I take my hat off to side hustlers. Not only are they working a full-time job, but they're running a business on the side. Pretty impressive! In this edition of the Side Hustle Blog series, we're going to get to know Patti Haus.
Hey, Patti. Welcome to the Side Hustle Blog Series. Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Tell us about your business niche.
I am a copywriter, blogger, and social media strategist. I work primarily with small businesses to help them increase their presence and engagement on social media. I write content, social media posts and develop Facebook ads for them.
Cool! What has been the most challenging aspect of building your business so far?
The most challenging by far is time management. When you work in a corporate environment, have a business that you are building on the side and have a family, there are a lot of balls to keep in the air. It’s easy for something to get dropped.
I bet. How do you handle it?
I carve out time for everything in advance if possible. So my friends know that I can rarely make a social event that is last minute, so they have to tell me in advance. Same with my family. Of course, things come up and that’s fine, but I like advance warning.
For my business, I plan out when I work. I have certain evenings that I work and then weekends. I am super busy, but I know it won’t be forever.
I also put everything on my calendar. So if I have a deadline, it’s on the calendar. If it’s a big job, I try to break it down into smaller chunks and again, I put it on my calendar.
It sounds like you've developed a system that works for you. What’s a typical day schedule for you? How many hours a week do you work?
I work 40 hours a week at my corporate job and then probably about 15-20 at my own business. I work most weekends for up to 8 hours a day, and then several evenings for two to three hours.
That sounds very much like my schedule. Patti, how do you manage your projects?
I use a calendar to put down everything I am working on and deadlines I have to meet. I also have specific days that I use for specific tasks. So, if I am doing social media posting, I use scheduling software and I plan the week out on Sunday.
Planning is definitely key. Working a side hustle has its sacrifices. What did you have to let go of or sacrifice in order to allow your business to blossom?
I have sacrificed spontaneity. And I made a conscious decision to keep only people around me who added something to my life. So no more friends who frustrated me. It was actually quite liberating!
Sounds great, Patti. What are tools or people (professionals included) that have helped you to cultivate your hustle?
I belong to a mentoring group (Create your Laptop Life) that is fantastic. It’s not the cheapest, but it comes with a ton of resources and a great supportive group that really helps with both skill development and mental strategies.
I also use Buffer for social media scheduling, Tailwind for Pinterest scheduling, Adobe Creative Cloud for graphics and photo manipulation.
I've heard some great things about CYLL. I'll have to check it out. When do you know you need a break from your business?
I know I need a break when I don’t want to work on something. I am used to being super busy, so when I am having trouble getting off of the couch, I know it’s time to schedule some time off.
What is one of your biggest upsets/setbacks/fails as a side hustler/business owner?
I think one of the toughest things is having to grow a thick skin. Sometimes people will ask you about something to do with my business and then it’s silence...crickets. I always respond to emails and if it’s not the right fit, I let them know, so it’s crazy to me that some people just don’t respond. I am obviously not talking about cold pitching because that is unsolicited and I never expect a response.
I'm seeing more and more new virtual assistants come on the scene. What advice would you give to individuals just starting out?
Don’t expect success right away, especially in the virtual world. There are a lot of people overseas who will work for peanuts, so you have to be convinced of your value. You will work for less than you are worth at the beginning, but as you get a bigger portfolio and increase your skill set, your wage will increase.
If you have children, how have you adjusted their schedules to your business?
My children are big - 21 and 16 - so they don’t really need me that much any more. I am always there for them when they do. We make a point of eating dinner together every night so that they can talk about whatever they need to talk about. I honestly don’t think I could have done this when they were young. As it is, my husband has had to take over many of our household chores like grocery shopping.
It sounds like you've got a great support system. What are your top three tips you can give that has helped during your business journey?
Grow a thick skin, always learn new things, and practice time management
Starting out, how did you get clients?
I found my first customers through Facebook groups and via cold emailing. I still think that cold emailing is a great way to increase your customer base.
I'm happy to hear you've found success in cold emailing. Some virtual assistants believe they have to charge a low rate when they first start out. What was your strategy to charge what you deserve in your business?
I still don’t think I charge what I am worth lol. I think you have to find clients that are able to pay what you are worth, and you have to show them what you can do for them to justify your payment. It could be as simple as showing that you are taking care of tasks that they don’t have to do so that they can have more time to do other things, or more free time. I always keep track of anything that I do that has a direct return on investment for them.
Good advice, Patti. How did your husband feel about your business? How did you get him on board?
I eased him into it. I started blogging and dragging him to events (my blog is a local blog). It took my free time, but it didn’t really cut into time with him. Then I started freelance writing and it took more time, but it brought in a few dollars. I eventually announced that I was going all in and by then he was used to me spending time on the computer so he was ok with it.
That's awesome to get him involved in your business. What are your favorite tools that help you manage your to do lists and time?
I use Toggl for keeping track of billing hours for my client work. I also use a Google calendar that gives me alerts when I have something due. I like Trello for client work; it’s really intuitive.
I'm a Trello lover myself! What’s next for your business? Are you working towards going full-time? Anything else you’d like to share?
I am just starting with Facebook ads - I finished a course and I have two clients lined up. I plan to do more Facebook ads and more social media management. I am able to charge less than an agency, and I think that is what small businesses need. I really enjoy working with small businesses on anything social media. So often small businesses know that they need to be on social media, but they have no idea how to post in a way that promotes their business without being spammy or neglectful. I can’t tell you how many small businesses I see that either post the wrong things (like political stuff) or they post twice a month. I work with them to develop a sound social media strategy.
I plan to go full time by the end of June.
Patti, thank you so much for stopping by. Would you like to share your business with our readers?
I am a writer, editor, and word lover. I enjoy helping other businesses create a content strategy that helps them to communicate with their audience. I specialize in content creation and social media strategy, with an emphasis on increasing engagement in all platforms.
I have two kids and a great husband. I can be found at www.pattihaus.com or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patti, thanks so much.
I hope Patti's story has given you motivation if you're working a business and a full-time job.
I'd love to feature other side hustlers so reach out and contact me.
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