Are You Up for a Second Job? The Rise of Moonlighting and 'Moonpreneurs'
Today, he's a professional comedian who has performed at three presidential inaugural events and recently at the Kennedy Center. But in this economy, his corporate bookings have fallen off, and he's had to turn back to technology. "I had to do something else to maintain my level of income," says Nainan who says he charges $75 an hour for computer consulting, which brings in about $1,500 a month.
"Fortunately, my comedy shows require me to fly places, mostly on weekends, and perform for no more than one hour, so I have a fair amount of free time during the week to pursue this second job, says Nainan.
He's not the only one juggling. With U.S. unemployment continuing to top 9%, just having a job is enough to make many of us feel grateful. But one job isn't always enough. The new order of the day for some is creativity, combining two jobs to make a livable salary.
Moonlighting has new appeal for people who can't make it on one salary, or who don't want to trust their fate to one employer and desire the security of multiple income streams. The newly identified category of "moonpreneurs" have full-time jobs and start businesses on the side. A recent Elance survey found that 36% of responded were starting or operating a business while working full- or part-time traditional, onsite jobs; 35% of independent workers on Elance had begun freelancing to earn supplemental income.
The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons -- i.e., because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time position -- rose from 8.4 million to 8.8 million in August, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Make Moonlighting Work for You
Beyond the obvious boost to your budget, Herndon says moonlighting can increase your "brand equity" or reputation in your industry.
Michael Podlesny worked full time as a software engineer while launching Mike the Gardener Enterprises in Burlington, N.J., an online retailer of vegetable, fruit and herb seeds, and home to the Seeds of the Month Club. "It's very rewarding and challenging," he said. "I learn new things almost daily, not just in business, but in talking to customers and other professionals in the industry."
Ross Kimbarovsky, who worked full time as a corporate lawyer while he was co-founding crowdSPRING, which among other services offers web and logo design, couldn't agree more.
"If you fail to plan, plan to fail. There will be aspects of your life that will suffer, so plan ahead what you are willing to give up and the time you're not willing to give up. If you have kids and hobbies such as reading, running, watching movies and traveling, you will have to re-evaluate your time," he says. While that advice goes for the moonlighter as well as the moonpreneur, he offers a couple of specific pointers for the moonpreneurs.
• Be frugal. People are either too frugal or not frugal enough, says Kimbarovsky. "Spend money to make sure your side business can run, but don't spend on unnecessary items. Where possible, trade skills with others, but never barter for equity for your side business."
• Be realistic about cash flow. "If you have savings to spend on your side business, be realistic because if you do transition to spending all of your time on your side business, the cash flow will change and you need to adjust accordingly," says Kimbarovsky.
Be Sure Your Significant Other Is On Board
James Hussey was working 60 to 80 hours a week in his day job doing marketing for his brother's business, when he got the idea to bid for freelance writing work on Elance.com.
"I'd come home from work and bid on gigs at Elance and complete my work at 2 a.m. during the work week, and even later on weekends. On top of that, I was publishing WordPress websites as an affiliate marketer, selling physical products by getting traffic from my SEO efforts," says Hussey, who taught himself how to do many of those tasks on the fly.
"How did I manage? I have a stellar wife," he explains. "Her mom had several strokes after our seventh child was born. My wife took care of our family, plus her mom."
Only you can evaluate if you're up for a second job. Weigh the benefits against the negatives, and if it makes sense for you, go for it. Says Nainan. "The average American who works full-time watches something like 30 hours of television per week.Cut back on television and partying and you'll find the time to spend on a second job."