5 Mistakes to Avoid When Growing Your Teacher Side Hustle

Understanding how having a teacher side hustle is an important part of your overall classroom exit strategy is something we spend a lot of time discussing.  However, have you ever wondered about the dark side of side hustles?

Ok, so maybe it isn’t quite as suspenseful as all of that, but knowing that there are some pitfalls you will encounter while growing your teacher side hustle is important.  In today’s episode we’re talking about the five things you need to avoid (like the plague) when growing your teacher side hustle and what you should do instead.

Mistakes to avoid when growing your teacher side hustle

1| Consider your side hustle a hobby 

While we’ve talked about the difference between a hobby side hustle and a business side hustle before on the podcast, it bears repeating. You cannot become successful or take your side hustle to full-time business status if you view it as a hobby.

It just won’t work.  There are going to be times you don’t feel like putting in the effort and growing your side hustle; but if you ever want your little side business to grow, you have to push through those feelings.

Now just to be clear, I’m not talking about pushing through true exhaustion…I will NEVER tell you to do that!  I’m simply referring to the times you would rather do something else.

Any business owner will tell you that starting a business is hard work!  However, if you’ve listened to the episodes with Michelle Griffo, Nicki Dingraudo, Tanya Marshall, or Melanie Ramos, you know that all of the hard work is worth it.

Owning your own business gives you a flexible schedule, control over your decisions, and the opportunity to grow your income exponentially.  But with those wonderful things comes pushing through the “I don’t want to’s” and the “I don’t feel like it’s” in order to grow.

Do this instead” tip: The only way you will be able to grow your teacher side hustle is to view it as a business and be the best employee your business has…even if you’re the only one!!  Apply your best effort to every task and notice how your attitude toward your side hustle shifts from hobby to business.

2| Think only large chunks of time will move your business forward

Most business owners begin their journey as side-hustlers who are working in small pockets of time.  And that’s why you hear so many success stories that began with working on side hustle activities for an hour before heading off to a regular full-time job or working after kids went to sleep for the night.

The truth is, most of us actually make more progress doing small routine tasks every day, and these small tasks are the things that help us push our businesses forward.  

In his best-selling book, The Slight Edge, Jeff Olson states, “The things you do every single day, the things that don’t look dramatic, that don’t even look like they matter, do matter.  They not only make a difference–they make all the difference.”

He goes on to add, “The difference that will make all the difference between success and failure, between achieving the quality of life you want and settling for less than you desire, and deserve, lies one hundred percent in which of those little, ‘insignificant’ actions you choose to do.”

Doing those small “insignificant” things is easy to do, but the flipside is that those things are just as easy NOT to do.  And if you think you can only work in large chunks of time, you are robbing yourself of valuable work time that could be setting you up to be in the position for which you’ve been waiting.

Do this instead” tip: Dedicate 30 minutes each day to working on and growing your teacher side hustle.  Don’t think you need 4 hours per day to make progress; remember, slow and steady wins the race.  Spend that time on one specific task you need to accomplish and then walk away.  If you have extra time, great!  Take advantage of the time, but if not, don’t count it as a loss.

Consider creating a spreadsheet with all of the small tasks you need to complete to finish a larger assignment. Check off each small task you do so that you immediately know where to pick up the next day.  This guarantees that your time is optimized and not wasted trying to figure out what you should do.

3| Use contracted teaching hours to work on your side hustle 

This is a tough one because the truth is, when we get frustrated with our full-time job we find an overabundance of excitement about our side hustle.  But as teachers, we’re being paid to do our jobs well and we have to be present in the moment in order to be our best.

So it’s important to remember that when you’re at school, during contracted hours, you should be working on school-related activities…not your side hustle.  

Now I know the lines can get a little bit blurred if you have a TpT shop because the resources you create for your own classroom are typically the ones that make it into your TpT shop.  However, you signed a contract with your district that said you would be a teacher during contracted hours.  

Therefore, it’s important that you’re holding up your end of the bargain and fulfilling your contract to the best of your ability.

If you’re working on an activity for your students, it’s appropriate to complete during contracted hours. But, if it has anything to do with writing a TpT description, sending an email to your followers, taking pictures for your social media graphics, or the like, you need to wait until you’re off the clock.

I know, I know…this is tough love, but it’s true.  

Now, don’t beat yourself up if you’ve found yourself doing side hustle work during the school day in the past because we can’t change the past. But, we do have control over our present and we have the power to change our actions starting right now.  

