Why Freelancing Benefits Your Day Job

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.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/24471966@N04/ / CC BY 2.0

12 thoughts on “Why Freelancing Benefits Your Day Job

  1. Pingback: Personal Finance Buzz
  2. I totally agree with your post. My previous employer was fully aware of my freelancing and often like to draw upon my knowledge gained from it. Eventually things didn’t work out for that company as poor management led to constant late paychecks, too much debt and poor finances in general.

    I can happily say that my latest full-time job is all thanks to everything I learned freelancing and getting the job had nothing to do with my earning a degree or past full-time jobs. They looked at my portfolio of freelance work and liked what they saw. I’m now doing a job I love much more, getting paid better, and worked for a growing debt free company. (Oh yeah, then there is my side income from freelance work). Life is good.

    1. Awesome, Dustin! You point out another great benefit for creative industries – portfolios. Many times, we don’t live up to our full potential in day jobs because of client restrictions and other reasons, but for a side business (or even for ourselves), I think we can express ourselves with much more freedom.

  3. A friend emailed me after reading this post and shared a great story about a relative who was very open with her boss about her side work, and was able to work out a great deal that benefited both of them with profits. That is the ultimate example of a win-win!

  4. Are you saying that freelancing has a negative connotation for employers? if so, then I agree. But I don’t think it’s a negative word when you tell other people that you do freelance work. I don’t think I’d ever pay a corporation to do a logo, graphic design or programming work. There are so many freelancers out there that do it better and cheaper.

    1. Exactly – I think most employers see side work as counter-productive, rather than beneficial. I hope that changes in this new economy.

      On your second point, I agree 100%. In fact, I sort of revere freelancers as “creative Gods” of sorts. While I’m not a ‘true’ freelancer – this blog is more of a side project, I’m enjoying the experience without a doubt. When I tell people what I do, they’re usually intrigued.

  5. Great article! I think it’s very important to have a “life” outside the traditional office setup. As work culture is changing quite dramatically, I think we’ll see more and more transformations taking place in and outside the workplace. New attitudes and new approaches to the traditional concept of work are very exciting for us young people!

  6. Great post…

    I agree that having a “side gig” is beneficial for both the employer and the employee (this assumes that the “side gig” is not getting in the way of the regular job or taking customers away from the employer).

    Doing some work on the side improves one’s skill set which is directly applied at the 9 to 5. In my case, my side business makes me quick and nimble while the company I work for is large and slooooow. I apply most of the skills I obtained while running my small business to help my employer get things out the door faster.

    1. I agree – it’s amazing how quickly you can make business decisions when it’s just you, and it definitely does help in your job, both in big organizations, and smaller ones as well!

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