Side Hustles: Why you need one and where to find it


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In this episode, I discuss…

    • Why you need a side hustle
    • How to get one
  • What makes a good side hustle

Maybe you need a little extra cash (or a lot – hello, savings account!), maybe you’re bored with your current career, or you want to safeguard yourself against a recession or an industry crash by having a fall-back plan. Or maybe you’re interested in pursuing your passion project, but you’re not quite ready to make the leap into full-time business ownership. Whatever your reason is, you NEED a side hustle.

This episode is sponsored by roboadvisor Qplum.

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Related: 101 legit ways to make money right now (mostly from home)

Full podcast transcript

Emma: Hey guys! It’s Emma Johnson, you know me from and Facebook Live, I haven’t done one in a long time because I got a lot going on. I was traveling to Vietnam with my kids and I’m going to do a whole show about that. But I want to talk about why I was able to afford to go on a two-plus week vacation with my kids to Vietnam. Why I can be in this New York state apartment, where you can hear the sirens going by. I’m able to enjoy a really awesome life, with my kids, and that’s because I had a side hustle.

I hear moms asking me all the time. Either they are broke and they know a side hustle is going to bring them money. Maybe they’re doing really great. Maybe you have a great career  and you’re growing, but you keep hearing that you need to have a side hustle, or you’re not sure how to do it. What I’m going to talk to you about is why you need a side hustle, everybody needs a side hustle. And two, how to get one. And three, what makes a good side hustle.

Number one, why do you need a side hustle?

I’m just going to tell you a really quick story about me. I have been a journalist my whole career as a writer. For about ten years, until about two years ago, I was a freelance business journalist. I made great money, even through the recession, because I could write about money and everyone was interested in money. The way things were going with the media, economy, and publishing, it was just a great life for me. I loved it. I love being self-employed. That business came out of side hustle. I had a full time job ten years before at the Associated Press, which by the way was fucking miserable. It sounds really glamorous, right? I was a staff reporter for the Associated Press’ financial wire, in New York City. I knew it was impressive. I wanted that thing on my resume. I was miserable every single day that I went to work. Probably would have gotten fired if I wasn’t building up my side hustle with my freelance writing gig.

I quickly turned that into a six-figure business. Fast forward ten years. My life falls apart. I’m a single mom. I decide I’m just going to start blogging about it. What people don’t know is that I did not make any money. I made zero money literally, or passively, or anything for three years. I didn’t get speaking gigs, I didn’t get a book deal, there was no income attached to for three years. Then it started coming in. It was a side gig. It was my passion project.

You know what happened? The freelance writing business tanked. Where I would get $2,000 for an article, all the sudden the publishers were offering $200. The writing was on the wall, but meanwhile, the money was coming in from this blog thing. So, a couple years ago I let the freelance writing go, and the first year my income doubled. Then it doubled again. Now, I’m making bank. It was all because of that side hustle.

Now, I’ve got a million side hustles. I’ve got a dozen streams of different income from different ways, because guess what? The economy changes. Even when the economy overall is great, your industry I guarantee will be changing. Even if you’re a dentist, or if you’re in education, all of these things are changing all the time. You are changing all the time. Your life is changing. Your kids need different things. Your parents are getting sick. Maybe you become sick. You live a different lifestyle. Maybe, you’re bored as shit and you just want to do something else. If you’re like me, I’m a creative person, if I’m not happy in my work, I’m miserable and everyone around me is miserable.

These are all the reasons you need a side business.

It’s great bringing in that extra money and keeping you interested. We’re used to a fast paced life. We have a lot of neurons that are firing off all the time. Most people are not going to be happy being in the same career for 30 or 40 years. It recession-proofs you. It recession-proofs your bank account. Again, not every industry withstands every single economy. Right now, we’re at a fever pitch with the economy, but there are industries that are tanking. You can transition. Always have something else going on. Those are the reasons to have that side hustle.

The other thing is, maybe you’re not quite ready to go full force into your passion project. Maybe you love interior design and you dream of being a decorator, or you dream of having a design blog, or whatever is burning in your soul but you’re not quite ready to go there. Meanwhile, you’re an actuarial scientist, but that might not be feeding your soul, but it’s feeding your kids. That’s what it does. It feeds your soul. It gives you a finger into this other world that you dream about. This is all valuable. It gives you energy. It broadens your network. You make new friends, but you’re also learning about that other industry that you’re dreaming about. You’re essentially meeting new colleagues, potential clients, your next level is from that new network. Maybe your new best friend, maybe you have some spiritual awakening from something you learn at a conference. All of these things. It’s just making your world bigger and richer. And if it’s a side hustle, there’s no commitment.

So, how do you learn to find that good side hustle?

Well, I’ll be posting some links below. I have a couple blog posts and resources, things that will just be making some extra cash. People love driving for Uber, or they love selling stuff online. I’ve had friends over the years who sell stuff on eBay and Etsy and now ThredUp. If you’re into ThredUp, you can get all kinds of cute clothes there. Just making that extra money, they love it. It’s actually a retail job. That can be fun for some extra cash. FlexJobs is a partner of mine for many years, and it’s run by a woman. A mom who wanted more flexible work.

