EP 7 – Publishing As A Side Gig With Jasmine Watts Of Miss Millennia Magazine

    Fact checked by Vahe Arabian
    Vahe Arabian

    Founder and Editor in Chief of State of Digital Publishing. My vision is to provide digital publishing and media professionals a platform to collaborate and promote their efforts, my passion is to uncover talent and… Read more

    Edited by Vahe Arabian
    Vahe Arabian

    Founder and Editor in Chief of State of Digital Publishing. My vision is to provide digital publishing and media professionals a platform to collaborate and promote their efforts, my passion is to uncover talent and…Read more

    Jasmine Watts Miss Millenia Magazine

    Founder and Editor in Chief of State of Digital Publishing. My vision is to provide digital publishing and media professionals a platform to collaborate and...Read more

    Running a publication or magazine doesn’t always have to be making tons of money and visits in order to be considered successful. Side gigs exist for a reason and can help you supplement outcomes that can’t otherwise be achieved in your day job. We speak with Jasmine Watts, Founder of Miss Millenia to run down her experiences and what you can expect.

    Podcast Transcription

    Vahe Arabian: Welcome to the State of Digital Publishing Podcast, episode seven. State of Digital Publishing is an online publication and Q&A providing resources, perspectives, and collaboration and news for digital media and publishing professionals in digital media technology and audience development. Today I’m speaking with Jasmine Watts from Miss Millennia Magazine and she’s … takes a different approach to publishing. She does it as a side gig. Let’s listen in. Hi, Jasmine, how are you?

    Jasmine Watts: I’m great. How are you doing?

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    Vahe Arabian: I’m good, thank you. Thanks for taking time to chat with us. Just for those who aren’t aware of who you are and anything about Millennia Magazine, can you just provide a bit of a background?

    Jasmine Watts: Yeah. Of course. So, I’m the creator and the Editor-in-Chief of a publication called Miss Millennia Magazine. We’re all alone and it’s for Millennia women who are career driven and on their way to doing big things in life. So we like to write content from … about travel, career, personal development, just overall motivation in general.

    Vahe Arabian: It sounds good. It’s a very passionate thing and also very aspirational for others, for people who need advice, just for everyone, our audience as well. The reason why I’ve brought on Jasmine is as well, is because she doesn’t do this as a full-time gig and given that it’s the New Year and everyone wants to kick off their New Year’s resolutions, I thought given Jasmine’s success in the magazine, I wanted to bring her on to just give you guys the opportunity and to hear how she’s been able to do this as a side gig and build up Miss Millennia Magazine. So, if you don’t mind Jasmine, can you provide a bit of a background around how you started Miss Millennia Magazine and the reason for why you’ve kept it as a side gig and how has it benefited you as a side gig?

    Jasmine Watts: Yeah. Absolutely. So, I started a little after I graduated from college, a few months actually. My reasoning being that I was having a hard time with finding a job and so, I had a group of people who could resonate with how I was feeling, trying to decide on what career to pursue, where I wanted to move, and where did I want to go with the next stages of my life.

    Jasmine Watts: So, I created it and I’ve been doing it ever since. I’ve been doing it for almost seven years now and I started it because I thought it would be a great way to bring in extra income since before I started the magazine, I was doing freelance writing and I thought there’s so much more potential to make more money if I was actually the one who was doing the publishing.

    Jasmine Watts: So that played into my role too as far as why I decided to create Miss Millennia and as far as doing it as a side hustle, I’ve always kind of done it on the side while I was looking for a career. I majored in fashion and I decided I didn’t wanna do that once I graduated so that kind of started my whole struggle with finding what I wanted to do with my life. I started pursuing a career in marketing, which I love now, and upon doing that, the magazine was always a place where I could build new skills, test out things that I learned and my jobs that I had. Also just have a creative outlet for the things that I couldn’t do and the jobs that I had. So, it’s always been a piece of me that allowed me to be my full self in some places where I couldn’t do that.

