I’m working at a tradeshow right now while writing this blog post- don’t tell my manager. Actually, you can go right ahead and tell my manager, because I’m writing this on a break.
Sometimes I work on side projects while I’m on a break from another job. I’ve spent many a lunch break reading scripts for my theater company, Mission to (dit)Mars. I’ve finished invoices as well as sent out receipts on my break. And I’ve definitely blogged whenever I can grab a free minute- including on the subways of Japan during my vacation. Because blogging is fun- not work. But this summer and last summer I spent a lot of time working on a side project from my computer that was fun and made me some money…and I was worried about not having enough time to continue working on it during my usual business travel during the fall and winter. Last year I got sidelined and didn’t work on much of anything extra. I was quite disappointed in myself.
However, this year I’m way more determined to work on side projects whenever I get a free moment. It’s funny that the second I start really getting into working on side projects during any free time I have (even during a full ‘real job’ schedule), I start to see other people doing the same thing. A coworker I’m working with at this show has a real estate business on the side where she buys, manages, and rents out property- and she’s sitting a couple of seats away from me working on that. Another coworker of mine manages liquor sales and is scheduling tastings and demos during her break. I work with someone else who doesn’t go out with us for dinner most days after shows – she’s instead returning emails and scheduling events for her event management job… which she has on the side.
It seems to me that the hardest thing about making money from a side job is having the discipline to give up some of your free time. I hate turning down social time with my coworkers when I’m on the road, because they’re nice respites from work hours. But sometimes the only way to get anything going on the side is to say no to invitations to go out after work. And if I manage my time well enough, I’ll still have time to be social with my colleagues for a few nights. It just takes determination and planning. But I’m inspired by other people I know who are able to turn down social events and get the work done on the projects that really matter to them. These types of people are quietly getting amazing things done all around you while working at a ‘real job’- in fact, maybe you’re one of them.
If you want more information about starting a side business, I love Ramit Sethi’s material on making a business out of something you’re already good at. Once you have a side business started -even a tiny bit of one- it’s all time management from there.