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8 Physician Side Gigs to Increase Your Earning Potential

Looking for creative ways to increase your income? You’ve come to the right place!

In this post, we’ll go over the benefits of working a side job for physicians seeking new, creative ways to increase income, a.k.a physician side gigs.

With the ever-changing landscape of healthcare reimbursement, ballooning interest rates, and the increasing cost of living and student loan debt, having additional sources of income has never been more important for physicians. 

Side gigs will not only lower financial stress but also allow you to reach your financial goals much more quickly. It is a great way to diversify your income so you can set your own schedule and have better control over your time, money, and practice. 

Let’s dive in!  

 

What is a Side Gig?

A side gig is a part-time job or business that you do on “the side” to bring in supplemental income beyond your shift work. 

A side gig could be something you’re passionate about, skilled at, or interested in. The extra money you make from your side gig could be anywhere from a couple of hundred bucks to thousands of dollars.

 

Why a Side Gig for Physicians?

Even physicians could use a little bit more money. 

Whether you’re trying to pay off your student loans, mortgage, or planning a family, it’s always good to have money stashed for a rainy day.

Here are common reasons why every doctor should have a side gig:

  • Increase income
  • Financial stability
  • Diversify career options
  • Develop new skills
  • Enhance work-life balance
  • Independence

Increase Income

Whether paying off debt today or saving money for the future, increasing your income via side gigs is a great way to reach your financial goals faster.

Imagine a world where you make an extra $30,000 a year on the side by investing in real estate or answering medical surveys. How would that change your life and finances?

By having a side gig, your financial growth is not limited to your salary as a physician. 

 

Financial Stability

No one wants to be a slave to their jobs -not even the most dedicated physicians.

Like most people, we want to know we are not at risk of financial ruin should we decide to leave our jobs or lose our ability to practice.

The importance of financial stability becomes even more glaring when considering the number of loans an average doctor has.

U.S. medical student debt has been climbing and is over $250k on average by some estimates

Side gigs can provide you with an exciting opportunity to take control of your finances and stability. 

 

Diversifying career options

A side gig allows you to explore different career options outside of medicine. 

I still remember having my first side gig- I’ve never felt more in control of my career.

I started with telemedicine to supplement income before transitioning from a W2 role at a larger hospital. That boutique telemedicine has been one I’ve worked with for many years and has been a terrific steady-state option allowing me to take on other entrepreneurial pursuits.

Indeed, having a side gig placed me more in tune with my finances by acknowledging that I needed more passive income. 

Enhancing work-life balance

A side gig allows you to balance your medical career with other interests and passions. This type of balance can help prevent burnout and increase overall satisfaction with one’s work. 

 

Develop new skills and knowledge

With a side gig, you’ll learn new skills and knowledge that can benefit your medical career or lead to new career opportunities. Many friends have left medicine by taking on a side gig that evolved into new jobs. When I see them these days, they agree that they are happier. 

 

Independence

A side gig can provide a sense of independence and control over one’s career path.​​This opportunity can liberate physicians seeking meaning and purpose beyond conventional medical careers. It’s a chance to take your skills in medicine and apply them in ways that expand your sense of fulfillment, both for yourself and others.

Overall, having a side gig can provide several potential benefits for physicians, including increased income, diversification of career options, work-life balance, skill development, and empowerment.

 

8 Great Side Gigs for Physicians

 

1. Locum Tenens Work

Locum tenens fill contingent or temporary staffing needs for other physicians in various healthcare facilities. Often these are places where someone is on maternity leave or has left the job.

Locum tenens can be a lucrative side gig, especially for certain specialties. Medical outpatient specialties generally pay less than procedural or inpatient roles.

On average, across all specialties, physicians who work locum tenens full-time make about $32.45 per hour more than permanent-only doctors. 

 

Expected Earnings

Here are the average locum tenens pay ranges for some of the most popular specialties, according to Locumstory.com:

  • Family Medicine jobs: $90 – $125/hour
  • Hospitalist jobs: $140–$190/hour
  • General Surgery jobs: $1,100–$1,400/day
  • Emergency Medicine jobs: $100–$300/hour
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology jobs: $100–$140/hour
  • Psychiatry jobs: $180–$210/hour
  • Neurology jobs: $1400 – $1600/shift

We suspect these numbers are not entirely accurate as we’ve seen  IM and Neurology which are nearly 2x these numbers. 

