How to Balance a Full-Time Job and Your Side Hustle

There’s an infamous Internet quote that says that goes a little something like this. Perhaps you’ve seen it on Pinterest or a mug on Etsy…

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Newsflash: You don’t. And believing that you do is only setting yourself up for failure.

For starters, I do not have a personal assistant, personal trainer and personal chef among other hired help to get me through the day like Queen Bey.  And, if you’re reading this, I assume you don’t either.

So how exactly are us mere Earthlings supposed to find time for our side hustles and passion projects while still showing up from 9 to 5 every day for the job that pays the bills?

It’s a struggle I know all too well. In August 2011, I began side hustling as a freelance writer. Yes, I had a full-time gig at a local interior design and lifestyle magazine, but I wasn’t exactly passionate about Pantone colors and thread counts (now I’m obsessed with HGTV, so go figure). I started freelancing as a way to fill the void and write about topics that interested me. Shortly thereafter, I started blogging to share my random musings.

Today, I have too many side hustles (still freelancing and blogging, while also being a programming fellow for a local nonprofit) and I had the genius idea to start a passion project earlier this year (a writing program/website for young girls of color). In short, it’s exhausting.

People ask me all the time “how do you do it all?” And the truth is, I should probably be doing less. But, alas, the #SideHustle struggle is real. So I’m here to share a few of the tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way:

1) Maximize your mornings. If you’re an early bird like me, then setting your alarm clock 15 to 20 minutes earlier won’t be so dreadful. Putting in work before you hit the office gives you a sense of accomplishment that makes you ready to conquer your day.

2) Have a working lunch. No, not the kind where you sit at your desk and devour a Lean Cuisine in between financial reports. I’m talking about the kind where you take care of YOUR business. I can’t tell you how many interviews and meetings I’ve conducted from my car or a local coffee shop. #TheHustleIsReal

3) Make the most of your commute. If you drive to and from work, then you should skip this step (safety first!). But for the rest of us city dwellers, the time you spend on the bus or train is a prime opportunity to catch up on emails, network, etc. True story: I wrote this post in the Notes app on my phone while riding the bus. If you have a half-hour commute each way, that’s one hour every day you can devote to your passion project. No more excuses.

4) Schedule your social media. No side hustle can survive nowadays without social media, no matter if it’s your Etsy shop or consulting service. And even if your day job is to be on Facebook and Twitter all day, chances are your employer isn’t paying you to build your brand. Plan your social media in advance using sites such as Hootsuite or Sprout Social. Find the one that works best for your needs and budget then set aside a day to determine your social media game plan for the week.

5) Take a break. Yes, I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but you need your rest. You can’t be out here slaying dragons on zero sleep. Refuel your creativity tank by meditating, exercising or something as simple as reading a book. You’ll give your brain a break and come back full of ideas to “run the world” (Beyoncé voice).

How do you balance your full-time job with a side hustle? Share your tips in the comments!

So…You Want to Start a Blog?

By far, the most popular question I get from my Facebook friends, real-life friends and readers is “how do you start a blog?” besides, of course, “what’s your favorite cupcake?” (psst…that’s another question for another post).

Recently, three people have asked me about blogging within the last week. So instead of copying and pasting the same email with my best practices once again, I’ve decided to finally sit down and write a blog about well, blogging.

Now before we begin, I want you to know I’m not an expert by any means. If you’re looking for a quick way to get a million subscribers, you should probably stop reading now. If, however, you’re looking for a fun way to express yourself and think you have something interesting to say that’s worth sharing, then this is for you.

