“But I don’t want to take a SECOND full-time job to earn money on the side”

You don't have to work 80 hours/week to earn money on the side. Eliminate the barriers you have to stepping out of your normal job and earn more money.

Ramit Sethi

You don’t have to work 80 hours/week to earn money on the side.

There are a lot of barriers we have to stepping out of our normal jobs and earning more, but I especially want to tackle this one. So many of my friends hear “earn money on the side” and immediately start thinking that (1) “money is evil” and that (2) in order to earn any significant amount, they’ll have to basically take on a second job that will consume all their free time.


I think about it a little differently, and I figured this might help re-frame this particular barrier.

For most successful people who increase income by earning money on the side, it’s not really about the money. It’s about far more important things:

  • Flexibility: so you can eventually go to yoga every day at 4pm
  • Impact: knowing that you can do what 99% of others can’t
  • Living an extraordinary life, traveling when and where you want, and crushing barriers

I also have my own personal definition. For me, earning a side income is really intellectually stimulating: I can figure out how to get inside my prospect’s heads, understanding what they really want. I can apply my psychological theories. I can build systems and optimize them. I can rapidly test stuff, as I did in the first 5 minutes of yesterday’s office hours.

Yesterday’s office hours. No, I’m not doing a transcript.

All of these are in contrast to slaving over a second job once you get home.

If you think of a new career and earning money on the side specifically for money, it will be very difficult to stay motivated when times get tough.

But if you want to make more money for bigger reasons — more important reasons — that vision can get you through challenging times.

I thought you might like to see some quotes I collected in my research.

What’s your lifestyle like now vs. before you started freelancing?

“Not a whole lot different, since I was already exercising for a few hrs a day after work anyways. The only difference is now I’m being payed $40/hour for it!”
– JT, 26, Newark, DE

“Busy as hell, but richer both in the monetary sense and intellectual sense.”
– Tracy C., 35, Salem, MA

“I get to work in my bathrobe or pajamas.”
– Emma C., 22, Vineyard Haven, MA

“More hectic, more tired; but mentally more free, because I have options AND experience.”
– M.E., 28, Cincinnati, OH

“I still work as an engineer but I spend a few hours a week shooting and I edit in the evenings and really enjoy it. I also hang out with a TON of other photographers for fun/inspiration/ideas.”
– Sarah H., 34, Houston, TX.

“I used to be a toilet cleaner then I got fired because of my hand disability. I was miserable and depressed. Today my lifestyle is incredible. I wake up with a big smile on my face, I’m making in difference in people’s lives and I have the freedom to create my day.”
– Brice, 25, Vancouver, Canada

Earning more is about much more than the money.

Do you know your actual earning potential?

Get started with the Earning Potential quiz. Get a custom report based on your unique strengths, and discover how to start making extra money — in as little as an hour.

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  1. Megan

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for posting your office hours on the blog. I wasn’t able to log in until midway through and I HATED to miss!

    I really like your message!! Great job of hitting what’s really important!

  2. Tyler WebCPA

    The broadcast last night was fun, a lot of great ideas and brainstorming pouring out. Thanks!

  3. April

    Agreed–thanks for posting the office hours! And the reasons for wanting to freelance were dead-on, right down to the yoga (except I want to go to a noon class). 🙂

    Also, it’s pretty awesome to know that even if I lost my job, I’d still have a way to make money. Even though I’m still at the day job for now, I feel much less dependent on it.

  4. Jackie

    Even if your sole reason for wanting to earn money on the side was just because you needed/wanted the money, it doesn’t mean that you can’t find something enjoyable in what you choose to do.

    It is a whole lit easier though to take something that you’re doing already and then figure out how to make money from it. Work smarter, not longer.

  5. Debt Free Hispanic

    Ramit, I agree, you don’t have to overwork yourself to make extra income. I too like to make more money on the side, it feeds like entreprenuerial spirit, and my income increases. Every $100 I add a month, is $1,200 a year that I add to my income.

    Now that I’m debt free, I can save it.

  6. Vin

    Hey, it’s me! Vindel1985…..

    I put an ad on Cragislist last night offering guitar lessons and WiFi network help and have ALREADY received a few e-mails. In less than 13 hours!

    Granted, these are not big businesses that will sustain me alone, but they sure will get me earning money!

    Thanks Ramit, again.

    • Ramit Sethi

      Nice job, man. Try the niche I suggested of helping dudes pick up girls. I think you can niche it out and skyrocket your rates. I wonder…

  7. 4hr

    Thanks for posting the Q&A, it was great. I am wondering if it might also be good to have something more structured – it would be less interactive (bad), but perhaps more efficient and focused (good) – kind of like the difference b/w a president’s press conference and a state of the union message.

