Exactly How I Made $21,000+ Side Hustling Last Year

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It’s Saturday night and I’m reading a pretty damn boring book about email marketing sales funnels. Why? Because I dropped over $100 on a new name necklace yesterday and am trying to chill out this weekend on spending, but also, because it’s research for future jobs and future side hustle work.

This got me thinking about side hustles and my love for them. It’s been a while since I’ve done a post about money that wasn’t just a Twitter rant. I’m starting a new job Monday that I’m really excited for, and that combined with side hustles buzzing in my brain got me thinking about how my day to day life and schedule is going to change, and how everything good and bad in 2015 really added up to be the perfect environment for me to side hustle my ass off. (But actually I swear it wasn’t that hard).

There isn’t much talk of the mysterious seemingly glamorous side hustle that allows the Instagram girls you stalk to fly to Ibiza on a moments notice, or the step by step breakdown of the entrepreneur coke talk pipe dream that somehow made your high school friend rich. If there was, I would probably be living my life following those suggestions not desperately asking anyone I can find for advice. What there is thankfully is an increasing dialogue about side hustles, and working outside of your “day job”. There’s even a good amount of suggestions of side hustles to get started with, (which I do touch on here). But I wanted to add a bit of my experience about exactly how I made from each of my side hustles, the amount of time that they took, the amount of emotional/brain energy that they took, and how it all added up to be extremely doable while maintaining my day job. Something that definitely isn’t going to be my story for the second half of 2016.

While I broke this down, I was really reminded that the money really came in, $30-100 at a time. I was, and am, playing the long game. Granted there were a few shockingly well paid projects, but those $1000 per project checks aren’t a reality in my life. Yet. The a few hours I put in every few nights added up to $100 every so often, which added up to a thousand, and after 12 months… you get what I’m saying. Basically, it’s pretty realistic and attainable, even if you aren’t a superstar consultant charging $150 an hour.

In 2015, I made $21,000+ in freelance income, on top of the full time job where I was salaried. A few things played into making this possible, some attainable by anyone, and some specific to my life, but before I get into details I wanted to paint a realistic, privilege acknowledging picture of what my life was like while this happened. This is something I feel like almost any “I Did X Sort of Difficult Thing in Y Unrealistic Timeframe” article misses, duh you paid your loans in a year you lived at home, etc. etc. end rant. This will also serve as auto replies for any defensive comments lol.

1. I had a job Jan- Nov where I walked to work 15 minutes or less each way. Because of this, I didn’t spend the 1-2 hours most people I know spend commuting, and could easily do a few hours of freelance work, upping my daily income by $100 or so by the time my boyfriend got back from work in Venice to WeHo in LA rush hour. I intentionally picked an apartment less than a mile from my job (where I was under contract to be there 1 year min, the same length as my lease) because I wanted to give myself more free time than I had had back in NY with my commute. The small price difference to be in this area I made back tenfold. Definitely recommend.

2. I had a job that paid decently/well (depending on who you ask) that didn’t require obscene hours, it was give or take 9ish in office per day. I had some weeks where we had insane 24 hour live streams, weekend work events maybe once a month, and a decent chunk of work travel that I actually really loved (and was treated very fairly during. Can I expense this juice? Yep!). Looking back, I learned so much at that job and at times I really loved it. But something I can’t deny and have to give them credit for even when I bitch a little, was it was reasonable. There were very few late nights working on Keynote decks, very few texts at obscene hours from bosses, all at a good rate that was reviewed every 6 months. There are jobs that require insane hours that are worth it for some people, financially or career growth/learning wise, those often don’t give you as much time to freelance. If you’re on the lower end of the pay scale, with those insane hours, well that’s the worst combo, but hopefully you sticking it out there is the right choice, and if not, side hustle at your next gig.

3. I personally am very motivated by work related challenges and financial goals. This one is obviously important for this. If you don’t care about money, then fuck a side hustle, just do what you like all money aside.

4. I am an LA native and my parents and grandparents still live here, which is relevant and pertinent to the last income source on my list. This obviously isn’t something I can control, but it’s dope. When I moved back to LA, I hadn’t even considered the possible (and financial!) benefits of this, but it has proven to be so beneficial it pretty much has deterred me from leaving, along with really strengthening my relationship with my fam even when I’m not using them for a place to crash.

