The Side Hustle Project: Week One Report And Long-Ass Explanation

Previously, on Cash and Joy…

So as previously mentioned, for a long time I had no visible signs of life. I lay suspended above a bear trap in a safety net made of grudging government benefits, and I healed.

And then I cautiously got back into a casual, low-stress, close-to-home, 15-hour-a-week job answering phones in a call centre. (I am aware that some of you would choose death over this, but it suits me.) I sewed things for myself. I visited friends again. And I volunteered at a geek convention.

The Universe is unambiguously clear that action = momentum = fascinating and hard-to-predict results. Example: all of the above lead to me accidentally creating a tiny business.

Short version of the story:

1. I went to party with friends, and made FB buddies with a few new peeps I met.

2. One mentions on their feed that now is the time to sign up as a volunteer at Supanova.

3. I say, “Why not?” and sign up, with no expectations other than maybe meeting a few actors and creators that I love the work of.

4. I realise that I don’t have a bag that will hold my phone and keys and cash and the venue map while I do this.

5. I dig around on Etsy and Pinterest, looking for hip bags, ‘cos bum bags are UGLY LIKE BURNING. I fail to find what I am looking for.

catherine and the bag putting on a show
This is me at Supanova. I know the photo is blurry, and doesn’t show the bag at all well, but it’s quite obvious I am rocking out “Rusty Cage” by Soundgarden.

6. I combine this strap and this pocket and this fabric choice to design and sew my own. I am super proud of how professional and adorable it looks.

7. I wear it to Supanova. I have a long and excellent conversation with Manu Bennett on the way back from a panel where he appreciates what I say very much and calls me “Darlin” and touches me on the back it was the best ohmigawwwwd

8. At least six different people ask me where I got that amazing hip bag, so cute and practical, oh you made it? can you make me one? I would pay you!

9. I think, “That would be fun!”

10. I accidentally made a business?


Insert the Act 2 Drama

I am still not fully well. (The full-time hours required during training proved that to me, egad.)

I have to accept the reality that my energy is limited, and if I over-commit I will likely break.

So if I want to make a little wee side-hustle, I have to do it slowly.

*gnashing of teeth* But… I suck at slowly! I specialise in the sprint-and-fall-over method of getting things done! *wailing, etc*

Stupid fucking growth opportunities. Grr.

Thus: The Side Hustle Project.

I am going to build a little wee business sewing adorable hip bags and selling them on Etsy, and I am going to do it in just two hours a week.

Is that enough time? I think it is! Honestly, it’s astonishing what you can get done in that time if you’re deliberate about it.

Will it be super hard to break the patterns of years? Fuck yes, it will!

Will I tell you all about it? Yep! I’m not counting these articles as part of my time budget.

Why are you writing about this? ‘Cos I think it will be stunningly useful to many of you. I already accidentally inspired someone else to start their own Side Hustle Project. (If you wanna join in, that’s FUCKING AWESOME. Tell me about it, please.)

What are you naming this little business? It is called Labcoat & Lollipop.

With all that backstory sorted, it’s time to tell you how Week One went!

OMG, doing it right?!?

Let me be frank: Cash and Joy’s finances have always been kind of a shemozzle.

It’s the upside and the downside of being a one-woman band, isn’t it? You get to learn how to do it all yourself; you… have to learn to do all of it yourself. Proper cashflow management process always fell behind copywriting and learning web design and making new things and… pretty much everything else, really. I was deeply into the ostrich phase of my relationship with money back then, wanted as little to do with that filthy lucre as possible.

So I ran everything out of my personal account; kept decent records in Excel that I updated far too rarely; panicked when tax time came.

This time I going to start my little wee side hustle on the right footing, AND I’m going to use the chance to shore up the wobbly-ass walls of this biz, too. Because I actually love money nowadays, and want to treat it right. (ALLLL NIIIIIIIGHT LOOOOOOOOONG.)

Step One: Talk to the Professionals

I made an appointment with a local accountant I had heard good things about. Free initial consult? FUCK YES BONUS, I was braced for paying for this.

25 minutes with Dean The Accountant, a decent fella who still hasn’t quite figured out how to shake hands with women. I hammered Dean with questions, mostly starting with, “I was thinking that I should…”

Thanks to online research, I had a mental picture of how I ought to set the new biz up, and apparently I was right. (Woo!)

I don’t know how much you want to know about the accounting setup I’m going with, ‘cos a lot of it is kinda specific to both my biz and the Australian tax system, but here’s the big picture version:


Explanations time!