 

Time Commitment

The beauty of locum work is the flexibility

Most hospital-based physicians work seven days on and seven days off. But with locum work, you can choose between a weekend, five days, or a seven-day block coverage.

The total number of days you work is totally up to you! This flexibility has such value that many physicians flip to doing full-time year-round locums work.

This flexibility allows many physicians to take months off if they elect to do nothing but locum tenens work. 

Related: Locum Tenens Physician: A Comprehensive Guide

 

Pros:

 

Flexibility

In some ways, working as a locum tenens provides physicians with a level of freedom similar to FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early). You can choose when and where to work, with the flexibility to take extended breaks, travel to different locations, and work in various places both nationally and internationally.

Travel

Locum tenens allows healthcare providers to work in different locations and environments, allowing them to explore and gain experience before committing to a permanent position. A flexible schedule can also lead to more time with family or for vacations and an opportunity to visit places you would not usually see. For example, I love landscape photography, and I used locum tenens work to get me near a location of a national park near Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

Pays well (but don’t forget about taxes)

Locum tenens positions pay well from day one. It also provides additional income opportunities, such as call coverage and overtime hours. Travel and lodging expenses are reimbursed, and per diems are provided for meals and incidentals. 

(Don’t forget that 1099 and W2 taxes are different, so even though 1099 seems more lucrative, W2 may be better on a post-tax basis when accounting for self-employment payroll tax at ~15%)

Being a locum tenens provider, you can choose your benefits. As an independent contractor, you can start a solo 401(k) and choose any investments you wish, allowing you to save up to $58,000 tax-deferred in 2021.

 

Cons

 

Your benefits will be a DIY endeavor

Locum tenens providers are responsible for their benefits, such as health insurance and retirement plans, and do not receive paid sick days or PTO.

You are responsible for finding and paying for your own health, life, and disability insurance. A solo 401(k) can help you save for retirement while reducing your tax burden, but you won’t get any corporate match or profit-sharing program.

Freedom isn’t free

When negotiating a contract through a healthcare staffing agency or independently, it’s essential to consider that your temporary employer typically has the right to cancel your job with short notice.

Locum Tenens Pay Can be Bested

Locum work can be financially rewarding with hard work. But, it may not match the pay of experienced salaried physicians in private practice who have reached a partnership level with their employer. Even though locums can be advantageous for new graduates, the most lucrative jobs will belong to those who have reached partnerships in private practice.

Travel

There are two sides to the coin for travel. Committing to locums can often mean travel and includes locations that are often rural and more difficult to get to. This time is not compensated per se. Travel delays during the winter mean lost income due to no fault of your own. 

Pro-tip:

Locum agencies often take a significant cut, so ideally, going directly to a hospital can be the best approach. We’ve seen our colleagues pay rates of $500/day or more by negotiating directly. These gigs are called per diem and bypass the usual locum agency because you would have to negotiate directly with the hospital and get paid as a W-2. 

 

2. Medical Surveys

As a doctor, you have valuable experience in patient care, medical products, and healthcare services. Market research firms are willing to pay for your professional opinion on healthcare matters through quick surveys you can complete on your phone. Though the pay may not be as much as working shifts, it’s an easy way to earn extra money.

 

Expected Earnings

The amount you can earn with surveys can vary depending on several factors, such as how many surveys you take, how much each survey pays, and how quickly you can take them.  

Hourly rates range from $60-$300 per hour, and it’s possible to make $1,000-$2,000 monthly if you make an effort. Some people have shared with us that they have made $30,000 in a year from taking surveys. Given that you can do this work between patients or during a no-show, adding income to regular work is pretty convenient.

 

Time commitment

Medical surveys for doctors can vary in pay and completion time, with longer surveys typically paying more. You can complete most physician surveys online, providing flexibility in completing them from anywhere.

You can’t take surveys all day, but it’s a quick and easy way to make money during downtime.

 

Pros:

 

Medical development contribution

Physicians’ participation in paid medical surveys contributes to medical research and development progress. 

The impact of these surveys goes beyond just the doctors like us, but also affects other healthcare professionals, patients, lawmakers, pharmaceutical, and market research companies. You can play a crucial role in advancing medicine by providing real-world insights.

