How to Earn More from Your Side Hustle

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Feel better about your finances

While I’m partying it up in Vegas, please enjoy this contribution from Kali at Common Sense Millennial…

In the personal finance world, it’s a well-known fact that there are two fundamental ways to build wealth: you can save more, and you can earn more. Most frugal folks are excellent savers, but they also know a thing or two about hustling for extra monthly income.

A side hustle, or work done on the side in addition to a full-time job, is a great way to bring in an extra couple hundred dollars to give your savings or investments a boost. But it does take a lot of really hard work and dedication to establish a successful gig that pays a decent amount. There’s also a big time commitment involved, too.

Your time and energy have value, just like the additional money you’re hustling to earn. You wouldn’t squander your dollars – so you need to make sure you’re not wasting time or effort on your side projects, too. You need to ensure you’re getting as much out of your side hustle, both in terms of income and experience, as you can. Here are some tips to help you do just that:

Work More Efficiently in Your Side Hustle


Proper time management is crucial. Time is the one thing we simply can’t make more of, so we need to use it wisely. Use whatever tools make the most sense to you to track your time. There are lots of free time management apps and programs available if you search online or in your app store.

It might be helpful to create daily to-do lists to keep you focused and use calendars to stay organized. When you’re working, eliminate distractions and avoid procrastination. Developing a routine should help your workflow, too.

Charge What You’re Worth


While working for free has merits on some occasions, if you’re established in your field you need to charge clients and customers what you’re worth.

Don’t sell yourself short! Your time and what you offer has great value, so don’t discount that by working for something like $2 an hour on Elance.

Make Friends


Your side hustle shouldn’t exist in a vacuum. Network and make connections with potential clients, partners, and sources of leads or information. Seek out others in your niche and offer to lend a hand or solutions to problems they’re currently experiencing.

Adding value to someone else’s day is one of the best ways to connect with new people – and is a great way to have them remember you the next time they or someone they know needs to hire a person with your abilities.

Say Yes!


Don’t deny yourself new opportunities before you get a chance to experience them. Learn to say yes to new things, ideas, and projects. You never know where or who they’ll lead to, or what you might discover.

You could uncover a new idea for your side gig or realize that you really love doing a certain type of work and want to incorporate more of it in the future. And if you end up hating the task or project at the end of the day, it’s another lesson learned. You’ll figure out what you don’t like, as well.

Don’t Be Afraid to Say No


Don’t let anyone take advantage of your work ethic or skills. It’s okay to tell someone “no,” to things like unreasonable requests, working for free (if you can’t or don’t want to), or if you’re simply ready to take a different path and no longer wish to continue down the one you were on.

It’s important that you honor your commitments, of course, but don’t think you can’t ever decline something to begin with, either.

By keeping these tips in mind, you should be able to start earning more from your side hustle.

Are you starting a new side hustle in 2014? Do you have any tricks for getting the most out of your side gigs?


Kali blogs about common-sense financial advice at Common Sense Millennial. She’s passionate about personal finance and helping millennials learn how live well on less. Currently, she is pursuing the ultimate dream of writing for a living.


Photo courtesy of: JMR_Photography

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John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.

Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.

Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.

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  • Matt Becker says:

    My biggest issue is prioritization. I feel like there are a million things I need to do and I end up letting my focus drift across all of them rather than focusing on doing one thing at a time really well. It’s an ongoing battle.

    • Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial says:

      I feel like I’m constantly working on that, as well. I try to keep organized so I know what to focus on, but like you I feel there are a million things that need to be done and I can’t help but get distracted by some of them!

  • MMD @ My Money Design says:

    I can 100% agree with getting paid what you’re worth. I still get people sending me advertising deals and only want to pay $50. Forget it!

    This year my new big side hustle will be starting a website that using Amazon as its monetization strategy. I’ve got a lot of enthusiasm to make this one work!

    • Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial says:

      Nice, that sounds interesting! Best of luck in getting that off the ground and making it profitable! 🙂

    • Fig @ Figuring Money Out says:

      This is key for me too. I’ve turned down stuff lately because it wasn’t worth my time. I think it’s hard to say no to money when you need it but if it’s not what you’re worth it is better not to sell yourself short!

  • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

    Great info here, Kali! My biggest thing for this year is to make sure and say “no” when they’re not paying what I feel I’m worth. I’d rather buy less in groceries than write a post for 3 bucks, you know? Sometimes it’s just not worth the cash you’re offered, and that’s okay. Wait for a better opportunity to come along.

    • Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial says:

      Love this, Laurie! I agree, you need to value you own time, and not feel bad about saying no to work that isn’t worth it – those better opportunities almost always come along, and when you’re not bogged down in a million little jobs that try to get away with paying peanuts, you’ll be available to take it!

