Handle Your Business: Tips Every Side Hustler Needs to Know

August 22, 2012  |  

I’m the epitome of it: Writing Coordinator for a program with over 1,500 students, freelance blogger/journalist, spoken-word artist, graphic designer and non-profit extraordinaire. I am paid for everything I put my mind to and I am sure to give each one my undivided attention.

I break dawn, under an editor’s pressure, typing away at my keyboard and downing homemade coffee.  I transfer my meticulousness to the precision of sidebars and links when crafting a website. You can find me divvying my thoughts and ideas into separate journals—each serving a purpose—fearful I might lose them or their momentum. I don’t believe in Jill-of-all-trades, master of none. It’s possible to master one trade and delve into several others quite decently.


Your potency is what makes you profitable.

Your will is what drives the inquiry.

They will ask to put you on display.

They will smile at your triumphs.

But first you must be amazing at what you do.

Here are a few tips on the mastering of the side hustle:

1)   Every trade doesn’t start off profitable. A lot of folks jump into a craft and are too quickly frustrated about not making enough money from their pursuit. I’m not saying that there’s no such thing as overnight success, I just beckon you to realize that it’s a rarity. Writers, write for online/print publications that don’t necessarily pay, but offer great exposure. Artists take your paintings to the local coffee shop or library and offer to display them for free. Some caffeine-obsessed savant will surely question whose masterpieces adorn the wall.  Just like the hounds at the perfume counters or the new restaurant across the street, your passersby might need a slight sample before committing to a sale.

2)   Be prepared. This might be the cliché rule, but I can’t say this enough. Too often I’m confronted by women who claim to be a freelance something-or-another with nothing to show for it.

“Oh you’re an event planner? I’ve got this really great idea for my upcoming wedding and I’d love to bounce it off of someone, do you have a card? No?”

After this, she’ll scramble to pull a piece of paper from some forlorn notebook and scribble her number unto it. Sigh. Preparation is key when you’re looking to solidify your hustle. The give-me-your-hand, with the Hot stare, and the let-me-write-this-on-your-hand might work with the fellas, but it won’t work in most cases. Cop business cards and take them wherever you go, stick a few of those postcards emblazoned with some of your work into your purse, and be prepared to perform when asked.

As a spoken word artist I frequently run into other poets who need my help joining a showcase, but aren’t prepared to spit a few stanzas. How can I vouch for something I haven’t heard or seen?

3)   Being half-assed will get you nowhere. If you’re truly invested in something, you won’t mind putting effort and aesthetic into it. Too often I come across half done websites or webs/BlogSpot dot coms, bathroom shoots for bios, & banter with typos.

Buy your own dot com, have a professional shoot (support other side hustles—photographers), create an about, have someone who’s a great scribe write your bio, and call on a graphic designer to give you a tailored and proficient look. The scariest thing is going to the home website of a “graphic designer” that is all out of whack. In what world?

4)   Learn all of the facets. You don’t want to be that girl. THAT GIRL. The one surrounded by a bunch of photographers who are trading notes on different equipment and the joshing is halted when the conversation turns to you. Don’t be the my-daddy-bought-me-this-Nikon-so-I-take-pictures girl. Know the lenses, the optics, which brand is better and all the scenarios each could handle. I’m not saying you have to know every knob and handle, but be able to contribute to conversation of YOUR craft.

5)   Empower your brand. Just because your craft may be a SIDE hustle doesn’t mean that its pride is a lessened one. Place yourself everywhere: Stickers, logos, t-shirts etc. Give your entrepreneurship a persona of its own; allow it to create an Instagram, a FB page, and more. I follow a chef on Instagram who posts pictures of her food and receives personal catering requests via DM and her inbox everyday. There are several part-time musicians that sport logos that embody their persona and craft.

Organize often.

Read any and everything on your expertise.

Tell everyone—no one is too small. Tell the world.

Sacrifice sleep, priority, and procrastination.

Answer all questions.

Remember, the customer is always right.

Paypal is your friend, they have debit cards now.

To all the side hustlers: Jewelry makers, event planners, photographers, writers, bloggers, producers, femcees, singers, interns, interior decorators, dancers, artists, poets, designers, etc…

Whether your career is the clothes on your back and your side livelihood is your dream or it’s the reverse; take dignity in it.

Today’s 5-9 could be tomorrow’s white house and picket fence.

Tomorrow’s after work hour could be the next stepping-stone to yesterday’s career.

For the accountants turned femcees.

For the freelance writers turned editors.

For the dreams that bloom, defer, and deflower everyday.


Any tips for fellow side hustlers? What’s your motivation?


“RivaFlowz” is a teacher and professional writer living in New York City. You can follow her on Twitter: @rivaflowz.


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