6 Inspiring Women Who Took Their Side-Hustle > Full-Time

I’ve known for a long time I wanted to be my own boss. I ached for it. Every day it was sunny outside and I was stuck in an office or every time I was having a rubbish day at work I'd daydream about escaping my 9-5.

Of course being self-employed isn’t all sunshine and rainbows but something I value above everything else is freedom, the freedom to choose how I want to live my life and the freedom to do the work I really love. Freedom is everything to me, and if you’re here, I’m guessing it’s pretty up there for you too.

How 6 inspiring women took their side-hustle full time

I’ve finally done it, taken my side-hustle > full-time and to celebrate I’ve asked some super inspiring women to share their stories and tips on taking the leap.

Taking your side-hustle full-time doesn’t have to be your ultimate goal, but if it is, I know these women will inspire you and encourage you that it is all possible.



Jessicas Rose Williams - Writer, photographer, minimalist & capsule wardrobe guru

Jessica Rose Williams - Writer, photographer, Minimalist & capsule wardrobe guru

How did you start your business and what did your side-hustle routine look like?

I didn’t feel like I’d started my business until I’d said I was going full time with my blog, but I’d been making money from blogging for about 9 months beforehand. Business is still a word that gives me a whole load of imposter syndrome. My side-hustle routine looked like me having an affair with the internet. I was working with / for my husband at the time but I was utterly obsessed with my blog, stealing moments alone with it wherever and whenever I could. 

What made you decide to take the leap with your business and what was it like?

I decided to take the leap when my gut shouted loud enough for me to finally hear it and I knew I’d always regret not trying to pull off spending my days creatively whilst also being able to pay my bills. It became more important for me to try than feel as though as I was standing on a shore looking out to sea and wondering what might have been. I started to entertain the idea that I deserved to go after my dream. 

Jessica’s tips on taking your side-hustle full-time:

I think recognising it and then saying it out loud is a much bigger step than any of us think. I worried about how others would respond but living the fantasy in my head was no good. Saying out loud to others made it feel real and I started taking myself and the idea of starting something professionally more seriously. 



Makiko Hastings - Ceramicist based in Yorkshire

Makiko Hastings - ceramicist based in Yorkshire

How did you start your business and what did your side-hustle routine look like?

My background is in social care and for nine years of working in that area I ran a pottery workshop for people with special needs at a local art centre. Having helped others to create and express their voices through clay, it made me realise how much I love the material. This was when I started to side hustle on occasional weekends, throwing with a second hand wheel under a gazebo in our garden!

My first attempt at side-hustling started a year before my daughter was born. But this didn’t go smoothly as she was born with severer medical condition. This meant that studio work was too risky for me to continue with so I stopped doing it for three years. In the meantime I went back to my day job part-time. After many operations, my daughter’s hospital routine eased a little (we were at hospital twice a week at the worst point) which allowed me to get back into the studio again alongside my day job. 

I think the long break made me more desperate than ever to make my business a success, so this time around I gave myself one day a week during the week as well as the odd weekend to work on my business. There was still lots to juggle though, as clay won’t wait for you due to the nature of material, and I remember feeling quite frustrated with the time restrictions I had. 

What made you decide to take the leap with your business and what was it like?

My frustration around the lack of time and three year break from the studio due to family commitments pushed me to question if I wanted to carry on with the day job and have that regular income or concentrate on what I really wanted to pursue.  The more I thought about it, the more I got more frustrated with my day job. So, last year we looked at the logistics of taking my business full time with our daughter in mind. We looked at how we’d manage school holidays and whether we’d need a child minder or not as we don’t have any family support. 

We decided to take this opportunity for me to take the leap, so that I could do the work I love and look after my girl too. It was an exciting decision but also scary as I didn’t have a clue about being self employed, nor a proper vision of a small business. 

Makiko’s tips on taking your side-hustle full-time:

I think it’s definitely helpful to have a vision and a plan for your business. Even just a rough idea on paper. I struggled without a plan and made a lot of mistakes in the first year. Learning from mistakes is important too.

Preparing to take the leap and building a strong foundation before you do so will help to build a stronger foundation to leap from, both financially and emotionally.

I’m in my second year of business now and still learning a lot. It’s not easy, but I’ve never looked back. Remember that nothing is an instant success, it takes time to build a business, but always trust your gut feeling.

Anna Dunleavy - Wedding Photographer & founder of The Fearless Hustle Collective

Anna Dunleavy - Photographer and coach in training

How did you start your business and what did your side-hustle routine look like?