5. This one is probably the most obvious but also one that could be the biggest hurdle for anyone else, but I had/have a level of privilege and access that allowed me to spend my free time doing side hustles, an apartment with internet that was a great workspace, pretty damn good physical and mental health that helped me stay motivated, and an education and growing skill set that was relatively in demand (once you look on the far corners of the internet) and qualified me for a decent freelancer rate.

Okay, so lets get into it. I’ll go from smallest to largest.

$1,500- 3 branded content articles for lifestyle brands, assigned to me through the branded content division of an online media company I had blogged for prior. These are the ~big check~ projects I mentioned. These 2 projects were in the same month and only happened that time during the entire year sadly. As writers know, or should know, branded content isn’t a journalist’s dream. Thankfully for me, I no longer consider myself a journalist. I’m a writer, but “selling out” writing funny blogs for liquor brands doesn’t offend or shame me. And the pay is GREAT. (Btw this brand- hit me up!).

$2,400 – 15 educational marketing blogs for a website builder software (think Squarespace, but it wasn’t Squarespace) to put on their website to boost SEO and drive search engine traffic. I found this company on Angel.co and reached out. This was all done in the last 2 months of the year. These projects are incredibly boring, but easy for me. I did 1-2 of these a week (this gig continued heavily into 2016), and usually did them Sunday nights while watching TV half paying attention, they took about 60-90 minutes each. This was definitely the main hustle where I had to buckle down and remind myself of the cost/benefit and how worth it these were for me. Also (IRS close your eyes) this was a cash gig. (Should I delete that? DM me if you’re a cop.)

$2,870 – 13 B2B blogs and a three day trip to a trade show in Las Vegas (paid on a day rate) for a boutique content marketing agency based in New York. I got introduced to this through an online acquaintance, sent over samples, and got a few gigs that increased throughout the year. This gig was relatively fun, easy, and cushy. I loved the Vegas trip and did another in 2016. The blogs were B2B so, for business owners from a business perspective, but touched on trending fashion/beauty/lifestyle products and trends so they were fun and easy to write. The people I worked with were also really great. This is an example of a gig I could do 1-2 times a month while having a more intense or fulfilling full time job

$4,500 – About 120 hours of copywriting, email marketing, and general marketing strategy for a startup in the lifestyle space. This work was done over the course of 3 months and was probably the project I was the most dedicated to (late weekend nights, etc.). I got this through a mentor-esq figure I met in college online who I stayed in touch with. This led to a full time job offer that I actually declined but continued to freelance for the company. This was the first gig where I had to really come up with a concrete hourly rate, which was a great learning experience. I kind of humiliated myself when I first suggested one that was, looking back, obscenely high. Thankfully I was working with someone I really respect who broke it down for me and was honest when helping me come up with a number that I used throughout 2015 and into 2016 (though it went up!) as a baseline hourly rate for my services in the marketing/content space.

$10,000 – This one is the kicker. And maybe it shouldn’t have been included in this blog, but it was definitely work and definitely forced me to make changes to my day to day lifestyle. 26 reservations equaling 70 total nights renting my 1 bedroom apartment on Air BnB. I wrote a lot more about this in my blog here.

Air BnB was literally life changing for me this year. Granted, half of this money is Drew’s, we have it in a joint account so I’ll include it. Does Drew hate me for doing Air BnB? YES. With a passion. Did it pay for our hotel in Tokyo, entire trip to Scandinavia, and Air BnB in Cuba? Also yes. Air BnB also let me write off a lot of home expenses I had that year since we had just moved. It also really got my mind thinking about the value of owning and renting out property, which I really had never considered to be part of my short term plan. A few downsides, it’s inconvenient as hell (for me). We went to my mom’s or Grandma’s house about 50% of the time, the other times we were either already out of town, decided to go out of town and break even, or even once, I had to get us our own Air BnB in LA because my mom said no. This obviously was a “told you so” moment for Drew. In 2016, I am continuing to do Air BnB but at a much lower frequency. I’m pacing to make around 5k or so the entire year, which includes a long term rental while I’m gone in July. Also, Air BnB is taxed (as is basically all income), but something to consider.


So that was my 2015. 2016, a lot slower (by choice), but working on projects I love more, with higher rates, and a new full time job. In the spirit of transparency, I’d love to hear about anyone else’s experience, advice, comments, or questions.

