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5 Ways a Side Hustle Can Advance Your Career

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The other day, I was in a meeting with my entire company when everyone started clapping for me. I work at a company with a supportive culture where we regularly celebrate one another’s accomplishments, so the clapping wasn’t particularly surprising, but what they were congratulating me for was. It wasn’t a campaign or piece of content for a client—in fact, it wasn’t related to my full-time job at all. The CEO had announced that I had an article published in Fast Company, a personal goal for my freelance writing career. It was that meeting that got me thinking more about the ways that a side hustle can help your full-time job.

There is a common misconception that having a side hustle is detrimental to one’s career. The myth is that if you’re doing something on the side, you aren’t 100 percent focused on your full-time job. I’ve found the opposite to be true: My writing and marketing outside of work makes me better at my job. I am constantly learning about new industries, fostering relationships, being creative, and making my writing stronger. Still skeptical? Here are five ways that a side hustle can actually help you at your full-time job.

[Related: 9 Steps to Starting Your Own Business When You Work Full Time]

1. You learn new skills.

With a side hustle, you’re constantly learning new things. Whether you’re designing websites, writing a blog, coding, or managing a freelance writing career, you are continuously learning and improving your specific skill set. I recently starting editing our company’s blog. Even though it was a new project, I had a head start because I’ve been managing and editing my own for years. I was able to tap into my knowledge of SEO, writing catchy headlines, editing, understanding what an audience wants to read, and consistently brainstorming new post ideas. Ideally, your full-time job is related to your part-time gig and these areas of expertise will make you better at both.

[Related: The Morning Routines of Successful Freelancers]

2. You expand your network.

For your side hustle to be successful, you need to find new clients and grow your professional network. You can learn from other people’s career paths and insights at every stage of your career. Meeting new people helps you grow as a professional.

3. You strengthen your personal brand.

Part of running a side hustle is building and maintaining a personal brand. You become recognized as an expert. Specializing in a skill and having a personal brand makes you stand out and be seen as indispensable at work. People at work are likely to turn to you for advice on your expertise. One of my colleagues has an extremely popular Instagram profile so we always turn to her for advice on working with influencers or Instagram best practices. Similarly, people come to me for blogging advice and even career advice since that’s the subject of most of my freelance writing.

[Related: 3 No-Fail Ways to Build Your Personal Brand]

4. You become more confident.

When you are working on a side hustle, you have to be a self-starter. You have to learn new skills, meet new people, and build your brand and business on your own. This autonomy makes each accomplishment feel even better. Knowing that you can be your own boss and meet your goals on your own will increase your confidence.

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

5. You become happier.

When you’re doing something you’re passionate about, you’ll be happier in all aspects of your life. Having a side hustle isn’t easy. You’ll find yourself working long nights, early mornings, and weekends. But if you truly love it, it’s worth it. I’m happier at work and in my personal life when I am doing something I care about.

Having a side hustle brings more than an extra income—it can help you at your full-time job. Just make it clear that you will give 110 percent at work. You may find that you’re happier and more confident in all aspects of your life.

Photo: Paul Bradbury / Getty Images


Personal Branding #Working Full Time Side Hustle Career Advice
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One of my favorite articles to date! Having a side hustle is something so beneficial and it's nice to know that it really can help advance your career! Excellent article, Elana!

Thanks, Briana. That means a lot to me! I'm so glad the article resonated with you.

I agree completely! I just graduated from college and now have a full-time job in an industry that I'm not 100% passionate about. Instead of letting that get me down, I take advantage of nights, weekends and an overall flexible schedule to freelance by working concerts and events in the entertainment industry. It gives me something to do with my extra time, while simultaneously making connections and gaining experience in the industry I want to work for in the future.

Love this article! Empowering and music to the ears of a millennial who is still wondering what I want to do on a day-to-day basis, side hustles allow me to explore what else is out there and if those things make me happier than where I am now!

Thank you so much, Caitlin! You're right, it's such a great way to discover what you want to do and to find something that makes you happy.

Thanks for sharing your story, DeShawn! It's such a helpful way to focus on what you're passionate about and set you up for finding a career that makes you 100% passionate. You're creating your career!

Thanks for the validation-- side hustles are the flavor of life. Something that I struggle with, though, is feeling guilty about my outside hustle AND getting overwhelmed with all my interests, work, family time, etc etc. Advise on how to focus?

Great advice on how your side hustle can truly improve and focus your career! It is so important to be passionate about side projects, utilize them to learn new skills, and make great connections in different networks. You never know where your side hustle can take you, or how it will open more doors for your career.

Thank you so much! Writing for Career Contessa gave me the confidence to focus on freelance writing. So thank you!

This is such a great post. Worth noting that having a side hustle can not only help people improve their performance at work, but it can also help them to impress other employers and land a new job elsewhere too. If I hadn't set up my own blog, started volunteering for a charity, and writing articles for other websites, I think I would have found it so that little bit more difficult to get the new job I'm set to start in a few weeks time. Side hustles definitely give job hunters something to talk about in their CVs and interviews!

That's a great point! I switched from law to marketing and writing because of my blog. Enjoy your new job! Congrats.

Hillary Walters
Hillary Walters

This is really refreshing and encouraging! I have done some very basic freelance writing, but have been in a rut with pushing myself to apply for more. Do you have any good outlets or recommendations for someone just starting out with freelance writing projects? Thanks for your insight!

LOVE this Elana! You lay this out so perfectly. A side hustle isn't anything to be ashamed of or hide. It actually helps elevate your life and career! Thank you for putting this out there to inspire other :)

Thank you so much Kathlyn! I'm so glad it inspired you!

Yes! I got my start by writing for Levo, Career Contessa, and Skillcrush because I like writing about career advice. I recommend starting by writing consistently for a few publications that have syndication partnerships with big media publications. Once you have a few big "clips" it will be easier to pitch. You'll also improve your writing by working closely with an editor.

This made my day and inspired me to continue writing and pursue my dream! Thank you!! :)

You just made my day and inspired me to continue writing. Thank you!

This is such a great motivator for us all to make time for what we love to do outside of work. Thank you for the inspiration.

Thank you so much Amanda! I'm so glad!

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