'I Resent the Job-For-Life Notion': Why Everyone Wants a Side Hustle

Guardian Web |


Now ubiquitous on either side of the Atlantic, the US term “side hustle” refers to a passion project that falls outside of your primary job. You probably knew that. You may even have one. According to Henley Business School, one in four Brits do. By 2030, they predict that figure will have risen to 50%.

There are plenty of reasons someone would start a side hustle. With studies stating that more than 50% of UK workers are unhappy in their jobs, we’re looking elsewhere for the fulfillment, development and income missing from our careers. That’s why so many side hustles start as hobbies (48% of them, according GoDaddy).

Alex Haddow, a comedian and picture editor, agrees: “I feel that by doing lots of things that pique my interest all the time, I get the most out of everything,” she says. “And because that keeps my interest up, I put more into them and get better results.”

At the same time, the internet has given us access to a myriad of free tools and a huge global audience of potential customers and clients, whether using e-commerce hubs such as ebay, or building a following via social media – making many business ideas more viable than before. Not only is it easier to take that first step, but it’s reassuringly non-scary. After all, there’s no risking it all to follow your dreams; it is, by definition, a bit on the side.

Unsurprisingly, the rise of the multitasking worker comes hand-in-hand with fewer people working in a traditional “job-for-life” role. According to HR organisation the CIPD, around a quarter of workers have been in a job for less than two years, as working on a project-by-project basis lessens the stigma around job-hopping (and creates more impressive-looking CVs).

Simultaneously, advances in technology have led to general job security being called into question. I started my side hustle in 2010, when I began to suspect that my magazine job wasn’t going to be around in five years’ time, and have been earning money with a blog and consultancy business ever since.

This means we’re quicker to move on and less likely to look back. “I resent the job-for-life notion,” says journalist and volunteer Georgie Bradley. “The idea of clocking in, chaining myself to the desk, then clocking out nine hours later seems soul-destroying.”

Researching my book on multi-faceted careers, The Multi-Hyphen Method, I met many more people making side hustling an art. Janet Oganah is a prime example: a former family law barrister, she is now a civil servant and podcaster. “Choosing a multi-hyphenate lifestyle was not an easy decision,” she says. “But it was one of the best ones I have made. I was invested in my legal career; I did important work that changed lives. But I was uneasy about relying on one income stream, particularly with the cuts to publicly funded work.” Oganah turned to podcasting as a lucrative, creative way of diversifying her career.

For Sally Steel, a teacher who launched a crochet business on ebay, the flexibility was vital for family life: “I wanted to work more creatively and be able to do the school run. I started teaching part-time, building my business while my twins were asleep or at nursery,” she says. “It meant I could spend more time with my children while earning a living. And the happiness I feel at being my own creative boss is worth all the hard work.”

This fulfilment is a key factor. For Emma Glass, a paediatric clinical research nurse and author, it’s achieved through the variety of her days. “I feel lucky to have opportunities in both nursing and writing,” she says. “I like working in a clinical environment and with patients, and then spending the evening with publishers and writers and having entirely different experiences within a single day.”

Of course, nobody wants to have 17 jobs to make ends meet, and it would be irresponsible to glorify that, but embracing multiple skills to create a modern portfolio career is exciting. We’re told to pick one thing to be good at from our school days, but we all have so many skills and interests. Being a multi-hyphenate answers this, expanding our earning potential and giving us the flexibility to choose how and when we work.

After all, says Sarah Kingston, writer, consultant and owner of a marketing agency: “I get to be creative, challenged and excited about what I do. Why have one job title when I can have three?”

Millions of people are using ebay to start a side hustle, make more of a hobby or carve out a career. Find out how here.

  • An earlier version of this article stated that by 2030 one in five British people would earn money from a secondary form of employment. This has now been corrected to 50%.

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