2018: A Year of Experimenting

Thanks for the Lessons, 2018

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You never know if a plan or project will succeed until you try. That’s why experimentation is an integral part of side hustling–and one reason why we chase after new opportunities. But, instead of attempting too many side hustles, experiment with those that best suit your skills, interests, personality, and lifestyle.

A Nonscientific Analysis

If you don’t already know, I’m a part-time side hustler, meaning I very much fit income-generating projects into the tiny cracks surrounding my main gigs as a wife, a mother, a dog wrangler, and a homestead manager. I’ve worked like this for more than twenty years, so I’ve gotten pretty good at it. Regardless, I’m always on the hunt for great opportunities and better ways to take advantage of them. For this post, I answer three simple questions:

  • What worked to bring income?
  • Which change improved my productivity?
  • Did coupon apps really help to save money?

My Main Sides Hustles

If you count blogging, I have four side hustles:

  1. Selling things online–anything from coats to classic cars
  2. Copy editing and
  3. Proofreading for fellow sides hustlers
 

Side Hustle Experiments That Worked

Auto Sales

No one is more surprised than I that I participated in the buying, selling, and donating five vehicles in 2018. Three auto trades were simply a matter of replacing one daily driver for a better one, with the exception of one loathsome 2001 Nissan. Its life ended in the hands of firefighter trainees who were learning to extricate car-crash victims from their automobiles. RIP Nissan. You won’t be missed :/

We intentionally traded two other trucks. 1) 1995 Ford Bronco XLT profited $1500. 2) My son’s 1973 Toyota Land Cruiser profited $5k. The buyer of the Land Cruiser came through Facebook Marketplace, in case you’re wondering.

What I Learned

Experimenting with classic car auto trading tapped into my son’s side hustle gene. We’ve talked about how to do this better in the future. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, auto trading can be a fun and rewarding side hustle IF you:

  1. appreciate vehicles
  2. have auto maintenance/mechanical skills and tools
  3. choose great vehicles to buy and sell
  4. buy and sell honestly
  5. have patience
  6. don’t overspend
  7. have appropriate parking space
  8. know the vehicle regulations for buying, selling, registering, and licensing in your area.

Selling Through Facebook & Amazon Marketplaces

These two are still my favorites for local sales (Facebook) and set-it-and-forget-it sales, plus easy shipping with Amazon. I sell only books through Amazon. But, I received an invitation to sell “small” items. That’s something I’ll experiment within 2019.

What I Learned

Textbooks, books suited for home-educators, and other nonfiction books have a higher demand and a higher price. Bookscouter will help you figure out if your textbooks are worth selling. They have free and paid features.

Dog Sitting

Dog sitting is a fun job that includes exercise (about 3-to-5 miles each day) and unlimited podcast-listening 🙂 I have one regular customer, and I plan to keep it that way for a while. If dog sitting or dog walking is a side hustle you want to try, get familiar with Rover.com.

What I Learned

If you want to get paid to exercise and listen to podcasts in process, try your hand at dog walking. You’ll love this side gig if you

  • Love dogs
  • Love walking
  • Have one-to-three-hour blocks of time
  • Live in a doggie neighborhood so you don’t have to drive much or transport dogs

Community Yard Sales & Local Swap Meets

Yard sales and swap meets are still a great way to unload a lot of random merchandise at once, especially large-size items like furniture.

What I Learned

The face-to-face setting is prime for spending time with friends, making new friends, talking trades, telling shoppers about other things you have, upselling, and offering to sell items for others.

  • A once-or-twice per year side hustle
  • Choose your venue carefully
  • Know the rules for setup and tear-down of your space
  • Partner with a friend or family member
  • Plan ahead what you want to sell and why
  • Have tables, cash, and a truck

Proofreading for Side Hustlers

If I could, I’d do this for free. But, I freelance for cash.

Words are my jam. Writing, copy editing, and proofreading are my vocation, hobbies, and educational background. ,But, to satisfy my curiosity, sharpen my skills, and to vet the course for readers of this blog, I completed this general practice and theory course and wrote an honest review.

What I Learned

As I said, if I could, I’d copy edit or proofread for free every day for anyone who asks. But, that’s not practical. Instead, I narrow my focus to freelance for other like-minded side hustlers with websites and/or blogs.

Beta Site Testing

There are several beta site testing services, but UserTesting is my favorite because their system is straightforward and easy to use, I qualify for more tests, and they pay quickly.

What I Learned

It’s easy to forget to login to my UserTesting dashboard to check if there are any tests that I qualify. So I fixed this by assigning a specific time each day to do this and writing it down in my bullet journal.

With all things being perfect, you can make $30/hour testing beta sites. Easy fun. Paid in 7 days.

Here’s a list of 14 companies that pay you to test websites.

