That quirky girl who you always see crocheting on the train? Her side hustle is selling cute knits on Etsy. The graphic designer you sometimes sit at lunch with? He has his own freelance web design company. That woman you see at the park walking multiple pooches? She's hustling too, with her own pet sitting business.

Everyone is at it. The side hustle comes in all forms and flavors. With more options than ever, you might be tempted too.

Here are five reasons why a great side hustle is worth all of the extra work:

1. Extra cash.

One of the main reasons people start a side gig is to obtain some extra money. Which is wonderful to have if you're stashing away cash for an exotic holiday or if you have a designer handbag habit.

2. Unemployment insurance.

When the robots take over your job, do you have a backup plan?

Your side hustle may be the ideal insurance against unemployment in a world where layoffs are all too familiar. I know mine was. When my 9 to 5 newspaper-editing job came to a crashing halt, I started freelancing full time. It gave me enough income to keep me on my feet and enough work to fill up my time, which helped me fend off boredom while looking for another full-time career.

3. Opportunities will come to you.

The more you make and share with the world, the more opportunities you create for yourself. With a side hustle, you'll meet people (and potential clients) in exciting and unexpected ways.

Through my blog, I met a client who wanted me to write for his horse-racing publication. I got to travel all over the east coast, staying in cute little bed and breakfasts, covering horse-races. In addition to the covered travel expenses and money I got for writing the articles, the client also gave me extra money to spend on wining and dining my friends and betting on the ponies.

4. Investing in your passion.

Love writing but stuck in a data entry job? Fuel your passion with your side hustle! Turning something that's currently a hobby into an income generator is a sure way to make the most of your time.

5. Professional development.

Even if you have no expectations that your side gig will become your main moneymaker, it can add value to your day job.

For best results, choose a side hustle that allows you to develop skills that complement the work you do on a daily basis. For example, if you're in marketing, deepen your knowledge of a niche related to your job and write for industry magazines. If you do work in an area that values vocational skills, you could become a trainer for the relevant industry.

It's easy to see why more and more of us are seeking a side hustle to spice up our professional life. From giving you a creative outlet to furthering your professional development, the benefits go far beyond the immediate cash boost.

Published on: Aug 11, 2017
The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of