Despite that, I highly encourage professionals to pick up projects on the side; I’m not a massive fan of hustle porn or the side-hustle culture. It beats the purpose of having a side project, to begin with!
The idea of having side projects has less to do with making money but getting better at your craft and eventually getting so good that you can charge for it. The emphasis is on eventually, meaning this stuff takes time, and that’s okay. The challenge is that everyone with a side-hustle tries to force their way into striking a deal or grabbing an assignment that pays money. All that might be good, but it’s also the quickest and surest way to label yourself as mediocre but arrogant.
Understand that this is a long game. People work on their side-projects for years before they get a breakthrough or, on rare occasions, become an “overnight” success. There’s a reason for that — becoming good happens over time, not overnight. And when you’re starting, let’s face it, you’re not that good. Of course, you can become better with time, but is it fair to ask people for a professional fee when you’re an intern?
Note that I’m not asking you to work for free; nope, that’s something I’ve learned the hard way — never work for free. But when you’re starting, consider yourself a knowledgeable intern who can be super-useful to their clients. So, you charge them much lower than you would if you were a professional at it. That’s being reasonable with yourself and your potential clients.
Now, if you’re worried about supporting yourself while learning your craft or doing this side-hustle, I get it. It’s a legitimate concern, and I would highly recommend that you stick with your day job or find one so that you’re able to support yourself during this journey. Most hustlers skip this step only to find work their way to burnout because it’s a lot of work when you must start everything from the ground up versus starting something on the side.
I don’t have a side-hustle; I have projects—three of them — my coaching and consulting practice, blog, and podcast. The first one barely generates any revenue, just enough to cover my bases like the accountant’s service fees and subscriptions. I’m okay with that because I have a goal of accumulating a set number of professional coaching hours before taking that project seriously. The blog and podcasts are pure passion projects where the intent is to share what I know, document my journey, and invite experts to share their wisdom with my audience and the people in their world.
And understand that I’m okay with that because I have a day job that I thoroughly enjoy. The side-projects help me be an even better professional at the workplace. What if I lose this job? I will find another one until I feel I’ve reached a point where I should be focusing on my coaching and consulting practice full-time, and honestly, I don’t see that happening for a very long time. As a coach with over 600 hours of documented experience, I say that, so I’m no slouch.
I think our culture overvalues the hustle over real experience and expertise, which I intend to achieve. That might mean I’m way behind my competition or might miss out on the “boom” in a certain kind of market, industry, or platform. But that’s okay because while the market may recognize a hustler, it pays money to someone who can bring value through their unique experiences and expertise.
What would you like to be recognized as?