Side hustles aren’t new, but in today’s volatile economy they’re more popular than ever. Especially now, with so many ways to make money online, more and more people are deciding to pursue a side hustle.
A 2021 survey from Dollarsprout showed that 57% of Americans have a side hustle. And that number is sure to grow following the January layoffs by some Big Tech companies of at least 5% of their workforce.
Why is this becoming more common?
While everyone has their reasons for what they do, these are some of the most common motivations for a side hustle. Starting with creating a financial backup, keeping in mind that wave of layoffs we just mentioned.
1. Increase your financial security
Even if it’s only an extra $100 a month, a side hustle can add to your financial security by increasing your income.
You also have the potential to make a lot more per month, making it easier to pay off debts, save money, and just generally breathe a little easier when you make your budget.
Everyone could use a little extra, right?
Side hustles also provide you with another income stream that’s unrelated to your primary job. So if you run into issues with your work, your income won’t be completely cut off.
Financial security is a big issue. Reducing your reliance on each individual income stream gives you some cushioning if anything happens to either of your income sources.
2. Get more flexibility
If you’re working a 9-5 office job or any other job with a rigid structure, the freedom of working for yourself in a side hustle can be a refreshing change.
One of the best parts about a side hustle is that you have complete control over it.
When you have a tough week at work, you can choose to reduce your side hustle hours. Having the freedom to choose your work schedule means you get to maintain the position in your off-hours, whenever that may be.
Some side hustles are more flexible than others. For example, freelance work with clients and deadlines won’t offer the same flexibility as rideshare driving.
Choose a side hustle that works with the rest of your busy life.
If you have a lot of spare time, you can work more on your side hustle and optimize your earnings.
Do a little less on your side hustle if you have less time.
Enjoy the flexibility you can’t have in your normal job.
3. Work on your passion
Sometimes a passion project will not be a significant revenue source, at least not immediately.
Passion projects are great small business ideas. You get to do something you love and enjoy without worrying about losing your primary source of income. The added income from a side hustle passion project is like a bonus award!
Not all side hustles need to be passion projects. But, if you have something you’re passionate about, why not give it a go?
Examples of this might include playing music gigs on the weekend, running a small YouTube channel or selling custom artwork on Etsy.
Any one of those examples could become a full-time career if you get enough of a following. But, even if it never does, you can get some added income from doing something you already enjoy.
Where’s the downside?
4. Build your portfolio
If you’re new to your industry and you need more experience to advance, doing a side hustle outside of your work hours can really help. It also applies if you’re trying to break into a specific industry and you don’t yet have a good enough portfolio to showcase your skills and experience.
A good portfolio makes you a much more attractive prospect for hire. So whether it’s future clients in your side hustle or hiring managers for your next job opportunity, you can’t go wrong with a strong portfolio.
Ideally, your portfolio should include:
- What you do, including your specialty.
- Career accomplishments or highlights (if any).
- Relevant skills, education, and certifications.
- Your best work samples.
- References or testimonials.
Your portfolio should tell potential clients everything they need to know to decide whether to hire you. So, while they may want to interview to get a little more specific information, the portfolio should be enough for initial consideration.
How does a side hustle help with this?
Essentially, you can use your side hustle as a way to get more work done that’s going to help advance your career. While your day job might pay the bills, you need to devote some of your time to your future prospects so you can keep moving forward.
Let your side hustle help you in the long run. Focus your efforts on projects that will build a strong portfolio of the kind of work you want to be doing.
5. Make a career change
Financial stability is precarious. When you’re looking to make a career change, you may not be in the position to quit your day job and devote your time fully to your new career path.
This is especially true if you don’t have a lot of work experience or opportunities in your new field yet.
Starting your intended new career as a side hustle gives you a chance to build yourself up in that field before stepping out of your current job. That way, you won’t be without a steady source of income while you work your way up.
6. Use your free time to better yourself
How do you use your free time right now?
