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Why Side Gigs are Worth the Time

Far too often, I hear and read about the financial side of blogging (or any side job), and how, if you do the math, it’s not worth it. Often, they argue that if you’re going to have a side gig, money shouldn’t be a factor and that any money earned should be seen as an added bonus, because earning a few dollars per hour isn’t worth it.

What Others are Saying

Recently, Financial Samurai wrote about blogging for the Yakezie and how the group would lose money if he were to be paid a normal salary based on his job description. And on Free Money Finance, Sunil guest posted that side gigs aren’t worth it because the hourly wage is so low. They qualify it by saying that it’s not worth doing for the money, that it’s worth doing for other benefits.

Why I Think They’re Wrong

I think they’re completely wrong about it not being “worth it.” The measure of whether the time is worth it shouldn’t be based on your day job, but rather on how much you value your free time. If you really love sitting in front of the tv, then a side business is likely not for you.

Take it a step further. This is an exercise anyone can do. Take the amount of money you could make with your side gig, and drill it down to the amount of money an hour of work would generate, on average. Compare that to an hour of your free time. Which would you rather have? If you have the choice, then you’re essentially paying for your free time (because if you want you can “work” and earn that money).

Money vs. The Alternative

I spend plenty of time watching TV and doing other nonproductive activities. I don’t value my free time all that much, so many opportunities are worth it to me. Even if I make $5 an hour blogging (I have no clue what the actual number is), I would never pay $5 for an hour of watching TV. That’s absurd! So to me, blogging is definitely a good idea compared to my alternative of non value-added activities.

I do agree with other bloggers that money shouldn’t be the ONLY consideration. I enjoy blogging and while it’s worth, blogging plus $5 is far greater and brings more enjoyment to me than an hour of watching Millionaire Matchmaker (that’s not a fair comparison, that show is awesome) Glee.

So if you’re considering a side business, just ask yourself: “Is your free time worth it?”



    • @Kevin McKee, Haha, I’ve actually never seen an episode, but it’s just not my thing (I think). What bothers me is the obsession over a mash up of two songs that have been great for years but suddenly people are going crazy listening to it but still forgetting the originals. Just a fad I’m not into.

  1. Sigh, you miss the gist of my article, which is simply that even though would lose tens of thousands a month as a startup company based on market salaries, we do it anyway because it’s fun!

    Furthermore, what makes the initiative more admirable is that the $250,000/yr cost I quoted in running the site is way low if it was a true startup, yet we run it anyway.

    It’s easier for yourself and other recent grads to work on side gigs simply due to time and money. I’m assuming you make less than $250,000 a year and don’t have a wife or any kids to care for. Of course it’s worth it. Yet even you have a staff writer, which is impressive. Trust me, it’s easier to do side gigs when you have lower opportunity costs.

    In 10-15 years as your income increases and your time decreases due to family responsibilities, or work responsibilities since you are more senior, I think you will appreciate the gist of the article more and the efforts of running the


    • @Financial Samurai, I understand the article, the Yakezie is worth it because it’s fun. As a business venture it would lose money (though treating it like a blog, not as a business is probably more appropriate, in which case the money may be worth it).

      However, you find the time to spend many hours each week on both your site and Yakezie, so the time is there. It’s just a matter of matching priorities. Having more money makes me happy, so there’s no need to draw a line between when I would do it for fun vs. when I would do it for the money.

      Not everyone can afford the time to start a side gig, but it’s still matching up that free time with the money you could earn. If you’ve got no free time, there’s no way to make money with a side gig. But if you have a little free time (like you do), you’re able to do something that may or not be worth the time.

      You find plenty of time to blog and run two websites (and they also bring in a decent income), but if another lucrative side-gig appeared, you’d have to weigh that against the free time to use for blogging, and that’s what my article is about.

      • @Daniel, maybe I’m reading your article wrong? You write:

        “I think they’re completely wrong about it not being ‘worth it.'”

        What am I saying is not worth it? If it wasn’t worth it, why is it still running?

        I’m not following you still. Let me know within the hour, b/c I’m off to hit the megadump up in one of the Resorts in Lake Tahoe then! Gonna be epic!

        • @Financial Samurai, Ah, enjoy your vacation! Get offline!

          Worht it as a business, not as a fun venture, which is clearly worth it because we’re all having a great time collaborating!

  2. Money should not be the first reason, but it should be one of the best as your blogging goes by. There are ways to make money blogging. It may not be worth thinking of the money you make the first year or 3 years, that depends on every person. But I am a believer that blogging can truly become a well-paid side job. No wonder why some bloggers ended up quitting their day jobs after a while! It is not only because they wanted to work in their pajamas all day but because it was worth it for them. So I don’t regard it in comparison to my free time but in comparison to what it was and what it can become!

    • @DoNotWait, I definitely think it can be lucrative, and my $5 estimate is low. I’m not sure if I’m built to be a full-time blogger (I enjoy interacting and getting out of the house more), but I’ve realized that the more I do it, the easier it is and the more time that opens up for other opportunities.

  3. For me, I like the distraction! Keeps me busy and off things related to work (and/or TV)!

    I don’t think money was the motivation. When I started MoneyCone it didn’t even have any ads.

    • @MoneyCone, Me neither, my ads are very recent, and at the beginning (First 6+ months) I didn’t even know it was possible to make a significant amount of money.

