Dec 10, 2018
Do people keep telling you that you should get a side hustle to help repay your student loans more quickly, but you remain skeptical about how much can you really make? After all, driving a few hours for Uber on the weekends or taking a second job can't add up that quickly, can it?
That's what I thought — until I started side hustling. Because I won a lot of scholarships, I didn't graduate from undergrad with student loan debt, but I still needed supplementary income. When I started working as a fundraiser for a non-profit in my late twenties — a traditionally low-paying field — I needed to make more money to keep up with the rising cost of rent and medical expenses. That's when I started looking for ways to earn extra income by side hustling.
To get started, I thought of ways to use skills that I already had. Since I graduated without debt, I decided to self-publish a book called The Complete Guide to a Debt-Free Education. I had read about people who made thousands of dollars from self-published books. Unfortunately, the book never sold a ton of copies, and I've only made a few hundred dollars from it. Still, I'm glad I wrote it because to help promote it I started a blog on personal finance for millennials.
I quickly learned that there were plenty of ways to monetize a personal finance blog including through Google ads and affiliate commissions from recommending financial products or services that I believed in. Gradually, as I published more content and my traffic grew, I increased the amount I made from blogging to several hundred dollars per month.
Around the same time, financial companies started asking me to write for their corporate websites and I decided that was a more lucrative way to earn money than blogging. To find even more clients, I emailed small financial start-ups who had blogs on their websites and asked if they needed writing work. I gave them bigger discounts if they commissioned more articles or blogs from me. The more that I wrote, the more companies started approaching me interested in having me write for them. I was able to double my fee after six months of writing and I started making several thousands dollars a month from writing alone. Combined with my day job as a fundraiser, I then had twice the income coming in.
My final side hustle was to start a company with a partner that sold fitness products on Amazon. We recently closed the company but still came out ahead. All these side hustles helped me to double and then exceed my day-job income in a year and a half. Eventually, I also got an offer on my blog and I sold it. The additional income made a big difference in my life, allowing me to live more comfortably while still working in an industry with traditionally low salaries. Although I wasn't working to pay off student loan debt, there are many recent college graduates who are, and side hustling can be key to trimming those bills down with less stress and worry.
The hardest part of side hustling is deciding on what you want to do and getting started. It's okay if the first thing you try doesn't work out. But don't give up. Keep looking for ways to use your skills and interests to make money on the side so that you can save for your future and pay off your debt more quickly.