Do the (Side) Hustle

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July 8, 2015

Do the (Side) Hustle                             Posted May 5, 2015 by Caryn Ganeles

Having a second job is a great way to generate extra income, pursue a passion, and exercise skills that you aren't using at your current job. When not working with borrowers at CommonBond, I run LittleGirlBigMouth.com, a blog dedicated to food and humor, and write for The Village Voice, New York Post, and Huffington Post.

Thinking about starting your own side hustle but not sure where to begin? From identifying your interest to securing clients, readers, and/or users, here are some tips from my experience of starting and scaling my blog:

Pay attention to your habits: What are you doing when you don't have to do anything?

While a 9-to-5 career can be extremely fulfilling, being able to explore all of your passions, including those outside of the workplace, can make your life more complete. Look at the websites you read and the activities and hobbies you have outside the workplace to find your inspiration.

I was spending all of my free time reading food blogs, scanning Twitter for the latest restaurant news, and attending food festivals, so my interest was easy to identify.

Spend money for the necessary skills.

Pay for the advice or resources you need to set yourself up for success. Countless courses by top universities and organizations are now offered online or in person to lead you on the right path. Mediabistro, an online community connecting journalists and media professionals, has dozens of in-person and online courses ranging from Public Speaking to Instagram Marketing.

Based on my interests, I chose a Food Writing course that cost $470. Pulling this out of my savings account felt painful at the time, but I knew it was a long-term investment in my future financial and creative happiness.

Get honest feedback and don't be defensive.

When starting out, it's important to get honest feedback from people who won't lie to spare your feelings. Skip the flattery from overly empathetic family members and head straight to your most candid and forthright friend.

My food writing class was small and provided an open forum for exchanging ideas and offering constructive criticism. Without the guidance of my peers and the unwavering support of my experienced teacher, I never would have had the knowledge or the confidence to keep writing.

Seek out friends with relevant skills to help build your business on the cheap.

In order to build your side hustle, you'll need to develop your brand and spread the word just like a real business. If you have a friend that has a great marketing skill like social media or graphic design, ask for their services. They'll get experience and you'll get the benefit of their awesome work. You'll also probably still get a much better price than you would by hiring a professional.

I'm a terrible artist, so I sought a friend of a friend with excellent design skills. For a small fee, she created my signature logo, web banners, and business cards, which have done a phenomenal job of promoting my brand online and in person.

Network network network!

Personal connections are the most valuable resource for a freelancer. Attend meetings and conferences for like-minded individuals and hand out business cards freely. Scan your LinkedIn networks for 2nd and 3rd degree connections to people who might want your services. You never know who will turn out to have a friend whose uncle's college roommate's daughter is the head of a huge company that has been looking for someone just like you.

A sorority sister, a friend of a college friend, and a peer from my Food Writing class were all instrumental in getting my first pieces published. You never know who will launch your career.

Keep throwing things at the wall; you never know what might stick.

Try new things and put yourself out there as much as possible. Even if you've pitched your services to 100 people and been turned down 100 times, that 101st pitch could be the one that makes the difference.

I recently blindly emailed a publication with a story idea, and while they rejected my original pitch, they gave me a dream assignment: interviewing the founder of a successful grilled cheese shop.

If you work hard and follow these guidelines, someday someone might pay you to eat and write about grilled cheese, too, or whatever your dream side job may be.

Ready to start saving?

Caryn Ganeles is a Borrower Success Manager on the Operations Team at CommonBond, a student lending platform that provides a better student loan experience through lower rates, superior service, a simple application process and a strong commitment to community. CommonBond is also the first company to bring the 1-for-1 model to education and finance.

Tags: Finance startups, financial literacy, fintech, Life at CommonBond, Social entrepreneurship

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