My career as a blogger and content creator was an accidental one, borne during maternity-leave in 2010 (I was a screenwriter and TV Director at the time) and it is one that has survived a decade, transforming mine and my family’s lives in the process.
Setting up this blog has been both an emotional and economic lifeline for me. It helped me to rediscover my voice and repair my broken confidence after a traumatic birth with my first son, Oliver and continues to stimulate me in its 11th year.
Back then, post by post and tweet by tweet, I formed a new identity as a creative mother and miraculously to me at the time, provided me with a flexible job which didn’t require heartwrenching compromise when it came to raising my son. I no longer had to slog away for 12 hour days on set, away from the most important person in my life.
What started as a means to share my new life and simply write (something I’d done since my first diary, age 7), became a 6 figure business with a freelance team of mostly parents.
Now, a decade on (it takes 10 years to become an overnight success as Jeff Bezos famously said), I run a full-time business in part-time hours (my dream come true from day 1) utilising my skill set as a writer and director to storytell online through the written word and moving image.
I’ve felt priviledged to work with international household brands and creative heroes from Kim Catrall to Jamie Oliver; to consult for clients and write a book: MUMBOSS (my manual in how to create a personal brand. It is released under the new title of The Working Mom in the US and Canada on February 1st 2021. Another bucket list gratefully ticked off.
If I can do it, so can you.
Creating an online business has never been more important than it is today as we battle these economically-challenging times. Digitisation is accelerating due to the pandemic so now is the time to upskill and seize the opportunity to transfer your business/ work online and consider making your side-hustle, your full-time job.
I spoke about this subject matter in a live session for The British Library’s Start Up Day which inspired this blog post and my tips below (you can view the video from the day at the end of the post). The BL’s Business and IP Centre is bursting with resources to help you to upskill and launch a business so do check them out. Now for my advice…
My 5 top tips on how to make your side hustle your full-time job
Strategise and Focus
Commit time and energy to your side hustle, working smartly (don’t burn out) around your current job/ responsibilties. Trust that consistent graft, a commitment to learning/ honing your voice and promoting your business, will achieve results.
Working on a side hustle with the security of your day job is the most sensible way to proceed in my opinion but if you are starting out, give yourself a period of time to test out your new business model. Always number crunch. Work out your living costs and how much you can potentially save as a cushion if your business needs time to recoup.
Ideally, make the leap when your side hustle has consistently proven to make money so that you feel secure enough to pivot. In my case, the jump happened fairly quickly thanks to maternity leave (which I’d saved for making it easier to pivot) and by my second year of blogging, I was earning a full-time living that exceeded my previous income.
Utilise your transferrable skills
Pin-point how your current career might be able to support your side hustle and tap into those opportunities be it mentorship, training and existing contacts. After my BA in Media and Communications at Goldsmiths’, University of London, I worked in advertising and received 6 weeks of intense sales training that has proven invaluable throughout my varied career. While I quickly realised I didn’t want to stay at the ad company and I enrolled on an Masters course in Screen Drama, that time taught me how to sell, and once you can sell effectively, you can sell anything.
Even if you’re unaware of it at the time, you really do learn in every single job and role you’ve had.
After my MA, I started out as a Runner in the film industry and was soon assisting an in-house laywer at a well-known film company, garnering invaluable insight into contract negotiations and Intellectual Property/ rights. I was also a Script Reader during that time and even ended up developing projects for the company, learning everything about the industry from script to screen, budgeting and press and advertising. That period taught me how to accept and embrace rejection and criticism, leading me to become thicker-skinned and more resilient.
We often forget the experience we have accumulated and what we have to offer so do consider writing a list of the transferable skills you currently possess and note what you can do today, right now, in order to build upon those skills to help your side-hustle grow and thrive.
Become slick on social media
Your digital platforms are your living CV, they depict your values as much as your credentials do so everywhere you ‘live’ online from your website to Linkedin, Pinterest and beyond need to reflect your character and professionalism. You are who you appear to be online so remember that if you ever feel the urge to rage-tweet. People, brands and the press are certainly watching however novice or established you deem yourself to be.
Social Media accelerates visibility so use it wisely and prolifically to reach and connect with your target audience. Check out the #journorequest and #journorequests hashtags on Twitter for press opportunities and always include links to your own site and socials in articles you contribute to, on social media and your own blog, leaving a digital trial and potential click-through opportunity where possible (without being spammy).
Get your paperwork in order
Register yourself as a limited company for the greatest security (it limits personal liability and creates credibility and trust with those who buy and work with you). Hire an accountant to handle your business affairs if you can.
I’ve left the most important point to last for emphasis. Whatever your business or brand, you must storytell. People are interested in people: human stories. Depicting emotion on screen is universal and will resonate.
Include a blog on your website regularly sharing your journey and expertise, attracting readers/ potential consumers. This content will also importantly help your business to be indexed/ rank in search engines providing visibility for your work, and do blog at least once or twice a week for the greatest SEO benefit. Give away your knowledge for free along with tips and advice so you can earn the trust of your readers and the press, eventually becoming a thought-leader in your field.
It is all possible!
For more advice, do check out my bestselling book MUMBOSS.
Here’s the video from the Start Up Day.