What Exactly Is A Side Hustle?

I’m in the camp that thinks that while there are thousands of ways to cut costs, you can only cut costs to a certain point and then if you really want to get ahead, you have to start earning more.

A buddy of mine tweeted just this week, “Anyone else just starting their second job? #SideHustle” to which I replied, “second job? It’s been a long time since I had just two.” This reminded me of the importance of side hustling.

A side hustle is anything you do on the side of your day job to earn a little more. The only limit to the amount of income you can made side hustling is you, your time and the amount of effort you put into things. So let me run down the different hats I wear…

Day job

My day job is fairly ordinary. I am a systems administrator for a company that sells agricultural products and services (concrete and asphalt mainly). I’ve worked here for three years now and support 2,000+ users with a small team of me+one and my two bosses.

Money Crashers

My main side hustle is working for Money Crashers. I started working for them as a freelance writer back in 2010 and have since taken on the role of Community Manager. I handle their Twitter and Facebook profiles, coordinate Online events and essentially play the face man for the company. If you’ve interacted with Money Crashers publicly in the past 6 months, chances are you were talking to me.

These guys are excellent to work with and have pretty much let me grow at my own pace, encouraging and supporting me any chance they get. I still write regularly for Money Crashers and look forward to growing this into much more.

Personal Finance Firewall

You are here 🙂 I’ve been writing this site since Feb 2009 and haven’t looked back. It’s been a great asset to have and has opened door after door. It’s also opened my mind to the vastness of the Internet. There is so much that can be done out here, and even getting a tiny chunk of that can create huge benefits for you.

Lending Tree

I’ve been writing for Lending Tree on a semi-regular basis for the past six months. They have a completely different audience than anyone else I’ve written for so writing for them has really helped me stretch and grow in different directions.


While lately my semi-passive side hustle as a landlord has been a bit rocky, when things are smooth my rental property brings in just over $100 a month.

Freelance computer work

Having computer skills under my belt has been a big plus to finding side hustles. Everyone needs computer work and just mentioning what I do sometimes develops into a short term, or even long term computer services gig. I support a few local companies where I live with their computer needs.

Web Design

I love web design. It’s one of those things that if I was to do it all over again, I’d focus on developing this into a full time career. I do web design at least once a month, mostly for my other side hustles but a few times a year for paying clients. These are a couple sites I designed: FairfieldDentalLayton.com, RPTUT.com, Brokeasaspoke.com

This is where things really get interesting. Side hustling does not mean you have to do something that others have done or that even has a name. I’ve found that there are opportunities right in front of all of us, and we just have to reach out and take them. These are some of those opportunities:


I bought AdRavage.com about a month ago. I’ll detail all that in a later post but I have really big plans for this service company.  Currently, the service provides a way for you to set up an automated Craigslist Search. You set the search terms and categories, then AdRavage.com searches Craigslist for you and when a result comes up, you get an email with some details about the classified listing and a link. I’m currently working on implementing the next stage of AdRavage which is going to be huge but you’ll just have to sign up and see what rolls out in the coming months 🙂

AdRavage.com growing at a steady pace (I’d love for you to sign up!) but I have yet to implement the new revenue model so the income is just a steady drip right now.


I started this company back in January. I design android apps for bloggers looking to increase their visibility into an untapped market; the android market. I’ve designed just under 40 apps for bloggers. Eventually I’d like to expand the service to custom app design as well as branch out to the other mobile development languages, but those plans are taking a back seat to AdRavage.

Carnival Submissions

For those of you not familiar, a blog carnival is a regular roundup posted on different blogs. To be part of a carnival, you just have to fill out a submission form provided by the blog carnival host. This process takes some time and a few bloggers I know wanted to get away from having to do this, but didn’t want to miss out on the potential rewards and exposure a blog carnival provides. So now they pay me to submit their blog posts to carnivals for them.

Other things I’ve done

Some things aren’t as regular as these I’ve mentioned above and they provide a quick and sometimes large payout but don’t last very long. Here are some of my latest temporary side hustles.

eBay seller

I got set up with a wholesaler, bought items at wholesale prices and sold them on eBay. This provided a trickle of income for about a year. It wasn’t much, but didn’t take much to get it. I still sell things on eBay and classified sites whenever I feel like it.

PR consulting

I did some consulting, managed a PR campaign and helped launch a product near the end of 2010 for an Internet start-up company. This was really fun and a new experience that I wouldn’t mind expanding on later in life.

