How Working Moms Can Successfully Build a Side Hustle
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
Jessica N. Turner, bestselling author and the veteran lifestyle blogger of The Mom Creative blog, has a lot to share about building a side hustle as a working mom. In addition to her writing, she is a marketing executive for Vanderbilt Health, an in-demand speaker, and a wife and a mother of three. Her corporate job provides her family with the stability, benefits, insurance, etc., so that her husband, Matthew Paul Turner, a bestselling children’s book author, can work on his books. She has built an enormous online community, drawn to her from-the-trenches advice and reflections on working motherhood, parenting, relationships, personal growth and much more. Her first book, The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You, was a Wall Street Journal bestseller and this month she released her latest book, Stretched Too Thin: How Working Moms Can Lose The Guilt, Work Smarter, And Thrive.
Turner used vacation days from her job to sit down for press interviews in Los Angeles recently and I was excited to grab an interview spot. Here are the top few lessons I picked up from our inspiring conversation about building a successful side hustle as a mom working full-time in a corporate job.
Tell your whole story.
In an age when entrepreneurship is the new black, and becoming a “full-time blogger” who lives a #laptoplifestyle is all the rage, Turner is unashamedly still employed. She has shared all of the ups and downs openly and honestly with her hundreds of thousands of readers for over seven years.
“People have felt like I'm relatable, and I think in part that's because I have a full-time day job. I'm not just one of those entrepreneurs who's ‘living the dream’ -- most my followers are teachers, and doctors and lawyers, and they're selling MLMs, whatever. They've got a regular job, and so they felt like they could relate to me,” Turner explained. “I think being someone who's real and relatable is going to create a community and a tribe that sticks with you.”
I know from building The Kelsey Show over the last few years how very tempting it is to make yourself and your brand appear bigger, better, farther along, more profitable. Turner is another example; authenticity wins. If you fake it, you’ll get burnt out fast and your audience will smell the phony. Be yourself and tell your whole story so that you can cultivate a real, engaged community.
Turner was offered a traditional, two-book publishing deal, a goal many bloggers would love to reach. How did that happen? “I've been in corporate America, but kept blogging and writing and that kept growing and growing. I work pretty much every Saturday morning on blog and book stuff, and my kids know that it is just part of mommy's work. Mommy has her regular job, but then mommy has this other job and that's what enables us to do fun stuff like go on trips and that sort of thing,” she shared. “Treat it like a job and be consistent with it.”
If you’re a fan of my show you’ve heard this from my celebrity guests over and over again. Do the work, keep doing the work, for years. It will be worth it but you have to stay focused!
Keep your ideas organized.
Entrepreneurship is huge, even as a side hustler. Motherhood is huge. Marriage, self-care, health, the list goes on. If you want to make the most of those small pockets of work time, you’ll need to have your ideas catalogued -- which is another common tactic of those I interview. This does not mean you have to be completely organized, but do have a place or two where you can dump all of your ideas, so you have a pool to choose from when it’s time to write or record your podcast or shoot your video, etc. Personally, I just use running lists in the Notes app on my smartphone and an old school paper notebook I carry with me everywhere. Turner uses an editorial calendar for herself.
“I would get up every morning at five and that would usually be my time to write, and so I would write for maybe an hour and then I would go to work and then I usually worked for a couple of hours on the weekend catching up. I live and die by my editorial calendar.”
Think in seasons.
This one is important for everyone but I think it’s especially important for moms. Check out thekelseyshow.com/mompreneur to see what I mean from the rest of my guests. As for Turner, she explained that book launching season means her husband has to play Mr. Mom for a while.
“I got the book done in just a few months, but it was long days and my husband was certainly bearing the brunt of the parenting in addition to his own job to make this happen, but we knew it was just a season and I think that's important to remember -- you've got to do that hard work and it's gonna pay off in the end. And it certainly has paid off for Stretched Too Thin and it paid off for The Fringe Hours, but you've gotta do the hard work.”
If you need to sprint towards a deadline or a goal, talk with your spouse, your employer or maybe ask relatives for help at home. Find a way to get through that season, knowing it won’t last forever.
Don’t try to “do it all.”
“I don't do it all. That's how I do it all, I don't.” Turner went on to explain that her dining room table is currently a disaster and she doesn’t mind. She says you have to learn to be comfortable with "good enough" especially when it comes to the non-essentials in life.
“Good enough is good enough ... when you're juggling all the things, realize that there are two kinds of balls you're juggling. There are glass balls and there are rubber balls,” Turner shared. “So often, I think we treat our jobs like they're glass balls, but they're in fact rubber balls. At the end of the day, the most important thing are my kids and my husband. That's been really grounding for me. Like the dishes don't matter, the laundry doesn't matter. What matters is that I'm doing story time at night.”
When you’re feeling frazzled and behind remind yourself that there are really only a few glass balls that matter most. All of the rubber balls -- social media posts, returning emails, a missed workout -- they can bounce back tomorrow or next week.
Strive for satisfaction, not balance.
I love Turner's goal of “work/live satisfaction” rather than balance. She says we should ask ourselves, Am I satisfied in all the different areas of my life? Am I satisfied with the work that I’m doing? Am I satisfied in who I am as a mom? Am I satisfied in the relationship I have with my spouse? Am I satisfied with the work that I am doing?
“Like right now, book launch season with having a full-time job and kids, it has been absolutely crazy, but it has also been an incredibly fulfilling, joyous time in my life. I'm very satisfied in the work that I'm doing, so even though one might say, well those things [are] not equal, right now it's worth it and it's exciting, and it's satisfying to be doing all of this work ... It isn't about having perfect balance because there's no such thing as balance. So, I think we should stop saying what do we need to do to have more perfect work life balance, and instead what do we need to do to live more satisfying fulfilling lives?”
Time to stop apologizing for your dreams and goals. Treat your side hustle like a job, be consistent with putting in the time and then, Turner says, stop minimizing what you’re doing.
“[If you’re trying to build something from home] you're not a stay-at-home mom. You're a working mom, and you have a business. Treat it as such. Don't be shy about that title. You are a strong working mom and own that. Own that. It's so good for our kids to see us working,” Turner went on. “Research from Harvard shows that kids who have working moms actually grow up to be more balanced, healthy individuals, and really great parents. And there's a bunch of great research in the book about it, but don't be afraid of that. You're not a less than mom because you work, so make time for it, and don't feel like you have to necessarily squeeze it in wherever you can.”
When she shared that after working a full 40-plus hour week she takes Saturday mornings for her writing career, I asked her about pressures from friends and family, as well as her own mom guilt. Her answer?
“Yeah, I just don't care.”
How refreshing is that?!
“I just don't think that my kids are suffering because I go to work from 6 to 10:30 Saturday morning. We're together the rest of the weekend. What matters is how well my kids feel loved, and they feel loved. And they know that I love them, and they're proud of the work that I do, and so I just don't worry about it. And I think the quicker you can get away from being under the pressure that you put on yourself, the happier and healthier you're gonna be.”
For more on feeling stretched too thin as an entrepreneurial mom, such as marriage, friendships, and self-care, be sure and watch the rest of our interview at thekelseyshow.com.