Side Hustling #1 – The Happy Book Club

June 9, 2018

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.  This means that if you click on them and make a purchase I may receive a small amount of money at no additional cost to you.

Here it is!  The first in my new series: Side Hustling.  This series will bring you interviews with people who have started a side hustle and will look at their motivations, successes and challenges.  My hope is that you will find these stories inspirational and encouraging.  Side hustles require time, effort and sometimes money but what you get from them can be so rewarding.


In this first edition we hear from Matthew, a good friend and (day-job) colleague of mine.  I’ll let him explain what he does.  But I personally think it’s marvellous!


Related posts:

7+ Awesome Side Hustles for Teachers

How I Made £900+ in less than 11 weeks (and not from blogging)


Tell us a little about yourself.

My wife and I are both teachers and, having had a baby, we fell in love with picture books. We realised that we could combine our love of books, our education background, and the gap in the ever-growing market of subscription services, to create a new, special book club. I always like to be doing something new or challenging so setting up a business seemed to complement my personality very well.

What’s your side hustle?

The Happy Book Club sends out themed book packages every month for children aged 0-7. All packages are hand-wrapped, come with activity suggestions, a charity donation and, depending on the package, you get a gift/craft as well! It’s more than just a book club!

What was your motivation for starting?

Just trying something new, I guess. Teaching can be very relentless and consuming. I think I wanted something else to focus on professionally, really.

How much time do you put into it?

Well I still work full time. So not as much as I would like. But when the little one’s asleep, I’ll bust out some more work, whether it be updating the website, getting in touch with promoters, sorting out book packages etc. There is always something to do. As one marketing expert said to me: ‘You need a lot of time or a lot of money to make a business work well’. As I don’t have a lot of money, I’ll just have to be patient!

And what sort of money are you making?

We’ve just started breaking even. Indeed if money is your only motivation then you might need to be patient. We’ve been doing this for about 20 months now and the business is now growing organically. It was quite some time before we started knowing with confidence that this was worth our time!

What’s been the highlight so far?

The feedback has been absolutely amazing. As we’re taking our time (because we don’t have much spare!) we want to make sure our business model and our product are perfect. Last year we were awarded the gold award for The Best Subscription Gift by Mumii and we’ve also featured in Green Parent Magazine, Glamour and lots of other blogging sites. But generally, the best highlight is the pride we’ve felt as our business has grown.

How about the biggest challenge?

It’s quite easy to motivate yourself initially when you have what you think is a great idea. And also quite easy when customers start returning and people start recommending your product. But the bit in between was very challenging. Motivating yourself to persist when you’ve put in a lot of work and when you have very few customers takes a fair bit of soul-searching!

What would you say to someone considering a similar route?

We grew our business from nothing. From building a website, building relationships with publishers, marketing, packaging… everything. Doing it this way, you build up the product you know about and care about. I would recommend that if you’re starting a business, you do everything yourself first.

What does the future hold for this venture?

Who knows?! I’ll have a bit more time next year to invest into it, which I’m looking forward to.

And where can we find you?

Our website is www.happybookclub.com and we’re on all the social media pages. If you want to buy a package, quote HAPPYCHARLOTTE for 10% off your order!


Are you feeling inspired yet?

You should be.  The Happy Book Club is an example of two people getting out there and making good things happen.  They are challenging themselves and are rewarded by learning new things and seeing their dream become a reality.  I wish them all the best in the future!  Thank you, Matthew!

Got more questions?  Comment below!


Disclaimer:  Remember the information you read here does not represent financial advice.  Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you.  Read the full disclaimer here.

Thinking of setting up your own subscription box service? Then hear from these guys who started their own business as their side hustle. Find out how you could use your skills, knowledge and time to turn your idea into a money making venture. #subscriptionbox #money #sidehustle #lookingafteryourpennies

12 responses to “Side Hustling #1 – The Happy Book Club”

  1. Tracy @ Cleland Clan says:

    This book club sounds so cute. Are there different packages for different ages? I’d be interested in something like this for my grandchildren.

  2. Samantha Rush says:

    oh wow, this is such an awesome idea! I bet the kids look forward to this each time!

  3. Luci Cook says:

    I’ll have to show this to my sister to get for my niece and nephews and for her students. I love that they are handmade.

  4. Justyna says:

    I love how creative this is! And I mean it! To go other way rather than entertaining children by laptops and tablets.. this is actually great!

  5. Karla says:

    My daughter would love this! This is very interesting for kids since it’s not just a book like the ones they have in school but it has some exciting activities for them to enjoy. 🙂

  6. Sofiyat says:

    This is such a fun idea to do! Have to share with family!

  7. This is such an awesome idea! I am an English teacher at the high school level and would totally subscribe to a program that did this for older students as well!

Leave a Reply


Looking After Your Pennies is an eco-friendly personal finance blog written and managed by Charlotte Jessop.


I write on a variety of topics including frugal lifestyle, eco-friendly living, money making ideas and generally how to make your money go further.

Ethical Influencers” style=