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.