You are your own worst enemy.
Only recently have I gotten this idea of “passive income” into my head. I blame the numerous articles Medium recommended when I started to look at freelance writing. I read a few of them and it caught my interest. I have watched dozens of YouTube videos and read various articles on Medium and whatever Google Reader suggested.
But this post isn’t another article about the top five ways to get a side hustle, what to look for when figuring out what to do, or five things you need to do to make money. There is countless content about those things out there. Instead, I want to write about the biggest issues I encountered with beginning a side hustle: myself.
To be fair, I did do the research and see what the prime side hustles seemed to be these days. Things that topped the list were print-on-demand services, freelance writing, virtual assistant, and the list goes on. I settled with something I thought was simple: a RedBubble store. I have experimented with photography in the past and dabbled with graphic design so I thought this was the perfect excuse to try to expand it to the next level. Now, to be fair, I still have yet to make my first sale. I did have someone like one of my designs, so that is a start!
At this point, you’re probably wondering why I am even writing on this topic if I’ve had no monetary success. For me, the biggest obstacle in even starting a side hustle has been myself.
You’re your own worst enemy.
You’ve probably heard that saying before. Perhaps you’re flashing back to your first memory of really getting past the fear and insecurity and putting yourself out there. For me, a side hustle is another extension of that.
I’ve always been insecure about myself and had low self-esteem. Putting myself out for the world to see is always a challenge from putting on an outfit for a date, starting the first day at a new job, or beginning a new online venture. One of the hardest moments is hitting that ‘publish button. What will people think? Will it be a viral sensation? Will it get a lot of likes? Will I pick the right hashtags to get the right target audience?
The second part is continuing that momentum and believing in myself. It’s one thing to take that next first step. It’s another to sustain it.
Keeping It Going
To keep anything going, you need to plan for the long term.
I’ve always lacked this skill. I’ve gone through life thinking in terms of extremes and short-term. Either it is can/cannot, pass/fail, good/bad, etc. There was also the problem of keeping a short-term perspective. With that either/or mindset, it could only apply to a specific moment or situation. For example, I try a new skill. Two things either happen: I do well or I do not. If I do well, I use that as evidence and keep going. If I don’t do well, then I take it as it is: a universal sign that tells me whatever it is is not meant to be.
These flaws in logic are things I have struggled to overcome and grapple with consciously from day to day. It is hard and frustrating. I want to be perfect with everything I do the first time. I need the instant validation. If I don’t, I get easily discouraged and quit.
The act of writing is something that had similar struggles. I remember writing my first story at 11. Was it amazing? Not exactly. Was it something I continued to work on over the next twenty years? Absolutely. Do I forget that fact and continue to be hard on myself? Unfortunately, this is true as well.
With opening a RedBubble shop, I have to tell myself to keep going even though I haven’t found that instant fame or money. It is a new challenge trying to figure out designs, which old photos might do well, and gambling on the right keywords to figure out what will capture people’s interests. I still haven’t figured it out. The traffic isn’t that reassuring either. But that isn’t going to make me quit just yet. I want to learn how to be successful and decipher and understand a new skill set, which will keep me going.
My love for writing was not an overnight miracle. It took many years of learning, experimenting, trial, and error, and I still haven’t figured it out. I am a better writer because of it though. With learning and experimenting with this side hustle, I hope to become a better person and learn a few lessons about business.
I also published this over on Medium.