Now let’s get this blogging party started. Here are the three things you’ll want to brainstorm before you put your blog out in the world:

  1. A name: if you have one in mind, great! If not, no worries. Write down everything that comes to mind and ask your friends for feedback. Ideally, you want something short and sweet so it’s easy to remember and you’ll want to snatch up the social media handles for brand consistency. For example, LTintheCity.com is the name of my blog, my Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest accounts. Heck, I secured my handle on Tumblr, Snapchat and Periscope and I don’t even use those! When in doubt, use your name (firstnamelastname.com). You can always change it later.
  2. A topic: It could be anything–food, fashion, fantasy football…or all three! An important thing to keep in mind, however, is you can’t be all things to all people. The most successful blogs are the ones that cater to a niche. Are you an expert on a certain subject? What do you have to offer that no one else is doing, or how would you do it differently? Whatever you decide upon as a topic, remember to keep it authentic. People can spot a phony a mile away and the Interwebs will tear you apart if they think you’re faking it.
  3. A platform: One of my favorite bloggers, Awesomely Luvvie, has a great post about this very topic on her tech-inspired website, appropriately named Awesomely Techie. Personally, I prefer WordPress. It’s like the iPhones of blogs, user-friendly and it looks good, too. But Squarely has a good rep, too. It depends on your level of technical expertise (aka can you code?) and your design experience. I don’t really have either, so WordPress is my platform of choice.

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Now that we’ve covered the bases, it’s time to determining your frequency. Daily? Weekly? Monthly? While you may ideally like to blog every day, if you’re just starting out it’s best to start off slow (say every other week or so) until you establish a routine.

Hit the ground running too soon and you’re more likely to stumble (both in blogging and in real life, true story). The key here is consistency. Remember, quality > quantity. Create compelling content, post regularly and the readers will come (and, more importantly, return). But if you’re just posting to be posting without really having anything to say? You’re setting yourself up for failure…and that’s not fun.

Last, but not least, it’s time to think about your content. You can have the prettiest blog on the planet, but if no one cares about what you have to say, what’s the point?

Unless you’re Vanity Fair or The New York Times, no one is really reading 1,000-word posts online (people just don’t have the attention span). So for blogging, I’d try to cap it around 500 words, otherwise, people tend to lose interest. And, as annoying as “listicles” can be, they are popular for a reason (just ask Buzzfeed)…10 Ways to Such and Such give people an idea of what they’re going to get out of the post and how long it’s going to take them to read it. I keep a running list of ideas on my phone and started an editorial calendar to keep track of upcoming posts.

And try to incorporate at least one image per post (people aren’t going to sit through a whole page of text). Check out this link for FREE images. And, if you’re a creative of color like me, then you’ll LOVE CreateHER Stock, a free stock photo source featuring women of color. P.s. You can check out my interview with the founder Neosha Gardner in my #GirlBOSS series.

For expert tips, check out these resources:

The Muse: Social Media & Blogging
Awesomely Techie: Blogging
Blog Clarity: The Secret to a Gazillion Blog Posts

And a couple of blogging and branding experts I love:

By Regina
Mattieologie

Anyone can start a blog, but it takes dedication and drive to maintain one. And it takes a LOT of patience and perseverance to create a successful one. The most important thing is to have fun and not take yourself so seriously. Best of luck with your blogging!

Do you have additional questions? Ask me in the comments or email me at loreal@ltinthecity.com!

‘I Want That, Why Not Me?’ The Trials & Tribulations of Facebook Envy

While chatting with a fellow journalist the other day, we expressed the same sentiment about social media. Although it’s great for keeping in touch with friends (which is how we’ve stayed connected since first meeting at college years ago), Facebook, Instagram and the likes can be a breeding ground for resentment.

I first wrote about “Facebook Envy” for the now defunct millennial website Life2PointOh.com a few years ago and, I’m ashamed to admit, many of my feelings have not changed. While I may appear to live a charmed life on the outside (dream job, dream guy, cute clothes), I still have insecurities and doubts on the inside (oh, Quarter-Life Crisis, will you EVER go away?).

Another journalist friend of mine once posted: “Stop comparing your behind-the-scenes struggle to everyone else’s highlight reel.” And she has a point. Most people only post the GOOD stuff on social media: the engagement, the promotion, the cute little baby bump, the fancy home, etc.

What you don’t see, and what many people aren’t apt to openly discuss, is what it took to get there…a long-distance relationship perhaps, or pulling all-nighters at the office (I have TWO industry friends who’ve watched the sun set and rise from their cubicles), costly fertility treatments, scraping every penny and dime for a down payment. The point is, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side…despite what statuses, selfies and hashtags may have you think.

