Earning

My two side hustles bring in up to $3,000 each month: Here is my best advice to get started

The founder of From Pennies to Plenty shares her best side hustle strategies.

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Arlene is the founder of the blog From Pennies to Plenty.
Photo by Portraits to The People

In the spring of 2015, I sent out invitations to several girlfriends inviting them to a clothing swap I was hosting. 

It seemed like a fun idea, but it turned out only one person could attend, and she would have to leave early because she had family in town. I was disappointed at the time, but the clothing swap that didn't happen turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

I decided to try earning a little money from my clothes. If they didn't sell, I would donate them. I found a few online marketplaces like eBay, Tradesy, and Poshmark, listed my clothes, and the sales started coming in.

In 2017, after growing my reselling business for two years, I decided to start a blog called From Pennies to Plenty to help other women meet their financial goals and even start their own reselling side hustles. 

The initial goal of my reselling business was to build up my savings. I started blogging unaware that people make money from it. But once I learned that was possible, I worked to start generating money from that as well, to put toward my savings. I feel more at ease having a rainy day fund.

Today I earn from $1,000 to $3,000 a month between my two side hustles. I did this all while working full time at my day job as a speech-language pathologist. If you have a full-time job and want to grow a side hustle, here are my best tips to help you get started.

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Brainstorm potential side hustles

The first step is to generate a list of potential jobs. Think about common side hustles you could do, activities you like to do, and the skills you have.

Then evaluate them to find the ones that best fit your lifestyle and financial goals. You might choose a side hustle that offers a flexible schedule or one that will earn you the most money for your time. You might need a side hustle that has low start-up costs and makes money right away. 

In my case, I could have developed a side business doing private speech therapy. I'm already skilled in the practice and licensed in my state. Private practice also has the potential to pay well. I chose not to pursue it because I didn't want to do speech therapy around the clock. My day job was already stressful. I wanted to do something different and more relaxing during my nights and weekends.

I continued reselling because it was fun and provided a relatively quick return. Once I sold an item, I was paid within a few days of it being delivered to the buyer. By contrast, my blog was unprofitable for the first two years of its existence. But I continued blogging because it was a passion project, and I knew that blog growth takes time. I'm thankful I stuck with it because today my blog generates mostly passive income.

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Make time for your business

Once you have a side hustle in mind, figure out how much time you can devote to it or how to free up more hours of your day.

When I was growing my side hustles, I felt like there was never enough time in the day to do everything that I wanted to get done. I had to prioritize the work over my social and leisure time. I also relied on time blocking and batching my work to improve my productivity.

I evaluated my time every week looking for blocks of free time. Then I assigned tasks to those times based on what I needed to accomplish. For example, I would spend an hour on Monday night listing items for sale and an hour the next night drafting articles for my blog.

Batch working is when you do the same or similar tasks repeatedly at one time. I got into the habit of taking pictures of my items to sell one right after the other and drafting several blog articles in a row. I'd have five blog posts started in one night that I could then edit and publish over the next month.

It may take trial and error to find the right time management strategies for you. Once you find them, you'll get more done in the limited free time that you have.

It may take trial and error to find the right time management strategies for you. Once you find them, you'll get more done in the limited free time that you have.

Get help where you can

Two hands are often better than one when it comes to growing a side hustle. Think about whether any family members or friends might be willing to help you.

When I first started selling online, my husband offered to take packages to the post office for me. More often he helped in indirect ways such as washing the dishes and walking the dog so that I could spend more time working on my side hustles.

Depending on what you can afford, consider if it makes financial sense to hire someone for tasks around the home or related to your side hustle. For example, I used to spend hours frustrated trying to create images for my Pinterest account on my own.

So it was worth it for me to outsource the task and hire someone who could do it quickly and well, at about $1 per image, and spend my time working on other tasks that I enjoyed and would be more profitable.

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Reevaluate your side hustle from time to time

It's easy to lose sight of your goals and feel burned out by the day-to-day work of growing a side hustle. To counter that, reevaluate your side hustle from time to time. Keep what works and drop what doesn't.

This goes for both the big and little things you do for your business. Little things, like the payment system you use, can be swapped out for something better. If your side hustle is not working out at all, don't be afraid to stop doing it and try another one.

In the past few years, I've tried earning affiliate revenue through Pinterest marketing and selling printables. Neither of those side jobs was profitable enough for the amount of time I devoted to them, so I stopped doing them.

Be kind to yourself

Ultimately, my best advice is to be kind to yourself. Pat yourself on the back for all that you accomplish, and give yourself grace when you fall short.

There may be times when you don't want to work on your side hustle. You may be tired or disappointed with how it's doing. You might even want to quit entirely. Recognize the work that you put in and know that it's OK to take a break. Then keep on keeping on. Your financial goals and dreams are waiting for you.

Arlene, who prefers to use only her first name, is a speech-language pathologist, part-time reseller, and creator of the blog From Pennies to Plenty. She writes about saving money and making money, specifically ways to earn money selling goods online. Connect with her at frompenniestoplenty.com or on Instagram @frompenniestoplenty.

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