Working the side-hustle life as a freelancer

This article on freelancing as a side hustle is written by Becky Zimmer who is based in Humboldt, Saskatchewan. She has experience in farm, community, small business and sports reporting.

Photograph of a freelancer wroking on a side hustle while sitting at a coffee shop
Side hustles have been all the rage over the last few years, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. As inflation continues to rise, more and more people are finding ways to supplement full time work with casual jobs on the side.

According to H&R Block, 28 per cent of Canadians reported a secondary job to boost their income in 2023—a jump from 13 per cent in 2022—especially since 85 per cent of Canadians are concerned that their income isn’t keeping up with inflation.

A gig economy is nothing new. My Facebook feed has always been full of mom friends selling Tuperware or makeup to put away a little bit of spending money or to start a savings fund for their kids.

Search side hustles or gig economy on Google and it is easy to be bombarded with lists of the best bang-for-your-buck, low-pressure jobs that will provide supplementary income

And what topped Forbes’ list? Freelancing.

Freelancing is a tried-and-true way to earn extra money and deserves a top spot on any list of easy side hustle ideas. Freelancers deliver work on a per-project basis for one or more clients and you can schedule it in your spare time. Freelance graphic designers, writers, editors and website developers are in high demand, and other fields offer freelance opportunities as well. Skilled mechanics, trained bookkeepers, video editors, interior decorators and even licensed real estate agents can find flexible project-based work within their skill sets. (Forbes Advisor)

So what happens when freelancers need a side hustle?

Like most freelancers, Canadian Freelance Guild member Merle Rosenstein sets the amount of money she wants to earn in a year. Seasonal retail jobs, like working as a cashier at an LCBO, have not only supplemented that grand total she’s shooting for but has also helped her learn about wines and spirits, information she could use for future articles. With a love of knitting and crafting, she is also considering Michael’s, and there would be plenty of benefits to her work as a travel writer if she gets an upcoming gig as a Toronto-based tour guide. The 12-hour days at the polls are a trial but Elections Canada and provincial branches also pay well for a day’s worth of work, she said.

While there are plenty of jobs available that offer both financial and professional gains, Rosenstein said she is happy to have something else on her plate so she’s not doing the same task day in, day out.

Your mind is on something else, it’s not always on the same thing. If you like variety, then I think that’s a good thing to do.

When it comes to picking a side hustle that works for her, Rosenstein said she has her priorities and jobs that give her ample time to focus on her work writing about travel and positive aging.

Spending long days at my home office, there were days when I felt completely stagnant, restless, and stir-crazy. Hearing about a minimum wage barista job at my favourite coffee shop, the hands-on, customer-centred job sounded like the perfect temporary escape.

At that time, my priority was finding some work time outside my office, however, my work as a freelance agricultural journalist started to suffer no matter how much I liked the job. Shifts started getting in the way of deadlines and potential interview times, so after eight months there was nothing else to do but quit and refocus my limited time and energy back on journalism.

Rosenstein cannot see herself going back to full-time employment, but with short term and seasonal work, she can try new things to see if it works with her freelance lifestyle.

“It’s OK if it’s shorter term,” she said, “because then I can decide if I like it. Sometimes it’s not a bad idea to do something with an end, because then you’re just testing it out.”

There are always going to be advantages and disadvantages to any side hustle, said Rosenstein, especially when travel writers need both time and money to go on trips and gather material.

The biggest driver for quitting as a barista was actually the discovery of a better side hustle; teaching ESL.

Getting the teaching certificate through a University of Saskatchewan program, I eventually wanted to use it as another mode of traveling for work. Since the local community college had some positions open, I am gaining some valuable experience at a job that pays significantly better than minimum wage, my students are amazing, and I’m gaining valuable communication skills in the process.

Not only that, but all the money made is going into a travel fund for a trip to Switzerland in August.

Whether it’s speaking engagements, offering lessons in a specific area of expertise, or turning a hobby into a job, Rosenstein sees endless possibilities for her own side hustles.

With mad FOMO (fear of missing out), ADHD, and money anxiety, I found it hard to accept that I couldn’t do all the side hustles that crossed my path. Only I know how much I can handle, so I try to pick and choose wisely. I have nailed down my priorities in the back of my mind, whether that is ensuring I have some money in the bank, needing to prioritize specific times in the day to write, or just wanting to try something new.

The best way to do it is to weigh the options and go from there.

Posted on March 7, 2024 at 6:00 am by editor · · Tagged with: ,

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