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6 Steps to Find Your Hustle

TRNR Leather Workspace Photo Credit: Ryan Turner
TRNR Leather Workspace Photo Credit: Ryan Turner

A Simple Blueprint To Uncover a Side Hustle of Your Own

I say and hear the term side hustle so often. It’s becoming a buzzword and so many people have one or want to start one. I’ve brewed up a simple list of how anybody can take an inventory of their own skills and interests to find their own hustle.

When people ask me about Mattmade, I often shift the conversation away from the items that I sell to Mattmade itself. Just the other day, a friend of mine commented on an item that I made and asked where I got them printed. I was surprised and flattered to find out that some people didn’t know that I actually create every finished product that I offer. That conversation led to the discussion of starting a side hustle. Anyone can create a side hustle and I’ve come up with 6 simple steps to get started. Like a mini business plan, just less work.

It’s simple, not easy

This is important to note. A lot of things are simple and not easy, however, with a blueprint, these things become a lot easier.

The Difference Between Simple and Easy

Let’s say you have a fitness goal of losing 10lbs. All you need to do is eat better and exercise more. That’s simple. You know what you need to do, it’s just actually doing it, that’s not so easy. In order to be successful in losing those 10lbs, you’d achieve your goal faster by planning your meals, shopping for those ingredients and sticking to the plan. You’ll also want to create an exercise routine by researching what is most effective for your goals and actually putting in the work. It takes some learning, planning, dedication, motivation and action. How to lose 10lbs is simple, it’s just not always easy. Starting a side hustle (and a lot of other things in life) is no different, it’s simple, it just takes some preparation and action to make it easy.

Let’s break this down and uncover your side hustle.

1) Take an Inventory of What You Know Well

Make a list of skills and industries that you know. If something comes to you, write it down. Think about things like:

  • Hobbies
    • Cliché, but what are your passions & interests? Are you good at sewing or photography? Maybe you collect stamps. Make a list of your hobbies & interests.
  • Industries
    • Are you thoroughly interested in the stock market? Do you know a lot about farming? If you know enough about an industry, you might find an opportunity to get involved.
  • Professional Skills
    • Your 9-5 might not be your dream job, however, there’s a good chance that you learned some valuable skills there. Don’t take your knowledge of Excel for granted…Jot down some marketable skills. Just avoid creating a conflict of interest if it directly competes with your day job.
  • Things That You Wish Were Easier
    • Successful businesses solve a problem or fulfil a need. Is there something that you know that could be done easier? Can you create a solution for that problem?

2) Ask Yourself if You Can Make Money With it

With the list that you created, go through and ask yourself, “Could you make a sale doing this?” If you can think of one person that would buy what you have to offer, there are probably more people out there that would buy it as well. Go through your list and create an example of how you could sell a product or service around each item. Some are easy like:

  • Photography (Hobby) – Freelance photography or selling your prints online
  • Fitness (Hobby) – Personal training or start a fitness blog

Some are a bit more difficult and these are opportunities because if you need to really think about it, it means there might be a niche opportunity.

  • Coffee (Industry) – Learn how to roast your own coffee beans around a specific flavour and sell them at local markets or start an online store for coffee accessories
  • Presentations (Professional Skill) – Host classes at a community centre or library on how to do effective presentations. Teach others what you’re good at. It’s not a bad idea to offer this for free until you really dial it in and get some amazing feedback from your students.

3) Figure Out What Else You Need to Know

If you’re a coffee-lover, it doesn’t mean that you know how to roast your own coffee beans, let alone sell them. There are a few things that you should think about before you get rolling, and you can learn the rest along the way. As an exercise, pick your favourite opportunity from earlier and make another list of things you need to know to actually sell your first few items or services. Just keep in mind with things like blogs, it goes from a hobby to side hustle when it starts making money. Below are a few questions that you should ask yourself, and a few more specific questions to dial in on:

  • What am I going to sell?
    • Where do I buy them, or how do I make them?
  • How am I going to sell it?
    • Online or in-person? How will customers pay? Do I need permits?
  • Who is going to buy it?
    • Who is your ideal customer?
  • How much is it going to be?
    • How much are similar products or services? Can my customers afford it and am I making money selling at that price?
  • How will people know about it?
    • Can I promote it on social media? Can I put flyers up? How else can I promote for little or no cost?

4) Map Out Your Sales Pitch

Can you describe what you sell and why someone should buy it in one or two sentences? If someone can understand enough to know what you’re selling after hearing your quick pitch to interest them, you are on the right path!

5) Brush Up on What You Need to Know in Order to Get Started

It’s okay to not know everything to get started, however, there are some things you must know. The idea here is to sell once or twice without spending a lot of money. That means you can’t exactly hire someone else to do much for you. For example, if you can’t create a website or find a super awesome friend to help you out, you should learn the basics yourself. The good news is, you can learn the basics (and then some) of just about anything on the internet for free or super cheap. In a previous post about improvement, I talk about some online resources, be sure to check it out here to find some ways to gain some free and cheap knowledge. I talk about joining online communities, the library, etc. and for more specific skills like web design and how to sell your work, check out online course platforms like Udemy or Skillshare to up your know-how on specific topics.

