guy opening shirt“C’mon, hustle up!” yelled the coach. Ugh. I hate hustling up, I thought. I was a 7-year old kid who wanted to watch airplanes fly overhead instead of playing left field, so hustling was not exactly my forté. 

While my history with the word “hustle” may not be the same as anyone else’s, it definitely turns off a lot of people. Maybe it’s all those gangster movies where somebody’s always suspicious of being “hustled,” or it’s the image of that skeevy guy who’s always hustling his friends to get in on whatever questionably crappy venture he has going this week.

Safe to say that the word “hustle” carries some icky connotations. Which is why I hate using it. These days, when I picture somebody who’s “hustling,” I think about those guys on instagram posting pictures of themselves in a private jet or next to a tricked-out Lamborghini. Or both at the same time. Do they really fly in private jets sipping champagne every day? We don’t really know, but they are hustling, so… maybe? The idea seems to be that if you’re not hustling (while leaning on a bright yellow Italian sports car), you’re probably shooting heroin on the couch, binging every season of Duck Dynasty. It seems that you’re a failure if you’re not hustling.

Sometimes it seems that everyone who “hustles” automatically craves private jets and impractical race cars. When you finally get your Level 5 Hustle Badge then woa! It’s a set of toned abs and a pair of $1,000 designer sneakers. I don’t want to know what’s waiting for me in level 6.

Can we stop the hustle train? I want to get off.

Now “rustle up” sounds really good, like we’re going to rustle up some grub. I like to eat, like, a lot, so rustling I can totally get behind.

I have an alternative to the hustle. Let’s cancel hustling altogether and start talking about passion and community. Let’s go back to doing those things we love because we love doing them and they sustain us – spiritually and yes, of course, financially.

Hustling sucks. Hustling feels like keeping up with the Joneses. Hustling is McMansions,  Tony Robbins and his n’ hers Hummers in the driveway. And aren’t we over all that by now? Okay, but can we be over it?

Instead of thinking you need to be hustling all the time, ask yourself some simple questions.

What are you happy with in your life? What do you want to change? What things are you seeking that are someone else’s idea of success and not your own?

There are no wrong answers, unless they’re someone else’s answers. You. do. you.

I know you probably want to earn more money. Maybe you’ve tried some online programs, maybe you feel stuck in a full time job that’s not fulfilling you, possibly you’re finding yourself suddenly unemployed with kids at home. You’re looking for a side gig. You need money and you want to feed your soul.

It’s totally possible. The answer to achieving those two things may not look like anything you’ve ever seen, or anyone else has seen, and especially not something advertised online as the “right” solution for everyone. That’s because it has to be designed by you, for you.

The first step is to cancel the word hustle. Don’t participate. Stop hustling. Go ahead and delete it from your vocabulary, unless you’re streaming a Paul Newman film. You can get the things you really want and create the life you want to live without the pressure of hustling.

Take a few deep breaths and think about what a happy, successful life looks like to you.

I think that when you see it, and you keep it in your mind, you’ll automatically start moving towards it. And yeah, you’re going to have to work hard. Just forget the hustle.

Rustle it up.


I’ve heard from a lot of people that, while they agree that starting a side gig is a good idea, it’s just not the right time. Most of them seem to have very good reasons for not starting something right now. Some I’ve heard:

  • I just lost my job, I need to find something full time!
  • I’m suddenly stuck working at home with my kids, I have zero time for extra anything.
  • I’m way too busy with my regular work.
  • With everything going on in my life, I’m too depressed to focus on anything.

It would be rude to call any of these lame excuses, so instead let’s call them Reasons You Can’t Even, or RYCE. I’ve never made up an acronym before, that was fun.

First, I want to tell you that whatever your RYCE is, it’s valid. If you’ve said any of these things, then it’s clearly a reality you’re experiencing and no one should try to tell you otherwise. I certainly won’t.

I also want to tell you that if you’re feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of starting some big, new project that may or may not bring you any cash by Tuesday, that’s valid, too. Just the idea can be like a big, scary monster under your bed. And the monster is swinging a bottle of wine and muttering about a new Netflix Original. Starting something new feels risky, and not likely to bring you any cash by Tuesday, so Netflix and chill sounds like a much better idea.

And because I’m big on telling the truth, I’ll also tell you that you’re absolutely right. Starting something today is very likely not going to bring you cash by Tuesday. The get-rich-quick traps are way too easy to fall into on the internet. If you saw the one about uploading a 25-page Word Doc to the Kindle store and raking in the dough, yeah. I saw that, too. It’s not quite as easy as they make it sound – and the people teaching that have been doing it for several years.

