How 3 Career Women Manage Their Successful Side Hustles With Full-Time Jobs

This year, the side hustle is the new black.

Workin' Girl

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.

Courtesy of Emmelie De La Cruz

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.

Courtesy of Mercedes Smith

“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.

Courtesy of Emmelie De La Cruz

“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.

Featured image by Shutterstock

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Originally published December 18, 2017

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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