This year, the side hustle is the new black.
Millennials around the country are tapping into their passions and monetizing their hobbies to find a sense of fulfillment that sometimes a 9-to-5 doesn't offer. Although side hustles have gained in popularity, the hustle isn't for the faint-hearted, especially when you are holding down a full-time job. Whether you start a non-profit, offer consulting services, or monetize your personal brand, there are sacrifices that are made to start any entrepreneurial endeavor.
Dreams are free, but the hustle is sold separately. Check out these tips from women who are successfully balancing and hustling their way to the top had to say about managing their side hustles.
Stop Procrastinating – Just Do It
Emmelie De La Cruz fell into her side hustle as her peers began to seek her advice on job hunting, resumes, and cover letters. "I was over answering the same questions about how I got my job and what did I do differently. I started The Branding Muse as a blog to answer those questions and from there, people followed my expertise through my written work and hired me for consulting opportunities. It's something that found me, but I felt there was a need for it," says Emmelie. With only a year after she graduated and launched her blog, The Branding Muse was named one of the Top 100 Websites for Your Career by Forbes in 2013.
Over-thinking, over-planning, and over-doubting are just a few ways we can get in our own way and slow down the process of bringing our ideas to life. “My advice is to just do it. If you have an idea just do it. As women, we have perfectionist syndrome. We always want to have everything perfect and, to me, perfection is the cousin of procrastination."
“In being successful as a side hustler, you really have to prioritize on your business fold. Focus on the activities that will help move the needle and go from there. For me, it's about what's going to make me money. I need to focus on the activities to help me do that. So if I want to sell more books, I need to focus on creating content that is going sell my books. Sometimes it's like, I haven't blogged in three weeks, but I sold 200 books. My Instagram posts are going to be about my books.
"Some people are like; 'I'm just going to blog. I'm just going to waste three hours of my week writing a blog post that I really don't want to write just because I read somewhere on the Internet that I should.' A lot of gurus talk about consistency, but, for me, I think it's more important to be valuable. My audience would prefer that I deliver a kick ass webinar every seven weeks rather than do a mediocre webinar each week. You have to learn how to accept that you don't have to pressure yourself into doing certain things in order for your business to continue to be successful," Emmelie says.
Master the Balancing Act
They say there's not enough time in one day. Juggling a professional and personal life is already tough, but adding in a side hustle can be overwhelming. Just ask Mercedes Smith, who got the idea for her side hustle, Care More, while commuting to work one day. “I noticed the homeless population was out of control. On my commute to work, I watched as numerous people passed the homeless as though they were invisible. I don't always have a dollar to give, so I thought to myself, what could I do to help and give hope," says Mercedes.
One hot summer day in August of 2014, she walked into Rite Aid and bought a bag of toiletries and started distributing toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, and lotions to the homeless, meanwhile offering words of encouragement and providing them with information to shelters or other resources. A year after founding Care More, Mercedes caught the attention of O Magazine and was featured in the October 2015 issue's “Beauty of Giving" article, which honored women who run non-profits and have dedicated their lives to helping others.
“You have to be passionate about what you are doing to devote the time. What I am starting to do now that things are picking up is when my full-time job is over at 6 p.m., I start working on Care More. If I have to take a phone call during the day for Care More, I put it on my calendar and use fifteen minutes to take a call. I also use 30 minutes of my lunch break to catch up on emails, research, and social media. What it boils down to is that you really have to be passionate. After being tired from working from 9 to 6, I have to remember it's more than me. There were times that I wanted to take a break from Care More, but what keeps me motivated is knowing that this is bigger than me," Mercedes says.
Part of being balanced means knowing when it's time to push pause on your yes year. “My number one goal going into (the new year) is learning how to say, 'no'. A lot of people will be coming to you to work with you, but you have to remember the cause. If it doesn't align with the vision or what you are trying to do then it is okay to say no."
Plan Ahead or Fall Behind
Brittany Smith is a Budget Analyst for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, also known as DARPA by day, and at nights and weekends, she is a wedding and event planner based out of the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area. "I've always loved weddings and the wedding industry and I've planned events since high school. I believed that launching my weddings and events business was the next organic step to pursuing my ultimate passion," Brittany says.
Her biggest advice? Plan for the business that you want.
“Planning, planning, planning is key! Your business will only go as far as the energy and time you put into it. You have to put in the hours. If you plan accordingly, you don't have to be an entrepreneur staying up in the wee hours of the morning and then report to their full time job at 8 a.m.," Brittany says. “I usually try to plan out my weeks the Sunday before and evaluate what I have going. Based on what I have going on that week, I plan out my wedding business hours accordingly."
What keeps her head up during times when she is overwhelmed is her faith and knowing that her full-time job doesn't fulfill her passion. “I know that one day I want to take the big leap of faith, pursue my business on a full-time basis, and not have to work for someone else. In order to do that, I know I have to keep putting in the hours to make my dreams come true."
Take Advantage of Apps & Hacks to Help You Manage
For all three ladies, the key to time management is taking advantage of technology:
“The more you can make your business automated and have it do things for you without physically being there, the more money you can make and the more successful you can be," said Emmelie. Mercedes uses Buffer to help her manage Care More's social media content. “You can take the guesswork out of manually spreading out your posts overtime. Buffer feeds your content into a cue that will automatically space out messages throughout the day with a preset calendar. You can also use the analytics tab to see how well each individual message is performing."
For Emmelie, pictures speak louder than words. “The Internet is a very visual space and visual communication speaks to the value of your services. Everything that I do is accompanied with a graphic. You can insert your product in a mock up photo or template if you don't have the camera or design skills. I use Canva.com for my graphics and Pixlr is another tool. They are free tools comparable to Photoshop that have templates to create graphics," Emmelie says.
“I use Fiverr to find the resources to do things that I'm not good at. Be cognizant of what tasks you're good and not good at. If you're not good at doing something and you have the finances to outsource that responsibility to an expert, do so!" Brittany says.
“Evernote, you can create digital notebooks for everything from keeping track of your expenses and managing your calendar, to creating slideshow presentations and planning your next trip. Whether it's personal or business expenses, keeping track of receipts is impossible for even the most organized of people. By creating one of Evernote's digital notebooks, you're able to screenshot your receipt right after payment, making it easier to locate expenses in the future," Mercedes adds.
What are some tips that you have about balancing your side hustle?
Originally published December 18, 2017