Why I Have a Side Hustle
Since I started freelancing as a journalist a few months ago a lot of people have asked me why I don’t give up my 9-5 job as a Campaigns Officer and move into freelancing full-time?
There are two reasons:
- I love my publishing job
I could never earn the kind of money I need to live in my studio flat in London as a first-time freelance journalist, let alone afford the extras like food and fun. It’s a dying career and since I’ve not been trained in it and I’m only starting out it’s kind of hard to be making any kind of money from it right now.
I don’t officially have any qualifications to be a journalist. I merely love writing and have found my voice.
One of the skills I’ve learnt from my job in publishing is networking and pitching. I normally pitch other people’s books and life stories, but since I have plenty of my own I thought I would reverse the situation.
That’s how I got my first piece published. The first time I sent a piece of journalistic writing to anyone it was the Huffington Post and it was a complete pitch on my experience of loneliness in London.
I never pitched it as a piece for a segment of their website or as a feature that would fit in with their current themes because I hadn’t looked at Huffington Post that way, I’d merely read it for the enjoyment of reading it.
When they accepted my piece and decided to feature it in their dedicated section on ‘How It Feels’ I was flattered, but also really surprised that they thought it was worthy.
To make it even more flattering they asked if I wanted to become a Huffington Post blogger, submitting pieces to their online site whenever inspiration struck. From there I wrote pieces on feminism, social media and zero-waste.
It was a piece I wrote on social media that led to me becoming a public speaker. Funzing UK got in touch and asked if I would be interested in doing a lecture on social media and its effects on our social lives. Since I work in social media, both as a freelance journalist and as a Campaigns Officer, plus have had plenty of my own experiences linking to my loneliness and mental health they thought I would have an interesting opinion on the topic.
But, unlike Huffington Post, this gig was paid! That was a first. Someone wanting to pay me to express an opinion.
Slowly I started to realise that not every opportunity was going to fall into my inbox, and by this point about five Huffington Post articles and a public speaking gig in, I was really loving this new side-hustle that I had begun.
I started searching online for other options and taught myself how to pitch to editors by going to seminars, signing up to newsletters and constantly going over Twitter looking for opportunities.
Getting that email was better than any kiss, any drug (not that I’ve actually taken any) and any kind of success I have had previously. Even though it was tiny.
Someone was interested in my opinion and wanted me to write about it, and pay! Plus it was Glamour magazine – my fourteen-year-old self went loopy!
Yes, I had some success but that did not mean I loved my 9-5 job any less.
In fact, I think starting my side-hustle has made me better at my job in publishing. Not only do I have more contacts in the journalism industry, but I also have a creative outlet.
At work, I am no longer getting frustrated when focusing on other people’s projects instead of my own – because I know that I have time and the ability to work on my own later in the day with some degree of success.
I love my job. Shouting about other people’s books, seeing a book rise to bestseller status, getting thank you messages from authors and readers alike, and the general high of seeing a good book get published is fab.
But on a personal level, there is nothing like seeing your own work getting published and appreciated.
And still, even six months after that first piece on Loneliness went live on Huffington Post, I still have people getting in touch with me telling me that they had read it and enjoyed it and they were grateful that I had written it.
Effectively I get fan mail.
And yes, I cry every time I open those emails. Sometimes they’re better than a promotion, a pitch success or the publication of a new article I’m being paid to write.
If you’re interested in seeing the articles I have written since becoming a part-time freelance journalist check out my Freelance Writing page above. I share all of my latest pieces here, paid or unpaid.