side Hustle

With a multitude of side hustle opportunities out there, how do you decide which one is perfect for you?

Here is a checklist to help you get started.

1. Find your why

You’ve heard the idea of “finding your why” from thought leaders like Tony Robbins and Simon Sinek. If not, the basic idea is once you know why you are doing something, it’s possible to accomplish your goals.

Here is a relatable example. It’s January 1st and you are going to get in shape this year. After all, that’s what people resolve to do, right? You go to the gym every day until January 12th. Then, your interest and motivation start to stagger, until you find you haven’t been to the gym in weeks, and finally, you don’t really care.

If this is you, you’re not alone. Only 8% of people actually accomplish their New Year’s Resolutions, according to research by the University of Scranton.

The reason? It’s safe to say it’s because these goal setters don’t have a defined why, or an underlying motivating reason to keep going when the going gets tough.

Starting a side hustle may be one of your greatest desires, but to be successful, it’s important to determine your ultimate why. Is it because you want to pay off consumer debt that is eating at you every day? Do you want to transition from your full-time job to doing what you really love? Do you want extra cash for luxury vacations instead of staying in yucky hostels?

Dig deep to determine whatever deeply motivates you, write it on a big poster board, and mount it on your wall. When things get hard, look at your poster and you will remember exactly why you made this goal of starting a side business in the first place.

2. Find your element

Now that you know why you want to start a side hustle, it’s time to find some feasible options of what you might do.

There are several options for a side business, but not all of them are for you. Some side hustles may bring in more money, but if you have zero interest, then it’s not a good fit. Similarly, you may be interested in a certain type of business, but if you lack talent, it also might not be a smart way to spend your extra time in a day.

In the book Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life by Ken Robbins, he talks about the magic space that is your element. In short, your element is the place where your passions and your talents meet.

To find the perfect side hustle, you need to find your element. Do this by brainstorming all of your talents and all of your passions. When you find a job that caters to both your talents and your passions, you’ve found your element.

For example, you may love jewelry, but if you don’t have an artistic eye, an Etsy custom jewelry shop is not your element. However, let’s say you could spend all day writing, you know a ton about content marketing and everyone tells you how much they enjoy your articles. There you have it. Freelance writing or blogging might be your element, and a good starting point for finding your perfect side hustle.

3. Evaluate how much time you have

Another factor in finding the right side hustle is to get a realistic hold on how much extra time you actually have. Everyone has 24 hours a day, but not everyone has the same responsibilities and priorities.

How much time you have will provide valuable insight into what type of business you can start. 

The best way to find out how much time you have is to spend a week or two tracking your schedule. Here are some questions to consider when tracking your schedule:

  • When do you wake up?
  • Could you wake up earlier?
  • How much time in the morning do you need to dedicate to your physical health, mental health, and family? 
  • Do you have any down time during the day?
  • How are you currently spending that time?
  • What time do you get off work?
  • How long does it take you to get home?
  • When do you settle down for the evening and start engaging in “me time?”
  • How do you spend your “me time?”
  • Are you spending any time on activities that don’t bring you joy or invigorate you (hello…Netflix browsing)?
  • What time do you go to bed?
  • Could you push bed time one hour later?

Once you know how much time you have, it will be easier to pick a side hustle that works within your schedule.

4. Do your research up front

The last thing you want to do is pick a side hustle, register your business, get started and then find out months down the road there is a better option for you.

Before getting started, take the time to learn about every side hustle option that is available. Start out by reading blogs about different types of side hustles and using Google for additional research.

There are also several side hustle resources that will provide insight into what side hustles are out there.

Here are 3 favorites to help you get started:

  • Side Hustle School – Side Hustle School provides daily podcast, in-person workshops, and a book to help you develop a successful side hustle.
  • Side Hustle Nation – Side Hustle Nation is a podcast and blog filled with advice on hustle business ideas, how to get started, and how to build your business. 
  • Ryan Robinson – Ryan Robinson is the king of side hustle advice. He offers excellent guidance, resources, and tips. 

Once you have a good idea of what side hustle businesses are out there, you’ll be able to make the right choice from the get-go.

5. Research income potential

This step brings the process full circle. In other words, it brings you back to your why. If your ultimate why is to pay off $2000 of credit card debt, you can opt for a side hustle that is more enjoyable but pays less (e.g. dog walking, rideshare driving, etc.).

If your ultimate why is to replace your full-time income, then you need a side hustle that brings in more money (e.g. affiliate marketing, freelance design, blogging, etc.)

The resources listed above will not only help you understand what side hustle options are available, but also how much you can make with each side hustle, and how you can maximize your earning potential with strategy.

Finding Your Side Hustle

When starting a side hustle, remember the most important piece of advice: to get customers, you need to tap into the online search world by putting up a solid website. 

Check out Gator Builder, our intuitive website builder, to get started.

Ashley R. Cummings is a professional freelance writer specializing in SaaS, tech, and advertising/marketing. In a previous life, she was a Russian teacher at Brigham Young University, a corporate trainer, and a grad student—all at the same time. When she’s not writing, you can find her traveling the world with her 2 kids and husband, reading poetry or taking a deep dive into the fabulous world of comedy. Connect with her on Twitter at @ashleyrcummings.