How to start a niche motion design studiowith Roxy Vélez
As a freelance motion designer, sometimes you find yourself taking on work that you’re not particularly passionate about just to pay the bills.
But what if there was a way that you could exclusively work with brands who align with your personal values AND make a good living in doing so?
Today’s podcast guest will show you how she created a successful niche motion design studio that supports veganism and plant-based living.
About Roxy Vélez
Roxy Vélez grew up in Ecuador but moved to the US to study a master’s degree after she finished her studies in graphic design.
After she finished she moved to New York to become a freelance designer. She then moved across the world to Berlin and gradually made the transition from freelance motion designer to becoming a studio owner in 2018.
Here’s how she did it.
How Vexquisit Studio was born
Vexquisit Studio works exclusively with vegan products, brands and organisations.
The studio was born from Roxy’s desire to work exclusively with brands that aligned with her personal values. She worried that being freelance and working for agencies would mean that she would be assigned to projects for companies that went against her personal beliefs.
It was also difficult for her to say to colleagues that she didn’t want to work on certain projects because of her beliefs, because she loved working for the agencies and the people that she worked with.
She felt conflicted because as much as she believes in veganism, she also had to pay her bills.
Meanwhile, in her personal life, she had started to become more involved in vegan events. This allowed her to build more connections in the vegan community which, in time, helped her to start her studio.
How to find clients who align with your values
Roxy found clients who are aligned with her values primarily through going to vegan events and conferences.
Of course the emergence of Covid-19 has put a stop to these in-person events, however Roxy says there is still ample opportunity to connect with the kinds of clients you’d like to work with online. In fact, online events mean that you can easily find international clients, too.
She also credits LinkedIn as a great way to find new clients. She follows lots of vegan companies on LinkedIn and makes sure she spends some time actively engaging with them – liking and commenting on their posts.
She also says that content is key. It’s important that you spend some time creating content for social media to promote yourself.
Creating work that has meaning beyond just making money
Many freelancers will get to a stage where, beyond just making money, they want their work to have impact and meaning.
Roxy says that when she worked for agencies, if an ad went viral she would feel nothing – it wouldn’t make a difference to her work.
Whereas now, if she works on an advertisement for a client that goes viral, or even if it just becomes popular on social media, it has the potential to contribute to less animal consumption, which is a cause that she feels incredibly passionate about.
Roxy also updated her portfolio to reflect projects that she knew her ideal clients would find appealing to help her to win more clients.
How to raise your freelance rate to give you space to breath
Whilst Roxy was setting up her niche motion design studio, she decided to raise her freelance rate to give her more financial freedom to work on her passion project.
She decided that if she was going to spend her time doing work that wasn’t ideally what she wanted to be doing, it made sense to charge more for that work.
The best way to raise your rate is to just communicate the changes with your clients – some will say no, but make it clear that you can still work together if you have availability, but that you’ll have to prioritise clients who are willing to pay your new rate.
How to find people to support your mission
Roxy found her first freelancers through animation community groups on Facebook. From there, her first hire recommended a friend of hers and from there, her niche motion design studio has grown to a consistent team who are all personally invested in their work.
Roxy isn’t in a huge rush to grow the studio into a huge business – she has a great working relationship with her clients and the people who work for her, and as long as they continue to work with brilliant clients on projects that excite her, she is happy to continue that way.
Most of all, it’s important to hire people who genuinely care about what you’re doing because when people care, the quality of work speaks for itself.
What are the kinds of clients that you’d really like to work with? Would you like to start a niche studio one day?
Leave a comment on the episode page and let us know!
In this episode
- Roxy’s journey from freelancer to niche studio owner
- How Roxy started Vequisit Studio and why she decided to niche down
- How to find clients in a specific niche
- How to move away from working with brands who don’t align with your personal values
- How to hire other freelancers who care about your cause
- How to help organise your work as a studio owner
- The benefits of Clubhouse for motion designers
- How to have a positive impact on the world through your work
- How Roxy helped to create the Vegcraver app
- The importance of being patient when building a business
“If an ad goes viral, it just goes viral and nothing happens. But if a brand like Beyond Meat goes viral then that brand going means less animal consumption and that’s what gets me going. [16.20]
“You learn on the go, you don’t need to have a book, you just need to get started.” [20.45]
“Organisation rules. Have your files organised, work to schedule and lock that schedule in with a contract.” [25.28]
“Something that nobody told me is that you should be prepared to hire the wrong people too.” [28.26]
“It’s really important to have more vegan creatives” [38.17]
“Art inspires people and it moves people, and motion is even stronger so why should we not use our skills to produce change.” [38.56]
“If you care, the work will be better.” [40.01]
“Being a freelancer helped me to think about how I’d like to be treated and I try to treat my freelancers the way that I’d like to be treated.” [45.01]
“I wish someone had told me the importance of being patient. Be kind to yourself, stay as healthy as you can.” [49.04]
“Try one niche – if you don’t like it you can try another one.” [50.00]
Apply for a place on the Mograph Mastermind.
Find out more about Vexquisit Studio
Find out more about Vegcraver.
