Giselle found a way to monetize her passion into a side hustle that supplements her primary income stream. While working 9-5 at a small business, she spends her free time as a content creator for her co-owned travel blog, The Lovers Passport. We spoke with Giselle to learn more about creating, developing, and managing a side hustle.
Q: What is your current full-time position/role and what is your side hustle?
A: I’m a Marketing and Public Relations Director at a small business called Cleure. It is a skin care, personal care company for people with sensitive skin. I do everything from email marketing to social media to web design. I wear a lot of hats for that job.
My side hustle is being a content creator. I co-founded The Lovers Passport LLC with my partner, Stephen. We do a lot of photography and social media content. Right now we are in the process of creating more digital products (such as an eBook) that we’ll sell. For example, this month we plan on releasing presets for Lightroom – so anyone can buy our edits – a California guide, and Patreon which is a way to subscribe to receive more content from us.
Q: When and how did you first find interest in building your side hustle?
A: My first couple of dates with Stephen were all hikes and our third date was actually a road trip from Santa Barbara to Big Sur and back in one day. So, we knew we were compatible, and we both loved what we were doing. For about a year and a half we would go backpacking together in our free time, and then lockdown for the pandemic happened. Now, prior to having an account with Stephen, I had my own solo female adventure blog with a website that I hadn’t done much with, so we already had some pre-written content to start with. When we went into quarantine, I asked Stephen if he would be interested in making a couple’s adventure blog.
At first, we received a lot of questions about “what hiking shoes should I buy?” “I’m going backpacking, what do I need?” from friends. Then, Stephen decided to buy a camera and I already knew social media from my full-time position, so from there we just dove in and taught ourselves everything because we had the time during quarantine.
Q: How do you fit your side hustle into your schedule?
A: It’s nice because there’s two of us. Stephen works in the afternoon, and I work in the mornings, so we switch off who is on Instagram and who is doing what.
It is a lot of time management, content planning, bulk content creation, and repurposing.
So we get a lot of our content in one day and for example, if we’re filming a YouTube video we’ll be sure to film vertical footage for a reel, and write a blog on it, and create a TikTok about it. We do have to be strategic with our time because we only have our weekends to get content and then the week is all focused on editing the content. So, after work from 4:15pm to about 10:00pm is my grind time.
It is a lot of work to put out so much content every week, so we take a lot of care to be organized, have a game plan, manage our time, and have great communication between the two of us.
Q: What have you done to monetize your side hustle?
My biggest piece of advice for monetization is to have multiple different streams of income because no one sector of content creation is going to make enough money for you to live off.
To read more about creating multiple streams of income, check out our blogs!
We make most of our money from brand collaborations and sponsorships. They are more lucrative and usually you base it off your engagement, following, and community. Next is content creation specifically for brands. We don’t post these on our own account, so we make the content specifically for them. For example, we work with a pour over coffee company and we have a monthly retainer where we send them X number of photos and videos and they pay us out at the end of the month. We do the same with blog writing, we will ghost blog write for companies as well. Another type is affiliate marketing, we link things in our blog that we recommend and if someone clicks on it we get a commission. Also, selling digital products as we discussed earlier. Lastly, the creator fund. We are in the creator fund for TikTok and we are monetized on YouTube and IGTV. So, ads are played on our videos and we get paid for it. That is all passive income which is nice because we don’t have to rely on brand collaborations as much.
Q: How did you first begin collaborating with brands?
A: We started doing brand collaborations when we had about 2,000 followers. However, when we were first building our portfolio most of our collaborations were exchange based and not monetized. Once we had about 5,000 followers we started to make money. The more followers we have the more we’ve been able to charge for content and now the brands reach out to us. We’ve worked with LL Bean, Columbia, Nature Valley, Universal Studios, and Walmart.
Q: Is there anything you’d like to add?
A: First, you can’t half do it. You have to fully commit to it or you’re not going to grow.
It is important to focus on consistency and building an organic community because right now there are a lot of people who want to be influencers and content creators and they think that buying followers is a good idea. I don’t recommend doing that or the “follow for follow” game. I think the reason that our platform is profitable is because we have a very engaged community, we have over 200 comments on most of our posts whereas most people only have about 30 comments. That is because we organically built our following.
I would say to grow organically and put the time in to making genuine connections with the people in your niche.
Second, you have to have a thick skin when you go into content creation because there are a lot of trolls, so be aware of that.
In terms of finances, I would say have a strategy going into it. If you want to monetize your account, start with that mindset from the beginning. The worst thing a brand can say is “no.” Then you just find another brand and keep pitching your platform.
Stephen always says, “you don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start in order to be great.” If you’re thinking about content creation as a potential side hustle, put the time and effort into creating valuable content and you never know what could happen.
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