    Vahe Arabian: I think it’s very important for everyone to hear that because like you said, there are a lot of restrictions on your full-time job and sometimes you can’t express the way you can. So, how are you kind of running Miss Millennia Magazine, in terms of how is it set up? Do you have a team that you’re working with at the moment or…? In addition to the setup as well, how is your revenue model setup to support your kind of income?

    Jasmine Watts: Yeah. I’d be happy to go into that. So, as far as the team goes, it’s myself, I have two virtual assistants and I also have two contributors. So, amongst all of us, we’re responsible for writing content, replying to people who want to write guest posts for us, managing different sponsor opportunities, I write some of those as well as my contributors, and also doing freelance writing.

    Jasmine Watts: So, as far as our revenue model goes, our main source of income comes from sponsor posts. So, working with different brands to write content that includes their brand in it and then our second biggest source of income is advertising. So, having just different banner ads, as well as people who are interested in writing their own guest posts … writing their own sponsor posts for the website, and lastly our affiliates. So, yeah. That’s pretty much our business model currently.

    Vahe Arabian: And how did you come up to the point of setting up your business model? Did you do it from the start or was this just, like you said, in the other instances where you tested things and eventually comes at that point?

    Jasmine Watts: Honestly, I had no idea how people did it. How to make money when I first started Miss Millennia Magazine. I figured it was all through advertising, which I think a lot of people make that assumption. Advertising is probably one of the smallest places where we make our income. A lot of it … I guess if you count sponsored posts as advertising, then yes, advertising is the biggest one.

    Jasmine Watts: I just didn’t know what they were or how to get them and now we get to a point where we’re consistently doing sponsor posts on a regular basis. It’s just writing content that you would normally write and seeing if a brand fits in with the message that you’re already giving to your audience. So, I found that very interesting that that’s even a model out there that exists and it’s a good one for us as far as bringing in regular income.

    Vahe Arabian: Do you mind if I ask, how big of an income is it? Is it something that helps you with your overall life in terms of your overall income or is it … How big of a part does that play?

    Jasmine Watts: It ranges honestly. We’ll make anywhere from 2,500 a month to $7,000 a month and it really depends on the season and how much effort we’re putting in as far as taking different sponsored opportunities. And it gets harder too, the more that you establish your message and you know what you’ll stand for and what you won’t. So, that means, looking for bigger deals and long-term partnerships as opposed to one-off sponsorships here and there, if that makes sense.

    Vahe Arabian: No, I understand that. So, how do you manage building up partnerships and building up the traffic to your website after hours? How do you go about setting everything up and trying to go out for those bigger deals?

    Jasmine Watts: Okay. So, the traffic side is one part of it and then the other side is actually finding the big deals. So, I actually attended this conference … because we talk about finance a lot too on the magazine. I don’t know if I mentioned that in the beginning but I attended a conference this year called FinCon and it’s pretty much a conference for finance professionals or finance content. So, there’s a lot of bloggers, and podcasters, and freelance writers: a lot of people who are around finance and money and I just … it’s a great conference but it’s also a huge community where I’ve made so many connections with people and I’ve just been offered so many opportunities to do long-term partnerships with different brands. So, just from that, I’ve established in partnership with Uber, Airbnb, amongst some others, just from being a part of that community. So, the networking does play a huge role in finding the long-term partnerships with different brands. As far as just sponsorships and knowing what brands are looking for contributors, I use different media companies like Activate or Bloglovin’. Actually, Bloglovin’ is one that I enjoy a lot. IZEA is another company that I go to for different sponsorship opportunities. It’s a variety of networking and just looking out for brands you know are looking for writers.

    Vahe Arabian: I’m sure that also takes a lot of time, as long as that networking played a big role but how much time of your day would all this take usually after hours?

    Jasmine Watts: Oh man, I try to dedicate anywhere from two to four hours a day on magazine work before I go to work or on top of me working a full day. So, I’ll typically work for a couple of hours before work and I work for a couple of hours after dinner in evening as well. So, it does … It ranges between … I definitely get in two hours. Sometimes I won’t get all the way to four, but I get a good little chunk of time in a day with magazine work.

