When I got to my third year of design school, I distinctly remember taking on my first ever freelance client. It was my roommate at the time, and she and I traded a logo design for her burgeoning fashion business for a dress she made me for my cousin’s wedding. And pretty much since then, I ran a nice little side hustle as a freelance designer.
As someone who is now completely self-employed, the reality is is that my side hustle and my business are one in the same, as the side hustle did morph into the business. I do still work on other projects that aren’t directly related to my business, like being the Business Brain at The Westies, which allows me to still have that side hustle rush. I firmly believe that everyone, no matter what your skillset is, should have a bit of a side hustle going on. Something that you do, that you earn money from or trade for things you want, that is completely separate to your day job.
A side hustle lets you flex a different muscle and a different set of skills than those you use on a daily basis.
This can help you grow a skill and move your corporate job into a different area of your industry that you might not have “experience” in right now – but the side hustle can help you to get there. One of my first (and still current!) freelance clients was Hair by Phd, where the majority of my gig was managing their social media. While I had experience in social, they were the first client I had taken on completely independently, and that skill I developed has now blossomed into being one of the more consistent streams of income that I have in my business.
A side hustle helps you to earn money from a source other than your job.
In an economy where jobs are not as stable as they once were, or at the very least are more short-lived than they once were, a side hustle gives you the opportunity to make money in other ways. This can become a good stream of income between positions, or an additional source of income while you are working. There are also extreme mental health benefits from not being completely tied to “the man” financially that can give you the courage to leave a bad job or do something completely different with your career – and there’s nothing bad about that. Whether it is earning that bit of play money to spend on shoes, or making you feel less afraid about a break in your working career, a side hustle can offer a great financial backup plan.
A side hustle doesn’t feel the same as work.
Yes your side hustle IS work, you are doing things for the objective of earning money. That makes it work as far as I’m concerned. But because it is often quite different from the day-to-day of running your business, it feels different. It can be exciting, as you work on different projects than those you are exposed to in your big corporate job. It can be challenging, stretching your brain and learning new things in your day. It might give you an opportunity to indulge a passion, contribute to your local community or teach someone else something new. No matter what it looks like, your side hustle is going to feel different to your normal day-to-day job, and that’s awesome.
No matter why you start your side hustle, it’s important to be realistic about where it might go. One day, it might be a fully fledged business and your major source of income – but that’s got its own set of challenges. It may just be something you continue to do for the love of it – and it’s important to recognise that and match your expectations to that vision. No matter where you want it to end up, make a start on that idea you have lurking in the back of your brain, flex that creative muscle that is feeling neglected and get moving on whatever it is you think you could do. Your wallet, your brain, and your skillset will thank you for it.