I Made $40K From My Side Hustle While Working Full Time. Here’s How
You wake up early to write and stay up late to tame your inbox.
You draft blog posts during lunch and spend sunny Saturdays grinding away on your passion project.
Oh, yeah. And you have a full-time job.
You, my friend, are rocking a side hustle.
The side hustle, or side gig, has risen in popularity over the last several years. Maintaining a full-time job while pursuing a passion on the side offers the best of both worlds.
You get the comfort and security of a steady paycheck and benefits, along with the excitement and endless opportunity to do what you love and make extra money on the side.
It’s not easy to balance it all -- but with a strategy in place, you can do it.
For three years, I built a successful blog and communications business, saving more than $40,000 in side-hustle income, all while working as communications manager for a tourism office.
Use these four tips to excel at your job, grow a thriving side business and still find time for a little fun in your life.
1. Wake Up Earlier
I know, I know. You can’t wake up earlier. You like to work at night.
I’ve been there. A former night owl, I cringed at the thought of a 5 a.m. alarm.
However, after months of coming home from work drained after a long day and completely unable to write, I knew I had to find another pocket of time to pursue my side hustle.
After all, not being able to write meant turning down potential writing clients, losing potential extra income and missing opportunities to grow my own blog and brand.
I slowly made the effort to set my alarm a little bit earlier each day. Within a few months, I was waking up at 5 a.m. and earned myself two full hours of side hustle time I’d never considered.
This two-hour pocket of time felt like a gift.
It allowed me to say yes to lucrative writing opportunities -- like a regular magazine assignment. These often allowed me to make nearly $1,000 per quarter for just a few hours’ work a couple of mornings the month my assignments were due.
Best of all, getting my writing done in the morning left my evenings free to pursue other passions, like running, yoga or even happy hour.
Still not convinced?
When you wake up in the morning, you’re well-rested and energized. In the early hours of the day, there’s less of a chance of being bothered by the incessant pinging of your inbox or social media notifications.
You have clear, uninterrupted time to get work done.
Don’t you want to give the best and most focused hours of your day to the projects you’re most excited about?
2. Focus and Prioritize
Often, when you rock a side hustle, you have limited weekday hours to dedicate to your craft.
If you only have one or two hours each day, know exactly what you hope to accomplish during that work session before you sit down. It’s easy to procrastinate or multitask when you don’t have a clear goal in mind.
If you rock your side hustle in the morning, set your goal the night before. Say it out loud or write it down somewhere.
If you work on your side hustle in the evening, set your intention in the morning. That way, when you wake up or get home from work, you know exactly what you’re going to do and can get started right away -- without needing to think too hard about it.
Similarly, be realistic about how much work you can get done in one sitting.
For example, when I was side hustling, I knew I could only write one blog post each morning. This helped me plan ahead to make sure I prioritized my work accordingly.
3. Use Your Limited Time to Your Advantage
One thing I quickly realized after I took my side hustle full time in February is I actually was more productive while working a full-time job.
Why is that? A little thing called Parkinson’s Law. This is the idea that work expands to fill the time available for its completion.
If I have one hour to complete a project, I’ll get it done within the hour. If I have eight hours to complete a project, you can bet I’m going to take the maximum amount of time available to complete it. It’s just how our brains work.
Use your limited amount of time to your advantage to get more done in the long term.
If you’re a writer who can produce one article in an hour and you have five extra hours in a week, you have the opportunity to earn an extra $375 a week.
Stop thinking of your limited amount of time to work as an excuse. Instead, think of it as an amazing benefit, helping you to be more productive and actually get more done.
4. Leverage Your Day Job to Get Better at Your Side Hustle
If you’re maintaining a full-time job while working a side hustle, you bring the skills you learn in the office to your own business.
Before I started my full-time public relations job, I knew little about email marketing. But with the skills I picked up at work, I created my own 1,400-person strong email community.
Another awesome benefit?
Most full-time jobs pay for professional development like conferences, courses and trainings. Consider these FREE opportunities to educate yourself -- and potentially grow your side hustle with your new skills -- on your company’s time and dime.
On the flip side, think about all the skills you’re picking up and sharpening as you develop your side gig, whether it’s blogging, SEO, design or social media. Not only are you honing your professional skills for your business, you can also bring these to your full-time job and look good at work.
As a bonus, getting better at your full-time job only helps you move up the ladder and earn raises.
Where Could Your Side Hustle Take You?
While the grind of working a day job and side hustle may feel challenging at times, just remember you’re working toward a bigger goal.
If you’re like me and your dream is to one day quit your job to take your hustle full time, freelancing on the side is a natural step to make it happen.
The $40,000 I saved during my three years of side hustling served as a cushion to give me the confidence to finally make the leap into running my own business. Knowing I had a significant amount of money in the bank gave me the freedom and flexibility to say, “I can do this.”
With a little bit of strategy and time management, you really can have it all -- a successful side hustle, a fulfilling day job and a thriving personal life.
Your Turn: Do you have a side hustle and a full-time job? What tips would you add to this list? Share them in the comments below.
After six years in the corporate PR world, Jessica Lawlor left her job to run her own communications agency, blog/brand and teach yoga. She is a writer and blogs about getting gutsy: stepping outside your comfort zone to reach your goals and live a life that makes you truly happy.