6) Get Started

Here’s where you stop talking about it and lock yourself in a room and get started. Figure out your suppliers, payment methods and all those steps to complete a sale. Create a basic website or set up a new Instagram account that talks about your new hustle. Since you’re not relying on this as a primary income (It’s a SIDE hustle), be patient. It might take some time for your first few sales. Introduce your minimum viable product (MVP) and improve as you go.

BONUS For Makers

I started on the Etsy platform, so if you’re creating something that fits a handmade marketplace, use this link to get some free listings to start you off. It’s an affiliate link, so we both win if you use the link to sign up.

What’s Next

Assess your hustle. Ask friends or customers for feedback and see what’s working and what isn’t. You can create a free survey at Survey Monkey or by using Google Forms to ask specific questions on what is working and what isn’t with your side hustle.

Good Luck!

I mean it! Day jobs aren’t always a blast, so finding fulfilment from a side hustle is just one of the benefits. When you get rolling, you might even forget that you’re making money too.

If this post helped you at all, share it with your friends and who knows, maybe your side hustle evolves into something even bigger!

Craft Time With Bottom Up Indie Fingerboards

Bottom Up Indie Fingerboards Collector Edition Tricks Photo Cred: Keith Sheppard

Before kids were glued to their phones in class, it was all about fingerboards.  In the early 2000s, every kid had one, not just the skaters, and they were the fidget spinner of our generation.  Needless to say, jumping on this project was nostalgic and intriguing.

I was approached by an artisan fingerboard maker Keith Sheppard, fellow Etsy shop owner, to help with some of his fingerboard graphics.  Keith operates BottomUpIndieFB with his son, as sort of a passion project and learning experience for the two of them.  Creating fingerboards was a way to engage his son on a craft that would pique his interest.  Being a skater myself, no doubt I wanted to get involved.

Where Mattmade Steps in

The tricky part about getting images onto these lil boards is that there are several ways to do it, but each has its advantages and disadvantages. So I took a crack in my activity room.

My guidelines were that I needed to:

  • Create full-colour prints that show well on wood
  • Ensure the print layer was relatively thin
  • Resemble a full-size skateboard deck graphic as much as possible

Aside from hitting CTRL+P, I had to figure out the best possible method to get decent quality images onto lil pieces of wood. It’s not something you can easily run through a printer and the set up on screen printing is a bit extensive for short runs. Luckily for us, I have the ability to create high-quality prints onto a variety of materials (including wood). With enough trial and error, I was able to successfully reproduce BottomUpIndieFB‘s provided files onto small sheets of maple veneer.

Printed Graphics on Maple Ply

Ready for Deck Pressing

After I finish the graphics on the maple veneer, I send those back to BottomUpIndieFB so he can press them into the final product. These fingerboards are made very much like full-size skateboard decks with several sheets of maple veneer. These sheets fit into a mould, and then they’re shaped into proper decks.

Following that, the decks are cleaned up and varnished for a premium finish. This process takes days as the glue and varnish need to dry throughout the process.

The finished product is incredible. At some angles, they actually look like real skateboards with maple vaneer layers and all.

Bottom Up Indie Fingerboards Tricks Decks. Photo Cred: Keith Sheppard
Bottom Up Indie Fingerboards Stack of Tricks Decks. Photo Cred: Keith Sheppard

I don’t know much about the niche world of premium fingerboards, however, it’s much bigger than I thought! There are makers of fingerboards, miniature trucks and wheels, etc. around the world and each has its own following of “fingerboarders” that play, compete & collect these incredibly detailed miniature skateboards. I’m just stoked that I was able to get involved in a Mattmade kinda way.

For more info on Bottom Up, hit ’em up on Facebook, Instagram or Etsy!

Get Cashback For Online Shopping Thru Rakuten

Rakuten Homepage

Okay, first off, this is NOT a scam or promo, I actually use Rakuten when I shop online. The reason this lil tip hit Mattmade is that you can get 2% cashback (at time of posting) when you use Rakuten to shop on Etsy, which means that if you are shopping at Mattmade, shop through the Rakuten portal for a lil cashback. It doesn’t seem like much, but it definitely adds up and you’ll see why.

WTF is Rakuten?

Aside from a brand that you see on Soccer jerseys, Rakuten helps online shoppers save money and offers cashback by shopping through their web portal. There’s actually no catch and it’s available for a stack of online shops (Including 2 of my Favourites: Amazon & Etsy). If you’ve been registered for ebates.ca before, it’s now the same company, so you’re good. In short, it’s really just an affiliate site that gets a small cut for sending you to shop through them.

