The 5 Secrets of Successful Side-Giggers

The following guest post is by Kimberly Palmer, author of the new book, “The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life.
Launching a business on the side, on top of a full-time job (whether it’s at home or in the office) can be the best way to create a flexible career that offers both financial security and deeper satisfaction.  Side-businesses let us flex our entrepreneurial muscles — and bring in extra cash — without giving up the security of a full-time job or sacrificing too much of our already strained schedules and budgets.
Given those benefits, it’s no surprise that one in three freelancers on also has a full-time job, or that a recent Etsy report found that one in four Etsy sellers hold full-time jobs.  That winning combo of job-plus-side-gig offers the stability of a steady income along with the creativity and freedom – and possibilities – of entrepreneurship.
After interviewing over 100 side-business owners while also building my own Etsy shop of money planners on top of my full-time job, I discovered five secrets of people who manage to do both successfully. The biggest surprise is that side-giggers don’t have to work 100 hours a week, giving up all of their family time or free time.
In fact, many were motivated by the fact that they wanted to build more flexible schedules for themselves so they could structure their family lives the way they wanted to, and not at the whims of corporate culture. Their side-gigs – and my own – offered the chance to build that freedom.
Are you ready to build your own side-venture?

1. They know exactly what motivates them, and it’s usually something big, and specific.

So many of the side-hustlers I interviewed got started because of a job loss that taught them they never wanted to count on one paycheck again, or because they had a baby and realized that it was more important than ever to make sure their family was financially secure.
Being clear on that motivation is what kept them going during the hard times of being an entrepreneur – when sales are slow, or when a dissatisfied customer pens a nasty email. Returning to that original motivation keeps you going.

2. They choose entrepreneurial pursuits that connect with their existing passions, skills, and interests.

One side-gigger I interviewed always loved making his family laugh with his cartoon voices when he was growing up. Today, he records cartoon voices on – and earns $10,000 a year from it. Another woman, who works as a field hockey coach, was trying to think of an easy way to teach kids how to use a hockey stick for the first time. She came up with an innovative hockey tool that she soon patented and began selling at field hockey conferences and online.

3. They keep their costs down.

With so much e-commerce infrastructure easily accessible with a few clicks through established websites like,, and others, there’s no need to start your own expensive website, especially when you’re just getting started. You can simply create an account on an existing platform and begin promoting your product or services there. It saves the hassle, and cost, of managing your own website.

4. They aren’t shy.

Once you have products or services to sell, it’s time to tell the world. Many creative people feel uncomfortable moving into this phase, but it’s an essential one. To keep yourself from feeling like a sleazy used-cars salesman, focus on how your offerings help people. By talking them up and getting them in people’s hands, you’re helping to improve their lives.

5. Find time.

For busy moms, this is the hardest one – we hardly have time to get a pedicure, let alone launch a business. The secret is finding small slivers of time in your day instead of looking for elusive big chunks. Nap time, evenings, early mornings – a handful of half-hour snippets sprinkled throughout the week can let you post about a new offering or solicit new clients on social media.
The most important takeaway is to simply get started. Many people make the mistake of waiting until their product is absolutely perfect before getting it out there. Instead, release the beta version, and tinker with it later, based on customer feedback. It works for big tech companies, and it can work for us, too.

Kimberly Palmer

Kimberly Palmer is the author of the new book, “The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life,” and senior money editor for U.S. News & World Report, where she writes the popular Alpha Consumer blog. In addition, she is the creator of Palmer’s Planners, her own line of digital financial guides and money organizers for major life events and goals.

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