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Welcome to side hustle city! That’s been my focus during my ongoing leave of absence due to Covid19. But, since my house is also paid off, I’m also trying to work on more income streams that may help me coast out of traditional employment and further into my semi retirement.
It’s looking like I’m going to be minimally profitable this year, but I have laid some groundwork and built some skills that will hopefully pay off more next year
Read on to see how this Mama is side hustling (and building new skills).
Side Hustle Building Blocks
It’s going to be a little hard to break this all down in a way that is a clear bulleted list. I have been working on skills and interests that tend to complement each other. A perfect side hustle to me is one that naturally progresses from another. Often, you can monetize your hobbies!
My town has a special name for it’s 4th of July parade. It’s kinda wacky and fits the vibe of the town. On a whim I decided in May to make a sticker to maybe sell to tourists at the event. When announcements came in June that my area was going to cancel it’s local 4th of July celebrations, I refocused it as kind of a local pride item… and my sticker business was born!
I already use the online graphic design app Canva for all my website designs. I upgraded to the paid version (which is even better now because you can share it across 5 people by using the “teams” feature!!).
If you need any help with graphic design, whether you are new to it or not, I totally recommend checking out Canva, which you can do here. They have a ton of great free features and the paid version is pretty dang awesome. Especially now that you can cost share using “teammates.”
1. Zazzle ‘Em!
Before I even made a sticker with Canva I threw up a few designs on my e- store at Zazzle.com.
Why Zazzle? A friend in the personal finance twitter community shared their e-book with me, which you can check out here!
I have really put very little attention into other than the designs you see above but I’m sitting at $13.44 in royalties already. I bet if I put some of the designs that I am selling on Etsy here and put some more work in, I could do decent. Reminder… I probably need to refocus on this.
I started off designing this local interest sticker. Then someone local asked me if I could help them design a sticker as well as produce something else they already had a design for. I took a design fee (much lower than I probably should, but, first client, friend, etc.) and took a cut above the cost to produce as my fee.
You see, one thing builds on another!
I ran into trouble even meeting people locally in town to trade stickers for cash, so I decided to get my Etsy shop running again. Back when I was making pottery I setup the shop. I had been intending to get it going for my printmaking as well.
2. Etsy Shop
Etsy is a side hustle that turns full hustle for many. Using Etsy is more about having a place to sell my creative outlets than ever intending to make it a full hustle. And, I have fun with it.
The platform is pretty dang easy to run. They take their cut, but it’s a place to direct people to go and you will make some organic sales.
Now, I have had the opportunity to just do sales via cash and so on. But generally, I have chosen to use Etsy so that I have some track-able income (and expenses). I’ve made about $400 so far since I got it running. That is not too shabby given that I’m mostly selling items that range from $5-$15.
It costs $0.20 to list each item (and that’s a fair amount given my low cost items). Then Etsy takes a 5% transaction fee. They will take an additional marketing fee if you generate a sale through one of the ads they auto run for you (though, you can opt out of this).
As a beginning business trying to give myself some credibility and find a market, the fees are worth it to me. And the IRS will like it when it comes to filing a schedule C. I think through all my various freelance and side hustling efforts I will turn a profit. And I want to be able to account for and write of the expenses I have had. I’ll sum up some of my expenses outside of Etsy fees at the end of this post.
On Etsy I am selling my handmade art in the from of linocuts, block prints and stamped things. I’m into accessible art, so much of my stuff is hand made and printed cards that are signed and can be easily framed. I have nice paper so I can do commissions of my prints on higher quality paper.
I’ve also made some hand stamped seed packets that all went to my friend Angela at TreadLightlyRetireEarly.com. I’ll get around to selling those eventually too. Though I sent her some for free as my friend, she also bought some, because she’s a wonderful supportive human.
Graphic Design and Stickers – My Biggest ROI Side Hustle
Stickers are my meat and potatoes. Right now I have a fairly decent inventory. I have kind of set a goal for myself of not making more stickers until I break even on everything that I have spent. I’m pretty close (again) at the moment, but when I see an appealing deal run with one of my vendors, I go for it.
