Side hustles continue to be all the rage. While about one third of Americans had one in 2020, 40% of Americans are dabbling in a side hustle in 2022, according to a May 2022 Zapier survey of 2,032 US adults.
People’s reasons for picking one up vary: Some do it to make some extra cash, others do it for the pure enjoyment of whatever their gig is. And for anyone looking to sharpen the skills they use in their 9-to-5, starting a hustle could help with that, too.
Jen Glantz, founder of Bridesmaid for Hire and now the Odd Jobs Newsletter, began dabbling in freelance writing like blogging while doing jobs like consulting and PR. Ultimately, she got a full-time job as a copywriter for a tech startup.
“I kept getting big raises and big promotions,” she says about that position, “and I think a lot of it has to do with that I was really active on improving my skills outside of work.”
Here’s how to find a side gig that could make you better at your job.
Consider the skills you want to improve
First, take inventory of your day-to-day tasks and consider the skills you’d want to improve on.
If you work in retail or hospitality and your job entails a lot of client-facing work, is customer service a skill you’d want to improve on? If you work in advertising and are regularly faced with tight deadlines, is quick turnaround a skill you’d want to sharpen?
Make a list of what you feel you could do better, either based on previous feedback from your boss or based on your own assessment of what you’d like to improve and keep it in mind as you begin your search for a hustle.
See what kinds of opportunities are out there
Once you’ve gotten a sense of the skills you’d like to hone, start perusing sites like LinkedIn, freelancer.com, Indeed, and FlexJobs to see what kinds of gigs people are posting that might be relevant.
If you’re interested in copywriting, for example, try typing in words like “freelance copywriting” and “freelance copywriter” in the search, suggests Daniella Flores, founder of side hustle blog I Like To Dabble, to see what opportunities pop up. You can also check out groups dedicated to the kind of work you do on social sites like Facebook and Twitter, where employers sometimes post project openings, too.
“Twitter is amazing for finding any kind of freelance gig no matter what you’re trying to do,” says Flores. They’ve narrowed in on the employers who offer the kinds of gigs they’re interested in and found the algorithm on the site does the rest.
“I keep seeing these new tweets pop up in my feed,” they say about some of the opportunities they’ve found. “They are from people I don’t even follow but it’s from me searching and following these other people in the past.”
If you see anything of interest, apply!
Set up a profile on a freelancer site
You can also see what kind of work and expertise freelancers are offering on sites like Fiverr, Upwork, and TaskRabbit.
A search for “lawyer” on Fiverr surfaces services like contract writing, legal consulting and registering trademarks. A search for “organization” on TaskRabbit surfaces services like decluttering, cleaning, and labeling. “Even people in HR that review resumes all the time,” says Flores. “They can be resume writers.”
Let the kind of work others are offering give you a sense of the services you can offer yourself. Even if you don’t see the kind of work you want to do, it’s entirely possible there’s a market for it. Create a profile on one of these sites and list the types of projects you want to take on.
Flores started freelancing as a web developer soon after they graduated college in 2011, and continued both when they were working full-time in the field and not. Doing so “helped me keep my skills sharp even when [similar] work wasn’t challenging me, “they say.
3 side hustles that could improve your skills and make you better at your job
4 side hustles for recent college graduates: One can pay as much as $ 85 per hour
This 26-year-old turned her side hustle into a $ 170,000-per-year business: ‘4 things I wish I knew sooner’
Sign up now: Get smarter about your money and career with our weekly newsletter