5 Tips For Church Leaders Getting Started With a Side Hustle

These days, many people have a side hustle—a hobby that they’ve turned into a gig or business. There are lots of benefits to a side hustle, including extra income, new experiences, and opportunities for creativity.

Working a side hustle takes time. And time is not a resource that most church communicators have in abundance. So is it responsible for Christians to dedicate some of this limited time to more work? Or is it a smart idea that will provide you with more experience and money?

That all depends on your work situation and how you approach the side hustle. There are plenty of pastors with hustles—so why can’t church communicators? If you’re interested in getting started, here are a few considerations and ideas to guide you.

My experience with side hustles

For the past few years, I’ve written blog posts (like this one) for a number of sites. Some of them pay me. Some don’t—and I just write for fun. I also design websites for nonprofits and do some marketing consulting. Needless to say, those hustles take up quite some time and energy.

Most of these blog contributions started when I was working in church communications. This began as a way to research and explore new ideas in church marketing. My background in journalism meant that writing was one of the easiest ways for me to process these ideas.

That has since transformed into a way to stay connected to the church communications world and earn a little bit of money on the side. During that time, I’ve learned a few helpful things that other busy church communicators interested in resuming or starting a side hustle they could potentially benefit from.

Set your priorities

The first thing to establish is clear priorities. Everyone’s time is limited, but this is even more true for church communicators. Assuming that this is your full-time job, church communications should take priority in your professional focus.

List out how to prioritize your time. This helps you know what to do with the limited free time you have. Assuming you have time to safely handle your personal life and professional responsibilities, then you can slowly begin taking on side projects.

Before you start hustling more seriously, it’s a good idea to have a conversation with your church’s leadership. Schedule a meeting with your boss to make sure there are no issues or conflicts of interest. Hopefully, they’ll be encouraging of your moonlighting endeavors, but it’s best not to assume that they will. Be clear and upfront with your intentions.

Know your margins

Having clear priorities helps you to determine your margins. It’s unfair for both you and your church if you overcommit yourself and end up disappointing everyone. Regularly assess how much extra time you have to dedicate to outside work.

Time for hustling will likely come in the margins of your day. The only time you might find for a side gig may be early in the morning or late at night. You still need to sleep or risk burning out, but snagging an extra 30 minutes per day might be all you need (or can afford).

When you add up this time, you’ll have a decent idea of how much you can commit to extra work each week and month. Take projects that you can comfortably fit within that space. And preferably those that give you lots of flexibility. Only take on work that you can reasonably handle.

Pick the right hustle

With the gig economy, there is an abundance of side hustles. There’s no shortage of ways that you can make extra cash and take on work in micro-doses. You’ve undoubtedly built up a number of useful skills in your church role—and you can use these to help even more organizations.

Here are a few online lists from other sites that compile just some of these hustles:

  • Contribute to church blogs (like Church Juice)

  • Develop other church’s websites—they certainly need it

  • Share referral links to useful products

  • Design social media graphics for other nonprofits

  • Edit sermon or announcement videos

  • Coach or consult with other churches or organizations

Focus on picking side gigs that give you the most benefit, the most flexibility, and that you’re the most passionate about. The ideal side hustle is something you’re doing because you want to, rather than because you have to rely on the income.

It may take time to find the right freelance work and clients. But being intentional and focused upfront helps make that happen. That improves the quality of your work output and enjoyment.

Start networking

In addition to knowing the right services to provide, it’s also important to find clients. Let people know you’re interested in extra work. Share what services you’re offering. Find your ideal clients and reach out to them directly. Attend networking events or conferences to start having conversations.

Networking is always a great way to connect with side hustles. However, there are plenty of websites to list your freelance services—some of them even specifically for church creatives like you:

Don’t try to maintain profiles on all of these sites—that’s stretching yourself too thin. Start with one or two that best match your needs and skills. Focus more of your time developing relationships on those platforms before adding more.

Know when to say no

If you’re lucky, there will be times when you have to say no to projects or opportunities. That’s lucky because it means you have multiple options and choices about the right ones to pursue. But saying no isn’t always easy.

Sometimes you don’t say no because you're a people pleaser. Sometimes you’re just desperate to find new projects. Sometimes you’re lucky enough to have too many good opportunities. But we all have to realize our limitations. Once we examine our priorities and margins, we’ll quickly realize that we can’t accept everything. Know when to say no and be firm in your resolve to do so.

Remember: ‘no for now’ doesn’t mean ‘no forever’. Especially because there are certain seasons of work that require more from you than others—like Easter and Christmas. That’s why flexibility with hustling is so crucial. Give yourself permission to turn the hustle dial up and down as you’re able.

What side hustles are you working on?

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