We’ve latched on to the term “side hustle,” but could just as easily call it a passion project, a hobby, or something to focus on outside your main grind. It’s all the same, and regardless of what you’re calling it, it’s important to have one your professional or personal life.
Four and a half years ago, I started working my first full-time job. It was an entry-level role at a mid-sized corporate company where I spent my days hanging out in a cubicle with not much to do. One day, I asked my manager for what seemed like the sixth trillionth time if there was anything I could help out with and per usual the response was “no.” I wondered if this was how boring the “real world” was going to be forever. (Side note: I later found out it wasn’t.)
At that moment, I decided to start my own blog. At this point, I didn’t know too much about the digital world. I went to school for television production and my end goal was to write my own TV series one day. But I was stuck in Boston and I knew that wasn’t go be the case any time soon, so why not find a way to put my writing in the public eye on my own?
From this revelation came the birth of my very own passion project, Forever Twenty Somethings.
Years later, this project has become my second source of income and my second source of major stress— but at least I’m not bored anymore. Even though the responsibilities I have at my full-time job have grown and my free time has dwindled down, I still make it a point to keep up with my site. Without it, my writing would not be where it is today, my connections would be lacking, I wouldn’t have a new car, and I probably/definitely wouldn’t have the career I do now.
That being said, here are 10 specific reasons you should find a side hustle:
1. If you can’t get hired to do what you want, you can do it yourself. I graduated college with dreams of becoming a writer for a television series. I knew that wasn’t going to happen right away, so I set out to find a position that would pay me because my non-existent trust was lacking the funds to support my high-maintenance lifestyle. So, I got a position related to what my degree was in and started my own blog where I could write on the side. Problem solved.
2. It helps you figure out what you really want to do, outside of what you might have a degree in. As I said, I wanted to write for TV when I graduated college. If I couldn’t do that, I figured I could produce or edit video because that would fall into my related field. After starting my blog and watching it grow, however, I realized that writing online was something else I was passionate about. I pursued that as a career instead and now I’m on a career path that I am excited about, instead of following the pre-set direction my college degree pushes toward.
3. Improving your time management skills is helpful for every facet of your life. If you can manage a side hustle and still do a badass job at your full-time gig, then you have mastered the art of multi-tasking. This is a life skill that will come in handy not only for every little task you have to accomplish at work, but also when it comes to balancing those tasks with your life, whether that means making time for your friends, a relationship, or a family one day.
4. You make endless connections. I have met (okay, e-met) so many amazing people solely because of my blog. Writers, fellow bloggers, editors, authors, entrepreneurs, marketing professionals, etc. I didn’t even have to go to a bunch of awkward networking events to connect with these people. Thanks to my side hustle I’ve met people who have helped me with my career, and I’ve been able to help aspiring bloggers with their careers, which has been exceptionally rewarding.
5. The rent is too damn high. Life is expensive. Instead of getting some boring part-time freelance job, why not do what you love on the side and try to make some money from it? What starts with no income can lead to consistent money if you’re pursuing something you’re passionate about. A side job that’s solely for the extra dough (like babysitting) is great too, but if you can be making money off something that could facilitate a career change, that’s even better.
6. When your job stops challenging you, you can challenge yourself. Work never seems to slow down, but if the work doesn’t change, it can certainly start to get boring and monotonous. But feeling this way doesn’t always mean you can automatically collect more responsibilities, get a promotion, or score a new job. So in the meantime, before any of those things have a chance to happen, you can always challenge yourself on the side.
7. Work is not your life. Yes, you are allowed to do things outside your 9-5 (or, in most cases, your 8-6). In fact, you need to be doing something else outside working hours. People are always asking me how I manage running a website while working full-time, and the answer is pretty simple… I do it when I’m not working. Sure, sometimes I have to go in to work early, stay late, and catch up on stuff over the weekend, but I still have time to myself and I can spend it however I want to spend it. I work out, I hang out with friends, and I write. Sometimes I go weeks without dedicating more than 2 hours to my website, but sometimes I stay in for a whole weekend and bang stuff out. It really depends on what’s going on in my life — because I have one.
8. You can never have enough experience. A side hustle is not just something you can do to make money or feel good about yourself, it can also be a major resumé booster. It can even lead to bigger resumé boosters. When I started my website, my side hustle was originally just blogging, but now it consists of managing writers, maintaining social media, working with brands, and – the best one – freelance writing for major publications. I can’t even imagine what my resumé would look like if I didn’t have a side hustle, and am very thankful for the boost it’s given me.
9. Ambition leads to big things. It’s not just about the experience you get from a side hustle, but the drive you must obtain to achieve that experience. My side hustle makes me more ambitious every day. When I say, “I’m writing a book” I don’t even think that’s a big deal anymore because my end goal is way beyond that (including the obvious – get published, lol), but when I first started out, writing a book was not something that was in the cards. With a passionate project on the side, you learn to always stay hungry and that will get you climbing the career ladder to success faster than you’d imagined.
10. You deserve to do what makes you happy. Life isn’t supposed to be a series of days where you work strictly to make money and then go home to sleep because you are so tired. Life is supposed to be full of happiness and pursuing your passion fosters that happiness. Even if you’re not 100% happy at your day job, if you’ve got something in the works on the side that you absolutely love, that will ultimately make you happier — whether you take that on full-time or score a job based on the work you were doing for your side hustle.
If you don’t have a side hustle, I recommend you take some time to yourself each week to create something you’re proud of and then maintain something that you’re passionate about. You don’t have to work on it every day. You don’t have to work on it every week. You could spend two hours on your craft on a Sunday — whatever! Just do it. You never know where, what, and who it will lead you to, and what it may teach you about yourself.