Back when I was an editor with a salary and benefits and I told people what I did for a living, I usually received a polite nod followed by a change of subject. I surmised this response was for one of two reasons: 1) they didn’t know what editors did and/or 2) they didn’t care. (Maybe a bit of both.)
Now that I’m not an editor anymore and my answer to the “work” question is “I sell stuff online,” you wouldn’t believe the questions that follow. Actually, you could, because most are, “What do you sell?” (clothes), “How did you get into it?” (long story), “Where do you get the stuff you sell?” (mostly charity stores), and “Which website do you sell on?” (eBay).
Many have also told me they’ve thought about selling on eBay on the side but don’t really know how to start. Truth is I didn’t know either. Up until the summer of 2014, my knowledge of e-commerce was chopping an old tower computer I had in high school and selling off the parts.
There are buckets of blogs and articles out there that will tell you how to get started selling stuff online, so I won’t go into that here. But I will say that it’s a pretty simple way to bring in a few extra bucks with relatively little investment and commitment.
If selling used stuff online is not your thing, you may still want to find a side hustle. Even if you have a well-paying full-time job that you love, you may find other benefits more useful than cash.
1. Diversifying your income
You might hear about income diversification more within the realm of investment, such as this article that appeared in Entrepreneur back in March. In a way, starting a side business is an investment.
I started my online shop when I lost my job. Up until then, my only income was my paycheck. If I’d started my current business as a side gig while I was still earning my salary and benefits, it would’ve been far easier than starting from scratch.
I really hope you never lose your job. Trust me—it sucks. But if you do experience a sudden and unexpected loss of your primary income, cash coming in from a side business can make things easier as you look for another job. Or, if you so choose, you can use your newfound freedom to grow your side business into your main one.
2. Tax deductions
A side business can really help at tax time, even while you’re still working for someone else. Since I print shipping labels and packing slips, my toner is deductible. Whenever I look for inventory, my mileage for each shopping trip is partially deductible. One of my close friends is an accountant, so if I have accounting questions for her, we can chat over dinner and I can deduct her meal and mine.
Last summer, my family wanted to caravan out to Florida for vacation. Since I had to shut down my shop for a week, I wanted to make the trip work for me. So, I scheduled some stops in Louisiana to find inventory. I worked with my CPA and found that I could take deductions for my mileage, meals, lodging, and of course whatever inventory I bought.
Depending on the type of business you have, possible tax deductions lurk in all kinds of places, such as workshops and seminars, books and other educational materials, art supplies, photography equipment, and even child care expenses. Check with your CPA to see what deductions qualify. He or she might even help you find more.
3. Trying something new
Let’s face it. Even if you have an awesome job, it can get dull sometimes. Having a side hustle that’s different from your day-to-day is a great way to break up the monotony, learn something new, and/or just have fun (like an income-generating hobby).
Before I started my tiny business, I didn’t know the first thing about fashion or e-commerce. I just knew that I liked Lucky Brand jeans, so I started with a few pairs I found at a charity store that I thought were cool and in great condition.
Imagine my surprise when they all sold in a couple weeks and netted me twice as much as what I had paid for them. I felt like I was committing fraud. (I learned from a buyer later, however, that he hated shopping. So, he was happy paying me a premium if it meant someone else could do the digging and have his items delivered straight to his doorstep.)
Fast-forward to nearly two years later and I still don’t know a lot about fashion or e-commerce. But I know more than when I started, like the difference between denim and chambray. I also know more about SEO than I did before. I’m even building relationships with other individuals who do what I do, exchanging tips and sharing especially great deals.
Maybe you like photography and want to make engagement or family portraits on the side. Or you’re a developer and don’t mind doing a little extra coding as a freelancer. Perhaps you make art or jewelry or leather goods and want to sell your creations on Etsy or your own Shopify. Whatever you’re into, it’s easier than ever to start a side hustle and reap the benefits. So what’s stopping you?