    Vahe Arabian: No, that’s good to hear, that you can fit that in as well. I know it’s not easy. With a team as well, are they all working at the same time? Or how is the team set up in terms of collaborating and communicating with you and obviously you still in the editorial calendar, so how do you make sure that all that happens on time and on schedule?

    Jasmine Watts: Oh man, good question. So, as far as the team goes, we’re all over the world. I have a contributor in Canada, another one in Ireland, and then my two VA’s are both in the Philippines. So, we all talk with each other with a chat tool called Glip and that’s pretty much how we decide on what the contributors are writing. They work with one another to look over each other’s work before they publish and then they put it into pending. I edit their work, the final project and then as far as the day-to-day stuff, that’s where my VA’s come in with creating different Pinterest images or just managing our social media on a day-to-day basis, replying to emails, and they work … They pretty much work around the same time as I do.

    Jasmine Watts: I know that one of my VA’s, she starts at 6:00 A.M. Central Standard Time and she usually ends around three or four and my other, she starts 3:00 A.M. when I’m still sleeping and she works until about 10:00 A.M. So, everyone’s time is, for the most part, we have some overlap. Typically, in the wee hours of the morning but for the … we’re just chatting with each other throughout the day. Sometimes I’ll reply to messages and evening because I know that, that’s probably when one of my contributions are working. Yeah, we pretty much work when we are available.

    Vahe Arabian: I hear sometimes that it’s difficult in trying to manage remote teams because of the time difference and sometimes they might not prioritize this work over other things. So, how do you make sure that they keep on top of things whilst they’re trying to do their own thing on the side as well?

    Jasmine Watts: Oh, so we actually use another tool for that called Asana and it has all our daily things that we do as far as the contact creation and day-to-day tasks and it’s just a running checklist that’s always being done. I usually give that a look first thing in the morning just to see where we are, what was completed the day before, what are the things that are coming up for that day, and if there’s anything that I’m confused about or do not understand, what a certain project is that someone’s working on, then I can just jump into Glip and say, “Hey, what’s this?” and “Why are you working this?” or ….we just kinda go from there.

    Jasmine Watts: It’s interesting how technology really makes it easy. I have a VA who’s in the Philippines and I see her every single day. We talk to each other on Skype first thing in the morning. She asks me questions and tells me how her day was and I do all that before I go to my full-time job. So, I see her just as often as I see people who I see on a daily basis. So, it’s interesting.

    Vahe Arabian: That’s nice and I guess … It seems everyone is dedicated and they’re passionate about working for the magazine as well. So, I guess that makes a big difference as well. Did you end up trying to find … Did you find these people individually or did they come to you? How did you find your team or how did you build up your team?

    Jasmine Watts: Yeah. It’s a funny story. My VA that I have now, I’ve known her for two years. And pretty much what happened, I had another job that I worked at before the one I’m at now and I ended up getting laid off from that job. During that job, she was my VA there and right before I was laid off, it was my job to lay her off. So, she didn’t have a place to work. So, once I was laid off from that position, I actually did magazine work full-time and decided to start working again just because I’m so much better just prioritizing my responsibilities when I have other responsibilities. But I ended up hiring her full-time to work for the magazine and now we’ve been getting along ever since. I actually found her from a virtual staff finder and we just have such a great … We get along personality-wise so well and she’s a very passionate person. I just wanted to work with her again, that I liked her so much. So, that’s how I found her.
    The other VA I found just going on Upwork and one of my contributors is my cousin who lives in Ireland. We get people who email us regularly about becoming a contributor to the magazine and I typically interview them and we go through that process. So, yeah, I find people here and there.

    Jasmine Watts: But something I can admit, that we all have pretty deep connections and we do like to talk about what everyone is passionate about and how can this experience benefit them in the long run so that they do want to come into work and they do want to feel good about what they’re doing every single day.

    Vahe Arabian: I guess, especially with the VA’s, they mostly, would probably focus on admin stuff and it’s good that you have … you always speak with your VA’s every day and chat with them over a call. But how do you think other people should, if they didn’t have that possibility or potentially they haven’t done it before, why do you think it’s important to be able to regularly connect with your team on an ongoing basis?