Hayley Akins (00:13): Hey hatchings welcome to episode 85 of the motion hatch podcast. So most of you are probably pretty familiar with sometimes feeling very busy and then having no projects at all, freelancing can seem very unpredictable, especially if you're only relying on referrals. So I'm really excited to announce that we have just launched our client quest course, and it's open for registration right now. In the course, we help you to build a system using our freelance funnel framework so you can increase awareness of your work and attract the clients that you want. So you don't have to worry about where your next project is coming from. The course is suitable for established freelancers to get high paying regular clients, and also motion designers who are looking to jump into freelance. If you want to learn more about our costs, go to motionhatch.com/clientquest.
Hayley Akins (01:12): Registration is only open for a limited time. So make sure you check it out. Now, if you're listening to this and if we've closed registration, you can always sign up to register to hear about when we next, open it up on this week's episode. I spoke to Mary Hawkins. Mary Hawkins was a student in our MoGraph mastermind program, and today are on the show to speak about her side hustle. She is a freelance motion designer, but she has a side hustle selling stationary through platforms, such as Etsy and Amazon. Her side hustle actually allows her to be more picky about the motion design jobs she takes on, and it also pays for her family's health insurance. So we discuss how you can create your own side hustle to compliment your motion design career. So let's get into it. Hey Mary, thank you so much for coming on the show.
Mary Hawkins (02:02): Hey Hayley. Nice to see you again. Yeah. Happy to be here.
Hayley Akins (02:07): Awesome. So do you want to tell us a bit about your background and what you do?
Mary Hawkins (02:12): Sure. So I was in the motion has to mastermind last year, year and a half ago. And yeah, and I I'm a motion graphics designer. I'm an art director, animator designer. And you know, for a long time I worked mostly with broadcast clients, in-house networks. And I came to the mastermind and kind of structure changes, changed of who, who I work with. So now I mostly work with social good groups and nonprofits in addition to my breakfast design proofs.
Hayley Akins (02:47): That's great. So you joined the mastermind because you wanted to kind of, you know, appeal to a different type of client. Right?
Mary Hawkins (02:56): I joined because I had, I had a case of burnout. That's why I joined. And I could figure out on my own what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. It was just like too much going on at once. And, you know, I'm here to talk about side hustles. That was part of the mix, but yeah, I just couldn't, I was very comfortable with my day job and I also wasn't, it was, it was kind of a, an odd, I think a lot of people hit this, right? Like I had done the same job for 18 years and I loved it, but it also had changed on me in ways that I didn't couldn't process very well. And I needed an outside eye to tell me like, Oh, you know, here are the ways this isn't working for you anymore. Like, you know, I, I think at one point you guys literally gave me a worksheet that I was like, Oh, look at this. This is the thing I thought I was doing with my day, and this is what I'm actually doing. And I just had never sat down to really evaluate it. So yeah. Give me all the tools to, to kind of take that on. Yeah.
Hayley Akins (04:07): So you were full time before when you, before you started the mastermind and then now you're freelance and you've also got a side hustle. So do you want to tell us a little bit about that?
Mary Hawkins (04:19): Yeah, so I frustrated is I was never a full-time a full-time employee. I was always an in-house fee. That's fair. So I spoke to like 75, 80% of the time. And I had very regular clients, like I knew in my schedule, like what the shape of my year would be. And yeah, you know, I had a little bit of downtime and there were also things I wasn't able to do at work that I really wanted to do more. So, you know, over the years I learned cinema four D by myself and then my clients would ever need it. So I just would have like, like every January, I'd start out with a resolution to learn cinema 4d. And then by, you know, mid-March, I'd be pretty good at it. And then by year we get busy and, you know, I'd wind up in September being like, you know, it's really a shame.
Mary Hawkins (05:16): I never had an interest in it before. Let's go back and do that again. And I did that in cycles for about three or four years where I learned a skill and then it would be a skill I'd be really into and no one at record need it. And one of the last ones for me was I learned a hinder on tape. And in, in my work as a broadcast designer, I worked a lot with type, I really worked with the type and logos and branding. And and I thought, Oh, this is really amazing. I should keep doing this. And it was something I could actually keep doing just by doodling. And you know my side hustle is that I've ran a little stationary store in Etsy and everything in it is vote related, which we talk about niching.
Mary Hawkins (06:11): You talk about it on the podcast a lot. We talk about it at version hats a lot. That is a real Nish, right? That is not that was not a product that was out there when I was looking for it. It was not a product that I thought I would ever make. But it's been pretty successful. I'm, I'm one of the, the, you know, upper echelon of Etsy, Etsy stories I've done, I think 11,000, 12,000 sales over the last four years. So it's pretty consistent. And I make products for volunteers who write postcards divergence. So my business, Mary likes postcards and I make rubber stamps and the postcards and stickers it's, it's been a lot of fun. It's all the, the stuff I would go into a stationary store and buy. Mine just happens to save coach. And it's been really successful because I, I have a very specific niche.
Hayley Akins (07:09): It's something that you're obviously passionate about is as you were looking for a product and you couldn't find it. So that's kind of where you got this idea from.
