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Book Review: Side Hustle by Chris Guillebeau

Side Hustle

(Crown, 2017)

By Jessica Trudel

Do you find your day job fulfilling? If you answered “no,” Side Hustle is for you. If you answered “yes,” Side Hustle is also for you.

That’s what author Chris Guillebeau gets across in the early pages of Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days. “Everyone should have a side hustle. Even if you love your job, having more than one source of income will give you more freedom and more options.”

Who doesn’t want the freedom that more money can bring? And if you could start bringing in more money in less than a month, even better.

Side Hustle outlines Guillebeau’s five-week program to launch a successful side hustle. Besides being a veteran side hustler himself, Guillebeau is also the bestselling author of The $100 Startup.

In his book, Guillebeau targets those people who want to want to make money as entrepreneurs but who aren’t prepared to fully commit to self-employment. Perhaps they like their day job and want to keep it, or perhaps they just aren’t ready to quit yet.

Side Hustle is an easy read. Guillebeau uses accessible language, not jargon, to emphasize that you don’t need an MBA to run a successful side hustle. He includes anecdotes in every chapter, telling stories of regular people who came up with an idea for a side hustle and took immediate action. None of his subjects sat down and wrote out a detailed business plan first.

Still, there isn’t much to learn in Side Hustle if you already have entrepreneurial experience. In fact, some of it may seem downright obvious. Regardless, it’s a good reminder that keeping things simple is often the fastest route to success.

Guillebeau’s writing style is entertaining and inventive. He cleverly transitions between ideas and anecdotes. For example, after sharing an anecdote about one person’s sweater-selling side hustle, Guillebeau writes, “Like sweaters, side hustles are not one size fits all.” He also commits to his metaphors, dedicating seven pages to “the recipe for hustling success” and wrapping it up with, “A recipe is only as good as the finished product you take out of the oven.”

I was impressed with the formatting and organization of the book. It expands on the typical table of contents by including a summary of the 27-day plan with short one-to-two-sentence teasers. These teasers reappear at the beginning of the corresponding chapter, to reinforce the importance of sticking to the plan.

Guillebeau admits that he’s a bit indecisive. “If you’re like me, you may sometimes have trouble choosing among all your different side hustle ideas,” he writes. It feels as though Guillebeau couldn’t decide if he wanted Side Hustle to be a workbook or a textbook. Side Hustle includes a few workbook features: he leaves some room to make notes or answer questions in five places within the book. Since Guillebeau touts that most of the planning in his system can be done “on the back of a napkin,” it seems that he could have made room for planning in every chapter. It would have also been okay for him to leave no room for planning at all. Just make a decision, Chris!

Many editors with day jobs think they have a successful side hustle, but Guillebeau wants readers to understand that a truly successful side hustle brings in “passive income.” Editing is labour-intensive; typically an editor is only paid per hour or per word. Passive income is earned if, for example, you write a book about editing that continues to sell without your ever having to write another word. Guillebeau would encourage a side-hustling editor to find a way to make their hustle more self-sufficient.

Ultimately, Guillebeau’s message is this: “A good side hustle…can help support your life, but it doesn’t have to be your whole life.” I think all of us who dedicate almost every waking minute to writing and editing can all take a little wisdom from that.

Jessica Trudel has been a freelance writer and editor since 2006 and is an outspoken advocate for the arts in Northern Ontario. A mother of four girls, she is also on the board of directors of her local writers’ guild. She recently began hosting LitBulbs on YouTube.

This article was copy edited by Ellen Fleischer.


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