Thoughts on Starting a New Side Hustle

I’ve been thinking about starting a side hustle for a while now. As a Ramit Sethi email subscriber I’m well aware of the myriad of opportunities to generate income on the side, doing something(ideally) I love. The challenge is that I’ve been having a hard time coming up with what that something I love is.

Like many people, my work is challenging and takes a lot out of me. In case you’re wondering, I work as a product manager for Lazada (the Amazon.com of Southeast Asia), working for their logistics arm (making sure that what you order gets to you as quickly and cheaply as possible).

At the end of a long day it’s hard to muster the motivation to think intelligently about starting and building a side business, especially when I want to catch up on the events of the day with my family and perhaps squeeze in a little downtime with my PS4.

So, if I do start a side hustle it has to fulfill certain criteria:

  1. It must be something that I’m interested in
  2. I should feel like I will have something to contribute
  3. It shouldn’t feel like work (at least not all the time)

Otherwise, I’ll never stick with it. In addition, I’m more of a fan of a passive income approach like blogging, although I’m open to a services-based approach where you’re paid by the hour.

My experience with passive income generation is from this very blog; I wrote my first Smileycat blog post back in 2003 and the blog is still generating AdSense income for me (just not as much as my posting frequency is almost non-existent at the moment).

I have seen other people combine both approaches whereby they offer a service (active income) and also teach others how they can start and run their own business doing xyz (passive income).

Back when I started my blog, I was focused on writing about web design and development as I was learning about the subject myself. It was quite rewarding to publish articles about the topics I’d been learning and to share in the discussions in the comments.

In more recent years, I’ve moved into product management and, perhaps because of the subject matter, don’t feel as compelled to write about it. Also, it feels a little too much like an extension of work, to be talking about product management best practices both during the day and during my off hours.

So, on-and-off, I’ve been dreaming about what subject could get those blogging juices flowing again. I live in Bangkok, Thailand but I’ve never been too interested in writing about travel or lifestyle topics. And I certainly have no interest in writing about food!

However, I’ve always been interested in language and communication, especially when it comes to writing for the web. I do tend to be something of a grammar purist as well, and find myself drawn to incorrect usage of “it’s” versus “its,” or when “fewer” should be used rather than “less.”

On a side note, have you noticed an increase in the number of typos and grammatical errors in online publications these days? Maybe most people gloss over them, but to me they stand out, especially on more well-known sites.

Perhaps it reflects the greater use of freelancers and the decrease in editorial oversight; I’m just speculating as it’s not an area I know a too much about.

When it comes to the subject of writing, I don’t find it easy to write creatively; the words certainly do not flow from my fingertips to the page! Yesterday, however, I was flipping swiping through an article on ideas for side hustles, and one of the suggestions was copyediting.

I’d never considered this line of work before, but it dawned on me that it might be a good match for my interest in the written word, without the paralyzing fear of staring at a blank screen with 700 words of something informative / entertaining / educational / controversial to write.

I expect copyediting as a side business will be as awash with freelancers as travel blogging or SEO (but maybe not quite so much?), but it is a subject that interests me, that I think I might be good at, and that learning more about would be valuable to me in other walks of life.

I’ve also been wondering if I need to create a new website for this side business to-be. I’d rather not, as I’ve owned the smileycat.com domain since 2001 and so it has pretty decent domain authority, although not necessarily when it comes to copyediting.

However, I think my articles on writing for the web are a close enough match, and it’s more important to get started than to worry about where to host my articles. There’s no point worrying about the right domain name if I’m not even sure I’ll be able to stick with the subject.

So, here’s to the idea of copyediting as a viable side bustle. But before I jump into the deep end, the next step is to do some research in order to understand the playing field.

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