Please welcome Erin Mahoney to This Writer’s Life. She’s one of my private students and the author of Side Hustle Gigs, A Step by Step Guide to a Profitable Side Business.
This Writer’s Life(TWL)-Let’s start with you telling everyone about yourself and how you got interested in side gigs?
Erin Mahoney (EM)-By education and training, I’m a vet technician. I’m an avid traveler at heart and realized that having a full time job didn’t allow me the time off I needed to see all the places on my list. I didn’t want to be one of those people who save money each week and then once they turn 65, live their dream. I then lost a good friend to cancer which prompted me to do something about living my dream now and not later. I looked into ways to one, earn more money, aka side gigs, and two, shift to a way to make money that I could do while traveling. Sort of being like a nomad worker. I started doing surveys for money, writing tips for pet blogs, and yes, I signed up to be a dog walker and pet sitter. With the extra money, I purchased a used campervan and then saved a bit more and handed in my notice. I took to the road with my two rescue dogs and have been traveling, part time and doing house/pet sitting jobs for stretches to replenish my savings.
TWL-And tell us about how you opted to follow another dream, that of being a freelance writer?
EM-I discovered that I loved writing my pet related blog posts and thought wouldn’t it be great if I could be a full time freelance writer and that’s when I found your site and signed up for you to coach me.
TWL-What would you advise people to do when they start looking for the perfect side gig?
EM-The same advice you gave me and that’s to find your why…why do you want this side gig? Also, try and find something that’s fun. It’s not always easy when you start out. Taking surveys didn’t really excite me but I knew it was just a stepping stone and I’d move onto to something I did love. If you’re not having fun, you’ll quit, it’s that simple.
TWL–So, you’d say figure out your passions and loves?
EM-Exactly. For me animals are my passion. I love spending time with them and some of my work actually helps them find their forever homes so it’s win-win. Brainstorm and make a list of all the things you love to do. If you had all the money in the world, what activities would you pursue? After you’ve done that, try and figure out what side jobs match your passion. Believe me there’s something for everyone.
TWL-You once told me that you meet lots of people who are also doing side gigs? What are some common ones?
EM-Some people sell items on lines…some are homemade things like soaps and candles. I know a few people who are software developers and do their job on the road. One guy even has a nomadic photography business. The best thing is it’s easier than ever because of the internet and people are now used to working from home and working from anywhere.
TWL- First of all tell us how your current freelance writing career is going and any tips you have.
EM-I’m writing for a couple of reoccurring clients and that’s a tip that you gave me. The less you have to go looking for work the better and getting those core clients is key. You also know you have a certain amount of money coming in each week. Once again, I’d try and find assignments that match your passion. And once again, that’s hard to begin with, but once you have your portfolio filled a bit more, you can branch out. For me, the animal and rescue market was a given choice. My two reoccurring clients are both vets and I doubt they would have taken a chance on me when I first started out.
In the fall, I’ll be house/pet sitting in one area and at the same time I’ll be writing copy for a local rescue group so sometimes things fall together perfectly but it does take time so never give up. If one thing doesn’t work out, switch gears and try something else.
Many thanks for Erin for her time and please check out her book-