Mary Hawkins (07:17): Yeah. Yeah. So writing postcards to voters was kind of a new idea in 2017. I don't know if anybody follows United States politics, but we had a really big, big, whole set of things happen over the last four years. And the women's March one of the things I suggested for people after they got back from the women's March was to reach out to your representatives. And one of the ways they suggested you do it cause everyone postcards because they're cheap, you probably have some lag around the postage is cheaper here in the United States. And people started doing that, but you can only write your representative so many times and people were really into this idea. And, and there were a handful of activists who came up with this idea that we should just write to voters. There's an unlimited supply of voters out there, and we could get people we could increase turnout this way.
Mary Hawkins (08:18): We can get people registered. Why don't we do this? We have all these volunteers who are like, you know, introverts with nice handwriting. And I happen to be an introvert with nice handwriting who had a little extra time. And was it decent enough graphic designer who wasn't afraid of French? So I started drawing my own because I was using the same statue of Liberty postcard from Midtown that I could buy on my lunch break. And I know that that was probably a fun thing for people to get, but I wanted something more specific. And there just wasn't anything there. I was the first person to sell a vote for his card on Amazon. Which is a strange, yeah, it seems like that exchange thing,
Hayley Akins (09:07): It seems like it would already exist. Like,
Mary Hawkins (09:12): Like no one wanted that. No one, no one came up with that and it's, it's big enough to be self-sustaining right. So I, I paid $300 for a bunch of printing in 2017 and now I have this side hustle that like, you know, I've never had to put more money into it. I never had to take out loans. I've never had to put anything on a credit card, but, you know, in a slow year it pays for my health insurance, like my family, which for Americans is you know, it's, it's not enough that I can retire and Olivia stationer, but that's also not my goal. Right. Like my goal is that I'm doing something that's slightly worky. Like it is occupation in a way. But does it take over my main career because I also really love being, unless you graphics designer, when it has given me is space in my career to reevaluate what I want to do and who I want to work for.
Mary Hawkins (10:21): So I know everybody's seen this meme, that's like describe your career badly. And at one point, the bad description of my career is that I encourage children to watch more TV and people in general to eat more candy. And that's very true that those are actual jobs I had, right. Actually with clients, you know, in the mastermind we were asked, like, what are your values? What are you actually working for? And I spent all this time volunteering, why am I not the, my mentor just had to actually ask me, like, why, why are you not working for social good and nonprofit groups? And I hadn't been doing it cause I didn't think it was like having a side hustle at the size of my site, as well as giving me a little bit more flexibility. And it's also given me kind of the self confidence to say like, Oh no, there are people who do this and they are, there is a market out here for this. You just have to figure it out. Yeah.
Hayley Akins (11:23): Yeah. I think it makes sense. I guess some of the questions that everyone will probably be thinking is, okay, so you've made this stationary side hustle, but why not make a side hustle? That's kind of like the same as motion sign, I guess, because it's a different alternative revenue stream. Right. So do you want to talk a little bit more about that
Mary Hawkins (11:44): For me? I looking back on it, one of the reasons why my side hustle is not doing more innovation is because it work, even though I was an animator designer, people are only using the, for animation and they were using the often for the most boring animation. You could come up with a lot of the stuff at broadcast networks. You don't think of bespoke or bespoke. So every time you're annoyed to see a little ad pop up that says, you know, please watch this up next. You know someone made that and that's someone who used to be me for years. So I would get really exciting projects in. And then a lot of my bookings would be like, you know, they paid me well to do really boring stuff. And I would be sitting at my desk doodling. Like a lot of my a lot of my coworkers would, would have like very intense doodle hobbies.
Mary Hawkins (12:49): And there just wasn't the projects that were the most exciting. I just really wanted all these going out of house. Right. So I'd start them and then they'd get really big and some would think this is exciting and they'd send it to one of the bigger studios in New York city to flesh it out and make it big. And I did not want to go to this bigger places. Like I was really happy with my coworkers, mostly happy with my job, but I wasn't designing. And I wasn't asked to design very often. So it is not a surprise to me that my whole side hustle is designing things. I think as people think about what they want in their career and what they're looking for from the side hustle, keep that in mind, you know, that was a mild pain point in my life for like maybe a decade, right.
Mary Hawkins (13:45): That I wanted to do more more of the early stage of any project. And this is kind of a way for me to do that. Like, this is a way to use those skills. And there are definitely side hustle. So you could get into that are specifically more animation, you know, like we'll go into I have a whole set of ideas for what people could be doing, but that's, that's really what it feels for me. I like learning. I like continuing to learn stuff. I didn't really want to be in charge of anyone else and yet I seem to advantage to need to be oops. And yeah, that's what it's given me is I'm, I'm a boss, which is nice. I like that enough. But what I, I really get to do is, you know, yesterday I had the day off and I got to drop flowers for five hours. Like, this is what I want to do. Right. And eventually, maybe someone will pay me for that, but no, one's going to pay me for that at the studio, at least not yet. Yeah. I think,
Hayley Akins (14:52): I think it's really interesting cause you found a problem, but it also connects with what you want to do. Right. It connects with a skill that you have something that you want to do and a problem that's out there that you saw an opportunity to solve. And I think that's really interesting is that the way that you would advise other motions designers to look at it, if they're looking to, you know, make some money on the side, that's kind of their motion sign work
Mary Hawkins (15:22): For me that was kind of by accident. Like looking back on it. I can see very clearly that, Oh, you know, you you've been worried about this problem for years and you hadn't known how to solve it other than radically changing your career in a way you felt uncomfortable. So you came up with a moneymaking project that magically solved this problem for you. I don't know that people have enough self-awareness to do that. I certainly didn't. There might be someone out there who does, but it's something to keep in mind as you're evaluating. If you want to do a side hustle, it certainly would have been easier for me to decide to do like 36 days of type or each tuber. But somehow I, because all of my work is client based and I, I, I'm not an artist, right. I I'm a designer.
