I first started “side-hustling” in 2015. I had a full time job but in my spare hours (lunch times, evenings, weekends), I would be doing work for clients. Why? Well, at first it was nice earning a bit of extra money, but it became something else. I hoped it would eventually transition into trading in the full time job to work for myself. Which I now have, hurray!
Deciding to take on extra work on top of the 30+ hours a week I was working already was not easy. The temptation when you work full time is to avoid doing anything that uses too much brain capacity outside of those hours. It’s much easier to watch Netflix and disengage brain when you get home from work than it is to get into the mindset that it’s time to do a few more hours of work.
I guess you could say that side hustling isn’t for everyone, but I would also say to give it a go if you have a skill you are passionate about…as you never know, you could become your own boss eventually!
Here’s a few things to think about if you’re considering giving it a go…
Check you aren’t breaking any rules
OK, so let’s get the boring part out of the way first. Some companies explicitly state in their contracts that you have to inform the employer of any additional work you are doing in case of a conflict of interest. Some even state you shouldn’t do additional work at all (i.e. no “moonlighting”).
If this is the case, you really don’t want to be found in breach of contract. Make that decision as to whether you want to raise the question to your manager about doing some freelancing on the side, or whether to wait until you work for a more understanding organisation.
I was lucky, my contract for the job I had when I first started side hustling only stated I couldn’t work for companies in the same industry which suited me just fine!
Don’t overdo (or overthink) it
When you start getting work in from clients (see this post on how I got my first clients), make sure you aren’t saying yes to what you can’t manage, or overanalysing the consequences of saying no.
The way I looked at it was by working out how many free hours I could commit to as a maximum – bearing in mind that you do need chilling out time on week day evenings, and you still need a life at the weekend!
It’s easy to get greedy when you’re earning additional income, but make it less about how much more money you could make and instead focus on if and how your quality of life could be affected by extra projects.
Be upfront with your clients
The easiest mistake to make is to give the impression you are always available to clients. Tell them from the beginning that the work you do is in the evenings and at weekends, and that you can take calls at lunch breaks but otherwise your time is limited.
This helps them to have more realistic expectations on when they will receive work or whether they will be able to touch base with you. I was always honest with my clients about this, and never had any issues with it. When I went full time as a freelancer, I contacted them all to let them know as well.
If you want to keep your email communications with clients to normal times (i.e. 9-5), there’s a great app for Gmail called Boomerang which lets you schedule emails to be sent at any time you set. This is great if you’ve finished a client project at 10pm and want to send it over and make sure it doesn’t get lost in their inbox. Simply use Boomerang to set it to go at 9:30am the next day.
Know when to relax
Had a shitty day at the full time job and just feel like beaching and eating chocolate? I’ve been there.
If you know you aren’t going to produce your best work for your clients after a tough day, don’t force yourself. You need to allow yourself time to relax or you’ll burn out.
If you feel too much guilt for not being productive, focus on more admin style tasks such as sorting your emails, or tidying up your files. You’ll still feel you’ve achieved something without it taking up too much energy.
So let’s go back to the question shall we? Should you start a side hustle alongside your full time job? Well, that’s up to you. It can be knackering, but it’s also super rewarding especially if you have ambitions to work for yourself some day.