Do Freelance Web Designers Need a Side Hustle?


Taking your freelance web design career to the next level is challenging. Going from getting by to living comfortably is equal parts hard work and good strategy.

Why do you need both to succeed? Well, you could be up to your elbows in projects. But that’s no guarantee of more revenue. Plus, being crazy-busy isn’t sustainable. You’re more likely to burn out than rise to the top.

Planning can help. Take the initiative to assess your career and determine the best path upward. The answer depends on how far you want to go. Your skills and strengths also play a role.

Some designers (myself included) have turned to side hustles to increase earnings. For me, writing has been the best path. Others might sell web-related products or do occasional sub-contractor work. There are plenty of opportunities for the talented and technically-minded.

The trouble is that side hustles can get out of hand. And they’re starting to feel like a necessity in today’s marketplace.

As such, let’s look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of reaching beyond web design. Do you need a side hustle? Perhaps what follows will help you find the answer.

Why Web Design Isn’t Always Enough

Working with clients can be rewarding. And you can make a good living out of it. However, not every freelancer will be able to achieve this.

Realistically speaking, you need access to well-paying projects. Doing so often means competing with agencies. They may have more resources and clout. Some big clients may be hesitant to work with solo freelancers.

If you can’t book top-level gigs, what are you left with? Quiet often, you’ll work with small and medium-sized clients. There’s nothing wrong with this. But it may limit your ability to grow.

You can try to make more money by volume or raising prices. That makes sense on the surface. More projects equals more money – as do higher prices. But there comes a point when the returns are diminishing.

The other possibility is to hire help. That could be another freelancer or a traditional employee. This allows you to take on more work. But it also requires more investment than some of us can make.

That’s why we may look elsewhere for a boost.

Even full-time freelancers may need to boost their revenue.

The Benefits of a Side Hustle

There are a lot of things to like about having a side hustle. First and foremost, they offer a way to make money. You could launch yourself into a higher income level.

The cash you earn might be a difference-maker in your life. Think of the bills you could pay off. Or the savings you could build.

There’s also a chance to add more variety to your workflow. You won’t be stuck doing the same tasks ad nauseam.

For example, writing has helped get my creative juices flowing. It’s a different way to express myself. I don’t feel the same pressure or frustration that project work brings. Overall, the practice serves as a mental reset. And it also adds a little bit extra in my pocket.

Not all side hustles provide this sense of peace. However, they do offer a trip outside of your daily routine. Even better, it may allow you to pursue your passion.

A side hustle can provide extra income and creative opportunities.

Searching for the Right Opportunity

Side hustles come in many flavors. They could be something you do on your own – like marketing a product or service. Or you may work for someone else.

Figuring out what you want to do is the first challenge. Perhaps there’s a gig that’s a natural extension of your primary job.

For instance, maybe you’re adept at writing code. You might parlay those skills into developing a WordPress plugin. If you’re great at troubleshooting, a part-time support role may be your thing.

What if that’s not the case? Well, think about what brings you joy. There might be a way to leverage it into something profitable.

Create content around a favorite subject. A bit of ad revenue from a blog or podcast can come in handy.

The idea is to think about what you want to do. Also, consider what you hope to accomplish. From there, look for opportunities to help you get there.

Passion projects, like podcasts, are a popular type of side hustle.

There Can Be Drawbacks, Too

None of this is to say that side hustles are perfect. You could get stuck in an unfulfilling situation. Or end up with a commitment you can’t handle.

In some cases, there may be a negative impact on your web design business. Anything that harms your ability to do your “day job” may not be worthwhile.

That leads us to the management portion of things. The ability to manage your time is crucial. You’ll need this skill to complete tasks.

Those launching a new product or service will carry a lot of responsibility. You may be doubling the amount of business-related tasks you’re currently doing. Client management, invoicing, and support commitments will all increase.

There’s also a financial reality to consider. You may not start with the desired compensation. It may take years to reach a comfort level. Are you willing to be patient?

Be careful when selecting a side hustle. You may become overwhelmed with extra work.

Tips for Making the Most of Your Side Hustle

The ideal side hustle will be different for everyone. Still, there are common threads about finding and managing them.

Here are a few tips for getting the most out of the experience:

Start Small and Simple

When starting a side hustle, keep things simple. Look for opportunities that require minimal commitment. In some cases, you may be able to work on a temporary trial basis.

It’s a chance to ease into what you’re doing. Meanwhile, you’ll lessen the risk of becoming overwhelmed. That betters your chances of long-term success.

You can always increase your workload in the future. But it’s best to wait until you’ve found a comfort level.

Define What Success Means to You

Before signing up for a side hustle, define your expectations. That creates a goal to work toward. And you’ll be able to ensure you’re on the right path.

Consider both your desired time commitment and level of compensation. Again, it’s OK to start small in these areas. But have an ultimate goal in mind.

Perhaps you want to put away a bit of money each month. Or you want enough to pay for a vacation. It’s all about finding what makes you happy.

Think about what it will take to get there. Then, you can develop a strategy to achieve it.

Think about the Long Term Impact

A side hustle isn’t just about the here and now. There can be long-term consequences as well. You’ll want to think about them beforehand.

For example, how might it impact your web design business? Could it impede your ability to book new projects? Could it even take over as your primary gig?

There are a myriad of ways this could affect you. Therefore, ask yourself these questions. Consider the benefits and drawbacks of what a side hustle means.

Of course, none of us can predict the future. Sometimes, you’ll need to feel your way through situations as they arise.

You can think about potential scenarios, though. Doing so will help you prepare for them.

Plan ahead and set goals for your side hustle.

Side Hustles May Be the New Normal for Freelancers

Sustaining a full-time freelance lifestyle isn’t easy. There are only so many projects available. Recruiting new clients takes precious time. That makes moving up even more difficult.

That’s what makes a side hustle an attractive option. It’s a chance to pick up recurring revenue. Gaining extra income you can count on is a difference-maker for many of us.

We can use them to make ends meet – and accomplish other goals we’re working toward. The right opportunity can play an important role.

Is a side hustle right for you? Think about where you are in your journey – and where you want to be. It might be the answer you’ve been looking for.

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