Welcome to the November monthly interview series here on Side Hustle Academy where I ask side hustlers just like you how they got started earning income on the side.
If you would like to submit your application to be considered for my monthly interview click here.
This month I have another amazing blogger for you and her name is Emily Burk. She recently graduated from Princeton and has done all kinds of various side hustles to support her way through college.
More than that she runs a solid blog which has helped her launch her freelancing career and earning a nice income on the side. So if you’re interested in doing the same keep reading.
#1 Who are you and what inspired you to get into blogging?
My name is Emilie Burke, and I’m the Brains, the Brawn, and the Beauty behind Burke Does, an online spacing inspiring millennial women to live financially, physically, and professionally fit lives.
When I graduated from Princeton in 2015, I was going through investment banking and consulting job interviews, which is what 30%+ of the graduating class goes into after graduation.
As I was going through these interviews, people would say to me that I was definitely fit for the job, but I needed to be wearing certain name-brand shoes or suit to really “seal the deal” for me.
I was not interested or willing in spending a thousand dollars on a job interview suit, but I saw my classmates do that over and over.
Fast forward a little and I’ve graduated from college and am working for a Baltimore-based tech startup.
My friends always assumed that my grocery bill was costing a small fortune because I was eating so healthy.
That was insane to me because a cucumber costs approximately 79 cents.
What I realized is that these myths- you need to spend a lot of money to look the part at work or to eat healthy- were really pervasive and Burke Does is my space to work to combat those myths.
Financially, since January first, I’ve paid off ~7K of my 22K debt (started off making 38K living in a major city) and cash-flowed over $5K in emergency expenses. I am working to be debt-free by October 2017.
Physically, I lost over 120 lbs and now do Crossfit 6 days per week. I’m in better shape at 23 than I have been at any point in my life, including when I was a Division 1 Athlete in college.
Professionally, I graduated from Princeton. I was employee number 9 at a company that has since grown to over 25. I was our first data hire and the first woman to join the product team. I will graduate in December 2016 with an MBA that cost me $0.
#2 What are the top income streams in your business?
I’m a side hustler by nature and very rarely turn down extra cash.
This means I always say yes when my friends are looking for babysitters or someone to come help them cut their grass.
Despite having a Princeton degree, I picked up a lot of catering opportunities while living in Baltimore. To me, side hustling is not a job, it’s a lifestyle.
For Burke Does, we primarily bring income in two streams. On Burke Does, I establish brand partnerships with companies that really resonate with me and could really serve my audience.
Brands can work with me through posts, advertising, or email campaigns. I don’t have any advertising on my site except for these brand partnerships, so I am very particular about whom I work with.
Additionally, I use Burke Does, in a lot of ways, as my portfolio for freelance work.
I love getting the opportunity to share my writing beyond the scope of Burke Does in a slightly different niche. At the end of the day, I’m passionate about sharing knowledge with others.
I see my freelance work as a way for me to get paid to do that. I am also a freelance developer, at a much smaller scale.
#3 You’ve worked with brands such as Dove, Covergirl, TRESemme, and Banza, how did you accomplish this?
My number one tip for bloggers is always the same:
Don’t do it if you’re looking to get rich.
If you go into blogging because you want to work with big brands or because you want to make money, then you will never be successful.
I think brands appreciate working with people who are authentic in sharing their thoughts and feelings. Sometimes that means the only thing to do is to sit around and wait for them to come to you.
That is what I did! Plus, sharing who you are is why you started blogging in the first place.
#4 What are the specific tools you use when it comes to your side hustle?
I wanted to think about this in terms of investments- what investments have I made that really made a difference for me as a blogger and freelance writer?
- First, a solid blog design- I have worked with Fran from Free Borbeleta and Elizabeth from Chantilly Branding Designs and they are both phenomenal. Elizabeth no longer does branding work, but they both come highly recommended.
- Second, memorable business cards. I was lucky that my dear friend Caroline Hatfield helped me turn my Burke Does brand into a beautiful business card.
- Third, FinCon! I wrote a bit about how I afforded FinCon here. It wasn’t cheap, but it has definitely paid for itself multiple times over and I’m only a month out.
- Fourth and finally, I cannot recommend Tailwind enough! As a blogger, you have to know your audience and my audience is on Pinterest. It drives most of my traffic every month. Tailwind has helped me automate a lot of that process.
#5 What are you doing to increase your income on your blog? Ex. Add new income streams, advertising…
For bloggers, there are primarily four forms of revenue: advertising, sponsored content, affiliate income, and your own products (courses, books, etc).
I use an ad-blocker when I go through the internet, so I don’t think it’s fair or morally right to have advertising on my sites.
Right now I make most of my money through sponsored content (brand partnerships), but hope to move into more affiliate marketing soon.
I have an outline for a book that I’d like to write someday.
Unfortunately, in my current stage of life, balancing a full-time job, an MBA program, Burke Does, and my freelance work, it’s just not possible. Hopefully, that will change in the next two years.
Finally, as I become a better developer, I would like to do more freelance work in that space. (If you’re trying to build a web application and want to chat, reach out here.)
While I only have limited work experience (my day job is as a Data Programmer), I would like to work more contract roles getting to use this new skill set.
#6 What is one specific piece of advice you would give to someone just getting started with blogging?
Do it because you love it or don’t do it at all. Don’t blog for the money because there is no money in blogging.
There are lots of tears and frustration and wondering what you’re doing wrong.
And then one day after suffering through all those hard moments of time spent on PicMonkey trying to pick just the right font and asking questions in Facebook groups you’ll wake up and see you hit your social goal.
Then you’ll check your analytics and be shocked, asking yourself when your blog got so big.
Here’s the thing, though:
If you blog first and foremost because you love blogging, then if that moment never comes, that’s fine because you loved it first.