Mary Hawkins (16:12): I need a client. I need to know that there's a customer out there that there's a, there's like a fan base or whatever. I need it. It's not that I need other people's approval, but I need to know, to think about these projects in a way where like, who's going to, like, this is one of the questions I asked myself, like, what is the emotional response from other people to this thing? You know what like part of my thought process when I'm making something is not like, this is pretty it's. How are people going to react to this? When are people gonna use this? And that's very different from, you know, I have a coworker who does portraits and she's a beautiful portrait artist. And her goal is to do a gallery show. You know, she doesn't have to make a specific type of thing to do a gallery show she's task to express yourself. But for me, because I've been highly trained in design and I, I only think of myself as a designer doing something, doing something like that would be like, you know, without a net, like, what am I doing here? I can't just make things, other people, maybe that's perfect for them, but for me, like I think about the end user for everything I make. And I think about the use case in these purpose and yeah, those are not artistic concepts, you know, like those are design concepts. So yeah.
Hayley Akins (17:53): You mentioned like different types of side hustles. I know that you have kind of, you know, you've sort of come up with a different list of all these side hustles that designers could do. So do you want to kind of go through them? Cause I think it would be really helpful for people to kind of identify some different areas that maybe they could think about
Mary Hawkins (18:14): Because I have this kind of complex side hustle I've I listened to a lot of podcasts about side hustles, right. Their site has to show there's the product boss, there are a bunch of different ones. And I, when I think about what I would recommend to other motion graphics designers, we have very specific skits, right? So we work with clients, we are marketing adjacent, but you know, some of the most common side hustles, I don't think are great for us. Like, you know I'm in a group online where I feel like everybody else either makes skincare candles and I'm the person with the stationary store. Right. and I, I just don't think that, you know, if you want to make, especially if you want to make candles for living, I have the group for you. Please email me. But for most motion graphics designers, I don't think that's what we're looking for.
Mary Hawkins (19:07): Right. So I came up with a little taxonomy for a flavors of side hustles, for motion graphics designers. And, you know, I think that the big biggest one and the easiest one is to do services. So that could be something like teaching people or coaching one-on-one making YouTube tutorials certainly fits into that one. And I think that's probably the easiest one that is not just taking on freelance clients. Right? Cause I, I feel like taking on freelance clients is not a side hustle taking on freelance clients as being a freelancer. That's kind of my first category of thought. If you're looking into a side hustle, what could you possibly do? The other is to make something that's like digital, or I'm going to call it a femoral, right? So you can make a course or some worksheets or community. You could make templates or principles. You could make a font. I have a friend at one of my projects who recently sold a gift. I do not know how this works. He was paid in Bitcoin. I have no idea what's going on there.
Hayley Akins (20:18): And Ft thing, big environmental factor. I think that we're probably going to do an upcoming show on it. Cause that is a whole other,
Mary Hawkins (20:27): Right. Like I am a simple person who makes postcards for a living. I do not know how that works. But good on him. He sold something, you know, that's a, that's a whole category. And then, you know, the fourth is a print on demand in print, on demand. And this was a thing I had seen out in the, a bunch of it hadn't really thought about until I started making things. Someone makes a physical product, but you don't right. You're hiring someone else to do it for you. You have to preplan it. You're just designing something. And usually it's like, you know, pretend like your thesis project was this great set of characters and you want to do something with them to support it. You know, you could take images of them, put them on teas or totes or, or stickers even.
Mary Hawkins (21:24): And you make a little site and you get the word out. It takes a lot of marketing to stand out. If you do this, like that's the downside, but you don't have to have anything stuck in your house. Which brings me to the fourth one, which is what I do is inventory an inventory based side hustle. The big disadvantage is that you have inventory. My living room is inventory central right now and it's you know, cause up and down I sell hundreds of thousands of postcards a year. And I live in Manhattan, which is not an ideal place to be an inventory side hustler. But the advantage for me and the reason why I do my, I make my own inventory instead of doing print on demand is that I have more control over it. And I also get my profit.
Mary Hawkins (22:21): I used to do when I was just starting out. I thought I'd only do print on demand because it made more sense, right. That hadn't done inventory. But you know, my, I would sell a single postcard and it would be a dollar for the person who made the postcard 25 cents for me, I could set the 25 cents to any number I wanted. And then shipping was like nine bucks, which made no sense. And you know, now that I have my own postcode factory in the other room, my numbers are much better than that. And I can sell more postcards in any designer want it's not product demand. Like people don't get to decide that they want 23 of one thing and two of another. But I have found that types of designs that my customers want. I found, you know, the types of colors they like, they want really bright colors.
