Is Having a Side Hustle Still a Smart Way to Grow Professionally?

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Is it just us, or does everyone seem to have a side hustle these days? If you find yourself rapping “Everyday I’m hustling’” while juggling multiple jobs at all hours of the day, then you’re just one of the millions of people earning extra dough from a side hustle, according to a CNN report

A 2017 study from Bankrate found that 44 million people in this country report having a side hustle as a way to earn extra cash, and that younger Millennials (aged 18 to 26) are the most likely to have a side hustle as they first start out in their careers and they’re looking for a salary boost. And more recently, Bankrate’s latest Side Hustle Survey shows that 3 out of every 10 American workers who have taken on a side hustle say they need that second job to simply make ends meet. In addition to those looking to earn extra money to pay the bills, 34 percent of the survey participants reported taking on side gigs because they wanted a source of disposable income. And 27 percent of workers reported using their side gig as a way to embrace a personal passion, stating that they’re more passionate about their side gig than their primary job or career.

Once upon a time having one job was enough to pay the bills and fill your time. A single gig used to be enough to support you financially while also fulfilling you intellectually, physically and spiritually. What happened? Maybe the cost of living has gone up, or people are more likely to live beyond their means these days. Or perhaps it’s more that people didn’t use to care as much about being satisfied in their daily grind, and now we have different metrics to define happiness and fulfillment. Regardless of how we got here, here we are. Side hustles are becoming all the rage, and there are definitely pros and cons to consider if you’re thinking about using a side job to grow professionally.

Whether you’re selling handcrafted goods in an online marketplace (we’re looking at you Etsy crafters), doing design work after hours, running errands for people through an online app, walking dogs or even hopping on board the Uber train, side hustles are a legit way to earn some extra cash to support your living expenses or your passions. A side hustle can be a great way to boost your career while also helping you to embrace your personal interests and stash away some extra income for current or future needs. But is it always a good thing? Let’s look at some pros and cons of the side hustle game. 

PROS: How a Side Hustle Can Help Boost Your Career

– It can provide additional income, which can boost financial security or provide a cushion to support your lifestyle so that you can focus on excelling in your career without worrying about making ends meet. According to a survey of 2,000 workers with full-time jobs commissioned by Vistaprint, on average participants with a side hustle earn an additional $14,705.16 on top of their annual income as a result of that side work. 

– A side hustle can help to fulfill you in ways that your full-time job doesn’t. And one of the reasons many people lose interest in their jobs or their careers is because they no longer feel satisfied or engaged with what they are doing. A side hustle can help you feel fulfilled in life, so you are more able to focus on your tasks and responsibilities at work.  

– It can help you network and meet new people so that you have an opportunity to engage with others outside of your social circle or your professional environment. 

– It can provide an opportunity to turn your passion into a profitable pastime. If you’re passionate about fitness or wellness, having a side hustle as a fitness instructor or health coach is a way to embrace your interests and help others. If you love kids, you can tutor children after school. If you are extremely creative, making handcrafted goods that you sell online allows you to use your talents and make extra money on the side. 

– If you’ve always wanted to turn a side hobby into a business, but you’re not ready to take the full-time leap to being self-employed, then a side gig allows you opportunities to begin that journey while still maintaining a full-time job and financial security. 

CONS: Potential Pitfalls of a Side Hustle

– A side hustle can become consuming and can distract you from your career and your full-time profession. If your side job starts to interfere with your job, it can become problematic. Remember the true goal is to be good at two things at once: both your full-time job and your side hustle. According to Inc., first you need to apply yourself at your career, and then you can approach your side hustle. Focus your effort on being a stellar member of the team at your full-time job (hustle extra hard there) so you can also focus on your side job without regret, guilt or raising concerns from others. 

– The moment your side hustle causes you more stress than satisfaction, it can become a problem. Be careful not to overload your schedule and not to spread yourself too thin so that you not only fail at your side hustle, but you also begin to suffer in your career and personal life as well. 

– Do not put too much money into your side hustle; you don’t want to be too heavily invested in a side gig so that you fall into debt. Remember, a side hustle is supposed to be a way to boost your income, not leave you even more financially insecure. 

– If you’re not good at regulating your own commitments and delivering projects on time, then perhaps a side hustle might not be for you. Remember that you’re in charge of making sure you get everything done, you’re responsible for your own work and for your own reputation, both in your side hustle and your full-time job.

– If you approach a side hustle for the wrong reasons, you’ll be setting yourself up to fail. Side hustles are not easy ways to make money, but they require work, effort and time. Don’t underestimate the amount of initiative and time investment it will require. Remember, it’s called a hustle for a reason.