Are You Up for a Second Job? The Rise of Moonlighting and 'Moonpreneurs'

moonlightingWhen Dan Nainan was a senior engineer with Intel Corporation (INTC), he traveled the world with CEO Andy Grove doing technical demonstrations on stage at events. But he was nervous about speaking in front of crowds, so he took a comedy class to help himself get over his fears. Then, the comedy thing took off.

Today, he's a professional comedian who has performed at three presidential inaugural events and recently at the Kennedy Center. But in this economy, his corporate bookings have fallen off, and he's had to turn back to technology. "I had to do something else to maintain my level of income," says Nainan who says he charges $75 an hour for computer consulting, which brings in about $1,500 a month.

"Fortunately, my comedy shows require me to fly places, mostly on weekends, and perform for no more than one hour, so I have a fair amount of free time during the week to pursue this second job, says Nainan.

He's not the only one juggling. With U.S. unemployment continuing to top 9%, just having a job is enough to make many of us feel grateful. But one job isn't always enough. The new order of the day for some is creativity, combining two jobs to make a livable salary.

Moonlighting has new appeal for people who can't make it on one salary, or who don't want to trust their fate to one employer and desire the security of multiple income streams. The newly identified category of "moonpreneurs" have full-time jobs and start businesses on the side. A recent Elance survey found that 36% of responded were starting or operating a business while working full- or part-time traditional, onsite jobs; 35% of independent workers on Elance had begun freelancing to earn supplemental income.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons -- i.e., because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time position -- rose from 8.4 million to 8.8 million in August, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Make Moonlighting Work for You

For the last three years, John Herndon has worked by day as a consultant to four clients, and by night as an accounting and finance professor at California State University-East Bay. He offers this advice: "Don't work simply for the extra paycheck. Money as a motivator is ultimately a self-defeating concept. Money is great, but if you don't get up in the morning motivated for the work you will be doing, then you are doing the work for the wrong reason. To keep you going, there must be a reason and that reason must have significance to you or the paycheck is worthless."

Beyond the obvious boost to your budget, Herndon says moonlighting can increase your "brand equity" or reputation in your industry.

Michael Podlesny worked full time as a software engineer while launching Mike the Gardener Enterprises in Burlington, N.J., an online retailer of vegetable, fruit and herb seeds, and home to the Seeds of the Month Club. "It's very rewarding and challenging," he said. "I learn new things almost daily, not just in business, but in talking to customers and other professionals in the industry."
What's key to moonlighting success? "Organization," says Podlesny. "In order to juggle a full time job, plus being married plus having two children, you have to be organized. Plan out ahead what you will be doing for the day, the week, the month, even up to a year if possible. Write everything down that needs to get done, then do as much of that list as possible before leaving for work, on lunch breaks or after the kids go to bed. It's not easy."

Ross Kimbarovsky, who worked full time as a corporate lawyer while he was co-founding crowdSPRING, which among other services offers web and logo design, couldn't agree more.

"If you fail to plan, plan to fail. There will be aspects of your life that will suffer, so plan ahead what you are willing to give up and the time you're not willing to give up. If you have kids and hobbies such as reading, running, watching movies and traveling, you will have to re-evaluate your time," he says. While that advice goes for the moonlighter as well as the moonpreneur, he offers a couple of specific pointers for the moonpreneurs.

• Be frugal. People are either too frugal or not frugal enough, says Kimbarovsky. "Spend money to make sure your side business can run, but don't spend on unnecessary items. Where possible, trade skills with others, but never barter for equity for your side business."

• Be realistic about cash flow. "If you have savings to spend on your side business, be realistic because if you do transition to spending all of your time on your side business, the cash flow will change and you need to adjust accordingly," says Kimbarovsky.

Be Sure Your Significant Other Is On Board

James Hussey was working 60 to 80 hours a week in his day job doing marketing for his brother's business, when he got the idea to bid for freelance writing work on

"I'd come home from work and bid on gigs at Elance and complete my work at 2 a.m. during the work week, and even later on weekends. On top of that, I was publishing WordPress websites as an affiliate marketer, selling physical products by getting traffic from my SEO efforts," says Hussey, who taught himself how to do many of those tasks on the fly.

"How did I manage? I have a stellar wife," he explains. "Her mom had several strokes after our seventh child was born. My wife took care of our family, plus her mom."

Only you can evaluate if you're up for a second job. Weigh the benefits against the negatives, and if it makes sense for you, go for it. Says Nainan. "The average American who works full-time watches something like 30 hours of television per week.Cut back on television and partying and you'll find the time to spend on a second job."

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I have a full-time professional job and work a few hours a week at a non-profit on the side. Have done so for the past six years. One of my coworkers runs an internet retail business. We do these additional jobs because we enjoy them. The second paycheck is a nice bonus. For each of us, the two jobs are not related either, so there are no "non-comptete" issues to to deal with. It's amazing what you can find profitable to do when you purposefully decide to watch significantly less TV than the average American.

September 16 2011 at 3:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


I'm not smart enough to be a member of the Tea Party. I’ve heard that it’s like being a Mensa Member.

Can a senior member of the Tea Party please tell me why there aren't millions of jobs in the U.S. of A. given the fact that George W. Bush gave massive tax cuts to the job creators. I heard that a lot of the jobs we're created overseas. Is that right or is that a lie from the liberal press? Also, have the Koch Brothers (your sponsors) created any jobs within the United States recently? If so, how many lives were shortened by them skirting environmental laws?

September 14 2011 at 11:41 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

nice job detail. thank you for share.

September 13 2011 at 3:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


There are so many ways to make money nowadays. Are you cashing in on the online markets? The rich are, and they won't show you how. WE WILL!!!

Google the term "Simple Stock Cash" and click on the Top ranked non-ad site! Go to the Penny Stock section to find out what the rich do not want you to know.

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September 13 2011 at 9:04 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Are you nuts? A second job? Instead of forcing us to get a "second job", why don't you write an article about the greedy moneygrubbers who are forcing us into this situation? This story is a complete, un-American confidence breaker, and you know it!

September 12 2011 at 11:54 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
5 replies to Steve's comment

know what you mean at one point I was working 3 jobs and this was before the economy went south the 1st time. I had no one to support but me and I didn't buy a lot of things I bought groceries and a vehicle, private party no loan, and still struggled to make ends meet.

September 12 2011 at 9:11 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

What about the 20 million Americans who don't have a first job?

September 12 2011 at 7:38 PM Report abuse +10 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dabrownman's comment

I'd say it's closer to 30 million counting the ones that gave up looking for a job at all.Manufacturing jobs aren't coming back to this country anytime soon. Obama will piss the money away to his cronies anyway. 2012 is not that far off. His main intentions do not include putting America back to work he's all hot air.

September 12 2011 at 7:45 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to janswizz's comment

Obama continued the Bush tax cuts that were in place for 10 years because he was afraid that additional jibs would be lost not that any jibs would be created. What a bunch liars these anti tea drinkers are. They are pathological and must think that folks are stupid like them that they think no one actually knows the truth anymore.

September 13 2011 at 5:37 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down

Manufacturing is almost gone in this country. Obama's mission is almost accomplished.

September 12 2011 at 7:02 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to janswizz's comment


Hey Miserable old fXXk... I imagine the 5% unemployment , AAA credit rating weren't good enough for you. You can always volunteer to send your check to "The Organizer" as he is trying so hard to bankrupt this country!!!!

The rectum pro speaks again.

September 12 2011 at 6:54 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply

A second job? You mean a third job, don't you?

September 12 2011 at 5:41 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply