Side hustles are all the rage. They give you the ability to make money on the side, either within your primary profession or outside of it, and expand your experience in new ways. Plus, many opportunities allow you to work from home, meaning you don't have to report to an office to get started.
But, side hustling isn't always a majestic unicorn full of wonder and opportunity. They are also a lot of work and, just like starting a company, require a substantial amount of time to get off the ground and sustain.
If you're considering diving into the world of side hustles, here's what you need to know.
Expanding Your Horizons through Side Hustles
At some point in nearly everyone's career, you end up at a job that doesn't make full use of your skills. Maybe you are a software developer who works for a donkey of a company that isn't interested in embracing the latest technology or would like to branch out into a new programming language. Maybe your a seasoned professional who wants to try your hand at content creation in your niche, allowing you to establish yourself as a thought leader.
Regardless of the precise circumstances, a side hustle gives you the chance to dig in and get your hands dirty in a new arena, and that is very enticing to pros who don't necessarily want to abandon their current employment arrangement.
Often, you get to pick and choose which gigs you pick up, so you have significantly more control over the direction of your side hustle than you may have in your day-to-day. Plus, it can provide substantially more value than paying for classes as a means of professional development, as those scenarios aren't always based on the real-world and they can cost you a boatload of cash.
If you want to grow your skills, and get paid for doing it, side hustling might be right for you.
Grow Your Network
Any connection you make while side hustling gives you a chance to expand your network. You'll enter into discussions with a range of professionals representing their companies, and, if you meet or exceed their expectations, you can likely count on them as a connection.
Since so many jobs (both traditional and gig-oriented) can be found through word-of-mouth, a strong professional network is essential. A side hustle can be a great vehicle for growing yours, giving you access to more opportunities for years to come.
Diversify Your Employment
Nearly everyone has heard why it's best to diversify your investments, ensuring that, if one thing crashes, you don't lose everything.
Starting a side hustle can act similarly, giving you the ability to diversify your employment and create a safety net.
No matter how good you are at your job, or how amazing your employer seems, things go wrong (we all remember what happened at Enron, right?). By starting a side hustle, you can give yourself some level of protection against sudden unemployment or other career-related catastrophes.
While a side hustle along might not replace all of your income during extreme situations (though it certainly can, if that's your goal), it's usually a lot better to have some money coming in the door than none at all.
Get Paid for Your Side Hustle
By nature, a side hustle involves trading access to your skills for cold hard cash. That means you can supplement your income while doing something that excites you.
There are already a number of platforms available that connect professionals with gigs, like Gigster, Upwork, and WriterAccess. Some are incredibly niche while others support large networks of companies looking for individuals to accomplish specific tasks.
As a bonus, many of the platforms coordinate the payment side of the house, so you don't have to worry about tasks like invoicing or credit card processing.
Now, you can certainly coordinate things on your own, but you may need to make some investments to get started. For example, if you don't have invoicing and payment tracking software, then you may need to pony up some funds before you even land your first gig. Luckily, there are a lot of options out there, and some, like QuickBooks, can even be learned for free online.
Should Everyone Have a Side Hustle?
While side hustling represents an exceptional unicorn of an opportunity for many, that doesn't mean it is right for everyone.
First and foremost, keeping a side hustle up and going is hard work. It takes time, energy, and other resources to accomplish any task you take on, so don't underestimate this part of the equation.
Plus, you need to make sure that a side hustle doesn't detract from your primary job. When you are working for your employer, they deserve your full attention (after all, that is what they are paying you for) during your shift. If a side hustle is going to distract you from your obligations, forcing you to discretely try to multitask to keep up, it's better to say no to joining the gig economy.
Similarly, if your current position is already incredibly demanding, and you feel stretched to the brink more often than not, then adding something else to your plate isn't a wise move. While a side hustle takes work, it shouldn't solely represent another stressor in your life. If working more than you already do (even if the tasks intrigues you) would leave you screaming for mercy, back away slowly and only revisit the idea if you're in a better position to manage a workload increase.
You may also need to consider whether any non-competes your current (or previous, depending on the amount of time has passed) employer has in place. In some cases, your barred from performing certain kinds of work for others for a specific duration, and violating a non-compete carries serious consequences.
Ultimately, side hustles represent great opportunities, but you have to make sure they fit into your life before you take one on. But, if you can jump into the gig economy, it's certainly worth exploring.