10 books to read to finally start making real money from your side hustle

  • Many people are trying to start a side hustle during the pandemic, as rising unemployment and reduced hours are pushing them to look for creative, independent ways to make money.
  • But the desire to simply survive isn't enough to make it as a professional side hustler, experts say.
  • Those who've successfully transitioned into working for themselves share with Business Insider the 10 books that helped them find success on the side. 
  • Whether it's how to's or a personal account of finding motivation, these books offer practical advice and actionable steps on transforming your passion project into a lucrative source of freedom. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Thanks to the coronavirus, unemployment is way up and so are new side hustles. Millions have been thrown out of work or seen their hours cut, and according to a host of surveys, many are responding by finding creative, independent ways to make money on their own. 

"Sixty-four percent of Americans age 24 and older who lost a job or had their hours reduced have landed, or plan to seek, a side hustle, according to a TD Ameritrade survey," reported USA Today. "54% of all adults are planning a side gig, according to a mid-April survey by Self.inc." 

Whether you're starting a side hustle because of the pandemic or because you've always dreamed of controlling your own schedule and financial future, the goal isn't to grind through long days for just enough to avert disaster. Every side hustler wants to do more than survive. 

Those who've successfully made the leap to working for themselves and now help others find lucrative ways to make money on the side, including coaches and authors, insist books can help. Business Insider reached out to several of them for recommendations of the best titles to teach you how to transform your side hustle from a passion project or financial necessity into a source of real freedom and wealth. 

1. "Side Hustle" by Chris Guillebeau

Let's start with the basics. Guillebeau's book is probably the best known how-to for the side hustler and it has a lot of fans, including podcaster and coach Rachele Voigt. She described Guillebeau's approach as "very practical/straight forward/action-oriented versus some of the other books I've read that are more mindset focused." 

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2. "Don't Keep Your Day Job" by Cathy Heller

If you do need to jumpstart your mindset, author Susie Moore recommends "Don't Keep Your Day Job." "This book will get you fired up, ready to use your zone of genius to add a little more sparkle to this world. Cathy has a brilliant podcast (of the same name) and has interviewed people from Howard Schultz to The Property Brothers — she's all about using your unique skills to step out of the career box," Moore said. 

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3. "What If It Does Work Out?" By Susie Moore

Speaking of Moore, several experts recommended her book. Voigt called it "super inspiring" and said it "helped me kickstart my side hustle when I was just starting out." 

Successful side hustler Ryan Robinson, who interviewed Moore on his podcast said, "Moore wrote this book to motivate you to overcome your fear of failure and doubts about whether or not pursuing your side hustle is the right decision, and gives actionable steps to begin building a profitable side hustle."

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4. "The Science of Getting Rich" by Wallace D. Wattles

Leah Gervais, a business coach who helps people get their side hustles off the ground, suggested this practical title. 

"This book taught me to think about money like an entrepreneur, which is dramatically different from the way we generally talk about it in our society. Instead of seeing income from coming through one source (a job) this book taught me to see it more holistically, to think bigger, and to go bigger," she explained.

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5. "You are a Badass as Making Money" by Jen Sincero

Another title offering advice on the dollars-and-cents side of succeeding at your side hustle, this book was recommended by both Voigt and another coach for entrepreneurs, Relinde Moors. "This book is funny and it gave me the guts to invest in a business that didn't exist yet (in terms of time, hiring a coach)," Moors said. 

It may be particularly helpful to mid-career professionals thinking of heading out on their own. "It helped me to get over the 'I'm too late' mantra in my head, as Jen was over 40 when she became successful, which makes her a great role model for anyone who gives up before they've even started because they think they're too old," Moors added.

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6. "The E-Myth" by Michael E. Gerber

One last nuts-and-bolts suggestion, also from Moors. The E-Myth argued most "entrepreneurs are actually 'technicians.' Meaning, we're really good at what we do (being a coach, a yoga teacher, a jewelry designer) but not good at being a business owner," she said. Gerber helps you figure out not just how to do what you love, but how to make money off it without having your work completely consume your life.

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7. "Rework" by Jason Fried

Sometimes what's holding back a would-be side hustler isn't financial acumen, but struggles with productivity. How do you get everything done you need to get done in just 24 hours? Moore insisted the answers are in this book. "Rework" "highlights an 'easy-is-better' approach," she said. "There is always a smarter, faster way! This book is full of getting-it-done hacks."

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8. "The Motivation Myth" by Jeff Haden

If you've been procrastinating on your side hustle idea for a while, Robinson's prescription is this book from Jeff Haden.  

"Haden argues that motivation isn't a magical formula that we need at the outset of any major change, challenge or endeavor. Rather, that motivation is a result of process, not a cause," he wrote. "This book is a must-read that'll bring you practical advice to stop stalling and start actually working toward your dreams."

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9. "Boss Bitch" by Nicole Lapin

Struggling with how to build a bridge between your corporate experience and your new side hustle? Gervais suggests this book from news anchor and serial entrepreneur Nicole Lapin. 

"This book was a case study by someone who was very successful in her corporate career, and leveraged it to brand herself, start side hustling, and become her own boss," she explained. "It's a great case study for a 20-something woman wondering how to start something on her own using the experience she already has."

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10. "One MillIon Followers" by Brendan Kane

Once you've started your side hustle, how do you get the word out? That's the question Kane tackles in "One Million Followers." The book "was very simple and helpful in learning about content creation. Kane was the first person who introduced (and explained) the concept of  'shareable content' which helps side hustler's grow a following organically," Voigt recalled.

Find it here »

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