High dollar per hour

Often, a short survey pays much more than a typical salary compared to an hourly rate.

Flexible

You can complete the surveys anywhere and anytime.

A way to advocate for your patients

Top pharmaceutical companies use physician surveys to understand their patients’ experiences with their products. 

Your survey participation can provide valuable feedback on prescribing habits, patient usage, and attitudes toward the company’s products. By sharing important information, you can advocate for your patients through paid medical surveys.

Knowledge about the latest medical market research and treatments

Medical surveys will allow you to keep up with the latest medical market research and treatments, which can help you better treat your patients. 

Protip:

Medical survey companies often provide gift cards and do not provide 1099s. Although, you’re required to pay taxes on any gift above the IRS threshold. 

 

 

Cons

Inconsistent earnings

Surveys are easy to find, but completion and quality of work require dedication, making it difficult to develop a consistent salary.

 

Unpredictable time commitment

It’s hard to predict with certainty how long these surveys are going to be. Also, the screening criteria often weed people out (it can feel frustrating not to get paid for the work you put into answering the screeners, I’ve been there too!) 

 

Related: Top Paid Medical Surveys in 2023

 

3. Telemedicine and Video-based consultations

Many physicians offer their services online through telemedicine platforms or video consultations to provide medical advice to patients who cannot visit their clinic. This side gig has become more in demand due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

 

Expected Earnings:

The approximate national average is $234,507. But, the average income can differ significantly depending on the physician’s specialty, the location within the United States, and the amount of work one chooses to undertake. 

The states with the highest earning potential, namely New Jersey, Hawaii, and Massachusetts, offer an hourly salary of $97/hr or more, roughly 15% higher than the national average. 

Many variables play into what you can make (specialty, experience, location, shifts that you are willing to work). For example, working at Teladoc, which is one of the largest Telehealth companies out there, can result in significant variability in salaries (from $225 to $331K per year).

 

Time commitment:

Doctors providing telemedicine have completed their time commitment and can schedule video consultations according to their preferences. 

This flexibility allows physicians to work outside normal business hours and leverage different time zones to increase earnings. 

The best part is it cuts out the transit to and from patients and can be more efficient- just like radiologists don’t have to wait often to read the next scan.

 

 

Pros 

Convenient

This type of work can easily be done from the comfort of your own home. You just need a quiet spot without distractions and allow others to hear you clearly. 

Maximize visits and consultations

Depending on which company you elect to work for, many providers have hectic shifts, which can be very lucrative if paid per video consultation.

Flexible schedule

Flexibility is the name of the game for job satisfaction. Many companies like Teladoc provide flexible scheduling for providers. Since they are available 24/7 then there are shifts during the night that are available. 

They offer several choices -weekend availability and weekdays or both. 

Location independent

The only tool you need is a laptop, good internet, earphones, and a quiet place which makes this job ideal for working from almost anywhere!

 

Cons

Technology and video cart issues are still common and annoying

In response to the Covid-19 health crisis, many health care systems developed quick solutions to provide patient telehealth care. Today, many of these telehealth platforms are still around, but many need to improve to provide a good experience for the physician. For instance, clinical workflows in some locations remain inefficient, resulting in physician dissatisfaction with the experience. 

Regulations are confusing

Many different state medical boards have different licensing requirements that can be difficult to navigate. 

You have to be licensed in the state you provide telemedicine services and credentials by the healthcare system in the state you work for. Getting your license and credentials can make onboarding excessively long. Sometimes, it can take months to be properly credentialed across state lines. 

Can’t perform certain exams using virtual consultations

RNs perform most exams while you watch. Certain parts of the physical exam require trust that the RN can do the exam properly. 

Lower pay compared to in-person consultations

Many agencies pay per consultation or video call. So if you have any downtime while awaiting a consult, you do not make money during that time. 

Can’t always follow up with patients for treatment since they may not be local

Once you perform the telemedicine service, there rarely will be any follow-up in which you will participate. This can make you feel that the care you provide is incomplete.

 

Pro Tip:

When looking for telemedicine opportunities, consider that your time and shift work is aligned with your time commitment to provide access.

Rural telemedicine can be a poor experience if insufficient volume and income is not guaranteed. On the other hand, covering too many facilities for acute telemedicine can also be challenging without a strong backup. 

