1 Year of Effort to Build a Side Hustle. 5 Years to Make Enough Money so You Never Work a Job Again

People always want to tell you what you can’t do.

As soon as you have creative dreams or an idea that doesn’t involve working a dead-end job for the rest of your life, people want to shut you down. They scream “you’re a sell-out” or “an influencer” or “a cheap salesperson” or “a fool” or whatever other labels they can come up with.

The reason is simple: if they can’t have it then you can’t.

It’s easy to preach chaos. It’s easy to say side hustles or making money online is a scam. Most jobs now are connected to the internet. So I guess, again, labels are silly when you think about them.

I’m not here to tell you what you can’t do. I don’t believe in demotivation and pessimism disguised as “being realistic.” You end up broke when all the people you follow and content you share is satirical in disguise. There are enough smart asses in the world.

My message is different. You can take what works for you and throw away the rest if you like. Just promise me you’ll be open-minded.

The False Lie of Making Money Online

The typical narrative when you read about side hustles and making money online is unrealistic. The lie is you can make a tonne of money quickly. That’s not true for most of us normal people.

I spend time with fifty other writers who all have businesses. None of them got rich off one piece of content or found their voice after publishing one story. My philosophy is different.

Spend one year of solid effort every week to build a side hustle. A side hustle is simply a fancy phrase for creating a work habit.

Once the habit is built after twelve months, the only real reward will be the joy of doing it. This is the first test. If you don’t like working on the side hustle you’ve chosen, then what lies in the future is unlikely to eventuate.

The Part Most People Mess Up

The desire to make money from a side hustle is where people mess up. Quite simply people want money far too quickly. Some get lucky and make money in their first year. I’ve found the ones that do this often had an advantage they’d forgotten, like they previously worked for a social media company.

Here’s the part I want you to understand: Many creators are on the road to making a healthy income from their work. If only they could stay the course for the next five years and access the financial benefit.

I haven’t seen too many creators who’ve created a side hustle, worked on it for five years straight, and not eventually found an honest way to earn a living that feels in line with who they want to be.

Five years is the price tag to do what you love and never work a normal job again.

The Erotic Temptation to Take Shortcuts

So what goes wrong?

People turn their side hustle into a habit and then read about other side-hustlers. Creators love to share their tips and tricks. They package the information in a way that is appealing and makes it sound like you can achieve your goal in the next thirty days. This packaging helps get their message out, but it turns creators into hidden purchasers of lottery tickets.

They start to believe there are shortcuts. The phrase “growth hacks” becomes the job title they resonate the most with on Twitter or Linkedin.

There are no shortcuts that will make a side hustle into an income overnight because the path is different for everybody. It takes experimentation to figure out how you’re going to take what you like doing and turn it into your primary income source.

Growth hackers sell you shortcuts so they can make money for them. Read that again.

Results aren’t always easy to see. You can look at the dashboard of your favorite piece of software as a way to measure how you’re doing. What no dashboard shows you is the intangible results. Let me use my writing career as an example.

For the first few years nobody read my work. I had zero engagement. No publication wanted to release my work. All I did was write a helluva lot of content about topics I liked. Eventually, I found a way to tell stories my way. I figured out how many words a story should be.

I discovered what images I liked. I learned about crediting other creators and citing sources. I figured out how to format an article my way. Later, I found social media platforms and publications that resonated with my view of the world. Then I met writers who wrote about the same stuff as me. Up until this point I made zero dollars. The engagement on my writing didn’t really look like it had moved. So if I measured my success based on writing stats, then I would have given up.

But behind the scenes the intangible results were adding up. My work was becoming searchable in google. I could afford to build a website. I had slightly more online creator friends than when I started. I read more about how writers could earn a living. My knowledge of self-help topics had increased.

From a distance nothing had changed. Underneath the hood, my entire life had changed and I was on a path that would never have been predictable. Now I sit here having quit my job and thinking this is the life for me.

Daring to dream is seriously underrated.

It takes ages for tiny results to compound. You can’t measure results with a dashboard. It’s the intangible results that quietly create transformation.

The Overlooked Strategy That Saved My Working Life

Practice your side hustle quietly behind closed doors. Don’t tell anyone about it. Lock the time in your calendar after hours. Enjoy the process of building whatever it is you want to create.

Ignore the critics.

Spend the first year building. Then stick at it for the next five years. If you do, the place you end up will be one you’ll look back and be proud of. You simply won’t be able to predict where you end up in five years and that’s the best part. This is the legitimate truth, no bullshit.

– Tim Denning

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