The pros and cons of a side hustle

Maybe you have a passion for something with potential to bring in extra cash, and it’s not your day job. Before committing to turning that passion into a side hustle, take some time to think about whether the upside may be worth the cost.

First, what is a side hustle? According to Chris Guillebeau, author of “Side Hustle,” it’s an asset that works for you. It can provide additional financial stability, and you are in position to call the shots. Unlike a part-time job or a stint in the gig economy, you set the terms and decide if and when to walk away.

A side hustle may be setting up an Etsy shop for handmade jewelry, designing websites, building custom furnishings, flipping houses, or any number of other pursuits. It allows you to make the most of your talents while contributing to your income stream and helping achieve your financial goals.

The Pros

Turning a passion into a money-making opportunity has some distinct benefits. If starting a side hustle sounds appealing, consider the upside:

1. Enhancing your career.

While it may seem counterintuitive, establishing a side hustle can create a competitive advantage in your career. Depending on the path chosen, it may be possible to develop skills that complement your day job, and exposure to a different line of work can broaden your experience and contribute to a fresh perspective on addressing challenges in the workplace.

2. Mixing it up.

A side hustle can provide a welcome change of pace from the usual 9 to 5, particularly if it involves using another part of your brain. If you’re normally writing code for 40 hours a week, a weekend working as a wedding photographer might be a refreshing break from the ordinary. Or, your side hustle might provide an opportunity to give back to the community in ways you can’t manage during the work week.

3. Growing your network.

If promoting a side hustle, it’s likely you’ll meet people that might not cross your path in your normal line of business. You can make new contacts for your side hustle, and some may even prove beneficial to your day job. Additionally, you might find your social circle widening when meeting others who share or appreciate your passion.

4. Developing a creative outlet.

Crunching numbers all day may pay the bills, but it may not provide the level of creativity you crave. A side hustle can provide a creative outlet without forcing you to sacrifice the financial security of your day job.

5. Supplementing your income.

Many people start a side hustle to supplement their income. If relying on this additional cash flow, be sure to calculate anticipated expenses to ensure that the venture will pencil out. As a side hustle takes off, it can provide a cushion in the event of an emergency or unexpected change in your employment situation.

The Cons

As with most situations, a side hustle’s positive attributes are tempered by some drawbacks:

1. Reducing your downtime.

If working full-time during the week and dedicating the weekends to a side hustle, you may be robbing yourself of enough downtime to relax and enjoy pursuits that don’t involve making money or marketing yourself. This always-on mindset can be wearing, and if others – partners, spouses, children and even pets – are in the picture, there’s a danger of leaving some feeling neglected.

2. Becoming distracted at work.

A side hustle that becomes all-consuming could have dire career consequences. If your passion project is taking too much time and energy, there is a risk that your day job – and main source of income – could suffer. Before embarking on a side hustle, set limits on how many hours you can devote to it, and stick to them.

3. Adding more stress.

Filling valuable time with more work, even a passion project, may pile on stress. In addition to taking time away from friends and family, a side hustle will require additional record keeping and may complicate tax filings. Additionally, if your project involves custom work for clients, you’ll be pressed to keep them happy to ensure referrals or repeat business.

4. Determining your worth.

It can be difficult to put a price tag on work you produce. Do some research to determine the going rate for similar products or services, and don’t sell yourself short. Along with setting a fair price, you’ll be responsible for collecting payment, so be sure to establish your expectations up front.

Is a side hustle right for you?

Weigh the pros and cons to see if a side hustle is right for you. It could be a boon to your income and even provide an opportunity to test the viability of a business idea that could become an awesome new career. Just be wary of common pitfalls so that you can continue – or end – your side hustle on your terms, without risking financial security.