Other Experiments That Didn’t Work

Side hustling can’t be all guns and roses all the time. LOL. Somethings just aren’t going to work well. Here’s a look at what I won’t focus on in 2019.

CraigsList

The one thing we listed on CraigsList was the ‘73 Land Cruiser. Not a soul inquired, leaving me to believe CraigsList is not the channel for high-priced classic/collectible vehicles.

Mercari, Letgo, VargeSale, OfferUp.

I’ve been a part-time seller of books and DVDs on Amazon, and eBay seller for consigned collections, home goods, and clothing for more than a decade. If you sell through either channel, you know Amazon and eBay take big bites of your revenue. So I experimented briefly with free services like Letgo, VarageSale, OfferUp, and Mercari, which charges fees. But, Mercari’s fees are far less than eBay’s. Zero activity came from these marketplaces. At least I had eyes on my Mercari listings. Letgo, Virage, and OfferUp brought crickets.

Inbox Dollars, Swagbucks

These two nearly-effortless side-income generators are uber popular. But, surfing my phone in the evening is not for me. I’d rather hang out with my family or read a good book.

Retail

Working as a cashier in a local retail store is definitely not for me. One day I might write a very long and somewhat-funny post about the five weeks I spent working in a small local feed and hardware. But, let’s just say this experiment confirmed that I’ve been working independently for too many years to be an employee. The upside was knowing I’d have a regular income each week. But I was so drained by the tedium and long (as in boring) days that I had zero energy to work on my side hustles. I lasted five weeks.

Renting a Room in our Home

…to a millennial digital nomad wannabe. This experiment was unplanned on our part–and his too. So, I’m reluctantly assigning room rental to the didn’t work category. You could say there’s room for improvement. We learned how to do this better IF we decide to rent out a room in the future.

Productivity

By its very nature, a side hustle is something you squeeze in around your primary job and your life. Every side hustler, including me, strives to make the most of every little pocket of time.

What Worked?

Merging Blogs

Pulling together Finish Well proofreading and copy editing with Side Hustle Examiner is working to streamline my blogging tasks.

Quieting Ambient Noise

Headphones for finding quiet in the middle of the room. My children are grown, but my dogs play and bark while I’m at my desk. (I haven’t an office with a door.) You might think I’m talking about noise-canceling headphones, but I use the same kind of ear protection one wears when operating leaf blowers, weed trimmers, and chainsaws.

Less Social Media

I’ve narrowed my use of Facebook to chat amongst like-minded people inside Facebook groups. I want to like Twitter and I ignored Pinterest and Google+. (Side note: Instagram is my favorite social media platform but I haven’t worked out how to mix it with side hustle content.)

The Knowtbook

Amy Lynn Andrews “wades through the internet and finds the good stuff”–so we don’t have to. And all her gold nuggets of knowledge are organized topically inside the Knowtbook, which is living a document in Workflowy. Referencing The Knowtbook saves me countless hours of trying to find blogging-related answers and solutions on my own. I’ve been following Amy for many years and trust her judgment and opinion. I’m a paying subscriber to The Knowtbook and I’m an affiliate.

Powered by Mailchimp

I Switched back to MailChimp. After experimenting with MailerLite for a time, MailChimp and I just seem to click.

What Didn’t Work

Testing A New Blog Journal

I love the leather, the rustic handmade look, and the supple feel of this journal. However, getting used to its size and blank pages is taking time. Grid paper bullet journals are my norm. Also, I must have micro-dyslexia because I want to open it in the opposite way it’s designed. The leather tether is great for securing the book when it’s closed. But, it’s long and I never know what to do with it while it’s the journal’s open. And, frankly, I’m afraid of how long it might take me to unlace the binding to refill it, then lace it up again. I might need a full Saturday to do this right.

Themeing my days

I have yet found a routine I can stick with. Life’s fluid. But, I haven’t given up. I put Tell Your Time back on my reading list.

Easy Ways to Save Money

Frankly, I’m better at saving money than making money, but I continue to look for easy ways to do both.

What worked?

Shopping through Ibotta, Ebates, and Honey apps

If you’re not familiar, these free apps are modern day coupon clippers. Using Ibotta for grocery shopping, I earned (rebate money) a $25 Amazon gift card in December alone. Ebates mails rebate checks to my home each quarter.

Honey tracks the best deals for me on Amazon, then applies the discount at the checkout.

I watched these apps improve greatly over the year. I’ve earned $181 in rebates with Ebates since I started using it to buy what we need to buy anyway.

Not spending money ALWAYS works.

Hello, 2019! I’m Ready for You.

Side Hustler, I hope this year-end review is useful to you and that you read in here things to experiment with–or not.

What are your plans for 2019?

Are you making any big changes, like adding a new side hustle or ending one? Please share in the comments so we can cheer you one.

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