A woman smiling, sitting before a table covered in magazines
Writing for magazines like B-Metro, Birmingham, and Good Grit has been a key part of my side hustle success.

This year my side hustle not only helped me make money but cost me money, too.

During tax season many people use their tax refund checks to plan trips, splurge on fancy dinners or new outfits, or beef up their savings. And usually, I’m doing one or all of these things. But not this year. This year I wasn’t doing any of these things because this year instead of getting a check from the IRS I had to send a check to the IRS — a check for an amount of money that had a comma.

And I was so excited!

You see, when I talked to my accountant about why I suddenly had to pay back all this money he explained it was because I’d had such a successful year with my side hustle — See Jane Write LLC and my freelance writing. This was good news for me since I was planning to make my side hustle my full-time career, which I did last month.

Related Reading: So…I quit my job!

If you’re eager to learn my secrets to side-hustle success, keep reading.

Based I my experience, I believe there are three things that will determine the success of your side hustle: your skills, your squad, and your schedule.

Your Skills

A laptop sitting atop several open magazines

First, you must determine what your side hustle is going to be. What skills do you have that you could use to make extra money on the side? As a writer, you could do freelance journalism for local, national, and online publications. You could write blog posts or other copy for businesses. You could monetize your own blog through affiliate links and sponsored posts. You could write speeches or bios for people or even ghostwrite books. Maybe you’ll decide to use your wordsmith skills to edit books or tutor students struggling in their English classes. The possibilities are endless!

I DO NOT recommend you try to do ALL of these at once. Pick one or two and focus on those.

The income that put me in the hole with Uncle Sam was from freelance journalism gigs and money I make from See Jane Write through my membership program and coaching programs. I also make some money through affiliate links and speaking engagements.

Your Squad

I know that some people say you shouldn’t share your goals with others. They say you should work toward your dreams quietly and then shock the world with your results.

While I do see great value in that and while I do hold my cards close to my chest in some cases (very few people knew I was leaving my full-time teaching position until I announced it on May 24, 2019) there are many advantages to sharing your goals with your crew.

For example, if you tell the people in your network that you are building an editing business, those folks are going to recommend you to other writers looking for an editor.

If you have a family, your support system is also an essential part of your side-hustle squad. You need someone willing to watch the kids, cook dinner, or clean the house when you need time to work.

And, of course, you need a group of people cheering you on along the way, people who can also answer questions you may have as your side hustle grows. See Jane Write is here to do just that! (You can learn more about the See Jane Write Collective here.)

Your Schedule

None of this advice will matter if you can’t actually make time to work on your side hustle.

When I was still teaching full-time people were constantly asking me how I made time for all that I did. But they didn’t like my answer.

How’d I do it? I got up REALLY early each day — 4 a.m. to be exact. I know that I do my best work first thing in the morning so I got up at 4 a.m. so that I could work on freelance stories or content for See Jane Write before going to my day job. In the evenings, I would meet with coaching clients and host in-person or virtual events for See Jane Write. I’d also interview sources for my freelance stories after work.

Most Friday nights and Saturdays were reserved for fun with family and friends and I’d make time to do other things like clean my house or get a much-needed massage. But after church and a trip to the grocery store, I spent Sundays working that side hustle and grading papers.

I also meticulously plan my days — even now as a full-time freelance writer and entrepreneur. Using my Day Designer (affiliate link), I not only write down what I have to do each day but also when I’m going to do each task.

Please don’t read this and think I had it all figured it. I did not and I still don’t. (Spolier alert: No one has it all figured it.)

I worked too much. Oftentimes, at the end of the school year, when I was also grading research papers on top of everything else, I was so stressed my hair would fall out. Most people just didn’t know this because I have so much hair! My right wrist would be in so much pain from all the writing and typing I did I had to wear a brace and when my stress level reached its peak I’d even break out in hives!

Related Reading: How to Balance Freelance Writing with Your Full-Time Job

So be careful not to bite off more than you can chew. This will take some trial and error, but eventually, you will figure out how much side-hustle work you can take on and still keep your sanity. For example, I learned that I had to drastically cut back on freelance writing and See Jane Write activities during busy times of the school year.

And if you have to sacrifice time to exercise to keep up with your side hustle, you’re doing too much. Even though I love working out, when my schedule got too hectic, exercise was always the first thing to go, which obviously wasn’t good for my overall well-being.

Now that my side hustle is my full-time career, I’m using a lot of the lessons I’ve learned along the way to be the CEO of my life, something we should all strive to do no matter what our day job or side hustle may be.