Nicaila Matthews starts her day as a senior manager of social media marketing with National Public Radio (NPR), and by night, she's the creator and host of the popular podcast Side Hustle Pro — which debuted in the top 20 of the business category on iTunes. Matthews has established a platform that spotlights black women entrepreneurs who have successfully turned their passionate side hustles into thriving businesses. She shares weekly episodes to help listeners learn applicable strategies and to help get their hustles jumpstarted. Matthews took the time to chat with Blavity’s Creative Society to share some of her knowledge and expertise.
Why you need one too
Not only does she have a side hustle of her own, she strongly encourages everyone to have one as well. Including you.
“It’s an absolute MUST for everyone to have a side hustle. Side hustling helps you build up your skills outside of work, which makes you more marketable.”
It also expands your portfolio of interests and projects of your own. It builds a plethora of skills, increases confidence, and can even strengthen your character. It might even lead you to owning your own business where you call the shots — away from your usual 9–5. Plus, it can be fun exploring something that you are truly passionate about, and in turn, making a profit.
“I can’t emphasize enough that a job can be taken from you at any time, with a side hustle, you always have something in your back pocket.”
Nurture your interests outside of work as a side hustle. Keep your skills sharp and you will always be confident in the value you bring to the table.
Balancing the side hustle with the main hustle
For most of us, having a full-time job is already tough enough. We have our plates full most of the time. It’s enough to get us by, pay the bills, and keep us well occupied. Plus, it's extremely time consuming. 40+ hours a week is no joke. Because time is such a precious thing, we should never waste it.
“It’s about how I squeeze time in the morning, during my lunch break, and then after work (I try not to go home first otherwise I’m headed straight for the couch).”
Matthews makes time when otherwise there is none. It’s about how you wake up, the commute to work, the commute back from work, and what you do in the meantime. A typical morning for her starts with her centering herself by reading The Miracle Morning Techniques by Hal Elrod. She later takes time from her usual lunch break and heads to a Union Station or coffee shop to get work done. Any time is a great time to start working on your side hustle. You just have to allow yourself to make time throughout the day. It is called a hustle after all. She even has an episode on her podcast devoted to this specific topic:
Working a full-time job while having a side hustle is not for the faint of heart. Here’s how she juggles my main hustle with my side hustle:
Have a strategy
With any idea, you need to have some sort of strategy in order for it to get started. Matthews found ways to market herself and the podcast.
“My strategy was to be more consistent with content and be intentional about it. I planned out my feed and graphics. I also zeroed in on who my target audience was, and began “introducing” myself to these people online via social media follows, etc.”
She had a very small audience when she first started her podcast, but slowly gained attention — especially through Instagram. When asked about how to manage everything, she replied by saying that you need to “keep a notebook with you and write it down.” Journaling out your thoughts, especially in the morning, is vital. Anything that comes to mind, jot it down on paper. She seeks help from a core group of friends to let out frustrations and to also share her struggles. In terms of managing the hustle, she has looked toward automation tools. One in particular that she uses and that has been very helpful is Asana.
Big goals for the future
As you can tell, Nicaila Matthews is a busy woman. Her next big goal for herself is to start to create digital products.
“I realize personal branding is one area I take for granted, but could really assist others with. Additionally, I would love to create live events and opportunities to bring people together.”
With her podcast, she created a sort of imagined community where people can listen to influential black entreprenuers tell their stories as well as her own, but she also likes to interact with the actual community as well. One-on-one interactions are very enlightening, she says, and help establish a rapport with the core audience. She creates ways to challenge herself as well as her listeners.
“I currently think about the fact that I’m building a community and a movement. And I’m like, 'this is pretty darn cool and unexpected!'”
When asked about her elemental strategies for community building, Matthews had this to say:
“Just being transparent. I could pretend to have this ish all figured out and brand myself an “expert,” but instead, let everyone in on my journey as I figure stuff out, whether it’s how I grew my following or how I learned what equipment to get in order to do a podcast. Sometimes I feel like, 'should I be sharing this? Does this mess up my credibility if I don’t know the answer?' But at the end of the day, it’s real, it’s what I’m going through.”
And with that, we say thank you for sharing your story and the stories of others. Thanks to Matthews for the honesty and the valuable expertise. Keep hustling, Nicaila Matthews!
What is your passion? Do you have a side hustle? How are you taking steps to make it come to life? Let us know in the comments below!