While the side hustle may have found its place firmly in our pandemic-era lexicon, it has – in fact – been around a lot longer than you might think. The phrase was first used during the recession of the 1950’s, when people had to find additional ways to supplement their income in order to make ends meet.


So it stands to reason that as the world enters another recession, the side hustle has regained our collective attention. And the numbers clearly demonstrate the rising interest in alternative revenue streams: A recent survey reported that as many as one in three South Africans earn income from an extra job, while social media platform Twitter recently revealed a staggering 295% rise in the number of mentions of ‘side hustle’ on its platform.


And while making ends meet might be a key driver in the meteoric rise of the side hustle, it is by no means the only reason, says Litha Maqungo, social media and communications specialist at Metropolitan GetUp. “Another contributor is access – thanks to the acceleration of the digital economy, it is easier than ever start a business or leverage your talents for monetary gain, and the opportunities are now but a mouse-click away.”

The other – and arguably most significant – factor is personal fulfilment; something we may not always get from our 8 – 5 job that pays the bills, says Maqungo.


A 2020 report in the Harvard Business Review underpinned this sentiment, revealing that 73% of those surveyed began a side hustle to enhance their overall satisfaction in life, stating that “side hustles empowered individuals so that they feel they are the agent in charge of their work, which led to being emotionally and cognitively invested in the side hustle”.

Whether it’s funds, fun or fulfilment you’re after, if you’re thinking about starting a side hustle but don’t know where to begin, Maqungo shares three potential avenues that you might want to consider.


Blog yourself a business


Influencing is big business – but be warned, establishing the kind of following that leads to financial gain doesn’t simply happen overnight. “It takes dedication, creativity, authenticity – and most importantly, passion, says Maqungo. “Those who’ve started the most successful blogs or social accounts – more common these days than long-form blogging – have typically done so through finding their unique voice, which resonated with a like-minded audience.


Once you have established your niche, Maqungo suggests that you start reaching out to brands that you personally love, and which connect with you and your lifestyle.

“Find out who the right person is to speak to at the company, and then pop them a brief but friendly introduction email, giving them an overview of your platform and highlighting the value it could offer their brand.


“More and more brands are looking to work with micro-influencers as they are considered credible and trustworthy within their communities – so don’t think that you need to have thousands of followers to spark a brand’s interest,” she adds.


Hustle yourself into hospitality


The hospitality industry was one of those that were hardest hit by the pandemic, with eateries and bars all across the world forced to close their doors. Yet, it is also anticipated to be one of the quickest sectors to recover, says Maqungo.
“After the last year of social distancing, people are craving human interaction – and the simple act of connecting over a meal has become more significant and special.


“As past economic crises have shown us, as soon as the situation starts to improve, tourism will return – and with it, a subsequent boom in hospitality. Consider taking up a part-time position as a hostess, waitress, bartender or shop assistant, specifically in an establishment known to be attractive to tourists, and you will find yourself in a great position once the vaccine roll-out gains traction and economic recovery starts,” says Maqungo.


Skill-savvy for success


Are you great at graphic design or a wizard with words? Maybe you’re a natural with kids or famous for your cakes and cookies. Whatever your talent, there are ways to make money from it.

“If you’re not sure where your skills lie, start by asking those closest to you – it might be that they can help you identify something you’re good at that you’ve always taken for granted.”


Once you have identified your talent, first assess whether it needs to be practiced or honed, she suggests. “It might be, for example, that you are great at doing your own make-up, but you don’t have much experience working on other faces. In this case, a make-up course will help you learn the basics, and guide you in the products you need to get started.”

Social media provides a low-cost way to market yourself to others, but when starting out, referrals are often the best way to get your hustle out there. Ask your network of friends and family, who can attest to your skills, to share the word about what you offer. “Take it one step further by offering a complimentary or discounted service to new customers or those who refer others to you, and you will start to see the inquiries come in,” says Maqungo.


Editor@tech-talk.co.za

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