11 Tips for Starting a Side Gig While Working a Full Time Job

Making extra money during your off hours from your full-time job can be challenging. These side gig tips will help you learn how to choose the right side hustle, balance your moonlighting with your 9-to-5, and more.

Woman working a side gig with a full-time job.
How to work a side gig and a full-time job at the same time.

If you want to improve your financial situation, one of the best things you can do is make more money.

A side gig can be your ticket to earning extra money to boost your savings, eliminate debt, and reach your goals faster.

Balancing a full-time job with a side hustle isn’t easy, though. You only have so much time and energy each day.

11 Tips to Help You Start a Successful Side Gig While Working Full Time

There are many ways to make money on the side with a full-time job. Here are some side gig tips to help you choose the right side gig, balance your full-time job with the work you do on the side, and thrive.

1. Choose a Side Gig You Have a Passion For

There will be moments when you wish you had more time to relax or do something fun instead of working all the time. It’s much easier to stay motivated and push through those times if you’re doing something you’re passionate about.

For example, if you have a passion for reading, you might offer your services as a freelance proofreader or editor so you can get paid to read books.

Passion is especially important if you’re starting a part-time business you hope will eventually allow you to quit your day job. It will be harder to find success if your side business isn’t something you’re enthusiastic about or interested in.

Of course, getting paid to follow your passion is not always possible. Maybe you need extra money coming in and don’t care where it comes from. If that’s the case, make sure you…

2. Know Your Why

You need a compelling reason for starting a side gig. You also need clear goals from day one. Whether it’s to get out of debt, grow your savings, help pay for expenses, or build a business to replace your day job, you need to know exactly why you’re spending your free time working.

Working a 40 hour a week job and a side hustle in your off hours can be physically and emotionally taxing. It can put a strain on your relationships. You might have to give up hobbies, interests, and spending your free time doing things you enjoy.

Having to make those sacrifices can wear on you. You’ll miss certain people and certain aspects of your old life. You might feel exhausted, unmotivated, unfocused, or stuck.

That’s why it’s important to always keep in mind why you’re doing what you’re doing. When those negative thoughts and feelings appear, remind yourself how you’ll be much better off if you stick with it.

3. Don’t Feel You Have to Start the Next Big Thing

Most articles or blog posts about side gigs focus on entrepreneurship. That’s fantastic, but not everyone wants to start a business or spend their spare time pitching potential clients for freelance work. You might not have the entrepreneur gene or own any in-demand freelance skills, and that’s fine.

If all you want is more money, getting a part-time job is a valid approach to side hustles. There’s nothing wrong with doing side jobs for extra money, like tending bar or working in retail, to get ahead. There are also legitimate work-from-home jobs you could pursue in your off hours. Just make sure that getting a second job is worth it to you in terms of the time, commitment, and pay involved.

If you don’t have the time to start your own thing, there are plenty of service providers offering flexible side hustles where you set your own hours. For example, you can walk dogs with Rover, drive for DoorDash, or drive for a ride-hailing service like Lyft whenever you have time available.

Finding unique side hustles that don’t involve punching a clock or being an independent contractor for someone else is entirely possible. You can also run multiple side hustles at the same time. For example, you can sell stuff you make on Etsy, make money on Poshmark by selling your old clothes, and rent out a room in your home through Airbnb.

Your side gig doesn’t have to be something that can eventually replace your day job income. A side gig can be just a side gig.

4. Minimize Your Startup Costs

If you’re taking on a second job with an established business as your side gig, your startup costs are probably zero or close to it. But what if you want to launch a product or service or take on freelance projects?

Do you need an elaborate website, new headshots, or business cards? Should you plan on making a big initial investment? Probably not.

There are plenty of side hustles with low startup costs. There are many you can launch for less than $100.

If you have an idea for a business, the important thing is to start it. You get paid for what you deliver, not for how cool the logo you spent a bundle on looks.

With platforms like Upwork, eBay, and Fiverr, you can be online and ready to sell in one weekend with no out-of-pocket costs. You can create a website on Wix or Weebly for free.

To promote your new venture on a shoestring, start by tapping into your contacts. Your friends, family, and former colleagues want you to succeed. You might generate customers, referrals, and word-of-mouth buzz through your existing network without spending a dime.

A minimal budget is all it takes to get your side gig off the ground. Starting small and growing is better than plowing money you can’t afford to lose into a business that never sees a profit.

5. Make Time for Your Side Gig

Man running from day job to side gig.

Once you have a side gig in mind, figure out how much time you can dedicate to it. If you want your side gig to be a significant source of income, commit to pursuing it during your available hours. Look for ways to free up more hours.

When you’re working two jobs or growing a side business while working a 9-to-5, there will be times when you feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done.

Look at your schedule and prioritize. Your side gig will often take priority over socializing and leisure activities.

