Enjoy this guest post from Nathan Collier. We were fist introduced to Nathan on episode 36 where he discussed how $4.36 changed his life. Now he is back bringing the heat in a written format.
A year ago, I became a side-hustling freelance copywriter. The reason? I needed some extra cash to pay a school loan payment.
Quickly, however, freelancing became about much more than money. Nothing else has taught me so much in so little time.
The most unexpected benefit?
Paradoxically, my side work has dramatically improved the way I feel about my day job. In several key ways, I approach my 9-to-5 much differently than I did a year ago, all because of the work I’ve done as a freelancer.
I want to share these with you today, because I think they are benefits of having a sideline that rarely get discussed.
1. I Don’t Fear Losing My Job, and I Do Better Work As a Result
A year ago, if I had suddenly lost my job, I would have been terrified.
I’m married with two boys under the age of 4, and my wife is a stay-at-home mom. I truly don’t know what we would have done.
Now, though, if something happens and I lose my job, I’ll be fine.
For one, I know how to land freelance work, so we wouldn’t be completely without income.
But also, if I need to find other employment, freelancing has given me an amazing portfolio and a long list of stories about how I’ve helped people generate real business results.
In other words, I’m armed to the teeth with everything I need to nail every employment interview for the rest of my life.
Why is this important to my current 9-to-5?
Because it means when I wake up in the mornings, I’m not forced to go to the office. I go there now because I want to. And that frees me to do better work.
2. I Know What I’m Worth
I know, from having tested my skills in the market, exactly what people will pay me for my work. I even know what kind of work they value most.
I know, for example, that people value my sales writing skills (sales pages, lead gen mailers, autoresponders, etc.) more than they do my blog posts, case studies, or other content marketing pieces.
These are all regular tasks of my day job, which gives me amazing insight into what my work is actually worth to my company.
Does that mean I can waltz into my boss’ office and demand a raise equal to my base hourly freelance rates?
But it does mean that the next time I find myself talking salary, I won’t be going in blind. For the first time in my career, I’m prepared to talk money, because I know—for a fact—what the market is willing to pay me.
3. I’m Learning How to Say No
I’m a classic overachiever. Part of my identity is to be the guy who can solve any problem, given enough time. That was great at the beginning of my career, when I was young and itching to impress my boss and new coworkers.
There comes a time, however, when we overachievers get ourselves into trouble. Our natural tendency is to say “yes” to a request based on whether we have the skill to complete a task, not whether we have the time available to complete it.
That’s a recipe for getting overwhelmed, overburdened, and—eventually—burned out. It’s happened to me at every job I’ve ever had, and I’m sure it’s a common experience to the kinds of people who would find and read this article.
Thankfully, my side hustle is breaking me of this habit.
I only have a few hours a night to do freelance work. That means I simply do not have the time to accept all the opportunities that come my way.
The result? I say “no” a lot, which is a new and liberating experience, and a skill I’ve taken with me to my 9-to-5.
It has freed me to do more of the work I actually care about, instead of getting sucked into everyone else’s problems. By itself, that’s made my day job a much better experience.
A common worry about those thinking of starting a side hustle is: “Will it take away from my 9-to-5 job?”
If you worry about this, I want to leave you with words of encouragement. Side hustling makes your day job better, not worse.
What’s about you? Has your side hustle helped or hurt your day job? Let us know in the comments below.