Is a Side Hustle for Me?

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Top view of female hands make candle decorated with sackcloth

As I enter the third trimester of my pregnancy, I’ve been finding myself thinking more about life after little baby joins our family. A major piece of the puzzle is figuring out how to manage the family finances. With our son, I was very fortunate to stay home with him for some time and then gradually return to school and the workforce. My postpartum time table is looking a bit different this time around. As we prepare to live as a family of four, certain realities cannot be avoided. One of those realities is that we are going to need more income–assuming we would like to live comfortably, which of course we do. The other reality is that, with the end of my PhD program approaching, it’s important for me to use this degree that I’ve spent so much resources (mental, physical, financial, just everything) acquiring. Don’t even get me started on the boogieman lurking around the corner: student loan payments! 😱😱😱

My challenge is figuring out a way to honor the tremendous life experience of growing and nurturing a new human life, in addition to all the challenges and changes that come along with that, while also finding ways to be practical. How do I contribute to the needs of my family while also giving myself some grace as I heal emotionally and physically and adapt to our evolving family? Well, I’m not really sure yet but one idea is to pick up a side hustle.

Side hustle: A part-time, money-making venture outside of your primary employment

I’ve flirted with the idea of picking up another means of income for a while now. Just in case you’re new here, my area of expertise is mental health counseling. However, depending on a job’s location or the specific setting that you work in, income can vary quite a bit so it’s very common for counselors to dabble in other things as well. One of the great thing about side hustles is that they need not have any relation to your day job. This allows you to have a mental respite from your typical work, flex your creative muscles, or simply just try something different. Side hustles typically also come with the major perk of being able to set your own hours. Eventually, I will get back to working in my field and probably full-time but in early month’s of little baby’s life I’d like to be able to contribute something financially without having to dive head first into employment before I’m ready. 

My side hustle criteria:

  • Little-to-no learning curve: I’m not interested in investing a lot of extra time into picking up a brand new skillset. I’m just not. This side hustle needs to capitalize on abilities that I already have or be something that I can pick up on quickly. Why? Because the sooner I know what I’m doing, the sooner I can start accruing coins, paying bills, and clothing these kids of mine.
  • Low start-up costs: Again, the entire point of this is to make money, not  make a big upfront investment that may or may not pay off. This only really comes into play if you are planning to offer a product.
  • Flexible with my schedule: This is key. A big reason I would like to pick up a side hustle is so that as I make my way across the bridge from the “4th trimester” to my new normal, I can work around all the other things that are happening. I need to be able to do this in stolen moments during nap time, nights, or when hubby has the kids. Every day is a bit different when you have little ones. This has me leaning in the direction of working for myself so I can shape my hustlin’ activities around the family schedule. 
  • Existing evidence that it’s legit: I want to sell something that people are clearly interested in buying. This means it needs to be an existing product. I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel. Plus, I’ve always been attracted to the idea of selling a physical product; seeing something on a shelf that I made myself. It just seems so satisfying. If you are interested in performing services for someone or selling a product on behalf of another company, please please please do your research. There’s a lot of scams out there. Look for testimonials from sources beyond the company/employer and watch for red flags, such as requiring large up-front investment from you. 
  • Bonus points if it allows me to use the artistic side of my brain: I’ve always been a bit jealous of people who can “create.” Whether it be music, visual art, dance, crafts, or anything else, I’ve always thought creating is a really special thing. As it stands I tend to be a little too stuck in my own head to be able to really get into a creative mindset. However, I’m still down for the challenge and hoping to stumble upon my own, perfect-for-me creative pursuit, especially if I can monetize it.

Sooo with all of that said, which side hustle should I try? I’ve deciding to dip a toe into the wacky and wonderful world of candle making! This involved a lot of research into different types of jobs and businesses. Then, even after I felt the pull to candle making and purchased some trial materials and equipment, it still sat in a cabinet for ages as I procrastinated, made excuses for myself, and just generally became distracted with other things. However, NOW I am ready to take the leap. Well…maybe not a leap but a significant hop. I literally just made my first two candles today. They’re on the counter solidifying as we speak.

image of two purple candles

I’m happy to report that I did not find the process to be very time or labor intensive. It did take a bit of time but most of that can be chalked up to me being a first timer. I can see it getting progressively easier as I make more attempts. I won’t be able to fully judge the process until the candles have fully set and I’ve been able to burn them and put off a lovely lavender scent (my test fragrance of choice). If all goes well then I can start thinking about how I can brand and differentiate myself in the candle world (along with various other business details). So there’s still quite a bit of road ahead of me, but with some good fortune this could really turn into something. I thank God for the possibilities!

Stay tuned! I’ll post an update either here or on IG about how the candles turn out and whether I will move forward on my quest to be a side-hustlin’, candle-making dynamo 🙂

Do you have a side hustle? How has your experience been? Was working for yourself a more practice option after you had kids? Have any tips for the rest of us? Tell me about it in the comments. 

Fragrantly yours,