Everywhere you look, people are creating. However, a lot of this creativity is going on in a part-time capacity. Side hustles and freelance gigs often fill in the cracks of a normal work schedule, even when they’ve technically become a far more lucrative source of income.
If you’re a creator who is wondering when to take your side project to the next level, here are a few tips to help you make that decision with confidence.
FOLLOW THE DATA
We live in an information age. Everywhere you turn, there’s data. The problem is turning that data into actual information you can use to your advantage.
In spite of the challenges, data provides one of the best ways to quickly size up whether or not your side projects are worth investing in. Whatever your part-time gig might be, chances are there’s a reasonable amount of data out there you can use.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the data will be readily available. You may need to take steps to collect and organize it.
For instance, if you’re a podcaster, it can be difficult to track your listeners across the numerous different podcast directories. If that’s the case, you can sign up for a third-party tool like CoHost to help you collect that info and provide it in the form of meaningful analytics.
Whatever your industry might be, following the data can give you a sure indicator of whether or not there is more potential worth chasing in your side projects.
CONSIDER THE WHOLE PICTURE
There are many reasons to start a side hustle. You might have picked an extracurricular project based on a need for more cash to pay the bills. Maybe it’s in an area of work that you enjoy but can’t access with your regular job. Perhaps you’re entrepreneurial at heart and just love investing in businesses.
When you’re thinking about expanding your efforts, it’s important to consider all the reasons behind your side hustle. Chances are you’re getting some form of financial compensation, but what other benefits does your side project give you?
Does it have the potential to provide passive income down the road? Does it give you something cathartic to do after a long day spent in a desk chair doing your full-time work?
If you’re considering going all-in on a side project, or even opting to simply spend more time and resources on it, make sure to conduct a thorough cost-benefit analysis first.
CREATE A CLEAR STRATEGY
Finally, if you’re thinking of investing more in your side gig, remember to look long-term. It’s easy to add up the last few months of income and decide that you’re ready to put in more effort, but what is the long-term potential of your side project?
For instance, if you’re a freelance writer and you have written a few pieces of content, what is your plan if you opt to spend more time cultivating your fledgling business? The folks behind the online learning community SkillShare outline three critical stages of development for a successful freelance career:
- Establishing your foundation.
- Defining your digital presence.
- Focusing on scaling and finances.
As you consider investing in your side project, consider what stage you’re in and how that can impact what “investing more in your side project” looks like.
On the one hand, if you’re still establishing a foundation, you may need to simply invest more time in finding new clients as you continue to work a normal 9-to-5 job. On the other hand, if you’re in the third stage, you may be ready to take the leap into going full-time with your side hustle.
As you create a strategy, make sure to ask yourself two key questions:
- Where are you in the development of your side project?
- Does it have a viable and sustainable future?
Let your answers guide how you strategize further investment of both money and your time.
As a creator, you have a natural, inbred desire to create. It’s as simple as that. However, deciding how to invest in that creativity isn’t an artistic activity. It’s a calculated business decision.
With that in mind, make sure to look for the factors that can guide you. Follow the data available. Look at the situation holistically. Create a clear strategy for how to invest. If you can do that, you can give yourself the greatest chance for success as you scale your side project into something much bigger.
Chalmers Brown is the Chief Technology Officer of Due.