As part of TechRound’s Side Hustle month we’ve spoken to entrepreneurs with first-hand hustle experience. Here, we chat with Sravya Attaluri, Artist, Activist & Creative Director, who shares her inspirations for starting a side hustle, what’s come of it since, and advice for others looking to make money outside of their 9-5.
How did your side hustle begin? What inspired you to start it up?
“I began teaching myself illustration on the weekends and used Instagram as a platform to track my own progress. Since I needed a subject to practice my illustrations and I have a personal passion for mental health advocacy, I chose to create a visual journal of my own mental health journey. As I consistently posted mental health illustrations that resonated with social media users, my Instagram following grew to an engaged community of 34K. At the time, I didn’t know that brands seeking illustrators would also use the same hashtags I was using to discover talent and soon my account started to grow as well as my paid requests.”
“I was under a non-compete with my corporate job so I turned down a lot of work in the beginning. I soon became unhappy in my corporate role and as my Instagram account continued to grow and the paid requests developed into some of my dream brand collaborations, I could no longer turn down these life-changing opportunities and decided to risk my day job in order to pursue them.”
How did you manage your side hustle alongside other work obligations?
“Anytime I wasn’t at my corporate job, I was working on my side hustle which might seem stressful and all-consuming to some but actually energised me because I found the work more fulfilling.”
“As I continued to fall in love with illustrating, I became unhappy at my corporate job. I was working as a senior graphic designer at one of the top digital marketing agencies in the world and the projects I was assigned to work on didn’t feel particularly motivating or important anymore. I started evaluating what I liked and didn’t like about my current position which helped me get really clear about why I wanted to leave. I was unhappy at my job but didn’t plan on leaving because it paid well and looked great on my resume but once I started getting serious requests for commissions, I knew I had an opportunity.”
“Once I did some research and realised I could potentially make a living from these projects, I prioritised developing my craft to a professional level.”
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What’s come of your side hustle since starting up?
“My side hustle has become my full-time job. In my first year of business I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with Fortune 500 companies like Facebook, ULTA Beauty, Adobe, Sanofi as an independent illustrator and founded Hello Colour – a design lab built by people of colour using brand strategy, storytelling and design to drive social impact. As the Founder and Creative Director of Hello Colour, I have directed creative campaigns for the likes of Instagram, Our Streets Now, Sesh Therapy, Plan International UK, Clear Channel. In my first year in business, I was able to bring in six figures, tripling my previous salary.”
What advice would you give to others looking to start their side hustle?
“My path to becoming a small business owner started with a passion that grew into a side hustle. I recommend finding what you’re passionate about and work on developing your craft to a professional level. Do your research, experiment, and figure out what motivates and inspires you and the business aspect will follow.”
“It’s also important to identify your motivations for starting a side hustle and defining what success looks like. Are you looking to just have fun? Supplement your income? Create your own full-time job? The amount of time, energy and money that you invest into your side hustle will entirely depend on your goals. Ultimately, if you trust your instincts and follow your own path, you will create the opportunity to start a successful side hustle.”