Side Hustle Season : Money Matters

Do I have a side hustle? Yes, actually I have 2. (not counting exploring new business opportunities for The Westmoreland Group) 

I remember the first side-hustle I had, selling girl scout cookies. It was simply a means to an end – the end being one of those shiny gifts in the fold out catalog I poured over for hours before each selling season. I can’t recall exactly but I think myself and all 3 of my sisters were in Girl-scout Troops and selling cookies at the same time to the same group of customers. We had my Daddy’s co-workers, church members, family, friends, and the neighborhood – this was when selling door to door was a thing. This was my first side hustle and I did quite well and I distinctly remember the satisfaction I felt when I made a sale. I was determined every year to fill all the lines on that long fold out order form! I wonder what my parents thought about all those darn cookies that then had to be delivered once the orders were filled? I’m sure they loved it – because parents gotta parent right…

When I was in high school I don’t remember many of my friends having side hustles – my parents have always had one or two or three though usually running at the same time in case one revenue stream dried up a bit the other would kick-in. So I know where I get my side hustle spirit from – thanks Henry and Anita. As a college student I remember MANY side hustlers because college students are for the most part broke! There was the girl who waxed and plucked my eye-brows down the hall from me in my dorm. There was another girl who washed hair in Hale Hall (another dorm). There was a person who shall remain nameless that could connect cable channels for you. There was always someone selling mix-tapes that they made using Napster – Christmas Mix/ Greek Mix/ AKA Mix/ Valentines Day Mix/ Slow Jam Mix/ Rap Mix, etc. As a sorority member, I could always find someone who knew how to make Greek things – paddles, picture frames, etc. 

As a graduate student I spent countless hours studying for written exams, practicing for oral exams, preparing my proposal, presenting my dissertation defense and at some point I decided to start baking to help relieve stress. I would start with cupcakes because I was watching TV Shows about cupcakes (during this time cupcakes were all the rage so it was an easy outlet). Although I am a Mechanical Engineer by degree I am also very artistic in nature and as a full-time graduate student I didn’t have much time to explore that side of me. Baking cupcakes gave me the platform I was looking for. I was working as a Graduate Program Assistant in the Center for Minorities in Science and Engineering at The University of Maryland College Park in the College of Engineering at this time. I would bring all my baked treats to work and let my co-workers tell me what was good and what was not. I would find recipes on the internet and try them at home. In time, I received several paid orders for cupcakes and I so I decided to call my baking business Fancy Cupcakes by Sophoria. I really enjoyed baking all those cupcakes and I most enjoyed the reaction of happy customers. After graduate school my work schedule was demanding and I didn’t have as much time to bake as before – I would service a few seasoned customers under a new baking business called Hero Cupcakes over the years but not as many as while in graduate school. 

This year, 2020, I have picked baking up under another new business name called Three Stripes Bake Shop and already have a few cupcake orders. I also am turning a new leaf into baking cakes. I have baked a few cakes over the past years but I am not as skilled in this area – I look forward to learning some new things about baking cakes in 2020. (SIDE HUSTLE NUMBER 1) I already baked a 38th birthday cake for a church member in January and I am taking a local cake decorating class next week at the craft store – I am on my way (again). The nice thing about baking is that I enjoy the process so it is easy for me to keep picking it back up when time in my schedule permits. 

This year, 2020, I will also continue working on the side as a Recorder for some HOA Communities in my local area.  I recently calculated my 2019 earnings from this side hustle were almost $3,000 (pre-tax) which was great for bills I had planned and unplanned.  (SIDE HUSTLE NUMBER 2) This side hustle came through a friend (Cel) with MONEY ears, meaning she can hear opportunites to make money miles away. A friend mentioned the HOA she belonged to was looking for a new recorder and Cel immediately thought, hmmm, I can do that so she wrote up a proposal and that was our first community. Along the way we have build relationships with several Community Management Companies in our local area which in turn have resulted in more opportunities to record on an ad hoc basis. I recorded already this month for one such community just last week. 

A couple of years ago before I was consistently working my 2 side hustles I was listening to a podcast about side hustles and I actually stopped listening to it because I was mad that I couldn’t find myself a lucrative side hustle – at the time I didn’t think I needed one but it sounded like fun to have one. I enjoy my 9to5 supporting my client but is this my DREAM JOB? NOPE! I enjoy the people I work with and I enjoy the difference I make but if I could do this part time and bake cakes and cupcakes the other part of the time that would be my dream job. 

I was thinking I should be able to do what these folks are doing on this podcast but I don’t know where to start. Then after I got over myself I started listening to the podcast again and the host basically said start with what you have and make that into a side hustle. As it turns out I am a decent baker and I am very organized (which helps me immensly in my 9to5). Baking cupcakes/cakes and taking minutes are the perfect side hustles for me. I may not be making millions but I am able to supplement my income enough that I feel both are worth my time and energy. One of my financial goals for 2020 is to pay off my $30,000 student loan balance and these side hustles will help me to advance towards that goal. 

I have heard this sentiment many times and it really is true – start with what you know and figure out how to sell that as a service. Your knowledge and background are all the pre-requisites that you need. You may need to do a little market research, try some things out on your family and friends, use Google to find others who are doing something similar (there is power in community), start small, and grow from there. Your career or life’s work doesn’t have to come from one source and it doesn’t have to only be confined to what you do from 9to5, there are many paths to acheive your vision and walk in your purpose. 

Patience in the process and a willingness to continually learn will take your side hustle dreams far. 

Dream It, Do It! 

Sophoria 

….

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay 

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