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4 Tips for Choosing the Right Side Hustle

By Maurie Backman - Jun 26, 2018 at 7:52AM

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Ready to take on a second gig? Here's how to pick wisely.

There are plenty of good reasons to take on a side hustle. For some, it's a matter of using the extra money to pay off debt or build savings. For others, it's a means of having more spending cash to go out and take vacations.

But money aside, a side gig can also open the door to different career opportunities. Not only might you develop your skills by virtue of that extra work, but you might one day decide to turn that secondary job into a full-time venture. Therefore, it pays to put a lot of thought into your side hustle rather than randomly find a side gig on the fly. Here are a few tips for choosing the right one.

Man typing on laptop


1. Find a gig you enjoy

If you're like most workers, you probably spend a good 40 hours or more at your primary job, which means that by the end of each day, you're likely tired and somewhat mentally spent. That's why it's so important to find a side hustle that you don't dread doing. Pushing yourself to work, say, 10 hours a week in addition to your main job won't be easy, so that side work should be something you actually look forward to doing. In this regard, you might consider turning a hobby into a source of income, whether it's caring for animals, writing, or crafting. This way, that second gig won't actually feel so much like work.

2. Choose something flexible

The last thing you want is for your side hustle to interfere with your main job, thereby compromising your primary source of income. That's why it pays to choose a second gig that offers the most flexibility in terms of scheduling and deadlines. Imagine you accept a babysitting role that requires you to be at your client's home by 6 p.m. twice a week. Well, what if you're required to work late at your main job one of those nights? Suddenly, you have a conflict on your hands. Unless your primary job is truly predictable, you may be better off finding a side hustle with flexible hours -- for example, doing web design on the side from home, and plugging away at the computer when it suits your schedule, whether it's 8 p.m. or 3 a.m.

3. Get a job with room for growth

It's not unheard of to turn a side hustle into your full-time job. And if you're starting that side hustle later in life, it may be a good thing to carry with you into retirement, where it can serve as a source of income and give you something meaningful to do with your days. That's why it's wise to pursue a secondary gig that comes with the possibility to ramp up. For example, if you decide to do graphic design work on the side, that's a job you can grow as more clients learn about you. But if you take a seasonal position at a local restaurant to drum up some cash, you might find yourself out of that job once things slow down.

4. Find something that actually pays

Let's face it: Though you might genuinely enjoy your side hustle, chances are, the primary reason you're doing it is to make money. So, if you're going to put in a number of hours each week, you might as well get paid for them. This isn't to say you should do something you loathe just to earn more, but if selling your home-baked cupcakes will only earn you $5 an hour when you factor in your time plus the cost of ingredients, it may not be worth the effort. (Even if you enjoy baking, you probably don't need to do it for 10 hours a week.) Rather, aim to find a nice middle ground -- something that will make a noticeable difference in your finances, but that you'll manage to learn from and have fun with.

Hopping aboard the side hustle bandwagon is a good way to boost your earnings and develop as a person. Pick the right gig, and you'll hopefully find that the experience is a rewarding one on the whole.

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