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9 ways to balance a full-time job and a part-time side-hustle

“I’ve got a side-hustle.”

“I can’t go out for happy hours; I’m busy growing my side-hustle.”

Has anyone said this to you recently? The business of having a side-hustle is growing.

If you’re scratching your head wondering what a side-hustle is, it’s merely work you’re doing in addition to the work that pays your bills. Usually, this is in addition to a 9-5.

I had a few side-hustles for several years while I worked in management consulting. There are a few great reasons to do this, and many of these held true for me:

  • A steady, regular, and predictable paycheck
  • Testing out a new industry with zero risk—if you hate it, just stop
  • Making extra money—hello Paris vacation, and goodbye collection letters from the IRS
  • Ramping up to leave your full-time job

My first side-hustle was writing a vegan blog and sharing minimalist lifestyle tips. It was a passion project that turned into a paid side-hustle. The food blog turned into cooking workshops, private cooking classes, speaking gigs, cookbook features, and custom meal plan development.

I was having a ton of fun. Until I wasn’t. I was growing my vegan cooking business on the side with the hopes of someday leaving my consulting job and doing it full-time. I started feeling less and less excited about talking about food. I also stopped being vegan, so I’d either have to shift focus from tofu to bacon or drop it.

I chose to drop it.

I hadn’t quit my job, so steady money was still coming in. There were a few years in there where I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I knew management consulting wasn’t IT for me.

This led me to do some soul-searching and reading every self-help book on finding myself and work I loved. At the same time, I said yes to projects at work that sounded interesting. These were always above and beyond my job. But saying yes to writing internal company communications introduced me to writing directly to people. I had to write things that people would want to read. When I hit send on a newsletter to 500 employees about it being national tortilla chip day, I knew what I wanted to do.

I wanted to be a copywriter for entrepreneurs and startups.

These were typically more creative people, or they were in tech and got to take a creative approach to their writing. I grew this side-hustle while I continued working my full-time job with the goal of one-day quitting. And that “one day” was roughly a year away.

There are so many wonderful reasons to side-hustle, but I have to tell you, there’s a lot to lose.

For me, this meant keeping my full-time job, running a household, keeping my school-aged kids happy and fed, and being a wife. I wish I could tell you I was successful at all of these things simultaneously. I learned a lot though, so I’m sharing this wisdom and experience with you to help make your side-husting feel good.

Here are my favorite practical ways to keep from losing my shit while having a side-hustle and a full-time (often demanding and requiring me to work plenty of evenings) job.

 

How to balance a full-time job and a part-time side-hustle:

1. Understand your why
Ask yourself some key questions:

  • Why do you want to start this side-hustle? Is it because you hate your day job? Is it sucking the life out of you? Or, do you crave time freedom, to be able to pick up your kids from school and eat actual food at an actual table?

  • What do you want it to look like next year? 5 or 15 years from now?

  • Do you want to quit your day job or is this just a passion project for extra money?

  • If you do want to quit your job, what will your days look like if you take your hustle full-time?

2. What’s your end goal?
If you’re planning to quit your current full-time job, when do you plan to quit? This question might feel a little scary as you imagine a totally different life than the one you’ve been building, but having something to work towards will give purpose to all the activities that come along with growing a side-hustle.

3. Use every bit of extra time with intention
If you have a commute, maybe you can work on writing your website copy while you sit on the train. If you drive to work, use this time to listen to audio books about building and marketing a new business or about your specific industry.

If you have some extra time between meetings or during your lunch break, use this time to do some research or some networking in your new business.

4. Plan some downtime
Especially if you’re a working mom, it’s all exhausting. Working a full-time job is tiring, as is everything that comes along with motherhood.

When you have a full-time job and commit to working a side-hustle, you need to ward off burnout before it even has an opportunity to take hold of you, grab you by the neck, and choke you to death. Okay, I’m being a little dramatic, but this is because I’ve been there. I’ve experienced burnout while just having a 9-5. It looks like insomnia, getting fat, not being able to think clearly, and blowing up on people you love and care about.

You can’t pour from an empty cup, and you’ll put both your day job and your side-hustle at risk if you’re not careful.

Schedule a day or two a week to do nothing. Yes, literally, plan nothing work-related. Unplug, have fun, stare at the sky and watch some cloud shapes float by.

If you typically work on your side-hustle in the evening, take some time to recharge first. Eat dinner with your family, go to the gym, watch some Netflix, read a few pages of a juicy book, take a nap, then get back to your hustle with renewed vigor.

