I was reading Chris Guillebeau’s book, Born for This, where he described what he called a side hustle. Essentially it’s anything you do over and above your day job that also brings in some money and that you enjoy. I was instantly struck by what a great idea it is to bring in more than the monthly paycheck. It’s always handy to have a little extra for unexpected expenses, a treat or a holiday. I didn’t like the name though. A hustle sound like something dodgy a geezer is doing in the darkened corner of the pub with items that fell off the back of a van. So I’ve opted to call it a side gig.
The term gig comes from the musical world and is essentially a job, possibly a one off or for a season but not tradition 9 to 5 work. It sums the concept up nicely and got me thinking about all my friends who do make a bit of money on the occasional gig in a pub. Till that moment I didn’t think I knew anyone with a side gig. But the moment you think of one a whole lot more come to mind. My tai chi instructor is a cabinetmaker by day and earns some money of an evening teaching us, a former colleague sold CDs and DVDs on eBay and a client who works for a charity but sells the occasional painting. My neighbour has also recently taken up sewing and at some point, when she has made every skirt, pillow case and beach bag she needs for herself she could start selling her work on a platform like Etsy and, of course, I have my own side gig, I deliver training courses.
It’s a great idea and here’s why I want to make the case for everyone to have a side gig:
Boost your income and gain independence
The most obvious point about side gigs is that they are a useful way to boost your income and give you some independence from your paid job. If you only have the one job and you get an unexpected expense there isn’t a whole lot you can do about it aside from taking out a loan. With a side gig you can do a little extra work and potentially bring in the extra cash you need.
Build resilience and self confidence
It builds resilience and self confidence because you will know that you can generate your own independent income. It may only be a couple of hundred pounds a month, but it’s you working independently. You came up with the idea, you didn’t have to run it up the chain of command to get it okayed, you didn’t have to write a proposal or a business plan (you probably didn’t even think of doing that), you just had an idea and followed through with it. Once you’ve pulled it off the first time it’s a revelation, you realise you can do it again, that it’s quite easy really, and it’s fun. If it isn’t fun you probably won’t do it again and you don’t have to because this isn’t the day job.
Chances are though that if you do find something that you enjoy you’ll keep doing it and maybe even add additional activities. That builds resilience because you can see that you can come up with income generating ideas and follow through with them, you can hit bumps in the road and overcome them and you can be as innovative and creative as the next person.
Parents with side gigs are also great role models for their children because they will pick up that same can do attitude. Young people with side gigs can put them on their CV to help them stand out from the crowd, as well as build their self esteem and their bank balance.
Test business ideas
Side gigs are a great way to test out a potential business idea. Do you really want to become a dressmaker? A side gig making clothes for friends will tell you whether you enjoy it enough to do it full time. It will also help decide whether you can generate enough income to make it work. Put a room up on airbnb to give you a good idea on whether you’d like to become a full time B&B owner, make the occasional website for your friends to see whether you’d enjoy being a full time web designer. All without the need to quit the full time job till you’re ready.
Develop new skills
Side gigs don’t have to have anything to do with the skills you use for the day job. There is nothing to stop an accountant from having a side gig as a potter. It lets you be a more rounded individual when you can give expression to something else you love and earn money for it. It also gives you a chance to try something out, add it to your CV and potentially use as evidence you can do the job if you decide you want to switch careers.
Side gigs fit around you
The great thing about a side gig is that you do them when you feel like it. You can fit it round your timetable. Some people have gigs that they only get involved in during the winter, because summer is their busy time for work. Some spend all year crafting and have a big blow out sale over Christmas, some let out a room once or twice a year to pay for their holidays. It can be as flexible as you need it to be. And these days with so many online platforms available you can do many side gigs from home via the internet.
In this blog post I’ve only mentioned a few possible side gigs all drawn from the people I know because I wanted to spend the time talking about why they are a good idea. There are plenty of books (Chris Guillebeau’s being one) and multiple websites that offer guidance and advice on setting up your own side gig or how to use the multiple gig economy websites to earn money. I encourage you to give one or more gigs a try because earning your own, completely independent cash is deeply rewarding.