The Truth about Side-Hustles… and does having one really improve your lifestyle?

Our PR Director, Michelle Smytheman, is passionate about helping emerging professionals in the communications industry and teaches at the University of the Sunshine Coast. As part of an assessment task this year, there have been some excellent blogs written by first-year students about emerging business trends. We are proud to share their work.

By Ksenia Lozbina

With the constant talk about the rising cost of living and the economy’s unpredictability post-global pandemic, it’s no surprise that ‘side hustles’ are becoming more mainstream. The emergence of “side hustles” isn’t just a trend, but a direct response to the need for self-reliance in these uncertain times.

If you’re anything like me, a thirty-something-year-old female juggling part-time online work whilst back at uni (again), you’ve probably noticed the explosion of YouTube videos, articles, and Insta posts promoting this lifestyle and various avenues you can take to “gain freedom” and take control of your life. Usually whilst sipping a coffee somewhere in Indonesia…

“The Actual Easiest AI Side Hustle of 2023 ($307k)” or “How I did over $945,000 My First Calendar Year on ETSY” are just some of the click-worthy YouTube headlines I’ve come across lately that make side hustles seem not only tempting but also apparently incredibly lucrative.

So why are we seeing this trend? and what does it have to do with lifestyle…

Lifestyle isn’t just about your daily routine and can be described as a pattern created by repeated behaviours which is influenced by your attitudes, values, and interests. To understand a person well, marketing gurus don’t just look at demographics; they dive deep into your “psychographics” to gain insight into the nuances of your lifestyle. It’s shaped by everything from family, interests and life stage to social change and work (or lack thereof). All of this influences how you choose to spend your precious time in the greater environment of society, which is, essentially, your personal lifestyle.

Ever felt like you’re in a loop, watching the same person on YouTube, reading identical blogs, or following the same, cookie-cutter Insta accounts all sharing similar success stories? Well, it’s not just you and it’s certainly not a coincidence! Lifestyle plays a significant role in driving the appeal and the result is specific demographics gravitating towards these opportunities more than others. Young professionals, students, stay-at-home parents, and the more creative souls in our society all crave work flexibility and an extra income stream to tackle their finances, making them the perfect candidates for side hustle-ing.

Whether it’s a passion project, a financial safety net, or a means to an end, one thing is clear: in our tech-savvy age with easy access to online tools and your personal marketing ploy (aka social media), there’s never been an easier time to monetize those skills and make something for yourself- your own side hustle.

“#Girl Bossing,” a term coined by The European Journal of Cultural Studies, encapsulates the essence of side hustles among young adults. Entrepreneurialism is becoming more prevalent even on uni campuses, with numerous students endeavouring to pursue online ventures to support themselves financially during their studies. The appeal lies in the flexibility of these work arrangements, which not only accommodates the busy lives of students but also provide a valuable entry point into the imminent, highly competitive job market.

Now, there are many perks to taking control of your income and customizing your life to suit your needs. The flexibility of a work schedule outside the status quo “9-5” is undoubtedly appealing, but for many women, this isn’t always a choice. Balancing work and life, especially when juggling others’ needs ahead of your own, is a harsh reality for lots of families. While gender roles have evolved, we’re not quite there yet in terms of equality.

“Being a mumpreneur is presented as a solution to gendered inequalities in the workplace and to the soaring costs of childcare, all the while providing glamour and personal fulfilment”

The idea of an extra income stream, increased independence, and a passion project sounds promising, right? Well, maybe not so much. According to Shani Orgad, it’s not all positive. Her research on women who lost their jobs during the pandemic shows that the dream of launching a digital business and becoming an overnight success rarely becomes a reality. She calls it “mumpreneurialism” and points out that the niggling idea to start something extra often piles on even more mental and physical stress onto women who are already hustling from 9 to 5. Simplistic solutions like ‘just work harder’ perpetuate inequality, an important conversation we’ll delve into another time.

Influencers seemingly perfect lives on social media often lead to comparison, exhaustion and unhappiness. However, on the flip side, hustle culture in social media may also have a positive side. Social media paints a picture of modern youth as endlessly productive, promoting values of hard work and productivity and shaping the aspirations and lifestyles of other individuals. Intriguingly, this idolisation of success can result in actual success too.

So, there you have it! The world of side hustles is a bit complex, with a bunch of different perspectives and factors to consider. Before diving in, take a good look at your lifestyle and weigh up the pros and cons. If you’ve got nothing to lose and your mental health’s in check, why not give it a shot? After all, you might just be one of the great success stories I’ll be sure to come across on YouTube!

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