Attitude Editorial Life

Side hustle secrets – How to run a successful business while working full time

Side hustle secrets

Created in collaboration with NBN Australia

As if my lack of filters wasn’t enough to make me the outcast in every social situation, that I was clearly not normal quickly dawned on me, when, as much as I wanted to, I could never be that piano playing, textbook memorising, straight-A Chinese girl, that was supposed to my lot by genetic disposition. Had I been, a career in law might have satisfied me completely. But, rather than growing out of all those childish artistic flares, I can’t remember a time when I was not immersed in a portfolio of hobbies, from digital illustration to web design, each of which I pursued with a passion and dedication that befuddled my friends. What, indeed, was the point of all these activities, when they had no benefit for my career?

Without knowing it, I was somewhat of an early adopter of the biggest social trend of our generation, the side hustle. And we bloggers may well be the best example of side hustlers. So today, I’ve teamed up with NBN Australia to share with you my side hustle secrets, and how I run my business while working full time.

What’s a side hustle? Firstly, it has to be an activity that is unrelated and in addition to one’s full time job, in which one has a burning passion. Secondly it is an activity that has the prospect of generating income. That said, money is not the end goal here. Rather it gives a glimpse into a dream (quite contrary to the standard paradigm) where, somehow, someday, we could be making a living doing the things we really love. And therefore, perhaps paradoxically, something is really only a side hustle, when one has the vision of making it their full time job one day.

1Have a plan, any plan

The biggest struggle for a side hustler is limited time outside business hours and weekends to run their business. Therefore, it is so important to have some kind of plan of where you want to go. This will enable you to identify the most important tasks (which we talk about below) that you should concentrate on. For me, I often set a series of short term goals from time to time, for example, ‘reach 20,000 followers on Instagram’.

2Find out how to monetise

The democratising effect of the internet has made it possible to generate income in ways never imagined. In this sharing economy, people are making money from hiring out rooms on Airbnb, doing small tasks on Fiverr and driving strangers around on Uber – all of these requiring little to no investment to get started. For bloggers, the world is increasingly recognising the immense power of social media, so charging a fee for advertising products on our platforms is our bread and butter. How much brands will be willing to pay will depend heavily on how many followers you have, and how much engagement you receive on your posts, so building a strong following is a top priority.

 3Employ the 80/20 rule

In business, an interpretation of the 80/20 rule is that 80% of results come from 20% of the activities. In other words, there are a small number of key activities that generate the greatest benefit for your business, and when time poor, these are those that you need to concentrate on. As I mentioned above, social media following yields, by far, the most significant benefit for a blogger, and therefore I allocate a lot of time to planning and creating content for social media and engaging with the community. As such, whether my house can access high speed internet with the NBN was a key deciding factor when house hunting.

4Take advantage of technology

Using technology to significant save time and effort are not short cuts or cop outs, but are absolutely necessary when running a side hustle when time poor. For a blogger, get yourself good photography equipment that takes perfect photos every time, a powerful computer that can handle image processing without lag, and of course, fast internet. I am always surprised how many of my peers haven’t taken up cloud storage. As I back up my entire business to cloud, I can access it anywhere, and can instantly transfer my content to any of my devices to, for example, post an image taken on my DSLR to Instagram. As I am syncing many gigabytes of data at any time, this would simply not be possible without the NBN.

5Import skills from your day job

In many ways, there are unique advantages of being a side hustler, because of the skills and resources you can import from your day job. For me, as a lawyer, I am more confident in navigating the regulatory and legal environment of the creative industry. The general professional skills and experience that come from my day job, such as communicating professionally and persuasively have been invaluable.

6Be organised

Having good systems for your workflow and filing are as important in an office situation as in an independent business (perhaps more so). For example, just as I have processes for running a legal matter in my day job, I have processes for my creative projects on Beige Renegade. From imagining the concept, styling, shooting and post processing, to drafting the copy and publishing on my various platforms, I am guided by my workflow to know what to do next and how long it will take. Also, as I catalogue all my image content logically, when publications request high resolutions of images from 6 months ago, usually on an urgent basis, I can find these instantly.

Created in collaboration with National Broadband Network Australia

Location: Perth | Photography: Blogger’s Boyfriend

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  • Bloggers Issue Magazine
    27 January 2017 at 12:31 am

    Hi lovely,

    Your blog post will be featured in Bloggers Issue Magazine.

  • Nena
    27 January 2017 at 12:33 am

    Oh wow your workspace looks so good!!

  • Ewa Macherowska
    27 January 2017 at 2:04 am


  • Magda
    28 January 2017 at 4:06 am

    Great tips, thanks for sharing!

  • Gemini Tauberge
    29 January 2017 at 3:14 am

    Great advice!


  • Judith
    29 January 2017 at 6:04 pm

    Sound and valuable advice Jiawa, thanks for this. I love your writing as much as I do your photography!! Judith x

  • Shirley Doremi
    30 January 2017 at 7:29 am

    very useful tips and your shots are just amazing!

  • Shloka
    31 January 2017 at 12:40 am

    I really admire you and the work you do so much – you are so talented! These tips are all amazing, especially the 80/20 rule! Thank you for sharing with us!


  • Jenelle
    31 January 2017 at 2:48 pm

    You always have good, solid and practical advice my friend. Love these angles in your photos as well!
    xx Jenelle

  • Zabel
    1 February 2017 at 10:49 am

    Which camera do you use and or would recommend?
    Would love to hear which bookkeeping program you use.
    And do you store your images in the cloud under date classification or project classification?

    Love your blog and your insta feed is so inspiring

    xx Z

    • Jiawa Liu
      2 February 2017 at 8:03 pm

      Haha thank you for all these questions.
      – I use a Canon 5D III, dear! However, I’m personally thinking about switching to mirrorless soon, and I’m looking at the Sony Alpha 7.
      – I don’t have a sophisticated bookkeeping program, but I do keep a very tight spreadsheet!
      – I store my images by both date and project, because a majority of my shoots are not for a project. But I have such a huge volume of image files now that I find it more useful to name all my folders and files meaningfully.

      I hope that helps!

  • Lena
    1 February 2017 at 11:33 am

    These are great tips on making blogging a successful side hustle, I really can relate to the 80/20 rule in putting efforts in strengthening a small set of skills to achieve big results, and of course, planning and prioritizing. Thanks for the share! : ) Love this casual and chic look too! : )xo~ Lena

    • Jiawa Liu
      2 February 2017 at 7:58 pm

      Yes, exactly! When you identify those few really important things to concentrate on, even the most difficult tasks start to look possible!

  • Joanna
    3 February 2017 at 2:48 am

    Love your blog and your images doll! Can you please do a blog on your daily routine and a post on organization? Would love some organizational tips from you! Keep up the fab work! Xx

  • Zabel
    6 February 2017 at 11:00 am

    How fabulous to receive a A’s to all my Q’s .. you are the best!!

  • Milkhannie
    16 February 2017 at 3:17 am

    As you already know, side hustled can be very time consuming, so being organized is very important key. Love all the tips.
    Great post, thanks for sharing!

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