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- I loved being a teacher, but eventually I wanted more control over my time and income.
- I overhauled my life by getting a more flexible job, and I also picked up a freelance-writing side hustle.
- In one year I was able to grow my income by 50%, and I did it by networking online and holding myself accountable.
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For better or worse, I value intrinsic motivation. I’ve always placed more emphasis on following what sparks my curiosity than on fulfilling outside expectations placed upon me. This made finding a career path … interesting.
Eventually, I found a place for myself in education. I was a natural, coming from a long line of teachers. I loved working with kids, and teaching gave me a sense of satisfaction — not to mention a steady paycheck.
But after a few years, I wanted to have more control over my income, my time, and my ability to learn new skills on my terms. My desire to live in accordance with what was intrinsically motivating me returned. And let’s just say, it was compelling.
And so, I turned to freelance writing as a side hustle. I started one summer after enrolling in an online freelance business course and quitting my teaching job. I knew I didn’t have the emergency funds built up to go full-on self-employed, so I found a day job with a flexible schedule and work-from-home days to cut down on the hours I was commuting. Once I knew I could cover my basic expenses, the puzzle pieces aligned. It was time to launch my side hustle.
Almost exactly a year later, I’ve increased my income by over 50%, and it’s growing. In the process, I’ve developed three important daily habits that consistently bring in extra money, and most importantly, let me define success on my terms:
1. I put myself out there (at the risk of looking and feeling foolish)
Any side hustle requires you to market yourself, and it’s going to be uncomfortable at first. Every day, I spend at least 30 minutes sending letters of introduction to potential clients, interacting with people on social media, and telling people in person about my work. It’s vulnerable, but it works.
Here’s the thing about self promotion: It’s a bit of a numbers game because it takes time to find the right people for your services. For every 10 people you contact about your work, you may only reach one who is the right fit at the right time. You might feel foolish, but then you’ll remind yourself that failure is part of the game.
2. I am honest (even when it’s uncomfortable)
It took months for my efforts to "click" and to see actual fruits of my labors. I tried many things that didn’t work, and I had to learn to be honest. If a period of time went by in which I was trying, trying, trying for a result and it simply didn’t work, I learned to ask myself why. Now, I evaluate myself honestly on a regular basis. No sense in holding onto strategies that don’t work.
3. I am consistent
There are days I don’t want to track my budget, or send out letters of introduction, or go through my emails to ensure I’ve not missed anything. But putting things like this off just adds to the negative build-up in my mind. Of course, I fall behind sometimes. But I’ve learned it’s better to take care of regular tasks or one-off emails when you have the time. Setting aside an hour a day for this kind of admin work is one strategy for making the work consistent, simple, and digestible.
These daily habits are most effective when I remember that failure is a part of the process and I compare my results over time, not in the moment. On the same day, I’ve had both a big rejection and a huge victory. The only way I’ve learned to be successful is to stay focused on the long game and devote less attention to the failures — because they are expected.
After a year of side hustling, I’ve proven to myself that I can make money on my own terms. I’m glad I took the risk, and even though it’s uncertain, I’m growing more comfortable with that every day.
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