Don’t waste time on the wrong side hustle.
You know we’re in interesting times when 86% of young Americans want to be social media influencers or online creators.
In all honesty, I understand the appeal.
The 9–5 grind, the office politics, and the corporate layoffs can be a total nightmare.
With that said, I do believe it’s important to have realistic expectations regarding building a side hustle that is sustainable (and profitable) enough to kiss your 9–5 goodbye forever.
Just for perspective, here’s the average online creator’s earnings report, according to a HypeAuditor survey:
- Micro-influencers (between 1,000 and 10,000 followers) make an average $1,420 per month.
- Mega-influencers (more than one million followers) make $15,356 per month.
- For Influencers that have between 1,000 and 10,000 followers, only 22.99% report making money, compared to 68.75% of accounts with 500K to one million followers
Here’s the key takeaway from the earnings report:
Many creators will need to build a reasonably large following to earn a consistent, reliable living, however, it’s not a hard rule.
While having at least a small following is important, the level of engagement from your audience is most important.
I have been able to do well as an online creator with fewer followers.
Last year, as a new creator, I did more than $318,000 in affiliate sales as a blogger (you can find the details here).
While I don’t have a million readers, I do have an extremely engaged audience.
I consistently published content, take feedback from my audience, and write articles to solve their problems — I don’t write for myself — which is key.
When you publish content, products, or services, you need to create with your audience in mind; they need to see value in your offering.
The creator community is often told that discipline + consistency are the magic keys to success; that narrative that we’re fed is missing context.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen plenty of creators that are extremely disciplined and consistent in their efforts, but they still often fail to monetize their content.
Most people couldn’t care less about your dog’s Instagram account, or watching you post 25 stories a day showcasing every article of clothing in your closet, in hopes that someone will buy.
Let’s talk more about why so many creators never earn more than a few dollars online.
If your content doesn’t solve a problem, you’ll probably never earn enough to quit your day job.
Here’s the tough reality — fashion influencers are a dime-a-dozen.
If you log on to Instagram at this moment, you can easily find thousands of accounts run by young women trying to “make it” in the world of fashion.
They’ll post story after story, and spend copious amounts of money on camera equipment, clothing, and shoes.
At the end of the day, most will find themselves in debt.
The truth is that taking pictures of your shoes doesn’t solve an existing problem that most of us face.
Unless you’re teaching a skill or offering a product/service that can empower your audience to improve an aspect of their life (this typically falls into health, wealth, and relationships) — your side hustle will most likely fail.
If you film videos on Tik Tok because “that’s where the growth is”, but you hate filming videos, please stop while you’re ahead.
I truly do not — and will not — ever understand why anyone would waste time building a side hustle that makes them miserable or uncomfortable.
Now, I think it’s important to differentiate between challenging yourself to grow vs. doing something that you dread.
If you’re camera shy but want to start a Tik Tok in hopes of improving your public speaking skills, then that’s wonderful and I’d encourage you to do so.
If talking into a camera bores you to tears, that’s a different story.
There are many different platforms to build a side hustle online whether it’s through video or written content.
There’s no reason to invest time or energy into building what you *think* will succeed, just because you see others growing like crazy.
Success is never guaranteed to begin with, so why waste the time and energy building what isn’t fulfilling?
If you hate your side hustle, you probably won’t stick with it long-term, and thus, it will most likely fail.
You need to determine if your expectations are aligned with reality.
This might sound contradictory to my previous statement regarding “it’s not just about discipline and consistency”, however, discipline and consistency are still important ingredients to success.
I view building a business, in the same way, I view baking a cake: it’s a hodge-podge of ingredients that are necessary for an excellent result.
You need to identify a problem to solve, work consistently to serve your audience/customers, and be disciplined (motivation alone is not enough to build a business).
Success rarely happens overnight, and the reality is that it could take many years to build a million-dollar company.
If you’re entering the side hustle game with the expectation that you’ll launch a profitable business overnight, you are in for a rough ride.
If you’re unwilling to accept failure, stick to your 9–5.
Most creators have launched unsuccessful side hustles, including myself.
I dipped my toe into the side hustle waters for the first time in 2016.
It was an epic failure.
I decided that I wanted to try e-commerce, and I had no idea what I was doing.
There’s nothing wrong with embarking on a new journey and learning as you go, however, I was trying to play Amazon algorithm hacks, utilizing sales hacks, etc.
Do you know want to know why I ultimately failed?
I didn’t solve a pain point or a problem for customers.
I lost a few thousand dollars with my venture, but I learned more from that experience than I did from my four years of college.
Instead of quitting, I dusted myself off and decided to try content creation as my next venture — and it’s proven to be a success.
If you’re planning on starting a side hustle with the expectation that you’ll automatically succeed (and on the first try), you’ll most likely be disappointed.
I love the notion of having a side hustle, as it can change your life for the better.
Writing a blog has been helpful financially, but most importantly, it’s given me a sense of community and greater purpose.
With that said, a side hustle isn’t just about the “warm and fuzzies” you get from connecting with others.
It’s hard work, and it’s extremely time-consuming.
If you are unwilling to solve meaningful problems for your customers or audience and provide value consistently, there’s no reason to even bother entertaining the idea of starting a side business.
There are a million ways to increase your income, and building a small business is just one.
Investing, changing careers, or accepting a promotion are all more probable ways of earning extra income for those that are uninteresting in building another revenue stream outside of their day job.
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Author: Lauren Como