How a Side Hustle Can Help Your Career

Matt Hobbs explaining side hustle

Millennials are officially generation 1099. That is, the generation of the side hustles, contract gigs and freelance work. They are the group that receives a stack of contract tax forms at the end of the year — whether it’s for extra money or to work toward a bigger dream. Millennials make up for a large portion of the gig economy and more than one-third are independent workers, according to a recent report from freelance management platform, Spera.‘s Matt Hobbs is one of those hustlers. He’s the Director of User Experience at the e-commerce company and leads an in-house group of designers, writers, producers, and developers to create creative advertising video display copy and promotional materials. But at night, Hobbs switches to rockstar mode as a songwriter and composer. While they may sound like two completely different career directions, Hobbs shares that “there are tons of similarities in the creative processes of UX design and music; both processes create some kind of art or product that you hope will connect or have some impact on the user or listener.”

If you’re considering a side hustle to take your career to a whole new wavelength, read on as Hobbs shares more about how he manages his time and how it has helped his career soar.

matt-hobbsHow do you prioritize design over music when working?

When tackling the work week, it really depends on what’s lined up. My day job gets first dibs for my waking hours and my weekdays. Sometimes that’s all there is to it: a solid 45-hour workweek, and I’m left with the rest of the time for myself or other tasks. Sometimes the day job extends much further into nights and weekends – it just depends on what’s going on at the office. And in those times, everything else takes little bit more of a back seat.   

On the other hand, let’s say there’s an average amount of day job busy-ness, there are a lot of different musical things that could be happening in terms of side hustle music. For example, if I’m working on a musical at Dads Garage, I’m in rehearsals most weeknights and a few weekends for about a month. That would take up the bulk of my non-day job time. When there’s a big music project in the works, I have to be very specific and purposeful and how I schedule my non-day job time to get those tasks done. Sometimes that’s easily 25 to 30 hours a week of music alone on top of a full day job schedule. But from my experience, even if it’s a midnight 6-hour recording session after a 10-hour work day, it doesn’t feel like work when you’re doing something you love.

How does music influence your interest in UX design and vice-versa?

I think my experiences making music have definitely helped shape my approach to UX design work. Being a musician at Dad’s Garage has exposed me to some pretty cool workshops on writing and improv. The goal of much of the work we do at Dad’s is to build a cohesive narrative story, one step at a time, for an audience to enjoy. It’s taking subjective ideas or inspiration and putting them into a structure to deliver the value you want to deliver.   

I think the high-stakes, fast pace environment at has helped me be a lot more productive and efficient in my artistic side hustle efforts. For example, when you pay money for studio time or you have to get a recording to deliver before a show, it helps to be organized. Working at has helped me prime those efficiency and organization muscles, so often times I’m the guy who ends up sending out action items to everyone after a rehearsal or studio session. Both in my day job or in side hustle, it’s super important to communicate with the people you’re collaborating with and give them the context they need in order to be successful.  

matt-hobbs-1Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs trying to get their side project off the ground while at their full-time job?

My advice is to really take the word “side hustle” to heart. It is, in fact, a hustle. While it can super rewarding, it could feel tiring at times. It could feel frustrating at times. And don’t be surprised if it takes a really long time for your efforts to bear fruit. It’ll take more than just your talking about it to be successful. Often it’ll require waking up early, and self-initiated reading/online courses instead of day-drinking and Netflix. You have to be willing to sacrifice the time from somewhere else in your life, even if it’s missing out on social activities to go sit in a coffee shop and grind out side hustle work instead.

Also, make specific goals.  This requires knowing what you want (which isn’t always the easiest task). I’d recommend to have a specific goal in mind, and then identify the tasks and sub-tasks under that goal, the steps that put you on a well-planned, clearly-focused path to your goal.  Then write everything down. Use Trello or put whiteboards in your bedroom. If people think you’re crazy for having all your crazy plans and schemes written down and visualized by your bed, then you’re probably doing something right.