Mary Hawkins (23:27): There weren't things that stand out and it's, you know, over time it's worked into a better place than I was with the on demand place. At one point I sold $50 worth of Prudential and postcards in the same here that I sold to like, you know, thousands of my own postcards on my own. And I was just looking at these numbers, like what the heck, we're not doing this anymore. So to me, those are the four flavors and I've kind of got into some of the positives, the prison cons, but I think if you're looking at something and you're like, Oh, I should really do a side hustle. Like this is kind of a good breakdown. So yeah.
Hayley Akins (24:16): Yeah, definitely. And I mean, you know, like you were saying motion hatch kind of started out as a few of the first kind of ones that you were talking about. And then we, we also do a bit of print on demand. We've got a few t-shirts not many people know by, I don't think, but you know, it's kinda one of those things. It's like, if people want them they're there. So that's why we do print on demand instead of you know, having side-out have loads of motion hatch t-shirts and my house, I have one,
Mary Hawkins (24:46): Right? Why do you need,
Hayley Akins (24:48): Yeah. The one that to test out, but yeah, I have 10 sitting around in the house, although I do have a box full of pins, motion hatching pins. So, you know, you can kind of mix it up a bit with different kind of fed on demand.
Mary Hawkins (25:04): I think you sent me one of your enabled pins at one point, it was really exciting. Yeah. There are definitely items that you can get printed on demand that you wouldn't expect, but enamel pins are not one of them. And like enamel pins are so exciting. But that's an inventory project, right? Like you need, you need to have space for a box of pins that may become holiday presence for the next three years.
Hayley Akins (25:32): We've talked a lot about side hustles. Do you want to kind of clarify what you kind of believe is a side hustle and then maybe what classes a side hustle.
Mary Hawkins (25:43): Yeah. Cause it's I, my partner really hates that I use the term side hustle, but it, it explains a lot to people in a way that I founded a small business that I don't work on as an employee. Doesn't right. So I'm not a freelancer at someone else's work. Right. I'm, I'm kind of a micro business that I have on the side of my new business. So the side hustle, peppered smell zero people are employed by my small business. Right? It's not usually you think of small business as like, I think of the States it's defined as under 50 employees might have zero. Right. I have all these vendors and I have a handful of people I've hired, like when I need them. But there's a specific size of business that will still making money enough money that like it's worth continuing.
Mary Hawkins (26:43): Right. without becoming something that you're relying on, right? Like I don't rely on my side hustle. There may, at some point for someone, some of these sites will become a full-sized business, right? Like for some people that's the goal. They just don't know how to do it. So they're starting really small. And a side hustle is not something that you're doing for someone else. It's not something that you're doing full time. It says somewhere in between. And it there's just no phrase for that. Other than a hustle. There's also a category of project that artists and emotion designers get into that. I also would not consider a side hustle, but that could eventually be monetized. Right. So if you are someone who's making your own short film, you're not a side hustler, right? You're an artist making a short film, which you, you just have different goals. I mentioned that I have a friend who is a really good portraitist and she paints in oils. Like that's not really a side hustle. It's a very intense hobby, even when she sells it. Right. It's not meant to be she's not doing it to be monetized. Right. She's doing it because she's an amazing painter and she needs to be painting. So there's kind of this amorphous border of what a side hustle is and isn't, but those, I think those are the guidelines.
Hayley Akins (28:24): Do you want to talk? Cause I think it's really interesting that you're saying, you know, having your side hustle has allowed you to work on more projects that you're passionate about in your motion design role. So do you want to talk a little bit about that and also why, you know, maybe isn't good idea to just have a side hustle that is just about the money, but it needs to be also something that you're passionate about.
Mary Hawkins (28:49): Yeah. Well, I, I think for starters, because we're in an industry that is kind of a passion project on its own, right? This is a way to like channel that and get some new skills and try some new things. Right. So I did not want to be in charge of people at work. And somehow I have the side hustle. That's about being in charge of people I wanted to step up, but couldn't figure out where the next rung of the ladder was. And now I have this side hustle that has given me, you know, the chance to delve, into marketing, develop delve into branding and, and work more on illustration and design. And you know, a lot of my pieces are hand drawn, type heavy. I have a lot of collage. It makes me really happy, but you know, I use collage a lot at work.
Mary Hawkins (29:46): And the pieces I've made that have been the most interesting to me, like as a learning project have been projects that are like heavy on tape or, or involved like really elaborate illustration and everything. I make it work is out the door next week, right? Like I sometimes have multiple deadlines. I'm hitting for a client in a day, right? Like I, that is the type of project I take on at work. And the types of projects I take on in my site are so radically different and learning how to, it's not just slow down, but how to put in that much work into a single frame. Right. I make you a single frame. When usually I'm putting that amount of work into an entire story of word for an entire year, explainer might take me to save about a time. Some of that is because I'm working for myself and I you know, when you're working for yourself, your, your focus is a little different, right?
Mary Hawkins (30:57): Like when I'm working for a client, I'm like, okay, this has to go out the door or someone's gonna yell at me. And when I'm working on a project for myself, I can take my time. And my goal is to learn and do something really thoroughly. And that, you know, when I take those skills back to my, like my day job I take those skills back to my clients as a motion designer. And there's I feel like that, that gives me something that I would not have had if I had just spent, you know, my nights and weekends working for moonlighting on more work like I do at work. One of the other things is that I have had to learn to delegate. I was always pretty well organized. Right. and some of my hobbies, I mean, one of my hobbies is that I'm in charge of a dance group that has 30 people in it.
Mary Hawkins (31:55): So I'm really am a very well organized person, right? Like, I, I like you kind of have to be I've returned emails very quickly because otherwise things don't happen. But my list keeping skills are top notch, but delegating is very different when you're in a side hustle than when you're in a dance group. Right. But I delegate on a dance group and something doesn't get done like, Oh, well, you know, we're just not going to have cookies at this rehearsal. Oh, well. But when you're delegating and your side hustle, you have to get the, find the right person. You have to make sure that there's a skill that you're, you're paying someone for this. You have to learn how to hire. You have to learn how to evaluate other people's surfaces. I mentioned that I have vendors in his site as well.
Mary Hawkins (32:43): I have a dozen vendors in my sentence, right? Like I have a specific vendor that makes flipped books. I have a specific vendor that makes my washi tape. I have a specific vendor that does mind rubber stamps and learning to evaluate you know, not all of these are domestically made. So I have to learn how to, you know speak clearly to people where I know that English is not their first language, but they're still experts. So the things I don't understand, they do, and I need to be able to, to communicate clearly with someone I, one of the challenges for me is because I'm in the us, I'm not in the metric system. So it doesn't automatic. So when someone says something is like, put three millimeters, I have to get out the measuring tape and look at 0.3 millimeters, where if you'd said something was a 60th of an answer, because like, Oh, that's funny.
Mary Hawkins (33:42): So it's a lot of very specific communication. Yeah. And my, my planning has become very different. A lot of my time planning for my, my career is like, okay, I'm going to send out emails. And then probably someone will get back to me and I'll have work next week. And my planning for my postcards is, or actually let's do washi tape, like planning for my washi tape is I'm great to slip in little design work over the next month. And then maybe it will all be done at the end of the month. And then two months from now, it will be finished and like get a sample. So you really have to plan out in a long term basis. And that is not true of my day job. I have my daily day-to-day clients. My day-to-day clients, we may be planning something that has a springtime launch, but we're in the winter, but someone else has done that planning for me. And all I'm doing is making, you know, flowers blossom in January. I don't have to do the planning. So it gets, it gets a little peek at what everybody else around me does at work. And she's been kind of interesting. Yeah.
Hayley Akins (34:58): Yeah. That's great. So do you want to talk about maybe some of the kind of pitfalls of creating a side hustle? Because I feel like, you know, you've talked a lot there about some of the benefits, which are obviously like learning how tire people, communication, you know and learning how to market something else that isn't just yourself, you know, things like that. So it'd be great to hear kind of the other side of that. Like what some of the pitfalls are around creating a scientist. Yeah.
Mary Hawkins (35:26): Well, for me, the, the big pitfall is the time crunch. I am one of those people who would gladly take on 20,000 projects because they all sound really fun. And then suddenly I have 20,000 projects to do. So you have to be very careful and really guard your time and be aware that when you're learning a new skill, right, that it's going to be a time suck. It's going to take you much longer than it was. I always have this like poly and a vision that I'm, I'm going to spend a day. And then my illustration was magically done. It would go from sketch to finished. That is never a thing that happens where at work, if someone said, Hey, you know, we have a data to this storyboard. It would get done because that is a skill I have used for 20 years.
Mary Hawkins (36:18): Of course, it's going to get done. Right. I know all the shortcuts. I knew exactly how to do that. And the illustration centering for the stationary. I do not know how to do that. That's the point? That's the point of the side hustle, right? One of the big pitfalls I think for, for people is also learning to market because we are, we think that we work in marketing, but we're really marketing it scent. So, you know, I had a way to market myself as a freelancer that worked pretty well, but emailing five clients to get them to write a, to buy a postcode is not the way I'm marketing by stationary. Right. you know, if you're, maybe that would work if you're looking to sell your head shift maybe or coaching. But I have to do a much more broad spectrum type of marketing.
Mary Hawkins (37:13): And it's, it's meant that I've had to learn how to market. And I think that only helps me at work. Right. So when I come back to clients and they're, they're talking about their strategies and tactics, I'm like, Oh yeah, I have done that in my own work. You know, like I have, I have learned to send out that type of marketing email, I have learned to send out that type of social post. Plus it also works for the backwards. Like I got to ask when I was first setting it about social media engagement, I got to ask someone who worked for an entire network. What is social media engagement really? Like, like what do you, what are you actually doing here? And you know, she, she gave me some quick tips over lunch, like ask questions, right. Use hashtags. But she also, she had presentations.
Mary Hawkins (38:09): She could show me that she gave to the higher ups that I was privy to. But she's like, yeah, you know, this is the type of engagement you should expect. Like these are the numbers we get from the network. A lot of people starting out a side hustle, it will think, Oh, you know, I have a hundred fans. One of them will buy my thing, but that's not actually th th that's kind of a pipe dream. Like you, you really need a lot of people to be able to find that right person. And, you know, you also need to think about like your demographic, who's going to buy this. What's, what's their motivation, what are their goals? And that was a type of marketing I had not had to do at work. Right. So I, if I were working on a TV show and like, well, obviously people who want to see this comedy are people who like to laugh, but I hadn't thought much beyond that.