5. Schedule everything
If you’re disorganized, you’re going to walk through your days feeling frazzled and scatterbrained. Don’t do that. Make a schedule and follow it.

Figure out how much time each week you can dedicate to your side-hustle, then put that time on the calendar. Even if it’s just 30 minutes a day while you sip your coffee in the morning, that time adds up over weeks and months and can help you create a thriving business.

You might need to log a few hours on the weekend and very likely in the early mornings and evenings. If you’re married, work with your partner to carve out a few hours on the weekend when you can run to Starbucks, or they can leave the house with the kids for a few hours. If you put this time on your family calendar and honor it, they will too.

6. Set the stage with your family and friends
For me, this meant having a conversation with my kids, “Kids, you’re going to see Mommy working on my laptop a lot more over the next few months. I’m doing this on purpose so that I can spend more time with you when I quit my job and work full-time from home.”

They nodded and said they understood.

7. Prioritize your to-do list
Time can either be your friend or foe. Make the most of every second by prioritizing your top tasks for each day. If you know you have an hour in the evening to do your work, what one or two tasks are “musts” to complete if you want to move your side-hustle closer to your end goal? List these out, and focus on achieving only your top 2-3 priorities for the day. I promise this will leave you feeling accomplished and like you’re making great progress toward your goals.

As you’re working, you’re probably going to have a dozen other ideas pop into your head. Keep a running list of all your to-do’s in Google Docs or Evernote, and pick items from that list as you have free time and make your way through your top priorities.

8. Use your full-time job to get better at your side-hustle work
In my case, I was very fortunate that I got to spend time in my day job writing internal communications and doing change management consulting. This meant I logged tens of thousands of hours working directly with clients and writing—the things I’d end up doing plenty of in my freelance writing business. Depending on your 9-5, see if there are tasks you can take on that will lend themselves to your side-hustle, or if you can take additional training or workshops. Maybe this means developing project management and planning skills, writing skills, time management, and networking.

9. Be grateful
While it might be tempting to grumble about your jerk boss or drama-ridden co-workers, or the never-ending flow of emails—don’t. Look at every opportunity as a chance to practice a new skill or interact with a new kind of person. Those challenging coworkers are practice for dealing with contractors. Your douchy boss is practice for dealing with less than remarkable clients. That 10-page report, million dollar proposal, or sensitive email are all chances to flex your writing skills. Something you’ll need a lot of skill in when you work on your side-hustle. And, at the very least, be thankful for your full-time job for giving you a steady and predictable paycheck that’s helping fund your dream.


Starting a side-hustle while working full-time is no easy task. But it’s so worth it.

Creating long-term goals, making time to rest, creating a schedule, setting priorities, and leveraging your full-time job will help you make the most of your time during this stage in your life and get you to where you want to be.

Read more about when I quit my corporate job to dive face first into writing. 




 

7 compelling reasons why you need a blog if you're an aritst

“Words hurt my brain.”

“I’ve never really thought about writing or blogging much.”

“I suck at words.”

These are the actual words of artists. Really freaking great artists. These are the artists and crafters who are ridiculously talented at what they do. They are the experts. They’re actual, real artists.

These artists aren’t starving, but they’re not making millions. If only they could get their art “out there” or "hit that big break."

Your art needs words.

Words are art too.

The easiest way to complement your art is to wrap it in some words.

If you’re an artist and you’re not blogging, you might be missing out. Here are some reasons why:


1. Sell more art and make more money
Unless you don’t care about making money. If you don’t care about making money then you have a hobby. Not a business. There is absolutely zero shame in wanting to make money. Money supports you and your family and can help you make more art.

Customers aren’t flocking to your website and online portfolio because Google doesn’t know how to read pictures. It knows words. If you start blogging, art-loving people will start finding your website, discover your work, throw all their dollars at you and you get to be a crazy-haired artist making like a maker in your workshop til 2 am with pleasure.

2. Strategically sell your work
Maybe you have an oil painting that’s been taking up too much real estate in your workshop or gallery, and you want to get it out. You can write a series of blog posts about this piece—what you were thinking when you painted it, show the progression of your work, and talk about the meaning. Then, link to where people can buy it. You’ll have better chances of selling it this way than having it leaned up against your workbench.

3.Connect with your customers by showing off your personality
I know, I know. I’m an introvert too, and I could happily sit in Starbucks all day long typing away on my MacBook with earbuds in my ears and only glancing up at the humans around me every 20 minutes.

