The Side Hustle Diaries: Figuring Out What To Charge For Social Media Work

The Side Hustle Diaries is a column showcasing how different real-life people earn extra money on the side — because you totally can, too. Click here to read more!

For most of my life, I’ve always been at my best when I have a routine — no matter how small. In college, I always scheduled work shifts at the same time in the early afternoon so that I could plan my days around a touchstone. Every other Friday since I’ve started working at my current organization, I go to the same used bookstore near my office, buy a book from the dollar shelf, and take it with me to a solo happy hour at a neighborhood restaurant. I have a usual mat spot at my yoga studio — away from the speakers, close to the mirrors, front row and slightly to the left. And there is very little that is more grounding then the knowledge that I’ll have that bit of consistency in the morning, even if the rest of my day will be full of new things.

So it was really fun for me to chat with this week’s side hustle interviewee: another student at my studio who works full-time as a personal trainer/group fitness instructor, and part-time as a social media consultant for local businesses. In this interview, she shared a little bit about what it’s like to structure her own time, the schedules that work for her, and the latest projects she’s taken on.

How does your side hustle fit into your average day?

My full-time job is a little bit different than a traditional 9-5 schedule, so any other projects that I take on just fit into all the pockets of free time where I’m not at work. At the gym where I work, all the master instructors and personal trainers do six- to seven-hour shifts for six days out of the week, and those move around depending when other instructors are working, when classes get the busiest, etc. I’d say that most of the time, I schedule my meetings in the morning, and writing pitches or planning out content over the weekend.

How did you find your way to that position?

I first started doing social media stuff at my gym, actually. We’ve had an Instagram and a Facebook page forever, but we weren’t really using them before I started. I think sometimes when we had weather closings or the pool wasn’t open or something, we’d post it on Facebook?

Anyways, besides that the accounts were serving no function: so I started posting things here and there, and then it became my pet project at work. Then my coworker asked me if I could help her with creating a business Instagram account for her Etsy store, and I realized that I kind of had expertise. After that, I started reaching out to other small businesses in the area to see if they might want help free of charge, so I could build a portfolio of work and references. To be honest, I’ve only recently started actually getting paid for projects. But most of them have been referrals from those businesses I started with!

How much do you make during an average week from that side hustle?

Again, I’ve only started getting paid in the past couple of months, so I don’t have a ton to pull from. My last contract paid $300 for ten post templates and five graphics, which took about three weeks to pin down, and is the most that I’ve gotten from any contract. My first project was just $60, and I essentially built an entire brand design suite for them (colors, textures, fonts), which, after I finished, I realized I should have charged way more for.

Totally fair! From the past months of work, do you think you could you give your best estimate of a weekly/monthly rate?

Yeah, sure! I’ve made about $600 in the past three months for five projects. So, like, $50 a week-ish if you average it out, but $300 of that was within the last month.

What’s your favorite thing about having a side hustle? Your least favorite?

I love all the designing. I was actually an art minor in college, so I like that I get to work in InDesign and Canva again, and to flex that part of my brain. I think my least favorite part…well, right now I feel a little bit lost about how to price things, honestly. I definitely didn’t do enough research before jumping into my first project because I was just pumped that I was going to get paid.

If you keep a budget, how does income from your side hustle fit into it? And if it fits into multiple categories, would you mind doing a mini budget-breakdown of that income?

All of my income thus far has just been kind of thrown into my savings account. My partner and I have been talking about buying property soon, though, so as I hopefully grow this as a business, I think it’ll be income I can contribute towards a down payment.

How do you see that side hustle changing or fitting into your long-term plans (if at all)?

That’s a great question, and I don’t really know? I mean, having this conversation has made me want to go and write a price menu for myself so that I have that to refer back to when I’m in pitch meetings. So small steps forward! I don’t think I’d ever want to do it as my entire job. But I definitely hope that I can get to a point where it becomes a steadier, more sustained income stream.

Last question; is there one financial goal that you feel like your side hustle has helped you meet? 🙂

Not anything concrete. A house someday, hopefully!

Julie Zhou is a writer, editor, and born-and-bred Midwesterner. She loves unreliable magazine quizzes, cast-iron pans, and the Oxford comma. She hates the question, “No, but where are you *really* from?”

Image via Unsplash

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