I’m one of the lucky ones; I have a great job and I love what I do. So …
Why the side hustle?
I’ve been asked that question many times and I’ve never given the complete answer (mainly because people tend to get bored when I start rambling about programming). Here, we’ll delve into my thoughts on taking side work when I have a great day job.
If you’re thinking about picking up a side hustle you should ask your self a few questions:
- Is my side gig the same thing that I do every day at my job?
- What are my motivations for picking up side work?
- How much time am I willing to commit to my side work?
Same or Different
Turning your hobby, that’s different from what you do on a daily basis, into a side gig can be very beneficial. A side gig that you get paid for can help you take your skills to the next level. If you’re a realtor who likes to do woodworking, then getting paid for projects can inspire an extra level of detail and precision that you may not focus on when creating for yourself, but if you’re going to sell it, you know that it needs to be perfect.
If your side gig is the same thing you do every day at your job, there are a few more things you need to make sure of before you jump into freelancing:
- Do you love what you do enough to keep doing it once you walk out the door of your day job?
- Is taking side jobs going to adversely affect your performance at work?
- What are the chances you’ll burn out?
- Again, what are your motivations for hanging out your shingle for side work?
There are a lot of reasons to pick up a side hustle. When deciding to embark on the freelancing journey, it’s important to look at your motivations.
A lot of people pick up gigs to help their cashflow. This is a great reason to hang your shingle out and try to get some work, but if it’s your primary motivation, it may be time to re-evaluate some things.
If you’re good enough at your side gig to make a dramatic impact on your cashflow, especially if it’s not the same work as your primary job, then you should probably make your side job your full-time job. There is definitely a lot to think about when considering that change but, if you’re in that place, you should think hard about it.
Increasing Your Skills
Taking a side job can push you to become better.
If you’re turning your hobby into a paying venture, then you have more motivation to make sure the work is pristine. If you’re doing the same thing you do at work, then it’s very likely that you’ll be exposed to different requirements and issues than you face in your day-to-day job, which can help grow you’re skillset and make you better at what you do for a living.
Regardless, if you’re taking on a side job, you cannot be lax about the work. You must push yourself to become better or you’ll burn out and fail. Failure in a side job can lead to poor performance at your day job which can lead to further consequences.
Nothing Better To Do
I’ve known people who picked up freelancing work in addition to their day job simply because they were bored. If you don’t have other commitments and you’ve got the time, there’s nothing wrong with finding work to fill the time. Just make sure you’re enjoying yourself and the side job isn’t making you miserable.
Before setting out on your freelancing expedtion, make sure you know how much time you’re willing to commit. Sometimes, that may mean saying “No” to a lucrative gig. Your family commitments, sleep requirements, and mental health should all come before the freelancing gig.
Why Do I Do It?
I’ve given you my thoughts on what you should consider before taking on more work than your 8-5. Now, I’ll share with you why I do it.
I really, truly love programming. I want to be the best programmer that I can possibly be. Whether or not I’m getting paid for it, I spend extra time each week honing my skills; I have multiple personal projects that I’m developing, I contribute to open source projects, and, sometimes, I’ll code something up just to see if I can make it work.
As much as I love my day job, I sometimes find the work getting stale; maintaining legacy code or solving they same types of problems over and over.
The freelancing work I do exposes me to new technologies and forces me to grow as a developer. In turn, this allows me to make better suggestions at work and keeps me on top of the emerging trends. This makes my boss happy and keeps me secure in my position.
To keep myself sane and make sure I keep my edge, I set some simple rules for myself:
- Don’t let work consume you. Set a time limit and stick to it. Spending time with my wife and daughter is more important than any project that may come along. Sure, there are times when I’ll work way too much, but they are few and far between.
- Make sure you’re growing. If I find myself taking side jobs that don’t push me and make me grow, I re-evalute what I’m doing. That may mean turning down jobs if I can’t see a benefit to my skills as a developer.
- Know when to say no. Some clients aren’t worth the trouble. Most of the time those clients are easily identifiable before the contract is signed, but sometimes it means firing a client. Even if it’s a well-paying job that pushes your skillset to the next level, some clients just aren’t worth the trouble.
In summary, my side hustle makes be a better developer. If you’re thinking about picking up a side gig, get out there and do it; just make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons and taking care of yourself.