Mary Hawkins (39:03): So you, you do you going to market in a specific way and it, it, that's one where it's a pitfall, but you also can kind of learn from your coworkers. If you, you have something to ask someone else at work, you know another big pitfall, and this is a pitfall for anyone who puts their work online is there are always copyright and IP challenges when you put work out mine, you know, I've learned more about copyright and intellectual property than I thought I would. And I have a trademark and I have registered all sorts of stuff. And that was not something I had to do at work, because at work like these giant companies have whole departments dedicated to that. So that's something to keep in mind. That's a pitfall, your work could get stolen. You could accidentally step on someone else's toes and not knowing the thing I did that was like an unknown unknown for me.
Mary Hawkins (40:00): I did not realize how much like taxes and regulations and accounting I would have to do. I had never, I'd heard of bookkeepers. I have no idea what they do now. I have one and all of my stuff, I sell almost exclusively through marketplaces. I don't, a lot of people have Shopify stores or, you know, you you figured out a way to sh to sell this, that's your little ecosystem. And I stick to Amazon Etsy and fare because all of these do a certain type of of corralling for me, Nicole. It, so they do a lot of my accounting for me, and it just gets pushed into QuickBooks. They pay my sales taxes, you know, they collect and get it out there. And it, it means that, that I have to learn a different type of marketing in SEO. Right. I have to, to make sure I'm doing okay that way, but it helps me to be honest. So for that reason, and yeah, I mean, if we've kind of already gone over learning to delegate and plan, but that's another one, like that's, that's that's a pro and con that you're going to have to learn to do this. Or your side hustle is going to become a big Tarpon that you're stuck in.
Hayley Akins (41:20): I wanted to kind of dive in a bit because you mentioned like Etsy, Amazon and fair, I think is there kind of pros and cons to any of them? I mean, apart from being huge corporations, you know, I feel like that's too much of a big hole to go into right now, but in terms of like someone who wants to sell something on those platforms, is there any advice that you could give anyone?
Mary Hawkins (41:46): Yeah. So you get different audiences with each one of them. So keep that in mind for me. I, there are people who don't, like I say, I really like it. See and I think part of why I like it is that I'm also on Amazon and I see what hoops I need to jump through for Amazon. Amazon can really be a difficult partner. Right. And they, they take a large chunk out of what you're doing, especially if you're doing crime. On the other hand, you're on Amazon and everybody's products. I think we're all very aware of the pitfalls of what what it means to be a monopoly. So, and I don't really want to slam Amazon. Like they they've helped me a bunch too. Right. It's been helpful for me to be in Amazon, but my customer base on Amazon is very different from my customer base on Etsy.
Mary Hawkins (42:46): I, I got like a three-star review on Amazon because my my postcards were too thick to go through a home printer. Right. Where did people who find me on Etsy are like thrilled to find me. They're like, you're the exact type of person I was looking for and get a lot of that. But it's a smaller marketplace. So, you know, and for what you want, it depends on what your side hustle is. If your side hustle is selling, you know, templates or coaching, you're never going to be on Amazon. Right. and if your side hustle is print on demand, it may not be appropriate for Amazon either. Maybe it may be better to have like, like for your niche and maybe better to make your own website. It's all about like your adorable food illustrations and people who want through illustrations come to your site and they see that you have like your print on demand stuff and your you know, your stickers and your whatever versus being on one of those big sites.
Mary Hawkins (43:56): And I'm also on a site called fair, which is kind of like an Etsy, but for wholesale. So if you have a product is good for a gift shop and just starting to experiment with them they seem pretty good. People have started reaching out to me to stock my stuff in bookstores, and I didn't know what the heck to do with that knowledge. And I didn't want to like have to hire a sales rep. So this is an alternative to that. And it, it gets my products out in front of people in that way. Again, if your side is coaching, you don't ever need anything like that. But there are all sorts of marketplaces out there. So look for them.
Hayley Akins (44:40): Yeah, you're right. I think it definitely is you know, depends where you kind of want to go and what you want to do. For example, you know, our courses that we do are all based on apart from called teachable, you know, and that's what they do. They help people sell courses online. So, you know, you can research this stuff. It's pretty simple. And obviously there's lots of different options for, you know, different things. So there's other platforms that are like teachable, like called there's one called Thinkific. And, you know, so it's, there's tons and tons of stuff out, out there, like you're saying. So I think it's good to make everyone aware of that. It's just kind of figuring out, you know, what problem are you solving? Which is something that I like to teach motion designers for their like freelance career too. Right. It's like, what problem are you trying to solve? Especially if you're talking to a direct client. So I think even if you don't want to start a side hustle, I think all of these lessons that we're talking about today is still extremely relevant.
Mary Hawkins (45:40): Yeah. Yeah. And, you know I was thinking about also about the difference between a side hustle and 19 career. There's this kind of four-part it's like a westernized icky guy where like, you know, what do you like doing, what are you good at? What would people pay for? You pay you for what's your passion. And aside hustle, it kind of fits in there, but it also kind of, doesn't like first out, it's got to be something you want to do. Don't get stuck, like, like my least favorite chores, vacuuming my side hustle would never be vacuuming for other people. Right. you know, it's, it's gotta be something that people want and we'll pay for it because otherwise, if they w if they're not going to pay for it, it's not a monetized double project. Right. for here is I, I love knitting.