    Jasmine Watts: Oh man. I think it’s important because it’s good to understand people’s … what motivates them. You see at the end of the day, I’ve had a lot of … I used to have interns for the magazine and I’ve had a lot of contributors who I’ve written lots of recommendations for over the years but something I’ve found is I’ll have a contributor and she’s doing a great job for me and then one day, she just leaves. She’s like, you know, “I don’t like it anymore, and I’m going to go.” And after seeing people leave and I had no clue, I didn’t see it coming at all, it just shows how little I was involved in their lives and there could’ve been things that I could’ve changed that would’ve made them stay longer or made the experience more enjoyable for them. So, I always make a point now to kind of build those connections and understand what people are going through in their lives and what will make them enjoy the work that they’re doing more than they are today.

    Jasmine Watts: At the end of the day, my goal is to make sure that people will take something from this. Obviously, I’ll pay them but there’s more to a career you enjoy than how much you get paid. It’s about growing as a person and being able to add some experience under your belt that’s going to help propel you to whatever your big goals are. So, I like to have those conversations with people and make sure that they are growing and if they’re not, then that’s my job to figure out, “Okay, how can I challenge you?”. How can I make this something where you’re like, “Oh wow, I like this new process, or I wanna give my two cents and see how I can make this better”. So, I make that a big part of just being a part of the team at Miss Mill.

    Vahe Arabian: Is there something that you’ve put into their terms of contract or …? A blog works a bit different because you’re not obligated to do that but is that something that you say verbally to them or is that’s something you put into the terms of agreement when you decide to work with them or when you decide to work with each other?

    Jasmine Watts: I like to have a good conversation on the phone with people before they even contribute just to give them an idea of what expected of them, what the culture is like, what my goals are. I wanna have an environment where everybody feels open in that they can be honest and say how they feel about a certain process and that way I can grow too. I’m huge on growth. I like to get that feedback from my team if they’re doing a process and they’re like, “Jazz, I’m sorry, like, this just makes no sense. I don’t think this is important for us to do this”. And I wanna hear those perspectives from those people and that’s something I find working for yourself. It’s hard to get that feedback and probably another reason why I like having a job because you can get that from your managers and your colleagues, but it’s difficult when you’re at the top and people can be hesitant to give you the advice that you want. So, yeah.

    Vahe Arabian: No, that’s a good point, which leads me to … You know how you mentioned earlier about your using a magazine as a way to explore new ways of doing things and experimenting. Can you give me some examples of how you’ve done that in the past or if you doing anything currently, which is helping you with your full-time job?

    Jasmine Watts: Yeah. So, it’s funny. I mentioned that when I graduated from college, I got my degree in fashion. But now I am in a career in marketing. I took some marketing classes in college but not enough to say that I could pursue a career in it. And the magazine was a big, big win for me in that regard, which is being able to learn different skills that I realized were marketing skills. I didn’t know that at the time but that’s what I was learning. So, when I first created my site, I didn’t know anything about coding, I didn’t know about social media marketing or any type of digital marketing whatsoever outside of posting my new blog posts I did it for freelance writing on Twitter. And I had to learn basic HTML code, I had to learn what WordPress was, and then I had to learn how to get people to my blog without spending any money because I didn’t have any money at the time.

    Jasmine Watts: So, from just doing all of those things, I realized that there were terms for all of these things. There’s SEO and there’re SMM and all these other things that you need to know to be successful with blogging and when I got my first … I call it my first big girl job out of college, it was as a social media manager and I pretty much went to the job with my only experience that I had with social media marketing, was through my blog. So, I always say when I first started the site, it just opened so many doors for me that I didn’t even have a chance at having before it because I had all these newfound skills. I just had to recognize that I had the skills and know to put those on my resume.

    Vahe Arabian: Are there any specific projects that you’ve done recently or you’re doing at the moment, which is helping you up-skill or are you using the magazine to test out things from your day-to-day job?

    Jasmine Watts: Oh, that’s a great question. Yeah. I actually do. So, currently I work for a company that does Facebook strategy marketing, Facebook Ads Marketing and during my training … my training was three weeks. During the entire time while training, I was working on my ads for the magazine, like, “Oh I’ll just tweak the ad with this new thing that I learned and I’ll tweak this little ad and I’ll change this little thing”. And I just learned so many things I didn’t even know existed in regards to just doing Facebook advertising.

