I don’t know about you, but I’ve been unemployed twice in my short working life, and both times, it was bloody awful! The first time was when I was 19, I had only been on the job for 8 months and it was a case of last hired, first to be laid off…

The second time was when I moved to Australia after a 2-year stint in Toronto, Canada. I stayed with my sister and her husband for an entire month, and it felt completely awful sitting around at home, applying for jobs and getting no response. That was 2009.

Things are vastly different now, we’ve gone through some pretty awful high global unemployment rates and it’s only now that things are starting to pick up … but that doesn’t apply to everyone.

In a recent article I read on www.careerealism.com, they talk about five things you should be doing if you’re unemployed.

Here’s a quick look at what they mentioned:

  • Volunteer
  • Keep your skills current
  • Network
  • Build an online presence

They recommend that you stop applying for so many jobs and instead, focus time each week to becoming more hireable. I love this sentiment.

[Tweet “…don’t bother applying for jobs at all and focus on starting a freelance career instead!”]

I wanna take it one step further though and suggest that you don’t bother applying for jobs at all and focus on starting a freelance career instead!Write ideas down first thing in the morning

I know, I’m a little whacky, but honestly, if I could go back to January 2009 and stop myself from entering into the job I had before I quit it in June 2012, that would be the advice I’d give a 31-year old me—kick start your side hustle and get freelancing!

Regardless of whether you just can’t bring yourself to go full-time in freelancing or not, it’s a well-known fact that freelancing not only boosts your confidence, it increases your skill base, resume, portfolio and professional network, and not to mention your income.

So why wouldn’t you at least give it a shot? You have nothing to lose if you’re not working anyway, right?

Before we jump into how you can get started, there are some ‘self traits’ that you need to possess to be a successful freelancer. I’m not saying it’s impossible to be successful if you don’t have these traits, but it will make your life easier if any of these sound like you:

  • You don't distract easily and are super organized
  • You are the priority Queen (or King)
  • You've got a good sense of who you are and can 'brand' you
  • You know what you're worth and how to communicate that to a client
  • You love your freelancing skills
  • You're great with money (or have tools to manage it)
  • You're not afraid of a little hard work
  • You enjoy being in charge of you, aka The Boss
  • You're adaptable to client needs
  • You're self-disciplined
  • You're patient
  • You don't give up easily. EVER

Some of these can be learned or can be managed, particularly when it comes to dealing with money and ensuring you get paid what you’re worth.

Ok, still will me? Good.

Quick Start Guide to Starting a ‘Side Hustle’ When You’re Unemployed

Need Income Start a Side Hustle


If you’ve decided that you want to get started, you don’t have to go all in. You can start your freelancing career part-time, and still keep your eye on the job market at the same time. That way, you’re ensuring that all your needs (and potentially your family) are being met.

Step 1: Identify your skill

It’s much easier to get started if you can pick one skill and focus on that initially. The easiest place to start is what you were currently doing in your last job. For instance, if you were an administrator or graphic designer, then you could be a Virtual Assistant or someone that designs logo’s for clients.

Step 2: Update your resume and online presence

I’d recommend that you create an online resume rather than use your ‘normal’ resume when applying for freelancing jobs. Particularly if you’re looking to enter back into the workforce, you want to keep your ‘side hustle’ separate from your ‘normal’ career.

You should also ensure your online presence is completed, particularly when it comes to LinkedIn. You should be using LinkedIn to find both freelancing gigs and a full-time job (if that’s your plan). Join groups that are relevant to your skill and then make sure you’re frequenting them often. Aim for the early hours of each day, as this is when most people are on LinkedIn. 7am-9am is a good time to be on LinkedIn.

Step 3: Find & apply for jobs

There are hundreds and thousands of job sites for freelancers. If you’re not sure where to start, below is my Top 10 sites to start with. If you want to see even more, check out my book, Outsourced Freelancing Success: Top 57 Freelancing Job Sites to Find High Paying and Quality Clients Fast!

Once you’ve found some jobs, you need to apply for them. They won’t jump into your lap, so make sure you’ve got your online resume sorted and other online presences’ set up and apply like crazy.

Step 4: Rinse & repeat

Once you’ve got a routine going, just keep applying for jobs until something sticks. Don’t forget to think local as well. If you’ve got a skill that you could offer to small businesses, pop in and see them and tell them how you can help them.

Better yet, join a local meetup.com meeting and network your ass off. If you can, get some cheap business cards printed with how people can get in touch with you and network like your life depends on it … because it very well might.

Further Resources

Here’s some further reading to help you get through what is probably a really stressful time for you right now. And I do empathize, it’s not easy when you don’t have money coming in.

Now, don’t just sit around feeling sorry for yourself! You need to take back control and do something for you … I believe in you, so you should too!

Have you ever been in this situation? What did you do? Leave your thoughts or comments below!

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Lise Cartwright
Lise Cartwright

Founder of Hustle & Groove and your creative business strategist. If you want to get notified of new posts just like the ones you see here, then make sure you join the awesome H & G community — Join Now!

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