    Anyway, I certainly agree with your points in this post Ramit. I do think that it can be a balancing act between deciding whether a given hour of work is better spent on advancing your career or developing a business on the side – it all depends on your situation – my present situation is that the marginal benefit of extra time spent on my career is exceeded by the benefit of developing my own side business – but it wasn’t always that way.

    To Vin – Ramit is right – focusing on making the lessons fun and giving them real songs they can play immediately (or almost immediately) – most people dont really want to be able to seriously play – they just want to have fun with it and impress a few people. (you can sneak in some scales and learning too).

  8. Kathleen

    Here’s what I came up with when I started brainstorming.

    Love baking and am good at it.
    Really enjoy photography. Am not professional, but have a good eye.
    Fluent in Spanish. Would like to do translations rather than classes as they give me more flexibility (lunch hour, before work, after work.)
    Enjoy sewing.
    Crazy about interior design.

    I’m not quite sure how to make this into an income producer. Sewing pillows shaped like cupcakes? No thanks.

    Thanks for any input you can provide.
    I did post on my local Craigslist to offer translation services.

    • Ramit Sethi

      Kathleen, now you’ve identified some of your skills. That’s the supply.

      What about the demand?

      Nobody wants cupcake-shaped pillows. Out of your skills, what do people want?

  9. yohami

    Its a bit odd that you focus so much on the “barriers” instead of the tools and real highways. You are really focusing on the weakness, and I guess some people will like that, since weak points are inside of the comfort zone, and they do give comfort even if its just to speak bad of them, eg, calling them barriers.

    Then “making money on the side”. Bro. No body is getting rich with a making money on the side mentality.

    But you can get rich being frontal about it, making the money right in front of you, instead of money in the side, instead of thinking in quitting. Making more money is always, always, more work. Sometimes a hell lot of more work.

    1k a month is nothing. Its harder to make lilttle sums than big sums. Think of making 10k a month, for starters.

    Dont focus on the barriers, unless you are willing to completely destroy them, its such a waste of time. Focus on what you have to do, not in the fear that you feel when thinking on doing them. Just see what has to be done and go for it. Try, learn, iterate, get better, and keep working

    Risk is nothing. Feel free to ban that word. If the tide grows, just get better at surfing.

    Anyway. Cool title for this blog.

  10. Kathleen

    I should also have added to the above that my day job is as an executive assistant.

  11. Nathan Schmitt

    I really appreciate you talking about the barriers here–my main challenges all involve barriers. Once I’ve identified them, it’s just a matter of hard work and finding new and effective ways of getting over them.

    @yohami, weak points have always struck me as being determinately outside of people’s comfort zone, so I’d actually like to hear more on that if you have the time. I lead trainings in conflict resolution and communication and the biggest breakthroughs I’ve seen have with people identifying the barriers that they didn’t realize were holding them back, fixing them, then using new skills to replace them. Based on your comments, you might enjoy Ramit’s post from yesterday:

  12. yohami

    With barriers Im identifying whatever people tell to themselves whenever they feel fear. All of the “I want to … “but”

    Whenever somebody comes with a “but”, they are finding a force that draws them back to their comfort zone. So barriers are definately not ouside. Talking about barriers rationalize them, in other words, give them a temporary existance and embeds them into the ego. While the only thing needed is, really, action.

    Action leads to transformation.

    Its like somebody who wants to get better at something, and they buy a book about why they suck at it. Or get a training course to so they are not as afraid of “try new stuff”. It aint going to happen. Experience is the only thing that can overcome fear, and experience isnt granted by thinking about whats holding you back.

    @Nathan, it looks like you are talking about skills, more than barriers. Skills is something you have to keep working until you die, Im not calling lack of skills a barrier?

  13. emcguire

    Great broadcast. Here’s a question I haven’t heard you cover yet though. My boyfriend and I are professional illustrators, I work full time at an animation studio, and then about 20-30% of my income is freelance, my boyfriend freelances for videogame studios full time.

    Finding your niche in illustration isn’t the hard part, your niche is how your work looks, and you market yourself to clients who are attracted to that style of work. The problem is finding people who will pay for what the work is worth. Finding people who need our services isn’t that hard, but finding people that realize that $50 for 10 hours of work (or whatever it may be) isn’t worth our time. What is your strategy for finding serious clients for bigger wins, versus the easier to find work that isn’t as profitable?

  14. Jim Munro

    Ramit, I would love to hear the story about the toilet cleaner from your quote above. What are they doing now?

  15. Blue


    I COMPLETELY DISAGREE that no one wants cupcake-shaped pillows.


    Then visit

    Then go back to and notice they’re having a fabric/crafts/fabric+crafts contest right now.

    Then go back to and pick a cake.

    Then submit your design to Regretsy AND Cakewrecks. Use the photog skills to make the image look really sharp.

