The thing about money is that you could always use a bit more of it.
That’s exactly why setting realistic side hustle earning goals can be so tricky. But if you prioritize a good life-work balance (which you absolutely should!) and want to avoid feeling burnt out, your best bet is finding a sweet spot between the amount you make now and the amount you dream of having.
So, how exactly should you approach developing side hustle income goals to actually achieve them? Below you’ll find a checklist that worked for me.
1. Find Your End Goals and Motivation
Sitting down to work after your daily job can be exhausting, but it’s also very rewarding.
Having a clear goal can help you feel motivated to do it day after day. So, why do you hustle?
Are you trying to save for a new car, do you need funds to pay off your student loans, or simply want to have more spending money for entertainment each month?
Whatever your reasons are, it’s important to define them closely, so that you can calculate exactly how much money you need to cover the costs.
Say, for example, you need a total of $2,500 for a new PC and all the gear you want to get. You also want to fund the entire purchase with your side hustle income.
If you currently make $500 a month on the side, you’ll need 5 months to reach your goal. But, if you set the bar a little bit higher and commit to making $650/month, you can get your new PC in less than 4 months.
Make sure your target amount isn’t far out of your reach. It’s better to set reasonable goals and longer time frames than to feel frustrated month after month if you don’t earn that awesome-sounding amount.
It’d be best to focus on a single end goal at a time. Trying to fulfill several wishes at once is much harder. Hitting one target after another is financially easier, and reaching goal after goal can give you the motivation you need to continue. So, go make that list of priorities!
2. Consider Your Last Year’s Income
You can grow your business even if you don’t have any particular goals in mind, but simply want to have more money or time.
Simply decide how much more you want to make or how much less you want to work while maintaining your income.
If you want to earn more, but aren’t sure how to decide how much is doable, check out your last year’s bank statements.
Figure out how much profit and loss you’ve had last year. That information will let you know what a realistic amount to strive for.
For example, set a goal of making 10% more than last year with your side hustle, or whatever percentage sounds reasonable.
On the other hand, if you’re happy with the amount you make with your side hustle, invest more in your me-time.
You can improve your business and continue earning the same amount while working fewer hours every week.
Pick a measurable metric when making such a goal – for example, work 3 hours less each week while maintaining the same monthly income.
This approach can help you feel less overworked and give you some much-needed time to do whatever you like – travel, spend time with your family, or just play video games on that new PC!
Two ways to achieve either of these goals are to get more lucrative gigs (You have one year of experience more than last year, you should definitely charge a little more!) or purge your distractions and improve your productivity.
3. Figure Out Your Expenses and Overhead
It doesn’t matter if you have a specific purchase as an end goal, wish to pay off debt, or want to leave your day job and fully support yourself with your side hustle – figure out how much you need each month.
This includes expenses and overhead, savings, and taxes.
Expenses: First of all, determine how much you need each month to live and work. This includes your needs like food, clothes, rent, and utilities, and operating expenses like service fees, program licenses, and insurance.
Incorporate a monthly leisure budget too. All work and no play give you mental breakdowns and make for a very unproductive work environment. Give yourself a little leeway too – you never know how the prices will change in today’s volatile market, or if your water heater fails out of nowhere.
Savings: Remember to set some savings goals as well, especially if you intend to leave your day job and rely on side hustle income. Prepare a safety net – at the least, have a couple of months’ worth of basic expenses set aside for a rainy day.
Taxes: Finally, don’t forget about your taxes! Once you calculate your desired monthly income, you should increase the amount according to your tax bracket.
4. Find Your Bottleneck
Now when you know how much you want to make, it’s time to figure out how to make that.
The most important question you should ask yourself is what’s weighing your profits down? Then, you can finally make actionable plans to fix your bottlenecks or adjust your income goals to more realistic numbers.
However, finding out exactly what’s driving your side hustle profits to the ground is not an easy task. Take a few weeks to analyze your entire process a couple of times to find your answer.
Consider the number of hours you spend working productively (the cumulative time spent scrolling Instagram doesn’t count!), your delivery speed and quality, and the amount you charge for your work.
Think about it: Are you wasting time and money on unnecessary processes, and can you make your workflow more efficient? If you work with several clients or prefer one-time gigs, figure out how many leads you get each day, and how many prospective engagements actually convert into paying gigs.
5. Stay Motivated In the Long Run
Finally, no amount of goal-setting can make up for the good ol’ daily grind.
And that stuff not easy at all!. Luckily, there are several things you can do to get and stay motivated in the long run.
First of all, remember to reward yourself every once in a while. It doesn’t matter if it’s a new book, a bar of chocolate, tickets to a concert, or a weekend away – if you want it, it’ll work for you.
People usually only use the so-called positive reinforcement when they reach tangible milestones like visitor numbers or search engine ranking.
But while it’s good to celebrate little victories, your motivation will skyrocket if you implement a dependable reward system for work well done.
So give yourself that nice spa treatment when you write and reach your daily word count goal for a week straight – it will pay off!
Another good trick for reliably getting to work daily is creating a routine and a ritual around your daily tasks.
If you make yourself a nice cup of coffee at, say, 10:55 and sit down to write at 11 AM day after day, it’ll become hard not to do it.
Perseverance is the key, especially when making money, but the truth is that everybody’s unique. What works for me may not work for you. So, experiment and adjust with the various methods of staying motivated that exist out there, and soon enough, you’ll find a recipe that gets you excited to sit down and hustle day after day, and reach goal after goal.