The other day, as I sat in a company-wide meeting, everyone suddenly started applauding. Granted, we work for a culture that values support and cheering one another on regularly celebrates accomplishments–but this time was different. What they were congratulating me for wasn’t a client’s campaign or content piece… it had absolutely nothing to do with my full-time job responsibilities. The CEO announced something that made me reflect on how a side hustle could improve my day-to-day career: I had gotten an article published in Fast Company, one of the most popular business magazines.

Though it is popularly believed, having a side hustle does not mean you will be worse at your full-time job. If anything, I have found the opposite to be correct: My writing and marketing outside of work make me better at my job. I am constantly learning about new industries, fostering relationships, being creative, and making my writing stronger. Still doubtful? Here are five ways that a side hustle can help improve your career performance.

[Related: The 2-Week Action Plan for Starting a Business]

1. You learn new skills.

When you have a side hustle, you must be willing to learn new things constantly. For example, I recently started editing our company blog; however, because I had been managing and editing my blog for years, the process was much easier than it otherwise would have been. With my SEO skills, editing background, understanding of what readers want, and creativity, I was able to excel at writing compelling headlines and coming up with new post ideas quickly. It’s ideal if your side hustle is related to your full-time job because you can transfer the skills you learn between the two gigs.

[Related: The Freelancer’s Guide to Saving for Retirement]

2. You expand your network.

To make your side hustle successful, you need a continuous stream of new clients and a way to grow your professional network. You can do this by learning from the career paths and insights of others at every stage of your career. Meeting new people is essential for growth as a professional.

3. You strengthen your brand.

Having and maintaining a personal brand is essential to being successful in your side hustle. By becoming an expert in a skill, you become irreplaceable at work. Your colleagues will see you as a reliable source for the advice they need regarding your area of expertise. For example, I have a colleague with an extremely popular Instagram profile, so we always go to her when we need influencers or best practices tips related to Instagram. People also come to me for blogging advice because that’s what most of my freelance writing focuses on.

[Related: The Ultimate Guide to Personal Branding]

4. You become more confident.

If you want to be successful at your side hustle, you have to instill self-discipline. You’ll need to continuously educate yourself, reach out to new acquaintances, and develop both yourself and your business. Having this level of control will make each achievement more gratifying. The recognition that you don’t have anybody’s permission or approval to achieve success will inflate your ego.

[Related: 4 Reasons Why You Should Be Your Boss]

5. You become happier.

Unless you’re doing something you love, you won’t be content in any other area of your life. A side hustle is no exception to this rule – you’ll likely find yourself working more hours than ever before. But if your passion lies within this endeavor, it will all be worth it in the end. I can speak from personal experience when I say that I am happier at work and home when my main focus is on something that matters to me.

Having a side hustle does more than just give you extra money—it can help out with your full-time job. If you make it clear to your boss that you’re dedicated to both jobs, they may see that you’re happier and more confident because of it. This will likely lead to increased opportunities for growth in the future.

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