The other day, I was in a meeting with my entire company when everyone started clapping for me. I work at a company with a supportive culture where we regularly celebrate one another’s accomplishments, so the clapping wasn’t particularly surprising, but what they were congratulating me for was. It wasn’t a campaign or piece of content for a client—in fact, it wasn’t related to my full-time job at all. The CEO had announced that I had an article published in Fast Company, a personal goal for my freelance writing career. It was that meeting that got me thinking more about the ways that a side hustle can help your full-time job.
There is a common misconception that having a side hustle is detrimental to one’s career. The myth is that if you’re doing something on the side, you aren’t 100% focused on your full-time job. I’ve found the opposite to be true: My writing and marketing outside of work makes me better at my job. I am constantly learning about new industries, fostering relationships, being creative, and making my writing stronger. Still skeptical? Here are five ways that a side hustle can actually help you at your full-time job.
With a side hustle, you’re constantly learning new things. Whether you’re designing websites, writing a blog, coding, or managing a freelance writing career, you are continuously learning and improving your specific skill set. I recently starting editing our company’s blog. Even though it was a new project, I had a head start because I’ve been managing and editing my own for years. I was able to tap into my knowledge of SEO, writing catchy headlines, editing, understanding what an audience wants to read, and consistently brainstorming new post ideas. Ideally, your full-time job is related to your part-time gig and these areas of expertise will make you better at both.
For your side hustle to be successful, you need to find new clients and grow your professional network. You can learn from other people’s career paths and insights at every stage of your career. Meeting new people helps you grow as a professional.
Part of running a side hustle is building and maintaining a personal brand. You become recognized as an expert. Specializing in a skill and having a personal brand makes you stand out and be seen as indispensable at work. People at work are likely to turn to you for advice on your expertise. One of my colleagues has an extremely popular Instagram profile so we always turn to her for advice on working with influencers or Instagram best practices. Similarly, people come to me for blogging advice and even career advice since that’s the subject of most of my freelance writing.
[Related: 3 No-Fail Ways to Build Your Personal Brand]
When you are working on a side hustle, you have to be a self-starter. You have to learn new skills, meet new people, and build your brand and business on your own. This autonomy makes each accomplishment feel even better. Knowing that you can be your own boss and meet your goals on your own will increase your confidence.
[Related: 4 Reasons Why You Should Be Your Own Boss]
When you’re doing something you’re passionate about, you’ll be happier in all aspects of your life. Having a side hustle isn’t easy. You’ll find yourself working long nights, early mornings, and weekends. But if you truly love it, it’s worth it. I’m happier at work and in my personal life when I am doing something I care about.
Having a side hustle brings more than an extra income—it can help you at your full-time job. Just make it clear that you will give 110% at work. You may find that you’re happier and more confident in all aspects of your life.
This article originally appeared on Levo and is reprinted with permission.