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How Much Are Recent Grads Actually Earning From Their Side Hustles?


To side-hustle or not to side-hustle, that is the question. Whether you're someone who’s already started a side hustle, someone who's thinking about it, or someone who's just getting introduced to this concept, we can all agree that the decision to run a small business or side project of your own, whilst keeping your day job, needs a lot of thought, consideration and planning. In addition, the small business owner needs to have passion, a strong will and honestly, a dream.

We asked these side-hustlers a small set of questions, from what their income is annually to what their experience has been, and lastly, what advice they'd give other young adults who already run a business of their own or are thinking about doing so. 

1. Karlota Rodríguez, 2011 Graduate – Photographer and Film Maker

Karlota Rodríguez works full time as a Benefits Specialist and runs a photography and film business on the side. She started out as a freelance photographer five years ago and has been filming for the last three years. Her income, she explains, varies from year to year, depending on how much time she has to dedicate to side projects. “In 2015 I made close to $10,000. Annual income varies from year to year depending on the amount of time you can dedicate to your side hustle," she says.

Karlota adds that running a small business “takes lots of time, networking and investment,” but that she’s had a great experience. Her first piece of advice is to set achievable goals because “sometimes we are overwhelmed by all the competition around us and that can lead to a frustrated state of mind. The important thing is to acknowledge your strengths and that special something which sets you apart from all the rest.”

She also emphasizes the importance of standing by your product and to “not bite [off] more than you can chew in order to please customers.”

Related: 5 Things to Do If You Find Yourself in Debt in Your 20s

2. Aura Torres, 2016 Graduate – Editorial Assistant

Aura Torres’ daytime job is at Express Men, but she’s been taking on a side job as an Editorial Assistant for her family’s small editing company in Puerto Rico for around 7 to 8 years. “I make around $2,000 to $4,000, depending on the work load of the year,” she says of the extra income. She describes this experience as the most important one in her life because it shaped her into the person she is today.

The number one advice Aura would give other young adults thinking about taking on a side hustle of their own comes in the form of balance. “As someone that works a regular job, studies and has a side hustle, I’ve had times where I was against the clock and a day wouldn’t be enough to get everything done,” she explains.

She finishes by adding that, “If you're doing something to build for your future or just because you like it, you'll enjoy every second of it and you'll learn more things than you could ever imagine.”

3.Yarelis Maldonado, 2015 Graduate – Baker

Yarelis Maldonado is one of the wonderful cases where what started out as a side hustle has turned into a full-time job. She used to work as an Account Executive and Social Media Supervisor at a digital marketing agency, while also working as a wedding assistant for an event planning company. Her side hustle—yes, those were her two daytime jobs—was baking cupcakes, something she’s been doing for more than 4 years.

“When I first started my side hustle, I was studying and working part time jobs with almost no free time for me to enjoy college life, but when you have a dream so big that pretty much doesn't leave your head all day every day, you need to make those sacrifices to start making your dreams a reality,”she shares.

Before deciding to turn her side project into a full-time job—which she says involved a lot of consideration and strong support from her loved ones—Yarelis made between $3,000 to $5,000 annually.

As for advice, she tells young entrepreneurs to “Never let anyone decide what you can or cannot do, the only person you need to listen is yourself. Nothing worth having comes easily in life; there will be many, many obstacles to overcome but if you want it that badly, and feel strongly passionate about it, then get to work and make it happen!”

4. Angélica Jiménez, 2016 Graduate – Handmade Products

While working as an assistant preschool teacher, Angélica Jiménez makes and sells handmade soaps, candles, and creams—something she has enjoyed doing for nearly two years. She knows that annual income can vary, saying, “Every year is different and there are times when it goes pretty well on the job and others where it simply doesn’t go well at all.”

More than financial investment, however, Angélica focuses her advice on the importance of keeping your own desire alive. “We normally get tired as the time passes,” she says, “but if we like something and decide to take the risk of making it true, we have to be a hundred percent sure we will do our best and keep the light in our hearts on.”

5. Charmaris Darias, 2016 Graduate – Baker, Makeup Artist, Crafter

Charmaris Darias is what we like to call a multi-side-hustler. Even though she says that selling baked goods—from brownies to all sorts of cupcakes—is her main project, she’s also a makeup artist and makes paper mâché masks; all while working in a retail store.

“Baking brownies, I can make up to $2,000 [annually],” she says, before adding that the reason she enjoys running her own business is because she likes “being able to generate my own money… Although I have a main job, I know I can always bake something if the paycheck ends up being too small.”

For Charmaris, it’s vital to have a good state of mind and to be fair with others while running your own business, something we wholeheartedly agree with. “There is always going to be competition but focusing on you doesn’t let it get to you,” she says. “Make sure your success is based on your greatness, not on diminishing others.”

6. Carlos Montañez, 2015 Graduate - Accounting Services

Carlos Montañez shows that you don’t have to sell sweet things or be involved with the arts in order to have a side-hustle—it’s only a matter of doing what you’re good at and doing something you genuinely enjoy. He works at a CPA firm and offers Accounting Services on the side, as well as tax services, for 3 or 4 different companies. What started as a way to gain experience in his field turned into a small business that earns him between $3,000 to $5,000 yearly.

The UPR-RP graduate, however, is no stranger to that wonderful feeling of being your own boss. He opened his own restaurant with his brother and father several years back, giving him a proper taste of what he calls “the best feeling in the world [being your own boss].”

When asked what advice he’d give other young entrepreneurs, he suggests they “Aspire to be more.

7. Andrés Torres, 2016 Graduate - Sales Director, Ambrosia Foods

Legal Assistant Andrés Torres, has a very delicious and creative small business that he runs with a couple of partners. They distribute a fusion of Puerto Rican and Asian cuisine that made them a net income of around $15,000 in 2015—and they’re looking to double that number.

“It has been challenging to grow in a collapsing economy, but it's up to us young entrepreneurs to push forward and bring new ideas and ways to make Puerto Rico a little more stable,” he says, referencing the financial crisis of the island. Despite this however, he adds, “We've had tons of gratifying experiences scouring the island for opportunities and ways to help people look to Puerto Rico's future with a bright mindset.”

When asked for advice, Andrés highlights the importance of pursuing your goals without leaving room for others’ negative opinions in your mind. “Some people will find excuses for you to quit, but pay no mind to them, if you put your mind to it and think strategically, you can find a way around anything,” he says. 

The experiences and advice of these young side-hustlers prove that despite the sweat and difficult times that come with running your own business, it is ultimately and absolutely worth it. If it’s something you’re passionate about and brings you immense happiness and pride at the end of the day, you should go for it! Remember to set achievable goals but still reach for the sky, balance things out, keep your desire alive regardless of how tough things may get, build yourself up without tearing other people down, ignore anyone who tries to tell you it’s impossible, and most importantly, never stop dreaming. 

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