  • Justin @ Decisive Dollar says:

    This is something I really want to pursue in 2014, but I think the hardest part is just breaking in and getting started. It’s really the networking and trust-building that seems like the majority of the work to me. Once the connections are made and the work is won, I imagine that building the necessary momentum and motivation becomes easier.

    • Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial says:

      Getting started IS the hardest part – but once you’ve got the ball rolling, it’s still a lot of work and you never really stop hustling! I think what makes it easier once you get started is the confidence you will build once you realize you can indeed create a side income successfully.

  • Dee @ Color Me Frugal says:

    I would have to agree that getting started has got to be one of the hardest parts. But anything worth doing is worth working hard for, right? Also, I completely agree that making friends will help you out tons, probably more than you know, both now and in the future!

    • Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial says:

      Yup, you can never underestimate the power of a good connection! And I agree, getting started is HARD. But definitely worth it once you put yourself out there and try 🙂

  • Holly@ClubThrifty says:

    Hope you’re having fun in Vegas, John!

    Well, my old “side hustle” is now my full-time job so I have no choice but to go at it full force. =/

  • Brian @ Luke1428 says:

    Time management is crucial to having a side hustle. With full-time work and family responsibilities it is tough to create time for anything else. Plus, you don’t want to overwhelm yourself, have no down time and become stressed to the max. That’s not healthy. With that being said, I’m enjoying my side hustles into rental real estate and blogging. The first is already profitable and I’m working on the second. 🙂

    • Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial says:

      It’s always good to really enjoy your side gigs! Makes them feel a little less like work when they’re pretty fun. And anytime you can make money from a “hobby,” it feels like you hit the jackpot!

  • Jon @ MoneySmartGuides says:

    I had a hard time placing a value on some of the services I offered at first. I just went with a low price point, not thinking what I offered was worth much more to others. But after networking and talking to others in the field, I realized that buyers were willing to pay the higher amounts and I was effectively leaving money on the table.

    • Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial says:

      I do think figuring out rates is one of the hardest parts about working with a side hustle. I’m glad you saw you could make more – I hope you raised your rates to reflect the average cost of what you were providing!

  • DC @ Young Adult Money says:

    Time management is so important! I am starting a second website so my two side hustles for 2014 will be Y.A.M. as well as the second site. I am definitely considering doing more spreadsheet work in 2014, but only for the right price.

    • Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial says:

      Thanks for this comment, DC – makes me realized I should have added another point to this post! Diversifying your side-hustle income, if you can, definitely gives you the ability to turn down work if it’s not paying the rate you want. When you only have one main source of side income, it’s harder to turn down even a lower-paying opportunity. Having multiple hustles means more freedom to demand the price you want!

  • Daisy @ Prairie Eco Thrifter says:

    I think working for free is definitely valuable – at first. You should only have to work for free for a little while and for maybe one client to start building up exposure. I have never increased my rates for my side hustles, as far as my blogging services go, but I’m happy with what I make for them.

    • Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial says:

      I agree, working for free/lower than average rates is valuable in that in can help you build necessary connections and experience. But it shouldn’t be a permanent thing! As soon as you have enough of a portfolio to offer potential clients, it’s time to raise rates!

  • travis@debtchronicles says:

    I liked Jeff Rose’s presentation at FINCON regarding what he did when a google update cut his traffic in half. He just started working his ass off. It’s inspired me to work harder in all aspects of my online activities….so far so good!

    • Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial says:

      Love that, Travis! Thanks for sharing. I need to keep that in mind – I think you can overcome just about anything if you’re prepared to work HARD to make it happen!

  • My Wealth Desire says:

    My own problem is time management. I am working full time and when I reach at home I have to sit with my son for his assignment and studies. However, hopefully this year I can manage to divide my time productively.

    • Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial says:

      Wow, that’s definitely a lot! I know I have it a little easier as I don’t have children, but I still struggle with time management. I’ve found it’s really helpful for me to use Google Calendar and plan out my day hour by hour. That way I know what tasks I need to do and since I allot myself a set time to do them in, I’m motivated to complete things in a timely manner so I can stay on schedule for the rest of the day.

  • Pauline says:

    Starting with low rates is a great way to land new clients, but those Elance rate are crazy (as a freelancer, they are pretty awesome when you hire out haha). US/Europe based sites like Task Rabbit prevent people from abroad from entering the bidding war.

    • Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial says:

      I agree, having low rates will help you grab the experience you need to start charging more. I’ve avoided Elance like the plague and only have an account because one of my gigs likes to use them to make payments (though I didn’t land a job with them via the site). I completely agree, those rates are just ridiculous most of the time. I’ve seen writing jobs that pay $2 per 500 word post!

  • Broke Millennial says:

    I find charging what you’re worth to be the difficult part. I was way under-billing at first for fear of missing out on jobs due to pricing myself out. Now, I’d rather charge what I’m worth and only take jobs that are willing to pay!

    • Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial says:

      Couldn’t agree more, Erin! I’m still struggling to set rates – I have the same fear of pricing myself out of gigs. But most of the time, when you aim high people don’t automatically reject you. They may negotiate, but they often try to meet you in the middle, which is far better than trying to work for the cheapest rate possible!

  • Grayson @ Debt Roundup says:

    Learning how to price your skills and market yourself is big for side hustling, depending on what you are doing. I do a lot of work on the side, so I have to make sure I am getting full value. As with others, time management is critical and with more jobs, it gets even harder.

    • Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial says:

      I hear you on that time management – it gets REALLY hard the more successful your side gig is! I’m constantly working to improve in that area. I know I’m much better at it than when I started (thank goodness).

  • Shannon @ Financially Blonde says:

    I love your comment about the side hustle not existing in a vacuum. I have gotten many jobs just by telling friends what I am doing and asking them to help me. It is so much easier to work with friends then strangers.

    • Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial says:

      So true! And you never know where your connections might lead you – hopefully, on to progressively bigger and better things!

  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach says:

    I just opened myself up to the possibility of creating a new website for a new client. It’s scary because I haven’t really done it, but I’m trying to be open to new things to take me away from video editing as my main gig. Time management? That’s another issue. I spend HOURS reading and commenting on blogs. I don’t know how to make THAT process faster!

    • Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial says:

      I’m right there with you – honestly, I’ve had to cut back on the amount I comment. I still read a ton of blogs, but I just don’t have the time to leave a thoughtful comment on each and every one. It saves time, but I hate missing out on the conversation!

      Good luck with your new venture – good for you for saying yes, you never know where that opportunity might take you!

  • Catherine says:

    Networking is SOO important. I would also add being helpful. I’d like to think I’m a nice and helpful person all the time and sometimes that can cause people to reach out to you in unexpected ways.

    • Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial says:

      Love that! I think being a genuinely nice, helpful person DOES go a really long way. Not to mention, it can really set you apart. It’s amazing how many people don’t bother with basic manners or are extremely stingy with lending a helping hand.

  • Richard @ Frugality Magazine says:

    Two other thoughts spring to mind here based on my own experiences.

    Firstly, don’t be afraid to outsource. With a little experience it’s pretty easy to hire someone to create graphics, format content or help out with other things that you either don’t enjoy or aren’t very good at!

    Secondly, take the time to really “analyze” your business from time to time. Dig deeply into your results and you’ll often find all sorts of new opportunities staring you in the face.

    For example I once found that a particular article on one of my sites was drawing in 90% of my traffic and comments. So I built a whole site focused purely on that topic which went on to become one of my most profitable side hustles ever. If I’d never dug into my stats I’d never have noticed this opportunity.

    • Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial says:

      Great tips and ideas! Thanks so much for sharing. I agree, at some point you can consider outsourcing some of your least favorite/most time consuming tasks to keep productive and happy. Love the idea for really analyzing your current gigs from time to time in order to identify new opportunities!

  • Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life says:

    I find it hard to stay competitive in the side hustle because people don’t charge what they’re worth, so my reasonable prices seem inflated. I’m sorry, I’m just not going to write a thoughtful 500 word post for $5!

    • Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial says:

      That’s true! I think it’s okay to work for low rates (or for free sometimes) when you’re starting out – that lower rate is making up for lack of experience. It’s definitely frustrating when your reasonable price is rejected by someone who wants you to write for virtually nothing, but the good thing is that by sticking firmly to your rate and avoiding those low-paying gigs, you’re leaving yourself open to better paying opportunities that are just around the corner 🙂

  • Mark Ross says:

    I’m planning to set up another website somewhere in the middle of this year. I’m planning to make use of Amazon to monetize that website and see how much I could get from it.

    • Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial says:

      Affiliate marketing is an area I want to explore, too. You’ll have to let me know how your experience goes!

  • MBM says:

    I think one of the best ways to stay organized and efficient is to have a written plan for each week. That way you know what you need to do and when you’re “done” for a given week. That keeps you focused on the important tasks and helps prevent taking away from family time.

    • Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial says:

      Great idea! I find that for me, I have to really break it down to stay focused. I plan out each day and allot a set amount of time for everything I need to get done. Having a written plan of some sort will definitely help keep you on track!

  • Adam Kamerer says:

    I’m definitely trying to be more proactive about charging what I’m worth. I do a lot of client based work that’s paid in a single lump sum per project. In the past, I’ve often had to pour tons of hours of work into a project that, on the surface, seemed to be paying me well — until I crunched the numbers and realized that I was often getting paid less than $5 for the work. So I upped my prices, trying to aim for an hourly rate that I feel my work is worth.

    • Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial says:

      That’s awesome! I know it’s hard to charge more – but you really can because you’re worth it 🙂

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