In 2014 I got fired for the first time in my career, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me.
At the time, I had a career as a scientist in the biotechnology field. I just graduated with a master's degree from Johns Hopkins University, and I was newly married and earning enough money to live comfortably and travel the world. But something was missing. I didn't enjoy my work. The project I was most excited about was a blog about Latin food I started as a hobby and had been writing for six months. I even considered quitting my job and possibly going to culinary school. But that didn't feel right either. I wanted to be able to live and work from anywhere.
Then in January 2014, I lost my job. It was entirely unexpected and unsettling, but I realized that it wasn't a setback; it was an opportunity. This was my chance to turn my blog, Delish D'Lites, into a real, profitable venture.
Last year I earned over $46,000 through the blog, and I'm on track to make $60,000 in 2020. The blog reaches over 250,000 visitors per month, and for the past six months I've netted $5,000 or more each month.
The blog was just the beginning. Today I have a number of revenue streams: blog ads, sponsored blog and social media posts, affiliate marketing, freelance writing, virtual events and speaking engagements, business and financial coaching, passive investing and day trading, teaching Zumba, and podcast ads and sponsorships for my most recent side hustle, a podcast I started in April of 2019 called "Yo Quiero Dinero," which translates to "I want money."
"Yo Quiero Dinero" is a personal finance podcast for Latinas and people of color, who are traditionally underserved by financial organizations. My goal with the podcast is to educate and empower listeners on personal finance topics like side hustles, entrepreneurship, and investing through guest interviews and solo episodes. I want to use my financial knowledge to help other women build passive income streams like I have been able to.
The best part is, you don't have to spend a ton of money upfront to start your side hustle. Here is how I did it.
I've learned that in order to make a side hustle profitable, you have to first identify a niche or gap, figure out the relevant skills, experience, or industry knowledge to fill that gap, and then monetize it. And you don't need a lot of money to get started.
You can start a blog for $99 a year or less. When I started food blogging, I knew nothing about food photography or search engine optimization, so I took a $75 course on food blogging at a local cooking school. I bought a refurbished DSLR camera and taught myself how to use it by watching YouTube videos.
Video by Stephen Parkhurst
I don't use fancy editing software for my food blog photos; I use a free app called Pixlr. I taught myself how to edit and distribute my podcast using the free Anchor app. I use Zencastr, which is also free, to record podcast episodes.
I leverage the digital marketing skills I've learned over time to do my own brand strategy work and only recently hired a part-time virtual assistant to help me manage my social media and other administrative tasks. I also use my employer's gym membership reimbursement to pay for $400 of the $480 cost of my annual Zumba instructor licensing fees.
I use free apps like Hootsuite (social media post scheduling) and Canva (graphic design software) to create and distribute social media posts. I use free Google Hangouts to host meetings with clients.
Bottom line: There's a lot of free content out there. All you have to do is search for it.
And as you consider how to best utilize your skills and research what you can charge for your services, some business ideas that you will come up with might require you to buy a lot of equipment. If that is the case, my best advice would be instead to focus on the side hustle ideas with a small upfront investment that are the most efficient use of your valuable time and have the potential to become a full-time career.
Jannese Torres-Rodriguez is a certified financial education instructor (CFEI) through the National Financial Educators Council (NFEC) and a first generation Puerto Rican blogger and business coach who built a $50,000+ side hustle and is pursuing financial independence. She became an accidental entrepreneur after a job loss led her to create a successful Latin food blog, Delish D'Lites, that reaches over 250,000 visitors per month. After becoming a successful business owner, Jannese became passionate about financial literacy and is on a mission to educate Latinas on topics like entrepreneurship, investing, and building generational wealth through her new podcast, "Yo Quiero Dinero."
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