How to Build a Side Hustle When You Have No Idea Where to Start

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There’s a good chance you know someone who works a day job and also spends part of their free time working on a side hustle. In fact, according to a survey commissioned by Vistaprint, 27 percent of Americans have already turned their hobbies into side businesses, and 55 percent of us would like to make the same move.

Side hustles are a great way to make extra cash, but getting one off the ground can be difficult. How do you even get started?

If you want to establish a side hustle but are feeling overwhelmed, try beginning with these five steps:

1. Ask Yourself, ‘Why Do I Want to Start a Side Hustle?’

There are several reasons someone might want to pick up a side gig, and you should know going into it what your goals are. Do you want to pursue a passion that can also help pay the bills? Are you looking to someday replace your day job?

One of the most common reasons someone might start a second job is to boost their income. According to the Vistaprint survey, 62 percent of Americans share that motivation.

Sit down, get out a piece of paper, and write down your reasons for wanting a side hustle. Are you saving for a specific goal, like a new car or new flooring for your house? Do you want some extra fun money? Are you trying to pay down your debt ? Or maybe your goals aren’t purely monetary. Maybe you’re hoping to meet new people and expand your network.

2. Figure Out What You’re Good At (and What You Want to Do)

A side hustle can be a refreshing break from the often repetitive tasks of your day job. Depending on the gig, you may have a chance to explore new things and build new skills outside the scope of your regular job. Alternatively, you might want to find a side hustle within the same industry as your regular work as a way to further hone your primary skill set.

In any case, choosing a side hustle that allows you to use the skills you already have lets you hit the ground running and start making money right away. For example, if you’re good with a hammer and know how to work a paintbrush, you could think about selling handyman services through a platform like TaskRabbit.

Once you have an idea of some of the side hustles you might be interested in, eliminate any gigs that might not be applicable to you. For instance, if you don’t have a car, it’s probably best to cross “driving for a rideshare service” off the list. Or maybe you do have a car but can’t imagine driving strangers from one place to another. Either way, eliminate any side hustle options that don’t sound appealing or feasible, and focus on the ones that do.

3. Decide on Your Commitment

Since you’ll be working this side hustle in addition to a primary job, you’ll have to consider how much time and effort you want to put into it. Are you hoping to find something you can do on nights and weekends? Do you want a side hustle you can jump right into, or are you okay with taking some time to learn something new first? How long do you plan to commit to working your side gig? Is it something you plan on sticking with for the long term or only a few months?

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Pull up your weekly calendar and block out the times you would be willing to spend on your hustle. Now look at the schedule you’ve set aside for this new endeavor. Will you be able to realistically hit your goals in the timeframe you’ve given yourself?

The answers to all of these questions might not necessarily exclude a particular side hustle, but they can help you determine how you want to devote your time.

4. Pinpoint Your Dream Side Hustle

You should now have a short list of potential side hustles. All that’s left to do is pin down a specific opportunity.

If you want to work in the rideshare industry or another aspect of the sharing economy, get signed up for a service or two and try it out. If you’re looking for a more traditional second job, then start searching through job sites and reaching out to the people in your network who might have valuable connections at a target company.

Or, simply be ambitious and contact local businesses to show them the value you can offer. For example, say you’re a web designer who has noticed a local business needs an updated website — try pitching your services. If the business is happy with your work, it could lead to other similar jobs, and before you know it, you could have a number of clients ready and willing to pay for your services.

5. Organize Your Finances to Keep Your Hustle Succeeding

Once you’ve decided on a side hustle, you should take some time to get your finances in order. Depending on your venture, you may have to consider important tax implications. For example, as a freelancer, you’d likely be responsible for making estimated quarterly payments to the IRS.

You may also want to consider opening a separate bank account and/or business credit card to keep your personal and business expenses separate. While it may not be illegal to use a business credit card for personal expenses, it can be against the card issuer’s policy. Keeping your expenses separate will allow you to track your progress toward your side-hustle goal, and it will be a big help come tax season.

A side hustle that works for one person won’t necessarily make sense for the next, but you can rest assured there’s one out there for just about anyone. Figure out what it is you want to get from taking on a side job, narrow down which gigs sound feasible or fun to you, and start hustling.

Matt Miczulski is an associate writer at FinanceBuzz.

By Matt Miczulski