Freelancing, moonlighting, side jobs, and hustles – say these words to most people and they will immediately think you’re slacking off on your day job. You’re a sneaky weasel who hates his work and wants to earn extra income on the side while everyone else is dedicated to the company. Are we really that ignorant?
We’ve put so much social value in a single-employee, 40-year career system, but as the recession is proving very painfully, that system only works so well. Long-time employees facing layoffs are finding themselves at a loss for what to do next. Job security is all but dead. And as the social fabric becomes more inter-connected and global, people want to explore their capabilities and interests.
Most of the time, they want to compliment their day job, not replace it. Relax, boss-man.
I propose to you that having a paying passion outside of work doesn’t hurt your day job at all. In fact, it’s enormously beneficial to yourself and your regular employer.
Fiscal Fizzle is a great example of a side passion. I currently make little money directly from this site (about enough to pay the hosting fees). But as a result of my blogging experience, my employer is benefiting indirectly (through my performance) and directly (through things that affect the bottom line). It’s truly a win-win situation for everyone.
Let me give you some concrete reasons why your day job be thankful. Here is a list of killer benefits you get by engaging in a side hustle:
You learn technical and creative skills. In thinking about your side work, I’m assuming you’re creating something or providing a service. In either case, you’re bound to learn something new. Working on Fiscal Fizzle taught be a lot about writing, web design, WordPress, social media, and so much more. I would not be lying when I say I have used 95% of those skills to enhance my regular work.
An enjoyable hobby leads to better job performance. I regularly come across studies that discuss the benefits of outside hobbies on the rest of your life. Obviously, it has to be something you like doing. If your day job sucks (myself not included), at least you have something to look forward to when you get home. Otherwise, it’s just another fantastic activity that enhances your life and keeps you happy. Just don’t let it suck up all the free time you have…
You get leads for bigger jobs. Many times, we take on freelance work because we have a certain set of skills at work and can apply it on smaller clients. (This is a common form of moonlighting that many companies frown upon). There are times when a client comes along that we just can’t handle personally (the project is too large or demanding), and it creates a genuine sales lead for your employer instead. Done correctly and respectfully, this kind of freelancing can be a very beneficial cross-relationship between employee and employer, removing small, low-profit jobs from the queue and adding large, high-profit ones.
Your side hustle becomes your day job. What you do at home may not be what you do at work, but the two can eventually overlap. In a way, that’s exactly what happened to me. I’m currently setting up my fourth blog for my company. Even though it’s far from my traditional job description, I was able to apply skills I’ve learned to benefit my work directly.
Focus shifts away from income. If your freelancing is bringing in any amount of money, it can have enormous psychological benefits. Many people become ‘paralyzed’ when their primary source of income is threatened – instead of working harder, they become scared and lose productivity. Ironically, this death spiral of job performance usually ends in a layoff. Having a secondary source of income, even if it pales in comparison, relieves this single-focus mindset and lets you get back to work.
You have more fun money. Obviously, if you can get decent cash flow going in your freelance business, you’ll have more discretionary income available. And that means more money to enjoy on entertainment, vacations, and personal spending. While the best things in life are certainly free, it helps to have a little blow money sometimes.
You learn solid business skills. Unless you outsource work, everything you do for your side hustle is done yourself. You learn a lot of interesting things – like landing sales, cash flow, and great time management. You’re forced to become responsible, reliable, and able to manage your own work. More importantly, you learn to think like your boss. And that changes how you look at everything…
Creative juices start flowing. Freelancing, and to a greater extent – personal side hustles, can help stimulate our creativity. We’re free to explore on our own time, try alternatives we hadn’t thought of, and when creating for ourselves (not a client) – be limited only by our own self-restraint.
You become a brand. Each one of us has a personal brand inside of us – our own definition of what we’re capable of doing and who we are. Freelancing helps you go beyond “I am my job,” and find a more complete definition of self. I always thought of myself as an ‘architect’ because that’s what I did. But I now realize that was too restrictive. Now I think of myself as simply ‘creative’ – I love design, writing, photography, and business. The end result hasn’t hurt my main profession – it’s helped expand how I think and what I’m capable of.
Freelancing is not some horrible, secret way to earn money when your boss isn’t looking. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It’s a great way to discover where your passions lie and to apply those skills in the workplace.
And if your co-workers or boss give you grief, just send this page on them. It bites!
If you liked this post, you might also want to check out 7 tips for turning a hobby into a side income.