  4. It’s sure been worth it for me but I can see how people would be easily discouraged. I toiled away for weeks with no traffic before I started to see anything, then I was making under a dollar a day. It really took months before I was even starting to approach minimum wage. There are just no guarantees and the blogging space is getting pretty crowded – but if you have something different to say and you enjoy it, why not?

  5. Interesting convesations here…

    From an opportunity cost perspective, in purely dollar terms, it’s probably not worth it for me. Wait – it’s definitely not worth it to me from that perspective just yet.

    However, from an enjoyement perspective, it is. That’s what it amounts to for me. I would rather blog than watch TV, to pull from your example, simply because it’s more fun, and I feel like I’m learning something each day that may not be directly quantifiable, but provides a sense of accomplishment as well.

  6. It also depends on what the perks are of your side gig. Do you get free products to write reviews, if it stuff you actually use (or can re-gift)? It definitely seems worth it.

  7. If we are talking about blogging as a side gig…you have to love the topic. Most sites don’t make enough money to justify the hours put if you are only looking at the bottom line. That being said, I think I am with you D (and I think Sam too – you may have read his post wrong) that doing something you love WHILE making a few extra bucks while watching a little less tv – WHY NOT?!

  8. I’m not making any money from my side blog yet, but it is still a 110% good use of my free time. I am learning so much from Yakezie blogs, the knowledge gain far outweigh the time spent. If anyone want to learn about personal finance, I would recommend that they start a blog and join Yakezie.
    I like Glee as much as Kevin McKee, but Yakezie is that much better.

  9. I was up the other night from 11pm-6am after having an off sleep schedule. I noticed that I didn’t do anything productive besides get some reading done. That “free time” could’ve been used tackling tasks on my never ending to-do list instead of tweeting, Facebooking, watching TV, and whatever else I was doing besides getting more sleep. A side gig is definitely worth it, especially if you don’t have cool hobbies.

  10. Nice article. I completely agree with you that side gigs are almost always worth it.

    The typical alternative? Television of course. So, anything that doesn’t make our mind mush should be regarded more highly than the television.

    I have recently been inspired to create some passive income. In the beginning, this seems like a complete waste of time because there’s hardly any money to be seen. I’m just having faith that the money will be there in the end.

    Thanks again.

  11. I would blog for free! Only half kidding! I enjoy the exchange of ideas and interacting with other people, although I am profit motivated. I am investing way too much time just for the fun of it. I view any money earned as a score card or measurement of success.

  12. I like your opportunity-cost way of looking at it. I’m trying to launch a “side gig” selling my art on greeting cards, and while I can make a profit after materials costs, that profit doesn’t begin to meet my hourly-pay-goal.

    However, if I wasn’t working on marketable products, I have many other expensive hobbies that DON’T pay for their own materials. (Like dance lessons. Dog agility. Etc.)

    Most of the “pro bloggers” I have read say that you must start a blog about something you’re passionate about. You can earn money from it, but it shouldn’t be about the money.

  13. This is a really interesting analysis. You impacted how I look at things! When I spend, I frequently evaluate whether the money spent for convenience items is worth the additional cost. ie I buy already cut and washed lettuce because the convenience is worth the money!You turned the equation around. I look at leisure the same way. (LOVE TV & the Millionare Matchmaker, too :) ) But, I can work on the blog while I watch TV! Plus I get lots of pleasure writing about issues that matter to me and hopefully I can offer some insights to others. The cash is a bonus!

    • @Barb Friedberg, Yup, multi-tasking the important with the relatively unimportant is great. I can do some minor blogging stuff in front of the tv, but when it comes to writing, I need my quiet!

  14. I’m not a big TV buff, CNBC, Bloomberg and a little of HGTV is my limit

    I think any side hustle is worth the time if you learn, grow and meet like minded people it will become an investment

  15. Is spending my free time blogging worth it? Definitely – even when I wasn’t making any money. I think that having income coming from a blog is important, especially if you want to have staying power. When you’re first starting, however, I think having passion for your topic and enjoying what you’re doing is even more important – because your hourly wage and blog income probably aren’t going to rise to the level of being “worth it”, at least for a while. You need to enjoy it to be able to stick with it until the income starts to go up.

    I like to tell people that I make about $4-5/hr on my blog. Not that great. But when you tell them that you’re making that 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, while only really working a few hours a day, it changes their perception a bit. (of course that means the actual hourly wage is quite a bit higher as well)

    In any event, yes, side gigs are worth the time. :)

    • @Money Smarts, I have been talking about the actual hourly wage, but having that steady “passive” income is fantastic. Sometimes, putting in more effort doesn’t equal greater earnings.

      I have no idea how much time I actually spend blogging. I spend time writing, but a lot of the time I’m multi-tasking. The critical parts? Just a few hours each week, which makes my hourly wage soar.

      Still, whatever growth I do have is not enough. I get greedy and always want more!

  16. Great post! I agree that if your side job is your hobby, then making a few bucks doing it is just icing on the cake. If you’re in it for enjoying it — and not just the money — then who cares about the hourly earnings.

  17. If I kept the same attitude considering how much I normally charge in my job, I’d never do anything in fear of “losing money”.

    I just see the absolute amount in my side gigs (not my main freelancing thing).

    Actually, my blogs don’t bring in much money, but that’s because it’s more of a hobby. A hobby that makes money. I’d like for them to make more money but you just can’t force these things :P

    Thanks again Daniel :)

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