When Deborah Rogers, 49, of Minneapolis became a mom 10 years ago, a full-time job lost its appeal.
She had worked at market research firms for several years helping to organize focus groups for Fortune 500 companies, but she decided she wanted to spend more time at home with her children. When her son and daughter started school, she wanted to work around their schedules. Since Rogers couldn’t find a traditional 9 to 5 job that offered such flexibility, she cobbled together a number of side hustles that did the trick.
First, Rogers taught marketing at a local university. Later, she and her husband bought apartments, which she manages on weekends. Most recently, she started making a couple hundred dollars a month selling whimsical gifts and greeting cards online at thegiftedrat.com. Together, the various gigs, along with her husband Phu’s salary as a neuroscientist at the University of Minnesota, cover the family’s expenses.
“It gives me the flexibility to be with my kids,” Rogers says. “I have more control over my time.”
Like Rogers, many moms put a premium on flexibility. In fact, 76 percent of working parents consider flexible schedules to be more important than salary, according to a 2017 FlexJobs study.
Devon M. Moody-Graham, 34, is one of them. The consultant and entrepreneur from East St. Louis, Illinois, watched her mom juggle side hustles such as catering and selling Mary Kay so that she could stay home with her nine children.
“She was always available for me, and I knew ultimately whatever I did, I wanted to be available for my children,” Moody-Graham says.
Among her gigs: The mother of four works as a small business consultant with a focus on mom-owned businesses, she facilitates youth entrepreneurship after-school programs, she speaks about women’s empowerment, and she’s an adjunct faculty member at a business college.
Each gig contributes a portion to the overall pie of what she needs. “I might have smaller individual clients that pay a couple hundred dollars a month, but then I may get a contract with a university or with a nonprofit organization with a budget for a couple thousand every couple months,” Moody-Graham says.
Moms who want to follow in Rogers’ and Moody-Graham’s footsteps should think about their natural skills and look for ways to monetize them. A good cook or baker may consider catering. If you’re good at crafts you might sell your creations on Etsy. The key is to have more than one stream of income to better ensure that money will continue to flow in, Moody-Graham says. “You can have something going solid for six months, but it can drop off so you have to have other things that can hold you in the meantime,” she says.
Once you have your ideas, the following tips can help turn them into a success.
Know how much you need to make.
How much income will you need to bring in from side hustles each month? Do you have a part-time job with a steady check? Do you have a spouse or partner who takes care of half of the bills? Once you have a number in mind, create your pathway to get there. “I would go after contracts to make sure I get a certain amount monthly and a certain amount quarterly,” Moody-Graham says. “It is really a numbers game.”
Find an anchor stream of income.
It helps to have one main gig or side hustle that will produce a steady check. For Moody-Graham, teaching a class gave her some financial stability. For Rogers, the apartments are the greatest source of steady cashflow.
Learn how to segment your time.
When you have a lifestyle consisting of multiple side hustles, you must make time for everything. Being able to compartmentalize is key, Rogers says. Two days a week she handles apartment management duties, one night she teaches, and other days she takes photos and uploads items online to sell. “Having a weekly schedule makes it less overwhelming,” Rogers says.