If your side gig has you working for yourself, you might find little blocks of time you can use to complete a few tasks. Maybe you can wake up an hour earlier, use your lunch break, or take advantage of your daily commute to squeeze in some work.

6. Take Care of Yourself

Managing a side gig while working full-time will challenge you physically and mentally, no matter what side work you do. If you’re not careful, you can fall into unhealthy habits or wind up burned out. While you’re working your side hustle, make sure you:

  • Don’t neglect your sleep. Be sure to get as much quality sleep as you can.
  • Find a healthy means of dealing with stress. Working more hours often leads to more stress so have something you can do to relieve it. Exercise is both good for your overall health and an effective stress reliever.
  • Eat a nutritious diet. It can be tempting to live on fast food or other junk if you’re always on the go. Neglecting your diet and eating bad foods can lead to sluggishness, weight gain, and other health problems.

Working long hours might be good for you financially, but you have to do what’s good for your finances and what’s good for your health at the same time.

7. Don’t Put Your Main Job at Risk

Maybe one day, your side hustle will take off and replace your day job. Or your second job will lead to a better opportunity than your principal employer can offer. Until that day, be careful not to do anything that could jeopardize your primary source of income.

Be aware of your company’s policies regarding additional employment and check local employment laws. Unless you have a contract that spells out exactly the grounds for termination, your employer might be able to fire you for taking another job.

If you’re tired all the time and your productivity dips, you might put your day job in danger. Working for a competitor or working on your side gig when you’re supposed to be doing work for your primary job is unethical and could get you fired.

Working a side gig is a balancing act. You might want to focus most of your energy on your side hustle. If you let your day job performance suffer, you could lose your main source of income.

Make sure your regular job stays your regular job until you can leave for greener pastures on your own terms.

8. Handle Your Relationships with Care

People notice when you’re suddenly less available than you used to be.

Family, friends, and significant others will be impacted. Working a second job or starting up a side gig might require others to change their routines and expectations. Don’t let that cause resentment or ruin relationships.

Don’t keep people who count on you in the dark. Talk to your partner about what life might look like when you’re unavailable. Let friends and family know they might not see or talk to you as much.

You need their support and understanding to maintain the relationship. Don’t just disappear or expect everything to stay the same without having a conversation.

9. Keep Detailed Records

If you work for a gig economy company like TaskRabbit, Uber, or Instacart as a side gig, they will most likely classify you as an independent contractor.

As a gig worker, taxes won’t be taken from your pay, and you’re on your own for any expenses. It also means some of your expenses might be tax deductible. That makes your tax situation more complicated.

Make sure you keep track of your income and expenses. Put money aside for taxes.

If you’re running a business or freelancing on the side, consider setting up a business checking account. A dedicated account keeps your business expenses separate from your personal expenses and looks more professional. It also simplifies record keeping.

The more organized and careful you are about tracking side hustle income and expenses, the easier filing your taxes will be. Consider consulting with a tax professional before you start any new venture.

10. Don’t Be in a Rush to Quit Your Day Job

I quit sticky note left on computer keyboard.

Many people take on a side gig with an eye toward one day leaving their day job for self-employment. It is possible, but don’t be too quick to jump ship.

Having a good idea is not enough. You need to have a proven, sustainable business model and enough customers to replace your primary source of income.

Working a full-time job to cover your expenses and running a business on the side acts as insurance and cuts down the risk. It also allows you the flexibility to test new ideas and try different things until you have a stable business.

11. Evaluate Your Side Gig Regularly

When you’re constantly working, losing sight of your goals and progress is easy. Keep yourself on track by re-evaluating your side gig and seeing where you stand in relation to your goals.

Track your time spent, the extra money earned, and your advancement toward your goals. Consider the sacrifices you’ve made and whether they’ve been worth it. Keep what’s working and get rid of what isn’t.

If your side gig isn’t working out, moving on is OK. You can always try something else.

I’ve worked multiple second jobs, run a part-time business on nights and weekends, done a few hundred hours of freelance work, and worked as an independent contractor for a gig economy company.

Not everything was a good fit. I still do freelance work here and there, but some of my past side gigs paid little or weren’t helping me get closer to my goals. I stopped when it became clear that what I was doing in my spare time wasn’t worth the effort I was spending.

If I hadn’t been regularly taking stock of where things stood and how I felt about my circumstances, I might have wasted a lot of time and energy pursuing dead ends.

Before You Go…

Balancing a side hustle with a full-time job is largely about finding the right side gig. If you need some ideas, have a look at these 23 side hustles for introverts and check out the best freelance websites for beginners.

Featured Image Credit: Unsplash

Jerry Graham

Jerry Graham

Jerry is a personal finance enthusiast, side hustler, and freelance web developer who began his career in financial services. He co-founded KindaFrugal.com, a personal finance and frugal living blog. His insights have appeared on MSN, Newsweek.com, HerCampus.com, Mashed.com, and many others.