One of the great things about side hustles is the endless possibilities. It doesn’t matter what skills of experience you have, what your schedule looks like, or where you live, there are plenty of opportunities available.
Most of my experience with side hustles involves my hobbies (see my article How I Turned My Photography Hobby Into $1,138,610). While I think turning a hobby into a money-making side hustle is a terrific option, another way to make some extra money is to use the skills you’ve developed through your job, or past jobs.
Today I’d like to share an interview with Scott, who has some great experience with freelance marketing and consulting. Scott has used his existing abilities and experience to make good money outside of his full-time job. He’s used this side hustle to make over $40,000 to pay off student loans and to set a very solid base for his finances.
Many of you reading this may already be familiar with Scott through his blog, Making Momentum. Since I launched Vital Dollar in February of 2018, I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with several other finance bloggers, and Scott is definitely one of them.
In this interview, Scott shares from his experience as a freelancer, and now as a blogger. If you’re considering starting a side hustle, I think you’ll really enjoy Scott’s story. Even if your experience is in some other field aside from marketing, you could potentially apply the principles and take a similar approach to use the skills you’ve developed from your own line of work.
Now, on to the interview with Scott.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
First off thanks to Marc for letting me share my side hustle story and hello to all the Vital Dollar readers.
My name is Scott and I’m the blogger behind Making Momentum. I’m a 30-year-old Canadian millennial based out of Ontario, Canada. Currently, the family situation involves living with my amazing girlfriend and ideally, in the near future, we’re bringing marriage and children into that equation.
The education path includes a BComm and Post Grad as well as some industry certificates and specialty courses (paid for by my employer).
What do you do full-time?
I work full-time in brand marketing and business development for a major Canadian brand. Unfortunately, I can’t share the exact company name but it’s an exciting industry that impacts millions of Canadians (and others around the world).
My team’s focus includes everything from traditional and digital media buys, working alongside agencies to develop full-scale campaigns, planning large-scale consumer-facing events and the creation of physical and digital products. The challenges, pace, and people around the office keep things entertaining and no two days are the same. However, that also comes with the stresses and bureaucracy that any large company brings.
In the end, I’m working in the exact industry I set out to as a teenager. So in the grand scheme of life and the world, even on those tough days, I’d say I have it pretty well.
How did you get started with the marketing and consulting side hustle and what was your motivation?
The biggest motivator for starting to earn extra money outside my career income was spawned after I shifted my entire mindset around my personal finances and the role money played in my life. After listening feverishly to personal finance podcasts, reading a collection of personal finance blogs and getting my hands on some of the recommended books on money, I knew I had to earn more outside my career.
And side hustling the skills and experience I already possessed was the answer.
I wanted to expedite my student loan payment, begin to save for retirement outside my company’s RPP program and of course prioritize the other major moments in life like buying my first house (condo) and saving for a wedding.
The goal I set was to earn an additional $1,000 each month and had an unwritten vow that the extra income would only go towards my key financial goals.
→ Related reading: Ways to Make Money: 150+ Side Hustle Ideas for Your Spare Time
How much time do you spend on this side hustle, and about how much money does it generate?
I started taking the consulting and freelance work more seriously in April 2016 and would account for close to $40,000 in additional income directly tied to that work in that timeframe. From April 2016 – April 2018 I was passing that initial goal of $1,000 but have since slowed to $300 – $500 each month.
Why? Over the last ten months, I’ve scaled back the time I spend side hustling and doing consulting work in order to focus on my blog Making Momentum.
In that initial two year period, I was doing an average of 10 – 15 hours of work each week. Some weeks it might be 10, others it might be 20. Currently, I just do one-off stuff for ongoing clients and load it all into a couple days each month.
→ Related reading: How to Start a Blog
How do you find time for a side hustle on top of a full-time job?
The number one thing I did in order to find time for side hustling outside my full-time job was making the choice that I would be waking up at 5 am every day. That started in April 2016 as well and it truly changed my life.
In those morning hours, after some fitness and breakfast, I’m able to concentrate on the freelancing and consulting work (now the blog) without any distractions. I set a schedule and developed a nightly routine for productivity so that I can make my mornings as effective as possible.
With that system in place, I can do anywhere from an hour to two hours of work before heading off to my full-time gig. In addition to a couple hours on evenings and weekends, I was able to reach a level that was meeting my financial goal without feeling overwhelmed. That continues to this day with the blog work and lessened focus on the side hustling.
The other factor is just making it a priority. While I don’t ever want to preach deprivation or cutting out any entertainment and social experiences, you’re the one in control of how you spend your time. I wasn’t going to pay off my student loans or buy a condo by using the time outside work watching TV, playing video games or having drinks with colleagues.
Can you explain the specific types of things that you do for your clients?
The types of work I’ve done for clients basically falls into two categories: marketing consultation or marketing services.
