Welcome to the wonderful world of being a millennial…where our parents made TWICE our salary 30 years ago, and paying the bills is a constant struggle.
The #sidehustle has become a common staple these days, and I’m no exception…I’ve had about FIVE side hustles…from freelance web design to temporary tattoo shops.
But can you actually make REAL money with a side hustle? Or is the internet just full of liars and thieves trying to convince you this is a real thing?
Considering I write a blog BASED on the fact that I quit my job for a side hustle (guess it’s not a side hustle anymore!)…you’d think my response would be a HELL YES.
But the reality is that it took me MULTIPLE ATTEMPTS (and a bit more patience than I’d actually like to admit) to make this whole thing work.
The side hustle that finally did it for me was an Etsy shop.
I started on Etsy by selling “anti-inspirational” home decor that customers could download and print. See the shop in it’s current iteration here.
I got one of my items featured by a big brand, and made over $800 in a single day. And that was the day it occurred to me: this might actually work.
So I started to expand. Soon my shop grew, and I created new products to reach a different audience:
I noticed that wedding items were pretty damn popular on Etsy. So I decided to join the ranks of wedding sellers with my own options for less conventional brides. My wedding shop is no longer active (Explanation to follow).
Etsy allowed me to get my items in front of a large, existing audience…something I’d been trying to do for YEARS on my own with a website.
But the fact is, starting a website from scratch is a bit harder than it looks.
When you create a website, you’re standing alone in the middle of the desert. There are literally NO website platforms that send you traffic (not enough, anyways). That’s your job.
And if you don’t know how to send that traffic, you’re screwed.
Most side hustlers create a website and then expect to make money immediately. But real life doesn’t work like that.
REALITY CHECK: who knows that your website exists? NOT A SOUL. Literally. Zero People.
That doesn’t exactly reek of full-time income, does it?
Sure, you’ll tell your friends and family, and you’ll post it on social media. But that traffic will run out quickly.
I’m sure we’ve all seen this sad little website predicament:
Here we see a traffic bump on launch day, followed immediately by *crickets*.
That’s right kids, the internet is a cruel mistress. And if you think for a second she’s going to reward you for your mere existence online, you’re about to get slapped in the face with a bucket of NO MONEY at all whatsoever.
Which is why I put myself on Etsy.
And my gamble paid off.
(2015 USD = $62,259.75 total with current exchange rates)
Considering my (cough cough *verbally abusive*) corporate job was paying me less than HALF that, I was pretty pleased with myself in 2015.
And after about 6 months of begging my husband to let me quit my *shit show of a* day job, I FINALLY got a taste of what it feels like to work for yourself:
My first night of freedom!
…Like that thing where you’re constantly afraid the business will fail and you’ll never be able to pay your bills again.
I never ONCE had a low income month on Etsy, but it took me about a year to finally realize I could trust the business.
Here’s a screenshot of my income for 2016 (all figures in GBP £) :
(2016 USD = $87,565.45 total with current exchange rates)
In 2017, I decided to start a blog.
It felt like every person I’d ever met was asking me to teach them how to replicate my results on Etsy.
And as an ex-web designer with a degree in writing, it seemed like I should try to capitalize on that whole college education thing I did.
So I pulled the trigger and got blogging.
And it pretty much changed everything. I went from steady, painfully slow growth to outright being SHOCKED by my own tax return.
During this time, I moved from the UK to the US, so my finances were divided into two. Here’s the hot mess that is my income for 2017:
2017 Income breakdown:
$141,360.21 (UK income) + $39,701.71 (US Income) =
Now for a peek at my current monthly income…
⇡ Projected Yearly Income for 2019: $320,000 ⇡
So that moment leads me to this question, which popped into my email inbox about a week ago:
I’m not convinced it’s possible to make six figures selling on Etsy. Most “experts” actually seem to make their money selling “how to” courses. I’d just like to do my due diligence before I spend any money. Thank you.
Reading this (pretty damn #accurate) question made me realize: I’ve never really shared what I made over the course of a year (expenses and all)… Nor have I shared WHY I blog when I could make that same money on Etsy.
Enter the rant I just went on ⇡ up there ⇡. Figures and all, out on display for you!
Ultimately, I created a business that worked for ME.
I figured out what I wanted LIFE to look like, then I built the business around ME.
Once you nail down what works BEST for you (even if that means JUST selling on Etsy without a blog) — you work BETTER.
You’re willing to work HARDER.
Bottom Line: The more EXCITED you are about what you’re doing, the more work you’ll put into it. And this usually creates mad crazy success…just remember, it won’t happen instantly!!
Now for what you need to know about actually MAKING money online…
Here’s the REAL truth about your Etsy #sidehustle
You can make 6 figures doing pretty much ANYTHING if you work at it hard enough. But it doesn’t come easily.
During the last three years in business, I was often working 7 days a week…sometimes I was working 4 hours a day, and other times it looked more like 12 hour days…So I definitely wasn’t just sitting around collecting money.
This is one of the KEY reasons I started a blog — I had to lessen the load on my time. Selling on Etsy requires shipping, photography, marketing, and constant work on your storefront.
If I wasn’t creating something at home, myself, that was one of a kind, I could’ve grown a lot more in a lot less time. (This is why many people only sell DIGITAL items online).
But shipping items from my house wasn’t what I wanted. Like most millennials, I crave a life where I travel constantly, leave my computer, and generally ignore #AllTheThings required by a conventional job.
I decided to spend more time doing the marketing, graphic design, and writing that I am personally better at. I was getting SICK of only selling items online.
That’s why I started a blog.
Does that mean the blog route is right for you, or that it’s NECESSARY in order to make 6 figures on Etsy?
Absolutely not — it just so happens that the people who blog about success on Etsy are well, BLOGGERS.
Meaning, you’re not seeing the other side of the coin: all those 6-figure Etsy sellers that are out there making money? They’re busy running a shop…they don’t have time to blog about it!
I just happened to be one of those sellers who realized she’d rather BLOG than spend all my time on Etsy. I did both for a long time. And I loved both for a long time.
But ultimately, at the end of the day, I prefer blogging, so you might see me transitioning more toward that over time.
In the meantime, to lighten my load, I reduced the number of shops I’m currently running to ONE so I can devote most of my time to blogging.
What Does Making 100k+ really look like?
The thing most Etsy coaches aren’t telling you? Running a business means you have EXPENSES. So you may bring in $90k, but at the end of the day, you might walk away with $60-70k of that.
That’s because running a business is more expensive than having a normal job, no matter how you cut it. There’s no getting out of this one…it’s just the way it is.
The other thing most people don’t talk about? $100k is A CRAPLOAD of money.
I used to think I wanted to make a million dollars, until I made nearly $90k in 2016… and realized exactly how much money that really was. I wasn’t worried about expenses. I always had enough money for pretty much everything I needed or wanted. I never had to think twice before buying something.
The reality was this: I had plenty, and it was more that enough to keep me happy and stress free.
I never had sleepless nights. Any debts I had are long gone.
You’ll still see me reaching for that million dollar year…but all those worries that come with messy finances? They’re LONG gone well before that million mark.
So really ask yourself: what will $100k feel like…and if I really want 100k, am I willing to work 7 days a week to get myself there FAST, or is it ok for me to take my time, enjoy my life a bit more, and get there slowly?
Because taking your time and doing it RIGHT means you have something that can support you for the rest of your life.
Wanna read my full Etsy story and see exactly what I went through to hit 6 figures? Get the whole scoop right here.