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When I first started Tech Biz Gurl, it was a blog that then morphed into offering services and later tutorials. But at the time, I had a day job where I had a little bit more free time on my hands.
After a layoff and then picking up a demanding job for a couple of years, I was at a point where I wasn’t happy with the time I was putting into my business. And I was feeling extremely burnt out. Then in late 2015, I started a new job which was a lot more aligned with what I wanted to do career-wise and had a more predictable schedule.
After taking about 9 months to get ramped up, I felt like I had the time and the brain space to really think about my business again. But the thought of doing all the things I had done before (services, tutorials, marketing, discovery calls, you name it) just seemed so overwhelming. And because I only had at most 2-3 hours a week to dedicate to the business, I realized that something had to change.
I started to think about things I could do in the time I had available that would help me show up for my people but also provide value. And that’s where the idea of #jesspicks started. I had played around with the idea of starting a curated newsletter for a while but never really took the plunge.
It was something I could do every week that could fit within that 3-hour block and the best part is that it took advantage of something I was doing already: which was reading and sharing articles on social media. And the best part is that I had already purchased a subscription to Revue which became the tool that delivers my newsletter.
I took my existing list from Mailchimp, which at the time was a little over 50 people, imported them to Revue, and on July 23, 2016, I sent out my first issue:
Fast-forward 4 years and I just recently sent my 200th issue!! In that time, I’ve learned about being a newsletter creator and about myself and I hope these lessons are helpful to you as you build your own creations.
1. Find one thing you can do… consistently
#jesspicks started because I was looking for one thing I could do consistently for my people in the time that I had. It started out as me sharing 5 things that I had seen that week to help my audience become more productive or have more fun.
Since then, I’ve gotten clearer on what to share, who I want to help and how I can best serve them. So the newsletter now is about sharing curated tips and resources for side hustlers. Because ultimately I want to help people start and manage side hustles without the overwhelm.
And even that is still a work in progress. As I continue to write this newsletter every week, I get more and more information about who I’m serving and what they care about. That way I can continue to refine and evolve my messaging and my content.
As Khe mentioned,
“good enough over and over again makes you great.”
So if you find yourself struggling to get started with a creative project or side hustle. Or if you are feeling overwhelmed, see if you can find one thing you can do consistently for your audience. That way, you can start building momentum for everything else.
2. Find your tech stack
I mentioned earlier that I use a tool called Revue for #jesspicks. I bought it because it was made for curated newsletters. And it makes that process so much easier. It’s easy to add content to your queue for possible inclusion in your newsletter. You don’t have to do too much formatting which is really great for me, because design is not my strong suit. And it saves you time because it makes it easy to add elements like headers, links, and images.
Other tools that are part of my #jesspicks stack are:
- Feedly for collecting all of my favorite blogs to read in one place
- Pocket for saving articles and posts to read later
- Buy Me a Coffee for getting donations / financial support from readers
- Apple Notes for taking notes and jotting down ideas for issues
Once you decide what to create or how you’d like to show up for your audience, see if there are technology tools that can make the process a little bit more efficient and save you some time along the way.
3. Find your medium
While the topics that I curate and organize has changed a bit over the years and gotten more focused, I’ve always included a personal note at the beginning. That has always been so much easier for me to write than a blog post. Which has been something that has bugged me for some time.
I even shared that struggle it with a friend a few years ago and she said, “Maybe you struggle with writing blog posts because it makes you vulnerable. And it is more out there for people to see.” I know that there is some truth to that.
But I didn’t fully get it until I read this quote in Gather the People:
“I prefer the more intimate feel of sending an email to the more“public” feel of writing a blog post. Every artist has their preferred mediums; email is one of mine.”
When I read it, it was like a weight had been lifted. It made me realize that email was my preferred medium. And that was OK! To me, it feels more like a 1 on 1 conversation. Reazling that has been a huge gamechanger and made me lean into it even more. Not that I won’t do blog posts because you are reading one, after all. But maybe I could focus on emails as my primary and blogging as a secondary medium.
Find your medium. Or do some experimenting to discover it. It could be writing, audio, video, something else. Whatever that is, something that feels right for you and your art.
4. Find your squad
I am a huge fan of surrounding yourself with others who are doing the thing that you are doing. I encourage side hustlers to find other side hustlers to chat with, because we get what you are going through in ways full time entrepreneurs don’t quite understand.
The same goes for newsletters or other creations. I have gotten so much advice, support, and examples from being a part of communities like the Newsletter Creators group, the Unemployable Initiative, and the RadReads Slack community.
It is great to be able to share struggles and accomplishments. But also to see what others are doing for inspiration or to share what you are doing as well. And it pays off. My newsletter has seen so much growth since joining those groups. The education that I get alone is so worth it.
Find others who are doing things you want to do and join them. Or if you’re not able to find an existing community, create your own.
These 200 issues over the past 4 years have been some of the best learning experiences of my business career. And because of it, I have been asked to do podcasts, workshops and have become a go-to resource for side hustlers.
All because I made a decision to do this one thing consistently.