Side Hustle vs Focus on Career to Increase Income

Side hustle is a great way to earn extra income. It can also potentially become your full time over the time. However, one cannot underestimate the time and effort required to successfully earn from side hustle such as blogging, youtubers and so on. Considering the time and effort needed to side hustle vs focus on career, you need to think what would work best for you to increase your income. 

Side Hustle vs Focusing on Career: Honing and Mastering Skills

Career Development

Focus on one thing is much easier than doing many things. Being a master of one area which provides higher potential to maximise your income. Higher earners are generally the ones who focused on things and became an expert in their area.

You can focus on your area of strength and as you become stronger in your area, this can create many opportunities to earn a higher income.

Side Hustle

Side hustle is a great way to earn additional income but it is not for everyone. Especially, when you have a day job and are trying to learn a skill, making it into a side hustle to increase your income is harder.

Generally, not everyone is good at focusing on many things and doing all the things very well.

Side Hustle vs Focusing on Career: Investments

Career Development

Developing or honking your skills in a career requires minimal to no investments as you can pretty much learn on the job. You can learn from your colleagues and make mistakes.

Some companies pay employees to upskill them to ensure that they have highly skilled resources and you benefit from it without paying a penny. The company pays to get their employees certified in their area of skills.

In my previous company, my colleague was funded by the company to do his masters degree, that’s about more than £15000.

Upskilling you in company resources can help you increase your pay without any investment except your time.

Side Hustle

In side hustle, you will have to pay for your learning to keep yourself up to date with skills required in your area. Some side hustle requires investments such as buying a tool or software to do your project or make your life easy.

Another investment could be the money you may have to spend to keep your finance books to pay your taxes correctly. In the worst case, you will have to spend on an accountant to manage your taxes.

In a day job, your taxes are managed by your company. Even if you make a small investment to build your side hustle, it requires significant time and effort to get a return on investment.

Side Hustle vs Focusing on Career: Impact for the time and effort

Career Development

The effort and time that you put to improve your skills on the career can create more impact on your finances in the long-term. Improving your career skills to perform better at work and potentially earn a salary.

As an instance, if your current salary is £5000 pounds and a 5% raise can increase your income by £2500. Similar to investing, consistently getting a raise every year can benefit from compound effects.

One could argue it depends on the nature of the job and value for that skill in the market. Even if your current job/role doesn’t offer any potential to grow your income, look at changing your role completely.

An example from my personal experience, I was working as a purchasing professional in the automotive industry. In this role, my company paid me a slightly higher salary than what is offered in the market for the same role. This means changing companies in the same role, he is not going to earn me higher income.  

I took the challenge to completely change from a purchasing profession to an IT consultant. I invested my time after work (3 hours per day) to earn the skills required for this new role for 6 months.

The consistent effort I put to learn these new skills helped me land into a high paying career as IT consultant.

Side Hustle

There is no compound effect in side hustle. Here the time is your money. For instance, if you work as an Uber driver or amazon delivery man, you get an hourly rate for it. The more time you put into it, the more you earn.

One could argue that the side hustle on niche skills such as website design can earn you a higher hourly rate. No denying that but even in this case time is your money.

You put more time into doing more projects to earn. Consistently getting a project or a gig is the challenge here. As a result, the income is not consistent.

Again, an example from my personal experience, for the past 15 months, I am putting my additional time into blogging but the percentage of income I increased is nowhere near to what I increased by focusing on the career.

This does not mean side hustle does not provide potential to increase my income. There is potential to earn from a blog but it requires more hard work, patience and persistence to increase the income. However, in career, this can come with a little effort.

Side Hustle vs Focusing on Career: Flexibility


Flexibility in career depends on various factors such as the company and the manager you work for. Some companies and managers provide flexibility to the employee as long as you complete your work on time.

But this is not the same for all, I worked in companies where they do not provide any flexibility to employees. I have to be in the office from 9 to 5 and this time is fixed, so I can’t change much to manage a life balance.

I think COVID, there is a change in the culture of most companies. With employees working from home, they have the flexibility which brings a life balance. However, this is temporary and can change anytime soon.

Side Hustle

I think side hustle wins over career when it comes to flexibility. You can pretty much choose when and where you want to work. You also have complete freedom to choose the project that you want to work on.

Side Hustle vs Focusing on Career: Dependencies

Career Development

It is a bitter truth that the company you work for can throw you out at any time. It does not really matter however loyal employee you have been to them and whatever position you are in. Career creates a high dependency for your survival or financial life.

However, if you are highly skilled and a master in your area, it shouldn’t take longer to find another job. This risk can be mitigated if you have a good financial plan.

It is the reason why the financial experts advise to hold atleast 6 months of emergency fund to survive during a career downturn.

