Are side hustles worth it?

A side hustle is worthwhile to supplement your income long-term or cope with unexpected expenses. A part-time second job or a temp side gig can help you reach financial freedom faster. However, a side job should not take away all your space-time to keep living a balanced life.

man and a woman discussing new job opportunities

11 criteria of a worthwhile side hustle

Here are some criteria to consider when determining if a side hustle is worth trying:

1.   Income Potential: Assess whether the side hustle can provide enough income to justify the time and effort invested.

2.   Skill Alignment: Consider if the side hustle aligns with your skills and interests, making it more sustainable and enjoyable in the long run.

3.   Time Commitment and Work-life Balance: Evaluate if the time required for the side hustle is manageable alongside your primary job and personal life. A worthwhile side hustle should not compromise your work-life balance or cause undue stress or burnout.

4.   Flexibility: A good side hustle should offer flexibility, allowing you to work on it according to your schedule.

5.   Growth Opportunities: Look for side hustles that offer potential for growth, either financially or in terms of skill development.

6.   Market Demand: Ensure there is a demand for the product or service offered by the side hustle.

7.   Costs vs. Benefits: Analyze the costs involved (like initial investment and ongoing expenses) against the potential benefits and income. Online side hustles like affiliate marketing and YouTubers have low startup costs and high earning potential.

8.   Impact on Primary Employment: Make sure the side hustle does not negatively impact your primary job or violate employment agreements.

9.   Scalability: Consider whether you can scale the side job and possibly replace your actual job.

10. Legal and Ethical Considerations: Ensure the side hustle is legal and ethically sound.

These criteria can help make an informed decision about whether a side hustle is worth pursuing.

Pros and Cons of Side Hustles

A person with a second job enjoys the financial benefits of an additional income stream, providing a cushion for unexpected expenses and accelerating savings goals. In contrast, someone working a single job may have more free time but might face financial constraints and slower progress toward financial objectives.

Extra Income: Side hustles provide additional income, aiding in achieving financial goals or paying off debts.Reduced Downtime: Side hustles can reduce leisure time, potentially causing increased stress and distraction in a full-time job.
Skill Development: They offer opportunities to develop new skills or pursue personal interests valuable for career growth.Increased Stress: Balancing a side hustle with other commitments can add more stress to an individual’s life.
Flexibility: Side hustles can be done in one’s free time, allowing maintenance of a primary job while pursuing other interests.Opportunity Costs: Pursuing a side hustle may involve upfront costs and the potential loss of other opportunities or activities.
Career Enhancement: They provide a competitive advantage by allowing individuals to develop skills that complement their primary job.Work-Life Balance: Side hustles can impact work-life balance, potentially leading to less free time and increased pressure.
Escape Route: A side hustle can be an exit from a dissatisfying main job, offering a transition to a new career or industry.

When considering a legitimate way to supplement your income, it is necessary to weigh the pros and cons to know if it aligns with your goals and circumstances.

18 reasons to start a side hustle

Here are some reasons to start a side hustle:

1.   Enhanced Financial Independence: A side hustle can significantly boost your income, providing the financial means to achieve various goals more rapidly. This extra income can be pivotal in paying off debts, saving for a significant purchase, or increasing your overall financial stability.

2.   Opportunities for Skill Development: Engaging in a side hustle allows you to acquire or refine new skills. This continuous learning can enhance your professional profile, open new career paths, and enrich your personal development.

3.   Pursuing Personal Passions: A side hustle offers the unique opportunity to delve into areas you’re passionate about but may not get to explore in your primary job. This can lead to a more fulfilling work life as you engage in exciting activities.

4.   Increased Job Security: A side hustle is a financial safety net in an uncertain job market. An additional source of income can be invaluable in times of economic downturns or unexpected job loss.

5.   Flexible Working Arrangements: Many side hustles let you work according to your schedule. It can be particularly beneficial for those with rigid full-time jobs, as it allows for better work-life balance and personal time management.

6.   Expanding Professional Networks: A side hustle can significantly broaden your professional network. This expansion can lead to new opportunities, collaborations, and even career advancements that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

7.   Personal Growth and Confidence Building: Managing a side hustle can be a journey of personal growth, fostering self-reliance and confidence. It favors skills development, which can lead to significant personal development.

8.   Testing and Validating Business Ideas: If you have a business idea, a side hustle provides a low-risk environment to test and refine it. This practical experience can be invaluable in assessing the viability of the ideas before fully committing to them.

9.   Creative Expression: A side hustle can be an outlet for creative expression, especially for highly structured or routine jobs. It allows you to engage in work more aligned with your creative interests.

10. Contributing to Society: Some side hustles, particularly those focused on community service or charity, offer a chance to impact society positively. This can be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling.

11. Boosting Long-term Savings: The additional income from a side hustle can significantly enhance your ability to save for long-term goals, including retirement, a child’s education, or even a dream vacation.

