How to Pick a Good Side Hustle

The 9-to-5 job is dead. Actually, it’s been dead for a while. But the whole COVID pandemic has put the final nail in the coffin.

Having a single 9-to-5 job used to be a popular choice. It gave you a good level of security. If you did your job right, pleased your manager, and worked the odd overtime hour here and there, you’d be perfectly OK.

That philosophy has gone out of the window in the 21st century.

Companies are no longer paying high enough salaries to sustain an average lifestyle on one income. People are finding it increasingly difficult to work for a reasonable salary. What’s more, is that job security isn’t guaranteed. As we’ve recently seen with the COVID pandemic, anyone, even a high performer, can lose their job in an economic downturn.

Side hustles have become the saving grace for a lot of people. Instead of just working a single job Monday to Friday, people are taking up extra work in the evenings and on weekends to supplement their income. Having that extra work can be both a great outlet for learning and a source of extra income to stay afloat, save, invest, or just spend leisurely.

If you’re going to be putting in extra time for work outside of your day job, then you want it to be worthwhile. There are a few key things you’re going to want your side hustle to have.

Different from your day job

Picking a side hustle that’s similar to your day job might seem tempting, but let me convince you otherwise.

Imagine you work all day as a programmer at a tech company. You do your 9-to-5 and then come home for your side hustle. At that point, your brain is just tired of thinking of the same thing. Your energy for that particular type of work is all used up. It’s boring to continue the same thing and probably won’t be as fruitful.

Having a side hustle that’s different from your day job offers a number of advantages:

  • A break from your day job work. It’ll be a lot easier and more interesting to work on your side hustle if it’s something new and different.
  • A new learning outlet. A side hustle that’s in a different line of work than your day job offers you new opportunities to learn and grow
  • Diversification. Imagine if during the COVID pandemic you work for an airline company. You definitely would NOT be happy to have your side hustle be a part of that since both of your jobs could then be wiped out in a flash

Makes money

Your side hustle should make some kind of money.

Yes, I know, you’ll soon hear the self-help and enlightenment gurus come out to say their schpiel about how you shouldn’t do it for the money. But why did you start the side hustle in the first place?

If you’re in a position where the money doesn’t matter at all, in a position where you’re financially independent, then go ahead and take up that passion project. I’m all for it!

But if you’re in the paycheck to paycheck zone, it’s incredibly helpful for your side hustle to be bringing in some money, even if it’s just a bit.

The extra income from your side hustle will motivate you to work on it more since you immediately see the fruits of your labour. Money isn’t everything but it will help to support you should you get laid off. The security from the extra income is freeing.

If you do find yourself working a side hustle that isn’t generating any money, no worries at all. Contrary to what parents and school might tell you, there are ways to make money from any hobby. Do you like photography? Why not sell your photos online. Love to workout? Why not offer advice or personal training to some of your friends or people at the gym. If there’s a demand for the experience and skillset you’d built from your hobby, then you can leverage that to make money.

You love to do it

For both your 9-to-5 and your side hustle, it’s ideal if you love the work. In my opinion, it’s even more important for the side hustle.

When you come home after work you might be hungry or tired or just not in the mood for work. Loving what you do will help you get through those moments. If the work is sort of meh, then there will be times when you slack off from it for just a break. But if you really love it, you’ll jump right at the work without hesitation.

Personally I love love love to read and to write, so reading books and then blogging here on Medium about it is a no-brainer! I jump at the opportunity to read and write in my free time. It’s fun for me.

Loving what you do will also help you to continue to do it long term too. Switching between side hustles because you get bored will be both unproductive and less profitable. So if you can stick with it, which is easy when you love it, then things go a lot smoother.


This part may be optional, but I think it really does put the icing on the side hustle cake.

A 9-to-5 job is not scalable at all. You get a fixed salary, sometimes a bit of overtime income or bonus, a few benefits… and that’s it. There’s no room for growth except if your boss grants you a raise or you switch companies. You could be generating $2 Million dollars a year for your company while they just pay you $100k to keep you content, no matter how much overtime you work.

Having a scalable side hustle means running it like a business. You’re looking to grow your side hustle. The more value you add, the more your business and income should grow. Having such a system will help you work on things that deliver value for others and make your work more worthwhile.

As your side hustle business scales, you’ll learn many new things and grow in ways that a fixed, rigid, 9-to-5 job could never offer you. If you love it enough and put in the work, your side hustle may even overtake and replace your day job.

“A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.”

— Chris Guillebeau

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