Here’s How You Do It

  1. Sign up for Rakuten here. That’s a referral link, which will give us BOTH bonus cashback when you spend your first $20 online in shopping through them.
  2. Fill out your account details and set up your payment info, by that I mean, where do you want them to send your cash, you do not have to pay them anything (I just take Amazon cashback, it’s easy and I shop there anyway).
  3. Then check out their long list of online shops that you can earn anywhere between 1% to like 10% daily (Sometimes more!).
  4. After that, once a quarter you’ll get a cashback sent to wherever you told them to send it.

Other Things Worth Mentioning

  • They also post deals & coupons on their site
  • You can buy gift cards through and get cashback
  • You can see your cashback balance any time you log in
  • If you have a promo code for a listed online store, you can stack the cashback and the promo code for even better deals
  • You must log in to their site and start your shopping through them otherwise it won’t catch your cashback
  • Once you reach an online store (i.e. Amazon) through Rakuten, just shop however you’d normally shop, you’re good to go.
  • I’m referencing the Canadian Rakuten, if you’re elsewhere, surely you can hit them up in your own region

Speaking of Promo Codes, Here’s One for Mattmade

Use promo code WOAHSAVINGS for any order over $30 CAD, receive 10% off at MattmadeCa

Few Notes:

  • If items are already on sales, this discount won’t stack, however, Etsy will give you whichever is the better deal.
  • The Rakuten cashback and the promo code WILL work together, just make sure you start through the Rakuten site.

Try Making Something That You Really Like

Mattmade Pinot Noir

It’s almost 2020, and there are classes and resources online to help you make just about anything. With these kinds of resources, you can easily make some of your favourite items that you often pay a premium for and you can turn that into a weekend activity or a fun project at home.

Find Something To Make

Look around your place and pick out some things that you use often and ask yourself if you’d be interested in making it. Things on my list were/are:

  • Soap
  • Candles
  • Wine
  • T-shirts (If it’s not obvious by now)
  • Mugs
  • Duffel bags (Sewing in general)

When your list is finished, hop online and see what’s out there! A simple Google search is a great start, however, it’s worth checking out Groupon or alike sites for more complicated projects (Like soap making). In your search bar, “Make your own __item here___” is a good start.

5 Reasons to Make Something

  1. Learn a new skill and to find out how something is actually made.
  2. Have another one (or more) of said item that you like.
  3. Take Pride in creating something yourself.
  4. The experience (classes or projects are fun!).
  5. The opportunity to create a new passion, and maybe a side-hustle.

It May Save Money, Just Not Always

Many crafters and creators will get this more than anyone else. When you create something from scratch, it usually isn’t to save money. All things considered, when you account for time, new equipment and ingredients/materials or classes. This is not a money-saving venture, however, if you end up finding a passion for it, there’s a good chance it will pay off later. Saving Money should not be the reason for making something you love (Unless it’s pasta for dinner, you will almost always save money making pasta at home).

I Like to Bottle Wine

A good while back, I looked after new business development in Eastern Ontario for a large ice cream company. One of my accounts owned a scoop shop as well as a winemaking shop. I was curious about trying it and gave the customer a call and let them know that I wanted to make my own wine. That was about 10 years and several batches ago. To this day, I still visit Luca and Esther at Wine Kitz in Toronto.

Mattmade Reserve – Kind of Like a Winemaking Tradition

Original Wine Label – Mattcave Reserve

Although I don’t crush the grapes myself, I learned a lot about how wine is made through the basic process at this do-it-yourself wine shop.

It’s More Than Just Wine

The wine label is one of my favourite parts of the winemaking process and if you decide to make your own, it makes these 2+ cases of grape juice, your very own. Your labels can be funny, elegant, vulgar…And you can even leave a few bottles blank for gifting special occasions. I didn’t have Mattmade back then, however, I referred to my condo as “The Mattcave”, so I decided on making “Mattcave” wine for my place, the “Mattcave Reserve” lasted several runs and through a few different designs. I banded Mattcave Reserve cigars as well, I guess I can be a bit narcissistic sometimes *shrugs*.

Always Red

If you glanced through my wine bottling history, you’ll see it’s all red, so if it isn’t clear already, I prefer red. Listing a few I’ve done (and enjoy whether it’s mine or not)…Cab Sav, Malbec, Barolo and more recently Pinot Noir.

A batch of wine after I started Mattmade (and learned more about design)

You may also notice something else in my wine labels. In my courses of self-taught design, I can confidently give myself an “improving” grade. As batches continue, it’s cool to see the changes in design.

The most recent Mattmade batch

Why Am I Talking About This?

I’ve taken classes on oil painting, sewing and soap making, I’ve learned how to make so many other things on my own. Whether or not I continued the craft or not, it’s really cool to say “I made that”, and think back on that experience.

With my most recent winemaking experience, it inspired me to talk about the benefits in trying something new on here, and if you go try something new and didn’t have a good time, no problem, just don’t do it again.

If you do want to bottle your own wine and you’re in the Toronto area, I highly recommend you reach out to Luca and Esther at Wine Kitz Toronto. They’re super nice and they’ll make sure that you have a good time while educating you on the winemaking experience. Tell ’em Mattmade sent you (or not, this isn’t sponsored).