My First Side Hustle

In the in-between time of being a banker and a preschool teacher I knew that I needed to bring in some extra income. I was frantically searching for a job I would enjoy and wasn’t content to fall into something like sales, credit specialist, or collections! At that point I didn’t really care what I did to bring in some money as long as it was legal and fast. I wasn’t having any luck until I stumbled upon the opportunity to clean houses for $20/hr. I picked up one gig a week and brought home $40 in cash. Excitedly I called my friend to tell her my good fortune and was met with “I could never clean somebody else’s toilets”. What?! I remember being stunned into silence but thinking that I would rather clean toilets all day than go back to the bank.

It’s been almost seven years since I left the bank and I’m still cleaning other people’s toilets and, you know what? It’s awesome. I’m serious – I get to set my own hours, listen to whatever music I want (or not, if it’s been particularly crazy at work), and make good money. I’m now involved in even more side hustles than just cleaning houses, but the process for success is the same. Let’s call these the:

Successful Side Hustle Tips and Tricks

Brand yourself – Even though I’m on my hands and knees scrubbing floors I make sure that I’m dressed appropriately. Some clients will hand over their keys and let you enter their homes when they’re not around, but others prefer to be there. Nothing screams “amateur” louder than looking like you’re in your pjs or ready for a day at the beach when you show up for work.

Know your worth – Around here it’s common to make $20-$30/hr cleaning, depending on who provides supplies and how last minute the job is. Crazily though, I see listings on local job boards all the time for people offering to clean at a rate of $10/hr. Not only are they selling themselves short, but it makes it more difficult for others to get a higher rate. Know your value and don’t accept less.

Follow through – Be at work when you say you will and do what you’ve promised to do! This seems like a no-brainer, but clients are paying good money for you to do what you’ve agreed to do. Sickness or family emergencies are good reasons to call in, but “it’s 65 degrees in the middle of February and I really want to go to the park!”, not so much.

Follow up – If the client isn’t staying home the first few times I clean I like to call in the evening to touch base and make sure that I did everything they expected. It’s a simple thing to do but makes a wonderful impression that you care and are in it for more than just the money.

Fess up – Every person I know (including me!) who cleans houses has broken something before. There’s the sickest feeling when you realize what you’ve done and are stuck staring at something chipped, shattered, or snapped. The only thing to do in this case is to call the client and be upfront and honest. I’d rather tell them what happened and apologize before they found the broken item by themselves!

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These are just some ideas to help you become a better side-hustler. It’s such a blessing to be able to bring in some extra money for our family and I’m happy to help out however I can. Although I think of myself as a pretty accomplished side-hustler the queen of the side hustle long before anyone hustling now was my grandmother.

She had four daughters under the age of four (hello, surprise twins), a husband who worked crazy shifts at the Duke plant, only one bathroom, and a need for extra money. At night when the kids were all in bed and her husband had trucked off to work she ironed dress shirts for money. At .10 a shirt and averaging 3 minutes to iron each one she would bring in a whopping $2.00 if she worked nonstop for an hour. Makes cleaning toilets for $20.00 an hour seem like a dream, doesn’t it?

So here’s to all the side hustlers – past and present! We’re a group of people not afraid to do the weird and the dirty – as long as you pay us.