In a previously unthinkable shift, 7 out of 10 employees started working from home as soon as the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Many unlucky workers were either permanently laid off or given indefinite leave. Soon thereafter, the gig economy soon skyrocketed with droves of people seeking work to stay afloat.
For many of those who turned to the gig economy, resuming their 9-5 roles while still holding on to a side gig is vital to make ends meet. Even if some workers didn't get laid off, 2020 has emphasized the value of having a side gig as a buffer.
If you’re looking to sustain a side gig on top of your day job, here are four essential tips to help you make it work during the pandemic or even afterwards.
1. Schedule It or Lose It
We’ve all heard the saying, “what gets measured gets done.” Well, when you’re juggling more than one job, what doesn't get scheduled won’t get done.
So how do you fit the side gig into your schedule?
You need to move beyond simply looking at what times you can work on your side hustle to thinking about how to free up more time during the week. If not for anything else, setting aside blocks of time to work on your side gig ensures you can earn more from it.
The secret to a successful schedule that lets your side gig flourish is making it work for you. Play to your strengths and you’ll enjoy it more.
For example, if you know you’re most productive during early morning hours, you can leverage that. Wake up an hour or two earlier to tap into your creative juices before heading off to work.
If possible, you can even negotiate with your employer to let you come in later so you can place more focus on the side gig during the times you're most productive.
No matter what your work rhythm is like, you need to develop an intentional system to get it done. And that’s the power of scheduling when done right.
2. Turn Your Break Times Into Learning Sessions
If there was one distinct skill that defined any side gig's trajectory, it would be making time for self-learning.
In fact, an analysis by Alter shows that self-discipline is one of the most crucial traits successful entrepreneurs possess. To make significant inroads with your side gig, you need to harness self-discipline when learning new skills.
Instead of going on social media during your coffee or lunch break, why not fill that time with a bite-sized lesson? It might not seem much, but once you pick up the habit, it begins to add up.
Before you know it, you’ll have learned new skills that add value to your value proposition, helping you earn even more on the side.
Extend the same strategy to other times during the day or week when you have some downtime. Taking a little time away from leisure may not sound fun, but it will definitely improve your long term side gig prospects.
3. Don't Sell Trombone Oil
There’s a saying among successful entrepreneurs about selling trombone oil, which can help manage your side gig.
You may invest your time in being the best manufacturer of trombone oil and stand head and shoulders above the rest. However, no matter how skilled you are at it, the world can only buy so much trombone oil.
Working on a side gig that has little impact can quickly wear you out. You need continuous motivation to keep at it even as you work hard at your day job. As such, you need to invest your time in a side gig that delivers some kind of an impact that you care about.
That way, it’ll keep you motivated during those days you’re feeling worn out after your 9-5 job and don't want to work more on the side hustle (of which there will be many).
4. Your Side Gig Isn't Your Passion
For many, side gigs evolve out of a passion they desire to explore outside of work. Many people quickly learn that just because you're passionate about something doesn’t make it easy to accomplish.
If your side gig is a business (which it is), you need to treat it like one.
For example, you shouldn’t mix the money you make from your side gig with your personal finances. Otherwise, it will be tempting to use that money willy-nilly when you're not accounting for it.
Even if it's your passion, it needs a separate checking account. That way, you can tell how much of your passion is translating into cold hard cash.
The same goes for other aspects of running a business that you may be tempted to overlook because you see it as a passion. Some side gigs can cost you up to $16,000 to set up, and you need structure to determine if they can be profitable.
For instance, if your side gig doesn't have a long-term outlook, you’ll struggle to keep up with it in the long run. When you don't have your ‘why,’ it’s harder to keep going when things look bleak.
No matter the reason for starting your side business, having a long term outlook helps you weather the storms that will surely come. Only then can you successfully manage and profit from your side gig.
Make Your Side Gig Work Even With Your 9-5 Job
If there’s one lesson 2020 has taught us, it’s that you always need a backup plan. While a side hustle can help offer a buffer, you need to be serious about balancing it with your 9-5 job.
Even once the pandemic is over, having a structured workflow in place for your side gig will make you more efficient and naturally translate into more success whether it’s in the form of earning more from it or simply being happy with what you do.