3 Biggest Lessons from 2 Years as a Side-Hustler
This month marks 2 years since I started R Artspace. It’s a little crazy to think about. It started as a side-hustle and that’s what it is today but I’m not as worried about it as I was back then.... Ok, maybe it comes and goes… but at this moment as I’m typing this, I'm feeling pretty good.
In this post, I want to share how the past 2 years and end with the biggest lessons I’ve learned thus far. If you’re a side hustler I really hope it encourages you and helps you get some perspective and if you’re already in the job you love, then I hope you can still get some tips for mindset and practical ways to market.
So, let’s dive right in.
When I say I started my business, I mean I started blogging. And with that, I also had a biz name and I had a website and logo.
I had high hopes for when I started. Ya know when someone from the outside looks in and it looks “so easy”? Well, that’s the mentality I had when I started. I thought it would be easy. Booked out in 6 months? No prob!
The wake-up call came. Quick. This was going to take a lot of effort on my part. But, being the resolute person I am, I went forward in sheer determination.
The first 9 months, was slow, I’ll just say it. I did a couple logos here and there and some little projects but nothing substantial but I DO remember getting those first projects and being elated. Logo design for $200?! I was living the dream!
The month I started my business my husband and I also bought our little fixer upper. So I remember Fawad and I going to the house after work, painting, scraping, setting, sanding… whatever needed to happen, then we would go home (still living in our apartment) and I would blog into the night.
We had a lot going on. We finished the upstairs renovation and moved into our home in June. It was a whirlwind summer but I was so happy to be living in our first home and blogging and working on my business on the side seemed about right.
When the new year hit I wanted things to be different and I focused a lot of my time and energy into laying the groundwork and for most of 2017 I took on branding clients. But you know what they say (if you're a solopreneur), while you're working with clients, you're not really marketing. So when you get done with clients you need to start marketing to get more clients. It's one of those egg/chicken scenarios. So when I wrapped up my final project in September I decided to take a little break. Honestly, I was exhausted keeping up with my day job and marriage and life.
So in the fall I decided to take a break and realized I needed to do things differently, or at least I needed to niche down to serve a segmented audience. I found that I was marketing to everyone and anyone and so that’s who I was serving. But I wanted to specialize and serve a particular audience. It was during the fall that I decided to shift marketing to primarily makers and artisans and also I shifted my services as well. Also in the fall I created my first ever course, had beta testers and revised it. Internally, it was a very productive season, but also one that was radio silent from the outside looking in.
This spring I launched my course, I'm working on consistency in my marketing, I have honed in on my niche and I feel like I’ve started over in a lot of ways. Shifting your market can take time to get to be the expert or go-to but it’s a work in progress I’m getting used to.
So... ALL that to say, it's been a journey. It's been exciting, exhilarating, exhausting– all the "e" words. Let me share with you the biggest lessons I’ve learned, in hopes that it can inspire or help you in some way.
1. Change is good
One of the best things you can do in your business is change. Early and often. You don’t want to get stuck in the rut of familiarity and routine. You want to grow and evolve your business–ALWAYS!
My husband told me once, the minute you stop changing your business dies.
I think there’s a lot of merit to that. And I'm talking primarily about marketing tactics, services and how you communicate with your audience. I DO think it's smart to be consistent, but if a platform isn't working for you, move on! If you're not getting any leads from your website, change it up! It's OK to try new things and to keep evolving and see what works. That's the name of the whole game.
2. There's no such thing as "ready"
What I mean by this is, a lot of us are perfectionists. We want things to be perfect and to be beautiful. But I can tell you from experience that a lot of time is wasted in between "this is ok" and "this could be better."
When it’s OK, just put it out there. The more time you spend on “tweaking” a project the more time is taken away from people and interactions.
And also, the faster you can put something out there the faster you can get feedback and make changes.
3. Make connections early and often
Having a business you work on in the late nights and on the weekends can be lonely and I don't think we're meant to go at it alone.
The sooner you can reach out and make friends the further along you will go. People have referred me, shared my work, and most recently when my course launched they helped promote it. Not that you should always expect a friend to do things for you, but real connections can take you very far. Further than if you could go alone.
Not only do connections help move your business forward, they help you feel understood, encouraged, and apart of something greater than you and your laptop.
Put yourself out there
Say hello to people you admire or people who are in the same course as you. Facebook groups is always a good way to get to know people, but I prefer Instagram. With Insta you can get more dialogue time and message people if you want. Facebook can get crowded to me and can seem overwhelming at times.
Take a chat offline
I LOVE doing this. It’s kinda my favorite thing. I’m naturally a people person so it’s a little easier for me than others, but when you have a connection with someone don’t be afraid to suggest a phone call or a Skype chat. Those are the best when you can develop more of a friendship when you meet with people offline.
These are some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in this journey and there’s still lessons to learn and hurdles to jump over but I’m so happy to have come so far and to share what I’ve learned with you.
However long you’ve been at your journey, tell me one thing that’s been the thing you’ve held on to or the biggest lesson you’ve learned. I can’t wait to hear!