    Repeat, etc.

    • Ramit Sethi

      Blue, those are cool but does anyone want them who’s willing to pay?

  16. Blue

    More ideas for @Kathleen:

    Hit up the group “themed humor” blogs where they let anyone submit designs to CafePress. The Comics Curmudgeon is a good example.

    Pick a design, make a thing, make sure it’s related to whatever the commenters are talking about lately. Bonus points if it’s extra awesome. You would be surprised how much Mary Worth-related, user-generated merch that site sells.

    Also–just for the record–seriously I have a Gravatar and why is it not showing up on IWTYTBR?????

  17. Blue

    I guess it depends on how much you want to make.

    Click here to see pictures of people who have bought and are proudly wearing Comics Curmudgeon stuff.

    (The first post in that list is Josh getting stuff from King Features… keep scrolling to see the posts about people creating, posting, and buying CC stuff. All the CC stuff is user-created–Josh doesn’t make it.)

  18. Sheridan

    I would like to talk with the teacher who wants to make educational mobile apps. I am actually working on making mobile apps and would love to have someone work on the content side while I do the programming.

    My only concern is what would be the target market? It seems like younger children won’t have smartphones capable of running apps, and older children might not be as interested in educational software.

    Drop me a line if you want to discuss.

  19. The Broken Penny

    It can be a challenge to earn money on the side while working full time, but it is worth it. Most people don’t realize how much working on side projects empowers you. It makes going to you day job a little bit easier too, because you know you have something in the works that will one day make you free. I couldn’t stand the though of working for someone else forever!

  20. A

    Awesome Office Hour session, glad you put it up since I didn’t get to watch it live even though I prepped questions ahead of time for it. You offered a lot of tough love, which I found quite funny and entertaining this time around. It was as if you were kicking people in the butt to get going and stop being foolish — which I’m sure I need plenty of too.

    Can’t wait for the next session.

  21. Rev John

    The video had practical content. Unfortunately, I found no added value in yelling The Lord name in vain. I am sure if I did others did also.

    • M

      Yes, I agree. A video can be spirited, jocular, humorous, etc. without needless vulgarity/profanity. If it offends, it offends with some purpose in mind, not simply to irritate.

  22. Ram

    Hey Ramit, The readers of this blog might want to check It is an online social site where you can teach and earn money. You can teach anything you know as long as some one wants to take up those classes.

    Good job with earn1k.

  23. Katya

    Hi Ramit!
    I missed this live broadcast @#@$@% !
    Think a lot about the ways to make some money. And my question is ( if it’s not too late) what might work the best in your opinion:

    1. Invent an idea and then license it.
    2. To make money on the skill, that I DO NOT have, btw inspired by your blog (I can explain)

    3. website (for my country) about unique travel tips to US, France ( adSense )


    And thank you for your work

  24. Lepa

    Just to let people know. Got lots of spam subscribing to this “dude” teach you to be rich???? emails. Have the prof. Your email have been sold to make him reach.

  25. Josh

    Hi Ramit, nice webcast. I enjoyed it, as well as the material you’ve been putting out lately. I’m 23 and pretty new to the corporate world, but I already know that it’s not for me. I spend my days as a software developer, and spend my evenings working out, trying to teach myself how to sing(dream job is a producer/vocalist), and reading non fiction.

    I am thinking of putting up a post on craigslist for JavaScript or any kind of PDF printing work ( what I’ve learned at my 9-5er the past year and a half) but i don’t know how much to charge, or even how to market myself well. I guess my fear is that I’ll end up taking on a job that I can’t finish, or end up working 10hrs for $20.

    So, how can I be sure to get jobs that are in my league, per se?

    Thanks for reading,

  26. Maria Brilaki

    A comment for @Ramit and @Vin:

    I don’t see how a guitar teacher that specializes in helping men pick up girls would be successful. Serenades maybe? 🙂 Is there something I am missing?

    Anyway, congratulations Vin for taking action and for having a successful first response on your ads! Keep us posted!

  27. yohami

    @Josh if your dream is to be a producer/vocalist stop messing up with javascript, just get a damn job on your dream field. Consider anything else outside of your leage.

  28. Josh

    @yohami thanks for the response. I totally see your point, but (my barrier comes next) I have a shitload(60k) of student loans, and music production school isn’t cheap. This(programming) has always been my plan to get out of debt, but it’s a long road. I’m trying to speed it up by earning more. Perhaps, I should focus on getting experience in the field of my passion (music) and forget about extra money?

  29. yohami

    @Josh I bet you didnt go to school to learn Javascript, and you dont have to sacrifice anything but your barriers. Start singing and producing right now and figure a way to make the extra cash right there.

