A side gig can be a great way to indulge a passion without quitting your day job. Not to mention the additional benefit of boosting your income. But how do you get the work, life and tax balance right?
It seems more and more Australians are turning their talents and passions into income-producing side gigs – thanks in large part to the digital economy and technology that’s making flexibility a lot more achievable.
Recent research commissioned by the government-owned NBN network, found that one in four Australians have some form of a side gig – while hanging on to their day job – and a sizeable 80% of Australians are interested in pursuing a side gig as a way of finding fulfilment outside of work.
The research also revealed that the most popular side gigs are related to photography, food and drink blogs and businesses, fashion, beauty and technology, with Australians using platforms such as eBay and Etsy to turn their passions into cold hard cash.
The rise of the side gig
Also known as a ‘side hustle’, the rise of the side gig has become a global phenomenon. According to LinkedIn, 20% of American users who list freelance work on their LinkedIn profiles also have a full-time job, and the business press is full of stories of side hustles that turned into successful businesses – such as New York jewelry brand AUrate, which began life as the side gig of two friends who worked in finance and consulting, or global co-working company WeWork, which also started as a side project.
The biggest factor holding back more Australians from taking on a side gig is their existing financial responsibilities, according to NBN’s research, with 44% of respondents citing it as the reason they weren’t side hustling already. In addition, 35% said they would like to pursue a side gig but they didn’t think they had the skills.
How can you make it work?
For anyone considering a passion project on the side, juggling a day job and working after hours can be a challenge. A successful side hustler, Evangeline, who works in marketing during the day and runs her own event planning business in the evenings and weekends, says it’s important to master the art of compartmentalising.
“Between 9 to 5, I focus on my day job and I avoid getting distracted. Once I step out of the office, the event planning takes over,” she says. “It’s about having an overall view of the week and knowing what you’re doing on each day. If you don’t have everything planned, it can be hard to manage it all and maintain a good work-life balance.”
Evangeline’s side gig career was a natural extension of an early job as a wedding singer to earn money while she studied. Wedding singing evolved into wedding planning, and now she plans a variety of events.
“Growing up I had a big social life and I was always organising a lot of things, including fund-raising events for charity,” she says. “Singing opened the door into wedding planning and now event planning has become a passion.”
Striking a balance
Working a side gig on top of a day job can leave you with little time to relax. Evangeline says having supportive friends and family can help with avoiding burnout.
“Having the right people around me helps,” she says. “They have to be able to be able to call you out if you’re spending too much time working and not enough time relaxing.”
Another important consideration for side hustlers is how a second income will affect their income tax. It’s a good idea to consider this before you get started by talking to your accountant or a tax specialist.
With the right support and a willingness to work hard, a side gig can evolve into a whole new career. Either way, it’s a handy way to earn extra cash and develop new skills.
This article was originally published in 2017.