Traditional jobs are no longer the sole source of income for many.

According to a recent Bankrate study, more than 44 million Americans are engaged in some type of ‘side hustle’ income endeavor.

While younger people (age 18-26) are more apt to choose this DIY moonlighting option, those nearing retirement (age 53 and older) tend to be paid nearly twice as much for their side hustle efforts.

As digital marketplaces multiply, and as more companies expand their use of contractors, new work opportunities are emerging.

Launching a side hustle gig now could be a wonderful way to transform a lifelong passion or work specialty into a profitable business venture. Best of all, it could usher in a future work downshift that could generate income well beyond your 60s.

Freelance Gigs Provide More Financial Peace-of-Mind

In today’s still fragile economy, staying at one firm for most of your career is quickly becoming a thing of the past. New York Times bestselling author Chris Guillebeau describes the side hustle as the new job security.

“It affords you the ability to decide,” says Guillebeau. “When you receive multiple paychecks from different sources, you’re no longer dependent on the whims of a single employer.”

In Guillebeau’s latest book, Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days, he shares a roadmap to select, launch, refine and make money from a side hustle in less than a month.

When I first read that book title, it sounded too good to be true. But as I dove into this book, what impressed me most was the precision and care the author applied to help readers navigate each step of the side hustle launch journey.

Even better, Guillebeau chunked down a rather lofty goal into four more manageable weekly steps:

  • In Week 1, the focus is on building an arsenal of ideas.
  • In Week 2, the focus shifts to selecting your best idea.
  • In Week 3, it’s all about preparation for liftoff.
  • In Week 4, it’s time to launch your idea to the right people.

If you’re intrigued, this book would be a good place to start exploring what’s needed to successfully launch a side hustle gig. But there’s one more trend that’s full of promise for the side hustle nation…

The Contractor Workforce Is Expanding

In today’s disruptive business world, the need for just-in-time talent across many industries is surging. As new customer needs bubble up, often with little to no warning, current staff sometimes lack the agility or bandwidth to acquire new skills fast enough to keep up pace.

Hiring a contractor like you who can apply your well-honed knowledge, skills and experience in a part-time capacity makes sense for many businesses.

This contractor approach often starts as a stop-gap solution, but these arrangements have been working out so well that many firms now sustain a flex contract workforce that can be tapped as needs arise.

According to a new NPR/Marist poll, at least one in five jobs in America today is being performed by a contract worker. What’s even more surprising is that while business needs are a significant trigger, surveys show that most contractors are opting to go freelance by choice.

Economists say the percentage of people in “alternative work arrangements,” which includes freelancers, contractors and temp agency workers, is rising at a faster pace than traditional work arrangements (full-time employment with benefits).

Within the next decade, many believe that contractors could outnumber employees.

Longevity Is Prompting a Phased-In Approach to Retirement

With people living longer, running full throttle in a traditional job and then stopping abruptly at age 65 no longer makes sense – for the individual, for the company, or for society at large.

A better option: How about a more graceful and gradual downshift?

Higher education has been among the first to embrace a phased retirement approach for their faculty. Once a goal year is established, a professor’s class load would lighten a bit with each passing year.

This arrangement allows faculty the opportunity to stay engaged in work they enjoy over a longer span of time, but at a much more leisurely pace.

Shifting to the corporate world, employers and employees have tended to hold their cards close to their vest regarding retirement, but that dynamic is changing, too.

Could now be the time to explore how you might scale your current full-time job into a future side-hustle contractor arrangement?

More people are happily advancing down this path, but keep in mind – you’ll need to have a strong track record of performance to get serious consideration. You’ll also need to think through the logistics of such an arrangement and clearly articulate the benefits for your employer.

How about you? Are you pondering a future side hustle gig? What appeals to you most about this type of work arrangement? Please join the conversation and share your thoughts.

Donna KastnerDonna Kastner is founder of Retirepreneur, a collaborative community for professionals in their 50s and 60s, striving for a smooth segue from full-time job to part-time consulting practice. Through articles, videos, podcasts and workshops, Donna’s ushering in new conversations about blending work and retirement. You can visit her website here, or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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