When people asked me why I left my full-time journalism job…a position that often looked glamorous from the outside, full of selfies with celebrities who stopped by the office…I replied, quite honestly, I was burnt out.

I distinctly remembered one Saturday night I was dressed up for #DateNight reservations and typing away on my laptop because there was breaking news. #JournalistProblems

That’s not meant to be a “woe is me,” but more of a “maybe if we were all just a bit more honest about the process, it would change people’s perception.” It’s not always glitz and glam. With that idea in mind, I’m making an effort to be more transparent on this blog and IRL with young women who ask me about my journey.

No, being successful is not easy. Yes, it takes a lot of hard work. And yes, there will be moments when you wonder WTF am I doing? What am I supposed to do? More importantly, what do I WANT to do?

No one has all the answers and no one has it all figured out. And anyone who says she does is a damn liar.

So instead of lamenting, “I want that, why not me?” when your frenemy humble brags about her new Birkin bag, let’s adopt a new mantra: “good for you and I’m good, too.” Doesn’t that just sound and feel so much better?

How I Learned to Love My Brown Skin

This post originally appeared on sesimag.com

Sometimes that voice in your head has no chill when it comes to hating on your looks.L’Oreal Thompson Payton, now in her 20s, learned how to shut it down and embrace her unique beauty — and you can, too.

Blonde hair. Big boobs. Blue eyes.

As a teen in the early 2000s, I thought that was the magic formula for beauty. At least, that’s what the teen magazines I subscribed to led me to believe.

Back then, our first lady wasn’t Black, Lupita wasn’t crowned one of America’s most beautiful people, and Beyoncé was not yet running the world. Simply put, brown was not beautiful … at least not to me. I was just an average teenage girl with brown skin, brown eyes, and wide hips. Oh, and glasses and braces, too. “Adorkable” wasn’t trendy yet, so I was just plain dorky.

When it came to boys, I preferred books. When it came to putting on makeup, I would have rather done math (even though it was — and still is — my worst subject). I was considered a nerd and my status as “teacher’s pet” certainly didn’t help my popularity either.

It took me a long time to learn to love the skin I’m in. I wish I could say that one day I went to bed and woke up feeling #Flawless, but that wasn’t the case. My self-hate brewed deep and it was going to take a lot more than a daytime talk show makeover to help me realize my inner beauty.

To read the full post, visit sesimag.com

#GirlBOSS: Brittiney Jones of Chicago Youth Opportunities Initiative

It’s been said that necessity is the mother of invention. So when Brittiney Jones saw a need for a nonprofit that catered specifically to foster teens in Chicago, she created her own.

“I wanted to volunteer, mentor and give back to an organization geared toward foster youth,” says Jones, founder of Chicago Youth Opportunities Initiative (CYOI). “Being emancipated at 16 really forced me to step outside of my comfort zone and survive. I had to learn how to pay bills, how to save, and more importantly how to grow.”

Jones, who credits Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou and Jada Pinkett-Smith among her role models, describes growth as the process of accepting your circumstances and then prospering in spite of them.

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“Our mission for CYOI is to increase the high school and higher education graduation rate of foster care and ward of the state youth (ages 16-21) in the city of Chicago,” she says. “Furthermore, we’re able to assist these youth in their transition to their desired career field and assist them with accomplishing their goals through mentoring, college readiness, tutoring, career workshops, personal growth and financial support.”

Founded in late 2014, CYOI includes a youth development program, which offers mentoring and specialized seminars for foster youth focused on their passions and overall well-being.

“Everything our program offers will help develop skills necessary for personal and professional success,” Jones explains. “I live and breathe CYOI and I believe thats how everyone should feel about whatever it is they are doing with their lives in some aspect.”

To learn more about Chicago Youth Opportunities Initiative and get involved, please visit facebook.com/Chicagoyoi.

Do you know someone who should be featured as a #GirlBOSS? Email loreal@ltinthecity.com for consideration!