I wish I could survey ADHDers about how many hours they’ve spent in their lives trying to come up with ways to make money that would free them from the rigid constraints and agonizing boredom of typical ‘jobs’. I bet it would be somewhere around a billion.
Honestly, I couldn’t say how many hours I’ve spent doing this. I’ve come to learn that my mind needs to be working on something at all times of the day. There needs to be constant stimulus. And since I seem to be terrible at actual work, it’s a given that I want to find a way to prosper without having to do it. Inventions that bring in millions, winning the lottery, launching a series of ridiculous best-selling novels, having ten passive income streams that keep me in yacht fuel for my brood and I… I’ve spent days and days fantasizing, plotting, planning, and pitching ideas. But of course nothing ever sticks. I don’t win the lottery, my bestseller is now twelve years in the making, and every time I think I’ve come up with a brilliant idea for an invention, I look it up and someone else has already done it. So, this endless motivation and lack of sustained follow-through leads one to an inevitable path: the side hustle.
It’s tantalizing to think that one can just put a bit of time and elbow grease in, and have a little side stream of income that will be just the thing to overcome a lifetime of being shit at managing money. I’ve read books, articles, listicles, and fora on the subject in hopes that I’ll find some nugget of information, some shining inspiration that will help me find the right side hustle for me. But so far nothing. I’m convinced the only people making money off of side hustles are those that run blogs about how to make money with side hustles.
At this time, I have eight side hustles. Eight! This is absolutely absurd. And I’m not even counting this blog. Here’s a dirty list of what I do for side hustles: I’m writing a sci-fi novel; I paint and sell prints online and at art shows; I’m working on a country music album of my own songs; I make and sell homemade baby growth charts; I curate an Instagram language learning account; I’ve published a baby name book; and lastly, I pick up dog poop in the spring after the snow melts for $100 a yard. Want to take a guess at which one brings in the most money? Yep, picking up dog poop in the spring. It’s been my most lucrative side hustle yet. And it’s enjoyable, in a way. But it’s a shame that my creative works can’t gain enough traction (or I just can’t seem to finish anything) to make them viable.
But believe me, I’ve tried many more side hustles than that, and have dismissed them as being untenable. I’ve tried scouring thrift stores for collectibles to resell online, I’ve treasure hunted with a metal detector, I’ve tried tutoring kids and editing essays. I’ve grown out my hair and beard and offered myself up on Kijiji as a Jesus model for artists and videographers.
I’m convinced ADHDers inevitable move toward side hustles (especially in this economy). There’s just too much going on up there for one job or career. So here are some tips in case you want to go down that road, or need some fresh motivation.
- Your side hustle should be fun. There must be something enjoyable about it. It must be something to look forward to. Otherwise, what is the motivation to do it? It should give you that sweet, sweet dopamine, or allow you to hyper-focus for as long as you want.
- Your side hustle should be based on a hobby or a passion. Life is short. If you spent most of your time working a job that you really don’t like, or isn’t compatible with your ADHD, then the side hustle is a chance to do something you actually like, a passion you want to explore, and something you’ll look back on and be proud of.
- Your side hustle should bring in cash immediately, or have some chance at bringing in cash down the road. Most of what I do currently as side hustles are rooted in my hobbies from my younger days. Some have brought me in some cash, but most haven’t, and that’s okay. If I ever finish some kind of product, or become quite talented at it, I’m sure the money will just come rolling in.
- Your side hustle should dovetail nicely with your professional life, or be the complete opposite of it. If there is a way to use your professional life to complement your side hustle, and you’re clear of any conflict of interest. But a side hustle can also be a way to use the other side of your brain, or to give you an escape from what you do most of the time.
- Your side hustle should be accessible most of the time. If you’re really into your side hustle, you’ll be thinking about it a lot (when you really ought to be thinking about other stuff, like your job, or when you’re driving down the highway). Keep a notebook or a recorder with you to collect thoughts or make progress on the sly to satisfy the craving, and move on.
- Track your success. Keep a record of highs and lows, wins and losses, profits and expenses, so that you can have an objective insight into how it’s going. This will help you navigate and plan for the future. It will also be inspiring to see what you’ve accomplished.
- Explore the multiple facets of your side hustle. When you decide to take on a side hustle, remember that there are many ways to exploit it. Here’s an example. I decided to make a side hustle of oil paintings. But as I painted more, and started getting shows in cafes and entering art fairs and such, I began accumulating ‘display’ equipment and seeing a need for a diversity of product. Now, my art has multiple income aspects: sale of oil paintings and prints online and at shows, greeting cards at little shops, and lastly, renting out of my display equipment (tent and racks) to other artists who want to go to their own art shows. As my mother says, ‘There’s more than one way to skin a cat.’ With side hustles, the primary act may not be the one that brings in the most revenue.
So there you have it. I hope this has provided some insight as you begin or continue your side hustle journey (or your tenth side hustle journey).
Thanks for reading!