Both bizzes shall use the same $500-limit credit card to cover expenses and provide an overdraft function. I have deliberately kept this limit small to avoid the temptation to go bonkers with fabric purchases. (I could have a separate credit function for each, but there is no benefit to doing it that way – I won’t have any difficulty figuring out which purchase is for which biz.)

Income from Cash and Joy shall go into the C&J transaction account. Same thing for Labcoat & Lollipop. From there, funds will be transferred across to pay the expenses.

Then, whatever is left over (sweet sweet profit!) shall be sent to two places. 25% will go into the 2.25% interest-bearing savings account in readiness for tax time. For my current income level, this will be more than enough to pay my taxes.

Australian peeps: I don’t make enough money from the biz to worry about registering for GST yet, and both businesses are being run as a sole trader under my ABN. Thus, I don’t have to deal with Business Activity Statements or quarterly returns. I just do a complicated personal tax return at the end of June like everyone else.

The other 75% will go to my personal account, where I shall promptly pile it up on the bed and roll around on it.

I will continue using my spreadsheet system to track expenses and profit/loss. (If you want me to show you more about that, tell me in the comments and I shall.) Once I get to more than 75-ish transactions a month, or I find updating the spreadsheet to be a monumental pain in the ass, I shall upgrade to Xero or MYOB or another accounting system.

It’s a nice, straightforward business set-up, multiplied by two. But there’s one thing I need to take care of before I can go to the bank to open the accounts, and that is…

Registering the new business name

In Australia, you can’t open a business bank account until you’ve registered the business name with ASIC. This took me about 15 minutes of online form-filling-in-ness and $34 for one year. (It’s cheaper for multiple years, but no. Call me cynical, but I didn’t want to commit this early.)

I think I could have gotten by with having the account in my sole trader name and using a “trading as”, but I wanted that nice feeling of Doing It Properly, and $34 is quite a reasonable cost for that feeling.

Setting up the bank accounts

I spent about an hour at the Bendigo Bank, filling in forms, applying for the credit card, and opening most of these accounts. (As mentioned, the L&L one will have to wait until the Official Business Name Registration arrives, but that will be easy-peasy now all the paperwork is done.)

I chose the Bendigo Bank for two reasons:

  1. No monthly account fees.
  2. I have worked in their call centre for about six months, and I trust them ‘cos they are actually super awesome and I suspect I wouldn’t say that about other banks after working for them.

It will take a week-ish to find out about the credit card, but I feel reasonably confident about it. (Well, my anxiety doesn’t, natch. But logically I should be okay.)

Whew! So Official!

So the tally at the end of the first week is this:

Bags sold: 0
Time spent: 2 hours
Profit/loss: -$34
Pride: 89%

I feel pretty darn good about this beginning. I wish I’d done this sooner for Cash and Joy, it would have reduced so much stress.

Thoughts? Questions? Want to join in? Share in the comments, my darlingface!

Action stations, people!

mars plough
Woo! Organic decomposition!

There’s nothing duller to describe than the changes in a fallow field.

I mean, worms are hella busy, and nitrogen levels are doing amazing biochemical things, plant matter is collapsing, all of that, but what we can see is… an acre of dirt.

Look out the window, kids, wow! it’s still dirt.

Wait a few months, and observe the wonder of the totally identical pile of dirt. (Tell your friends!)

Days and days and days and days of… dirt.

You just want to skip ahead in the story until the earth is full and rich and suddenly things are Happening.

Thus, I won’t tell you what I’ve been up to. I’ll just say that spring has come and I’m growing more than nettles and thank fuck for that.

There have been a few small shoots, but it’s time for a full crop and okay I’mma ditch these agricultural metaphors now.

What am I growing working on?

I’m going to build a side hustle.

From scratch.

In two hours a week.

Wanna watch?

Then subscribe to make sure you don’t miss an episode, or just come back in seven days or so when I will report on my first week.

Forward hoe!

(Couldn’t resist one last gardening reference. I seed ma chance and I took it.)


photo by:

Commandments of Marketing (That You Might Actually Like), #1

Lo, I come unto you with truth! Prepare to be Enlightened.

Commandment #1: Thou Shalt Not Do Marketing That Gives Thou The Shits.

commandment 1


And lo, I say unto thee, I say, “Life is too fucking short to spend recreationally shoving bamboo splinters under your nails.”

If email lists make you feel sad and resentful and obligatory-ish, DON’T HAVE ONE.

If writing a blog makes you feel like ten pounds of ugh in a five-pound bag, DON’T HAVE ONE.

If maintaining a presence on Pinterest or Facebook or Twitter or Vine or Instagram make you feel like crawling back into bed, say it with me kids, DON’T HAVE ONE.

