When I left my full-time job to stay home with my kids, my daughter wasn’t yet three and my son was an infant. Fast-forward four years, and now my son is starting preschool. People who’ve known me only as a stay-at-home mom have started to ask whether I’m considering a return to work. But here’s the thing: I never left.
It’s true that I spent the last four years at home, but I also spent those four years building my consulting and writing business—a side gig to my job as a mom. Thankfully, we live in a time when it’s possible to work from nearly anywhere. I’ve filed stories from my minivan in the preschool parking lot, on a bench in a noisy kids’ gym class, the YMCA, the aisles of IKEA, you name it.
As long as you have a smartphone, you can easily manage your side hustle no matter where you go. But mastering it is an art form—and it helps to have the right tools and apps. Start with these tips and before you know it you’ll be updating your blog while you’re at the ballpark. (I’m writing this piece from behind home plate right now!)
1. Take Advantage of On-the-Go Tools
It used to be that the app versions of desktop programs were pared-down or clunky to use. That’s no longer the case; some programs are even more efficient as an app. Do a quick app store search for your favorite tools, and you may be surprised to find that your go-to bookkeeping, file-sharing, website hosting, or CMS tools now come in a super-convenient app form.
The founders of Jarrymag.com, a website and community of queer chefs, estimate they do as much as 25% of their work from their phones. “We use our phones to manage the Jarry Instagram and to capture and manage content,” says Steve Viksjo, who is the website’s creative director and co-founder with Lukas Volger, the editorial director. (In their day jobs, Viksjo owns his own creative studio and Volger is a cookbook author.)
Some hosting services, like Squarespace, have apps so clever that you can fix a typo on your site while waiting for a meeting to start. Or even write, edit, and publish an entire post—with visuals—from your phone.
And given that an estimated 40% of online transactions happen from smartphones these days, building out your website from your phone helps ensure that you’re seeing your site the way many of your users or customers will.
Tip: Organize all your side-hustle apps in one folder on your phone, so you can easily access them when you’ve got 10 minutes to kill in line for your lunch.
2. Work Smart, Not Hard
Let data be your friend. Look for what performed well, try to understand why, and aim to replicate that success. “We use Squarespace’s analytics to better understand our web traffic, especially to learn where our customers find us,” Viksjo notes.
As a side hustler, you probably don’t have time to put 100% into every social platform, content type, or marketing tool for your website. And that’s OK. Focus on what is doing well and run with that. For instance, rather than trying to build an audience on every social media platform, identify your most effective channels and spend your time making that content really great. Pinterest may be more important if you’re an interior decorator, while Twitter could be a must for a political blogger.
Tip: Consider social media management apps that allow you to schedule and organize your posts in advance and on the go. Viksjo uses Later for Jarry’s Instagram. Another popular social planning tool, Hootsuite, also comes in app form.
3. Embrace Change
The best thing about a side hustle? You are 100% in control. Unlike your day job where adopting new processes may have to move through a chain of approval, you have the power to be nimble and agile. So take advantage of that and always be on the lookout for better tools and more efficient ways of building your website and your business. “As technology changes, the smartest way to do anything seems to change too,” Visko says.
Tip: Don’t limit yourself! Technology is making it easier than ever to pursue your dreams—and maybe one day turn that side hustle into your full-time gig.