1-Sentence-Summary: Side Hustle shows you how to set up new income streams without quitting your day job, taking you all the way from your initial idea to your first earned dollars in just 27 days.
Read in: 4 minutes
Favorite quote from the author:
Four Minute Books started as a side hustle, continued as one, and still is a side hustle today. Even though it contributes the second biggest chunk my income, I was never forced to make it work. I could have abandoned the project at any minute. This freedom is a big part of why it continues to succeed.
Yesterday, reader Jason messaged me and said: “I used to try and be a full-time writer without a day job. It was too stressful. Now I’m slower in making progress, but I’m a lot happier.” I get that. My first year of freelancing wasn’t much fun, precisely for the same reason. If I were to do it all over, I would follow the advice Chris Guillebeau lays out in his latest book, Side Hustle.
Without pressure, in as little as 30-60 minutes a day, he lays out a clear plan you can follow to make your first few bucks on the side in 27 days. Let’s try to get you up and running in 3 lessons:
- A side hustle idea must fulfill three criteria.
- You need to turn that idea into an offer in three steps.
- There are four resources you have to set up before launching your side hustle.
Sick of your boss? Not making enough? Afraid to lose your pay check and health insurance? There’s a solution to all of this. It’s called a side hustle.
Lesson 1: Your side hustle needs an idea that’s feasible, profitable and persuasive.
About ten minutes ago I tossed out the entire structure of my latest Medium post series. Completely redid it. Earlier this morning I threw out a marketing idea. I constantly replace my ideas with better ideas, no matter what stage they’re in. Sure, there are milestones I complete before making more changes, but the plan always keeps evolving.
When it comes to generating ideas for your side hustle, you might have an initial block, but once you get over it, you’ll quickly collect more ideas than you can handle. To avoid losing time, pick the one you like best and run it through this quick validation framework Chris suggests:
- Is it feasible? Can you execute in in an hour or less a day and expect to see results within a week? Or are you trying to climb Mt Everest on your first attempt?
- Will it be profitable? Do some rough math. How much can you expect to make from one sale? What expenses do you have to cover? What’s the optimistic version of this? And the pessimistic one?
- Is your idea persuasive? Can you explain what you’re selling to your grandma in two sentences? What’s your “wow factor?” Who do you know that’d think your product is irresistible? What’s your unique advantage?
If an idea fails to pass the scrutiny of these questions, don’t bother with it. Imagine how hard it’ll be to convince anyone else if you’re doubting your own concept this early in the process. Keep moving until you find an idea that holds.
Then, turn it into an offer.
Lesson 2: Go from idea to offer with price, pitch and promise.
In copywriting, there’s this important distinction of features vs. benefits. A lot of salespeople suck because they drown you in features, like a quad-core CPU, gesture control, or hand-woven alpaca wool, without explaining how those features make your life better. By condensing your idea into an offer with a big promise, a concrete pitch and a specific price, you avoid that mistake.
Here are what those three parts should look like, according to Chris:
- Your promise should be a bold, provocative statement that highlights the persuasive aspect of your idea. When people hear it, they should see how they can immediately benefit from your idea. For Four Minute Books it’s “learn more in less time.”
- Your pitch tells people how you deliver on that promise in as few words as possible. Here’s mine: “I read the world’s best non-fiction books and summaries, and write down 3 things you can learn in 4 minutes or less.” Easy to understand, right?
- Your price lets people know how much they have to pay and comes with a clear call to action. The price of my summaries is free, but I tell everyone to sign up for my newsletter whenever I get a chance. Calls to action that don’t immediately require a credit card help, like “contact me now” or “schedule a consultation.
With your offer geared up and ready to go the only question that remains is: where should you put it? The answer is on your shopping list.
Lesson 3: The quintessential side hustle shopping list contains four items.
If you end up with an idea for a side hustle that requires you to take out a $10,000 loan, you’ve done it wrong. I shouldn’t be expensive. That said, there are four low- to no-cost items you should add to your metaphorical launch shopping cart:
- A website. Today, if you’re not online, you don’t exist, and a one-page website is a great way to communicate everything you need to whoever’s interested with a simple link. All you need is a domain and hosting. Thanks to a free content management system like WordPress, you’ll be set with about $10/month.
- A social media profile. Note “a” profile. Not two dozen. Pick a platform that you like, where you’ll enjoy creating content and that suits your audience and focus on that.
- A scheduling tool. With a free calendar appointment service like Calendly, people can schedule appointments with you without a single email. Eliminates all the back and forth.
- A payment system. To let people purchase right on your simple site, you need some kind of shopping cart or PayPal checkout. I recommend Gumroad.
With this simple setup, you’ve got your full sales workflow covered. For example, a potential buyer might go from your Twitter profile to your website, read the copy, then buy a consultation through Gumroad and afterwards will receive your Calendly link to schedule it.
Once you have this in place, it’s time to hustle for your side hustle!
My personal take-aways
With step-by-step instruction manuals like Chris writes, it’s impossible to cram everything into four minutes. That’s a good thing, because if you were fascinated by the idea of a new income stream before, you should be on fire now. 🙂 Don’t debate. Don’t wait. The right time will never come. Follow the 5 Second Rule and take action now. If you’re serious, buy a copy and get to work!
What else can you learn from the blinks?
- How to think about your side hustle so it doesn’t become overwhelming
- What you can learn about hustling from the Girl Scouts
- The four types of people that’ll help you along the way
- Which measure to look at to determine your side hustle’s success
Who would I recommend the Side Hustle summary to?
The 19 year old college student, who has lots of time and little cash, the 60 year old soon-to-retire senior manager, who’ll need a new pastime soon, and anyone who wants to be an entrepreneur but is scared to take the leap.