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It's been 4 months since I started my side hustle and I can't say it's been smooth sailing.
During my journey with Side Hustle by Chris Guillebeau, a few things have limited my success. And most of them are my own fault...
So let’s start there.
Since this side hustle is mine and mine alone, I'm responsible for its success or failure. And, as of right now, the successes have been small. I haven't made a lot of money.
My projections were off, and I almost made more money selling things out of my basement for a week than I have with Port City Shirts. There's room to grow and I can see that happening in the future.
I’m not there yet, but a lack of success isn't failure – it’s just one way to not do something.
Let’s look at what happened in the last 4 months and where we plan to go from here.
On the final week, you will:
- track your progress,
- grow what works,
- look for money under a rock, and
- try something new and retry something old.
Day 23: Track your progress
For day 23, you need to look at the details of your business and see how things are going. Take a look at:
- social media engagement,
- website hits,
- orders, and
If nobody's visiting your Facebook page or website, you need to go back to your core beliefs. Think of your ideal customer, make contact with your network, and see if you can find something to offer that will solve this problem.
Or maybe your posts aren’t engaging and your search engine optimization (SEO) isn’t done correctly. People aren’t finding you. This means you haven’t looked into this area of your business well enough and people aren't getting redirected to your website.
If the social media contact is there and the website traffic is high, the other problem you might have is a lack of sales.
The cause of this may be easy to pinpoint. Maybe your prices are too high or your quality too low. Maybe your pitch is off.
Take the day to re-evaluate where you and your business are, and how you're going to take it to the next step.
Day 24: Grow what works
By now, you should have a clear picture of what's going well and what isn’t.
For me, day 24 didn’t happen on the 24th day. It happened about 2 months after. It took time to get a sale, and some of the people who had expressed interest early on had disappeared. I was left with only a few options.
Regardless of when you get to day 24 – whether it’s actually on the 24th day or months down the road – you'll hit a point where you have enough evidence to make some decisions.
Take a look at what's working for you
Grow the things that work by expanding on them, changing them, or adding to them. Get rid of what doesn’t work.
My personalized t-shirts seem to have the most benefit for my business. I had bulk orders for a school organization and even had people asking for a one-off design to give as presents.
These are the kinds of orders I'm starting to enjoy. So I've had to adjust a few things in order to keep up:
- I have to price each order differently based on size, but this has helped to make these small orders profitable.
- I keep the screens and print multiple shirts for any design that there might be a larger market for.
Port City Shirts logo
The other thing that works is the Port City Shirts logo.
To be honest, the first logo wasn’t that popular. But after a redesign and a relaunch, I've been able to make a few sales of the basic logo tee, and that's something that I'm looking to develop moving forward.
My band shirts
The band t-shirts I made proved to be the most successful part of my business.
By coupling the t-shirt side hustle with my band, we've been able to sell around 5 shirts at each show. And since the writing of this article, we've played 5 shows. At $15 each, this means a profit of $325 total.
Also look at what hasn’t worked
This is when reality hit me in the face.
Once January rolled around, I went back to teaching.
Now I'm spending hours each night grading and preparing lessons for 3 different courses. I still practice with my band every Tuesday, and I take time for my family every night. My wife and kids mean the world to me. So the first thing to suffer is the t-shirt company...
My side hustle time disappeared.
That's okay. There are certain things that I'm not willing to sacrifice in life, and you shouldn’t either. But...
Not having time isn’t an excuse
All it means is that I didn’t put in the required 30 minutes a day. I didn’t hustle. I could have stayed up later or gotten up earlier.
It's not that I didn't have time, it's that I didn't make time.
Day 25: Look for money lying under a rock
This chapter kind of baffled me because it suggests that you expand your business in obvious ways. You look for new and easy ways to grow and capitalize on earlier successes and find obvious extensions to your brand.
