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How To... Turn Your Passion Into a Side Hustle

How To... Turn Your Passion Into a Side Hustle

Joy Molan and Emily Parker, two strategists at McCann London, have just launched a new indie magazine for 20-somethings. Here are their top tips for a successful side hustle.

There’s a growing crisis that gets little airtime: the quarterlife crisis. We’ve felt it, our friends have felt it, but very few mainstream publications are talking about it.

Frustrated by the lack of honest advice and attainable role-models out there, we put our ‘planning’ heads together and decided to set up Quarterlife – our side hustle that aims to plug the knowledge gap left by full-time education with practical, uplifting stories about the things that really matter once you enter “real life” and the workforce. 

After launching on Monday 28th January 2019, and with full time day-jobs, we’ve just had time to catch our breath and reflect on what’s been a fairly busy few months… and we’ve learned a lot. But here are our four top tips to help anyone considering setting up their own side hustle.


Above: Quarterlife founders, Joy Molan (left) and Emily Parker

Find a partner

Turning a side-project into a reality is tough, so having that like-minded partner can be the difference between the possible and impossible. Not only is it a huge amount of extra work, it’s also important to have someone to bounce ideas off. Both of us had worked on magazines whilst at Uni and were keen to start our own publication together. Sometimes, when your mind is brimming with ideas – you can feel paralysed by choice.  Having someone to stress-test concepts with helped us to narrow down our focus, call-out ideas that weren’t up to scratch and divvy out tasks. Having two people with a relentless work ethic is also key. Sharing the load ensures you’re both playing to your strengths and that the project stays fun. Plus, if one person needs to switch off for a night or for a few days, the other person can carry the load. 

It’s also crucial to maintain honesty in that partnership. We’ve all had ideas that we thought were golden, but in hindsight are pretty average. Having that partner who give you a reality check might be hard, but it’s a necessary evil.


Make the time

Anyone reading this already knows that advertising is a demanding industry. We found that devoting one evening a week to the project helped us stay on track with our plans. We also set aside two weekends for editing and uploading content; made doable by copious amounts of tea and wine in alternation. Whenever we half-heartedly tried to squeeze it in around our already busy lives, our attention was halved, and the quality of the work suffered. 

That said – flexibility is a must. Last-minute meetings, family commitments and unexpected life-crises will never cease and not everything can always go to plan. We had to defer our launch date by a week to iron out some unforeseen technical issues with the site. But none of this mattered in the grand scheme of things. Being able to set our own rules and make decisions based on what worked best for us, rather than meeting external deadlines, meant the process was remarkably stress-free. All told, our project took approximately two months from conception to realisation. Believe it or not, the hardest part was coming up with the name.

"We used Instagram to engage a community who hadn’t yet found a home and tailor our content around these obvious gaps marked by an end of education."

Create a community

Easier said than done. But, we figured the best way to drum up site traffic wasn’t by waiting to create our social pages after launch, but by doing so ahead of time to share content we’d found inspiring in our early 20s. This exercise proved that we weren’t alone in our confusion about life after education. So many other people shared our trepidation – but had few outlets to tell their stories. 

We knew there was appetite for our soon-to-be-published platform when we ran a series of Instagram polls in the build-up to our launch. These polls showed that found that 91 per cent of young people leave full-time education feeling poorly-prepared for real life and work, and only 50 per cent feel optimistic about the future. In addition, 49 per cent of graduates experience a deterioration in their mental health in the first year after education - a year we have dubbed ‘the lost year’. We used Instagram to engage a community who hadn’t yet found a home and tailor our content around these obvious gaps marked by an end of education.

Be bold

When you’ve got nothing to lose you’ve got everything to gain. At least, that’s what we told ourselves when we brazenly DM-ed cool, young start-up founders and low-key heroes to ask for interviews for a magazine that didn’t yet exist. We were pleasantly surprised by how generous people were with their time and how patient they were with our less-than-honed interview techniques. Our advice: take risks early on, be cheeky and reach out to people even if it feels like a long shot. 

We are by no means the finished article – no pun intended. We’re still learning, and we see this side hustle as an opportunity to explore new creative avenues – even if that entails some meandering off course. It’s not about nailing it first time round – it’s about indulging a passion, trying something new. Don’t aim for perfection – instead be prepared to experience peaks and troughs on your journey.  If it all goes pear-shaped, chalk it up to experience and keep on going.

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