How to Leverage Your Side Hustles and Advance in Your Career

3 minutes

Your side hustles – At best, they give you the chance to explore an interest, develop a skill and earn some additional income. At best (that’s right, I can’t think of a single downside to having one), they make you more marketable and help you score more gigs.
You’ll hear that nowadays everyone has a blog or some sort of passion project. Someone once told me it doesn’t make you competitive anymore since everyone else does it. While it’s true that most millennials have some sort of side project, that doesn’t mean they can’t set you apart from others. The question is, how can you use them to get ahead?
Most people tend to keep their side hustles secret. They’ll never make it on their resume or LinkedIn profile. It’s a mistake. Your personal projects are just as relevant to your career as your primary job. Here’s how you can leverage them to achieve your professional goals:

If you want to land more gigs

Perfect your craft then sell your services
Consider your existing skill set and think about ways to upgrade it. You can monetize everything you know these days. You just need to make yourself an expert first. If you write poems, maybe you can learn how to write copy for websites and products as well? If you play guitar, perhaps you can learn how to write songs and perform your pieces at open mics? Perfect your already existing talents then figure out how to take them to the next step. Tackle a new area of knowledge and apply yourself to learning. Wouldn’t a marketer be more competitive if they knew how to design websites too?
Once you turn yourself into an expert, create something. Build an app or a website if you learned how to code. Launch a blog to showcase your writing, YouTube channel for your shooting and editing skills. Let your online portfolio speak for itself. Once you reach a certain level of success, you can make more money from your project itself or by selling your services (usually the easiest way to go). Include our side hustles on your resume, post ads on Craigslist, promote your work to your network and send cold emails.

If you want to get a promotion and/or a raise

Prove your value with numbers
If your side hustle aligns with your job, it makes sense to documents the milestones you reach from doing it. I once worked for a food brand doing community management. After reaching the goals my boss and I had set when I was first hired, I tried to position myself to ask for a promotion. Since I have a side hustle (fashion storytelling) that was directly related to my job, I documented the growth of my personal pages and put down the numbers in paper. I turned them into an easy-to-read file and presented them to my boss when I was making my case. It not only helped that I had exceeded the goals and delivered a great performance, but my boss was also impressed that I was able to do the same thing on my own. Doing this won’t necessarily guaranteed you’ll get a raise (as that depends on many factors that are sometimes outside of our control), but it will definitely put you on their radar when the opportunity arises.
Make a new proposal
As part of my argument to get the raise, I drafted a proposal detailing the things I could accomplish for the brand within a time frame. Since I had increased my Instagram engagement in a few weeks for my personal brand, I suggested doing the same thing for the company. One of the bullet points read, “Gain over 100 followers per week and double the engagement in a month”. I was confident in my ability to deliver and since that matched their expectations, I was given the benefit of the doubt.

To continue your education and move up the ladder 

Seek every opportunity to learn 
“I’m done learning now” – said no one ever (or should no one ever say). No matter where you are in life, your education should never end. It’s part of what keeps you competitive and helps you make better decisions. If you’re employed, try to get your company to sponsor some classes or provide tuition reimbursement. Even if you can’t get these benefits, make that investment in yourself. It can be the difference between you becoming a manager in a short amount of time as opposed to 4-5 years.
If you’re still hesitant to start a side hustle, ask yourself What is there to lose? Don’t miss out on a great opportunity to pursue a passion, make money, advance in your career and become more fulfilled.
Your turn! Do you already have side hustles? What are they and how have they helped you in your life and career?

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