This is just what I can think of off the top of my head, and just a tiny taste of whats out there. There are so many untapped opportunities that you can be a part of and if you really want to get ahead and start changing your life, a side hustle is the way to do it. Who knows, a single side hustle may open the doors for a while new career path bigger and brighter than anything you ever dreamed of.

What’s your side hustle? Let me know in the comments!

Image by vtveen

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28 People have left comments on this post

» tmgbooksNo Gravatar said: { Apr 27, 2011 - 09:04:35 }

Do you ever sleep? Just kidding…I think!

I think your post points out how you can transform a single knowledge base (IT skills in your case) into a platform from which you build multiple income streams.

I think it is important to not be dependent on a single revenue stream for 100% of your income, as most people are. In that position, your financial viability is actually pretty tenuous at best. Even if you think your job is secure, a lack of income diversification is as bad as a lack of investment diversification.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Hmm, I think I slept back in 2002 once. Just kidding, I typically crash after work about once a week, just dead on the couch..or floor. That helps recharge for the rest of the week 🙂

Using your skills as a platform is a really good point. I never thought about it that way, but now that you mention it, just about every career path you can pick, every degree you can take in college has hundreds of different specific job tangents. You may have picked just one to follow, but if you think of it as a platform or base to your tangent, it’s pretty easy to branch out to those other tangents to find a new side hustle or career.

Income diversification is absolutely as imprortant, if not more so! than investment diversification. Gone are the days of having one job for 40 years and retiring on a fat pension. There is no such thing as a lifetime job anymore!

» Jeff @ Sustainable life blogNo Gravatar said: { Apr 27, 2011 - 09:04:43 }

I think I knew about 1/2 of the projects that you work on. I thought that was a lot, because I knew you had a full time job.
Keep up the hustling jesse!

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

hehe I’m a perfectionist so I typically don’t talk about anything that is under construction and once I’ve got it perfect, it’s no longer news to me so I don’t really talk about it then either. MJTM tweet made me realize I hadn’t shared everything I was working on with you guys! 🙂

» ElizaNo Gravatar said: { Apr 27, 2011 - 09:04:11 }

Yup — I’m a single mother and so I really don’t have much of an opportunity outside of my full-time job to spend time away from my children. (Nor do I want to be away from them. Besides the point, though.)

An opportunity came up several months ago for me to do HR consulting work, and luckily the only requirement is that the work is done in a timely fashion, but it’s something I can do at home in the evenings or on weekends.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Yea it’s certainly tough to be a single parent and still find other ways to increase earnings. I hate being away from my kids, or even working just in the other room! But sometimes, opportunities will find you, and all you have to do is put yourself in a position to take them. Congrats on your latest hustle! I hope it continues to provide a little bit extra for you for time to come!

» [email protected]No Gravatar said: { Apr 27, 2011 - 10:04:55 }

Hi Jesse–I’m doing some of the things you’re doing–I guess us bloggers tend to move in a herd!

How is your employer with all of this? Do they know what you do on the side–or should I ask, the MANY things you do on the side? Do they know about this website? Do you ever bump up against issues or problems with your business and financial transparency in regard to your employer? Do they worry that it may appear that they aren’t paying you enough, so you have to take on all of this outside stuff? Does anybody at work read this site and does that worry or limit you at all?

So many questions…I’m like a four year old! Why, why…but why?

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Hey Kevin, yea I knew you did a little of this stuff too and it’s funny because the web is so huge we’ll probably never share more than one client!

I never asked my employer for permission to do any of this stuff primarily because my initial ventures were in a completely unrelated field; freelance writing. Since then, the topic has come up here and there and my boss is aware of my writing, development and computer support work on the side. His stance is as long as I keep that stuff out of the office, there isn’t a problem.

In IT support for any company, I’ve found that most techs do side work for company employees’ personal computers because the employees turn to the IT they know and trust already.

My boss and coworkers as well as other employees in the company do know about this site and some of my other ventures, but few of them regularly read or comment. In fact, only three of them actually subscribe that I know of. When I first started writing, I did worry about people from work reading the site because I wrote about work here and there but it was more a worry about embarrassment than getting in trouble. I wasn’t a confident writer back then and I worried they would critique me in person 🙂 that’s never happened and I openly share my website with anyone if the topic comes up now.

And do they worry they aren’t paying me enough? I sure hope so! haha

If you ever have questions, you have my contact info. I’d love to see everything you’re working on as well!

» Perfecting ParenthoodNo Gravatar said: { Apr 27, 2011 - 12:04:06 }

Hey, nice set of side businesses.