The beautiful thing is that we’re living in 2018 where every single industry, I’m not kidding, whether it’s banking, or medicine, or education, there is an opportunity for you to work part time, flexible time, at home at least some of the time. There are very few industries, maybe if you wash cars for a living, or you’re a server at a restaurant or bar, I get it, you need to be there. I bet I can prove you wrong. I bet there is some consulting, or you can do training, or quoting online products to help people excel in those industries, there is something that you could also be doing, related to your career, at home, on your own time, so that you can do whatever you want. People will say so that you can spend more time with your kids, maybe you want to spend time with your kids, or maybe you don’t. Maybe you want to spend more time with your boyfriend, or go to the gym more, veg out and watch Netflix more. You own your time, and that is the beautiful thing about being self employed. You own your time. That is power.

I would argue that time is more valuable than money.

You can always make more money, but you can’t ever get more time. It might be more valuable than health. If you’ve got more time, then you can get more money and have better healthcare. Whatever, I’m going down a rabbit hole, but you see what I’m saying. When you own your time, you have power, the power to do what you want.

How do you break into this dream industry?

Now, the last of this is you decide I want to do this side gig, this sounds great, I want to do something, I need to do something, I’m about to get laid off, I hate my business. How do you find that side gig? How do you find that passion project or that other income? Well, the obvious thing is, follow your passion. I would urge you to go out and talk to people. Talk to people. Just, honestly, I wrote this whole book, if you go onto Courses section of it’s how you make more money now. It’s about how to network and hustle. How to reach out to people and what to say on LinkedIn. What to say. Or if you’re going to ask for a referral from your friend, what to say? Offer them something. Get something in return.

Don’t call people up and ask them to take them to lunch. If they’re successful and there’s something that you want whether it’s knowledge or connections, they don’t want to spend the time with you. They don’t want to spend an hour and a half, even if you’re buying them a fancy lunch because they know their time is so valuable. So, what you can do is say, “Can I get you on the phone for ten minutes. I have one specific question I want to ask you.” Or send them an email and say, “I am so interested in what you do, can you give me one tip? One tip I could use to get into your industry? Or is there one person I should know?” Ask them for really quick and easy for them to do that doesn’t take a lot of time, and you are so grateful. You’re grateful, and you promise to pay it forward, you promise to do them a favor. People love to help. I love to help. Many of you watching this have reached out to me and I try to help everybody if it’s a reasonable ask. You have to be asking in the right way.

I can’t tell you how valuable it is to be talking to people. People that you don’t know, that you do know that you can get insight from. Just today I was talking to a friend of mine, and we always talk about business, we have business in common, but I happened to end up sharing some really personal stuff that I’m going through with my family, and she just said something that had be floating on cloud nine all day. It just triggered me, I would never have guessed that this advice would have come from her, but it changed my life. Chat with people. Be open, even if you’re painfully shy, make a point of chatting with other parents at the bus stop or the other parents at the soccer league. If you’re familiar with New York City, I live in Queens but my kids go to this AYS soccer league that your kids probably go to all over the country, but it’s in Brooklyn in a neighborhood where there’s a lot of cool and professional people. Just chatting with the parents in other industries, I get so many ideas and connections, and friends that have nurtured me in ways that I couldn’t predict.

The other part of finding your side hustle is being open to the unknown.

Be open to the magic of life, because it’s part of something entrepreneurial. You really do have to be open to what you don’t know, and not pretend that there’s a linear path to success that you have to follow, because that’s doesn’t work anymore. Maybe it did once upon a time, but it doesn’t anymore.

So, side hustles, check out the links below. We have FlexJobs, I have a whole post about getting out of your mind and thinking about flexible work and starting your search for flexible work, and some little side gigs, 101 Ways to Make Money, get that money flowing, get into the money flow mindset. Here’s the thing, I’ve had jobs, jobby-jobs is what I call them, where you have a salary and maybe some nice benefits, and then I’ve worked for myself. When you’re self-employed you get to decide how much  you make. When you have a job, somebody else tells you how much you make, and that is bullshit. So fuck that. Go make your own money and you decide how much you make. And I’ll tell you what, you better decide you’ll made a lot, because otherwise, what’s the point? Set that goal really high. It’s the Work at Home link, the Making Money link, and I wrote this little e-book, and I want you to think about finding that, because when you feel broke, if you’re stuck and locked down, but this helps you open up and bring in the money and start the hustle.

Share in the links. How did you get your side hustle going? I want to hear you share with the other moms. Because this is not working, right? Millionaire Single Moms, it’s the greatest networking place in the world.

About Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, noted blogger, and bestselling author. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour,, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.  Find out Emma's top Single Mom Resources here.


  1. Jodi on May 15, 2018 at 10:34 am

    Where are the links?

    • Whitney Hussey on May 29, 2018 at 4:02 pm

      Ditto to above. The podcast mentions links to resources.

  2. Karen on May 11, 2018 at 1:12 pm

    Thank you for this… very informative. I am a self-employed graphic designer for 18 years, and have reached the peak of what I can earn in my area… trying to think outside the box and go after higher paying clients and have a side hustle that is totally different from what I do every day. I think of all I’ve learned about what I am capable of since my divorce one year ago and I think something related to one of those new-found interests will be my path.

  3. Vanessa on May 7, 2018 at 2:20 pm

    Thanks, that was excellent! My side hustles are all real estate related, I flip an occasional house (lots of work, not much money, but fun). I am a landlord which is my financial future and present, it’s the basis of my monthly income and my retirement. I also buy a messy house in a nice neighborhood and live there for three years and usually make our best money on these projects which are so slow, but worth it. I also work part-time cleaning houses which for me equals exercise and some nice people to talk to, as there is very little money here. I do like to see how things are set up and which appliances are chosen, etc. It’s fun for me.

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