ICBA Blog

Knitting Together a Full-Time Income Through Several Side Hustles

Fragmented work is replacing the nine-to-five. Here’s how to manage different revenue streams and pursue your passions

The independent contractor world offers us the opportunity to do the work we love for a living. But it can be daunting if you’re just starting out as a freelancer, whether you’re leaving a nine-to-five or entering the labor market for the first time. And it can still present challenges, even if you’re an established freelancer or gig worker. Finding consistent work, managing cashflow, and navigating work-life balance is tricky, but the concept of fragmented work can help you stay afloat and thrive. Here are three scenarios on how it can work for you.

Building a side-hustle into a full-time revenue stream

In this scenario, you’ve started a side hustle, maybe while at a salaried position. At first, your passion project was small and worked well as an “off-hours” thing. Now, it’s grown and has a lot of potential, but it’s not making quite enough income to pay the bills. That leaves you with a dilemma. Do you leave your job and focus on the side-hustle with the risk of not having enough cash to put into the business and float your rent? Or do you stick with both the salaried position and the side hustle and stress yourself to the max trying to make both things work?

If your heart is truly in the side hustle, the time might be right to figure out an exit strategy for your full-time job. But you’ll still need to find a way to fill the income gap without getting into a time crunch. One option, depending on the nature of your work, is to see if you can be an independent contractor for the company you’re leaving. Another solution is to apply for a part-time job that isn’t an energy grab. A third choice is to opt for gig work, like rideshare or on-demand food delivery. Finally, if you focus solely on your side hustle, is there a way to grow it faster? Can you create another revenue stream within it? For example, if you stage homes that are for sale, could you also get into sourcing décor for new Airbnb hosts?

Offering multiple services across your industry

The old adage about not putting all your eggs in one basket can also be great advice for independent contractors. Just about every industry has a variety of services within it—or at least services that are somewhat adjacent. Take freelance writing, for example. Many writers do a mix of work for publications and marketing for brands. Some writers also edit, proofread, or fact check, if they’re trained and skilled to do so, and some even ghostwrite or provide social media services for others. All of these offerings are compensated differently and have different busy times of the month/year. That’s why offering a wide array of services can be in a writer’s best interest to build income. If one revenue stream temporarily dries up, another one can substitute. Can you branch out within your industry to boost your income?

Filling income gaps around your creative pursuits

Maybe you’re an artisan maker of sorts who sells your wares in booths during festival and flea market season. Or perhaps you’re a musician who tours sporadically, but then you have several weeks or even months off. With an erratic schedule, getting a shift job to fill income gaps can be tough. Businesses often don’t want to hire and train people who will be leaving again. One option is to do gig work in a trade you enjoy. The restaurant industry, retail stores, and of course, rideshare are all options. Another choice is to build a second side hustle in your spare time that matches your passions. A musician might be able to offer online courses through a platform like Udemy, for example, that teach others to play an instrument. Build the courses in your off time, and then watch the passive income roll in throughout the year. The revenue stream will grow the more classes you create and sell.