Workers have always wanted a little extra income. 40% of Gen Xers, half of millennials, and 53% of Gen Zers are doubling down on side hustles.
Side hustles are becoming the go-to fiscal fix as economic uncertainty continues in post-pandemic America.
The trend is rising, especially among underpaid professions, such as nursing, which has been in the spotlight since the pandemic and is the center of fair pay debates.
According to one recent survey, a majority of 1,300 U.S. nurses polled recently said they had turned to side hustles out of necessity.
I want to be able to save money, not just for a rainy day. I want to be secure and comfortable knowing I have multiple backup plans,” one nurse said.
Nurses are not alone. One Bankrate survey from this year found four in ten American adults are side hustling. The portion of hustlers is even higher among young generations. This doesn't mean they are particularly passionate about entrepreneurial activities, though. In fact, many feel they need to do it just to keep their head above water amid a rising tide of living costs. A third of all Bankrate respondents said their hustle was to cover day-to-day expenses – the most commonly cited reason for needing hustle income.
For those who are weighing up a hustle, there is much to consider. Taking prudent advice from financial professionals can go a long way to ensuring projects are profitable, suitable, and well-planned.
Tussle for a Hustle?
Newcomers are spoilt for choice when it comes to side hustles – there are scores of ways to make money in the fast-evolving digital economy.
Some longstanding trusty hustles include survey taking, dog walking, food delivery, or tutoring. Yet there are new ones that emerged from the crypto revolution, such as getting paid to walk, play-to-earn mobile games, and other lucrative rewards-based apps. Some of the latest new endeavors for 2023 include AI-powered hustles like automated book publishing, algorithmically enhanced resumes, and creating AI girlfriends.
Yet, not all hustles are equal.
“I'm skeptical that ‘walk/learn/game-to-earn' apps will provide meaningful income for most people,” says Jorey Bernstein, CEO of Bernstein Investment Consultants. “They seem more like novelties than sustainable side hustles. The returns for the time invested are likely quite low.”
Doubtless, side hustles rarely bring people a six-, seven-, eight-, or nine-figure salary overnight, but over many years, they may grow into a lucrative business.
Surging demand for insights into side hustles – especially which ones are actually worth doing – has propelled waves of content about how to navigate the space. These include Tiktok influencers like Ryan (@sidehustlereview), who reviews side hustles for his 100,000 followers, and newsletters like Trends.vc, which breaks down evolving new digital economy fads, providing readers with useful resources for how to monetize from them.
Regardless of which hustles people take on, there are some underlying principles that can guide your approach.
“Keep it simple – as you earn more, it is tempting to add complexity to your business like adding services or hiring employees,” says Michael Reynolds, CFP and Principal at Elevation Financial. “These things are not bad, but having a bias toward simplicity will serve you well.”
It also pays to make sure the price is nice – at least to start with.
“Set prices to attract clients, which is your first priority. Make it easy for them to say ‘yes' by offering discounts. You can always raise your prices later,” he advises.
The logic is reflected in the popular “tripwire” tactic — where an unusually low-priced product is offered to convert one's target audience into first-time customers. Irresistible bargains are known to accelerate the buyer's journey. Once vendors win their trust – and payment and/or contact info, they can try to upsell them again on more expensive products later.
It's also important to accept various payment methods for your services. Depending on the line of work, payment channels are diverse, from crypto wallets to PayPal or even simple cash. Hustlers may need to know how to cash a personal check to collect your payment from some customers.
Regardless of where the hustle goes, it's key to keep perspective.
“Stay focused on the purpose behind this additional income,” says Reynolds. “You started a side hustle to bring in more money. Put it to use toward your goals. Pay yourself. Build up your emergency fund. Invest in retirement accounts and remember why you're doing this.”
Others caution that, although side hustles can increase revenue streams, putting the proceeds to work for you is important. Hustling should not distract from good ole' saving and investing.
“Passive investing should take priority over active ‘hustling' for income in most cases,” says Bernstein. “Investing in assets that generate returns without constant effort (index funds, rental property, etc.) creates more freedom and potential for wealth-building over time. Some hustling on the side can be worthwhile, but easy passive income should be the focus for most people.”
The dynamic digital economy offers a range of options for making extra money, but not all are equally rewarding. Success lies in balancing simplicity and flexibility while keeping sight of the overall aim of earning additional income. Ultimately, side hustling blurs the boundaries between work and play and redefining careers. Going forward, it will continue to be a permanent feature of the world of work, so it's important to get it right.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.