How to have a website on the side without getting fired from your day job

Regular job and website on the side

How to have a website on the side without getting fired from your day job

Having a website is all the rage right now. It seems like everyone and their cat runs a website, has a blog, or is growing an online presence in some way or another. There’s no shortage of projects to work on or ways to tinker around on the internet, and a website is one of the most obvious ways to do that.

I’m a huge fan of people having their own website, whether it’s for business or personal reasons. Maybe it's a lifestyle blog, a portfolio, a place to write about your thoughts on current events, or a way to share stories of your life with others. Your website could also be part of a bigger side hustle, for example if it’s an e-commerce site, a place to sell your services, a monthly membership site, whatever - the sky is the limit. Side websites can act as a creative outlet but they can also turn into lucrative side-hustle when done properly.

I know loads of people who work a regular 9-5 and have a website that they run on the side and let me say, I friggin’ LOVE that. Own your place on the internet, yo! 

Shameless plug: I’ve got a free 7 day email course called Launch Your Best Site that will walk you through the entire process of setting up a Squarespace website. Sign up for it at the bottom of this post or click here to learn more about what you’ll learn and the results you’ll get from this free course.

But an important thing to remember is that if you have a normal job and choose to run a website on the side, you don’t want it to take over your life and get you fired. It’s a project you’re working on in addition to your day job - you know, the one that pays the bills and is your primary source of income? So go ahead and build a website on the side, but be smart about it :)

Having a side website is a wonderful thing because the overhead is low, the startup costs are minimal, it doesn’t have to be a crazy time commitment and you can be as chill or serious about it as you want. Your side website could be the perfect place to test out a new business idea, work on a passion project, learn new skills, etc. without the pressure of having it be your entire livelyhood. You know that money is coming in thanks to your day job, so everything you earn from or through your side website is icing on the cake. 

RelatedWebsite Growth Tracker 2018 spreadsheet templates are now live!

Depending on the industry you work in, having a website on the side might be totally normal, encouraged or even expected. Almost every journalist has a website they run in addition to their "real" job, for example. Or, it could be something that hardly anyone does or that is done on the sly. Maybe you work at an architecture firm but run an Etsy shop on the side that you keep to yourself. Either way, it’s a good idea to build and grow a website on the side in a way that doesn’t get interfere with your main job and keeps everyone happy. 

The good news is that a your main job and side website can happily coexist. In fact, they might even benefit each other and the side website could actually make you stand out in your career in a good way!

No matter what type of side website you’re working on, keep the following things in mind while you still have a day job.

1. Establish boundaries

This will look a little different for everyone but from the start, you should consider the boundaries you’ll set up to make sure that everyone is happy with your side website project. It’s probably not a good idea to work on your side website at work during office hours, unless you’re on your lunch break or something. You might also choose not to mention your current regular job on your website. What about professional platforms such as LinkedIn, are you going to announce your website there? It’s totally up to you.

If you aren't sure what type of boundaries make sense or are appropriate, try to find someone else at your company or in your industry that has their own side website and ask them for advice. They might have some solid ideas on how to balance the two and set up boundaries that work well over an extended period of time. Because even though the boundaries that you have in place work NOW, they might not hold up a few months in once your site starts growing. 

Whatever you choose, make clear boundaries that are right for you and stick to them.

2. Don’t step on any toes

A word of the wise: if you're holding down a regular job and also building a website on the side, it’s best to avoid any conflict of interest whenever possible. 

Think about the type of website you want to build and grow on the side and ask yourself it you’d rather that it is totally unrelated to your normal job, or if it falls within the same field. Is it an escape from your 9-5 work or something you’re doing to boost and enhance your career? It might not be the best idea to start a website that is in your exact field if it presents a conflict of interest.

For example, if you work at a law firm, it might be a conflict of interest if you have a website that sells template of legal documents. Or if you are a personal trainer and you have a blog on the side where you promote a protein powder that is a competitor of the product offered at your gym. See what I mean? 

3. Prioritize your time

There’s nothing like the excitement of a new project and I totally understand the feeling of being swept up in your plans for your website. This website is basically your baby and you’ve got major plans for it and can’t wait to watch it grow! Don’t get totally carried away though because it’s never a good idea to put all your energy into your side website and let your performance at your 9-5 slip completely. Have a plan for your website, homie.

Ask yourself, is this side website for fun? Is it simply a creative outlet? Did you make it to support a side hustle business? Do you have plans to monetize it? Is your goal to build up your website so that you can leave your job entirely? Build and sell? Think about what the point of this side website is because that will help you to ensure that you’re prioritizing your time properly.

This is especially true if your site isn’t bringing in any money and you’re relying entirely on your 9-5 job to pay the bills. 

Finally, remember that there’s more to life that going to your regular job and coming home to work on your side website. Make sure that you’re still finding time to get enough sleep, eat well, take part in fun and social activities, and not burn out. 

Related : Here's what my typical day looks like as a web designer/developer

4. Put your skills to work

Having a side website on top of your regular job can make you even more of an asset at work because of all the new skills that you’re picking up and honing! If you want to make sure that your boss doesn’t pull the rug out from under you, play up all the ways that this side website makes you a more valuable employee.

Use those new skills and make them known while you’re working at your 9-5! Your side website will teach you all about tech, design, project management, sales and a whole lot more so be sure to apply that to your real job to get the most out of it. This is especially true if you work at a smaller company where they might not have an entire team dedicated to the maintenance and upkeep of the company website. But even if you can't put your new skills to work in a formal way in your current role, think about ways you can assist on certain one-off projects!

Final Thoughts

Having a regular job AND a website on the side is totally something that you can balance, so long as it’s done right. A side website is a fantastic way to learn new skills, express yourself, explore a passion project or grow a side business and there’s no reason why it should threaten the great work you’re doing at your regular job. In fact, there are so many ways that it will actually enhance your work and make you a more valuable employee! 

If you’re thinking about starting a website on top of your regular job, I definitely encourage you to give it a shot. Just be sure that it’s something that won’t take over your professional life - unless that’s your goal.

Shameless plug: I’ve got a free 7 day email course called Launch Your Best Site that will walk you through the entire process of setting up a Squarespace website. Sign up for it at the bottom of this post or click here to learn more about what you’ll learn and the results you’ll get from this free course.

Now it’s your turn to tell me, do you have a job and a website on the side? How did that come about? Is your side website a money maker or is it just for fun? Do you have plans to build the website up so that it’s big and profitable enough that you can quit your 9-5? I’d love to know so leave me a note in the comments below!


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Charlotte O'Hara

Vancouver