How to turn your side hustle into a career

Nov 21, 2018

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The term side hustle has become ubiquitous in recent years. It seems like everyone has one. Whether working to make ends meet or save for a vacation, picking up extra work on the side is no longer seen as something to be ashamed of. Some people are content making a little extra cash to finance vacations or pay down student loans, but others are looking for something more.

If you’re one of those that are hoping to turn your side hustle into a full-time income, and replace your job in the process, you’re in luck. This is a completely achievable dream. For people who already have a blog up and running, making the leap to a full-time income may be easier than you think.

Seek income from a variety of sources

There are quite a few ways to earn income from your website. While it may be tempting to focus on only one or two methods and really grow and perfect them, that is not the best choice. It is fine to implement one income source at a time while you learn the ins and outs.

During the time that you are treating your blog as a side hustle, income from one stream may be fine as well. Once you are ready to take your blog to the next level, however, you need to diversify.

There are several reasons for this. The first is that it is easier to bring in more income when the money arrives from different sources. One person may have no interest in a digital download product, while another may never click on affiliate links. By having a range of methods generating money, your income will almost certainly increase.

The other reason it is important to have a variety of sources for income is that when you are counting on an outside source for your income, whether it is an ad agency or affiliate company, you need to understand that they could change the parameters overnight. This can have a drastic change in your income, with no notice to you, and is totally outside of your control. Spreading your income sources around is a way to minimize this risk.

Gain readers

Readers are your bread and butter. You need a strong base of people coming to your site each day. These are the people that will buy products you offer and their numbers are the ones you will use to attract advertisers.

Since you have an existing blog, you know the importance of traffic. What you may have trouble with is knowing how to get more.

The most important thing is to know what not to do. Don’t change your writing style or topics just to try to attract more readers. Clickbait titles will not create a long-term following, and may actually cause you to lose readers.

Another thing you don’t want to do is take every blog comment to heart and allow it to make you self-conscious when writing. Write for yourself and your readers and provide quality content.

There are several things you can do to grow your audience:

  • Write great headlines. This is not the same as clickbait. Write a short, concise headline that lets the readers know exactly what they should expect when they read.
  • Create an opt-in box. Offer a free downloadable when readers sign up. The download should be something that will interest your readers and makes sense with your blog topic. They opt in with their email address, you send them the download, and you can follow up with a weekly or monthly email newsletter with links to your blog posts.
  • Network with other bloggers. Instead of seeing other bloggers as the competition, look at them as teammates. Invite them to guest blog for you, and offer to guest blog for them. Link back to your blog from theirs, and allow them to do the same.

Safeguard your website

If you ask for your visitors' information, such as with an opt-in box, you need to keep it safe. The new European privacy and data protection rules, known as GDPR, are especially stringent, with major fines for missteps in this area.

If your website does not have up-to-date security in place, it is possible for a hacker to steal your readers' data, spam your website, or even gain control of your blog and post their own content.

Strong online security is necessary for anyone hoping to turn their side hustle into a full-time job. While it isn’t necessary to understand how these attacks occur, it is important that you understand how to prevent them. Up-to-date malware, an internal firewall, and frequently updating all of your applications are mandatory to keep your blog safe.

Know what benefits cost

Leaving your full-time job means saying goodbye to full-time benefits. It is important that you understand how much it will cost to replace those on the insurance marketplace. You need to earn enough not only to replace your income but to pay for insurance and fund a retirement plan as well.

Spend some time thinking about the kind of income you need from your blog in order to take the plunge into self-employment. Obviously, this can be an entirely different number for different people, but your chances of reaching a number increase considerably if you actually have a number in your head.

Prevent burnout

When working on your blog as a side hustle it’s no big deal to take a day off to decompress and stare at the squirrels cavorting in the trees outside, hoping for inspiration.

When a blog is your job, you can’t enjoy that luxury too often. You will need to put in the work day in and day out in order to finance your life. There will undoubtedly be parts of the job you don’t care for, like any job. You’re going to have to deal with it. If you can’t, might want to stay where you’re at.

Avoid burnout by creating a clear division between work time and downtime. Have a separate area where you work and out of the house to work occasionally, even if it is at the local coffee shop. Take at least one day a week where you totally step away from the blog.

Final thoughts

It is easy to feel overwhelmed when shifting from side hustle to full-time blogger. While it is a huge change, if you develop a plan for growth and implement it step by step, you can succeed. It is important to understand what blogging as a full-time job entails, and be willing to commit to that on a day-to-day basis.

You may find your feelings toward blogging change when it is something you have to do to pay the bills as opposed to something you want to do for spare pocket money.

Taking a professional approach to blogging before you step away from your day job allows you to make sure it is for you before leaving the traditional workforce.

Gary Stevens is a front end developer. He's a full time blockchain geek and a volunteer working for the Ethereum foundation as well as an active Github contributor.