In these unprecedented times, countless people went from thriving careers to the unemployment line. But they don’t have hope for a new job or government support that might come too late. Instead, they can take three simple steps to turn their side-hustle into a permanent full-time gig.

Throughout most of 2020, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has continued to wreak havoc on the economy. And despite the glimmer of hope created by a quick vaccine rollout, the calendar change to 2021 hasn’t brought much relief. At the time of this writing, a staggering 15.7 million people in the US were either unemployed or underemployed.

For them, the cost of the pandemic is now being measured in how many bills are past due. And because we’re now almost a year into the pandemic, a substantial number of people are on the verge of losing unemployment benefits, too. But believe it or not, there’s a bit of a silver lining to all of this.

It’s that there are still plenty of great opportunities to earn money online that can begin as a side hustle but turn into a long-term source of stable income. The problem people seem to have is that they have no idea how to grow a side hustle into a viable full-time gig. And that’s because turning a side hustle into a full-time gig is much like starting a brand-new business – it requires specific skills and careful planning.

But it is possible. To help, here are the three basic steps required to maximize your efficiency and to turn your side hustle into a permanent replacement for your day job.

Learn to Apply the Pareto Principle

One of the difficulties some people encounter when trying to scale up a side hustle into a full-time gig is that they equate more work with more earnings. This is especially true for those who’ve suddenly become dependent on the stream of income coming from their side hustle. The problem is, just doing more work isn’t always the best way to earn more money. Instead, it’s critical to learn how to apply the Pareto principle to the work you’re taking on. In short, it dictates that around 80% of your results will come from 20% of your efforts. By learning to prioritize and expand upon the 20% of your efforts that are bringing in the most money, you can make the best use of your time and grow your earnings.

Learn How to Market Yourself

When it comes to landing more work to grow a side hustle into a full-time gig, there are two ways to go about things. You can chase the work down or create the conditions for the work to come to you. Obviously, the latter is preferable. To make it happen, you’re going to have to know how to market yourself. This means learning the basics of building a personal brand through digital promotion and customer outreach. To get started, you should focus on getting comfortable with email marketing. It’s cheap, scalable, and boasts a 122% ROI, which matters quite a bit when you need to make every dollar count.

Conclude Every Day by Planning for Tomorrow

For the same reason that the Pareto principle works so well for growing a side hustle, it’s also important to reserve time (preferably at the end of each day) for strategic planning. Many people neglect this basic task because they believe that any time spent not earning income is time wasted. But nothing could be further from the truth. At the end of each day, make a list (using the Pareto principle as a guide) of 6 tasks to focus on the following day in order of importance. This is what’s known as the Ivy Lee planning method, and it’ll help keep you on-task and earning maximum income each and every day.

Master of your own Destiny

Although it may not happen overnight, applying these three steps to your side hustle (along with old-fashioned hard work) will pay off. And right now, doing this can be a path to financial stability that’s sorely needed. What’s most important is to dedicate yourself to the task at hand and keep working to get where you’re trying to go.

And even if you’re in this position unwillingly, you might find that working for yourself is more rewarding than you thought it would be. Who knows? You may even come to look back at this year as the year you became the master of your own destiny and got free of the rat race once and for all. I bet you never thought you might look back on these days so fondly, right?