When I left university having obtained a (not very good) degree in Physics I had a real desire to be a photographer. Bear in mind this was way before the Internet was a thing or the Web even existed. Cameras still used something called film that you had to either take to the local chemist to get developed or set up your own darkroom to process the stuff yourself. None of the digital technology we so take for granted today, for making, creating and distributing images existed. To make it then as a photographer you not only needed technical and creative skill, you also needed to build your own contacts and networks. I pretty quickly realised this was going to take time.
So what did I do? I gave up!
Sure, I dabbled. I did a few weddings for friends. I tried a bit of what I now know is called street photography and heck, I even made my own photo books (we’re talking lots of black paper and glue here). I also had my own darkroom (in my mum’s spare bedroom). But then life got in the way. I got a real job, I got married, acquired a mortgage, had a kid and soon found my expensive camera gear was only coming out for family holidays. Photography was definitely on the back-burner.
But then the “digital revolution” happened. Suddenly you no longer needed a messy, smelly darkroom, you had Photoshop. You no longer needed to tramp around making contacts, you had blogs and Instagram. Most importantly, you no longer needed to spend a fortune on film, you now had SD Cards as well as cheap and plentiful storage. It’s hard to remember life before all of these things and of course many people know of no other way. Even I take it for granted.
But we shouldn’t.
Whilst many use all of this miraculous technology to mindlessly consume stuff (watching endless box sets, scrolling through social media and so on) we must not forget we can also use it to create stuff too.
More importantly, it’s now easier than ever to use the tech we have at our disposal to build a side hustle.
A side hustle doesn’t have to be another job or business (though it can be). It doesn’t even have to make you a lot of money (though it might one day). Rather, a side hustle is something that can help with your personal development as well as improve your creativity and enable you to hone your entrepreneurial skills.
Here are three reasons why you might consider doing a side hustle.
- A side hustle can make you some extra cash. If there’s something you are passionate about and you have built up some skills in that area there is no reason not to sell your services to someone who could benefit. You don’t have to charge a lot, and you might even charge nothing at all whilst you are building up your skills, but you should not undervalue your services once you get good at what you do.
- A side hustle will help you develop your skills and experience. If you’re truly passionate about something you’ll find yourself seeking out information and education opportunities as often as you can. Learning becomes an intrinsic and natural part of what you are doing. Before you know it you’ll have learnt more than you realise and your skills and knowledge will be both valuable and marketable. You may also find they are transferable to other sectors and businesses.
- A side hustle gives you the chance to try something out. If you don’t give up your day job, and are able to maintain a steady source of income, your side hustle can be a way of trying different things out in a relatively, risk-free way. If you fail you’ll learn lots and can try different approaches until you become more expert at what you do. It’s also a way of seeing if you really do want to do this thing, and maybe make a career out of it.
So how do make time for a side hustle when you have full-time other responsibilities? How do you actually make it happen?
- Use your lunch break. Even the odd 30 minutes here and there will enable you to progress a little bit.
- Reevaluate you weekends. I’m not suggesting you spend all your weekends working but how about if rather than having that long lie in on a Sunday morning, you get up a couple of hours earlier?
- Stop mindless scrolling. Check your screen time. How much of that is spent endlessly scrolling through Facebook and Instagram? Is that a good use of your time? Before you pick up your phone in the morning, try to do something creative instead.
- Stop watching those Netflix box sets. Edward Murrow (the American journalist and war correspondent) said back in 1957 that television is “the real opiate of the people”. He would have been even more correct about that today. The average box set of 10 episodes at one hour each could give you back 10 hours. Think about it.
- It’s up to you to find a way. Ultimately it’s up to you to make it happen and carve out some time to start that side hustle. Either you want to do it, in which case you’ll find the time, or you don’t, in which case you’ll sit on the sofa watching the latest Netflix box set whilst seeing what your friends are up to on Facebook. You’ll become that person who “could have been somebody”. You choose which course you want to take.
As a final thought, here’s a bit of advice from Hugh MacLeod, blogger, entrepreneur and author.
“Whatever it is that you do, the hard stuff – the REALLY hard stuff that people actually value – will be no different. The Internet is just something that allows us to connect easily – it can’t lead our lives for us while we just sit around in our underwear...” – Hugh MacLeod
So at the end of the day it really is up to you. Is it going to be sitting around in your underwear or starting that side hustle?