    Jasmine Watts: And along the way, I managed to run an ad that’s actually making me money now or for the magazine but I realized I had an edge on a lot of my colleagues because I was in this tool before, I’ve used it before and I continue to use it. So, it was a lot easier for me to be able to apply what I knew from work to something that meant something to me. I would come back to work and, “Oh yeah. I also realized that I can connect this with that and this thing works”. So, yeah. To this day I’m still taking things from the magazine and applying it to my job. And it’s beautiful, I love it.

    Vahe Arabian: That’s so good to hear. Sorry I just want to be very specific. So, with the Facebook ads that you’ve learned how to do and be able to start getting money from. What kind of campaign was that you’re running now?

    Jasmine Watts: So, I’m running a traffic ad for a freebie that I give away so it’s like a Google Excel Sheet that make it easy for you to track your day-to-day when you’re doing surveys online and that was one of my hustles when I was in college, is I did surveys to make a few hundred bucks a month because I didn’t want to get a job while I was in school. So, I had this list that I put together so that it makes it easier for you to track day-to-day: What surveys did I do today? How much money did I possibly make? So that you can kind of tally it up and get an idea of, “Do I need to do more surveys so I can make more money?”, and kind of go from there. So, the cool thing about this is that I give that away for free for people to sign up for my email list. And I have a page within this document that it’s just filled with different legitimate survey sites that I use when I was doing this before. And they’re all affiliate links so anytime someone goes through and they start signing up for those survey sites I get paid a small portion of that.

    Vahe Arabian: That’s cool, you being able to essentially use that … so, people have then gone and signed up just surveys sites as a result of the ads that you drove traffic to for that street you’re now getting revenue. So, you’re getting back money from the ads that you’re spending on.

    Jasmine Watts: Exactly. Yes, I’m making more than what I’m spending for the ads. And that doesn’t include the revenue I’m making … any money I’m making from my email list

    Vahe Arabian: That’s good.

    Jasmine Watts: I’m the freebie.

    Vahe Arabian: That’s a very nice thing. I guess with side gigs and trends, have you noticed any other colleagues or anyone else who is in a similar boat as you who is doing publishing as a side gig? And what have you noticed in general about other people doing side gigs in our industry?

    Jasmine Watts: Who have side hustles right now?

    Vahe Arabian: Yeah.

    Jasmine Watts: I guess something I’ve noticed is that … Well, I’ve noticed two things: One, there’re some people who are really good at it. And they become so efficient with their time that they’re all business when it comes to managing their side hustle. And the other side of that is, I know there are people who have a side hustle but they don’t nurture it enough and I think that can be a very difficult part having  a side hustle on top of a day job because it’s really easy for you to just say, “Oh it’s not that important. It’s not my day job. It’s not my job that’s bringing most of my income. So, it’s not something I need to work on today”. It’s so easy to just say that and I’m guilty of being in that position like, “Oh, I don’t need to do this today. It’s not that important”. But it’s-

    Vahe Arabian: How do you make sure that … How do you make sure that now with the magazine … how do you make sure that you are nurturing it enough?

    Jasmine Watts: Well, now … The reality is I love the magazine, and it’s not something that I had to do something I get to do and that’s always been my mentality with it. I’m super positive right now because I just got over having the flu. And this last week I did not get a chance to work on the magazine like I wanted to. Every day I thought about it and I really wanted to, and I was just so exhausted. I was just coming from work and passing out and then waking up and coming home from work and just passing out, just trying to recover and get better. So, I did not get the opportunity to work on it like I wanted to. So, now I’m just in overdrive like, “Yes, I get to do this, and I get to do this, and I’m so excited about when this thing is gonna be finished”.
    And if you have a side hustle where you feel that way where you’re like, “Ugh, now I gotta do this”, it’s the wrong thing. You’re doing something that you’re not passionate about and defeats the purpose of having a side hustle. To me, a side hustle is not having a part-time job. It’s not something you do because you need the extra money, it’s something you do because it’s something you can be good at and it’s something that you can enjoy and brings out another side of yourself that you don’t necessarily have or get to utilize during the day. So, just being able to maintain that passion and remembering that this is something you enjoy and you need to make time for the things you enjoy is pretty important.