But, Catherine, Expert Person X says they’re the must-have!

Expert Person X is talking out of their ass.

What they should be saying is, “Hey, this worked amazingly well for me when I did it, and possibly also it works for clients I still work with now.”

But there are some huge caveats built into even that statement. Importantly:

1. How long ago was it that they used this strategy to such amazing effect? ‘Cos I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but marketing, and the internet most especially, is an ever-shifting place, and one with ever-increasing levels of sophistication. By the time a ground-breaking strategy can be formula-ised, it’s already about 15% as effective as it was when it produced the results the strategist can boast of.

2. Expert Person X is not you. Expert Person X’s previous clients are also not you. Your audiences are different, too. Thus, what worked for them might or might not work for you.

Besides, even they were 100% correct about the astonishing results to be gained by their thingy…

… you still fucking hate it.

How much energy would you waste pushing yourself to get this horrible hated task done?

How enthusiastic, creative and sincere a job will you do while gritting your teeth and just… getting through it?

How easy would you find it to abandon when the workload piles up/you feel a bit sick/the kids want to go play/a dog barked two blocks away/that cloud looks shifty? A brilliant strategy means nothing if it never gets done.

There is no One Marketing Approach To Rule Them All.

I pinky-swear. There are more options than time to implement them, they are all variously effective with various audiences, and not a single goddamn one is mandatory.

So ditch anything you genuinely don’t wanna do. There are plenty of fish in the sea, and no end of ways to tackle ’em. (PUN.)

And lo, I say unto you, “You’re not even tied to the rack, dude. Get off that thing.”

With thanks to the Provocateurs (which has become a free Facebook group for in-depth and totally fabulous conversations about business and marketing and why everyone should have a pet and feel free to apply if that sounds amazing to you) who had the initial exploration that sparked this article.

Also thanks to …some guy for the original image.

In which I change my mind mid-way through


Hello, darlingface.

Did you miss me?

I missed me.

So I had a looong period (documented over at Mediocre Be Damned, along with one extremely valuable lesson learned withal, should you be so inclined) of non-functionality. I made nothing, I slept a lot, and the only flourishing endeavour I commanded was my iPad’s farm.

(So. Many. Carrots!)

Now finally I am again able, albeit slowly and stumblefootedly, to make things. Began with baking, then sewing projects, then actually talking on social media again. Hitting the publish button on Mediocre Be Damned.

I left Cash and Joy for last, ’cos I needed enough zoomjuice in my brainpan to riddle with.

I need to re-solve the foundational question: what is Cash and Joy committed to bringing more of into the world?

Cool shit!
Ethical marketing strategies
People who make money by creating things they believe in
Eradication of unnecessary stress
Damning the Man (and saving the Empire)
Teensy businesses
Full-frontal emotional nudity
Taking it less seriously, sheesh
Your brilliance

The crockpot of ingredients hasn’t changed drastically over the years, and it’s awesome. I grinned while writing that.

But there’s a driving need to just fucking pick one, already. Make it easier to be the Subject Matter Expert, the Go-To Gal, the saint in her niche. Or maybe find a higher-level taxonomy, a catchy nickname for the crockpot itself.

Shit, when I started writing this article I had one picked out and everything.

I was gonna announce it right about… here.

But now I’m here I don’t want to.


*more long thoughtful pauses, you get the idea*

I… want to leave it a bit messy.

I need to delay auditing my offerings and constructing a neat Pinterest-friendly label for What We Offer Hyah.

Aw dammit, it would be so easy and tempting to smoosh myself into that neat box! Comforting. Marketable.

Sterile? Yes, also sterile.

Outside, it’s getting colder and the few deciduous trees are running clearance sales on their leaves. But inside me it’s spring, and spring has to be messy. Moist, compost-y (aka: full of bullshit?), squishy, warm. Fungible. Riotous and icky between the toes.

Make spring too neat and what will grow?

Oh. I changed my mind.

I shan’t narrow, define, compartmentalise. I’m just gonna grow, and make things, and see where we end up.

Wisdoms Learned Through Sometimes Terrible Experience

Sometimes you need lots of clarity to take action.

Sometimes you get the clarity by taking action.

And dicking around waiting for The Perfect Vision to epiphanise on you is wasted time.

Or in other words:

Sometimes it wants to be neat. Sometimes it needs to be messy.

Frustrating! Harder to message! You have to be super careful to still deliver the right trust-increasing levels of consistency! It would be super easier to just pick a box already and jump in it!

But I’m going to trust myself. I shall listen to the voice of spring and respect my still-healing creator.

Where is Cash and Joy going? Couldn’t tell you.

Wanna hang around while we find out?