ERIK Soto Ayla was able to quit his 9-5 warehouse job after his small side hustle turned into a lucrative full-time business.
The 23-year-old left his job as a forklift operator and floor product staffer in October and commits full-time to his side hustle – selling engraved wallets on Etsy.
“Handing in my two weeks’ notice was one of my most freeing experiences ever,” Ayla said in an essay for Business Insider.
Ayla made the plunge after he made $26,000 in revenue in September, 10 times what he made a month doing his day job.
After expenses, he took home a $14,300 profit in just one month – compared to $2,600 a month from his warehouse job.
Searching for a side hustle
Ayla detailed how he spent a long time looking for a side hustle that could supplement his income.
He tried many popular routes, including drop shipping, investing in cryptocurrency, and selling products on Amazon.
But, he did not find success with any of these ventures, and he found most of them were too stacked with the competition.
In early 2022, he brainstormed for a niche business where he could really stand out and make his mark.
Ayla soon discovered that laser engraved gifts sold on sites like Etsy were very popular and stood out from the mass-produced products that dominate online sales.
The wallet market
After a couple of months of research, Ayla found the competition for laser engraved wallets was underwhelming.
So, he saved up and bought a laser engraver for $1,200, and decided on producing laser engraved wallets and selling them on Etsy.
To buy it, he started working overtime in January and then had enough money saved to buy it at the end of February.
He also made a small order of wallets from Alibaba for $200, and then invested another $400 to build his inventory.
Five days after officially launching on Etsy, his first sale came in.
By the end of May, after only one month in business, he made $521.21.
And after six months, he had totaled up over $80,000 and decided to do this his full-time gig.
He credits much of his success to his focus on excellent and efficient customer service.
“My competitors were shipping three to five days after a purchase, and customers sometimes received their orders two weeks after purchase,” Ayla said.
“I was processing orders the next day. I think this is a big part of why my store took off.”
Ayla is currently plowing his profits back into the business, and he is excited about what is to come.
“I’m hoping to start paying myself a salary and have saved some money in the event the store slows down, but right now, I’m very excited about its future,” he said.
Side Hustle Basics
Whether you choose a highly personalized side hustle like Ayla’s, or a more common one like selling books on Amazon, there are some basic side hustle best practices to be aware of.
Remember that your side hustle money is taxable income, so keep good records of all your expenses and revenues.
At the end of the year, rather than fill out a W-2 form like you would if you were an employee, you will want to fill out a 1040 tax form.
For more information on declaring side hustle income, check out this page from the IRS.
Check out another Etsy side hustle that turned into a six-figure business.
And read about a side gig paying $100 an hour to record audiobooks on your own time.