We all have that one passion that we wish we had more time for outside the confines of our current responsibilities. Whether you’re in school or in a 9-5, there’s probably something else that you have your eye on — that business idea, moonlighting as a jazz pianist, or pursuing your lifelong dream of being an actor. Whatever it is, you aren’t alone in wishing you could do it more often: 45 percent of Americans have some form of a side hustle.
What’s even more challenging, however, is making time for a passion project when you’re not yet bringing in cash from it. But, this is when you most need to log the time to commit to the project. I sat down with Ummer Naviwala, aka “Omareloff”, who built an audience of 220,000 and counting on his Facebook gaming platform — but at first, it was just his passion project, which he found time for on the side of his main job. He shared tips for all aspiring passion-driven individuals who want to find a way to make time for their side hustles.
Content, content, content.
Whatever your passion project is, it’s critical to keep putting out content – and to do so consistently. “I think people underestimate what they can do with the little time they have, and the more content they create and put out there, the more likely they’ll be to stumble upon new opportunities or make new connections,” said Naviwala.
Particularly, he said that he always advises new gamers that if they’re going to sit down and play a game, they may as well stream it. “We sometimes worry that our content isn’t good enough because we’re just getting started, but if you’re taking the time to play a game or create art, you should be sharing it,” he said. The idea behind this is that if it’s truly your passion and you really enjoy doing it, might as well spend that time of enjoyment to begin to build a name and a platform for yourself.
Try to release any perfectionist tendencies and just start to put out as much as you can. If your dream is to be a writer, post blogs or articles. If you want to be a singer, make singing videos — just put on the camera or record it anytime that you sing. And of course, if you want to be a streamer like Naviwala, don’t just play games privately. Stream them.
It’s admittedly hard to go into a passion project full-steam ahead without some form of expectations around what you hope will happen from it — whether that’s growing an audience, monetizing, or a little bit of both. “I think it’s important to create content on your own volition, because if you’re only in your passion project for the money, it’s going to be a rough start,” Naviwala added. He advised from his own experience to go into any new project with a significant financial runway, or to not expect to make a significant income from the get-go. He learned this when he started a restaurant prior to building his Facebook gaming platform.
“When I started the restaurant, I didn’t expect to turn a profit in the first one to two years,” he shared. “I ended up turning a profit sooner than I thought, but the mindset going into it helped with making strategic choices, and also to know I was doing it out of passion rather than doing it to make quick cash,” he said.
That’s not to say it’ll never pan out and that you should expect that the passion project will never bring in income. Rather, it’s just about making sure you’re being smart, so you don’t lose your passion for what you’re doing. “If it’s your passion project, you should always have something else to lean on, too, so passion and money don’t become conflated,” he advised. Some become frustrated when going after their big passion project doesn’t play out the way they think it will — which is why it still needs to be what you do because you enjoy it, rather than what you do as a means to an end.
As for when to know if it’s time to go full-time… you’ll know. Naviwala ultimately left his restaurant because his streaming platform was accelerating. But, it took consistent content creation first – so follow that roadmap, create consistently, and see what happens…without expectations.