The side gig economy – What to consider before getting your first gig

By Robert Half on 21 October 2019

Deciding to take on a side gig alongside your regular job can be a big step to take.

Thanks to new technology, products and services, the access to casual or contract jobs are becoming far more varied and are available to a much wider range of specialists. Whilst you could start a side gig on your own doing jobs such as copywriting, bookkeeping or computer repair, there are also now a wealth of digital opportunities available that can make starting a side gig even easier, such as Fiverr, Etsy, Uber and Airbnb.

However, two essential considerations are, “Do I have the time/energy to take on extra work?” and “Do I need to inform my current employer?”

In this article, discover some of the reasons why you may want to join the side gig economy, what you need to consider before committing to a second job, and why it’s beneficial to discuss it with your main employer.

What are your motivations behind joining the side gig economy?

Everyone’s motivations for joining the side gig economy will be different, but here are some of the most common reasons to consider:

Boost your salary

You may have student loans that you want to pay off faster or need help with your general living costs. You may want to earn more to put towards a special purchase, invest in more leisure activities or boost your savings pot. Whatever the reason, a side gig is a popular way to supplement your income.

Pursue a passion

Your main job may be something you enjoy and you’re good at, but you may have other passions or hobbies outside of work that you want to attribute more time to. By turning your passion into a side gig, you can spend more time on it, have fun and potentially be more creative, all whilst generating some extra cash.

Use it as a bridge

Starting a side gig is a great way to try out something new which could become your main income in the future. You can familiarise yourself with a new market and build up your skills and experience over time rather than jumping straight into a new career. You can then decide whether to stick with your main job, continue with your side gig, or transform your side gig into a full-time career.

Change in circumstance

Another reason you may decide to join the side gig economy is because of your current circumstances. You may be in-between jobs, or out of work due to redundancy. Having a side gig is a good way to remain working and earn yourself some money, whilst continuing your search for your perfect full-time job.

What should you consider before starting a second job?

Before you commit to a second job, it’s important that you understand what you’re signing up for. Here are some key things to consider:

Your time management

Earning an income is no longer limited to Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 5 pm. You can work on your side gig around your main job, fitting in time during the evenings and at weekends. Be realistic about how much time your second job will take though. It could be as little as one hour per day or five hours per week. But overextending yourself could end up in you doing both jobs poorly. It’s important that you leave some free time for seeing friends and family, relaxing and enjoying your own personal pursuits too.

Your stress levels

Spending your spare time on a side gig can be a lot of fun, but by having a second job and less personal time, your work-related stress levels could increase. In the long-term, this can impact your overall wellbeing and your performance (not only in your side gig but in your primary job too). Start off small to get a feel for how much extra work you can manage and then increase or decrease it to find a level that suits you.

Why should you approach your main employer?

If you’re planning to take on a side gig, make sure you tell your main employer. Not only is it courteous to do this, but you may also be required to ask them, as per your employment contract. Your employer will want to make sure there are no conflicts of interest and that your existing work won’t suffer.

If your reason for starting a side gig is purely financial, you could use this as an opportunity to start a salary conversation. It may even lead to your current salary and benefits package being reviewed.

If you’re considering joining the influx of people who make up the booming side gig economy, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons and remember to enjoy the experience!

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