Beyond the Day Job: Tips to Balance Side Hustle as a Developer

Beyond the Day Job: Tips to Balance Side Hustle as a Developer

Joberty
6 min read
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Beyond the Day Job Tips to Balance Side Hustle as
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Whether your intention is to earn some extra money, get access to diverse industries or explore your entrepreneurial ambitions, the realm of side hustles provides a range of opportunities for software developers.

This article will dig into the possibilities, advantages, and challenges that come with this path.

Engaging inside hustle can be a fast-paced journey for developers, while commitments will require time and effort. However, software developers who successfully navigate side gigs are required not only technical but also certain soft skills.

To be clear - what is side hustle?

"Side hustle," "gig economy," or "freelancing" trends in today's evolving work landscape, referring to a job or income beyond someone's primary employment.

According to recent surveys, 36% of tech professionals work a side hustle in addition to their primary job. Every two millennials in tech have a side hustle, while it’s 70% of Gen Z.

There are many options for side hustles for software developers and the choice of the suitable one will depend on several factors: their expertise, skills, the demand for those skills, or available time to dedicate to the side hustle.

What are side hustle jobs for developers?

There are various options to find freelance work, starting from specific platforms like Upwork or Freelancer or by directly contacting potential clients. Such an approach offers flexibility in terms of working hours, allowing developers to determine the amount of work they want to do, while their income depends on the volume of work they take on.

A side hustle is something anyone could try their hand at. For example, those who are in web development can build websites, design logos, and create templates for clients. In mobile app development, developers can create an app and generate revenue through advertisements or subscriptions. Software testing is a fitting side hustle for meticulous programmers because of bug detection.  

What other options can you consider?

Consulting: With experience and specialized knowledge or expertise in a specific field, there is potential for developers to offer consulting services. This can involve providing guidance on technical matters to businesses or organizations, assisting with project planning, or holding workshops.

Consultants provide valuable advice and insights based on his or her unique perspective. If you want to engage in consulting as a side hustle, your project management abilities as well as social or sales skills are to be tested since they are more required than when working in a traditional 9 to 5 role.

Teaching: Developers who are deep in a particular subject and have aspirations to teach can offer online courses or workshops to educate others. The demand for programming instruction is high, and numerous platforms allow them to market themselves as a mentor. Udemy or Teachable provides places for hosting courses and reaching an audience. Creating and selling online courses or eBooks are one of the most profitable side hustles.

Build and sell an API: By leveraging software engineering expertise, developers can create APIs that gather and analyze data, empowering businesses to make well-informed decisions regarding their operations.

Writing. There are numerous opportunities for writing blog posts on different IT topics suitable to developers. Websites usually pay per article. Besides considering it just as a side gig, it also increases their visibility and credibility.

Monetize Open-Source Projects: Those who like working on open-source projects, should explore the possibility of monetizing them, providing support services, or selling digital products associated with their project.

Why should you try a side hustle?

A side hustle could be both important for your professional growth and financial stability.

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As one developer explains at Quora: “I think every programmer should try their hand at freelance programming on the side at least once or twice just to see what happens. You might love it, you might hate it, but either way, you’ll gain some valuable experiences and insight along the way”. 

Besides side hustle will make you earn extra money alongside your primary job, allowing you the flexibility to work when and how you want, here are some main advantages of starting it:

Career Advancement: It’s a great way to develop your portfolio, work on diverse projects, learn new technologies, how to use the most popular languages, and keep your skill sets relevant.

Soft skills: With side gigs, your duties and responsibilities go beyond just your technical skills. It requires constant improvements in self-marketing to secure more projects. The ability to effectively sell ideas can be valuable not only for side gigs but also for your 9 to 5 jobs. Doing side hustle you interact with clients during both favorable and challenging circumstances. This means that you need strong communication skills as well.

Professional Networking: It will expose you to a broader network of professionals, bringing valuable connections, potential partnerships, or job opportunities.

Entrepreneurial Development: Side hustling boosts your entrepreneurial mindset, improving your planning skills, client and time management, while also providing opportunities to explore new ideas and business models outside your regular employment.

Personal Fulfillment: It delivers a sense of fulfillment and personal satisfaction. You have the opportunity to dedicate your efforts to projects that align with your passion and enjoy greater autonomy over your work.

Traps

But is it possible to balance a side hustle with a full-time job? No doubt that “Yes” is the correct answer to this question, but it requires proper time management and dedication.

The most common mistakes that programmers make when starting a side hustle include overpromising and under-delivering, failing to communicate effectively with clients, and not managing their time efficiently. Overemployment is another buzzword in the gig economy, referring to holding two or more full-time jobs at the same time.

While multiple jobs can help you learn a lot both about the business and yourself, problems arise when your clients raise expectations about your results and availability.

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Sharing his experience on Reddit, one developer describes it this way: “It has simply become impossible for me to play 'calendar Tetris' on a daily basis, trying to fit numerous meetings in just one, let alone both jobs in parallel”.

Although working on two jobs at the same time in his case went smoothly in the beginning, in the end, he burned out and lost motivation, started missing meetings, and not responding to messages. Finally, it resulted in him quitting both projects.

So, while doing a side hustle, be realistic with yourself. If you're not normally organized and can barely hold one job, you're not going to push through two or more. Before accepting or while managing side hustles be aware of some of these challenges:

Time Management: Managing multiple commitments may result in increased stress, extended working hours, and potential disruptions to personal life.

Burnout and Exhaustion: Maintaining a balance between a side hustle and full-time employment may lead to reduced productivity and dissatisfaction in both.

Impact on Main Job Performance: Ensure that the additional workload from side projects does not compromise the quality of work associated with the main employment. Take care of conflict of interest too. Review your employment agreements or seek appropriate advice to identify any restrictions or competing interests that could lead to legal or ethical conflicts.

Legal and Tax Considerations: Undertaking side projects or establishing a separate business may introduce complexities in terms of legal and tax obligations. Check if you must comply with applicable laws, what kind of tax obligations you have, or in what circumstances you must register your own company.

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Speaking about Serbia, according to the new legal solution, starting from January 2023, freelancers report and pay their obligations on a quarterly basis, with the option to choose one out of two self-taxation methods for each accounting period, based on their quarterly income

The test for the so-called “test samostalnosti”, which applies to the so-called “preduzetnike paušalce” and those who keep books, does not apply to the income you earn as a freelancer.

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To comply with legal provisions in Croatia, freelancers choose one out of two options: the first one is so-called “paušalno oporezivanje” where the income tax base is predetermined, and there is no obligation to keep business books (except for the KPR form, which is essential for reporting total income in a given year), or independent calculation of service agreements and payment of taxes and contributions, where the freelancer is required to register as a taxpayer (more available at the link).

Final thoughts

When contemplating side hustles, software developers should consider their capabilities, establish achievable goals, and effectively manage their time and energy.

Possible negative consequences can be avoided through transparent communication with employers or clients, proper planning and setting priorities, as well as through the establishment of clear boundaries.

Do you already have a side hustle? How do you manage it along with your primary job? Share your experiences or start a discussion on this topic in the Joberty community.