Side hustling can be tricky.
It's a constant struggle to find (and hold onto) the elusive side income sweet spot—when you're caught up enough to maintain some semblance of work/life balance, without turning down too many exciting opportunities. Lately, I've been more focused on the latter, at the expense of some potentially cool side gigs.
After burning out in my previous career and from too much side hustling, I've grown fiercely protective of my time. And even with this new mindset, I still have days and weeks that lack adequate amounts of self-care. When it goes on for too long, I wind up splurging on acupuncture or a massage for stress relief.
It takes time to discover the right balance between your full-time job, side hustles, and all the other non-work activities. That means listening to your body, sleeping enough, exercising, eating more nutritious foods, and finding healthier (hint: non-alcoholic) ways to manage stress.
It's easy to read other bloggers' income reports and succumb to the pressure of stepping up your side gigs. I've fallen into that comparison trap on multiple occasions. But now I try to focus on doing what's best for me. Even if that means less.
At the same time, it's important to recognize working multiple jobs to earn and save more may not be available as I get older. I've noticed a massive difference in my energy level from my 20s to my 30s. It's a big reason why I'm hustling toward financial freedom while I can.
Ready for a breakdown of how I earned an extra $2,228.55 this past quarter?
Freelance Writing – $1,550.00
Freelance writing is the most stressful, and the most rewarding, of my side hustles. I love the feeling of accomplishing a project I'm proud of and seeing how other people respond to my ideas.
Freelance writing requires the bulk of my side hustle time. I've narrowed my clients to the personal finance and financial planning niche. And all of my relationships have been built through the FinCon community. I've attended the conference twice and it's worth every penny.
Social Media Consulting – $320.00
Because of my limited time, I've mostly focused on one-on-one social media training sessions for financial advisors. However, I have occasionally taken on projects that involve include limited management of specific channels.
My experience is strongest on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and YouTube. However, I've spent the past few months gaining more experience on Pinterest and Instagram.
Because I manage social media for a software company full-time, I've felt comfortable asking for a higher than average rate for my services. But I have noticed pushback from some prospective clients.
Although software like Edgar has cheapened what we do, I'm still a huge advocate for original, high-quality social media management because I've seen what it can do for a company or brand.
Blog Advertising & Affiliates – $229.59
From the beginning, I've been extremely hesitant to clutter my blog with too many ads and affiliate links. I've ignored a lot of emails for sponsored posts and new partnerships to emphasize a better reader experience.
On the other hand, blogging is a ton of work. And there's nothing wrong with being compensated for your endless hours of writing, editing, and promotion. I know many bloggers who do an amazing job seamlessly weaving tasteful affiliate links and advertisements into their high-quality content.
My main problem is a lack of time. Until that improves, I probably won't be adding too much more into the blog monetization mix.
Dividends – $128.96
Receiving dividends through my taxable investments is my favorite form of side income. Why? It's my only source of income that's 100% passive.
Passive income means I'm not trading time for money. And because I've invested in quality stocks, index funds, and ETFs in my brokerage account, I receive small dividend payouts throughout the year.
It's amazing how motivating it can be to receive payouts as small as $10. After all, that's $10 I didn't have to stress out about or hustle for. That $10 gets automatically reinvested, helping me slowly earn more with each passing year.
Once I've maxed out my Roth IRA for 2016, I'm planning to bulk up my emergency fund a bit more. Then I can focus on adding to my streams of passive investment income.
Important note: These are my gross earnings for the quarter. These numbers don't include my expenses like taxes, editing, PayPal fees, website maintenance, and the other costs of running an online business.
Readers: What are your current side hustles? How do you manage to strike the right balance?