Why side hustles are more than just extra cash

It’s 18 months since I started my freelance journey, but I’ve actually been running my business for two years this month. That’s because I started taking client work on the side when I was in-house.

Deciding when to make the jump into freelancing is such a personal thing. Some people graft for years to build up a solid business before they feel ready to leave an in-house role.

And that might have been me if I hadn’t been working in a toxic culture that, by the end, I would have jumped out of a window to escape. It lit a fire under me. I took on extra work, copywriting and teaching screenwriting on the side. I saved up a buffer, promising myself it wouldn’t be long.

I had no idea if I could manage on my own. I had run my own business before, and it had been burnout city. I worked all hours and barely made a living. I wasn’t sure if I was cut out for self-employment, in all honesty.

If I hadn’t felt like I had absolutely no choice, I might have trundled along with the side-gigs for years. I might never have jumped back into full time freelancing at all.

But the situation escalated. It was time for the big girl pants. I handed my notice in. Then – classic – I lost my main freelance copywriting gig weeks before I was due to leave my in-house job.

I took Christmas off and came back to sit at my brand new desk in my freshly painted office with precisely zero work.

Not what I’d planned.

But I can honestly say I didn’t feel worried at all.

I was elated. I was FREE AT LAST.

I got out there, the work came, and within three months I was earning more than I had been in-house.

So, yes, save money (as much as you can), and get that work on the side. Maybe those side gigs will be the clients you go on to work with, who form the basis of your whole business.

But I think, for a lot of us, the side hustle is more about proving to ourselves that we can. That we are capable, resilient beings who can go out and make new connections, find work, make money, over and over.

Taking action allows us to start believing in ourselves again.