My side businesses are real estate investor (currently buying a $1M commercial property), stock trader, now blogger of parenting advice (3 months or so), angel investor (dropped money into IT companies, a fibre optic new tech company, and a horizontal oil drilling company), creating puzzles with my wife to publish in magazines and a book (www.hexatrex.com click Daily HexaTrex), plus a little side IT consulting — setting up networks that kind of thing. I think I have too much going on and I need to focus or get some help!

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Thank you, and that’s a pretty impressive list yourself! I’d love to get into some of that stuff in the future too, but we just don’t have the capital at the moment. I’ll shoot for some big fish like that in the next couple years though!

Have you thought about getting an intern? 🙂

Perfecting ParenthoodNo Gravatar Reply:

Well I am looking with interest at those virtual assistants. See, the thing is that many of the side hustles are just short projects, like doing a real estate deal might take 2 months and then nothing for quite a while. I want to convert the blog into a real venture in the future, and that is eating up a lot of time.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

I’ve considered getting a VA as well but until a venture that needs a lot of hand-holding or care makes enough to warrant that cost on a regular basis, I’ll just do it all myself. I’m getting close to that point though.

» Paula @ AffordAnything.orgNo Gravatar said: { Apr 27, 2011 - 10:04:52 }

How on earth do you find time for all of this?? I’d love to read your time-management tips …

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Well, I basically forgo any thought of having a social life outside the Internet 🙂 that leaves a lot of time to fill! I don’t really have any time management tips that I can think of other than follow your passion. When you are really enjoying what you do, you’ll find the time to do it somehow!

» Justin @ MoneyIsTheRootNo Gravatar said: { Apr 29, 2011 - 07:04:27 }

my side hustle is my blog! you sure seem to keep busy though, im curious to check out adravage, sounds like a great idea, so I retweeted this article.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Thanks Justin, I appreciate that. If you sign up for AdRavage give me a shout and I can put you on my beta tester list for the changes rolling out (plus grant premium access) if ya like.

PS I love the blog theme and general idea, money really isn’t the root of all evil, its just a means to an end!

Justin @ MoneyIsTheRootNo Gravatar Reply:

Thanks I appreciate it!

» Financial SamuraiNo Gravatar said: { Apr 30, 2011 - 08:04:50 }

That’s a lot of stuff Jesse! Hope you are making some good side income.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Just doing what I can Sam, gotta get ahead while I’m still young!

» Ash @ Sterling EffortNo Gravatar said: { May 1, 2011 - 04:05:46 }

That’s an impressive list. You make me feel quite lazy! I’m a software developer by day and I’ve started making use of those skills outside of my day job. I was recently approached by a local business to set manage and help grow their retail website. Some opportunities are arising for some website development from other clients too and I’m also a landlord.

No matter how small these other revenue streams can be compared to my salary, the sense of achievement is always much greater. I love it and I want more! 🙂

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

That’s how it all starts Ash 🙂 it really does feel good to know you have options out there especially when you create the options for yourself. Don’t spread yourself too thin (I’m just about there!) but it’s great to diversify income streams. Good luck with the side hustles.

Ps what dev language do you work in?

» Car Negotiation CoachNo Gravatar said: { May 4, 2011 - 08:05:48 }

Dude, you are animal! I knew about 3 or 4 of these things but not the other 12! I thought I was tackling a lot, but you put me to shame. Let me know when one of them starts raining cash on you!

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Hah raining cash, that’s a nice dream. It’s not about the size of your list, but how big of an impact your list has on your life 🙂 I think I try so many things because I don’t really know what I want to do yet. When I find it, maybe I’ll drop all these but for now, bring it on!

» Invest It WiselyNo Gravatar said: { May 10, 2011 - 02:05:23 }

Side hustle sounds like a shady way of saying it but I get what you mean and I agree! Always good to have other things going on, in fact that was one of my main points of my post on Monday; that relying solely on one source of income can be risky.

I agree with the others; that’s an impressive repertoire of businesses…

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

That was a great post Kevin and I agree 100%. There is no such thing as a life long career anymore. You have to be a jack of all trades in order to succeed nowadays.

» ChristineNo Gravatar said: { May 10, 2011 - 09:05:20 }

Adravage – its an awesome automated craigslist search tool! 😉 Great work, Jesse.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Thanks Christine! I’m glad you find it useful

» RazorsNo Gravatar said: { May 15, 2011 - 08:05:55 }

Every one needs side income these days if you want to get on and help pay your mortgage or a holiday. Find something that you can get made and then sell it on line through your own website, auction sites or farmers markets. Keep the item small so that shipping is not a hassle or expensive too.

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