If you pursue economic trends, rather than fight them, you’ll profit in the long run. Emma Johnson of Wealthy Single Mommy shows how a side hustle turned into a lifeline for her own career.
Like it or not, one job is never enough. Even if you have a great corporate career, earning promotions, and getting raises in a growing industry, you still need to moonlight. Developing a part-time business on the side can include freelance projects, consulting, an Etsy crafts store, public speaking, building a blog, app or book writing. The point is to invest in a skillset and revenue stream on top of your day job. This is such a critical part of career and financial planning that failing to do so puts you and your family at financial risk.
I don’t need to tell you that job security is a thing of the past, and it is naive to believe your employer will be loyal to you for the long term. According to executive development firm Future Workplace, Millennials change jobs an average of every 4.4 years. That’s 15 to 20 jobs in a lifetime!
An even more compelling argument for investing in a side gig is the macro trend of companies phasing out staff positions en lieu of freelance and contract work. According to CareerBuilder’s 2014 employer survey, hiring for full-time jobs is down across nearly all sectors, while part-time, freelance, and contract employment is up.
Why? Companies love the flexibility that allows them to ramp up staffing when business is good, and slow down freelance spending when belts are tightened. Also, it’s more efficient to hire very specialized workers for short periods of time to meet specific product or client needs, rather than investing in a staff worker whose specialties may or may not be needed by the organization in the long term.
So to recap: Staff position hiring is down. Freelance hiring is up.
Career management 101: You win if you ride economic trends, rather than try to fight them.
But what does a side gig do for you, the employee? For one, having multiple income streams and skillsets decreases your vulnerability in tough financial times. In the event your staff position should disappear, you could turn to your side project for income. For example, a layoff for a full-time creative agency account manager could be devastating. But if you have a part-time freelance design business on the side, you can turn to those projects in the event of unemployment—and even ramp up that freelance design work to a full-time career.
Additionally, that side gig diversifies your skill portfolio. If the market for one expertise dries up, you now have a second skill set to rely on. In other words: Two jobs are more secure than one.
Side projects can also boost your market value in your main career. For example, if your staff job is as a human resource manager, you can add enormous value to your career by building a platform as a public speaker and writer on HR topics. Those gigs not only bring in extra money, but also expand your network, visibility, and authority in your industry—attracting alternative opportunities to your day job.
A less-obvious benefit is the work-life balance a second job affords you. By moonlighting early in your professional life, you afford yourself flexibility throughout your career as your work and personal lives change in ways you cannot predict now.
Take it from me: In preparation for having children, I started a side freelance writing business while employed full-time as a salaried reporter. A couple years before getting pregnant, I quit the staff job and ramped up the freelance business. When my daughter was born, I scaled back that freelance work to spend more time with her. Then, my family faced a tragedy and I became the sole earner.
Thankfully, I was able to quickly ramp up my writing projects into a full-time career that allows me invaluable flexibility to care for young children. I am so grateful for the decisions I made early on to diversify my career with a side gig—it turned out to be an unforeseen financial lifesaver that also gives my family precious time, which I did not appreciate when I was a young moonlighter.
But now that my freelance writing business is so established, I started a blog on the side, which I’m developing into a side revenue stream. It’s a lot of work, but it’s also fun—and gives me enormous peace of mind to know I’m doing everything I can to ensure my family’s financial security.
Where can you squeeze in a little time to earn some extra cash, Grownups? What sort of side hustle can you work on to prepare for the economic waves ahead?
Emma Johnson is a business journalist, syndicated radio host and creator of WealthySingleMommy.com, where she helps professional single moms build families, careers, and romantic lives they love. She lives in New York City with her children.
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While Society of Grownups hopes the information is useful, it’s only intended to provide general education. It’s not legal, tax, or investment advice, and may not apply or be useful to your specific financial situation. If you need recommendations geared to your personal financial situation, schedule time with a financial planner.