People want to connect with makers of things. When you can create a connection with your customers and let them in on who you are, what you care about, and little details of your personality and home life they feel like they know you. People buy more from people they know and are more likely to spread the good word to all their friends. Because they want to be associated with the likes of you and your art.

4. Explain your art
If you’ve stood at a booth at an art show, you had a great opportunity to chat with potential buyers about your work. When a passerby says, “Oh, I love that piece.” I bet you went into explaining the details about it, what it means, what was happening in your life that prompted you to make that piece of work. I know this because this is what I do when I look at art. I want to talk to the artist. When friends compliment your work that’s hanging on my walls or my necklace, I want to be able to tell them all about the meaning behind it.

There’s no need to overthink it. Even if you have a description of your work, you can go deep in any direction.

5. Writing about your art will make your art better
There’s something to be said for creative cross training. If you sing, try painting. I know I can show up at a blank page more fully if I’ve been doodling or painting recently.

6. Blogging will keep you accountable
If you have a hard time finishing paintings if you share your progress each week on your blog you might be able to stay on track and put the finishing touches on more pieces of work. You can also track your progress each day and compile all the progress into a single blog post. Your blog readers will get some insight into just how much time and meticulous effort goes into each piece.

7. You can inspire others
You’re an expert at your craft and are constantly refining your skills. Imagine you eight years ago. Wouldn’t you have loved learning from someone who was just a few years ahead of you? You have your mentors, and you can be a mentor to a lesser-experienced mentee. You can teach some of your skills in your blog and then branch out into teaching workshops and make more face-to-face connections.


If you start blogging today, you’ll be amazed by this time next year. Getting started is hard. I liken it to getting that first brushstroke on a blank canvas. As time goes on, you’ll get better, you’ll have more readers, and you’ll sell more art. And selfishly, because I love reading about artists, I want to read your blog.

Will you tell me when you launch your blog so I can be your biggest fan? Have questions about starting a blog? Email me!

How to write a sh*tty first draft

That book you just put down last night.

The blog post you read on the train.

The online course you finally finished.

They all have one thing in common. They started as a shitty first draft (SFD).

Pretty much everything you’ve ever seen written started as an SFD.

If your writing flows from your fingertips perfectly, error free, no pesky dangling modifier or other grammar offenses then you might not be human. But really, if this is you, I’d love to know—maybe you can teach me your ways.

Most writers, myself included, are intimately familiar with the SFD. This blog post was an SFD. I wrote the first draft in 20 minutes while listening to this song on a sunny afternoon while watching the chickens free-range around the backyard.

Things you need to know about the SFD:

1. Get it out as quickly as possible.
This is the point. Try not to overthink it, just write. You’ll go back and edit later. The stuff you don’t edit is the stuff of journals.

2. You're going to edit.
When you revisit your SFD, ideally after you’ve stepped away for either a few minutes, a day, or even a year, you’ll have fresh eyeballs and be ready to edit.

3. It's supposed to suck.
When you revisit your SFD, you might wonder, holy rooster, this piece of work is terrible! What was I thinking? Sometimes SFDs never see the light of day or anyone’s inbox or the pages of a book. And that’s okay. That’s the whole point.

4. Write when you feel like it.
When I get a stroke of inspiration, I’ll write a fast and furious SFD and revisit it later. Sometimes “later” means in a few months. When it comes time for me to publish a new blog post or start a big book project, I’ll review all my crappy first drafts and see what inspiration I can draw from there. Talk to any writer, and they'll tell you the gold is in the editing. 

5. It's going to morph.
Sometimes an SFD turns into something entirely different than I had planned. Sometimes it ends up as a PDF download or even an in-person workshop. Sometimes it will live forever as a draft.

6. Like the exorcist, it just wants out.
The SFD wants to get out of your head and onto the page.

 

If I go on, this post would be way longer than necessary. All you need to know is sit down, shut up, and just let the words fall out. 

 

Need to edit your SFD? Here are my favorite ways to edit my work. 

Simple tricks to be your own editor

You’ve spent two hours writing your latest blog post. You read it over like a dozen times and hit publish. You share it proudly with your readers and on Facebook, and sit back and wait for comments.

Yay! You got one, someone is reading! They pointed out that you made a spelling error.

Panicked, you rush to fix it right away and hope no one else noticed.

You proofread your work, but why is it so hard to make it perfect?

