Build Side Income While You Have a Day Job

Build Side Income When You Have a Day JobFor those of us that work full time, the nice thing about a day job is the stability.  At most companies, you clock out after 8-9 hours and call it a day.  I would never work more than 40 hours a week if I wasn’t getting paid for it but that’s just me.  And even though I bitch and complain about my old cubicle job all the time, there are much worse jobs on this planet that pay a lot less and require you to work a lot harder.  How hard is it to sit behind a desk for 8 hours and browse the internet for part of that time?

One of the mains reasons why I don’t like cubicle type jobs though is the low correlation between how hard you work and how much you get paid.  At my day job I could have busted my ass day in and day out and I maybe would have seen a slight raise at the end of the year(1-2%) compared to my co-workers, no guarantees though.  But when I’m working for myself, there is a direct correlation between how hard I work and how much money I make.

If I’m not happy with how much I’m making at my day job there’s not a whole lot I can do other than asking for a raise or trying(and failing) to negotiate a higher salary.  I was fortunate to discover this fact early on in my career and ever since then I’ve been looking for ways to make side income.  I’ve had at least one side income source since the day I started working full time in fact.  At first, it was coaching volleyball and then it turned into my blog and now I’m making consistent side income from blogging and freelance writing.

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

Even the best ideas won’t evolve overnight, they need time to grow and marinate before they become viable businesses.  I think we all have a tendency to get too comfortable and dependent on our day job income.  Companies can dissolve overnight and situations can go from perfect to undesirable in the same amount of time.  I don’t feel like I owe anything to my employer since if times were bad, I know they would drop me in a heartbeat.

Building a side income isn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination.  But it’s important to get started on it while you don’t need the income, that way if you’re ever forced to make it your main source of income you won’t be starting from scratch.

Active Before Passive Income

I’m not sure when or how the myth of passive income got started but it’s everywhere now.  People seem to believe that there are investments and businesses that you can start that will magically make you money without having to do anything.  Unfortunately, that’s not how it works.  In order to get passive income you will have to put in huge amounts of time and/or money to build your business.  Most businesses will never truly be passive but it is true that they might require very little maintenance down the road.

Nearly any successful passive income source will require a) large amounts of capital or b) large amounts of time invested into it.  I’m a huge proponent of real estate investment and it can be a nice source of passive income but it requires active income first.  You can’t just go out and buy a property that you like.  You’ll need a down-payment or enough to even buy it in all cash if you really want a good deal since the best investor properties are being bought up with cash offers these days.  Additionally, you’ll need to expend lots of time researching potential properties, neighborhoods, etc if you want to make a sound investment.

Turn Your Side Gig Into Your Main Gig

My one bit of advice for picking a side income is to pick something that you’re passionate about.  There are probably sources of side income that will make you more money but you don’t start a side income because you need the money.  After 8-9 hours of working on stuff you don’t like, there’s no way you’ll get another couple hours of work done on your side gig if you’re not passionate about it.  When I used to get home from my day job, I would get straight to blogging because I enjoyed it.  It didn’t feel like work at all even though I was making money while I was doing it.

Since most people’s passions don’t coincide with a viable career they don’t get to choose them, but as a side income that painting hobby might be perfect.  To become an artist for a career is the classic example of someone who follows their passion but 99% of the time won’t ever make shit.  Why not pursue your passion to be an artist on the side and that way you won’t be painting because you need the money?  Instead, you’re painting because you actually love to do it and anything you make off that hobby will be extra income.

I’m the perfect example of someone who turned their side gig into their main gig, albeit temporarily since I’m going back to work in a month.  But, I worked hard to build up my blog income and started applying to tons of freelancing gigs months before I quit my last job.  In those last few months of work, it was pretty hectic since I spent most of my free time on my side gigs but once I was free of my day job, everything fell into place nicely.

There’s always going to be a lag in-between your initial efforts and when you start to see results. Most people would be able to handle a few months but what if those months turn into years?  A lot of people might be discouraged by these early failures.  But if you have active income from your day job there’s no reason to panic.  You can keep on moving along until your big break finally hits.

Can’t Hurt to Try

Ultimately, it’s on you to at least go out and try.  If you’re scared of failure then don’t tell anyone about your side gigs, just go do it.  Pick something that you like or something that you’re good at it and figure out a way to monetize it.  I think the easiest way to make a side income is working online since the entry barrier is so low.  You can start a website for $10 or $20 bucks and your business will be up and running in minutes.

But you don’t have to pick a side income that involves the internet.  The important thing is that you pick something and get started on it before it’s too late.  You never know when you’ll need that side income to take over and become your main source so do it now while the time is right.

Readers, what do you do to make extra money?  Do you depend solely on your day job income or do you have other sources of income?  I would never invest in one asset class or one stock, so why would I do the same with my income?  Shouldn’t you diversify income like you would stocks and bonds and real estate?

-Harry @ The Four Hour Work Day


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I'm Mr. 4HWD, I started this site because I think everyone should be able to work at a job they enjoy and still have time to do all the fun stuff. I don't want to retire early, I want to work four hours a day on the things I love for the rest of my life.

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  1. says

    Great post Harry. I depend solely on my main income right now, but I’ve got plans to change that, which I’m starting to work on. Hopefully in a couple of years I’ll be able to make the “side to main” switch!

    • says

      Thanks bud. If you’re already thinking about side income, then you’re ahead of most people. Start slow when you don’t need the money and let it build from there. Good luck and let me know if you have any questions along the way.

  2. says

    I worked as a radi DJ for 10 years and the past 8 I was also spending with a new passion of mine, web design. Sure, the ‘side job’ wasn’t making me reach (I wasn’t that focused on my small side business), but eventually, when the main job was gone, I could move into my new ‘persona’ and be even more successful. I’m all for trying things out and not relying on a specific income all the time. Even if you won’t make it big, the experience is priceless.

    • says

      Wow that’s awesome! That’s pretty much the perfect example of how you should do it too. A lot of times our side jobs start out as hobbies or passion projects and if you work hard enough they can develop into a full fledged business.

    • says

      Yea that’s kind of how I am, I like my day job but I don’t want to be dependent on it. Just like with investing, you would never depend solely on stocks, you’d want to diversify with some bonds, real estate, etc. It’s a good thing that you’re already in the mindset of finding side income, that’s the hardest part sometimes.


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