Once upon a time, you graduated, got a job offer, and stayed put for most, if not all of your working career. How times have changed! Today, it’s not uncommon to relocate a few times, change career directions, take time off to raise a family and return to work in a different capacity – all within the span of a few years. It’s also become very common for many professionals to have a side gig – and RDs are no exception.
A side gig is work that’s outside of your regular day job. It’s an opportunity to add to your income, and perhaps just as importantly, it’s a way to enhance your job and fuel your passion. For many RDs, having a side gig is both personally and professionally rewarding. While you can work part-time for someone else as a side gig, quite a few savvy RDs have started their own side businesses for a variety of reasons. Here are four who agree it’s the best thing they’ve ever done.
For Megan Boitano, an RD who launched a private practice in 2017, her side gig was born out of necessity. After spending too much time scouring the internet to find educational handouts, forms, and templates for her practice, she realized the best resource was other dietitians. With no experience in website design or online sales, she started RD2RD, a successful online marketplace where other RDs can buy, sell and share educational resources they’ve created. RD2RD is a win for both Boitano, and the RDs who sell products on the site, as both earn a commission on each sale. It’s free to open up a store on the site, so if you’re creative, have a flair for design, and are handy with Canva or PowerPoint, this might be an entry into your own side gig.
For quite a few RDs, side gigs feed their entrepreneurial spirit and end up turning into full-time careers. Suzi Fisher, an RD whose nutrition experience includes 15 years as a digital meal plan consultant is one such entrepreneur. She decided to take the leap and become a business owner herself two years ago when she started Fisher Nutrition Systems. She feels strongly that her previous position with a large online meal planning company aligned her with the right people and taught her the ins and outs of what she needed to know to run her own business. For anyone who is passionate about their work and is thinking about going solo, a side gig is a great stepping stone. It’s easy to get overwhelmed at the thought of starting a side business, but Fisher’s advice is to just move forward. She explains, “Too much information can actually lead to inactivity and immobility.” She also stresses the value of connecting with others. “There are amazing mentors out there – you just need to ask,” she says.
Maintaining a side gig is also a great way to stay afloat financially if you’re between jobs or relocating, or to stay invested in your profession when you’re taking some time off to raise a family. Ana Reisdorf, a Nashville-based RD has a diverse background in clinical nutrition, long term care, health education, and university teaching. She always enjoyed writing and did it on the side for 6 years. After her son was born, she knew she couldn’t manage full-time employment but also didn’t want to be a stay-at-home-mom. “Writing gave me the flexibility to make my own schedule to be there for my kids, while still having something of my own,” she explains. Two years later, Reisdorf’s side gig has turned into Ana Reisdorf.com, a full-time health and nutrition writing business which she says she loves for the flexibility, the challenge, the income, and the connections she’s made. She states, “It’s propelled me into a leadership position in the RD community in ways I never even knew were possible.”
If you’re curious about how to start a side gig, or what opportunities might be available, check out RDN Erica Julson’s resources at The Unconventional RD. Another entrepreneur at heart, Julson wanted to create an alternate career path through blogging and an online business. She didn’t have a community of like-minded dietitians to connect with, so she started her own as a hobby and a way to document her attempts at earning money online. What started as her side gig has turned into a community of more than 6,000 dietitians who also desire full-time, part-time, or side businesses that generate passive income. Julson has created and sells several online courses through her website and her Facebook community is a source of information and inspiration.
For these RDs and countless others, having a side gig changed their lives by opening doors to new opportunities and connections. It doesn’t matter if you start a side gig for additional income, as a hobby, or to explore a different aspect of your profession. They all agree, having one is a great way to be creative, enrich your professional experience, and discover new opportunities. And you never know what might come of it down the road.