Because you’re being paid for a job as a teacher, not as a social media manager or email specialist, do your very best in that position.  Then when you get home, put on your side hustle hat and go for it!

But I want to share one more thing before I mention what you want to do instead of falling for this pitfall.  I know how difficult it will be for you to separate your full-time job and your side hustle.

The truth is that over time, it will be difficult to keep them both going at top notch. You will find yourself physically worn out and decision fatigue will be rearing its ugly head. It’s at this point that you will decide something has to change and most likely if something is going to slide, it will be your side hustle.

So just be prepared for what separating your full-time job and side hustle will mean for your time and attention.

Do this instead” tip:  Teach to the best of your ability while in the classroom.  Make sure you are using your time wisely while you are at school so that you are able to leave as soon as your contracted hours are completed.  Then use your time outside the classroom to make progress on your side hustle.  Remember, any time you do the right thing, it will ultimately turn out better…pinky promise.

4| Choose a side hustle because it’s what others are doing 

Ever heard the phrase, “But everyone else was doing it”?  Yeah, this is basically Peer Pressure 101.  We teach our kids not to be swayed by what others are doing because we want them to think for themselves and make their own decisions.

Yet ironically as adults, we tend to fall prey to the same struggles.  

We think selling resources on TpT is the best side hustle because it makes sense for many teachers…but that doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you. If you don’t like creating teaching resources, find something else to do!  

Growing your side hustle is only going to happen if you’re passionate about what you do.  Otherwise, you’ll never find the time or make the time to work on it.  

Let’s be honest; if given the option, no one wants to work on things they don’t enjoy.

So in terms of your long-term goals and growing your side hustle into a full-time job, you want to make sure it’s something you’re interested in and will continue to love over time.  Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for burnout and failure.  

Do this instead” tip:  Consider your interests and passions.  This is going to be the perfect starting point for finding a side hustle that will be perfect for you.  Listen to podcast episode number 2 called How to Find the Perfect Job Outside the Classroom, take the Career Inventory, and apply the things you learn. 

5| Continue doing something that isn’t working 

For everything there is a season.  And it’s no different when we talk about growing your side hustle.  It’s very possible that a side hustle may be perfect for awhile, but eventually not be a good fit for your needs.

Let me give you an example.

After teaching for 2 years, my first son was born and I became a stay at home mom.  During my time as a SAHM, I found Premier Designs Jewelry and I ended up being quite successful as a jeweler and a sponsor.  At one point, I had 25 different women that I was leading through this journey.  

But when my youngest turned five, I realized that as successful as I had been with Premier, it was time for me to think about shifting my focus back to being a classroom teacher.  So after much prayer, I decided NOT to renew my contract as a jeweler.  

You see, it wasn’t a lack of success that brought me to this point, it was the realization that it was simply time to move on to something different.  

Think about it; when you went to college, you most likely planned on teaching until retirement. Yet you are listening to this podcast because you are at a crossroads determining whether or not leaving the classroom and growing your side hustle into a full-time business are the next best steps for you.

Plans can change and it’s important to recognize that if you realize you’ve lost your passion or you see the proverbial “writing on the wall” about your side hustle, don’t be afraid to change as needed.

Now let me be clear; I’m not proposing that you immediately walk away from your side hustle simply because you’re facing resistance.  I’m referring to the danger in continuing to spin your wheels working on a side hustle that is no longer serving you.  

So don’t view this as a license to jump from one shiny new object to the next.  It takes consistent progress compounded over time to grow your side hustle into a self-sustaining business.

However, if you do see that your side hustle is no longer meeting your needs, you need to choose a new side hustle or career that more directly aligns with your current goals. The truth is, every side hustle isn’t going to pan out during every season of your life.

“Do this instead” tip: Acknowledge the fact that not every side hustle is the best side hustle for you in every season.  Then take a hard look at the data.  Notice any trends that might be causing changes to your income and ask yourself…

  • Is this a consistent yearly downturn in income?
  • Is this a progressive decrease that shows no sign of changing?
  • Am I still enjoying the work?
  • Has something changed that is having a negative impact on my income?

The answers to these questions will reveal whether your current side hustle is worth digging into and working through or simply walking away from.

In your journey of growing your teacher side hustle, you need to know what steps you can take to become successful.  But you also need to be aware of the pitfalls you might encounter along the way that could derail even your best efforts.

Putting up safeguards to ensure that you are prepared for what might happen will save you lots of heartache and wasted time.  The truth is you will face tough decisions; but understanding when you need to shift gears accordingly, will help you make informed decisions that set you up for success as you are growing your teacher side hustle.

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