You can do some really cool stuff if you’re running a graphic design program like Canva. I tend to combine Canva back and forth with a graphic design program. Mostly, I use GIMP (a free source image editing program). I have also used some of the drawing programs on my computer.
If I turn enough profit, I intend to invest in an iPad Pro so I can do more digital drawings using the various programs available on iPad Pro with pen.
I have a vendor for high quality screen printed stickers. They look great, but I can’t do much in color because it is prohibitively expensive. Their turn around is also about a month and I have a pretty large minimum order quantity.
My quick turn around and color sticker vendor, and the one that I snatch up deals on, is StickerMule.com . They are pretty easy to use, you get endless proofs free to make sure it looks how you want. The turnaround time is awesome too.
And it’s not just stickers. I have also made magnets and window clings. They offer a ton of stuff. You can do small runs. But your costs do go down as you buy more. And they run some pretty slick deals.
We love tie dye and fun clothes. We’ve been making bleached clothes for years now (like… 40 years for my husband even back in his 80’s punk rock days).
Recently we’ve gotten a lot of comments about how people like my husband’s custom tie dyed t-shirts.
Here’s a secret. We don’t do this for fun… this is what he does when he inevitably gets some kind of stains on his shirt. He tie dyes it with bleach.
So I decided to do some of this with various products. Not a huge money maker as shipping is crazy expensive as a small maker, but it’s fun.
I am also using my hand carved stamps to stamp some products with special block printing fabric ink. Expect more of this in the future as I just bought a bunch of colors!
3. Related Art and Craft Sales
Since getting my Etsy going and sharing widely on my Instagram, I’ve been approached to do two custom carved stamp commissions. Yet another side hustle opportuntiy is born!
One was for a local photographer for using on her mailers, another is for the local brewery. Brewery is going to use the stamps for some kind of hand made custom holiday brew gift pack. Pretty cool!
It depends on size and if I am doing the stamp design, but I’m getting $50+ dollars for a stamp. Hit me up if you need a little hand made flair for you business in the form of a logo stamp!
Costs of Being a Maker
I’ve spent quite a bit getting myself up and running here. I’ll list the main areas I have had to spend on:
- Art Supplies: paper, ink, carving tools, glue, etc.
- Textiles: t-shirts, tote bags, pencil pouches, etc.
- Mailing Supplies: shipping bags, stiff mailers, tape, etc.
- Postage: (AHH so much)! Etsy has a built in shipping app that gets you commercial prices and subtracts from your sales as a fee. From what I can tell it is equivalent to PirateShip.com which I also use to access commercial shipping rates from home.
- Upgraded office supplies: I had to buy a new printer. For printing shipping labels and assisting with my stamp making process.
- Vendor and transaction fees: Etsy, Paypal, Etc.
Ways to Get Paid
One thing I intend to explore further is utilizing my newly made Ko-Fi account as a storefront. They won’t take any sales cut, which is great. It could be a place to direct people to buy things. But, it looks like PayPal will still take a transaction fee, and this potentially means having to list things twice.
Since Ko-Fi isn’t offering special way to help people find me, I might be just as well off doing these transaction with people I refer via PayPal or Venmo.
Ko-Fi is designed as someting like an alternative to Patreon as a place to support makers. You’ll notice the little icon on the top of my sidebar to the right!
I’d love to have people feeling like they just want to tip me for my wonderful writing skills.. but really I need to consider some things that my readers might like to get or see from me in exchange for payment.
Websites and Affiliate Marketing
I run another website that I can’t share in the interest of semi anonymity. Through that website and its resulting community I am able to run a few adds that give me some revenue from affiliate marketing sources.
I have goals to build this further but I’m at a bit of a tipping point in probably needing to bring some people in to help me with me with strategy and implementation.
Ads just began running on that site (so no payoff yet) and I run ads here. I haven’t made enough on ads to even be able to cash out of the program yet so it’s not really a money maker. But, as I said above, building blocks.
Consulting and Freelance – The Side Hustle I Should Focus on More!
