The internet abounds with ideas to help part-time entrepreneurs find or start a side hustle. Many of the articles you'll find on side hustles list the same ideas: freelancing, blogging, building websites, online tutoring, consulting, selling goods, mystery shopping or dog walking.
These are all great ideas, and there are plenty of websites to help you get started (Upwork, Fiverr, Gigwalk, to name a few). However, the mileage you get on these websites and for some of these gigs is based directly on how much you want to hustle to make money -- and there will almost always be someone who will do the same work for less or who offers more expertise for the same price.
When you're trying to earn extra income, it's frustrating that it can take several months before you can begin generating a significant sum of money. If you work over 40 hours a week (as most people do), then committing an extra 10 to 20 hours per week on your hustle may not be worth it or could lead to burnout. You might even quit before it starts yielding dividends, so all your work was for naught.
How to Use Your Network...
If you want to find a stable, but flexible part-time job that requires less perpetual "hustling" (i.e., not finding new clients every week or month), you should approach finding a side hustle the same way you approach finding a full-time job. A lot of the best job openings aren't always advertised to the public, and the only way to find out about them is to have a connection on the inside.
This means that before signing up for odd freelancing jobs on a website, you should leverage the power of your own network. Talk to your family members, friends, acquaintances and even coworkers, if appropriate, to see if they need part-time help or know someone who does.
Sometimes you don't even need to directly reach out to your network as they may come to you with opportunities. My dad has been bothering me for years to work remotely and part-time for him (and he would pay me better than most other freelancing work I could find). A good friend recently mentioned her company is always looking for long-term freelance writers. These are not opportunities you'd always find advertised on a freelancing or gig website.
More likely than not someone in your network will have an opportunity you could grab or will know someone else who does. And it may not always be the person you expect, so be sure to cast a wide net when reaching out.
Reaching out could be as simple as letting people know that you're open to part-time or freelancing opportunities or that you're offering specific services or products. You may be surprised at what opportunities fall into your lap.
...And Why You Should
While it may take longer to find a gig this way, your initial effort will typically be rewarded with greater job stability and better pay.
Another bonus to leveraging your network is that it makes the "interview" process that much easier. Anytime I've been referred for a full-time job, I know I'm likelier to make it further in the interview process than if I hadn't. In general, people are more willing to take a chance on someone they know, and this logic applies to side hustles as well.
You can also parlay the power of your network into a gig that will help you develop a new skill. Maybe you're a full-time programmer, but you want to try your hand at writing. If you start bidding on writing gigs on a freelance website, you may only qualify for low paying jobs. But if you leverage your network, you can probably find someone willing to pay you more and offer you better assignments.
In short, take starting your side hustle as seriously as you take finding a new job. And you'll thank yourself when you start making that extra money.