Stockholm: A City So Chill It Has Mandatory Coffee Breaks

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After Copenhagen, we hopped on a super short (1 hr 15 min or so) flight over to Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, another country and city known for being almost scarily pleasant, and already living in the Bernie-esq superworld we wish we had. On the plane, I actually found an article in Wired about a guy from ABBA in the process of turning Sweden into a cashless society. As someone who hates an ATM fee or credit card charge, I’m onboard. When I find out Stockholm has a population of 900k and the entire country 10million, it makes a little more sense how they have it so good, but I’m still jealous and insanely curious.

Where we stayed: This was my first experience staying at an AirBnB shared apartment, and I’d definitely do it again. Typically I rent the entire apartment, but this cute spacious bedroom within an apartment on the island of Sodermalm (Stockholm is made up of a bunch of little islands that are both neighborhoods with subneighborhoods within them) worked out great for us, and was a prety good deal.



New Nordic Cuisine & Anarchist Communes in Copenhagen

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A month or so ago I finally went on a trip I bought (semi drunk?) at 2 am. It’s very like me to buy a flight 9 months in advance and sort of sit on it. In my mind it somehow feels free this way? (It definitely isn’t and wasn’t but I can dream.) Anyways, Drew and I hopped on an 11 hour insanely reasonably priced Norwegian Airlines flight from LAX to Copenhagen for the first time. The crisp early Spring weather paired with the incredibly liberal sensibility definitely made me a fan of the capital of Denmark. I also loved that being (as what I think is fair to call) a less traveled European city, I felt less pressured to go to a million sites and had actually less recommendations coming my way, which prompted me to do a little bit more research and explore on my own.

Where we stayed: 

Another Air BnB success story, we stayed in this cute studio apartment in the neighborhood of Vesterbro, which I totally recommend. Super walkable area filled with boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants, wine bars, and more.

Where we ATE!! (YASS! Copenhagen is a food capital!): 

*DISCLAIMER* The infamous NOMA was closed. I knew this about 6 months before we arrived, and basically got over it immediately until as soon as I was in Copenhagen people were suggesting that I go, as if you could just pop in…..

One note about my eating experience in Copenhagen. Copenhagen is expensive. I’d say 35% give or take more than equivalent places in LA/SF/NY. That being said, tipping, especially 20% is not customary, so it sort of evens out or is 15-20% more. Because of this, fine dining was a LOT less expensive than I expected. This may also be some sort of competition with NOMA which is world famous, or because NOMA is closed, I’m not sure. But if you consider a kabob and a soda is USD $15 or a coffee, juice, and pastry is $20, why wouldn’t you have a three course meal for $50 when you have a chance.


Havana, Cuba Without the Instagram Filter

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As many of you know, I accomplished one of my top travel dreams last November when I went to Havana. Before I go into the details of every plantain I ate, I wanted to break down a few of the things I see in nearly every Cuba travel post, many of which I believed, and what I came to learn during my time there.


A Quick Pit Stop in Roma Norte: Mexico City

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Okay guys, so this is way overdue. I’m already cringing scrolling down and seeing my last blog date almost a year ago, but the beauty of DF aka Mexico City makes up for it.

If you know me, I’m someone that is constantly saying that I miss places. Sometimes, it’s somewhere I’ve only been once, even only for a few days. Mexico City is one of those places. Ever since Drew and I went in November, I’ve basically taken on a pro-bono job doing PR for the city encouraging anyone who will listen to me to go, and even helping some of my friends plan their trips.

While it took me 25 years to start to like LA, it honestly took me 3 days to fall in love with Mexico City. Though I’ve always wanted to go, what prompted this specific trip was our trip to Havana, Cuba. Despite some loosening of the travel embargo between the US and Cuba, flights out of the US to Cuba are very infrequent and non existent on the West Coast. Instead of fly from LA to NY or Miami and then to Havana, I decided why not book the whole thing a la carte (and way more confusing and complicated because, obviously) and fly LAX to Mexico City, then Mexico City to Havana, Havana to Mexico City, and Mexico City to LAX. Two separate round trip flights that I had to match the times up juuuuust that perfectly. Did I pull it off? Yes. Would I suggest it to everyone, eh, it depends how much you love organizing trips. Average price of a roundtrip flight LA to Mexico City ~$300. And of course- my Cuba blog is coming soon.

I wanted to stay longer, but as Drew put it, Mexico City isn’t going anywhere (give or take) while Havana is changing so fast that by the next time we go, we may have to deal with Carnival cruisers or McDonalds. So because of that, we spent only 3 days in Mexico City. Mostly eating… and exploring… and eating.


