How I went from no side hustle experience to launching a successful product and growing a podcast from scratch.
Before we get into my story here are a few places I’ve been featured:
The Matt Sodnicar Podcast
The Audio Entrepreneur with Marie Larsen
Financial Investing Radio
The Andrew Deitsch Podcast
On to the story…
I’d just spent two weeks on a solo adventure in Kenya and Tanzania and now I was on a plane home thinking about how I can get myself in a financial position to live this trip a thousand times more. This is what was repeatedly going through my head last November as I was on my way back home from a trip of a lifetime.
You see, the previous two years I’d been so devoted to my career that I took no vacation and as a result, I was on the verge of burning out. There were many days when I would walk out wondering why the hell I’m doing this. Unlike a lot of people, I didn’t dislike my job, in fact, I often enjoyed it and was given some great opportunities that challenged me personally and professionally. The part that had me on the edge of burning out was the external opportunities that I was missing out on. Meaning, seeing and experiencing the world! I wanted to see it all but I was tied to my job because, like many people, I had a lot of bills and debt. This included a nice sports car that I really didn’t need that cost $35k, $30k in student loans, $4k in credit cards and $106,000 left to pay on my mortgage.
I started tracking everything to hold myself accountable as I pursued my Ultimate Goal, being 100% debt free.
Since coming back from that trip, this has been my sole focus.
Slowly but surely getting there. 🙌
Back to the story…
On the plane ride home, I made a game plan.
I called it “Operation Do Whatever The Hell I Want“. No kidding.
This wasn’t a mission to quit my job, which seems to be “in-style” nowadays in the entrepreneurial marketing space. This was a mission to ensure I could truly do whatever I wanted. If that meant that I continue to enjoy my job, then I’ll work there the rest of my life. If one day I walk in and say “I’m done”, then I want to have the flexibility to pack up my things and walk out, without any financial ramifications.
So, with my salary and a number of bills I had, this was going to be no quick feat, unless I created another income stream. So that is exactly what I started to work on within 3 weeks of getting back home. I met with two friends on January 7th and committed to launching my first side hustle, which was a fitness related blog geared towards the corporate world. I like to learn new things so I did everything myself, including watching countless YouTube videos to teach myself how to build a website, the content creation, the marketing, the social media – you name it and I did it. Within 4 months of starting, I got my first paying client which was awesome and pushed me more.
During those 4 months that I was building that side hustle, I was also traveling a lot with work, including trips to 5 countries abroad. So it was not like I was working 8 hour days then coming home to work on the business, I had to have processes in place to make sure I kept moving forward and excelling in not only my side hustle but in my day job as well. Slacking in my day job was not an option for me.
When people that knew everything I had going on at work found out that I had built this side business as well, they asked me how I was able to manage everything. Up to that point, I had not even thought about it. This triggered something though, it had my gears turning. I decided to try and put my process on paper and see if formalizing it helped me become even more efficient. Not surprising, it did. This was the very first version of the daily section of The Side Hustle Journal. I actually did it in Google Sheets and would print out 7 days at a time then use it in my daily life. Often times, I wouldn’t get through more than a few days before I was tweaking something and making new copies to try out. This went on for many weeks. I iterated, then iterated, then iterated some more. About a month into the process I involved some friends to have them try it out as well and got great feedback that I implemented in the next version.
I then began to capture the process I used to come up with my idea and how I structured my goals that kept me focused on the important things. This is when The Molehill System was born. The name came to me sitting at the Starbucks across the street from my condo on a Saturday morning. It hit me “don’t make a mountain out of a molehill”… The Molehill System. The Molehill System takes you from the very beginning, which is determining your “why” and continues to walk you through everything from idea generation to setting milestones and daily micro goals – all while keeping a heavy focus on what is currently making you money – your day job.
This was around the time that I started to realize that others could benefit from this as well. I decided to get a little bit more formal than Google Sheets and I moved the design process over to Canva. The same process ensued. Iterate, iterate, iterate.
After many months of designing, testing, sourcing suppliers, writing scripts, and recording videos, I launched my project for The Side Hustle Journal on Kickstarter on November 1st, 2017.
During the Kickstarter creation, it became a personal mission to do this on as small of a budget as possible to show people that you don’t need a ton of money or know all the right people to make things happen. Don’t get me wrong, those things are great, just not always required. I was able to get the Kickstarter funded with less than $800 invested. This included coming up with the idea, developing the draft, sourcing samples from China, building the campaign, marketing, etc. I could have easily spent much, much more. In fact, the video guy I ALMOST went with was $4,500. I’m sure his video would have been 4500x better than mine but I knew that my product could and should be what people are buying, not a fancy marketing video.
Creating something of your own is an amazing process. I cannot urge people enough to create a side hustle for SOMETHING. Not only will you help yourself financially, but you will find new ways to express yourself and give your life more meaning.
The Side Hustle Journal was just the beginning.
There were two things that made launching a product really difficult:
- I had ZERO audience so it was all hustle that got the project funded. It was not glamorous being on page 67 of google looking for people to cold email.
- I had ZERO network on people that I could connect with that were entrepreneurs. It would have been so nice to be able to pick up the phone and get advice.
So, I decided I would solve this problem for myself.
After pondering the best way to do this, it became crystal clear that starting a podcast was the best thing I could do.
March 28, 2018, my podcast Hustle To Freedom was born.
I had no idea what the hell I was doing. I had never interviewed a single person in my life nor had I ever recorded or edited audio – 100% rookie.
The podcast started to organically grow in listeners. 👇
In the first few months, it was really starting to get some traction… 🚀
Exactly as I planned, I started growing my audience and meeting amazing people.
Some of them had turned their side hustle into their full-time job and others were crushing it while still working a 9 to 5.
Be sure to check out the Hustle To Freedom podcats wherever you listen to podcasts – Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, etc.
Have you ever thought about starting your own podcast? (hint: now is a GREAT time to do it)
Then you should check out my course, Podcasting Made Easy, to expedite the process of growing YOUR audience.
I’m so stoked for other projects that I currently have in the works to see how they impact my life. 🚀