It’s super easy to become delusional with side hustles.
One of my earliest side hustles was selling MP3s.
It was after the days of Napster and the torrent craze of free music that began to stop. iTunes had entered the scene. People began to pay for music again.
I thought I could sell dance music to DJs and electronic music lovers and make a killing. I set up a home studio. I soundproofed the walls. I bought a $5000 Neumann U87 microphone (same as the Beatles used).
I bought high-end synthesizers like a Prophet 5 that Phill Collins used to make famous songs such as “In the Air Tonight.”
Through a random direct message I got signed to a small record label.
My ego got huge overnight.
I could talk a big game. The record label owner could talk an even bigger game. He could give Martin Luther King speeches.
“ I have a dream we’re going to achieve greatness…”
The first MP3 I sold did okay. But the next 30 or so made hardly any money.
I’d get royalty statements that would read $1, 99 cents, $20. The money wasn’t even enough to pay for the parking at the record labels’ office I had to visit once a week to talk tunes. I wasn’t the only one.
It felt like a cult.
There were others that would come in hoping to get rich off MP3s. Only one person we knew had made serious cash doing it. His success became the drug that kept us high on our delusions.
Some got high in other ways. Not me. I’m a good boy 🙂
After all the money I spent on my MP3 side hustle, the numbers didn’t stack up. I stopped loving music too.
Then mental illness lit a bomb inside my head that exploded.
So I burned my side hustle to the ground
Months went by.
I didn’t make a single song. My keyboard had dust on it. Something shifted inside of me. I decided to burn it all to the ground.
In a few short weeks I sold everything. I deleted all the MP3 loops off my hard drive. I nuked my bookmarks folder that had endless websites dedicated to DJs like Axwell. I decided not to go and see Swedish House Mafia live.
My friends, most of them fellow MP3 dreamers, thought I’d lost my mind.
We no longer had anything to talk about. My Facebook friends list got short, fast. I didn’t care.
I was doing it for the wrong reasons. I wanted to be a famous DJ. I wanted to walk up to nightclubs and get straight in.
Part of the trauma came from earlier in life. I used to line up outside popular nightclubs and get rejected. One night I told a doorman that my friend’s dad owned the club. (That was true.) The time was 10 PM
He asked someone at the bar and they verified my claim. He told me to come back in an hour. So I did.
Then he kept stalling me. I kept coming back like a puppy dog. I was so naïve I didn’t realize he was messing with me. This game continued until 6 AM.
I was never getting into the club.
Somehow, this rejection made me want to get even with the nightclub industry. I was going to even the score, get rich, and get laid. None of it happened.
My side hustle existed for all the wrong reasons. It was time to burn my side hustle to the ground.
The upside of starting a new side hustle
Once I let go of my terrible side hustle that made me miserable, it created room for something new.
I didn’t know what that would be.
But creatively, I began to explore. It led me to read more online. As I read more, I discovered a blog I fell in love with. I ended up writing on that blog for fun. That experiment became a new side hustle.
Now I look back, writing is my true calling — not selling MP3s to coked-up drug addicts on dark, underground dance floors.
Maybe you have the wrong side hustle
Writing online helped me become prolific.
But it would never have happened if I held on too tightly to something that wasn’t meant to be.
If your side hustle is going nowhere, maybe it’s time to change course like I did. Maybe you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.
Maybe it’s become less about doing what you love and more about proving someone wrong, or trying to impress parents/leaders/friends/strangers.
A badass person doesn’t lie to themself.
They ask the tough questions and are comfortable to switch side hustles if it makes sense.
Giving up too soon can lead to mediocrity.
Giving up too late can waste your time and crush to death the side hustle you could have achieved greatness in.