Five tips for starting a side hustle

Syd+Nyman+showing+their+handmade+jewelery+they+make+for+their+side+hustle.

Syd Nyman, metalsmith senior, displaying their handmade skull shaped earring, "Drop Jaw" Monday, January 27, 2020 at Texas State University. To purchase this piece or request a commissioned piece contact Nyman on Instagram @sidnyman_. Photo credit: Brianna Benitez

Brianna Benitez

College is expensive and for students looking for opportunities to pay off their student loan debt or even fund their daily coffee cravings, taking on a side hustle can be a way for them to earn extra cash while doing something they love.

A side hustle can essentially be anything that showcases an individual’s skills that are deemed valuable to the consumer. Regardless of what side hustle students decide to pursue, here are five tips to help them take their talents and ideas to the next level.

1. Start with a passion

Building a brand or business structured on passion can help the work put into developing the project feel more like a hobby and less like a chore. For students interested in starting a side hustle of their own, identifying what it is they are passionate about can be a great start.

Syd Nyman, studio art with a specialization in metals senior, has been creating and selling jewelry for two years. Nyman said they would not have discovered their passion for making jewelry if it was not for them taking their first metalsmith class sophomore year.

Depending on the size of the jewelry, Nyman said designs can take them up to three months to create. Although the design process is time-consuming, Nyman said creating jewelry is a craft they always look forward to.

“When I’m not doing anything, I just want to work on my pieces,” Nyman said. “That’s all want to do.”

Nyman said they create a variety of jewelry pieces including necklaces and cuffs. However, their specialty and favorite pieces to make are earrings. They said they primarily design pieces out of copper, silver and powder-coating.

For students looking to start a side hustle of their own, Nyman said they advise students to find something they love doing first.

“If you don’t love it, you’re not going to want to do it on your off time,” Nyman said.

Eventually, Nyman said they would like to turn their side hustle into a full-time career. They said they hope to sell their jewelry through their own online shop one day.

2. Get connected

Building a loyal clientele can be difficult when first starting a side hustle. However, students who take the initiative to showcase their brand or business to others can potentially score themselves a new client or customer along the way.

Falilat Orekoya, nutrition and foods junior, is a freelance hairstylist specializing in braids and twists. Orekoya said she learned how to braid and twist hair in high school from her sister who worked as a professional hairstylist.

“When she would do my hair I would finish the ends and learned that way,” Orekoya said. “Eventually I did it all myself and learned to do it on others.”

Orekoya said she has grown her clientele by putting herself and her business out there. She said she encourages those interested in starting their own side hustle to open themselves up to others.

“Be open minded, feel free to approach people and don’t be afraid to ask if they’re interested,” Orekoya said. “I’m typically not a talkative person, but I went out of my way to put myself out there.”

Orekoya runs her side-business out of her apartment and schedules appointments on the weekends. She said the average appointment can last up to six hours. Despite the long process, Orekoya said seeing her customer’s reaction to the final result makes it all worthwhile.

3. Build a support system

The idea of starting a side hustle can seem intimidating since success is not a guarantee. However, establishing a supportive and encouraging environment can make it easier to move past mistakes and work toward building a prosperous business, brand and potentially a career.

William Ward, graduate student, is a costume designer. Ward currently focuses on creating costumes for Texas State productions but will work as a costume shop manager for Creede Repertory Theatre in Creede, Colorado this summer.

Before attending Texas State, Ward said they were unsure of pursuing a career in costume design because their experience was primarily in costume technician. They said once coming to Texas State they were able to receive the nurturing and support they needed to realize their potential.

Ward said they have designed for several of the university’s productions including “References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot” and “Little Women.” Ward said designing the costumes for “Little Women” was an eye-opening experience and allowed them to recognize that costume design is what they are destined to do.

When starting the design process for “Little Women” Ward said they felt overwhelmed and fearful due to how large the production was. However, once they sketched their ideas and presented them at design meetings they were able to see their vision come to life.

“When you see it all on stage you get this overwhelming feeling,” Ward said. “It’s enlightening and something about it just puts a smile on your face.”

Ward said designing for Texas State productions has been an incredible and resume-building opportunity.

“For me, it isn’t a matter of getting commission, but getting to build my resume in an environment where I can make mistakes,” Ward said.

4. Develop a social presence

With social media playing a dominant role in how businesses and brands connect with their consumers, it can be beneficial for students developing a side hustle to make their presence known on social media.

Addison Turner, psychology senior, is a self-taught freelance photographer. Turner said she began her side business in 2016.

Turner said she was gifted her first camera during her senior year of high school. At the time, Turner said photography was more of a hobby. It was not until a few years ago when she received her current camera that she felt motivated to start her own business.

Turner said she taught herself how to take and edit photos by watching tutorial videos online.

“I’ve watched a bunch of YouTube videos and really used social media as a resource,” Turner said.

In addition to using social media as a learning tool, Turner said she uses her platforms to schedule photo shoots with clients as well as advertise her business.

When it comes to developing a social presence, Turner said it is best for individuals to stay true to themselves and not worry too much about gaining followers.

“As long as you’re yourself and as long as you’re being genuine, I feel like the following will come naturally,” Turner said.

5. Just start

After developing an idea for a side hustle, the task of putting those plans into action can be intimidating. However, in order for a student’s side hustle to be successful, they first have to start it.

Turner said when first starting her photography business, it was challenging for her to find her own unique style because she would compare her work to other photographers in the area.

“Around here, I wouldn’t say it’s competitive, but there’s just a lot of photographers so it was challenging sticking to my style and being unique in that sense,” Turner said.

At first, Turner said she would get caught up in thinking she needed the best equipment and expensive cameras to be successful. Eventually, Turner said she realized it was not about having the nicest equipment, but having the creativity to develop her own style.

“When I first started I feel like I had the ideas and now it’s been cool to watch my editing improve and style change,” Turner said.

Starting a side hustle can be more than an extra way for students to earn money. Depending on how much time and work is put into it, creating a side hustle has the potential to produce life-changing benefits and can lead students down career paths they never knew were possible.


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