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Book Review of Side Hustle: Does Money Really Grow on Trees?

September 24, 2017

Chris Guillebeau’s latest book, Side Hustle, promises to provide readers with a “detailed roadmap” on “how to select, launch, refine, and make money from your side hustle in under a month.” Does the book deliver? For the most part, YES!

About Chris Guillebeau

So who is Chris Guillebeau and how is he qualified to lead YOU down the path of prosperity? I read Chris’ previous book, The $100 Startup, and enjoyed it so much that I passed it along to a nephew. In addition to being an author, Chris has a popular blog, hosts the World Domination Summit every summer, and is a successful entrepreneur. He boasts that he has visited every country in the world before his 35th birthday. Side Hustle serves as a marketing tool to Chris’ Side Hustle School.

Side Hustle Content

The content of the book is divided into five weeks – but there aren’t seven days or assignments in each of those weeks. That adds a little bit of confusion as a 27-day program can be completed in four weeks. But that’s a pretty minor complaint. Here are the tasks for each week:

  1. Build an Arsenal of Ideas
  2. Select your Best Idea
  3. Prepare for Liftoff
  4. Launch your Idea to the Right People
  5. Regroup and Refine

You can see that there’s a nice progression from idea to action. Chris claims that the assignment for each day can be completed alongside existing commitments and will take no more than one hour a day.

The appendices contain some additional resources, including “Side Hustle Starter Kits” on a variety of hustles (renting a room on Airbnb, creating a pop-up shop, developing and selling a how-to guide, selling photographs to stock photo sites, and starting a subscription site). And Chris has an appendix devoted to testing an idea with a $10 ad campaign on Facebook, and an interview with Paula Pant, from AffordAnything.com, about buying a rental property with a $1,575 down payment. The content in the appendices alone might be worth the price of the book.

Who Should Read the Book

Chris wrote this book for those who aren’t able or willing to give up their steady day jobs – jobs that pay the mortgage, provide health insurance, and allow us to squirrel money away for retirement. The book is targeted to readers who might be passionate about their jobs, but that passion doesn’t provide a lot of luxuries. And then there are readers whose income alone will never allow them to reach financial independence, or who trudge through the day with dead-end jobs, or dream about building a source of extra income to pay off debt, make a big purchase, or travel to an exotic location. While that’s a large audience, readers who will benefit most from Side Hustle are those who are ready to ACT on their ideas.

Ironically, I am writing this review while watching a side hustle in action. This week I am staying at a VRBO rental – an in-law suite above a garage in the southwestern corner of North Carolina. While the homeowners live in a very rural area, they are about a mile from the John C. Campbell Folk School, which brings in students from all around the country. And there are plenty of us who aren’t crazy about the dorm-room style housing available at the school. In addition to this unit, the owners rent out two cabins down the road. They’ve got this side hustle business figured out!

My Take on Side Hustle

Chris has an informal and engaging writing style. And he includes plenty of success stories to encourage readers to give their own ideas a shot. Plus, Chris emphasizes that you don’t need a lot of money to get your ideas launched. Here’s my review of the book, including key points.

Even Failed Side Hustles can be Learning Experiences

I enjoy reading success stories, but perhaps the stories that resonate the most are failed efforts that, in the long run, provide valuable lessons.  Chris shares his own story of a failed business.  Similarly, I’ve had “fails” – like my Healthy Cruising e-guide. Even though the concept didn’t pan out (who knew so few people were interested in NOT gaining weight on a cruise!), I learned how to create and market a kindle book. Now that’s a skill that will pay off in the future. While Chris emphasizes success stories, he acknowledges the potential for failure and encourages readers to explore a variety of ideas that may become profitable.

Hobbies are Not Side Hustles

Chris does a good job of reminding readers that side hustles are NOT hobbies. While hobbies can lead to fulfillment and happiness, they often cost money and don’t result in profits. For example, I make a few bucks here and there painting children’s rocking chairs, but certainly not enough to pay for the amount of time invested.  And this week I am learning how to embellish wood through carving, burning, and dying. It sounds like fun and yes, it’s a bit costly. But you know what…I don’t care! So one of the benefits of walking through the activities in Chris’ guide is that you’ll get a better focus on whether your ideas are hobbies or side hustles. While it’s possible to turn a hobby into a side hustle, Chris will quickly steer you in the direction of income-producing ideas.

You’ll Need more Time

Chris claims that each of the 27 steps in his blueprint should take no more than one hour a day. For the person who has never launched a side hustle before, that one hour benchmark is pretty unattainable. In day four, for example, readers are asked to research their concepts to identify obstacles and opportunities. I don’t know about you, but research can be a rather time-consuming task. To do it right, you’ll need more than an hour of time.  So if you are just picking up the book, give yourself more time to wade through the activities.

It’s a Crowded World Out There…Be Patient

Chris’ aim is to MOTIVATE you to take action, and he does a great job in that department. His framework is easy to follow, and it seems like everyone can make a decent profit with a side hustle. But in reality, it’s not that easy! The book  tends to highlight cases in which profits seem almost instantaneous. In reality, it can take months (and sometimes years) to build up a clientele that brings in profits. You may have a great plan at the end of 27 days, and that’s tremendous progress…but take your time launching a solid well-thought out nicely designed plan. For example, let’s say you want to start a blog. There’s an awful lot of competition – one source estimates there are 164 million blogs. Most of those blogs get less than 1,000 visitors per month, which leads most bloggers to quit within three months. Follow Chris’ action plan, but be PERSISTENT and PATIENT!

Final Thoughts

Side Hustle is a TERRIFIC Starting Point. The framework provided in Side Hustle, along with the real-life examples, make this a great read for those thinking about creating a new source of income. I will be curious to see how Chris further develops his Side Hustle School, which wasn’t fully up and running at the time of this review. While Side Hustle is a good addition to your library, take your time with planning and implementing your hustle. And if you find that money doesn’t grow on trees, use your failed experiences to plant a sturdier tree!

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Dr. Brenda

Dr. Brenda is a sociologist, financial coach, and full-time RVer. Her offerings include the Gutsy Women Finance community, the Financial Freedom Academy, and Financial Freedom for Women Workshops.

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