You likely know someone who identifies as an accountant-slash-photographer or nurse-slash-food blogger. Having a primary job and another paid activity—perhaps something that used to be a hobby but has become a business—is increasingly common, particularly among millennials.
Having a side hustle you do in addition to your “day job” can be valuable for many reasons. It can feed you, figuratively, in a number of ways.
It can supplement your income, whether you’re looking to save up for something, pay down debt or just increase your cash flow. It can provide a sense of fulfillment or joy, feeding a passion that might not be taken care of in your everyday work. It can also help you gain experience in a new or related field, build connections and expand your skills.
For many, it’s a great way to be your own boss and to explore what it means to have an idea, strategize and act on it. For others, it’s a chance to stretch time management skills and test limits.
We spoke to two professionals who run their own thriving side hustles to see what it means to go after your passion while maintaining your day job, and what that can mean for your life.
Jayme Cline, seamstress/holistic health coach
Cline works primarily in her day job(s) as a seamstress, dresser and costumer for various costume departments in film and theatre in Vancouver, BC. While her work hours in a given week can range from 40-60 (or 60+ when she’s working on set), she’s establishing a thriving health coaching practice, Simply Healthy with Jayme, on the side.
“When I started training as a coach, I knew that I would not be quitting my day job entirely,” Cline says. “I actually enjoy my current work but I wanted training in another field that I could fall back on or incorporate into my life as a side hustle. The film and theatre industries can be extremely busy one year and then not quite a busy the next year, so I was interested in having an alternative for leaner times.”
She was drawn to health coaching because of the caregiving and nurturing aspects that come naturally to her. “I was also drawn to health coaching because of my own journey with health and food since realizing that I had celiac disease and how big a role that food played in my life,” Cline says. “Learning how much of an impact that food can have on your whole body, as well as how we live our lives and deal with stress, really has made me want to help others in their own health journeys.”
While Cline builds her practice—spending about five hours each week outside of her day job on coaching-related work—she’s aware that both types of work require a lot of focus and attention. For someone whose goal is to help others find balance and reduce stress, she acknowledges the importance of maintaining boundaries and protecting her own well-being.
“To be successful at both, I need to be very aware of not taking on too much and suddenly find myself working two full-time jobs,” she says. “I’d definitely burn out and not being a very good example of someone who is trying to live a balanced life.”
Cline is intentional about how much she takes on and realistic about the client load she can manage. She credits scheduling, a powerful support system and the magic of word-of-mouth organic marketing with her growth so far, and is confident the demands of coaching will change as her practice grows.
Thankfully, she’s loving it.
“I enjoy the research that I do: reading books on certain health issues or ways to make life less stressful inspires me and helps me to have more resources for my clients; plus I just think that some things like the microbiome are fascinating.”
For anyone who wants to add a project or secondary undertaking to their life, Cline encourages them to reach out to their community for support. “There are people I can lean on for support,” she says. “It can be isolating to try to take on something new and put it into practice, but knowing there is a whole group of people who are interested in my work has made the unknowns of starting a side hustle a little less daunting and scary.”
And for accountability when things get overwhelming? Absolutely.
“Having people to keep me accountable—and realistic—with goal-setting has been a huge help in maintaining my sanity and health,” Cline says.
Whitney Biaggi, senior manager of media and public relations at New York Road Runners/personal trainer/fitness instructor
By day, Biaggi works as the Senior Manager of media and PR at New York Road Runners, the community running organization responsible for the TCS New York City Marathon, along with a 50-plus other NYC running events throughout the year. On an average week, she works full time in the office and spends weekends working or participating in NYRR’s many events.
By night (or really whenever she’s not at NYRR), Biaggi is a certified personal trainer, health coach and instructor for HIIT IT! by Daphnie Yang.
“In a normal week, I will teach two to three classes with HIIT IT!, and spend a few hours building training plans and answering questions for existing clients. I also network to grow my business and meet experts in the field whom I can learn from to become a better coach and trainer,” she says.
“I’ve always loved being busy and having a few different types of projects happening at one time,” she continues, going on to explain that her love of fitness comes from way back: Her parents are some of the most active people she knows and inspire her to work harder every day.
As you might expect—because Biaggi works for an athletics-focused organization—there is some crossover from day job to side hustle. One requires her to create events for runners, while the other involves training runners, among others.
“Being part of running events and being able to participate in them regularly has absolutely helped me understand how to train clients and runners, in particular, better. It has taken me a while to figure out the appropriate balance between my 9-to-5 and my side project, but I love being able to switch my brain from event planning to writing a training plan to teaching a class,” Biaggi says.
Considering taking on a side hustle, particularly in fitness? Biaggi says just go for it.
“The desire to want to teach and train had been percolating in my head for many years, but I allowed fear to hold me back for a long time. It’s a scary thing to dive into something new and unknown, but I promise the positives far outweigh the negatives,” she says.
Defeating self-doubt can be tricky when you’re starting out with a side gig. It helps to get clear on your goal and actually speak it aloud, Biaggi recommends. “I found that actually saying ‘I want to be a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor’ out loud, first to myself, and then as I became comfortable with it to others, helped me translate that fear to excitement and it held me accountable,” she says.