First, get over being perfect. Even though I have a process for catching little mistakes, they still end up published. Most people don’t notice, and if they do and they let you know—thank them and move on.

I write thousands of words a week for clients and my blog and book projects. I don’t have an editor or proofreader sitting right beside me to say, “Hey, can you take a look at this please?”

Instead, I have a few tricks that I’ve been using for years. Use this self-editing process on important emails, your website copy, your latest blog post, and your book. I highly recommend getting fresh eyes on your book—don’t try to go that one alone!

 

Here's how to be your own rockstar editor:

1. Drop it like it's hot, then pick it up again.
Walk away from your writing for 5 minutes, an hour, or even a week. Take a walk, eat lunch, play with the dog. When you return to your writing, your eyeballs will be fresh.

2. Amp up your spellcheck.
If you’re using Word, there’s the basic spellcheck, then there’s checking for slang and passive voice. (Hint: avoid passive voice, it waters down your writing). How to turn on passive voice checker: Display the Word Options dialog box, click the Proofing option at the left side of the dialog box, Settings, then make sure there’s a checkmark next to the Passive Sentences option.

3. Use a free (or paid) online tool.
I used the free version of Grammarly for years and loved it. I eventually bought the paid version for about $130/year. You can install a browser extension so it will check every word you write online—that’s emails, Facebook comments, blog comments, and more.

It finds more than just spelling mistakes. It’ll flag wrong words, passive voice, split infinitives, and those pesky dangling modifiers. The only downside—I use Google Docs for all my writing, and there isn’t a Google Docs extension (yet), so I just use the app to check any writing I do in Google Docs.

4. Print it out.
When we hold some text in our hands, it’s easier to spot mistakes. If you feel bad for the trees, use both sides, or reuse the back of those pages for notes and grocery lists.

5. Review it in a new format.
Try changing the font or font size—it’ll look different to your eye, and you’ll be able to spot mistakes easily

6. Read it out loud.
I do this all the time. If it sounds weird to say out loud, it probably reads funny too.

7. Read it backward.
When you’ve become familiar with the flow of an article, you know what’s coming next. Review one sentence at a time, starting with the last line until you get to the beginning. I promise you’ll catch some mistakes!

 

Take these tips and become your own best editor. If you get stuck, cleaning up word vomit (my client's words, not mine), get in touch. I can help!




 

Your opening line - how to make your blog post stand out

When you start a blog post, how many times do you write the first few words, then the first sentence, then decide you don’t like it?

I get it—I do this a lot.

The first few words of your blog post are part of your first impression. After the title, it’s what makes your reader want to keep reading. Your opening line can make or break your blog post.

Maybe you’re frustrated because you’ve just spent 20 minutes coming up with a killer title for your blog post, and now you have to worry about the opening sentence? I know, I know. I promise it gets more natural with practice.

Here are some tips to kick off your article to give your reader the momentum to keep reading:

1. Ask a question

If you got this far, I did an excellent job at getting you to dive into this blog post with the opening line. Notice how I opened this blog post? Starting your blog post with a question is a conversational way to pique a reader’s curiosity and make them feel engaged.

2. Look at the facts Jacq

Make sure your stat is both relevant and correct. The only thing worse than using a statistic to grab your reader by the shoulders to get them reading is to give bad data. If the statistic is interesting, unique, or maybe even shocking, you’ll nudge your reader to pay attention.

3. A famous or direct quote

At least when you use a quote, you don't need to come up with the right words. Digging for a quote can end up time-consuming though, so I recommend keeping a running list of quotes that have caught your eye. I use Evernote or Google Docs for this, and a plain notebook if I’m not at my computer. When using a quote, make sure it’s directly relevant to your blog post, and you attribute the quote to the right person.

4. Paint a picture with words

Give your readers a mental image to get their imagination fired up. You can do this by stating off with statements like, “imagine you’re,” “picture this,” “do you remember?”

5. Use a picture

A picture is worth 1,000 words, or at the very least, it can replace the first 30 words of a blog post. I prefer to use my own images in my blog posts and on my site. Stock photos are just so—stocky. If you have an artistic side, maybe create your own illustration. A picture should add to your story and help you stand out.

6. Get to the point

Readers don’t have time to sift through your 800-word blog post to figure out the point of your article. Do your readers a favor and tell them right away. “Wine is the lifeblood of humanity,” or “Smoking is killing you.”

 

Now, how do you end this thing?