    Vahe Arabian: So, on the flip-side, how have you seen the other professionals who are on, like you said, in your words, the wrong business when they are running the side gig? How do you see them leveraging their publication professionally and just in terms of earning … their earning potential and reaching out to it? Yeah.

    Jasmine Watts: One of my favorite stories to tell is a blogger named Rosemarie Groner. She has a blog called The Busy Budgeter. I got a chance to work with her briefly at a conference I went to last year called Activate and she gave me some really good advice on managing my site. But I’m so impressed with how efficient she got with managing her blog. She makes about $100,000 a month with her blog, so she’s already a superstar.

    Jasmine Watts: And she wrote a course about how she managed to get there, spending 10 hours a week doing it. So, she spent that time measuring what’s most important for me to do. What’s my ROI of this task? What’s my ROI of that task? And even though she was probably really efficient already, she just whittled that time down more and more to see how can I make more money with less time. That was her motive the entire time. And she did this with a full-time job. She managed to get to a point where she’s making $100,000 a month with a full-time gig. So, just a shout-out to Rosemarie. I am a die-hard fan, I’ve taken all of her courses and she consistently stays a motivation, a motivator for me of where you can be.

    Vahe Arabian: So, what if you haven’t accessed the course and hopefully if there is the statistics? What are some of the key things that she focuses on then, in terms of really trying to get the ROI and get the most out of the time?

    Jasmine Watts: She focuses on the money-making tasks. I think that as a blogger it’s so easy to fixate on things that aren’t important like how many page views do you have, and, “Oh I’m gonna do this special little gig here that’s gonna make me $20”, when the reality is like I shouldn’t even be looking at gigs that only pay me $20. I need to look at gigs that are gonna pay me what I’m worth. So, just really focusing on how long it takes you to do a specific task because if you’re not getting to a point where you’re making $100,000 a month there’s a high possibility that you’re focusing on things that aren’t that important and not driving your bottom line. So, I think that’s probably the biggest thing.

    Vahe Arabian: Yeah, I think that’s pretty clear. And I’m assuming she’s also being able to balance that with reaching her audiences’ objectives and trying to reach your audiences’ needs as well. So, if she’s being able to do both, then yeah she’s definitely doing the right thing. What are your focus points at the economy? What are your ROI bottom line things that you’re focusing on at the moment?

    Jasmine Watts: So, my big things … I’m actually taking the elite blogger academy course and I’m almost finished with them. So close to the end I can see the light at the tunnel. It’s a pretty long course a lot of people it takes them a year to finish it. It’s gonna take me a little bit longer than that just because the end of the year was crazy for me. But I’m at a point now where I am working on creating my first course, which is going to be a big bottom line thing for me as well as working on different newsletter launches I’m gonna do for my newsletter. So, those long-term partnerships I was talking about. Doing actual launches with them where I write a list of blog posts and emails just to let my audience know about a specific brand and how it works for them and the benefits of working with them. So, those are my big items there.

    Vahe Arabian: And what’s your timeline and goals around getting them done?

    Jasmine Watts: The soft launch of my course is supposed to be finished by the end of this month. And funny enough, it’s about the same topic about choosing a side hustle and pursuing it, which is something I’m very excited about. It took me a long time to decide on what my course should be about, and after doing some soul-searching I realized this is my topic. I’ve been doing side hustles since, man, for as long as I can remember. I was creating and selling purses in high school. I was doing surveys in college and freelance writing, going up to do the blog posting, and doing research on real estate investing. I love everything about having another stream of income that you don’t necessarily have to work hour for hour to get. So, that’s pretty much what my course is going to be about: Doing soul-searching to figure out a side hustle that you’re passionate about and eventually turning it into something where, if you wanted to, if you wanted that option, you could do it full-time.