A person that I can say has done this very well is a former student of mine. He started a hustle – East Coast Bath Products – while he was a full-time high school student. Then he went on to start a second company – Port City Candy Co.
Frankly, he's been an inspiration to me. He has done exactly what Side Hustle preaches.
He found a need, provided a solution, and identified his ideal customer. Then, when he saw success, he looked for ways to grow and improve. He has done well by expanding and developing new products.
This is exactly what this chapter is about.
How have I implemented this?
What I've been doing is looking at areas of my business that have been generating interest and developing those.
I've been looking at ways to take small orders and turn them into items that I can reproduce for my online store. Then I can sell them on Facebook and Instagram.
That's the basic idea of finding money under a rock. You look under all the nooks and crannies of your business and find ways to generate income from places you hadn’t thought of before.
Day 26 & 27: Get it out of your head and back to the future
It was a tough decision to combine these chapters, but the fact is that once you reach this point, you're already up and running.
These chapters are about developing new ideas or adding on to your business in new ways.
Try something new. And if it fails, try again. If you're successful, start another hustle.
The idea here is simple. If your business is a success, then you likely won’t need to give it as much time as you did during the development process. If it progresses well, you could possibly hire someone to run it and collect profits.
If you failed, then you can retry the idea in a new way or start another one.
My personal day 27
This is where we get to look at the facts. I can’t hide from the cold hard data from my side hustle.
|Pretty Mild Vices (100 shirts)||Shirts: Provided
|Rothesay High School (10 shirts)||Shirts: Provided
|Personal shirt (1 shirt)||Shirt: $7||$25||$18|
The hard truth
I've made a total of $358, not accounting for the value of my time.
But while I was working on the t-shirt side hustle, I decided to run another experiment.
I titled it, "Will I make some money by selling things from my basement?" Well...
I almost made more by selling things in my basement
I sold quite a few things actually. It was amazing how much I could find in my basement worth selling. It was even more amazing how quickly those things would sell.
We sold our bed frame for $100. We sold video games and baby toys too.
In total, we made around $300 in about a week from selling our basement stuff.
Am I ready to give up? NO!
Was It Worth It?
Yes, without a doubt.
I’m a tragic optimist and I like finding the silver-lining. So here it is:
I have a business!
The issue of time
I don’t have a lot of extra time and that's the main reason that this project suffered as much as it did. I didn't follow through with as much effort as I should, and I didn't give the time to my hustle that Chris Guillebeau recommends in his book.
I made contacts sporadically and I rarely networked. But I came across a couple of jobs and I still have some lines in the water.
I've made screens and printed shirts, but I haven't worked hard enough on my website or posted to social media enough to draw attention.
- Trust the process: If you follow the steps and have a good idea, it will work. Even my idea gave me a small profit.
- You have to put in the time: I started out well. I did all of the beginning steps, but once I launched, I basically walked away and waited for people to contact me.
- Networking is key: Make contact with everyone you think can help. Remember your ideal customer, then find them in your friends and acquaintances. Look for referrals. Do the work.
- Adapt to what works and get rid of what doesn’t: There's a whole chapter on this and I recommend you read it. It has some good insight. I learned that lesson and it was my saving grace – otherwise I might have reported zero profit at the end of this...
Where do I go from here?
There's still a lot that I can do to grow this hustle.
I can make more business contacts by reaching out to more businesses and schools. There's definitely a market for school clothing.
I can also build a collection of custom graphics based on the one-off orders that I get from friends and people on social media.
So when summer rolls around again, I think that's exactly what I'll do. I'll apply myself and grow the business.
For now, I'm happy filling small orders for small amounts of money and selling the junk in my basement.
Let’s face it – I started this whole thing with the idea that basement junk sells. But I will run out.
In the meantime, I'll keep writing, playing music, selling my basement stuff...and making t-shirts on occasion.
Want to follow my side hustle journey from the beginning?
Here are the links in order so you can experience day 1 through 27: