When Opportunity Doesn’t Knock, Build a Door: 4 Amazing Side Projects Started by 5 Side Hustlers

What’s the most trending thing to do in your spare time these days? Hands down, starting a side hustle! On June 19, at FindSpark’s Everyday I’m Hustling event, five successful side hustlers – Karen Fensterstock and Shaun Patterson, co-hustlers of Rat City Radio, Drew Miller, founder of LIVE @ the Apt, Evann Clingan, founder of a fitness blog, and Nobles Crawford, CEO at PeepsOut –  joined us for a night of fun, stories, laughs, and networking. 

FindSpark Side Hustle

They all started with something small. 

Evann’s day job is a senior analyst at 360i, a digital advertising agency, where she garners insights to contribute to digital strategies and identify opportunities for clients. She also writes and manages a popular fitness and lifestyle blog that bears her nameAt 360i, part of her work involves constantly reading reviews on what’s trending, and as a boutique fitness and wellness enthusiast, she decided to start her own blog to express her passions and to showcase her skill sets, like photo editing and content management.

Karen and Shaun are roommates and co-hustlers of Rat City Radio, a podcast they host (and edit, and record) that covers goings-on, fun news, and pop culture of Brooklyn and NYC, now with listeners from over 50 countries. It first started in 2012 when Karen discovered a rat in their Brooklyn apartment. For their very first episode, Karen described they recorded for over three hours, only to find out they ended up editing off most of the content. But that’s the beginning of a popular podcast with worldwide following.

Live @ the Apt is a regular stand-up comedy show held in the apartments of its community members in NYC. Drew, a comedy fan, was eager to find a way to showcase his favorite comics in the city, and the production course he took in college came into use. The first show was hatched and held at his then apartment in East Village in 2013, and has grown into a monthly underground show that is filmed live and released online. They now have garnered almost 600 subscribers on YouTube.

PeepsOut.com is a side project that its founder Nobles eventually turned into his full-time career. PeepsOut uses live stream technology to help customers see a venue before they go and help restaurants and bars to reach new audience. When starting PeepsOut, Nobles was working full-time in media. But realizing he had a big idea, and a good business partner, he began this venture full-time.

They always find time.

Working full-time while maintaining a side project isn’t easy. How to find the time outside a 9-5, Monday-Friday work schedule is a constant challenge for both accomplished or aspiring side hustlers. For Evann, writing blog posts doesn’t have to be something she does everyday. Realizing that it’s something that requires inspiration and time is the first step towards becoming a balanced side hustler. Throughout this course, she also learned how to better set boundaries, cut unnecessary things, and continue on. Karen would tell herself “I’m just gonna work on it for 30 minutes today”, and always would end up working much longer. However, the biggest truth remains: if you are passionate about something, nothing, no excuse, can stop you. You’ll always find time.

Challenges are inevitable.

When the idea of starting a podcast show was brewing, Shaun was already thinking of failing. So..? So they just went to the closet and recorded it anyway. Back when they first started, they had no technical skills, no real equipment, and limited knowledge of social media. But as soon as they got these figured out, their show took off. One of the most common mentalities that holds bloggers back is thinking people would say “why should I care what you have to say?” Evann realizes that like many other blogs, she’s targeting at a specific audience, and this realization has helped her focus on delivering quality content to the right readers. Nobles also found out that among all challenges, the initial ones from people around him were the strongest. “Who’s gonna use it?” can be a heavy hit if you are just starting out. His solution? Convincing people this was doable and making it happen.

Started small, now they are here.

Earlier on the same day of the FindSpark’s Side Hustle event, a story featuring Drew’s side hustle, Live @ the Apt, appeared on the New York Times. Drew admits that he’s trying to grow it and trying to find a business model to make it a sustainable business. Karen and Shaun’s Rat City Radio since September 2012 has produced 29 episodes and has attracted listeners from over 50 countries. It remains a fun project they keep on the side at this moment, but they have learned so much about radio production and built a door to another space that they would otherwise not have the chance to explore. When Shaun walks into interviews, Rat City Radio is the only thing interviewers ask her about. Nobles started PeepsOut and its live-streaming services in NYC and has recently launched this service in Austin, TX, a breakthrough for an NYC-based startup. And Evann? Less than one year since the blog was launched, brands have approached her and offered to partner with her blog! And she has met so many people that share her interests along the way.

If you’re already a side hustler, share your project in the comments!

If you want to start your side hustle, awesome! Check out FindSpark’s own side hustle, made to give side hustlers a head start! 

Special thanks to Wix for hosting our event. Check out the Wix.com platform for an easy way to build a beautiful website.


About the Author

Ariel is an Online Marketing Associate at USAWeb and a proud alumna of NYU. Follow her on twitter @arielmsun and visit her website at ArielSun.com.

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