One trend that has come out of the workforce in recent decades is the side hustle, or a second job outside of your primary source of income. According to Bankrate, 46% of Americans report having a side hustle, a number that spikes for millennials above older generations. There are many reasons for operating a side-hustle business. Some people want to diversify their income sources in the same way freelancers do. Others want to save up for a major event (like a wedding or down payment on a house)—and others yet use their side hustles to prop up their hobbies. Whatever your reason for running a side hustle, you need to take steps to ensure it’s profitable. Here’s how side hustlers can make and manage money. Determine What to Charge for Your Side Hustle The first step toward any side hustle: conduct market research. You’re still running a business, so you need to know how to set fair prices without low-balling yourself and others in your industry. Creating a base pricing model for your services will help you to develop a business model where your expenses don’t outweigh your profits. For example, let’s say you wanted to start your own ghost-hunting business. You can charge for paranormal consultations, take people on ghost-hunting tours, and host workshops to teach about ghostly visitors. By knowing the right prices to charge for each of these profit channels, you can account for expenses like equipment, marketing, web hosting, and paranormal education. By tracking your expenses in a clean and organized manner, you can understand what prices you need to set to hit your targeted profit margin. Mitigate Extra Spending and Unnecessary Expenses Side hustles are not without risks or expenses. You may have equipment costs, travel expenses, and other general operating costs that are necessary for you to run your side business. These costs will grow exponentially as you build your side hustle. There will be more fees if you incorporate into an LLC, you may need new equipment, and you’ll need to invest capital to scale. You need a strong business plan and financial clarity if your side business is going to be profitable. In an article for PaddlingLight, Bryan Hansel shared his story about his 2 businesses: sea kayak guiding and photography. He’s honest about why his sea kayaking business wasn’t profitable but was stressful—even if he loved taking people out on the water. If you aren’t careful, poor financials can make you fall out of love with your hobby and quit your side hustle before you ever begin making money. Keep a close eye on your outgoing money to find opportunities to cut back and glean insight into what steps to take moving forward. Develop Automated Operations Even full-time business owners don’t have time to manage their books and stay on top of every aspect of their business. As a freelancer, you definitely don’t have the time. The effort you put into bookkeeping, legal requirements, and marketing services takes away from your earning potential and doing something you love. Plus, you’re likely doing these beleaguered tasks on top of your regular 40-hour workweek. For relief, look to automated software and systems that will run your business for you. Streamline Your Payments Side hustlers typically operate lean—meaning they don’t have the time, money, or resources for any waste. This reality means that any unnecessary activity or risk can be detrimental to your business. So when a customer is late or delinquent on a payment, you suffer. Collecting payment is a headache for any business—but without an organized and steadfast approach to accounts receivable management, you can lose out on money that you’ve earned. Grow Your Industry Knowledge Your side hustle is still a business, which means it could become unexpectedly competitive as you enter the industry. If you want to get noticed by customers and win people over, do your research. Continue advancing your industry knowledge so that you know about the latest trends or hottest ideas. You’ll be able to assist your customers better and can dive deeper into a hobby you already love. Investing in your industry knowledge means investing in yourself. You can turn a hobby or activity you love into a source of income, but keeping a side hustle “on the side” instead of letting it take over your life requires planning and organization. With the right tools, your hobby will continue to be something you love and make money from, rather than a source of undue work and stress.