The Importance Of Maintaining Your Creative Side Hustle

by Mar 1, 2017

Thinking of starting a side project? Not sure if you have the time? Here Emma Jane Palin discusses her own side hustles and how to keep yours going.

A couple of weeks ago I was asked by multitasking mogul, Sian Meades to speak at a Creative Londoners event about having a creative side hustle. After an inspirational evening speaking alongside the wonderful Kate Young and Frankie Tortora, I began to wonder why I hadn’t ever written about the topic before. To Work or Play is the perfect example of three women with a creative side hustle and these days it’s hard to come across someone who isn’t doing something on the side of their day job.

For those that don’t know me so well, here’s a little about me. I’m a design PR executive by day, a design blogger by night and a freelance writer (for the likes of TWOP) wherever there’s a spare five minutes in the day. On top of that I also help to run a design blogger network, We Blog Design, to encourage and support both new and old bloggers as well as organise events for them all to meet up at. Oh, and did I mention that I also illustrate a little here and there? 

Life is busy, yet I can’t imagine it any other way. I’m not entirely sure how I want to progress in my career so instead I’m learning new skills and developing all my passions, exactly at the same time. Who knows where I’ll be in ten years’ time? In any case, I’m sure I’ll still be working fourteen hours a day and looking for the next thing to keep me busy – it’s just a part of my nature. How about you? What’s that thing that you do on your spare time?

One of the key things that came out of the Creative Londoners evening, is that some people just aren’t sure how to efficiently use their time. Kate, Frankie and I all tried to give a few tips on how we make things work and I’d like to think they went down pretty well, hence my decision to share them with you today. Keep on readin’ for some tips and tricks!

Get your loved ones involved
Your friends and family are your initial support for any side project that you might be developing. These are the guys that are going to talk about your side project at first and if you can get them really excited, your message can easily spread far and wide. One of the easiest ways to get them on board with your side hustle, is purely by involving them. Discuss it with them, ask their opinions and get them raring to tell everyone all about what you’re up to. This also allows them to understand those times when you’re not around due to commitments and to be supportive rather than confused when times are tough. One of the best moves I made was to really get my boyfriend involved with blogging and take him along for the journey. He attends events with me when I think they’ll interest him (read: when there’s free alcohol) and he enjoys looking at architecture while I’m snapping street art. His involvement means that he’s a little less annoyed when I’m working late at night, as he totally understands that I’m enjoying myself and actually writing is my way to chill out. 

Multi-task like your life depends on it
Make to-do lists on the bus. Write blog posts on the tube. Listen to podcasts in the bath. Draw in your lunch break. Browse social over breakfast. Watch YouTube videos at the gym. Edit pictures while you’re on the loo! Seek inspiration while you walk between meetings. 

There ARE enough minutes in the day to do what you want to do, it’s just about using your time efficiently and prioritising what you really need to focus on. Time management and motivational issues are probably the biggest threat to your creative business, so invest in time monitoring apps and try new methods of planning – it’s all about seeing what works for you. 

It’s not about the money
Interestingly, one of the key things that came from all three of us during the talk, was that it was totally not about the money. Our side hustles have helped us leaps and bounds with confidence, visibility and connections, yet none of us started with dollar signs in our eyes. Now, hopefully this will come naturally through time and investment, but I’d always advise to never start anything with money as the driving motivational force. You’ll end up limiting yourself creatively and focusing way too much on meeting targets. A side hustle should be something you enjoy, completely and utterly. That 9-5 is what’s financing you for the time being and while in the future you may want to make your thing on the side your actual business, this takes a helluva lot of work and stress, so take things slow, stay true to yourself and good things will come! That being said, always know your worth and don’t get taken advantage of. Trust your gut and say no to things that don’t fit with your own goals. 

Take a little bit of time for your brain
We’re all guilty of spending too much time on our phones and sometimes you really do just need to switch off. I’m an absolute wreck if I don’t get my eight hours sleep, so taking some time out to ensure a peaceful night of sweet dreams is absolutely essential. 

I’m not entirely conscientious about doing this, but shut down that phone an hour before bedtime and read something light, nothing to get the brain whirring too much. Place a notebook beside your bed for any midnight inspiration and ensure that your mobile device is entirely out of arms reach, on silent or even turned off completely. 

Another recommendation, that has improved my motivation massively is going to the gym in the morning. I’m not very good at it but it gets me pumped and ready for the day, plus ensures I’m getting some exercise and releasing stress and anxiety. 

Community, community, community
The next step on from your loved ones, is your inner circle. These are the people that are probably going through the exact same highs and lows as you are. Having a supportive community is vital when it comes to having a side hustle. Running the world can be lonely and exhausting! Nothing beats a share from a fellow blogger or a comment from an Instagram account you really like. These are the guys that have the power to scream about your side project so treat them well and engage with them on a level that you’d like them to engage with you.

You never know where the strangest of connections can come from. I’ve found some of my proudest achievements have come from meeting someone at a workshop, from a friend telling a friend or simply by putting myself out there at a meet-up or say, a talk.

On that note, Creative Londoners is a fantastic way to meet likeminded people and hear stories from all over the creative world. You can sign up to be on their newsletter for future events here.

We’d also all love to hear about your own side hustles and any advice you may have so get in touch with the girls if you’d like to have your say. 

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Words by Emma Jane Palin. Check out Emma’s site here or give her a shout over on Twitter here.

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Images © Emma Jane Palin

About Emma Jane Palin

Emma is a London based creative lifestyle blogger. She’s an avid lover of design and illustration with a soft spot for metallic interiors and probably every printed publication ever made! Emma’s currently doodling, writing, working in PR and fitting as much into 24 hours as humanly possible!