 

4. Asynchronous (Chat-based) Medicine

Over the past few years, there has been a shift towards asynchronous medicine, where patients can now enjoy chat-based visits instead of traditional in-person visits. 

Companies that offer these types of services pay physicians to work with their patients on an hourly or per-patient visit. 

For example, Curology, a company that provides dermatological prescriptions over chat, hires asynchronous medical professionals to consult their potential clients. 

Other companies like Mindbloom are working on providing access to easier ketamine by delivering it to their homes. 

For primary care physicians looking for side gigs, 98point6 and Blueberry are two companies focusing on primary care providers.

Here are some of the companies you can work for if you’re considering this side gig: 

Company Focus
Hims and Hers Men’s sexual health (moving into other categories such as women’s health and mental health) 
Ro Health Men’s sexual health (moving into other categories such as women’s health and mental health) 
Calibrate Weight loss and metabolic health
Curology Skin care
Lemonaid Urgent care (i.e. birth control, UTIs)
98point6 Primary care
Blueberry Pediatric care

Time Commitment:

A few hours a week to full-time

 

Estimated Earnings:

With asynchronous medicine, you can get paid hourly or by the patient. Average earnings are somewhere in the $125-150/hr range, depending on the contracting agency, specialty, and region of work. 

 

Pros

Convenient

Doing this work during the “opportunistic spaces” of clinical care is easy. For instance, you can do this side gig if you work overnight in a slow emergency department or have significant no-shows.

 

Cons

Repetitive

Reviewing a narrow set of conditions, whether for sildenafil or prostaglandin for eyelashes, is not necessarily fulfilling.

The companies need to provide a low-cost experience which means that patient throughput is prioritized (sometimes to a fault as in the case of Cerebral Health)

 

Pro Tip:

These are great opportunities for those starting to practice and fill in otherwise difficult work. It is also great for people who cannot travel to locums due to having a young family.

 

5. Medical Writing and Editing

Another way you can make extra income as a physician is by using your knowledge to write or edit medical materials for publication in academic journals. 

Medical writing involves combining scientific and writing skills to create materials related to healthcare. This skill increases in demand as healthcare evolves.

Our friends have worked on writing TV shows to multi-million dollar grant proposals. The possibilities are endless!

 

Time Commitment:

The time involved in being a medical writer depends on the project. Projects, where you are a writer for research grants or are an outside medical consultant on a research, can be anywhere from 3 months to 6 months and do not include review cycles. 

 

Estimated Earnings:

In the US, the median annual salary for a medical writer is $93,842, with a salary range of $63,000 to $137,000. Hourly rates typically range from $30 to $65. Virginia, Arizona, and California are the top-paying states for medical writers, with average salaries of $110,658, $108,945, and $106,026, respectively. Biogen is the highest-paying employer for medical writers, with an average salary above the industry average.

Pros:

 

Creative expression:

Writing provides a unique outlet for creative expression that you may not find in medicine.

Builds Credibility:

Writing can help you build credibility and lead to paid opportunities such as speaking engagements.

Technical grant writers can make a great income with a track record. When applying for academic grants, I’ve gotten support from a grant writer who initially charged $200/hr. But, only a few years later, once they’ve built an incredible track record of helping researchers, they have increased their rates to $400 and a minimum commitment of $10k!

 

Cons:

 

Hard to find consistent work 

The market has many great writers with great portfolios of work, so it takes work to break into this market initially.  Hence, networking is an essential part of gaining success as a medical writer. 

Need a portfolio and body of work

It’s not who you know but who knows you, and that begins with having as many eyeballs on your writing to help build your reputation and entry into a market where it is hard to network. 


Pro tip:

Using Upwork.com and other marketplaces is a good way to build a portfolio and client base. We’ve used these sources to build a track record, charging competitive rates initially to establish ourselves during the early stages.

 

6. Legal Consulting

You can provide consulting services to healthcare organizations, insurance companies, or other medical businesses. Additionally, you can collaborate with lawyers or law firms to offer medical expertise in healthcare-related legal cases. You can also work as an independent contractor or for a consulting firm.

To become a medical consultant for the Medical Board of California, you must meet specific requirements, such as being active in practice, having a minimum of three years in practice, being board certified, or having peer review experience.

