It was 8 months ago that I decided to take the plunge. Against the advice of most, I made the controversial decision to significantly reduce my hours at my 'steady' full time job as a wildlife conservationist. Little did I know how much this decision was going to change my life.
I started my blog as a lock down project in spring 2020. I never intended it to grow into the creative business I have today. The intention was to give me a hobby to fill some free hours. Finally start writing, which is something I had wanted to do for many years. I had a vague notion that some money could be made from blogging, but this certainly wasn't my motivation for starting.
From this point, my blog grew steadily. My writing improved as I explored different topics within my niche. I realised that if I wanted my readership to increase, I needed to promote it somehow. So, I decided to put some time into developing my Instagram alongside my blog. Through learning a few tricks of the trade, I increased my Instagram following to around 2,000 followers, which is pretty much where is stayed for months.
Then, in October 2021, I dropped my hours from working 5 days a week as a wildlife conservationist to just 3.5 days. There are many reasons behind this decision, which you can read about in full here, but wanting some more time to commit to my side hustle was certainly one of them.
Even I couldn't have predicted how rapidly my business would grow, almost immediately after I was given this time to breathe. Thats why I thought I'd share this with you today, to demonstrate how a little extra time can make a big difference. See for yourself below.
Before I dropped my hours
I was publishing 1 blog a week - on good weeks!
I had around 2000 Instagram followers.
I had collaborated with a couple of small brands on Instagram content (on a gifted basis)
Since I've dropped my hours
In response to me changing my Instagram reel strategy, my audience skyrocketed from 2000 to now being over 20,000 followers. My digital guide to Instagram reels is available at my store, if you too want to refresh your strategy and grow your Instagram following.
This has led to some paid Instagram brand deals, with brands that I am really passionate about working with.
I launched my store and started selling my own digital guides and eBooks.
I have (very recently!) launched my own sustainable merchandise, with a sustainable clothing line now available at my Teemill store.
I'm still blogging and have recently completed a 6-week writing course, focusing on nature writing, with the University of Cambridge, which I intend to utilise in my new blog category 'Highland Nature Journal'.
Last, and certainly not least, I started my own YouTube channel, which, to my utter delight and surprise, grew so rapidly, that I was able to monetise within 3 months after I launched, meaning I am able to earn money from ads on my videos. Smashing my original tentative goal of being monetised within a year and I now have almost 3000 subscribers.
Overall, this means that 2022 is the first year that I have been able to make money directly from my side hustle, which is a very exciting step.
How else has my life changed?
I'll have to admit, all of these changes did take work. A lot of work. It has meant that I am now back to working pretty much full-time hours, with my side hustle taking at least 2 days out of my week.
I don't resent this. I get so much enjoyment out of my creative side hustle, that it genuinely doesn't feel like work most of the time. It is also on my terms, which feels very refreshing.
However, I did have to remind myself that one of the reasons I decided to reduce my hours, was so that I could achieve a slower pace of life. Not to be working all the time. This has meant that I have had to put some boundaries in place, that I am still working on, to ensure I maintain a healthy balance.
Despite this extra work, I have still managed to find time to invest in nourishing hobbies that I truly enjoy. I've explored lots of new wonderful walks with the dog, tried plenty of new recipes and have already read more books this year than I did in 2021. These milestones are just as important to me as those of my business.
My story is not one of overnight success. I have been plugging away at my side hustle for over 2 years now. The vast majority of this has been unpaid and required a lot of time in return. I have had to adapt and reinvent again and again to allow my voice to be heard in this overcrowded world of content creation.
It is not over yet. Really, this is only the start, but I am excited to see where this side hustle will take me and have big plans....
If you are also building a side hustle, or wanting to start one, I hope this blog has demonstrated that you shouldn't underestimate the value of your time. You may not be able to drop your hours as much as me, or even at all, but you can be intentional about the time you have now.
Even if you don't want to build a side business and have other, more personal plans, this is still a valid reason to assess how many hours you actually need to work. Don't work full time just because you can. Take control of your life and live it in a way that suits you*.
I cannot wait to see what you come up with.
*If you want some guidance in how to build a life that is authentic to you, I have detailed a step by step process on how you can achieve this in my 'Plant your roots' eBook, available at my store.