    Vahe Arabian: I’m sure, yeah. I wish the utmost success for it and I’m sure a lot of people would get a value out of it … from the course. I look forward to receiving your update saying that you finished the end of this month. I’ll be excited to hear from you as well. Just wanted to take a step back a bit. We didn’t speak about his earlier but I want to just delve a bit more into why you didn’t decide to pursue this full-time. 7K a month isn’t too bad. I’m assuming you can live from that and then if you have an option of working on this full-time you could potentially expand your income to be able to make it sustainable. I know you mentioned that the main thing for you was that you feel like because you aren’t at the top you’ll be limited as to what you’ll learn and grow. If we can delve into deeper why you decided to continue this as a side hustle.

    Jasmine Watts: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, there’re a few reasons. Me pursuing it was a big moment for me and I was really excited about being able to do it full-time. But something shifted after I started work on the magazine for a few months full-time. The first thing was this thing that I love so much and I’m passionate about and I make decisions based on what’s best for the growth of the magazine. My mindset kind of shifted because then I started focusing more on, “Okay, how can I make this amount of money today?”. This is my livelihood. Now I have to make sure that we’re bringing in the right amount of income. And I noticed that I got to a shift where I was making decisions based on how can we make the most income as opposed to how can we make this a great publication for the audience. And sometimes I feel like those things can work hand-in-hand together but in my case, it wasn’t. I was making decisions that I knew good and well was not the best decision for the magazine. So, that was the first part.

    Jasmine Watts: The second part was just getting good health insurance. I don’t want to be like political here but the whole scope of where we are as in America with health insurance is a scary thing especially if you’re self-employed. And I did a lot of research about benefits and different health insurance and after speaking to a few professionals in the field, again I think on… I learned that you just don’t have as many options for great health insurance being self-employed as you would working for a company. So, just getting better benefits, in general, was another reason why I wanted to pursue a full-time job.

    Vahe Arabian: What decided then to … sorry. The clients that you spoke with, are they full-time as well? Are they working a full-time job as well or are they working on their publication full-time?

    Jasmine Watts: Oh are you talking about for people who I spoke with about health insurance and stuff? So, they work full-time but they were for different industries. For example, I talked to someone who works for a company called PolicyGenius. And we had a full panel discussion about health insurance and what that meant for younger people and just as you get to different phases in your life, what health Insurance looks like. And I talked to him like, “Can you tell me if this is true or not because this is something that I’ve kind of come across. Irregardless of if I spent the top amount you could spend for health insurance as a self-employed person, it just doesn’t seem like that great of a plan compared to what I used to have when I worked for X company”. And he confirmed that that was true.

    Jasmine Watts: There’re just some health plans that don’t exist for people who are self-employed. And you can pay top dollar for it but it’s still not as good quality as far as what you get out of it and you just don’t have the option to even access those companies. The only thing I could possibly do is if I got to a point where I had enough people under me and sign up for health insurance as a company plan but even so, it’s going to be super expensive and need to be distributed amongst enough people to make it make sense for me financially.

    Vahe Arabian: Would you ever consider going back to doing this full-time? Millennia magazine, I mean.

    Jasmine Watts: Yeah, I would consider it. Definitely. And I think a lot of that’ll play on where I was and where the future of healthcare is in the US. But yeah, right now that’s a huge driving factor for me in regards to working a job on top of doing the magazine on the side.

    Vahe Arabian: I know healthcare isn’t the short-term or long-term … it’s a long-term change or something that’s gonna happen potentially but is there any other … do you have anything in the back of your mind saying that you wanna go back into it full-time doing this full-time soon or are you just happy where you are at the moment?

    Jasmine Watts: No, I am pretty happy where I am at the moment. I still like the idea of trying other projects like getting another side hustle going. So, if anything’s driving me to wanting to do a full-time, it’s the possibility of trying different ventures. I really wanna get more into real estate investing and that whole side of things. So, yeah, if it meant that I needed more time in the day so I can manage more than one hustle then I’ll consider doing more of a full-time.

    Vahe Arabian: That makes sense. As a final note, what career advice and professional advice can you provide to people like your audience and be people who wanna to do side hustle … publishing as a side hustle. What career professional advice can you provide them?

