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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!
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.
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!
Just trying something new, I guess. Teaching can be very relentless and consuming. I think I wanted something else to focus on professionally, really.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
Who knows?! I’ll have a bit more time next year to invest into it, which I’m looking forward to.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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