I first started my business very much as a side project - at the time, photography was something that I was still in the process of learning about. I had an inkling that it might be something that I would enjoy doing and so I created a Facebook page to kick things off.

As I started putting my portfolio together, working with families, models and bloggers to begin with, I was testing the waters to see which type of photography I enjoyed the most. I believe that those beginnings, where we test and try things out, are a crucial process to get us to really clarify how we want our business to look. I eventually settled on wedding photography, and this is where it really became apparent that I had to become well organised to manage the workload of a full time job, a side hustle, and motherhood, all at once.

I didn’t have any specific routines to begin with - I was in love with photography and wanted to work on my craft all hours of the day. Over time, I learnt that time out and some work free evenings were essential to maintain my health - both physical and mental! My drive to make photography my full time job was the force that allowed me to be efficient with how I spent my time, prioritising tasks that would yield the biggest return and really move the needle. 

What made you decide to take the leap with your business and what was it like?

I’d been dreaming of taking my side-hustle full time for some time, and towards the end of 2017, I knew I had enough bookings for 2018 to make it work. There was a lot of fear associated with this decision, but ultimately it had been what I’d been working towards for so long. The number of bookings I had lined up (weddings get booked far in advance) meant that I knew I couldn’t keep up working what essentially became two full-time jobs. I realise that this was a very privileged position to be in and that not everyone can rely on future bookings when taking the leap. I write this as I’m about to hit my one year anniversary of working for myself, and I can honestly say it was the best decision I ever made in my career.

Anna’s tips on taking your side-hustle full-time:

Hard days will come - they always do, but when the clouds clear, know that the good days are just around the corner. Working for myself has been the most rewarding thing I could have hoped for, and the tough days are worth it.

Remember that everyone is at a different stage in their journey, and comparing your business to someone else’s business won’t result in anything but self-doubt. Trust me, I’ve been there many times.

Get to grips with your finances and really educate yourself on the money side of things as soon as you can, you won’t regret it. Most of all, enjoy the ride and don’t forget to make connections with other like-minded business owners who will cheer you on.

Joanne Hawker - Illustrator and designer

Joanne Hawker - Illustrator and designer

How did you start your business and what did your side-hustle routine look like?

I started my business partly out of boredom and by accident back in 2011. The story goes that I left uni with a degree in Graphic Communication but didn’t want to move to a city and couldn’t find any design work in my local area so I took a job on a pepper farm. In the evenings, I drew for fun and started to fill up sketchbooks. I realised these drawings were being wasted so started an Etsy shop as a bit of fun and not really expecting anything to come of it. Some mindless scrolling on twitter later and I saw some people had joined Not On The High Street and thought I’d give it ago (not expecting to be accepted at all!) After then it became my mission to try and earn some money from my drawings. I would work full time during the week and then as soon as I got home from work I’d be straight onto my laptop either replying to enquiries, designing new products or fulfilling orders. 

What made you decide to take the leap with your business and what was it like?

I was reluctant to make the leap to going full-time because I was leaving behind a guaranteed pay check, although it wasn’t much, it was my safety net. But I did it because my husband and I bought our first house together and the commute just wasn’t worth it. Plus, it was the most stressful year I’d had in that job and was pretty close to walking anyway. So it made sense to hand in my notice and just go for it. It’s up there with one of the most scary things I’ve done but it was so worth it.

Joanne’s tips on taking your side-hustle full-time:

I think the scariest aspect of for me was the financial side. I took a little time to figure out if I could support myself on my earnings from my online store and it turned out that I could. I couldn’t be a mad spender by any means but it was enough to be able to give it a shot and that was the main thing. So be sure to do some sums before handing in the notice. Plus all of those extra hours you gain from not being at the day job means that you can design and make new things and work on the business and take it in the direction you’ve always dreamed of and hopefully pull in a few more pennies! Also, the thing I kept saying to myself was that if it didn’t work out, at least I tried. I could always go and get another job (perhaps with less hours) and it wouldn’t be the end of the world because I’d still find a way to make my dream work. 



Cat from Gatto Web - Cat Byrne - Branding and website designer for Gatto Web

Cat Byrne - Branding and website designer for Gatto Web

How did you start your business and what did your side-hustle routine look like?

