Pros & Cons Of IT Side Gigs

By Carrie Dagenhard (Tech Writer)

Picking up a second gig has long been standard practice in the tech world. And thanks to the ever-growing tech skills shortage, there’s always significant demand for skilled professionals who can code, assist with quality assurance, or provide tech support — all of which can net a healthy return in exchange for a few hours of your time as a tech pro.


If you're still on the fence and don’t have a side gig yet, you may soon be in the minority. More than a third of Americans have a side hustle, according to data from Zapier, and another quarter (24%) are considering starting one soon.


But, while it can be tempting to throw your hat in the gig economy ring, it’s crucial you examine the benefits as well as the drawbacks. Here are a few pros and cons to keep in mind:

Pro #1: Extra Cash

Unsurprisingly, money is the most popular motivator for picking up a side gig. (After all, it’s unlikely anyone would be willing to give up their precious off-hours for free.) Thanks to mounting student debt, cost-of-living increases, and an ultra-competitive housing market, many people are looking for ways to boost their income quickly.Side gigs bod 2

Depending on your skillset, the amount of time you can put in, and the types of gigs you’re willing to do, a side hustle can be an excellent option for bringing in more cash.

Working a few hours per week offering in-demand skills can help you pay off debt faster, save up to meet a financial goal, or finally afford that dream vacation you’ve been planning.

Pro #2: Skill Building

In the tech industry, it’s vital you keep your skills finely honed while also building proficiencies in other areas. Expanding your skillset can help you climb to the next rung on the career ladder and increase your earning potential in your current job, or demand a higher salary in your next position.

Additionally, some side gigs offer you the opportunity to try out tools and tech you don’t get to use in your primary role, learn new techniques, or explore a role you may want to pursue full-time in the future. You can also use your side gig as an opportunity to grow or apply skills you have and enjoy using, but that your current employer doesn’t leverage.

Pro #3: Opportunity to Get a Business Off the Ground

If you’re considering starting your own company but not ready to dive head-first into self-employment, a side gig is a great way to test the waters. For example, if you’re interested in building your own managed services firm or IT consultancy, you could offer your services to just a couple of clients to determine whether you enjoy the work enough to pursue it full-time. Going this route also helps you foster your professional network and build a financial safety net so that, when you decide to go your own way, you won’t be starting from scratch.

Additionally, some people use their side gigs as an outlet for pursuits unrelated to their current careers. For example, you might explore monetizing a creative hobby like writing, design, crafts, or photography.

Con #1: Increased Risk of Burnout

Spending more hours working means you’ll have less time and energy for the things that rejuvenate you, like hobbies, fitness, and time with family and friends. While making more money is always alluring, it’s never worth sacrificing your mental and physical well-being.

Side gigs bod 1Before committing to a side gig, consider whether you’ll still have enough time for all the other essential elements of life. Additionally, if you already have trouble setting boundaries with your employer, struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance, or grapple with managing your stress, it may not be the best time to add more to your plate. The last thing you want is to put yourself in a position where you’ll face burnout.

Con #2: Poor Return on Investment

Time is a finite resource, so it’s important you carefully consider how you want to spend it. In some cases, a side gig may not pay enough to justify the free time and energy you’ll be spending. 

For example, if you take on a side gig that pays substantially less than your primary job, requires you to travel or put miles on your vehicle, and/or isn’t fulfilling in any other way, it may not be worth pursuing. Before picking up a side hustle, perform a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether you’ll be getting more than you’re putting in. If you find the return fails to exceed the investment, it’s best to spend your time elsewhere.

Con #3: Limit Career Growth

A side gig could help you grow your skills, expand your network, and build an initiative that could eventually become a full-time business — or it could split your focus and negatively impact your performance at work. For example, a demanding side gig can quickly zap your mental and physical energy and make you less productive and engaged overall. If your side gig starts to overtake other priorities but can’t replace your primary job from an income perspective, you could jeopardize your career trajectory.

What Should You Do?

Picking up a side gig can be great for your finances and professional growth and help you explore a business idea — but it can also deplete your energy, increase your stress level, and hamper your career and social life. So, how do you know whether it’s worthwhile?

Before investing your time in a side hustle, make sure it’s providing enough value to make up for the free time you’ll be sacrificing. Additionally, consider adopting a professional services automation software to track your time, keep projects on track, and manage your invoicing so you can ensure you’re compensated fairly and on time. Setting yourself up with the right software early will help you generate even more success if you opt to turn your side gig into a full-time business.

No matter which path you choose, remember to work smarter, not harder, so you still have plenty of time for the people and things you enjoy.

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Carrie Dagenhard
By Carrie Dagenhard

Carrie specializes in technology storytelling while residing in the "Silicon Hills" of Austin, TX.