Back to your RYCE. Whatever your particular RYCE may be, I’m not going to try and convince you it’s wrong. And no, in your current state of RYCE, you should definitely not start some big side gig project. Take a deep breath and let that shit go.

Instead, I want to talk to you about gardening.

Let’s pretend that Spring has sprung. The skies are blue, the air is sweet and tiny birds are coming to rest on your shoulder, singing you a happy little Wilson Phillips tune. Okay, AC/DC. Uhh… Bruno Mars? Whatever. And because it’s all pretty outside, you decide you want a garden to liven up your yard and your life. Yay, plants! The next day, there’s a gorgeously abundant garden thriving outside your home. The end.

Wait. Hold on. What… happened? You wanted a garden and the next day – poof! Garden.

If only gardening were that easy. It’s not, and you know that creating a thriving garden is a really big project. So many things to do. Pulling weeds, preparing the soil, buying seeds and trellises, pots, new gloves, fertilizer sprinkly stuff, little spady tool things. Then you need to read up on the best time to plant, how to plant, when to water, the list goes on. It’s a big list. This is gonna take weeks before you even see the tiniest bud shooting up through the dirt. Your abundant garden is not going to look abundant for months. So what do you do?

Well, you could say f**k it and just drink a beer on your rusty lawn chair, pretending you’re a botanist who cultivates weeds. Or, you could make a list of all the steps you would need to take to get your garden started and start at Step One. Step One could be something as simple as making a list of things to buy at the garden center. Step One might take 20 minutes. You finish step one and then what? You could drop the rest of your day and run off to the garden center and pick up all those things. Or, you could stop there and just feel good about getting started.

Step Two could be pulling those weeds (or, if you have kids, drinking beer in a rusty lawn chair while they pull the weeds). That’s another day. So, weeds pulled. Done. Pat yourself on the back.

You can see how handling one step at a time seems really doable, yes? Let’s consider another scenario.

You don’t make a list. You don’t do any steps at all. Winter comes and the snow starts falling on the weeds in your yard. How does it feel? You might beat yourself up because if you had taken some action, even small action back in the Spring, you would now have squash and potatoes sitting in little baskets in the basement. But you don’t. You have weeds and snow.

You can’t have a garden –poof– like that. You can’t start a side gig –poof– either.

Starting a side gig is exactly like creating a garden. You don’t do it all at once, you do it in little bits at a time. 20 minutes here, 10 minutes there. Over time you plant seeds, sprinkle water and if you keep maintaining it, eventually you have a side gig that earns you extra income.

Whatever your RYCE is, it’s telling you that you can’t create a whole side gig project in the amount of time you have each day. Listen to your RYCE, they’re right. You can’t. But you can take little steps and eventually get where you want to be. But you can’t if you don’t start at all.

Start now.

1930s hair dryer

Guess what that is. It’s a hair dryer from the 1930s. Isn’t it swell? Back then it seems like household objects were designed specifically so they could also look good hanging on a wall. Which is what I did in 2008. I created wall art using the retro hair dryer and painted cardboard. It was cool, then we moved and I never got around to recreating the piece.

I was reminded of the wall art when I cleaned up the screen print studio this past week. I’ve been meaning to take on that project for several years, but print jobs kept getting in the way. Not bad for an excuse to avoid cleaning. I’ll take it.

The recent CoronaVirus Stay-at-Home orders (suggestions?) have meant that the screen printing business has slowed down quite a bit. But it also brought me a gift in the form of time. While the printing business took a breather, I was suddenly staring at a studio filled with old rags, boxes, dirty screens, dirty presses and dirty, hoarded art stuff like that hair dryer. I was also fresh out of the excuses I used up in March like, “Somebody might have commented on my twitter post!” With no twitter friends to save me, I faced reality and picked up the broom.

It actually turned out to be super cathartic. Aside from the aforementioned hoarder hair dryer, I found lots of other useful things I can use (uh, fishing line?). Besides sifting through old junk and breaking down boxes, I also created a new water filtration system. It reclaims water from the studio, filters it, and runs outside to water our roses.

This is your brain on stay-at-home.

I have more to do. And it sure would be great to have the presses running again. But the experience brought me a sense of newness, like refreshing my browser and seeing images show up again. The business is refreshed. I’m refreshed. I feel like we’ll be ready to go when things start opening up again.

