8 Ways a Side Hustle Can Advance Your Career


Some people call it moonlighting. Others call it a "hobby that pays." Whatever you call your side hustle, it's not just something that can bring in a little extra cash. A side hustle can be a valuable addition to your main career, giving you skills and connections you would never normally acquire.

So the big question is, if you don't yet have a side hustle…will these eight benefits inspire you to get one? (See also: 15 Ways to Make Money Outside Your Day Job)

1. Learn Valuable Project-Juggling Skills

Handling several projects at once may well be part of your current career. However, once you add in the additional work from your side hustle, you go from being a moderate juggler to a master of the art.

With a side job, your schedules might clash. And when that happens, you can't really tell your boss that you can't do the work because you have an extracurricular project on your plate. With a main career and a side hustle, you become an expert in time management and scheduling. You also learn, quite quickly, how much you can take on without burning out. These are all skills that will do you well in your main career.

2. Enjoy More Freedom at Work

A side job means additional money that isn't coming from your main career. While this has many benefits (the more different streams of revenue you have, the better), it also gives you something other people in the same role may not have — freedom.

The lure of money, or a promotion, can often make people do things they wouldn't like to do, but will anyway because of the need for additional income. If you already have that additional money from another source, you can say no to some of the projects you aren't interested in. You can speak up in meetings without fearing that your pay raise may be on the line. In fact, some people have discovered that this actually helps their career, with their newfound ability to be honest and confident actually helping them get a raise or promotion they otherwise would have missed out on.

3. Stand Out From the Crowd

This is a hirer's market, in almost every industry. Demand for jobs is outpacing supply, and when that happens, you quickly become engaged in a battle to be noticed. Why you? Why your resume? There are dozens, if not hundreds, to choose from.

Well, a side hustle can add much needed diversity and drive to your list of skills. Think about it. Two very similar people come for an interview, say for an account executive position. One has the usual skills, and the typical career path. The other has the same, but then you notice that they also have written articles for an industry magazine, and given speeches at major marketing events. On top of that, they have their own successful drop shipping business on eBay. One is clearly a go-getter, and can handle the pressure well. Plus, they have way more experience outside of work.

4. Add More Strings to Your Bow

Aside from simply standing out to prospective employers, your additional experience from side jobs can have a real impact on your current position. For example, someone may start at a junior position in a firm, with the very narrow set of skills that are required for that role. However, by taking on a side job, perhaps in a field quite different from their chosen profession, they may find themselves with brand-new abilities that really help. A lawyer who takes a side job doing acting in local commercials, or voice over work, suddenly finds that he or she has become a much more skilled orator in the courtroom.

This happens often in the fields of advertising, marketing, and public relations, too. Look for jobs that may not initially seem to fit, but have qualities that could reach into your chosen career. You may be surprised at the benefits.

5. Get a Great Confidence Boost

Success breeds confidence. If you become successful in your side hustle, it will seamlessly start to affect your main career. And so it should. If you were doing "just okay" in your main career, but suddenly found great success in your side job designing websites, or selling your own jewelry collections on Etsy, your confidence will get a much-needed boost. It won't take long for that confidence to influence your current role in your main gig.

Now, you have a little more steam in your stride. You're a little surer of your abilities, and your decisions. Before you know it, the success you found in your side job is being dwarfed by the successes you're having at work.

6. Open Up New Opportunities

Any time you move in professional circles outside of your main career, you are opening new doors for opportunity. If you have been in one company, and one role, for a long period of time, your contacts and business networks may be stagnant. They're good. But they're not growing. They're just the same "business as usual" leads.

However, your side job can open up dramatically different networks. And while you may think that the two cannot combine, don't be so sure. It's entirely possible to meet someone who has an interest in what you do as a main career, but who found you because you make awesome beer, or provide a killer cake baking service. Great business connections can come from all walks of life. They don't all have to come from the same pond.

7. Give Yourself a Second Career to Explore

A career now is not the same as a career 60 years ago. No one these days can expect to start at a company in a junior position and leave at retirement age with a gold watch and a big party.

Employment rules have changed. Technology is moving faster than any of us can really comprehend. And it is dangerous to have only one set of skills for one career. Your side hustle can be a huge benefit here. It can give you skills you would never get through your main career, and should the worst happen, you may be able to turn that side hustle into a full-time job. It's quite possible the job you do now, for a bit of extra money, will be your life preserver in a few years' time.

8. Find Fulfillment and Do What You Love

They say that if you do a job you love, you'll never work a day in your life. "They" don't all live in the real world. Most of us are not fortunate enough to do a job we love, day in, day out. There may be moments of joy, but often, it's a matter of going through the motions and waiting for the clock to wind down.

With a side hustle, you really can love what you do. Sure, it brings in a little money, but it can provide much greater benefits than that. It can be a creative outlet, or a way to meet new people, and enjoy new experiences. If you've always wanted to paint murals, but work in a bank…do both! If you love being a kids' entertainer, do parties on weekends. You can find fulfillment, if you really look for the opportunities.

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Guest's picture
David Domzalski

Great article, Paul. Thanks for sharing these side-hustle tips. Do you know anything about some of the better side hustles out there? What about side hustles with the best ROI for my time? Love to hear your thoughts on those.

I'll be sharing your article on Twitter and Facebook.



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