  30. amandalee

    Love it, love it. Currently I’m working as a technical writer/trainer for a corporation, writing instructional materials for a CMS so that they can be understood by not-so-tech-savvy people. I think that’s definitely a skill that can translate to other gigs, but I need to figure out how to get other clients. Thoughts? Thanks for all this, btw, Ramit, your blog has helped me a ton. 😀

  31. Peter


    My question is, what do you know best and/or enjoy the most?

    1. My problem with trying to invent something is the time it will take and the mindset of trying to come up with something to invent. I’ve seen it before where people get too caught up with making a big discovery. I recommend you read Ramit’s post on The Myth of the great idea

    2. Why would you want to extend the process by trying to make money with something you don’t know? What skills DO you have right now?

    3. Do you travel to the US and France often? If so, this seems to most viable.

    Again, you should reread Ramits post about marketing your skills, stop trying to create business and find out what skills are needed, find out what skills you have and then build a business idea from that.


    Have you read Ramits and some other financial books (like Suze Ormans books) about automizing your money and paying off debt? If not, I would do so now and get that in order.

    I would also recommend reading Escape from Cubicle Nation by pamela slim. Great advice on transitioning from a 9-5 job into what you want to do realistically.

    While school is always a great way to start, I’ve always felt if you want to learn to do something, just find someone who has and talk with them. Do you know any professional singers and producers? Even someone in a band that has made a few albums in a studio. Take them out to lunch, talk to them, they are bound to know singing coaches and producers. Build a network and surround yourself with people who are doing what you want to do..You don’t have to quit your job and it’ll probably cost you a lunch or two. Ask if you can come in during a recording sometime.

    @Maria Brilaki and @Vin:

    This is far from scientific data, but my 2 brothers and I all went and bought guitars and started learning after our family friend picked it up to learn bossa nova (she loves brasil) for his wife.

    Personally, as a guy, I think flat out saying “to pick up chicks” might be coming on too strong. If I were him, I would hint to it on the website. Simply listing a handful of classic songs that most guys think girls love, mixed in with a few current hits that are all the rage, would be sufficient enough.

    I would also make a little promo video (which would cost nothing since almost all computers have video cameras and come with editing software). Take a day or two too write out a really easy to understand teaching method (think of a potential customer as someone whos never picked up a guitar in their life) Break everything down into bite sized chunks and then record yourself showing a few steps of your method. I would start the video with you playing an entire song, clips of you breaking it down in an easy to understand manner (about 2 or 3 sections of the song) and then playing that whole section really well. It’s the classic artist portfoliio flow where you start strong and end strong.

  32. Peter

    ^ whoops. I just re-read that. Not an entire song, but a nice portion of a song at normal speed.

  33. Peter

    ^^ @vin

    Sorry I keep coming up with ideas!

    I also think a great idea would to also stress that you’re not here to teach them to write songs…or be the next john mayer. If they want to really learn guitar offer then some suggestions for books or dvds.

    But if they want to learn a song they’ve always wanted to play in a week and to impress their friends, family, girlfriend (this is where you throw that in) or some hot chick by picking up a guitar and playing a couple songs, you can help them do that.

  34. Katya


    Thanks for your thoughts, I will read Ramit’s blog that you mentioned ( about invention). I think you are right that many people are getting into invention it self and result is out focus. I respect Stephen Key approach “ invent right” – it is most time efficient IMHO.
    I appreciate your feedback on my website idea. I live in US and travel to Europe 3 times a year (also lived in Paris)

  35. Kal

    A huge point you mentioned is in the idea of coming to terms with money. i.e. money is not evil. If you’re providing a quality service to people or businesses you deserve the pay. Position the effort as a means to a higher end than just money is the one that gets me moving toward goals much more than any other.

  36. Nedsferatu

    This video was really helpful. Seeing the “live case-studies” sparked a different way of thinking about my own skills. I liked the learning by example aspect in addition to the applying principles approach of the post.

    Since I’m new to the site, can you review how to attend these sessions in the future? Thanks! (sorry for the mispost on the other article)

  37. Josh Kohlbach

    “if you want to earn money for bigger reasons — more important reasons — that vision can get you through challenging times.”

    I think that’s really the key to it all right there. If you’re focusing on the money, you’ll be so short sighted you’ll forget why you started doing these things and thinking this way in the first place.

    Rapidly testing, and trying to find the right thing for both you and your clients is a great approach and something that is working out well for me.

    Doing little experiments makes it fun too and you get to see results straight up instead of (if you focus on the money) waiting months for your first dollar to roll into your paypal account.

  38. Patrick Szalapski

    Sounds like the key is to make my freelancing effort my hobby–something we can really enjoy. I suppose making time for this has to be a high priority–if all my hours outside of work are used by spending quality time with my wife and time with church, family gatherings, friends, parenting, and other hobbies, there won’t be time to freelance, right?

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