Topanga Canyon for Drews Birthday

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My first impression of Topanga Canyon was that all the kids from there that went to my highschool were always barefoot. When Drew and I decided to do a stay-cation type adventure for his 26th birthday, I discovered that 7 years later, this is still an accurate impression. That being said, Topanga is awesome. I would 100% live there and never leave if that was a realistic option for me.

One thing I really do love about living in LA, is the insane range of terrain. You can drive a little bit and be in a city, beach, desert, forest, canyon, and like ten different types of each of those. Topanga is less than an hour from my house, but feels worlds away. In New York, this is also possible, like the Catskills, but thats 4 or so hours away, in a car you don’t have. Basically- if you’re into nature, as smoggy and traffic filled as LA is, it is a pretty decent place to access it.

We found a little house on a commune that produces essential oils on Air B&B. We read on the hammock, walked our dog Nora around the premises, and explored. We shopped in the Topanga town center. Had lunch at Abulitas, a little Mexican restaurant on the creek in an old house, and went to a nice birthday dinner at Inn of the Seventh Ray, one of the more beautiful places I’ve ever eaten. At night, we realized we weren’t sleepy and went to Calabasas and saw a horrible scary movie.




Kyoto Photo Diary

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I got into the details about my Japan trip, especially Tokyo, here. But I wanted to show some more photos of Kyoto, where I took a day trip on the Bullet train to visit temples, rock gardens, walk along the Philosophers Path during the Sakura, or cherry blossom blooming.

We took a cab from the Kyoto train station towards the part of the city that is more historic and less urban. There’s also a bus but since we were on a day trip, we wanted to save time. We started at the Ginkaku-ji temple, where we wore slippers and drank green tea. We got to pour water over bamboo shoots to create this super calming noise. Then I was starving but food was actually not abundant, which was nice, because no one wants gross restaurants or shops in the middle of this beautiful serene atmosphere, but this tiny little cafe had Japanese curry! My favorite comfort food I had been on the prowl for. This adorable Grandma made us plates for basically $4 USD that looked exactly like the curry emoji.

The philosophers path was filled with about half cherry blossoms, and plenty of stray cats. Of course, since everything in Japan is cute. I was so happy to have made it (basically) in time to catch the annual cherry blossoming. Definitely prioritize this, it’s beautiful!



Big in Japan- Tokyo & Kyoto 2015

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I know I’ve said this before, my Paris and Tokyo have always been my dream cities to travel to. I honestly don’t even remember where the fascination began, before age 5 definitely, and it’s stuck. I had a trip in the works senior year of highschool to Japan, but things fell through and since then, I’ve been dying to go.

After visiting Hong Kong, Drew and I hopped on a flight to Tokyo for five days of eating, shopping, and exploring (read: getting lost and not that mad about it.) I think I can safely say Tokyo is my favorite place I’ve ever traveled to, and I cannot wait to go back.

Below are some tips and tricks I picked up if you’re planning to go, or just like planning fake vacations in your imagination like I do.


Adventures in Hong Kong with Drew, Kathy, and Sam

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Sam moved to Hong Kong for a FIT program was ultimately motivated me to take this Asia trip. Drew and I flew to Hong Kong to visit him, and our friend Kathy, who I met in NY, but is currently living in London, made the trek too.

We ate, went to the tallest bar in the world, gambled in Macau, hiked to The Peak to see the Hong Kong skyline, rode around in double decker busses, and got insanely lost going to the beach. Click read more for more photos and details!


How I Plan a Budget Friendly Vacation

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I leave for Hong Kong and Tokyo in about a week and a half and before I start flooding my feed with travel pics, I wanted to share some insight into what goes on in my brain while planning a trip and figuring out how to make a seemingly unrealistic multi-country trip fit in my budget.

This upcoming trip, like all the ones I have planned in my last two or so years of being travel obsessed started from random browsing. I was staying at my Grandma’s house in December when I first moved to LA as I waited for my stuff to get shipped from NY. One night I just started planning a fake vacation in my head to visit my friend Sam who is living in Hong Kong and then going to Tokyo, which I thought was nearby but is actually 4 hours away. I picked a range of possible dates I was into, and started plugging them into Kayak. I was pretty open since I would be taking my vacation days at work and have paid vacation days that don’t roll over, so what could be more motivation. Below I break down how I plan where to go, when to go, where to stay, and how to fly.

Please leave any of your tips and tricks in the comments! Both about saving money, taking trips, and vacation ideas! 


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