I know that it’s going to be different from here on out. It’s never going to be 1938 with super arty hair dryers ever again and it’s never going to be like it was before “social distancing.” In many ways, that’s a good thing.

This little interlude has woken up my brain to new ideas for the business that I think will help diversify our offerings so we’re not just depending on print orders. I’m actually pretty excited about the future.

Have you had any breakthrough experiences lately? I want to hear from you! Add a comment below, or send me email at dj at littlesidegig dot com.

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5 Side Gig Ideas To Get You Started

You’ve decided that you want to earn some extra money outside your day job, which is awesome. You’re excited, but maybe you don’t know what’s out there to try.

Or maybe there are so many opportunities that you feel overwhelmed. Where do you start?

In all the years I’ve been creating little side gigs, I’ve realized that there are so many possibilities, I needed a way to pare down the ginormous list.

If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t really do it

The way I do this when thinking about starting a new venture is that it absolutely must be something I will enjoy doing. If it’s not, I know it will feel like a grind and I won’t get very far.

For example, some people really enjoy selling third party products through the Amazon marketplace or their own website. It can be a great way to not only make extra cash, but some people build up their stores so it’s their sole source of income.

That sounds like a big ol’ snooze fest for me. It just doesn’t light a fire, you know? As much as I would enjoy making that (vegan) cheddar, I probably wouldn’t make much because I wouldn’t be driven to work at it.

When you’re looking for a side gig, consider that you’ll be working on it after your day job at night or on weekends. If it doesn’t light you up, it’s going to be really easy to push it off until the next day. And the next day. And the day after that, and so on.

Feeding your soul is key for success. That doesn’t mean it’s not going to take some hard work, but if you’re really into it, it won’t feel like drudgery.

5 side gigs to try

Below I list some of my side gigs. These may not all resonate with you, but they may help spark ideas to explore. 


I’m a freelance illustrator, which is one of my “day jobs” along with our screen printing business. I love illustrating and so it made sense for me to explore other, more passive ways of making money. One of those is by selling patterns on

It works like this. I upload a repeat pattern and make it available for sale in their online marketplace. When sewers and crafters buy the fabric with my patterns, I make a small commission, or royalty.

There’s a small outlay of cash in that to make something available for sale, you need to purchase a test swatch, which is about $5. Once you do that, you’re good to go.

If I don’t do any promotion at all, I make about $5-$10 a month. In months where I’m more active, I can make $30 or more. Some Spoonflower artists say they make thousands every month, but these are artists who have hundreds of patterns for sale. I’m okay with my small bit of cash flow for now, because it’s all passive. If I want to increase my revenue, I can get more into promoting my work and create new patterns.

Etsy Shop

This is another outlet for my art. I create paintings on wood, boxes and skateboard decks and sell them in my Esty shop.

This one costs a little money as well. It’s .20 cents to list an item (per month) and then they charge a 5% fee on a sale.

If you like to make stuff, Etsy can be a great place to do it. These days you’re also competing with larger sellers from China, but if you promote your shop well and you have something truly unique, you can still earn good money.


Hubrunner is a company that creates and maintains WordPress websites for customers all over the world. I’m a WP geek and I spent so much time setting up and maintaining my own sites that I thought I may as well do it for extra money. I signed up with Hubrunner to help maintain their customers’ sites. 

It works like this. I get notified by email that someone needs help with their site. I log in to my agent account and take care of whatever the client needs. I get paid an hourly rate, but typical tasks only take about 15-20 minutes. When I get a bunch I can earn a few hundred bucks a month doing something I enjoy doing and doesn’t take a lot of brain power (for me).

There are other gigs like this out there. For example, if you like to write, there are companies who work with copywriters in a similar way. It’s worth looking into because it’s work you can do from anywhere with a laptop (I’ve done it while watching Netflix at night).

Check out this list of 12 Best Freelance Websites for Copywriters.

Self-published and Kindle Ebooks

I love writing (you may have gathered that by now). I’ve written several books, all self-published. My go-to platform has been, but recently I’ve been publishing books through the Amazon Kindle store.

The best part about publishing on these platforms is that it doesn’t cost anything to get your book into the world. You can also order author copies at cost.

For the most part, your earnings will depend on how well you promote your book. I promoted my last book to an email list and sold about 100 in the first day or two. Sales dropped significantly after that, mostly because the book doesn’t really have a big market outside of my particular audience. I mostly use it as a way to promote my screen printing business.

