The year was 2009, and I desperately wanted to stay home with my daughter. But with a still-shaky economy, a home underwater, and plenty of bills to pay, how could I make it work?

Enter: the side hustle.

At first, I tried every avenue I could think of to try to bring in enough extra cash so that I could stay at home.

  • I taught three homeschooled students Spanish.
  • I managed a local business’ Facebook page.
  • I even contemplated selling baked goods, but I had zero talent in that I didn’t make progress   until I recognized where my passions and talents intersected.
Fast forward less than a decade, and my “side hustle” now fully supports my family and allows me to stay at home with all four of my children.

Know Your Purpose

Your purpose is to make more money, right? But what is your purpose behind making more money? Do you want to increase your standard of living? Afford extracurricular activities for your children? Meet big financial goals, like paying off debt or your mortgage, funding college or retirement, or buying a new car?

Knowing your purpose helps you stay focused. For example, if your goal is to make some fun money to satisfy your craving for gourmet coffee, then a side job that brings in a little extra will do the trick. But if you’re needing money to help support your family without leaving home, you’ll need to think more creatively about how to generate a longer-term, viable income for your family. And yes, many “side hustles” can do just that.

Discover Your Strengths; Hone Into Your Passions 

I recommend that everyone take at least one personality test to help them discover the type of work for which they’re best wired. Two assessments that I’ve found helpful are the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Clifton Strengths Finder test from Gallup Strengths Center.

Spend time honing in on your passions and what you already know you’re good at. Think of hobbies or activities that make you come alive inside, those things you would do even if you did not make money doing them. Remembering our favorites from childhood can give us a clue into what can become serious side hustles in adulthood. Did you enjoy arts and crafts? Were you your school’s newspaper editor? Did everyone look to you to plan the best parties and events? Time reminiscing on what you enjoyed can be the key to unlocking your best potential side hustles now.

Find Freelance Gigs 

Perhaps the easiest way to dive into the world of side hustles is to take what you know from your purpose, strengths, and passions and look for freelance work in an area that will match all three. The key here will be setting yourself apart from other freelancers in the industry. Some examples of ways to stand out among the sea of potential freelancers include:

  • Creating and/or dusting off a LinkedIn profile to network for potential opportunities. 
  • Developing a cover letter or email that you can send to potential employers.
  • Seeking out grassroot opportunities: Churches, small businesses, private schools, and non-profits often need contract workers to write and send emails, put together newsletters, and run their social media accounts.
  • Tapping into any already-existing relationships—even if they are from your past. My first freelancing gig was writing for a newspaper after I contacted an editor I had worked for six years earlier. The job turned into a long-term side hustle. 

The World at Your Fingertips 

The internet has created a world of side hustles that didn’t exist a decade ago. No longer do stay-at-home moms need to rely on direct sales parties or opportunities in their local communities. The world—as long as they have a computer and internet access—is at their fingertips.

One of my first side hustles was as a virtual assistant (VA) for a blogger. A VA can do anything from answering emails to managing calendars to running social media. VAs can work for individuals or companies in other towns, states, or even in other countries. Belay Solutions is a reputable company that matches up virtual assistants and other freelances with potential employers.

Emotional Benefits of Side Hustles 

While I began my side hustle out of a deep desire to stay at home with my kids, I quickly realized that it was also meeting other needs in my life. If we’re honest, the life of a stay-at-home mom can sometimes be lonely, chaotic, and thankless. Side hustles can provide much-needed outlets for moms to feel like they are contributing to a household monetarily and continuing to keep up their skills and resume. As well, side hustles can give a mom confidence that she is able to raise a family—without putting their own passions, gifts, and dreams on hold. 

Take some time to figure out what your passion is and how you can turn that into a side hustle of your own. You might be surprised exactly how fast that little project grows to become a big part of your family finances.

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