How to rock your side-hustle: do what you love and get $$$


Truth be told, I never thought I would get to this point, writing about how I grew my passion into a substantial side-hustle. Photography, since high school, was always something I just did. It was part of my identity, to have a camera in my hand, and Adobe in my side pocket. However, this is not a blog post about how I got into photography; this is about how to rock your side-hustle. I’ve highlighted some of the biggest tips I could offer someone who is getting started. However, the biggest takeaway is to just start. If you want to do something, there is nothing holding you back but yourself. A cliche, but so true.

1) Set goals.

No matter short-term or long-term. In the beginning of 2018, I wrote down intentions for myself to fulfill by the end of the year. These intentions were cataloged into four different aspects of my life: professional, financial, health/wellness, and personal. Some of my photography goals included:

- Have at least 2 coffee dates per month with someone I wouldn’t usually get coffee with. Expand. Connect.

- Shoot at least once per week

- Increase my photography business’ profit by 50% by the end of 2018.

Ballsy, right? Increasing by 50% while working a full-time job. However, as of April, I had wedding contracts signed, and senior sessions complete, helping me earn over $10,000 within the first four months, and I reached my aggressive financial goal of increasing profits by 50% as of late September. I’ll write a blog post soon about how to price yourself right (a big question I get from budding photographers is “what should I price x shoot?”).

Side tip: Wake up early. I’m editing this blog post at 6:50am, after woken up at 5am to start editing. Set goals and put in the work for the things you want. This applies for things beyond current blog post.

2) Remember to breathe.

As I’ve seen with my other side-hustling friends, it’s hard to find that balance of work, self-inflicted work, and play. I like to be busy. I always have to be doing at least something. However, I’ve learned that reset time helps me thrive and be a better person in other aspects of life! For me, this is making sure to M O V E my body! I try to workout at minimum 4 days per week, whether it’s yoga, weights, SoulCycle, or a walk on Town Lake with friends. This is not only healthy for you, but helps you be a more productive, energetic person in life.

Give yourself one day of rest per week to reset to avoid the crash and burn. Earlier this year, I had the burn for WEEKS. I could not pick up my camera to save my life, and I questioned why I was doing this. I hated social media, and didn’t want to edit at all. And that’s okay. You’ll have those days, or even weeks, or even months. Breathe, and know your passion is waiting for you when you’re ready.

3) Don’t get an ego - you are always learning.

Maybe it’s the Ravenclaw in me, but I believe we are forever students. Even when you seem to be doing well, how can you do better? Is this really your best work? By improving yourself, both in your craft and your business skills, you will grow. Meet with other photographers. Meet with mentors. 

4) Make the ask!!

If there is someone you want to meet for coffee, slide into their DMs. If you want to second shoot for someone, reach out and say how much you admire their work and would love to shadow them. If there is something/someone you want to shoot for the portfolio, just ask. For example, I am apart of the Almost 30 Facebook Group (10/10 podcast, if you’re into hippy-health stuff), and when I saw they were looking for an Austin photographer to help capture moments during their leg of their tour. I emailed, volunteering not only to capture the event, but I would also love to do a fun shoot with them, and they agreed! I got PAID to go to an event I was already going to attend. You never know what cool opportunities you’ll get if you never ask.

5)  Take advantage of all the resources out there.

Guys, in this age of technology, we are BOMBARDED with so much information that will help you be the best entrepreneur. For photographers, the Goal Digger podcast with Jenna Kuther is filled with great tips. 

(Take advantage of your commute and listen to something that will help you! Use your car rides to “speak” blog posts (if you want to get it translated, does the trick), and write them out later.)

I can’t tell you - from podcasts to other photographers who I admire, I am always asking questions and getting help. If you want help, simple search for it.

6) Don’t forget why you’re doing this.

Let’s be honest - I don’t love taking photos all the time. When it’s thunder-storming, the last thing I want to do is be outside drenched shooting a wedding. When I just want to relax with friends, I don’t want to be the designated photographer of the event. Let me say it: you don’t need to be in love with what you do all the damn time. Like point #2, you’ll get burnout. 

Remember to shoot/paint/code/insert-side-hustle-here because you found something that you love. If you don’t love it, what is the point? Entrepreneurship SUCKS some days, but if you’re able to hold on and put your all into it everyday, you will thrive.

I hope these tips were helpful - if you have any questions, opposing opinions, leave a comment below, and let’s chat!

x Ailin