About 5 months after starting my The Ordinary Parent Facebook group and deciding to brand myself as The Ordinary Mom for my side hustles, I decided that others might find value in going through this journey with me. I had the epiphany on one of my long drives for work that I wanted to publicly document this process. I will say that I’m an excellent documenter (I think it’s one of my special gifts) and realized I had tons of notes in Evernote and on Google Docs about my side hustle journey thus far.
I decided I would use my WordPress skills that I learned when I created my www.theordinarymom.com website and create a website to blog about my experiences of trying to figure out this whole side hustle thing. Once I decided that I wanted to blog about it, I had to come up with a name. As anyone who has tried to buy a URL in the last few years knows, it’s tough to find one that you wanted.
When I wanted to get one for my parenting blog, it took me a lot of misses to finally find one that I liked (www.theordinarymom.com) so for this one I came up with four criteria: 1. I wanted to only get a .com 2. I wanted to have it to start with “the” to match my other brand 3. I wanted it to have the words “side hustle” in it and 4. I wanted it to describe the experience I was having such as “journey”. That all came together when I came up with www.thesidehustlejourney.com and I was lucky that URL was available and I bought it. If you want to buy a URL, I would recommend https://wordpress.com/domains/. If you want to create a website, I would recommend https://wordpress.com/alp/?aff=13401&cid=2093430 (fyi- this is an affiliate link so I might get paid if you sign up through here).
Once I had the name, I whipped up a website on WordPress and created a The Side Hustle Facebook page in the next week. I realized at this point that I wanted to tie all of my branding together and it made sense as I was blogging about 2 journeys- parenting and side hustles.
Here is what I put on the front of my new website:
“I have embarked on a journey that in 5 years or less, I want to be my own boss, earn at least what I am making now at a corporate job, work less and have more fun. Follow my progress, mistakes, tips and lessons learned. You can also follow my on my parenting journey at www.theordinarymom.com”.
I had done it. I had publicly put a stake in the ground that I was putting myself out there to see if the skills I had learned in ~25 years in business, business school, binge podcasting and life experiences could help me create and start side hustles that could turn into a well paying career in 5 years. It’s funny, when my Dad saw my site, he panicked and said, “What happens if someone from work sees this?”. My response was, “I am doing this at night and on the weekends and if someone sees that I am giving a 5 year notice, I don’t think that is the end of the world”.
When I envisioned this site, I wanted to do what I said in my descriptor…be totally honest on this journey and share my progress, mistakes, tips and lessons learned. I want to help other side hustlers who come behind me and make the journey easier and faster for them. I have always been collaborative in the workplace and I want to do that now for a broader community of side hustlers.
I have already been the benefit of that collaboration from folks like Nick Loper of www.thesidehustlenation.com who sent me some words of encouragement when I signed up to follow his website and podcasts (and not just generic encouragement that he sends to everyone but it was personalized to me and what I was trying to do), the amazing folks on the https://www.facebook.com/groups/MerchLife/ Facebook page who gave me advice when I was trying to launch my Merch by Amazon business and the folks at the Sacramento WordPress Meet up who tweaked my webpages without any discussion of payment. I want to pass along my knowledge, challenges and/or disasters to others to help them on their journey.
I launched the site early January 2019 and published my first blog soon after. I have been trying to blog regularly and as I write this in June 2019, I have 10 blogs published. I have 1 follower (other than me). I had no idea of where the email list (currently of one) was going so I did a chat with WordPress support. I had added the Jet Pack widget when I created the site and the support person said the following, “Jetpack is built-in to your site. So if a user fills in their info into the “Follow Blog via Email” widget for example, they would show up under Manage → People then you would go to Followers to see the WordPress.com followers and Email Followers to see the email followers.”.
By the way, I think it’s hard to find how to chat on WordPress (it’s under “plan” tab on the WordPress admin site i.e. yourURL/admin) but now that I can remember where it is, I have found the folks on the chat line to be amazing. I have probably used it 10 times to ask questions about WordPress and they have helped me every time.
I have just been trying to produce content before I advertise the site. I am now ready to do some organic advertising. I googled the best SEO plug ins on WordPress and Yoast always seems to be at the top so I just loaded that to the site. I also just added categories to all posts. You can create your own so I added side hustle, business, small business, entrepreneur and blogging.
Here is what I plan to do in the next month to promote this site:
1. Put a note on my personal Facebook page to check out my www.thesidehustlejourney.com site.
2. Email both Nick Loper of Side Hustle Nation and Michelle Schroeder-Gardner of Making Sense of Cents and see if they will advertise my site. The reason I am hoping they might is because my website is almost an advertisement for Side Hustle Nation because I binge listened to those podcasts over the past year and learn a lot about starting a side hustle. See my post about it at https://thesidehustlejourney.com/2019/04/14/how-i-spent-the-summer-binging-podcasts-about-side-hustles/
Michelle Shroeder-Garner is a well established blogger but I took a free blogging course from her and she said to email her if we start to blog. Here is her free version of the course that I found very helpful:
3. Research how to generate organic SEO and act on it. I don’t want to pay for advertising yet but I need to know how to utilize SEO. Installing the Yoast Plugin in WordPress was my first attempt but there is so much more I could be doing.
What I love about this journey is that I have no idea where this will lead so I am having fun in the process and documenting it for all to read. As well as giving others an insight to my learnings, screw ups, wins etc., documenting it helps me remember what I did because it’s hard to remember all of the details of when you were just starting out when you get to the stage of having a successful side hustle business (which I hope I get to at some point in the next five years).
I’m having positive thoughts of growing this side hustle into something and I’m also sending them to anyone else who is at the beginning of this journey too. Send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are just starting out as well and we can give encouragement and advice to each other.