A cohesive ecosystem of values feeds into each other and supports each other
Here’s the skinny on side hustles: they’re easier when they rely on the same kind of skills. That should come as no surprise, right?
When you’re a people person, things like sales, recruitment, and influencing can all work off of the skills you’ve already developed — this specializes you further, and decreases the amount of time to learn a new vocation. If all your endeavors build on the same skills, then you have a cohesive flow.
That’s why I try to set up my side hustles to feed into each other.
What are side hustles?
Let me clarify what I mean by side hustles: knowledge is part of this. While many people think that side hustles are just items that produce revenue, and while that is the case sometimes, it’s not always the case. When I think about creating my ecosystem, I think about the following:
- What can support or bolster each other? Can I learn from an experience that will help me in another area?
- How can I provide value to people? Will this provide value now or in the future? Does this give me fulfillment?
- What would be fun for me? What could I commit to wholeheartedly that supports my personal ethos and goals?
As an early career UX designer, this is where most, but not all of my UX learning comes from. It can be easy to fall into a rhythm where you gather information and learn solely from your job, but there is a plethora of resources out there that can teach you more about UX:
- Youtube videos. I love watching youtube videos about UX design and things going on in the field. Vaexperience is one of my favorite UX YouTubers.
- Podcasts. I love listening to UX podcasts on Spotify. It’s great when you’re driving or doing other things because the format is specifically tailored for not looking at the screen.
- Each other. There is a plethora of information that you can learn in your network.
What kind of things do I learn about UX through my job? Basically everything:
- Project management through managing timelines and clients
- Collaboration through working with people in and out of my organization
- Methods of iterating, problem-solving, and ideation through my projects
- Presenting information to stakeholders whether verbally or on paper
This one seems sort of obvious, right? Writing and reading through Medium is my primary side hustle — it provides most of my enrichment in the UX field as well as allows me to earn a little extra spending money each month through the partner program.
A key tenant of side hustles in terms of income is passivity. The wonderful thing about writing an article or making a youtube video is that once you make it, it’s basically in the world forever. If a person reads this article in 20 years, I might still make a little money — to me, that’s worth the initial investment.
Creating articles that will weather the test of time is hard. Most articles don’t pervade as long as 20 years and keep coming back. I am only beginning my journey through Medium, but I hope that the outcome will be fruitful and well worth it.
The advantages of writing are:
- You are able to practice articulating your thoughts and opinions more cogently and easily. When you take time to digest and process what you’re trying to say, it makes it easier to say it during interviews or UX conversations.
- You create. Creating is inherently part of the UX process, but it can be incredibly gratifying to create for yourself!
- You put yourself out there. Unfortunately, I had to decouple my online identity and my online writing because of issues with my work, but building an online persona and an online network is so important, especially in the UX field.
I have recently started to mentor people. Initially, I wanted to do it through a more organized platform such as ADPList, but I was soon rejected from their platform because you need 5+ years of experience in order to begin mentoring people on their platform.
I personally don’t think you need to be years ahead of people to help them. I think that only being a few steps ahead actually gives you an advantage — you have recently gone through what others want to learn about, and are closer to the problem. You can see the steps they must take accurately because you just went through it.
Of course, I understand why they have that requirement — but I also hope that they understand when I don’t let it stop me.
I don’t charge for mentoring. I am an early career UX designer that just likes to help people. But perhaps down the line, I can mentor professionally in a way where people want to pay me for the value that I provide.
The advantages of mentoring:
- You more closely analyze your processes to uncover what is actually useful and what is noise
- You are able to see your own processes with more clarity, and are able to improve upon the workflows you are already conducting
I’ve been thinking of starting a discord server recently. Part of it is just because I love fostering community — when I was completing my Master’s degree I was the Vice President of the UX student organization.
Another reason is that you can learn so much from each other. A community is indispensable when it comes to gathering resources, honing your ability to articulate UX concepts and news, and having a source of feedback for your projects.
Advantages of a discord server:
- It can be boring to set up something like an email list if you want to have a place where people can find out about your newest products and news about what you’re doing — a discord server is far more fun
- It can provide a platform for other people to promote themselves as well, providing more value to people than just an email in their inbox
- It’s a place to create real, meaningful relationships within the industry — that goes far past the tenuous relationships created on other social media sites
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