Four years ago, I took my son and several of his friends on a 10-day hike along the Appalachian Trail (AT). After the trip, I made a small gift for each of the boys to help them remember the adventure.
The gift was a sign reminiscent of the markers we saw along the trail. On one side, the sign was covered with tree bark and a white rectangle. The opposite side was bare wood and featured a note from me to each boy.
A few months later, the boys graduated high school and started the next phase in their personal journeys.
I soon learned that the signs were part of those journeys as they served as a great reminder of the AT adventure.
I started thinking that other people might enjoy a similar sign, so I sourced more wood from a sustainable supplier, set-up an Etsy account, gathered the rest of the supplies, and started making signs in my free time.
Over the past few years, I have sold hundreds and hundreds of signs. I have found that two great opportunities have come from the experience of running a side hustle.
#1: You’ll Make Some Extra Money
I set the profits aside over the last couple of years, earmarking them for a future adventure. It only seemed fitting to use money from one adventure to fund another.
We just used the funds to offset the costs of a trip to Tanzania where my son and I hiked Kilimanjaro and my wife, son, and I went on a safari. It was a wonderful experience.
#2: You’ll Make a Difference in the Lives of Others
As I’d hoped, these signs have helped others remember their AT adventures. My Etsy shop informs me that every customer rating we have received has been a 5 out of 5. The numbers are amazing, but it’s the comments about how the product impacts my customers’ lives that blow me away. Here are just a few examples:
- “My brother hiked the AT and loves everything about the trail. He absolutely loved this blaze as a birthday gift! Thank you!”
- “This piece is going to look great next to our hiking photos and nature-inspired art!”
- “Perfect gift for my AT loving Dad! So unique! He loves it!”
Your 2020 Side Hustle
Answer these questions to explore what side hustle you might undertake in 2020:
- What experiences or interests do you have that are shared by others?
- Based on those experiences or interests, what might you be able to create or provide that others would value?
- How might you go about providing your product or service to others, given the limited amount of time you have available?
- In what way could you test your answers to the above three questions to see if it’s worth the effort?
I wish you all of the best as you work to discover your side hustle!
Patrick Leddin, PhD is a speaker, global leadership consultant, and The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Five-Week Leadership Challenge. Patrick is an Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University with a thriving leadership blog and podcast, and 25-years of leadership experience. He offers an unparalleled mix of academic rigor and real-world experience.