12. Alleviating Financial Stress: The extra cushion provided by a side hustle can reduce financial stress, especially in handling unexpected expenses or economic fluctuations.

13. Job Satisfaction and Fulfillment: A side hustle can provide a deep sense of job satisfaction, as it often aligns more closely with your interests, values, and passions.

14. Career Advancement Through Skill Enhancement: By developing new skills and expanding your professional portfolio, a side hustle can open doors to new job positions.

15. Building an Emergency Fund: The additional income from a side hustle can be directed towards building an emergency fund, offering peace of mind and financial security in unpredictable times.

16. Achieving Work-Life Balance: A side hustle can provide a sense of accomplishment and personal satisfaction without intruding on your personal life, contributing positively to your overall work-life balance.

17. Networking and Meeting New People: Engaging in a side hustle often leads to meeting a diverse range of people, expanding both your personal and professional networks, and opening up new avenues for career growth.

18. Personal Growth: By allowing you to pursue your passions, a side hustle can increase personal happiness, satisfaction, and overall well-being.

However, you should not start a side hustle if you have the means to support your lifestyle and value time over money. 

Warehouse side jobs - A man riding a yellow forklift lifting boxes

5 Online Side Hustles That Worth Your Time

Here are five online side hustles that are worth trying:

1.   Online tutoring: Teach a subject or skill you know, in-person or remotely. Platforms like TutorMe and Preply offer opportunities to earn money as an online tutor.

2.   Freelance writing: Write articles, blog posts, or other content for clients. Websites like Upwork and Fiverr allow you to find freelance writing gigs.

3.   Freelance graphic design: Design logos, websites, or other visual content for clients. Platforms like Fiverr and Dribbble offer opportunities to showcase your work and find clients.

4.   Affiliate marketing: Promote products or services online to earn a commission for each sale made through your referral links. This side hustle requires upfront work in building your online presence, but it can be an excellent way to generate passive income.

5.   Selling digital products: Create and sell digital products like eBooks, Audiobooks, printables, or online courses. Platforms like Etsy, Amazon KDP, Audible, Gumroad, and Teachable allow you to reach a broad audience and earn money from your creations.

These side hustles can earn extra income, develop new skills, and pursue your interests. Remember to consider your skills, interests, and available time to start a profitable side hustle that impacts your life positively.

4 Types Of Side Hustles To Avoid At All Costs

When considering a side hustle, be aware of opportunities that may not be beneficial or could even be harmful. Here are five types of side hustles that are generally advisable to avoid:

1.   Pyramid Schemes: These business models focus more on recruiting new members than selling valuable products or services. They often require upfront investment and promise high returns that are rarely achieved. While some MLMs are legitimate, creating a sustainable income from network marketing is hard if you are not an experienced marketer.

2.   Unrealistic “Get Rich Quick” Schemes: Any side hustle that promises substantial earnings with little effort in a very short time is likely not credible. These schemes often involve high risks, hidden costs, or deceptive practices and can result in financial loss.

3.   Pay-to-Play Ventures: Be wary of any business opportunity that requires you to pay a substantial fee to start, especially if the return on investment is uncertain. While some legitimate businesses may require startup costs, those emphasizing upfront payment should be approached cautiously.

4.   Overly Time-Consuming Gigs with Low Pay: Side hustles that demand a significant amount of time but offer meager compensation can be counterproductive. They can lead to burnout and minimal impact on your financial goals. For example, taking online surveys is not the best side hustle.

Always research thoroughly and consider the potential risks and benefits before committing to any side job.

5 Facts You Should Know About Side Hustles

Here are five facts about side hustles backed by data and research:

  1. Prevalence: 45% of working Americans currently have a side hustle, and 43% of full-time workers say they have a side hustle.
  2. Income: 30% of people with a side hustle said they need the extra money to cover basic costs, and 19.1% reported making more than $1,000 a month.
  3. Time Spent: Most side hustlers spend 5-10 hours per week on their business, and 59.7% spend 5-20 hours working their side hustle.
  4. Demographics: Side hustlers tend to skew younger, with 54% being 18-34 years old, and 50% of millennials in the US have a side hustle.
  5. Challenges: The biggest challenges side hustlers face are growing their business, dealing with limited time, and coming up with the right side hustle idea to move forward with.

These facts indicate that side hustles are a significant aspect of American work culture. They are primarily driven by financial necessity and entrepreneurial spirit among younger demographics despite challenges in time management.

Final Thoughts

The truth about side hustles is that they can be a wise way to earn extra cash. Side hustles that pay well offer many benefits, like having more money and acquiring new skills. However, research the advantages and disadvantages before starting a second job. 

Not all side jobs are easy or fun. Starting a side hustle that actually works takes effort and intelligent choices. So, think carefully and choose wisely; a side hustle can be worth it!


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