Side Hustle: the life of a multi-hyphenate

5 Tips to Survive your Side Hustle

During one of my interviews on WHUR radio with Harold Fisher, a caller asked a powerful question, “Can you really succeed at your side hustle?”

I’ve been a side hustler or “para-preneur” for 20 years (meaning I have a career and run a successful business). I’m a college professor and an entrepreneur/TV Writing Coach.

I was actually an entrepreneur before I became a professor. So, I entered the “Side Hustle” world a little differently than most.

I started as an entrepreneur pre-internet with a brick and mortar business and for the past 10 years I’ve been teaching and coaching newbie and seasoned entrepreneurs to use combine purpose with profit as they use online marketing and sales to make honest money doing what they love.

Teaching is my gift. Helping writers experience micro-wins, momentum and mastery over time is why I’m successful at what I do.

It doesn’t matter if you simply want to earn a few coins to add to your savings or pay for an extra special extravagance or maybe you’re ready to start with the side hustle and eventually transition to full time entrepreneur, either way, you’re going to need some help.

Yes you can succeed with your side hustle, but that’s if you make sure to do this main thing…

Don’t treat it like a hobby, which means you have to set things up correctly. For starters, register yourself as a writer who has a business with federal and local agencies. That means give your business a name and consult with an attorney or accountant regarding the best structure for setting up yourself as a business.

Beyond that important step, there’s lots more to do that will help you be able to survive your side hustle while you work your 9-5 and stay sane!

Below, I’m sharing 5 tips I’ve learned along the way to help you get started, stay motivated and grow your business.


  • Tell your family (if you’re single, you can skip this part!) what you’re about to do and have a discussion about how it will impact everyone.
  • Determine your purpose. Yes, you can combine your purpose with profit. What would you do for free because when you do it it doesn’t feel like work? What makes your heart sing when you do it? What makes you feel deeply fulfilled when you do it?
  • Determine your brand identity – the unique set of attributes that communicate the essence and story of your brand. For a writer, this means what genre will you become known for? Me, I’m know as a drama-queen! No, not that kind. It just means I love watching, writing and teaching about television drama writing. 
  • Establish the right digital footprint – set up your social media platforms with consist brand identity. For example, on all of my social media platforms it says the same thing: “TV screenwriter-playwright-veteran entrepreneur-instructor/professor. Joyfilled Badass!”
  • Understand that your job/career deserves your best. When you’re consistently faithful over little you prove that you’re able to be master over much
  • Focus on mastering your craft. Get the right training that will move you quickly to your next level. 


  • Determine which genre will you become known for? No this doesn’t mean you can’t write for more than one genre, but it does mean in the beginning you need to pick a lane and become known for it. 


  • Get organized
  • Practice time management – schedule writing time to get things done if you really have a lot on your plate
  • Prioritize your writing. Focus on it for part of your day, everyday
  • Let your family know that it’s important to you and you’re seeking their support and create boundaries
  • Use automation – both free and paid services to streamline your life. For example, online scheduler, social media posting. Website, listen to podcasts, utilize YouTube etc.


  • Be in community with people who are actively and intentionally pursuing their dreams
  • Join a class
  • Read the right books – Idea by The Seven Elements of a Viable Story by Erik Bork is my current fave!
  • Hire a private coach to help you focus and accelerate your outcomes
  • Join an accountability community


  • Give yourself 18-24 months to determine if you want to eventually transition from side hustle to full time writer. You need at least 4 full quarters to get used to the new eco-system you’re walking into.

If you’re determined to join team “Side Hustle” use this advice. I promise I learned most of it the hard way!

When you nurture and grow your brand as a writer the right way you can succeed at your side hustle while you pivot between it and your main thing!


Denise Joy LOVEs all things drama TV. I'm a binge-watching-deconstructing-story-maven. I've been a college professor and professional writer for 20 years, but I grew up in “O” town. No. Not Oakland, Omaha. Growing up in middle America was an idyllic experience. I grew up on the taste of welfare...powdered milk and government cheese. Along with my siblings I lived in 13 different homes from the time I was born until I was 17. The first being a low income projects nicknamed “Little Vietnam”, so don’t come for me! Learning how to outrun the eviction notice cultivated my love of storytelling from a young age. At 9 I published my fist poem and at 13 I wrote and shot my first movie, “The Chase” with my neighborhood crew at Tommy Rose Gardens Projects. People say I'm a master at reinvention. Just another byproduct of lessons learned from my vagabond/gypsy like upbringing. And for those of you that wonder if I’m spiritual, ratchet, bougie, professional or ghetto…please note, I’m mixed.