The American Dream is a broad concept. One aspect that existed as the dream to immigrate to America as a way to start fresh and earn a living while starting and growing a family with freedom.
Another aspect was the business side. Perhaps it could be interpreted as homesteading on a piece of land and doing your own farming. Or perhaps it was opening a restaurant in a city.
Starting a side hustle or starting a side business has also been part of the American Dream. You’re able to earn more money for whatever reasons you dream and there are usually opportunities available.
In 2010, I was working full time and started blogging for businesses in the evenings and on weekends. Two years later I turned the side business into a full time business and have been doing it ever since.
If you’re looking to do something similar, here are a few tips…
1. Look For What Is Working
An entrepreneur that has been interesting to me is Mike Keiser. He started a greeting card company in the 1970s when he was in his 20s. That became successful and later on he got into the golf course development business, which in the early days you could really look upon as a side business.
Mike was an avid golfer and loved playing at Pine Valley, which is often regarded as the best golf course in America. In the late 1980s and into the 1990s, Pine Valley was unique in that it wasn’t surrounded by houses. Starting in the 1950s golf course developers often saw housing developments as a way to make money and even to really make building golf courses feasible.
Mike Keiser saw that the opposite concept was working at Pine Valley. He built his own little course in Michigan. That worked well. He also loved traveling to the UK and to Ireland where there were several courses that were popular and that were in the middle of nowhere with no surrounding houses.
So Keiser decided to buy a large tract of land in Oregon that was ideal for golf, but that was very remote and that would have no homes on the property. It was a risk, but Keiser had seen enough proof of concept that it wasn’t a total shot in the dark.
Today, Keiser’s location in Oregon, Bandon Dunes, is very successful and he has built and is building several more such resorts.
When you’re starting a side business, it’s risky to do something that nobody else is doing. You can become successful by copying something that already exists.
2. Identify What Is Working
When I started blogging I first did it just for my own personal curiosity. I wasn’t doing it to make money. But then I started getting curious and began looking at online job boards and I found listings for bloggers. Eventually I started replying to these listings and I was able to secure clients.
It seems simple and obvious, but this is a good way to built a side hustle. Just visit every job board that you can find and see what is in demand. You can even find full-time listings and look at the specific tasks within the listings to see if there are recurring themes.
For example, I have often found that businesses are looking to hire “Marketing Associates” and one of the required job tasks is “blog writing”.
3. Venn Diagram What You Do & What’s In Demand
You probably have some skills. These may directly relate to what is in demand. But often they will be slightly different. I think it’s important to find where your skills cross with what’s in demand. Kind of like a Venn Diagram.
For example, I come across some great creative writers. They can write wonderful poems and short stories and other wonderful pieces. Those items can be in demand, but I don’t see a lot of demand in job listings. But these writing skills can cross over into other in demand items including blog posts, case studies and more.
Understand what you’re good at and then have an open mind when looking at what is in demand.
4. Building Experience On The Cheap
One of the frustrating things with a side hustle is building experience. It isn’t always the case, but often you’re entering a new area and people that want to hire you will want to see some examples of your work or they’ll want to hire you cheap.
It’s generally good to work for cheap as a way to build your skills and portfolio, but look at it as a short-term plan. And tell your early clients that you’re looking at it this way. Tell them that in six months or a year or whatever that you’re going to be looking to earn more money and they will have an opportunity to be the ones to pay.
5. Long-Term Outlook
From the start of my blogging experience I was thinking about the long-term. I wanted to have more of a business than a side hustle. I wanted something that didn’t require me working in every area of the operation.
That was the right outlook for me and I worked to build toward that. It’s also perfectly fine to want something where you’re the only worker. You’re a freelancer. You are looking long-term and increasing your rates consistently so that you’re making good money without managing people.
There is no right answer, but take time to consider your long-term aspirations. This helps your short-term decision making.
Starting a side hustle is a great way to make extra money. It usually requires a great deal of time. I’d estimate at least 5-10 hours per week especially when you’re starting out. The money is not always fast to come especially if you’re building experience and figuring out how things work. That’s why it helps to look for a model that is already working and tweak it to your own abilities.
Hopefully these tips can help you with your side hustle. It’s been something core to the American Dream for decades and should be into the future.