My business started because of my hobby which was fashion blogging. At the time, everyone's blog design looked the same and there weren't many options for making things look a bit different to everyone else. I’d learnt to code in the past so decided to try a few things and came up with my own blog design. I then started creating these for other people and selling templates and that’s where the business took off. Since then, I've moved into creating bespoke branding & website designs but it never would have happened without my Blogger templates.

Whilst I was running my business alongside a full-time job, I spent a lot of evenings and weekends designing. I also tried to mix my new side-hustle into my job by offering to design things for the company I was working for. I wish I had a better routine back then but unfortunately, I really overworked myself and prioritised the business over my health.

What made you decide to take the leap with your business and what was it like?

My leap was actually decided for me when the company I was working for moved to London. I had the choice to either move there with them or take redundancy and as a Northern home-bird, I had to go for the latter! I saw this as my opportunity to try to make the business work with some proper time to work on it and if it didn't, I could always get another job later on. Luckily this worked out for me and I'm still running my business four years later.

Cat’s tips on taking your side-hustle full-time:

As a cautious person, my advice would be to take your time and build it to a really good place before leaving your job. Try to create a routine around your job which doesn't leave you constantly stressed (I wish I did this!) and make sure that it is a really sustainable option for you. Then you can go on to leave your job when you're certain it feels right.

I would also say that whilst you're working full-time, you have so many opportunities to learn some well-needed skills from the people around you. Speak to people in different departments to see how they benefit the company you work for and chances are you will need to think about these things for your own business someday.

Me! Josephine Brooks - Planning and productivity mentor for side-hustlers

Josephine Brooks - Planning & Productivity mentor for side-hustlers

Oh and me, I recently took my side-hustle full time and I’m very much still learning what it’s like to work for myself 100% of the time but I thought I’d add my story so far along with my tips on preparing to take the leap.

How did you start your business and what did your side-hustle routine look like?

My side-hustle started as a creative outlet that wasn’t being fulfilled by my desk job. I’d been side-hustling for seven years before I took my side-hustle full-time and in that time I experimented and followed my curiosity. I think that’s really important, to just start and see where your curiosity takes you. My side-hustle started out as a creative how-to blog and then evolved into a product based business selling home decor. Gradually my side-hustle became more of a business and less of a hobby and I loved every element of having a business, particularly getting things organised, planning ahead and seeing how I could be more efficient with my time. A couple of years ago, on new year’s eve, I had this ah-ha moment where I realised my strengths really lay in planning and productivity. That was the stuff I had enjoyed most in my side-hustle over the previous five years and in my 9-5 as a project manager. Combined with my absolute passion for finding freedom and creating a lifestyle I longed for, that ah-ha moment led me to do what I’m doing now.

My routine was very much focussed on getting the work done at weekends and in the evenings. Later I reduced my hours at work to part time which gave me more time to focus on my business and get more serious about taking it full time, which I did a year later.

What made you decide to take the leap with your business and what was it like?

I’d known for a long time that I wanted to be my own boss, I wasn’t very good at following the rules that came with a 9-5 and ached to have the freedom to do the work I really love and create the lifestyle I longed for.

When I decided to go full-time, I’d already carved out a role for myself that allowed me to work from home and work part time, so going full time was the obvious next step. I set a deadline a year after I’d gone part-time and started to tell people out loud that I was leaving at the end of March to take my own business full time. Saying it out loud made it real and helped me come to terms with the idea. I’d been extending my contract over and over again at work because it felt comfortable and safe but I got to the point where I decided it was time to take the leap.

My tips on taking your side-hustle full-time:

Take stepping stones to going full time. If you can ask to work from home one or two days a week and see how you get on working alone, at home. As your next step, you could ask to reduce your hours to part time in your 9-5. This was a really helpful way of taking stepping stones to going full-time in my own business as I did it gradually. I think going from a 9-5 where I was in the office all week to going straight into full-time with my business would have been quite a shock to the system!

Don’t rush it, take your time and grow sustainably. After my ah-ha moment I took a year to pivot my business while working part-time. I built up my content, built and nurtured my audience online and developed my skills. I launched and ran my course as well as took on 1:1 clients while I was still working part-time so that I could see the business was earning before I took the leap.

Finally, I’d say, if you’re gut is screaming at you to take your business full time and escape your 9-5 and you’ve got my earlier two points covered, just do it! It’s always going to be scary but treat it as an experiment and ask yourself, what’s the worst that could happen? If it all crumbles I can go and get another job. That wouldn’t be the end of the world, would it.

Go-to advice for taking your side hustle to full time