    Jasmine Watts: It’s honestly … Things have changed so much from when I first started Miss Mill seven years ago and there’s just so many resources out there. I’m taking a course called, like I said, the Elite Blog Academy, where, I mean, they tell you from the very beginning what you need to do to the point where they’re telling you how to create a course and make income from that and making a strategy. But there’s just so many resources if you are open to learning and searching for those resources, then you’re gonna go far, for sure as far as being able to start a side hustle, especially creating a blog and staying consistent with it and keeping up with it. By the end of the day just make sure you’re doing something you’re passionate about, not something you doing because you heard you can make a lot of money doing it because that’s any easy way to fail at a side hustle. But yeah, that’s my advice.

    Jasmine Watts: Take the shortcut. Don’t try to go the long way and figure everything out on your own, which is a big mistake I made initially. But in my defense, there weren’t as many resources. You know, I was searching and there were still guys like Pat Flynn and The Smart Passive Income Blog around, which I loved. That was one I followed a lot. But not a lot that were more so geared towards just creating a blog to talk about what you’re passionate about.

    Vahe Arabian: There’s an overabundance of that for sure today. There’s a lot of information that’s about deciding what’s gonna be best suited for you and what’s actually true. So how do you find that … how do you know what’s true or not like even for people who don’t have any idea about this one? How do you find the source of truth for you now in terms of your learning and growth?

    Jasmine Watts: Oh, Man, I find that truth, as far as what I’m passionate about or the truth as in what’s actually good information?

    Vahe Arabian: Good information.

    Jasmine Watts: Got it: good information. So, the way I figure it out: I’m a part of a lot of different blogger groups on Facebook and, if there’s something going on, like something big, I just check my groups out like, “All right, let’s see how legit this is because if this is really happening, if this is really a true thing then people would be talking about it”. So, that’s more so like I can learn about some news or things like that. But if I really want to know I just ask other bloggers. I say use your resources. There’re so many blogger groups out there. I just plug in and say, “Hey, what do you guys know about this thing?”. And as far as just the blogging industry, in general, everyone is so friendly and just so forth giving with information and you’ll find that you’ll start getting the same answers over and over like, “Yeah, this is what I do”, or, “This is what the real answer is”, or, “Here’s a good resource you can check out”. And if you have a pool of knowledge just like that, Man, just dive in. Dive right in and take their advice and the power of numbers, for sure. If several people are saying that this thing is true and Google says it’s true then yeah, I would start to trust that it’s good information.

    Vahe Arabian: Definitely. I’ve been hearing more about groups coming back into the scene and the importance of groups and I guess for newbies as well, is it easy for them to join? I know there are some groups, which have criteria for them to join, some sort of credibility, or stuff like that. How easy is it for newbies to join these types of groups?

    Jasmine Watts: Man, yeah, it’s just really easy. Some of them are a little bit more difficult to join but there’re so many just beginners. If you’re not sure if you will be accepted into a blogging group. I would just look for beginner blogs as a search term on Facebook to find the groups. I feel like there’re way more beginner blog groups than there are advanced blogger groups, and there’re a lot of advanced blogger groups. But yeah, I think it’s pretty easy to join. You just go ahead and knock on the door and say I would like to join and let you know if you get in or not.

    Vahe Arabian: Hopefully they’ll knock on the door, take your course and then they’re on their way to do the side hustle. So-

    Jasmine Watts: Exactly.

    Vahe Arabian: Jasmine, thanks for the time and I really appreciate your insights about how you built your side hustle. So, thank you again.

    Jasmine Watts: Yeah, no problem. Thanks for having me.

    Vahe Arabian: So, we started a new year and maybe you’re in the situation where you wanna get into publishing or you’d like to expand your skills but don’t have the opportunity to. Take this similar path to Jasmine. What’s stopping you from doing that now? What are some of your challenges and if you are doing it now and you’re succeeding how are you doing this? I look forward to hearing from you and your insights and perspectives. This is episode seven of State of Digital Publishing Podcast. Speak soon.



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