What you need to know before you start a side hustle

You might think the gig economy like food delivery and ridesharing are the only viable side hustles, but it can be so much more.
Published: May. 24, 2023 at 10:28 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Kathleen Flick has three kids along with lots of laundry from her busy family and from other people who’ve connected with her on an app called Poplin. “I call it Uber for laundry,” Flick laughed. “I’m able to accept any orders that I want, when I want. I go pick up the laundry, wash it, dry it, fold it, and then I deliver it back to their doorstep.”

Flick started the side hustle before the birth of her third child to bring in some extra income. She tackles the laundry during her kids’ naptime and after they go to bed at night. “I pretty much create my own schedule, which is huge,” she said. “I know with a lot of side gigs, you don’t necessarily have that flexibility.”

Alan Simon, the author of Side Hustles for Dummies, says the phrase ‘side hustle’ often conjures images of the gig economy, including food delivery and ride sharing, but can be so much more; everything from writing to web design and online boutiques. “You may be able to make just a little bit to sort of fill in the gap between what your budget is and what your full-time job is,” Simon said. “Some people catch lighting in a bottle and can turn it into tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.”

Recently, sports memorabilia has emerged as one of the most popular side hustles. “People have jumped into all kinds of side hustles doing YouTube videos, TikTok videos, podcasts, buying and selling, and trying to flip cards,” Simon said. “You also need to match your personality with what you’re doing. If you’re very outgoing, you can do the sort of look-at-me lifestyle videos on TikTok and try to monetize those, but if you’re more of an introvert and aren’t really into selling, you should avoid things like multi-level marketing.”

Side hustlers also need to make sure their side gig is separate from other employment. “Do not use your company computer. Don’t even do things on your employer’s WiFi network,” Simon cautioned. “Don’t do things on company time, and be crystal clear about the intellectual property rules that your company has to make sure that you don’t put in a lot of effort and wind up giving away something that you invent.”

Though millions of people making extra cash through side hustles, some may not live up to what’s promised, and the side hustle economy can be susceptible to get rich quick schemes. “The biggest thing is to do your research. Really check into things. Check references before you jump in and certainly before somebody starts spending a lot of money on something,” Simon said.

For Poplin, the startup cost includes detergent, clear plastic bags to return the clean laundry, labels, and a bathroom scale to weigh the laundry. Launderers also have to account for extra energy costs from running the washer and dryer more often. A spokesperson for Poplin says the company’s so-called Laundry Pros make an average of $40 plus tips per order. “It’s really been a huge blessing for my family just because I am able to bring in extra money, but also still be at home with my kids,” Flick said.