 

Time commitment:

The time you need to spend on this side gig will vary depending on your clients’ needs.

 

Expected Earnings:

Medical consultants have the potential to earn a substantial income, although the figure varies depending on the location. The Economic Research Industry reports that the mean annual salary for a full-time physician consultant is $379,412, or $182 per hour. Moreover, this average salary is projected to increase further, possibly reaching $439,843 per annum by 2025. Building a track record in your field or a given niche can help increase your hourly rate from $100s to $1000/hr

The challenge of this work is that it can be very tedious for some people, given the chart review rigor needed. Depositions can be stressful, and trials more so despite seeming lucrative at the outset.

Pros:

Develop expertise as you consult

Some consulting requires complex thinking and a review of current societal guidelines. 

Stay on top of trends in the field

Medicine constantly evolves, and medical consultants must stay up-to-date with the latest research, technologies, and treatments.

Flexible Schedule

Many medical consults consist of chart reviews that you can do at your convenience.

 

Cons:

 

Hard to get a consistent book of business

Consistently getting work in this field is very hard since the amount of work depends on your expertise in a specific field in medicine. 

Sometimes project-based consulting requires extra commitment on top of clinical work

Project-based consulting can require extra work and research that may conflict with your clinical work. Meetings with other consultants, managers, and lawyers complicate flexible scheduling. 

Depositions and testifying can be difficult to schedule around if you are clinically busy as it creates a tradeoff

Most consulting work is based on written reports about a medical chart, medication, or product. Sometimes, you must testify or be deposed by lawyers, which can be long and stressful. 

Being an expert can be problematic

Being too well-known is a dilemma as lawyers often want a ‘Goldilocks”; of experience – not too much, not too little, but just enough. If you’re too well known, you’ll look biased and opportunistic. 

 

7. Health Coaching or Wellness Coaching

You can help your clients improve their health and wellness as a wellness coach. 

Wellness coaches guide clients in identifying areas for improvement, setting achievable goals, evaluating nutrition needs, and developing wellness plans. You’ll educate clients on effective techniques for making lifestyle changes. 

This complements the traditional medicine we learn and practice providing more space to support other parts of healing that are just as important as symptom and medication management.

 

Time commitment:

The time commitment for freelancing can vary depending on the clients and the type of work. Freelancers have the benefit of choosing their clients and creating their schedules. If you decide to keep your full-time clinical job you 

Expected Earnings:

A wellness coach can work for a company or independently as a self-employed coach. 

As a doctor, you can independently enter coaching without working for a company. However, this could come with the headaches and challenges of building a business alone. 

The expected earnings can vary whether you are employed as an independent contractor working for a company or working on your own on an “eat what you kill” model. Realistically, this side gig is mostly as part-time work to supplement your main clinical work. Please keep this in mind when looking at potential yearly salaries. 

According to Indeed, you can make from $40k to $ 80$k per year working as a wellness coach, which can supplement your income as a physician.

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Pros

Rewarding

There is incredible satisfaction in making an impact on someone’s health while at the same time doing it on your own terms. 

Interest in holistic health

Well-being coaching often includes a holistic approach to health and well-being, which considers physical, emotional, and mental well-being. 

Entrepreneurship

Many wellness coaches work for themselves, enabling them to develop their brands and create a schedule that works for them. Wellness coaching can be an excellent opportunity to continue your practice while creating a business.

 

Cons

Finding consistent work/clients can be difficult and take time

Like any new business growing a critical mass of clients can take time. Also, competition is everywhere. Which raises the stakes in this career path. 

Variability in income can be stressful

Wellness coaching as a business has many variables. Location, available hours, type of niche, money spent on marketing, etc. These variables are difficult to predict and hence can result in variable income. 

Constantly need to find new clients

Today’s clients have many choices and there is a natural and expected turnover of clients. Great wellness coaches are always marketing to grow their client base. 

Must meet clients’ needs/expectations

Clients are very educated and have high and sometimes unrealistic expectations of wellness coaches. They may disagree with medical professionals and want different advice. 

 

8. Real Estate Investing

Real estate can be a great way for physicians to generate passive income and reach financial independence. 

There are many different types of real estate investing, and the type you choose would depend on your capital, risk tolerance, available time, and experience. 

