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Ruby’s real money diaries: Caroline's successful side hustle

04 August 2021

A growing number of Australians are creating side hustles to supplement a full-time wage, or turn a hobby or talent into another income stream. We chat to Caroline, a uni student and part-time marketing assistant, about how she her side hustle and how she manages it financially.

About Caroline

Age: 20

Location: Sydney

Occupation: Caroline’s studying and also works as a part-time marketing assistant

HECS / HELP debt? Yes

Any other debt? No

RUBY: Thanks for talking to us about your side hustle, Caroline. Tell us a bit about it.

My side hustle involves selling my custom-made art on Redbubble. This includes clothes and accessories printed with my designs.

RUBY: A side hustle can be great for additional income, but some product-based ones can come with extra costs – did you find that was the case?

Yes, the delivery costs for international orders and the effects of COVID definitely came as a surprise. I didn’t plan for that as well as I could’ve. Not only were orders delayed, but I found it difficult to keep customers informed about the tracking, and reassuring them about their orders. I’d also order some products as a test, but shipping for the USA and Europe is so expensive. The pandemic was a learning curve.

RUBY: You’re studying and working part-time right now, but is your plan to eventually turn your side hustle into your main source of income?

No, not at the moment. I truly think if it was my main source of income, I wouldn't enjoy it anymore. Instead, I like having it as a fun bonus income and something that keeps me interested on the side.

RUBY: What’s your system for managing your income from your side hustle?

I have a separate account for the income, and I track all my sales in an Excel spreadsheet. This helps me to price the items accordingly, and determines how much time and money I spend on the business. As my side hustle is growing, I do have plans to eventually get a virtual assistant to help with the financial side, and keep everything on track.

RUBY: How do you decide how much to invest back into your side hustle?

It really depends on how much time I have and how well sales are doing in that particular week or month. For example, I get a lot more sales in November and December, so I dedicate more resources to that part of the year because I know it’s when I will make a greater ROI (return on investment).

RUBY: Do you actively participate in any marketing to promote your business?

Yes, I do. And I choose to do this more so because I find it fun. I have an Instagram account where I post organically on the feed, and I also pay a fee to promote posts to people who’ve viewed my page. On the unpaid side, I used to post my art every so often on a side blog to get some extra eyeballs on my Redbubble products. These days, though, Instagram is my main priority and a source of most of my engagement and sales.

RUBY: What advice would you give to others looking to start their own side hustle? Any learning curves or tips you wish you knew?

It may take some time for yiur idea to get off the ground, but if it's something you really love doing, even without the benefit of extra income, then it will definitely be worth it. So, just go for it.

“Monitoring sales helps me price items accordingly and work out when I need extra resources”

This information is general in nature and has been prepared without taking your objectives, needs and overall financial situation into account. For this reason, you should consider the appropriateness for the information to your own circumstances and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

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