Coincidence? I think not.
Faced with the burden of student loan payments, people are flexing their entrepreneurial muscles in a major way.
Jessica Grose is one such side hustler who makes over $1,000 extra per month doing what she loves: baking cookies. This extra income helps ease the burden of her student loan bills, which total $600 per month.
Read on to learn how Jessica was able to harness the power of social media to find sweet success.
Jessica started baking for friends and families
By day, Jessica works as the executive producer on the YouTube channel Valuetainment. But by night, she’s baking up a storm with her growing side business, Clearly Cookies. Before she started her side hustle, Jessica simply enjoyed baking cookies with her mom.
“My side hustle really happened organically over the years,” says Jessica. “My mom taught herself to make cookies (she was horrible at first!), but after she became good I learned how to make them from her. It was always something we did together.”
When she posted pictures of cookies on Facebook and Instagram, her friends and coworkers took notice and started making orders.
As word of mouth spread, Jessica began taking orders for bigger and bigger batches.
Jessica’s fidget spinner cookies went viral
Jessica’s side hustle grew through her social network, but it really took off when she made fidget spinner cookies. Tapping into this fad in a major way, Jessica made cookies that didn’t just taste delicious — you could also spin them on your finger.
“My biggest success to date is my spinning fidget spinner cookies going viral,” says Jessica. Thanks to all the online attention, her cookies will be featured in the October issue of Food Network Magazine.
On top of that, her fidget spinner cookies appeared on ABC’s “FabLife” and a “Bachelor” spinoff show. Plus, Jessica says she’s fulfilled orders for celebrities like Chrissy Teigen, Eric Stonestreet, Rosie O’Donnell, and Tony Romo.
After all this media attention, Jessica now takes in about $1,000 per month — and $1,800 in June — with her labor of love.
She continues to balance work with a side gig
The success of Jessica’s side hustle has also come with challenges. Since Clearly Cookies is her side job, she must balance its demands with her full-time career as an executive producer.
“Sometimes I get so excited about getting an order I don’t have the ability to say no,” says Jessica. “I take on orders way too big for just me to handle and wind up recruiting my family and friends to help out.”
Carving out time to bake has also proven to be a struggle. “Sometimes I am up until all hours of the night making cookies,” she adds. “I’ve learned that I must require advance notice for all orders.”
Jessica advises any side hustler to keep things in perspective in order to avoid being overwhelmed. “It’s important for people to realize that a side hustle is simply a side hustle,” she says. “The money at times can be very exciting … but it’s important to remember to only take on what you are able to handle on the side.”
Jessica shares advice for aspiring side hustlers
From baking cookies with her mom to being featured in Food Network Magazine, Jessica has learned a bunch of valuable lessons. These are her top four tips for anyone looking to start a side hustle.
1. Learn to manage your time
First, Jessica has become proactive about her schedule. “In order to run a business … you need to plan ahead and manage time accordingly,” she says.
In the beginning, Jessica accepted any order that came her way. “I always get excited about the idea of a really big order and then come to realize the gravity of making 1,200 cookies,” she shares. After some hectic all-nighters, she’s learned to stick to what she can handle.
This proactive approach to time management is especially important if you’re starting a side hustle. You’ll need to carve out time apart from your day job, as well as make sure your side gig doesn’t interfere with your career.
2. Learn the laws around your business
If you’re starting your own business, you’ll also need to learn the laws surrounding it. “Do your research,” advises Jessica. “Know the laws that are involved with your type of business.” In the food business, for instance, Jessica had to learn about cottage food laws.
As it turned out, the laws in her state prohibited her from selling to local shops. So she moved her transactions online. Fortunately, this restriction was a blessing in disguise, since her social media accounts attracted lots of customers.
3. Make the most of social media
Jessica made the most of social media to advertise Clearly Cookies. “I only have an Instagram account and Facebook page,” Jessica says. “I get so many orders from people simply stumbling across my social accounts.”
Jessica’s strong online presence is helped by her work in the entertainment industry. Since she’s been part of some national TV shows, word of her cookie-baking business spread beyond her friends and family.
If you don’t have a similar reach, you might also start an official website or blog to attract customers, instead of just sticking to social media. That way, you can build an even bigger audience.
4. Always put the customer first
Regardless of how you attract customers, Jessica advises you stick to the age-old saying, “The customer is always right.”
“If someone isn’t satisfied, you have to do the right thing to make things better,” she says. “In the end, the customer will respect you more and will hopefully come back another time because you were the bigger person.”
If you’re interested in becoming an entrepreneur, you’ll need to put the customer’s needs first. That way, you can build trust with them and provide a service worth their time and money.
Although these tips might not apply to every business model, they’re useful for most people starting a side hustle. By sticking to these guidelines, Jessica continues to attract loyal fans — and cookie-loving celebs — to Clearly Cookies.
Find a side hustle you love
Side hustles are an ever more popular way to make extra cash. Plus, they give you the chance to explore a skill or hobby you enjoy.
“I love baking,” Jessica says. “So when I’m doing it on the side it doesn’t feel like work to me.” She encourages others to pursue their passions. “If you love it, then do it!” she adds.
Whether you’re blogging about cruises or driving around town for Uber, a side gig puts more money back in your pocket. Plus, you could use your earnings to fund a vacation, pay down debt faster, or build up your savings.
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