The Side Hustle, Not Just a Hobby Anymore!

by Ray Bridgeman

Blame it on my ADD baby, is what I say when people ask how you keep up with everything you do.  Sorry, I couldn’t resist. It’s not every day you can drop a song reference like that!  10 points if you know the song! defines side hustle as a means of making money alongside one’s main form of employment or income.  The side hustle is no longer the same stay at home spouse holding Tupperware parties anymore.  Depending on what source you use, 37%- 45% of Americans today have a side hustle, equating to 70 million people plus, just here in the States!  

I guess I have always had a side hustle now thinking about it, but it didn’t always make money, but it was always a blast.  When my kids were young, I was always involved in school and sporting activities. One summer, I coached three teams at once while working 60 hours a week in banking.  Ok, only once did I show up at the wrong game with the wrong kid!  That was my training for the ultimate of side hustles.  

Shortly after becoming the Executive Director at the Bar Association of Lehigh County, my network really exploded.  Not only was I meeting great attorneys with the Bar, great business connections throughout the Valley, and great contacts nationally like Jessica Buchanan, Eric O’Neil, and Mike Smerconish. At the same time, I joined the all too familiar divorcee club. Suddenly, I didn’t have enough saved for retirement (although I can never see myself in full retirement).  What to do?

One of those contacts I met was Chris Morganelli.  Not long after connecting with this great contact, a great friend & a future business partner, a few of us were sitting down one afternoon having a cocktail.  We were brainstorming to try and develop ways to market our individual brands and companies. Network Magazine was born, literally sketched out on a cocktail napkin. There is when the Side Hustle Race began for me!

Now, I truly believe that there is something to be said about a Jack of all trades and a master of none!  That is why for me, the side hustle must be something that will somehow grow my brands, make sense in my list of companies, mean something to me personally, and most of all, enjoy it!

Some of my Side Hustles, I have stumbled on by accident.  Once, while trying to figure out a different event style for my members at the Bar Association, my lovely fiancée overhears some of the planning. We knew that we wanted it to include some sort of charity aspect and a wine tasting.  I am not kidding when I say, the next day, a new Side Hustle emerges, and along with her, I am now in the wine business!  Miriam falls in love with the OneHope Wine’s story immediately.  Great tasting wines that have a built-in charity impact per wine variety and allow you to promote and give back dollars to your charity of choice.  While using this business to host wine parties (if you know Miriam and me, you know that we would have been having these wine parties anyway, we are raising money for charities, and this is another excellent opportunity to promote our brands.  Along the way, through our contacts (thank you,  Marta and Jeff Countess), we met Matt DiRito, bass player for Pop Evil and founder of Star Treatments. This organization provides a VIP transportation experience to medical facilities for children receiving ongoing medical care.  Matt’s mission is to use his fame for good, helping sick kids and their families.  So not only does this Side Hustle allow us to promote our brands, but the charities (we pick Star Treatments as our choice of charities to support through our wine parties) we are able to help the cause, that’s priceless.  

Along the way of this Side Hustle Journey, I obtained my Real Estate and Insurance Licenses and became a Publisher and a Wine Educator.  One of my fiancée’s goals was to open her own insurance office space. Watching her help, so many people navigate through the challenges of figuring out Medicare, Life Insurances, budgeting, ETC, is amazing.  Her professionalism is second to none, but her compassion for truly just wanting to help her clients makes her stand out. So, then the business and marketing plan began with a name, and Bridgeman Strategic Concepts was born with an emphasis on bringing as many of our brands as possible under “one roof.”  I can’t take credit for this Side Hustle. I really only lent my name to the effort (it was supposed to be Miriam’s name as well, but the Zombie Apocalypse of 2020 delayed those plans temporally).  

So, some final statistics:

According to Bankrate, 30% use their side hustle just to make ends meet, while 60% use it for saving or just extra spending money.  The average side hustle business brings in around $1,122 a month. Most believe that due to the pandemic and people becoming creative with high unemployment, the side hustle game will continue to grow quickly.  No big surprise that eBay remains one of the top ways to create a side hustle but now Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash have made it even easier to be your own boss.  For longevity, those who decide to turn their hobbies into the hustle; photography, music, maybe cooking and treat it as a business have the best chance to turn it into a career.  

So, for me, the side hustle has been a way to not only expand my network, but I am sure it will be what my so-called retirement plan will look like.

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