Thinking about retiring? Your first thought is probably about whether you’ll be able to afford it. A 2017 survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute showed that around 40% of workers don’t “feel very or somewhat confident about having enough money for a comfortable retirement.”
Many people look for ways to turn their hobby or other interests into a money-making endeavor, or what’s often called a side hustle, that can be continued after stepping away from a traditional job. It’s a clever and popular way to delay retirement and supplement income. Using an online side gig has many advantages. It can be freeing to finally do what you truly want to do. Plus, you can work from home and work as much or as little as you want. And of course, there’s the extra money. Betterment’s 2018 Gig Economy and the Future of Retirement report showed that 76% of people over 55 are side hustling to pad their nest eggs.
So, if you’re on board the side hustle train, let’s look at a few things you need to know about turning your hobby into an online business.
Some Hobbies Are Easier to Monetize than Others
The wide range of success stories out there prove that almost any hobby can become a side hustle: making art, restoring furniture, fixing up vintage cars and even blogging are viable ways to earn a little extra money. Jillian Cain retired at 62, and now she sells photos on Shutterstock. Sue Langley turned a passion for gardening into a successful blog. You can monetize almost any hobby that you’re already doing for fun—some just take more work.
For a higher chance of success, look to tasks that people are unwilling or unable to do themselves. Things like childcare, meal planning and gardening are great ideas to consider. If you have a wealth of real-world knowledge to share, then writing, teaching and consulting are also worth considering.
You’ll Need to Get Online
Unless you’re using an existing site like eBay or Etsy to sell goods, you’ll require a well-designed website. These days, sites are easy to set up and maintain through platforms like Squarespace or Weebly.
Getting a site is only half the battle though. Whether you’re using your own site or an existing e-commerce site, you’ll also need a reliable internet connection to support your online activity. Web-heavy hustles might even require an upgrade from a residential plan to a business one, especially if they involve certain activities like heavy downloading or remote server access, so keep that in mind as you plan expenses.
Marketing Matters for Side Gigs
How will your customers find you? Smart marketing, using targeted social media and networking, networking, networking will drive traffic to your site.
If all this sounds like too much, perhaps this is the perfect time to hire a fellow side hustler who specializes in this. Did we mention networking?
Security Should Be a Top Priority
When accepting payments online, you may feel some trepidation with all the data breaches in the news. Sticking with a reputable e-commerce platform should keep your financial information and your customers’ data safe, but don’t hesitate to check out any company or platform you plan to use to do business at the Better Business Bureau.
You Need to Establish Boundaries
Once you monetize your hobby, there’s a risk that the fun and relaxation you once found in it could fade away. It’s easy to get trapped into a “produce or perish” mindset. Once people become your customers, some may criticize your work. Are you ready for that?
Also, for many, retirement is a chance to slow down and spend time with family. Develop firm business hours and stick to them. Make sure you can close the door to your home office and walk away. Remember, you can always make more money, but you can’t make more time.
For most people, getting paid for passion projects is a good thing. If you’re honest with yourself about the purpose of what you’re doing, elevating a hobby into a business can be interesting, engaging, and fulfilling. And it may even end up being lucrative.
Welcome to the gig economy.