52 minutes | Mar 30th 2021

085: How to start a side-hustle as a motion designer w/ Mary Hawkins

Nowadays it’s common for people to have more than one job or income stream. Having a side-hustle allows you to have more freedom and control in your career as it’s not your only source of income - but how do you go about choosing one? And how do you get started? Today’s guest has a popular Etsy store selling stationery as well as a successful career in motion design. In fact, having a side-hustle allows her to be pickier over the kinds of clients she works with. Find out how you too can start your own side-hustle to complement your motion design career. About Mary Hawkins Mary Hawkins is a freelance motion designer, animator and art director. She joined our Mograph Mastermind last year to help her to get clarity on the kinds of clients she wanted to work with and because she was suffering from a massive case of burnout. As a result, she has gone from being an in-house freelancer to an independent freelancer and she now gets to work with clients such as charities as well as broadcast designer clients. How to start a side-hustle as a motion designer Mary has built up an extremely successful Etsy shop selling voting-themed stationery - she’s made 12,000 sales in the past 4 years. She credits her success to having such a niche store. Mary makes products for volunteers to write postcards to voters. Writing postcards to voters was a new idea back in 2017 that has become increasingly popular, which is how Mary Likes Postcards was born. She paid $300 to get lots of printing done back in 2017 and has been running the business ever since. She’s never had to take out a business loan, or invest more money into it and even during a bad year like 2020, it still manages to pay for her family’s health insurance. How to choose a side-hustle if you don't know where to begin Although Mary was happy in her career, the really interesting jobs would often get sent to a big agency in NYC rather than be kept in-house. As a result, she wasn’t spending much of her time at work actually designing, but she’d always find herself doodling designs at her desk. Therefore it came as no surprise to Mary that her side-hustle incorporated something that was a pain-point in her career. However she’s a designer, not an artist, and she knew she needed to create something with direction that people wanted. When she designs for her store, she is always thinking “who’s going to like/buy this?” “What is the emotional response going to be?” As a motion designer, you have a very specific set of skills so when choosing a side-hustle you should stick to things that you’ll enjoy doing and one that makes use of your skillset.  Some of the best ways to make money through a side-hustle as a motion designer would be teaching based content - 1:1 coaching for other designers or teaching YouTube tutorials. You could also make money digitally, such as creating and selling an online course or make and sell templates, printables or fonts. You could also create a print on demand business, where you print designs on tote bags, cards, pins or other physical products but you only create the product once the order comes in.  The key benefit of this is that you don’t want to have an inventory of stock. However, Mary’s business requires an inventory of stock, which of course takes up space and costs money to buy upfront but she says allows her business to be more profitable. The difference between a hobby and a side-hustle Mary sees her side-hustle as a micro-business. A side-hustle is not something that you do full-time, or for anyone but yourself.  It’s also a business that doesn’t require your attention on a full-time basis. There’s also a difference between a side-hustle and a hobby. For example, if you are a designer who is making a short film, you’re an artist rather than someone with a side-hustle - as your primary goal is not to make money. Having a side-hustle will make you a better motion designer Mary says that having a side-hustle has allowed her to be a better organiser, a better planner, and a better marketer Each of these skills, in turn, has allowed her to be a much better motion designer.  The pitfalls of having a side-hustle  One of the key downsides of having a side-hustle is the pressure it puts on you when it comes to time-keeping and organisation. Having a side-hustle, even a small one, will undoubtedly take up a lot of your time. When you’re a “yes person” like Mary, who loves to say yes to many projects at once, you can find yourself stressed and overwhelmed with a never-ending to-do list. There are also copyright issues when it comes to designing and selling work online. Running two different kinds of businesses also means that tax and accounting can become more complicated. Should you sell products on Etsy, Amazon or Faire? Amazon requires sellers to jump through a lot more hoops than other platforms. They also take a large chunk out of your earnings, however, everyone is on Amazon as it’s such a well-used company. Etsy is a smaller marketplace but people seem to respond to the handmade element of businesses better due to the nature of the product.  Faire is a similar platform to Etsy but for wholesale buyers.  It might be better for you to have your own website rather than sell with a platform - it depends on the product you are selling. There are all sorts of marketplaces out there, you just have to search for them. But ultimately, your side-hustle has to be something you’ll genuinely enjoy doing and something that people want and will pay for.
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