Rest is important. Without rest, you won’t be recharged and ready to do your best every day.
However, if you’re spending your free time using your phone, computer or watching TV, there may be a better use for that time. Why not take a few hours of your free time each week to work on a side hustle?
Don’t replace all your downtime with more work, but use some of it to improve your life. Learn new skills, make some extra money and grow your confidence to be the best version of yourself.
After all, the point of free time is to focus on what you want to do. But, on the other hand, a side hustle could allow you to be fully in control of your life.
7. Explore your creativity
Creativity is in everyone. So if you’ve been itching to do something creative, but don’t have the outlet for it in your everyday life, a side hustle can be an excellent way to express your creativity doing something productive.
Sometimes committing to odd jobs or regular work in your spare time provides the challenge you need to inspire your creative side. Without that challenge, you may not be motivated to find creative solutions or find new ways to get things done.
It’s easy to feel stuck.
The best way to break out of a rut is to do something new.
Start a side project that’s completely different from what you usually do. Choose something that challenges you and provides some kind of benefit when you overcome that challenge.
When your everyday life doesn’t allow for exercising your creativity, use a side project as a way to keep your mind active and stay on top of your game.
8. Grow your confidence
There is evidence that switching from a traditional job to self-employment can improve your mental health. Having a high level of control over your decisions and working a high-demand job may lead to better mental health in the long term.
Both of these factors are strongly connected to your self-confidence.
The more you work for yourself, the more your confidence grows as you see your decisions and actions manifest into career growth.
Even if growth is slow, any amount of progress related to what you’re actively doing can help you to feel more confident in every area of your life.
Improved confidence has been shown to have a ton of benefits for your life, including:
- Persistence after failure.
- Willingness to speak up and share your ideas.
- Decisiveness, less chance of freezing up.
- Higher likelihood of happiness, despite stress and difficulties.
- Openness to trying new things, even if they could lead to failure.
- Taking the initiative more often.
When your confidence increases, you’re less likely to become stagnant in whatever you’re doing. Whether it’s your work life, personal life or relationships, higher self-confidence can help you pursue what you want even when times are tough.
Even if you don’t feel confident in your ability to succeed right now, just managing to start a side hustle could be the first step in growing your confidence in all areas of your life.
9. Learn new skills
Even if you’re sticking to an industry you’re familiar with, running your own side hustle is going to require you to learn a few new skills.
You could also take it as an opportunity to start up a gig in a new industry to broaden your skillset even further. The great thing about a side hustle is that it’s entirely up to you what you want to do.
Start a new project outside of your comfort zone and stretch your skills.
Look into adjacent skills first, and then you can work on entirely new skills when you’ve built up your confidence more.
If nothing else, working for yourself teaches you how to find clients, negotiate work contracts, manage your time, close sales and deliver the right results. These are all valuable skills that will carry over to other parts of your life.
10. Meet more people
If you’re feeling isolated, a side hustle that lets you interact with people might help relieve some of that loneliness.
This may not be the motivation for a lot of people. But, if you stay at home most of the time and you don’t have anything that makes you go out and talk to others, it can be a good reason to try.
Many side hustles can give you the chance to talk with others more than you usually would.
Ridesharing, odd jobs, dog walking, and other simple side hustles are a good place to start for more social interactions.
11. Provide benefit to others
A side hustle is a good way to do altruistic projects that you care about.
It’s not always financially viable to volunteer or work for low pay, no matter how important or valuable the work is. These jobs don’t always pay the bills, unfortunately.
That’s where a side hustle comes in.
Why not spend some of your free time working on something that fills a need for others? Since it’s a side project, you don’t have to look for full-time pay from work, and you can focus more on how you’re helping rather than prioritizing your income.
There are so many good reasons to start a side hustle! Whatever your personal motivation is, it’s time to get started on your new project today so you can start seeing the benefits ASAP.
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Originally published in September 2022.