I’ve read your columns on multiple income streams, but do you have any advice on generating additional income when you already have a full time (40-60 hour weeks) job? I love my job! It’s meaningful and challenging, but not very lucrative as it is with a non-profit. I make enough to live on but I’m having a hard time picturing how I can accomplish my goals (amazing vacations, buying a house, maybe a kid someday, retirement, etc.) without additional income. Thanks!
Good question! Last time I had a full-time job, I barely had enough energy afterwards to be a human being, much less to be creative and full of mojo at other pursuits. I mean, I could go to the gym and cook and things that were completely unrelated to my job. But I wasn’t going to go from one office job to another office job I made for myself.
So, if you feel somewhat the same way, try pursuing a new, marketable skill that:
1) is totally unrelated to your day job and will not be seen as you trying to compete, or getting ready to jump ship
2) people at your current job will think is cool and will recommend to others or even take advantage of themselves
3) you will actually want to do on the weekends or after putting in 8+ hours at your day job
Here, I’m mostly thinking of physical skills. If you have the disposable income for a training program, there’s massage school, there’s nail art…. Anything where you have to be licensed/certified gives you an instant credibility, and there are training programs where you are not expected to know anything or have any special skills when you walk in the door.
Or maybe it’s carpentry, or a line of salsas. I’d like custom bookshelves made by a lady. (I don’t really care who makes my salsa.) You could perform weddings (find a particular niche, like LGBT weddings, or interfaith weddings) — that’s a good one because weddings themselves are almost entirely on weekends, and you can meet with couples and Skype/email with them in the evenings when they’re off work, also.
Or you could learn some kind of tech skill. Learning to code is very trendy right now, but that’s largely for people looking to have a startup or switch careers. If you want to make money on the side, maybe going from business to business or home and home and fixing hardware or training people to use various software packages is more appropriate. This will get you asked to do these things at your FT job as well, but that will also make you the indispensable employee who can never be laid off because what if the printer stops working again?!
I don’t suggest trying to sell whatever skills you use in your day job. Your boss(es) might not take it well, and you’ll have to keep a real separation of church and state between, say, event planning you do for your job and event planning you are trying to do for corporations, or other nonprofits, or weddings, or something. And the people you spend all day with will probably also have those same skills, and possibly be jealous or resentful that you’re stepping out. Whereas I think you should try to get the people you spend all day with to be really enthusiastic and unthreatened by your new wedding-cake-decorating business, and to use that business themselves and recommend it to their siblings and cousins who work at places like banks.
Also, it’s really a lot harder to make money with nebulous, unquantifiable, soft skills. You tell me you’re good at writing, or event planning, or training people, or managing a team, or leading workshops, and I’m kind of like, okay, but I can do all of those things, too … how can you prove that you’re some kind of SWAT-team-level expert way above the level that regular, competent professionals can do these things? And probably you can’t prove that.
Whereas if you paid $2,500 to become a certified nail tech, I would have none of those questions. If you offered on-site nail art manicures for special events, I would consider hiring you for my parties. And then, depending on what kind of nonprofit you work for, maybe you could offer this service at events for your workplace, and everyone would be so into it you’d get referrals to do the same at bridal showers and other lady-events.
That said, most of my ideas/examples above are both, for some reason, really gendered (not sure what kind of glitter is in my brain right now) and probably limited in their income potential. These are mostly ways to make an extra $10,000+ a year, not a half-mil in take-home pay, or millions a year in revenue.
If your goals require more, you’ll have to think about leaving the nonprofit. Not right away, unless someone is offering you a private sector job that pays double. You’ll still need new skills and a way to market yourself, so you’re still brainstorming and possibly investing in some kind of training program.
There’s nothing wrong with contributing to making the world a better place for a season of your life, and moving on. Teach for America and the Peace Corps are two-year commitments. You can have a first career saving the environment, and then move into something more lucrative and become a donor who helps save the environment. That actually sounds very gentlewomanly, doesn’t it?
And here are some other articles you might enjoy:
Bullish: Do You Need a Business Plan to Start a Business?
Bullish: How to Whip Your Life, Finances, and Brain Into Shape for Entrepreneurship
Bullish: Launching Your Empire While Your Youthful Mojo Is Still Sky-High
Bullish: You Can Start a Business by Tuesday
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