The marketing consultation type of work ranges anywhere from developing communication strategies, coordinating media buys, project managing other freelancers, drafting business plans, creating pitch decks or other work rooted more closely to the business’ objectives and growth.
Marketing services type work would be what I define as content planning, copywriting, hiring promotional teams for events, getting exhibition activations created for conferences and other one-off marketing support work.
I focused more so toward the former as opposed to the latter.
The budgets and reach at my full-time career are 10x (or 100x) than those of companies and individuals I’ve worked alongside in consulting and side hustling. However, the core concepts remain the same.
Do you work for clients in particular industries or all industries?
I’ve worked with clients from all sorts of industries. To highlight that differing range, here are a few: a craft beer start-up, a local dentist office, skateboarding and lifestyle apparel brand, software developer for medical students and a tourism company looking to attract international travelers.
How do you find your clients?
The marketing services type of work started through Upwork.
In terms of how I found clients, I wasn’t going for bottom up bidding and set higher prices for inbound leads. When I reached out to apply for gigs, I was very selective too. I only wanted to deal with qualified, engaged people looking for legit support. This type of work was my area of study in university and career, I didn’t want to be churning cheaper gigs.
I also didn’t want to rely on Upwork and was much more active in connecting locally or through other contacts I’ve made in my career, schooling and network. This where the majority of the marketing consultation work and long-term clients came from.
Direct referrals were also very helpful as I continued to expand my network. For example, I’d help a freelance web designer or graphics artist find a gig with a company I was doing marketing work for and then they’d reciprocate by getting me a some work with another client they might be working with who needed marketing support.
What kind of skills or experience are needed for someone to get started doing something similar?
The digital age, world of social media and focus on content creation have unlocked countless opportunities for people looking to start side hustling. Thankfully, you can self-teach a lot of the marketing services type of skills or likely already possess them from growing up online.
There are also online courses, free YouTube videos, podcasts, books, blogs and conferences to educate yourself on the skills and knowledge needed for freelancing marketing.
Whether it’s social media management, freelancing writing, content planning, managing a website or running digital media buys, with time and focus you can (easily) build those skills and get started.
Hands-on, real-world experiences trumps all.
→ Related reading: 40 Exciting Hobbies That Make Money
For someone who is just getting started, how would they know what to charge?
There are two pieces of advice I would share to prospective side hustlers looking to determine the fees to charge.
The first would be researching what other freelancers/side hustlers are charging and doing some outreach to those in your niche. Platforms like Upwork and Freelancer help make that pretty apparent but there is no harm in reaching out directly to ask others through email, Twitter or Facebook groups.
The second piece of advice would be don’t undervalue yourself. If you have the skills and experience to deliver value to a company or individual, don’t sell yourself short. Time is money and if you’re dedicating it to support someone else, you need to get fair compensation for that.
→ Related reading: How to Start a Side Hustle
What would you recommend as the first steps for someone who is interested in offering freelance marketing and consulting services?
Similar to most things in life, the first step is to just get started. The path you go will really depend on the skills and experience you already have. If you’re confident in your abilities, jump right in.
As mentioned above, hands-on, real-world experience trumps all.
A quick Google Search of “how to start freelancing marketing” will unlock a dozen great articles, testimonials and videos. If you’re going the Upwork way, here is a great guide on creating an effective profile to set yourself up for success on the platform.
If you want to pursue the direct referral route, reach out to your network of family, friends, colleagues and other people in your Rolodex who might be able to connect you with someone in need of marketing support.
If you have a bad experience with one of your first clients, especially on Upwork, don’t get deterred. Experimenting and finding what brings you the most satisfaction (and potential profits) will come by doing different types of work with different people.
What are some of your favorite and least favorite things about this side hustle?
- Financial reward to reach my goals
- Intrinsic reward of supporting others reach their business goals
- Building new skills and experiences relevant to my career and applicable to growing Making Momentum
- Lack of scalability without starting a full-time agency
- Trading time for dollars (no passive income like developing a monetized blog, Amazon FBA, etc.)
- Staying on top of taxes (not really a con but word of warning for any side hustler)
How have your side hustles impacted your life?
Unlocking additional income streams outside my career has truly changed the trajectory of my life. That sounds like hyperbole, but it’s an honest outcome.
From a financial sense, it helped me payoff my student loans, save for my other priorities and make gains across all areas of my personal finances.
In terms of personal development, it allowed me grow my network, learn new skills and forced my brain to think about things in a different way than I do at my full-time gig.
Wrapping It Up
Thank you to Scott for taking the time to answer these questions and provide insight into the freelance marketing side hustle. If this side hustle seems like a good fit for you to make some extra money, I would encourage you to follow Scott’s advice and simply get started.
Don’t forget to check out Scott’s blog, Making Momentum.