What Is a Side Hustle and How Do I Get One?

If you're a creative, or anyone with dreams outside your regular 9-5 office job, having a side hustle is essential. Our generation isn't entering the workforce with the same permanence and security as our parents did -- for instance, if you're in the same job for five or more years, you're kind of an anomaly. Not only are young people upwardly mobile in the work force, we've become accustomed to a climate of uncertainty, and are products of the freelance economy. There are currently an estimated 53 million freelancers in the US, and by 2020, approximately half the population will be working on a freelance basis.

We see our jobs as stepping stones, whether useful in forwarding a specific career or financially facilitating other projects, rather than forever engagements. Because of this, side hustles have many purposes. If you're a freelancer, they can be the things that keep you financially stable, as the freelance economy isn't always totally reliable. If you're a creative, they can be personal projects that add to your folio, making you more valuable and experienced. If you work a steady job, your side hustle might be your genuine passion. Side hustles are meant to keep us financially and psychologically safe, allowing us to pay the bills and live our dreams. Here's how you can get one.

Decide what kind of side hustle you're looking for

Do you need extra cash to bolster your unpaid or low-paying passion work? Or is it the opposite, and do you need some passion work to emotionally get you through the daily grind of office work? The first step to getting a side hustle is figuring out why you're looking for one. Is it money, love, or boredom?

Make time

It might feel like you've got no time for a side hustle on top of your regular job, but think about this: according to Nielsen, the average American watches 33 hours of TV per week. Even if you're a TV lover, you could comfortably cut that in half and have 16.5 hours to put into your side hustle. The most important thing about side hustling is self-starting, and not letting the tendency to procrastinate get the better of you. Seeing the fruits of your side hustle will also help you get motivated -- once you start earning money, you'll be inspired to spend your spare time outside your "regular job" getting more.

Invest in yourself

You might find that your chosen side hustle requires an initial investment. Perhaps it's materials, or a studio space, or something as simple as extra gas for your car so you can drive to wherever it is you need to go. Don't put off a side hustle because of the initial outlay. Be sensible, obviously, and don't go dropping thousands of dollars you don't have on a whim, but also be prepared to budget for the little things that will allow you to start hustling on the side.

Use your network

When you're looking for a side hustle, your existing network is precious. Send out emails to friends, co-workers, family and acquaintances that might have the right hook ups to get you on the right track. Moreover, you should always be ready and willing to collaborate with friends, or people you meet, who are also starting something on the side. You might find working on projects as a team can be rewarding, and even lead down unexpected and delightful paths.

Start small and don't overthink it

If your passion is dogs, be a dog walker. Maybe you've got a great idea for an app for dog owners, but you don't have the resources to get it started right now. Immerse yourself in that world as part of your side hustle. It doesn't mean you're failing (especially if you're getting paid!), it just means that things don't always happen overnight, and you have to adapt to that. Through dog walking, you might get to meet the right people, and then expand your network to the point that you're able to start working on your real passion project. Don't be afraid to start small and build to the bigger stuff. Stay out of your own head when you're hunting for work.