Lessons Turning a Hobby into a Side Hustle

Written by Ilsa Baig

Tuesday, December 31st, 2019

I love sneakers, and I love having many different styles to match with outfits. But traditional designs weren't enough for me anymore, so I decided to customize my own by using some leather paint. Friends began asking me to work on their sneakers, and so began my side hustle.

I'm now about half a year into my side hustle and have learned five lessons that have also helped change my everyday habits for the better.

Lesson 1: Schedule Your Time Accordingly

I'm a fourth year student at Ryerson University studying business management. I'm a part of student groups and play intramural volleyball. When I first started customizing shoes, I was working in retail part time and had a full-time job at Tangerine. Aside from that, finding time for family, friends and myself is also important.

Having these commitments made it difficult to run a side hustle. All these demands forced me to structure my day to make time for everything and still fit in time for myself. One day each week, I come home after work and do nothing but relax.

Lesson 2: Be Prepared for the Costs

Turning a hobby into a side hustle comes with some surprising costs when you start acquiring materials at a larger scale than when your hobby was just for you. I started cutting down on my wants and started to purchase more for my projects, like paint, brushes and stickers.

It's important to be aware of how much you're spending and how much you're making. At first, I wasn't keeping track, but I have now made a spreadsheet that tracks all my expenses and profit. This helps me visualize how much I'm spending and earning easily.

Lesson 3: Budget Carefully

I used to be a person who bought anything I wanted right away. Now, I choose to buy more supplies for my side hustle over something I would've previously bought impulsively (like expensive makeup sets). I've become more frugal as I get more invested in my side hustle, thinking twice about the things I want to buy.

Lesson 4: Learn Through Experience

My education is often useful to my business, but other things — like communication with customers online — I've had to learn on the job. When it comes to those skills, I cut myself some slack and just make sure I get better as I go along. I don't expect myself to know everything about running a side hustle, and some things are learned best through experience.

Lesson 5: Know Your Worth

Everyone loves a good discount. But frequent family-and-friends discounts aren't great when it comes to your finances, which I learned the hard way. When I first started getting commissions, I was so excited to create unique designs that I didn't really care how much I earned. That's not sustainable. Price your work based on the effort it requires from you, not someone else's budget. Be confident in your work. 

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