Online Side Hustle Failure

4 Reasons Why I’m Still an Online Entrepreneur Failure after 5+ Years of Side Hustling

Despite the fact that I made some money with online side hustles, I don’t consider myself overly successful. I started side hustling about 5 years ago, with some very low effort tries before that.

I could be making more money by now. But why is it that I don’t? Here are the reasons that keep me from being successful. Read on to see if they apply to you as well!

1. I can’t focus on just a single thing

I’m a Jill of all trades. Yes, that’s the female version of a Jack of all trades. I just love to do many different things and get bored quickly when I do the exact same thing for long. Currently, I have more online side hustles than I can handle.

Instead of working on my Etsy shop, my various print on demand or 3D model stores, I’m here, blogging, trying another new thing. Shiny object syndrome is real. And I’m seriously affected by it. Most of my unproductivity stems from decision paralysis. So many opportunities, which one should I go for? Which side hustle to work on?

When my Etsy store is not generating a lot of sales, I start losing confidence that it will ever lead to a decent income. When print on demand sales stagnate, I think of creating designs for a new niche, or trying a new marketplace.

For both my Etsy shop and print on demand, I have nowhere near maxed out my potential. My Etsy store has only 60 digital items in it. My competitors have hundreds. I created about 300 designs for print on demand products, which is a low “industry standard” if you can call it that. A lot of people in print on demand go with quantity over quality, throwing spaghetti on a wall to see what sticks. Design numbers in the thousands are very common.

But I just can’t help myself. I can’t make decisions and stick to them. If I make a decision, that doesn’t stop me from second-guessing it. After all, you have to adjust your plans to circumstances, right?

“No plan survives first contact with the enemy”

Helmuth van Moltke, Nineteenth Century Prussian Military Commander

I think that my plan doesn’t work and feel entitled to change it. And so I do.

I’m sure you can do better than I currently do. Stick to a number of side hustles you can handle! For most people, that will not be more than one or two. Find yourself a mentor or a buddy to hold you accountable for what you do if necessary. That mentor or buddy could also come in handy for the next point.

2. Finishing stuff is hard and perfectionism not helpful

I love to create first drafts. I think I wrote most of this article in less than an hour. But finishing it will probably take me double that time, or even more. Editing. Rewrite sections. Remove sections. Add new sections. Find suitable images. Do proper SEO. Proofread a hundred times.

For everything I do, whether it’s products, designs or writing, I want to make sure that it’s “ready” when I release it. And by “ready” I mean it’s polished to a state where I think it’s almost flawless.

What I need to do is releasing things in a “good enough” state. I often see in my Etsy shop that my customers have a different view on my products than I do. The printable planners I sell require borderless printing. I think it’s essential for the print to look good, and instructions tell people to do so. But most of my customers just print with border anyway and are completely happy with the result.

So I should finish things more quickly, and don’t obsess about details people won’t care about. Here’s where you could use that mentor or buddy of yours again: a second set of eyes to tell you when it’s good enough.

3. Consistency is a requirement, and I’m not the consistency type

Everything online runs on consistency. If you don’t post on social media regularly, the algorithm will ignore you. Online Marketplace search algorithms want to see that your shop is active, so you better have new stuff ready often. If people subscribed to your newsletter, you need to send newsletters regularly to keep people from forgetting you.

Every business requires consistent attention. So do online side hustles, if you want them to prosper.

But consistency is not me. I am chaos. I move between projects, and then other projects are left unattended for a while.

There are some tools to help with being more consistent. I use social media schedulers to post on social media, so I can do social media once a month and then forget about it. That helps. I have 5 goals planned for this year, and to reach them, I need to consistently create products. I’m not completely on track, but tracking my goals also helps a bit.

In the end, what would help most, is reducing my side hustles to a single one, so I can take care of all the tasks on a consistent time schedule. I have no issues planning the tasks, it’s just that with multiple side hustles, there are too many to fit the time I have available.

4. I’m not dedicated enough

I have an 80% day job that pays my bills. I’m not desperate. I don’t need to succeed. I kind of want to, yes, but then, there are so many other things to do. Go out with friends. Have board game nights. Play video games. Read books. Watch TV series. Just last weekend, I couldn’t keep myself from binge-watching the whole first season of Warrior. I excused myself with the thought “you have to take a break once in a while”.

I think I’m too soft on myself. 

What I need are time slots clearly dedicated to either “taking a break” or “working on X”. I’ve known this for a while but still couldn’t make it work, but one day I’ll probably get there.

The other fix would be to quit my job and create some pressure for myself – but it’s a very good job and I don’t want to do that just yet.


I could be more successful, and so could you.

What I need is focus, consistency, and a good measure of the Pareto principle. What we all need to do is constantly trying to improve. Assess your weaknesses and try to get better every day.

It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop - Confucius. A very applicable quote for online side hustles.
Photo by Adam_Tumidajewicz, quote added by author

I might not be really successful with my online side hustles yet, but I improved a lot compared to last year. My profit is already twice as high as last year, and there are still a few months left until 2021 ends.

So keep working, you’ll get there!