I’m a new entrepreneur: 3 months new, in fact. Before I go into detail on my recent adventure at being my own boss, let me go back in time a little. After 12 years working in an industry that was never my endgame, I was feeling the pinch of a monotonous existence: like I had no purpose, that I was doing it only for the paycheck, and that I was quite literally wasting my life away. In June 2017, something inside of me broke and I could no longer be okay with the overly-anxious and overly-stressed person I found myself to be. Something had to give, and I decided it needed to be me.
For my own health, well-being and happiness, I made the choice to quit my job with absolutely no idea as to how I was going to support myself, my husband and our lifestyle here in San Diego (because as I’m sure you well know, San Diego is not a cheap place to live by any means). It was either me, or money.
I chose myself. I had to, because things with me were beginning to get… dark. I’ll leave it at that for now. Thankfully and graciously, my husband supported me and still supports me through this transition. Thanks, Hubs!
Fast forward to July 2017, and it was time to knuckle down. I took a 2 week vacation to clear my headspace and spent that time with family and my husband. I had ideas in mind on what I could do to financially support myself, but no real way of knowing if they would work until I did them. So I did the only thing I could do: I moved forward into the unknown. As a person who needs a plan and fears change, this was terrifying. In ways, it still is… but I’ve embraced it as an adventure and I’m truly loving the ride.
Without any idea as to how I could collaborate my skills into entrepreneurial means (and better yet, have them succeed) I simply started trying things out. And they’re working! They’re actually working! Some of which with a surprising amount of success, and while some of my ideas haven’t panned out, I wanted to share the ones that have given me a trustworthy financial return that could benefit other new entrepreneurs like myself.
In this new age of the RideShare, Uber has easily been my most successful and reliable source of income since I became an entrepreneur. While it might not be for everyone, the ability to jump into my car, turn on a phone app and shuttle people around at any time frame I choose is very open and liberating. I’m in charge of how much I want to work, when, and for the most part, where. There are a couple of caveats: you need a 2006 or newer vehicle that’s in good shape to qualify, and you have to be able to pass a background check. It’s also a lot of miles and general wear and tear on your car, especially if you choose to work the night shift picking folks up from bars.
I highly recommend tracking your mileage closely, because it is absolutely tax-deductible. (I use MileIQ!) Or, if you feel your wear and tear expenses outweigh mileage, you can deduct the actual cost of any fuel, wear, and upkeep on your car that is strictly dedicated to your rideshare time. Just keep in mind that you can only do one or the other – Mileage, OR Actual expenses.
For me personally, I don’t do the night shift. My car is new (I bought it off the lot in February) and I don’t want anyone getting sick in it. That, and as a woman driving alone, I wouldn’t feel safe doing it at night. But during the day I have no issues, and it’s a great way to learn how to get around my city and I truly meet some fantastic and energizing people.
On an average day, working around 5 hours between the hours of 8am and 6pm, I make anywhere from $75 to $200, including tips. Keep in mind that since Uber doesn’t deduct taxes, I have to set aside 20-30% of that for quarterly payments. It also helps that I’m in a large city: those of you in smaller towns or suburbs will likely get different results.
If you’re interested in becoming an Uber driver in your city, you can use my invite code that offers you a sign-up bonus. It also kicks back a bonus to me as well for referring you! Check it out here.
2. Dog Walking
Imagine my surprise when I had a wonderful sit-down lunch with two of my local dog walkers, an older couple who were kind enough to share with me their passion for dog walking in San Diego, only to find out that they were grossing almost $4,000/month. Walking Dogs. Let me repeat that: walking. dogs.
When I expressed my interest in using dog walking as a means of side income, these generous folks took me under their wing, gave me a plethora of tips and sent me on my way. So far? It’s working out pretty good! I am slowly growing my list of regular clients for whom I walk their dogs every week, and I can tell that word of mouth is beginning to spread.
The thing to remember about walking dogs as a side hustle is that it isn’t an instant make-money deal. It takes time to build up clientele, to get the word out, advertise, etc. But the best part about this particular hustle is that there is very little overhead: out the door, you need only invest in some business cards, possible signage (I have car magnets on my doors with my logo and phone number. Free mobile advertising while I Uber all over the city!), a DBA/Business name and Pet Sitters/Dog Walkers insurance. Beyond that, there’s very little else you’ll need to spend money on and advertising is pretty simple: throw your cards up on those dog poop bag dispensers, or tape them at or near dog parks or nearby apartment complexes.
Even with business starting out slowly, I’m averaging close to $300/month from walking dogs. Eventually I would like to make this my full-time gig so as to negate the excessive wear on my car driving for Uber.
3. Art skills? Use them, don’t waste them
I’ve always had a love for working in Photoshop, even back when I was in high school. Something about doing manipulations and art pieces brought me peace, and over the years I’ve worked my way into a wonderful community of fantasy equine artists over on DeviantArt. Although I’ve only recently (as in the past year) knuckled down to really learn the ins and outs of Adobe Photoshop and how I can utilize it, because of the community and their desire to have custom art pieces for their characters and creatures I have found an amazing niche where I can make money doing something I love.
Although my art income is inconsistent seeing as it’s based on need and when I open my time for commissions, during a month where I remain open for a week or two weeks, I can make anywhere from $100 to $300. Not too shabby! (If you’re interested in my portfolio and pricing, you can check it out here.)
While I don’t expect all of my readers to be proficient in Photoshop or at any type of art or creative craft, it definitely warrants some self-reflection on your own personal hobbies and skills. If you have a creative hobby, try and monetize it! It never hurts to get paid doing something you really enjoy, whether it’s painting, drawing, sewing, building, etc.
4. blogging & writing
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that blogging and writing are things I enjoy. Over the years I had always pondered how people made money blogging or writing-for-hire, and while I attempted it several times it never got off the ground and I always lost steam. Fast-forward to now, and with all the tools at my disposal (Pinterest, other bloggers, etc) earning an income from blogging and writing has been made far easier. Not to say that it’s simple, because it takes a metric ton of effort and drive… but the toolbox is full and the ideas are plentiful!
While I haven’t earned a steady enough income from this blog to create my first income report (I did however make my first dollars off it earlier this week! Baby steps!) it’s more than worth sticking with. I can see the wheels starting to turn and pick up speed.
Related Content: Blogging for Beginners: Finding Your Niche
And if you enjoy writing like me, Blogging isn’t your only avenue. Freelance writing is a great way to make some side cash, whether you find the gigs on Craigslist or a website like the International Association of Professional Writers and Editors. Oddly enough, I saw the call for writers on IAPWE on an ad posted on Craiglist, looking for applicants to be accepted. I applied in August, was approved a month later, and now I have access to thousands of writing gigs and offers. In the last two weeks, I’ve almost earned my first $100 for various writing gigs ranging from 300 words to 500 on all manner of subjects like Travel, Leisure and Personal Health. All it takes is a little research and a way with words!
Related Content: How to Get the Most Out of Your Writing Sessions
I hope that my personal successes with my arsenal of above side hustles offers some insight and helpful details to other baby entrepreneurs like myself. It’s been an arduous and meaningful journey filled with successes and failures alike, but by being my own boss even the failures are not nearly as bitter as I expected them to be.
There’s a thrill to seeking out my next hustle, trying things to see if they work, and watching them grow or wilt.
I think I’m addicted to being an entrepreneur!
Be sure to leave any comments below on whether you’ve tried any of the above hustles, or any others that have worked for you. Cheers!