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Issue #2 • February 2017

How to Start a Side Hustle as a Full-Time Parent

Build Your Audience

I think it’s safe to say that no one knows how to hustle quite like a parent. From being a chauffeur, a short-order cook, a house cleaner, a teacher, a budgeter, a personal shopper, a waste-management specialist, and a raiser of human beings, moms and dads know how to get a job done well and done quietly if it’s nap time.

And while all those mommy and daddy duties are fulfilling and life-giving in their own respect, sometimes a parent needs a little non-kid focused work on the side. After all, you moms and dads were women and men with your own lives and jobs before you had kids. You were accountants, projects managers, lawyers, chefs, writers, salespeople, and shop owners. Just because you want to be at home with your kids or work a different day job doesn’t mean you can’t continue to follow your passions through a side hustle.

Sadly, many parents assume that they don’t have the time to start an online business. It’s understandable, but it’s also wrong. If you want to make your dreams a reality, all you need to do is tap into that inherent hustle that being a parent has instilled in you and get to work.

If you’ve ever felt that desire to step out on your own and start a new business, even though you have the responsibilities of children and your home, there’s no better time than now to make it happen.

Five tips for parents thinking about starting a side hustle

Without having been a parent myself, I can’t tell you what I did to make a side gig a reality. Instead I polled some rockstar customers and friends who make parenting and being a business owner look effortless. I know it’s really not, but good grief these people know how to do it well.

Here are some tips I learned about balancing kids and work from mommy and daddy side giggers:

Get organized

Being a parent with a side gig means you’re going to be busy. Whether you’re a full-time parent that runs your household or a parent that works in an office, you’re side gig will always end up taking the backseat to your family unless you create space for it. And to that you need to understand your boundaries, your daily schedule, and how to organize it all into shifts in your day.

For example, when Mike Vardy (father, husband, and founder of Productivityist) worked a demanding full-time job but still wanted to grow his online business, he created Time Theming. This method helped him organize his schedule so he could write consistently during all his work transition and family growth. By doing this, he also provided true focus to building his business and still had “free time” in his day.

By determining what you can do, how you do it, and when you do it, you can find a schedule that fits into the spaces you create.

So when I started my blog, I had two daughters at the time, and they were about three and one years old. So they were still pretty needy… But I was still very much a stay-at-home mom, I had a lot of responsibilities. And so for me, I valued nap time and it was very sacred to me. My friends knew, “Don't call me during nap time, don't try and make arrangements during nap time,” because that was time I needed to work on my blog.

And I loved getting to sit down and write these tutorials and do these things. And I knew I only had a very short window to do them and so it did help me prioritize my time.

Make time for yourself

You can’t do anything worthwhile if you’re constantly worn down and pulling yourself out a trance after a meager four hours of sleep. When you’re running on all cylinders as a parent, an employee, and a business owner, you have to take care of yourself in body, mind, and soul or you’re going to burnout.

To combat that entrepreneur's fatigue, you need to make space for yourself to recharge, rest, and refuel. That can be anything from quiet morning coffees, reading, exercising, or hitting happy hour with a friend once a week. Whatever makes you feel refreshed and ready to take on another day, just do it. Your work will thank you, your kids will thank you, and you’ll thank yourself.

Set goals

It’s easy to get lost in the daily grind of it at all. I can promise you right now that you’re going to be tired, frustrated, and ready to give it up from time to time. When those times pile on top of each other and you feel like you can’t carry on, it’s important to have strong goals to look to.

If you start your side gig with tangible, passionate goals set out, you’ll be less likely to give up. That motivation from knowing what you want will help you dust off the disappointment of mistakes and failures and celebrate the big accomplishments as you grow your business.

Looking ahead and seeing my life as a working mom, being my own boss, working on my own schedule, and having more time with my daughter is always the outlook I have when I feel frustrated with where I'm at or consider throwing in the towel all together. Being content with where you are in your business is hard sometimes, but you will see your hard work pay off in no time.

Find your support systems

No one can do it all on their own. Having people in your life that understand what you're going through is going to be invaluable. You need people you can lean on for advice, strength, encouragement, and even daily tasks.

Your support system could include other side gigging parents, your spouse, your friends, or people you work with. Just make sure you’re not too shy or too proud to ask for help when you really need it. I think you’ll find that people are more willing to lend a hand than you think.

Recognize that it doesn’t happen overnight

I’m sure you hear about overnight Internet successes all the time. But I bet if you really looked into those stories you’d find out that there are years of hard work that get overshadowed. Those untold years of work are more often than not the true story for any successful business.

If you’re ready to see your side gig grow and are serious about business, you have to be in it for the long haul. It could take months or years to see the growth you’re working toward, but don’t let that stop you.

Be encouraged that there are so many parents out there that manage to be great moms and dads, work full-time jobs, and keep a side hustle successfully. If they can do it, so can you.

Are you a parent with a side gig?

If you’ve found your balance of parenting and running a business, share your story in the comments and help inspire other parents to get their side hustle on. I’d love to hear what you do and why you made following your passions a priority.

Dani Stewart

As a daughter of an entrepreneur, the wife of an entrepreneur, and an entrepreneur herself, Dani has lived and learned all sides of creating and growing businesses. She is excited to bring all that life experience as well as a decade of crafting content to the ConvertKit community. She is a part-time baker, dinner-party planner, and lover of good bourbon living the simple life in Nashville with her husband, Sean.

Experience this issue your way

Download this issue of Tradecraft as a PDF to read and reference at your own pace.

  • Natalie deGoey

    I’m a full time parent with a business… I’ve never thought of it as a side gig, but it definitely takes the back seat when my kids need me, so when I read this article it makes sense to call it that!

    It is definitely busy and crazy… but my passion is taking the skills and systems I’ve developed and teaching OTHER work at home parents how to make their branding work for them so they don’t have to hustle quite as hard to connect with the clients they need!

    Great piece! Sharing with my community. 🙂

    • Dani Stewart (ConvertKit)

      Thanks for sharing, @nataliedegoey:disqus! Glad you like the article.

  • Saskia Esslinger

    Yes! My side gig was teaching people how to grow their own food. It was so fun and rewarding I decided to sell the curriculum and business plan to help others do the same thing. I have to say I liked being in the garden more than being on my computer all the time, but I am motivated by a vision of more gardens and helping more people. Find your passion and do it!

    • Dani Stewart (ConvertKit)

      That’s awesome, @saskiaesslinger:disqus!

    • Nicky

      Hey! That’s my side-gig too! How did you do it Saskia? How much did you charge? (www.growmyownfood.com)

      • Saskia Esslinger

        Hi Nicky! After teaching workshops for a couple years and struggling to earn enough to make it worth my while, I developed a season-long curriculum to help people learn gardening from start to finish. I charged $350 for 14 sessions. You can get the curriculum at http://www.teachgardening.com and it has all the details on how I did it and how you can too! Also join my facebook group; teach gardening.

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