Mary Hawkins (46:34): I'm really good at making the same hat and room again. And for years I would go to like, you know, Thanksgiving or some like random relatives birthday, and I'd be sitting there in the corner, needing a hat, you know, there, there would always be someone who'd come up and admire my hat and be like, you should sell this on Etsy. And I should not be selling that on Etsy that a single hat takes me about three hours and people will pay you for hat, but they'll pay you the going rate, which maybe doesn't cover your yard cost. Right. If you need a way to get hats out of your house, that's a way to get hazmat of your house, right? Like that's a way to declutter, but it's not a side hustle, unless you figure out a way to do it. Like there are people who do that.
Mary Hawkins (47:24): But they're not making the half that I like to make over and over again, the one is it's, it's gotta be something who's related activities fit in your timeline and your available time. So I said earlier that I, my main job, even when I was like fully booked was maybe 75 or 80% of the time. And I always planned on that in my budget. Like I knew that this was what I would get. And I also knew looking back on when I redo my reel here every year, that February is my, is the time of year when I have all the time in the world to sit around. In fact, one year I had a hat marathon, right. I made a hat every day because February was so quiet. So I knew the shape of my year. I know the shape of my clients years.
Mary Hawkins (48:16): Right. I know when their budget is light. And I have fit, my site has lived down that for someone else, like, you know, maybe you know that your Friday's or who the client at work, or it, for mine, it was everybody spends all of their money in the fourth quarter. And then the first quarter, they're trying to figure out what they're doing. You can probably figure out the shape of your career in that and see what you could fit in it. Maybe you have no downtime and you should not be doing this at well, that's the other one, like, I don't, this will crowd out other activities in your life. If it's crowding out, you binge watching, that's probably okay. Right. if it's crowding out, you feeding yourself that it's not, okay, don't take this on. But definitely make sure that, that, you know, you have the time to do it.
Mary Hawkins (49:14): It's something you're enjoying. And it's something that people want to move things to learn. The other thing I would really employ people to do early in their side hustle is identifying your audience and figure out what that paid for. We do this as freelancers and as kind of independent creatives, a bunch, right? Like I knew early in that people would pay me for a certain type of like typography and animation. And I found the people who do that, because that was my favorite part for your side hustle. If, if your side hustle is, I don't know, like if, you know, Haley, you, you were working as a motion graphics designer and you realized you really liked business and consulting and coaching, and you figured out first a side hustle and then this kind of career change like that, that I think it's important a little bit of the way in to figure out what that is, because you, you can float for like six months, right? The first six months of any project, you can be like, well, I'm just trying this, but after a while, you do have to sit down and be like, Hey, is this like, is this working? Is this working for me? Is this working for my clients or customers or fans or whatever I'm building. But I also think that's true if you're taking on like the a hundred day project or you're doing your own social media and you should be, you should be evaluated.
Hayley Akins (50:44): Yeah. That's such great advice. Do you want to tell the audience where they can find out more about you and your work and your scientists?
Mary Hawkins (50:52): Yeah. Yeah. Thank you for having me on. So I'm Mary Hawkins. You can find my main portfolio as long as you've got this designer and an art director at maryhawkins.com. And I have all sorts of stuff up there. So it does have some of my side hustles as fellows, quite real. And then my side hustle is Mary likes, postcodes.com, which will take you to my ex's store. I don't keep personal social media because I keep social media for, for my store. So if you want to find me on Instagram, I'm Mary likes postcards and on Twitter, I'm Mary postcards. I rarely talk about my day job on there, but if you wanted to get in touch, that's the way to do it.
Hayley Akins (51:36): Thanks so much for coming on the show. This has been awesome.
Mary Hawkins (51:39): Yeah. Thanks for having me. It's been really good to chat.
Hayley Akins (51:44): Thanks again to Mary for coming on the show, all the links mentioned will be in the show notes at motionhatch.com/85. Thank you so much for listening all the way to the end and thank you for inspiring me to continue to do this podcast. I'm bringing on all the great guests that we have on the show. If you've enjoyed this episode and you enjoy the podcast, please do let us know. We are motion hatch on Twitter and Instagram. If you have any suggestions for the podcast, you can always get in touch on Twitter or Instagram or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. I appreciate you all. Thanks so much for listening. See ya.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.
Thanks for Listening!
To share your thoughts:
To help out the show:
Podcast music licensed by Big Waves
Podcast production & marketing support by the team at BE MORE Media
Some of the links above are affiliate links. Basically, this means that if you decide to make a purchase through one of these links, we will earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. You can be sure that we would recommend these products whether or not we made any commission on them. Please don’t spend your money on them if you don’t think that they will truly help you improve your business, although, in our experience, they will.
Recent podcast episodes:
Should you niche down as a designer? We’ve all heard this advice! So, does niching down help you to win more clients or empower you...
When Motion Hatch first started it was a side hustle, now it's a company! Have you considered starting your own motion design...
Charli Marie is a YouTuber, podcast host and Creative Director. She provides guidance on how to create a motion design side project that complements your day job.