However, the great thing about the Kindle store is that with the right keywords and market-specific content, you can earn regular income from publishing on that platform.

There’s a great site with tons of free content that I highly recommend: Kindlepreneur

Little Side Gig

And of course, there’s this blog you’re reading right now. As I write this, I haven’t made a dime from Little Side Gig. It’s pretty new and right now everything I provide is free. In the future I’ll be adding some courses and products that will cost a little money.

If you decide to put up a blog, know that it takes time to build an audience. You’re not going to start earning money from day one (unless you do, then awesome). It takes patience and a lot of work. Think about something you love to do or talk about and put up a blog. It doesn’t cost very much to get a domain name and set up a WordPress site.

For example, if you like wine and you have some knowledge, think about starting a wine review site. If it becomes popular, you may find wineries who want you to review their wine and will send it to you to sample. You can give classes on pairing and tasting. You can publish a book about wine. The possibilities are only limited to your imagination.

There are so many more side gigs and ways to earn extra money outside your day job. If you expand on these five, you can probably come up with many more.

I want to hear from you! Ask a question or add a comment below, or send me email at dj at littlesidegig dot com.

Create. Feed. Share. We need you right now.

David Lee Roth jumping

I get up, and nothin’ gets me down

You got it tough, I’ve seen the toughest around

And I know, baby, just how you feel

You got to roll with the punches and get to what’s real

– Jump, Van Halen

If the current Unpleasantness® has accomplished anything, it’s that it has put the whole world on a level playing field. No one is immune to the virus. No one is immune to the financial issues that COVID-19 has brought on. Of course some can weather it better than others (looking at you, David Geffen), but even yachts have to be restocked with toilet paper and it’s possible those people are tearing up perfumed copies of Cosmo like the rest of us.

We’re into week… something-or-other of Safer At Home, or as I like to call it, I Was Already At Home Anyway But I Used To Have More Peanut Butter.

My own businesses have been, let’s say paused for the moment. While I still have a stack of hoodies to print from a previous order, new orders are on hold for the moment. We do have clients who need stuff, but they are being cautious with their budget.

It’s okay. I’m cleaning up the shop, printing existing stuff and I’m building a new water filtration system, which I have wanted to do for a long time. Our used water is going to keep our rose garden blooming through summer. We’ll come out of this even more sustainable than before. Smelling like roses, even.

In early March, I was getting ready to launch a new book. Hmm. Well, I could go ahead with my launch (no one is stopping me) but I have a feeling that most people are not paying attention to that kind of thing right now. Even if I launched, I’m pretty sure my results would be skewed because of the COVID-19 chaos. I wouldn’t really know if sales (high or low) were a result of the fun times we’re experiencing.

So I’ll wait. It’s okay. It’s ready and I can move on it when the time is right.

One thing I refuse to do is stop creating and sharing.

This is a unique time, for sure. It also offers opportunities for all of us. Whether we are self-employed, newly working from home, or just got laid off, we have opportunities.

If you are self-employed, I feel ya on the slowdown. I’m in the foxhole right next to you. Maybe we can share our resources and come out of this even stronger.

If you are new to working at home, with kids constantly texting you pizza emojis from the other room, I get it. I’ve been working from home for over 12 years (as a homeschooling parent, no less). It’s not you, it’s just the way it works sometimes. Cut yourself some slack.

If you have suddenly found yourself unemployed, I’m sorry. I really am. If I could hug you, I would. I know that’s likely your number one priority right now, finding work – a full time job in itself. And I know it can be hard to get creative when you’re scared about the future.

In case you might think that I don’t understand how unemployment works, I’ve been down that road more than once. I know what it’s like to avoid the phone, dread checking the mail or even looking your apartment manager in the eye. I’ve written about it before.

But I know in my heart and from my own experience that we always have opportunities. Right now we have the opportunity to be generous with each other. We have the opportunity to take stock in what we have. We even have the opportunity to be optimistic about our future, even if it doesn’t feel pragmatic at the moment.

I urge you to do something to feed your soul, in spite of the drama swirling around us. Be creative in whatever way is right for you. Make something good, even if it’s just for you.

Feed the world with good things, fun things, weird things. Drown out the gloomy voices in your head with loud singing. Make something yummy and share it. If you’re reading this, you’re alive. You have something to offer. Someone needs your light right now.

Ow oh, hey you

Who said that?

Baby, how you been?

You say you don’t know

You won’t know until you begin

Might as well jump.