I was originally going to write the next corporate realpolitik explained post, this time about the software architect. And, while I can and will still do that (tweet at me or something if you’d like to speed it along), I’m just not feeling cynical these days. I have a nice winter of drifting through the US south planned, running a lifestyle business and generally enjoying myself. So why not write about something instructional and uplifting? Like side hustle ideas.
What’s a side hustle?
It’s not so complicated. If your full time work is your full time hustle, then your side hustle is work you do on the side. You could think of it as a hobby that makes you some money. For some, that’s all it is and all it stays. Others might look to it as an eventual job replacement.
If you work 40 or more hours per week, this might seem daunting. And, it can be. Instead of spending your recuperation time reading, watching TV, or appreciating your family, you’re carving off a slice to do even more work stuff. For that reason, you should be sure to find something you like doing. And also for that reason, I’m going to emphasize more manageable and iteratively achievable side hustle ideas.
This post is mainly aimed at salaried software developers that have never made money outside of a salaried context. Anyone is, of course, welcome to read along — it’s not like side hustle ideas are exclusive in any way. But understand who I’m talking to with this advice. I’m talking to folks with full time jobs that don’t want to risk running afoul of employers (say, by moonlighting) and don’t want to spend all of their waking hours on the side hustle.
Don’t Build Software as a Side Hustle
First up, let me recommend a few hustles not to pursue, particularly for those of you that are first timers at this. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with these things. They’re just not where you want to start.
First of all, don’t make a mobile app or build a SaaS. Yes, you heard me correctly. You’re a software developer and I’m steering you away from software development.
Why? Here’s the thing. You spend all day, every day writing software for a living already. You know software — you live it and you breathe it. So if you go home and start a side hustle building software, all you’re going to do is build software. You’re going to build it, then build it some more, and finally, after that, when it’s finally time to ship, you won’t ship so that you can spend another year building it.
I’m exaggerating, but not a ton. Bias toward familiarity makes for great procrastination. Why do you think software developers contemplating a blog spend weeks agonizing about what platform to use or whether to hand code it. Because you know software and you don’t know writing. So you dither over unimportant software decisions.
Side hustles are about earning some extra money, sure. But they’re also about teaching yourself business, which I heartily endorse since continuing to improve as a generalist programmer starts to yield diminishing returns after a while. So lay down the IDE and dive fully into the business world.