People love to boast about their side hustles. But if you don’t yet have a side hustle and aren’t sure where to begin – maybe you’re not even certain what a side hustle really is – you might be feeling a bit out of the loop. We’ve put together this introduction to side hustles to bring you up to speed. Read on for examples of side hustles, how they work, and the benefits you can gain from getting in on the side hustle craze.

Definition of a Side Hustle

A side hustle is any type of employment undertaken in addition to one’s full-time job. A side hustle is generally freelance or piecework in nature, providing a supplemental income. Side hustles are often things a person is passionate about, rather day a typical day job worked in order to make ends meet. What is a side hustle?

A side hustle is not the same as a part-time job. While a part-time job still entails someone else (your employer) calling most of the shots (including hours worked and what you’ll be paid), a side hustle gives you the freedom to decide how much you want to work and earn.

With financial security a problem for nearly half of Americans, side hustles prove to be a viable option for many people working to get out of debt or testing the entrepreneurial waters.

How a Side Hustle Works

A side hustle is work completed outside of one’s day job, and therefore the work tends to take place during evenings, on weekends, or during vacation breaks. It provides additional income while offering the flexibility to complete work outside of the traditional 9-to-5 hours.

You can start your own side hustle, or you can complete work on a freelance, contract, on-call, or part-time basis for a company.

For those who aren’t quite ready to quit their day job, or are terrified by the prospect of becoming an entrepreneur, side hustles can provide an outlet to explore passions, test ideas, and grow a solid customer base should they ultimately decide they want to give notice.

Examples of Side Hustles

There are endless examples of side hustles, but some popular side hustles that many people engage in include:

  • Selling clothing
  • Making and selling handicrafts; starting an Etsy shop
  • Freelance writing
  • Teaching online courses
  • Tutoring or coaching
  • Babysitting
  • Photography services
  • Selling baked goods or home cooked family meals; catering
  • House cleaning
  • Providing lawn work or maintenance services
  • General labor or warehouse work
  • Dog walking or pet sitting
  • Providing delivery services
  • Mystery shopping
  • Brand ambassador or product demonstrator
  • Survey taking

All of these ideas are great ways to earn a little extra income on the side, without having to give up your day job.

Benefits of Side Hustles

A side hustle can offer you the opportunity to explore your passions or pursue your dream job, without sacrificing the steady paycheck of a day job. Not only does a side hustle provide an injection of extra cash flow to your bank account, it can also help to boost overall life satisfaction.

Another benefit of having a side hustle is that they allow for flexibility in workplace and working hours. Often, side hustles are solopreneurial or entrepreneurial endeavors, and when you’re the boss you get to call the shots – including when and for how long you’ll work. This can be appealing to those who feel weighed down with the rigors and expectations of a traditional 9-to-5 job.

The increased financial freedom that a side hustle provides can not only help with getting out of debt, but it can also help with saving for a rainy day, building a nest egg, or taking care of large purchases or maintenance required around the home. It can also provide for a bit of discretionary spending in your monthly budget.

A side hustle typically does not require a large financial investment upfront. Some side hustles focus primarily on providing a service, while others involve the sale of goods you make yourself or procure from a third party and resell. Many of these gigs don’t require formal education or a specialized skill in order to be profitable. In fact, some people find their side hustles end up earning them more than their full-time gig.

Since there is no minimum requirement to put in a set amount of time at your side hustle, you’re free to take on two or three – or even more, as time permits – at any given time. This can help open up an unlimited stream of additional income. And, in case things ever take a turn for the worse at your day job, you have the security of knowing you won’t be completely without a paycheck until you land your next full-time gig.

Best Practices for Side Hustles

While there are plenty of pros to having a side hustle, that’s not to say there aren’t some things to consider before diving in with both feet first. One consideration to weigh before taking on a side hustle is potential conflict with your day job. Some companies have policies that prohibit moonlighting, although such policies often pertain only to work similar to that performed for your employer. In other words, if you’re an engineer, it’s unlikely that your company has a policy prohibiting you from offering dog walking services on the weekends, but you might be violating those rules by doing freelance engineering work on the side.

Be sure to find out what your company’s policy is regarding moonlighting or outside work to avoid any potential conflicts or problems with your employer. Your employee handbook might also provide information on participating in outside activities, but if not, you can always check with your company’s HR department.

You should also be careful not to over-commit yourself. Taking on more work than you can realistically handle will result in disappointed clients, which can hinder your ability to secure additional work.

Keep in mind that a side hustle means giving up some of your free time, but with the benefits that can be gained, many side hustlers find the sacrifice to be well worth it. With so many pros of having a side hustle, there’s no reason not to start one today.