Due to my efforts on both my websites and connections I have made I did get a pretty decent consulting role for the next year. As it stands, it is fully intended to only be a one year project, then there will be a new cohort.
I’m hoping that something more long term can come out of it. Right now it feels like all my eggs are in one basket.
I also have a freelance relationship with that client (put on hold for the moment due to a conflict with the more recent consulting relationship).
I have renewed hopes now that some of the mental fog of Covid Pandemic National PTSD and my own person PTSD around my son’s cancer are stabilzing a bit.
It was pretty hard for me to focus on my freelance ambitions when I felt my attentions pulled in so many directions and was living life in the hospital. Life is more stable now and my son appears to be doing well, so I think I have the mental bandwidth to attack this again.
Translation, HIT ME UP if you’re looking for a guest writer. If you’re serious, I can share some of my other work outside of That Frugal Pharmacist.
4. Money does grow on trees, or at the base of them.
My other potential source of income is from the sales of natural products.
I think I talked about the giant greenhouse we installed this summer? It’s huge. My husband doesn’t want to turn it into a business but I know we are going to have excess when we get up and into production.
In the meantime, our property already produces things I can sell. I sold about $100 worth of fresh elderberries over the summer.
I didn’t do it this year, but in previous years I have also picked wild black huckleberries (the kind from Oregon) and sold those. I didn’t even try this year because restaurants have been a mess and I’m just hiding out at home. But it’s a potential.
Same goes for wild mushrooms. In previous years I have sold to a local restaurant. This is hardly a new side hustle for me. I didn’t even bother this year due to pandemic. Someone did reach out to me to let me know that they were looking for a new mushroom supplier. I flirted with the idea for a moment, but I am not harvesting enough to do that. And, it’s a lot of work. Not the type of thing I want to do on an “expectation” basis. I’m more into picking for fun and selling my excess.
And I DID sell some mushrooms to friends and internet friends. I’ve been showing off my picks of chanterelle and porcini mushrooms online so long that a few people expressed an interest in buying. So I sent them priority mail and a business is born!
I have a lot of dehydrated porcini so we’ll see if my porcini finishing salt makes it to the “sale to the public” phase or not.
I know I’m missing stuff… a good problem to have!
There’s a summary of my more interesting and lucrative ways I’ve been making money online this year. Not all of it is profitable yet, but, in the case of stickers, once I cover my inventory costs it’s mostly all profit.
I dabble with the same old stuff that everyone else recommends. I sell some of our old clothes on Poshmark. Facebook marketplace is an option for all kind of random junk and to avoid shipping costs.
What else you got?
Tell me what you’re doing! I’d love to learn more about what’s working for you. And please, let me know if there is somewhere else you think I should be focusing.
Maybe you’re NOT so creative. That’s cool, there are still other ways to bring in a bit of additional income.
Oh yeah, SURVEYS!
I almost forgot. As a professional, marketing surveys can be a great money making, easy side hustle. They don’t tend to come around often if you don’t have a niche, but they can pay off pretty well given the amount of time and work involved in them.
If you’re a healthcare provider, specifically a pharmacist or a physician in the USA you can signup with InCrowd Inc. I highly recommend it. Their pre-screening surveys have been better than most. I don’t think I have been offered anything I wasn’t eligible for yet. Important to me as I don’t want to waste time doing a mini survey only to get turned down.
Hope that helps and keeping stackin’ that cheese!
Seriously- I have so many random side hustles going on I had to make a list for myself to remember all the places I need to check in on to collect my money.
Regina is That Frugal Pharmacist. She’s a PharmD, mother to a son with cancer, breadwinning wife, personal finance enthusiast, artist, writer, and entrepreneur. Regina’s single-income household has been debt-free, including her home, since she was 28 years old.
Her money approach is “holistic financial health.” She encourages mindful spending, awareness of the non-monetary costs of choices, and aligning personal values with money habits. Regina sees a frugal lifestyle and mindset as an important part of environmental stewardship. As such she’s interested in ongoing efforts towards self-sufficiency and sustainability.