For anyone starting, once those priorities are defined, it is best to consider how to counterbalance the portfolio as you build it over time. You may initially invest in multifamily real estate, then move into commercial or industrial. 

 

Estimated Earnings

Because there are multiple ways you earn money in real estate, your earnings can vary from several thousand in additional income to millions of dollars. This is all about what you put in and the risk you decide to take. Some markets recently favor equity appreciation (i.e. Miami, NYC, etc.) whereas others are cash flow-centric (Memphis, Cleveland). Ultimately, defining your goals around equity, leverage, and cash-on-cash return is important so that you can determine the best approach as you start out. 

Time Commitment

Real estate can be both a passive and an active investment.

For passive real estate investing, you can put money into investment vehicles like publicly-traded Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), real estate crowdfunding, and Real Estate Investment Groups (REIGs). These investments are considered passive because you are not responsible for the day-to-day operations of the investment.

By putting capital in these real estate investments, you can earn a share of any recurring income and profits made when the project is sold without actively managing the property. 

Active real estate investing requires you to spend time on your investments. That means, as an investor, you are responsible for the property’s management and operation, and the success of the investment depends on their efforts. Some examples of active real estate investing are buying and holding single-family homes, purchasing vacation rentals, fixing and flipping, or repositioning an older building. 

Acquiring multifamily properties is a strategy that can be either passive or active. Although you can manage these properties yourself, you can also make them passive by hiring a property manager.

 

Pros

Profit from equity appreciation

According to the Federal Reserve, the median sales price of houses sold in the U.S. has experienced a significant surge of almost 239% over the last two decades.

By investing in single-family rental (SFR) property and holding it for an extended period, you could potentially benefit from the appreciation of equity, provided that the property is properly maintained and the 40-year trend of escalating home prices persists.

Save money on taxes

Real estate is a great way to reduce taxable income due to the following:

  • Depreciation
  • 1031 capital gain reduction
  • Income deduction with Real Estate Pro Status
  • Cash-out-refinance liquidity not taxed

 

Cons

Capital intensive

Investment property loans usually require a down payment of 20% or more of the property’s purchase price. Apart from the down payment, you should also factor in closing costs and future capital expenses, such as roof replacements. I’d also advise holding up to six months of operating expenses and mortgage payments in a reserve account.

Liability risks

As a landlord, you are susceptible to being sued by tenants, guests, or contractors who sustain injuries on the property. To reduce potential liability, you can hold their properties in an LLC, obtain a landlord insurance policy, and require tenants to purchase renters insurance.

Illiquid

Unlike other investment assets, you cannot easily and quickly sell real estate. Even in a robust seller’s market with a high demand for properties, it could take over a month to close escrow after an offer is accepted.

Leverage

A notable reason to consider real estate is leverage. However, in a down market where prices fall, leverage can hurt more. 

Additionally, investing in SFR (Single Family Rental) property is not risk-free. While the 40-year trend of escalating home prices suggests that property values will continue to rise over time, there is no guarantee that this trend will continue indefinitely. Economic downturns, changes in local housing markets, and other factors can all impact the value of your SFR property.

Often friends of ours who favor equity investing point out that one could use leverage in currency or equities too. However, over time a real estate portfolio can be moved to non-recourse, which is not feasible in equity investing. 

As you move from wealth creation to wealth preservation in your FIRE journey, it’s crucial to contemplate risk and recourse over time in real estate. 

Many people were wiped out by mismanaging leverage in 2008 and 2023. Those who purchased interest rate caps during COVID have done exceptionally well in 2023. We know of investors who have made seven figures on an interest cap payment alone! 

Conservatism looks bad in a bull market but brilliant only after the fact.

Overall, investing in SFR property can be a smart long-term investment strategy, but it’s important to do your due diligence and carefully consider the potential risks and benefits before making any investment decisions.

 



 

Conclusion

There you have it, the different ways you can make extra money as a physician and why.

A side hustle can come in many shapes and sizes, from consulting to real estate investment. You’ll need to consider the different factors, such as time availability and risk appetite, that come into play when deciding which side hustle is right for you. 

As with any endeavor, there will be difficult times along the way. However, you can easily overcome these difficulties if you remain motivated and concentrate on the potential advantages of having a side hustle. What are you waiting for?

 


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