I'm a mom of 3 whose side hustle is now a full-time job that brings in $5,000 a month: Here is my best advice

"Because of my business, I am now on track to hit my goal of earning over $60,000 this year."

Latasha Peterson is the founder of Arts and Budgets.
Courtesy Latasha Peterson

As someone with a background in musical theater and performing, I have always been good at finding multiple side hustles to make extra money each month, anything from participating in focus groups to working as a brand ambassador for local radio stations.

I've long had a passion for helping others find ways to make more money to build wealth and pay off debt. This drive came from meeting so many amazing singers and actors who just didn't make enough money to cover daily expenses while following their dreams. 

My husband is also a devoted side hustler, and in 2016 when I got pregnant with our first child, we decided that I would stay home with our baby and take the time to start a new side business. So I came up with an idea for a side hustle blog, and after I left my day job as a substitute teacher at a performing arts high school, I launched my site Arts and Budgets

In 2017, after I had been at it for a year, I began to monetize my blog and officially turned it into an online business: Arts and Budgets, LLC. 

Some of the ways I started to monetize my blog, and continue to do so today, are by promoting products I love through affiliate marketing, working with brands on sponsored posts, offering one-on-one side hustle coaching, having ads on my site from the ad management company Mediavine, and selling physical and digital products.

Today, Arts and Budgets, which gets over 100,000 monthly readers, is an online business that brings in $5,000 a month and my full-time job. Because of my business, I am now on track to hit my goals of earning over $60,000 this year and paying off over $8,000 of debt in the next three months. 

Here are some of my top tips on how to get started on your own side hustle.

Do an inventory of your skills and talents

When I first started thinking about Arts and Budgets, I created a list of all my skills and talents: writing, public speaking, acting, music, goal setting, and time management and networking. This helped give me an understanding of the areas I wanted to focus on the most. 

Then I made another list of what kinds of problems I could help people solve with these skills. 

During this brainstorming period, I learned everything I could about income potential, time commitment, and how much it would cost to start for each potential side hustle

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From there I narrowed down the list to the ones I could see myself doing and spending time on daily, which were blogging, freelance writing, theater coaching, and vocal performance coaching. The blog seemed like a way that I could combine a lot of the things on that first list.

I've personally found that the key to side hustle success, especially if you have never started one before, is to find something that you are passionate about and you can grow using your existing skill set.

Find others in your space that inspire you to grow 

A big part of my research was finding other people who had found success with their own side hustles and incorporating some of what they did into my own plan. 

Seeing how bloggers like Michelle from Making Sense of Cents and Abby Lawson from Just a Girl and Her Blog had turned their platforms into profitable businesses helped me stay motivated. Reading about their progress and the income reports they shared made it seem possible for me to achieve success with my blog, too. 

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Later in my journey I became inspired by Aja from Principles of Increase. She was able to pay off over $120,000 in debt from blogging and freelance writing. Hearing her story gave me inspiration to use my blog as one of the ways to pay off my debt.  

Ultimately, watching people like Michelle, Aja, and Abby make money doing what they love on a daily basis inspired me to work to make Arts and Budgets a success.

Regularly articulate and write down your goals 

As soon as I launched my blog, I wrote down the first four goals I had for it. I wanted to:

  1. Serve my audience my content
  2. Write at least one blog post per week
  3. Grow my email list to at least 5,000 subscribers
  4. Earn at least $1,000 a month from the blog by the second year

I also wrote out all the resources and tools that I would need to get to this point. 

I started doing this goal exercise every week. This process helped me see my incremental progress and gave me a sense of when I needed to make any changes. And working on a weekly basis made big objectives more manageable.

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For example, in December of 2020, one of the new goals I set for myself was to earn at least $3,000 a month from my blog. I knew that one of the ways I would meet that earning goal was to become more knowledgeable about search engine optimization (SEO) and bring more people to the site when they Googled the topics I was writing about. 

So I signed up for a course about SEO. As I began to study it, I updated a number of blog posts on my site using what I had learned. From just that one change in my approach, my monthly page views went from 40,000 page views in December 2020 to over 100,000 page views in January, which in turn grew my Mediavine ad revenue. And by the end of January of 2021, I had earned $4,000 for that month.

Find and serve your audience by being specific

When I started, I knew I had a passion for helping others find side hustles to build income and gain financial freedom. But it took me much of that first year to really figure out the best way to connect with them and create content that would be the most help to them. 

One of the ways I did this was by spending a lot of time in Facebook groups and Pinterest communities about side hustles and exploring the topics they discussed on those platforms. 

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That research was also informed by many of the questions I was often asked, like, "How do I find the perfect side hustle?" "What are some quick side hustles I can do to make extra money?" and "How can I promote my side hustle online?

With all that in mind, I was able to start creating content designed to best serve my audience and help them overcome the side hustle struggles they were facing. 

Test out everything and invest in yourself 

One of the biggest things I have learned on my side hustle journey is that when things don't work out, it's OK to go back to the drawing board and try out new things.

In 2019, my income from the site seemed to hit a plateau. So I started thinking about ways I could invest in Arts and Budgets to take it to the next level.

I started by investing in a business coach, who helped me set up my own coaching services, and by investing in the SEO course that helped me surpass my earning goal at the start of 2021.

And in 2020, I took another course about how to build niche websites, and I decided to hire help to assist with my growing workload. Building out my team has been one of the best decisions I have made, because it has allowed me to outsource and get more things done in less time each month.

My best advice is to remember that you don't have to grow your side hustle alone.

Stay consistent when you promote your business online 

I've found that consistency is key when growing your side hustle. When I turned my blog into an actual business in 2017, I decided to pick two platforms to promote my content every day. 

I chose Pinterest because it is a good website traffic driver and then Instagram because it's a great platform to show your audience your personality and behind-the-scenes footage of how you run your business. And I set up a content schedule to stay active on both platforms each week. 

My best advice is to remember that you don't have to grow your side hustle alone.

I have gained new clients and product sales from both Instagram and Pinterest. With the help of both platforms, I have made over 100 sales of my courses and products.

Pinterest in particular has played a huge role because it helps send people directly to my blog posts and sales pages on my site through the Pinterest pin images that I created each week.

Keep a positive mindset and never give up

When I first launched my blog in 2016, I didn't make any money the first year. After that, I became determined to have my first month where I earned $1,000 at the end of it. 

Two main goals I set for myself were to write longer content on my site, and to incorporate Pinterest more in my posts. With the help from Pinterest, I was able to increase my page views on the site, which then gave me the chance to join Mediavine, the ad management company I work with today. 

Four months after I started working with Mediavine and other affiliate marketing companies like Bluehost, I was able to hit $1,000/month for the first time in the summer of 2017. And from 2017 to 2019, I continued to earn between $300-$1,000 each month.  

At the start of 2020, I made that goal to earn over $4,000 each month. So I focused on Pinterest, Google SEO, working with brands on sponsored posts, and offering my side hustle coaching services. A combination of those efforts over the course of last year helped me accomplish that goal in January of this year.

I didn't hit either of those milestones overnight. It took time and consistent effort. As I always tell my students and clients, it's all right to rest, but never give up. On your difficult days when it is tough to remember why you started your side hustle, maintaining a positive mindset and knowing your "why" will help you to keep going and get you to the finish line. 

Latasha Peterson is a wife, mom of three, side hustle coach, speaker, and the founder of the blog Arts and Budgets. Because of her love for helping creatives find ways to build wealth and pay off debt while following their dreams, she created Arts and Budgets to help individuals find the best and most profitable side hustles for them. Her blog currently gets over 100,000 monthly visitors each month and has over 20,000 followers on social media. From her side hustle, she has created eight income streams and earns $5,000 per month. She has been featured on Bankrate, Tailwind, LegalZoom, QuickBooks, Mediavine, Plutus Foundation, and more.

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