Side Hustle

Side hustle diversifies your income stream. If you lose your day job, you still can pay your bills with the income from the side hustle. This reduces your dependencies on your day job and it provides a sense of safety cushion to your financial life.

However, remember if you do not have a consistent stream of income from side hustle, it will become a disaster to depend on your side hustle income. Also, the side hustle may only help in the meantime to pay your bills but this cannot take care of all your financial needs. Hence, even if you have a side hustle, holding an emergency fund is critical.

Side Hustle vs Focusing on Career: Commitment and Performance

Career Development

Whether it is side hustle or career, you need to be committed and perform well. However, in career, there is some leverage in this area. Because, if you do not perform in one project or one year is not going to significantly impact your long-term growth.

Also, in any company projects are delivered as a team, if projects fail it is a collective failure of the team, regardless the company will put you on another project.

This means not performing above average (unless you performed really poorly) in any one year is not going to reduce your income, maybe have a slight impact on yearly raise or bonus.

On the other hand, performing better to achieve career progression does not need substantial time and energy. Especially, if you do a job for a long time, you would be an expert and you can do the job at ease. With a little more extra effort you can perform better than average which can earn you higher income or bonus.

Side Hustle  

In side hustle, you may think you are your own boss. It is not the case actually because the customer is your boss and keeping them satisfied in every gig you do is quite important to get even more projects to generate a consistent income.

One or more dissatisfied customers can significantly impact your income. As an example, if you get a gig through a platform like Fiverr and Upwork, the customer can rate your performance. A negative rating could reduce your opportunity to get more projects or gigs.

When it is just you working on a side hustle without a team, then everything is on your shoulders and you need to put additional time and energy to deliver a project and get even more projects.

Ofcourse you have flexibility to choose whether to do the project or not but once signed up to it, you must have to deliver it. You cannot simply go on sick leave and nobody else is there as a backup for you.

Side Hustle vs Focusing on Career: Importance of Networking

Networking is important to increase your income with a career or side hustle. Only being an expert and master of your skills will not help you to grow. However, let’s look at which requires more effort.

Career Development

In your career, you will have to network with your colleagues within your company and maybe also within your industry. These are the people you work with pretty much everyday and it is quite easy to build a network in this environment.

Side hustle

In Side hustle, you will have to network with people you have not met or spoken to before (i.e., strangers). This may not be hard for extroverts as they can naturally speak to any strangers as if they have known them for years. However, for introverts, it is hard to build a network with strangers.

In side hustle, networking is even more important to get new projects or gigs. Even as a blogger I have to network with a group of blogging communities over social media to grow my blogging side hustle.

But the advantage here is you do not have to meet the people in person and you sit behind the screen to build your network. This advantage is not there in a career.

Nevertheless, the efforts and needs of building a network on side hustle is comparatively higher than in a career.

Side Hustle vs Focusing on Career: Which is Risky?

Not focusing on career development and not having side hustle both carries risk. But let’s look at which will have more impact on your income growth in the long-term

Not Focusing on Career Development

When you don’t focus on upskilling yourself to develop your career you not only miss the opportunity to increase your income but also there is a chance for you to become outdated.

There is a risk that you do not get opportunities to work on interesting projects and you may end up doing mundane tasks.

There is another risk that you become less important to the company and can be easily replaced by someone else. This means you would risk your long-term income, the golden goose.

Not having a Side Hustle

Your dependency on the income from the day job is higher when you do not have a side hustle that imposes some risk to your financial life. If you lose your job, do not have other means of income to pay your bills.

Having a side hustle can provide some cushion until you find a new job. But the risk of not having a side is less than not focusing on your career development which is the golden goose. 

Side Hustle vs Focusing on Career: Retirement

Career Development

Becoming an expert and keeping up with latest developments in your area of skills can help you to earn after retirement by becoming a consultant. You can work part-time as a consultant. However, you must have expertise in your area to be a consultant. For which, you will need to keep upskilling yourself.  

Side Hustle

Side hustle can be perfect ways of making a retirement. Especially, if this side hustle is your hobby and enjoy doing it. This is one of the reasons why people pursuing financial independence are going after it.

People who achieve FIRE, they do not simply go on holiday, travelling the world for the rest of their life, doing nothing but most will have a side hustle to generate an income after retiring early.


The best way to increase your income is through developing your career in your day job rather than a side hustle. If you get a £1000 increase, it is added to your payslip and the next percentage raise on your salary would be a top of this £1000. This provides a compounding effect in growing your income.

This does mean side hustle provides no potential to increase your income. Side hustles are best to earn additional money instantly but turning them to a full time requires tremendous time and energy.

In summary, there is no right or wrong approach to grow your income. But it is better not to lose focus on your main job in the pursuit of side hustling. Developing a career provides more benefits and it is the best bet toward creating additional income.