What I've Learned From 9 Months as a Side Hustler
For those of you who don't know, a side hustle is referred to when talking about a business you nurture "on the side" to your full-time day job. At least, that's what it is for me.
I feel like in today's day and age, a lot of millennials think that it's sexy to have a side hustle or to be an entrepreneur, and don't get me wrong, it's fun, but it's also, maybe not as glamorous as one might think. But we'll get into that.
As the year is coming to a close and I'm getting more reflective, I thought I would be real and share my journey with you about how things are going and things I've learned thus far.
This a departure from the usual "how to" posts, but I thought it would be a nice change.
So, how has it been? Let me tell you.
It's funny, in the world of online business, and especially in the world of creative entrepreneurs, saying "side hustle" comes with understanding that you have a full-time job and also a thing on the side, usually a business. So when I told my friend that I'm keeping up with my side hustle she gave me this look and was like, "uhhh RuthAnn, you're not dealing drugs or something...?" Hahah, ohhhh man. No, in short. Just my little passion project, R Artspace.
So let's start from the beginning.
I started my business in March of this year after literally months and months of researching, watching from the sidelines, desperately wishing for the courage to one day make the leap and start my business.
When one day, it kind of hit me. I don't think I'll ever be ready, even if I think my website looks OK it can always be better, just DO IT. So I did. As the new year had started I was getting my stuff together with designing my website and brand and getting photos done.... all the things I thought I needed to start off on the right foot.
So, March comes along and I started R Artspace. I launched the website, my blog, and my services. As a side note, that same month my husband and I bought our first house, a fixer-upper, that required a lot of love and energy.
1. Don't Wait to be Found
So I had everything up and running and was confused. Where was everyone? I talked about this in one of my earlier posts.
I think I had it in my head that "build it and they will come" nonsense. And yes, it is nonsense. I just thought that if I provided good content, had a nice website, and offered a needed service that people would just find me. But, that wasn't the case.
Starting a new business is hard because no one knows about it.You have to tell them, educate them, and be passionate about what you do, and I struggled with this in the beginning.
It wasn't until I realized that you need to be actively involved with community to make your thing happen. And not to just to share your product and expertise but to build trust with people and get to know people on a genuine level.
2. Business is About People. Period.
So I had been blogging for a couple months, I was starting to get involved with Facebook groups and I started a business Instagram a few months later, I started my email list, and I felt like I was really diving into all the things.
But if you're not actively thinking of keeping your audience and your people at the forefront of your mind, then you're, by default, putting yourself in the forefront in your mind.
I admit, this was a struggle for me too. When someone would be interested in my services I automatically would spit out my price and hope they would book me. I wasn't making a connection, I wasn't trying to understand their business, I just wanted them to hire me. And that was a big mistake.
I've heard this phrase a lot lately, "people buy from people," meaning, people don't buy from businesses. People buy from people they trust. And the only way to build trust is to show you care, be kind, be genuine and truly solve the problem they come to you with. And the trick is consistency.
Consistency builds trust. You must be consistent with blogging, with social media, with showing up and being available, that's what builds trust. I failed at this too.
3. The Understated Prerequisite: Consistency
So when my husband and I were renovating our house over the summer, I was... stressed to say the least. After work at my day job I would meet my husband at the fixer-upper (during this time we didn't live in this house, we lived in a duplex), we would work by scraping popcorn ceilings, taking off old wallpaper, ripping up carpet, demo... the whole bit, we would grab a bite to eat on the way home and we would arrive at our little duplex exhausted. And on my end? Completely unmotivated. Especially when I wasn't seeing a lot of growth with followings and readership. No one would know if I was gone for a few weeks.
A few weeks ended up being about 6 when it was all said and done. We finished renovating and moved in and I got back into the groove. But not without losing the traction I had gained and momentum.
During those 6 weeks I did manage to stay in touch with my newsletter people, but even then, I definitely could have put more into that too.
The thing is, having a business on the side, is kind of impossible. I mean, not impossible because a lot of other people and myself are doing it, but having a business requires a lot of time, thought, planning and consistency. And those things are rare when you're giving your worst hours to your favorite thing. And that brings me to my favorite.
4. You've Gotta Love It
In order to keep the stamina, the consistency, the drive to have your side hustle thrive (and someday take you to self-employment) you have to love what you're doing.
If you're doing stuff just to get by and your heart isn't there, it won't be sustainable or enjoyable in the long run. That's why you want to make sure the thing you're doing is exactly what you want to do.
For me, I found that I love this thing.
I love writing blog posts. I love working one-on-one with people. I love branding and design and photography, but having a business is a lot more than what you're good at. It's figuring out what you're not good at and finding a way to make it work for you, not against you.
There's a saying that says "Focus on the things your best at, and don't give attention to the things you're not." Or something of that nature. Be great at what you do and basically hire out things that are out of your expertise. Bad things don't come from asking for help.
For me what that looked like, was purchasing a course that guided me through the ins and outs of my freelance business so that I can take it full-time. Sometimes admin details can get me a little crazy, so the course walked me through step by step of processes that should be in place and how to better streamline.
5. Change is Inevitable and Growth is Optional
So as I head into the new year I'm really excited. I have learned a lot from this past year and I hope what I shared today can help you too.
As a parting piece of advice wherever you are in your journey, I would say, don't be scared to change into a better version of yourself or things. When you do things that are new they're uncomfortable, but they grow you.
Taking risks is going to the next level with passion. This is a great journey. A fun one. And I can't wait to learn and grow more.
I would love to hear what you think of this post! Let me know in the comments.