Many people dream of abandoning a hum-drum 9-5 job in favor of a career that allows them to fully explore their passions and talents. Unfortunately, practical realities always seem to get in the way. But, if we get creative and make sure we aren’t overlooking opportunities that could be right in front of us, landing our dream job or starting that new business may be closer than we think.
It is the side-hustlers among us who demonstrate that one doesn’t have to wait for circumstances to change before pursuing one’s goals. And the Internet has made it easier to start a side-hustle than ever before. For one who chooses to put in the time and the effort, the possibilities are endless!
Elana Lyn Gross, founder of Elana Lyn, has been a blogger since 2013. While she always enjoyed putting her thoughts to paper, it wasn’t until after she graduated college and entered the workforce that she discovered how to turn her “hobby” into something that could dramatically transform her personal and professional life.
Elana Lyn Gross’s story exemplifies what can be achieved by going all in on one’s passion and playing to one’s strengths. It also demonstrates how providing value to others and creating a personal brand can give one a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Tell me a little bit about how you got started and what you’re doing now.
After graduating, I became a paralegal at a law firm in New York City. Amidst stacks of briefs, blue books and binders, I realized how much I missed writing, creativity, and truly having ownership of a project. While I checked brief citations and compiled velo-bound documents, posts would go out filled with topics I was passionate about.
When I started my blog, I never imagined that anyone other than my closest friends and family would read it. I certainly never imagined that my blog might help me get hired for new jobs, but that’s exactly what happened. The founder of a women’s career development startup followed me on Twitter, and after writing about her company a few times as well volunteering for them, I was invited to join their team as the social media manager. I discovered that I enjoyed writing both short form and long form content and I started writing for them and other publications.
I currently work at mllnnl, a marketing agency that inspires millennials to co-create our world by sharing the values and organizations we believe in. I work with mostly mission-driven social good organizations that are committed to making an impact. I feel fortunate to like the work I do and my colleagues. I look forward to going to work every day. When I’m not writing at work, I’m writing articles for a few publications and posts for Elana Lyn.
Blogging seems to have landed you some amazing opportunities. What have been the most exciting things to happen as a result of your blog?
I’m excited every time I read a comment or email saying that a post or article has resonated with someone and helped her feel more confident. I’ve also had the opportunity to interview inspirational women for my Career Profile series and write articles for other publications.
Tell me a little bit about your job, your side-hustle, and how you juggle the two. What does a typical day look like in the life of Elana Lyn Gross?
I am a content strategist at mllnnl, a journalist, and the founder of Elana Lyn, a site that provides millennial women with actionable job search, career, and wellness advice.
I treat Sundays like a workday; that’s when I write almost all of my blog posts and articles. After I write them, I send the blog posts and articles to editors or schedule them to go up throughout the week. I like scheduling my content ahead of time so that I can get together with friends, go to networking events, go to a museum, and work on pitches, writing, Career Profile questions, and outreach throughout the week. I wake up between 6:30 and 7:00 am on weekdays. I make coffee and head to a gym class, meditation at MNDFL, breakfast with a friend, or a long walk in Central Park. I get some of my best ideas when I’m not at my desk. Having some “me” time in the morning makes me more focused when I get to the office.
I have a long commute from the Upper West Side to Williamsburg and I use it to catch up on the news and do my 15-minute morning routine (inspired by an article I read). The first part of the routine is to write down what you’re grateful for because studies show that it will increase your physical and mental health. The second is to write freely and generate 10 ideas. They can be ideas for your personal or professional life. My go-to morning reads are The Broadstreet, The New York Times Daily Digest, The Skimm, and Buzzfeed News. By the time I get to work, I’m informed, grateful, energized, and ready to hit the ground running. In the evening, I read a professional development book or write an article and post drafts on the notes app on my phone.
I love my full-time job, Elana Lyn, and journalism. While I love writing, the work itself can take up a lot of time. I have to regularly conceptualize and pitch ideas for articles, write articles and posts, and manage brand partnerships and relationships. When you have a side hustle with a full-time job you’re likely to work late nights, early mornings, and weekends. If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, you’ll have a much greater likelihood of success, in part because you enjoy what you do, and in part because you are willing to put in the hours. That’s where copious amounts of coffee comes in handy!
Many people start blogs, but don’t maintain them. How do you keep up the momentum and continually find new subjects to write about?
I treat Elana Lyn like a job and feel a sense of responsibility toward my readers. I want to constantly publish new content because I’ve received thousands of comments and emails saying that the posts have helped people navigate and feel more confident in an aspect of their personal or professional lives. Writing can be a solitary pursuit so connecting with readers means so much to me. Motivation doesn’t get better than that! It’s easy to come up with topics because most of my posts are based on my experiences and things I’m talking about with friends and family.
My favorite series is my Career Profile series: I share the stories and career paths of women I admire. We can learn so much from like-minded, successful, driven women! I think that the Internet has revolutionized mentorship – you no longer need to know someone personally in order to learn from her career path and experiences. I’ve learned so much from the women I’ve featured. I find new people to profile in a few ways: I cold email people, I connect to women through mutual friends, I meet people at my favorite networking group, Six Degrees Society, and sometimes I receive pitches from PR companies or from the women themselves.
You’ve been published in a number of places. How did you make that happen?
I started by becoming a contributing writer at a few publications. A lot of those publications had syndication partnerships so my writing got published in publications such as TIME, Fast Company, The Huffington Post, and Business Insider. Once I had a number of clips I was proud of, I started to pitch writing for more publications.
What tips can you share with someone who is starting a blog?
Be authentic and develop your own unique “voice.” Let your personality shine through! The posts will be more enjoyable to read and people are more likely to keep coming back because they feel like they know you. Being authentic and genuine is important in all aspects of your life. I think that you can only be happy when you are accepted for being yourself. Of course, strive to be the best possible version of yourself, but don’t try to be someone you’re not. You’ll be more successful if you embrace and celebrate what makes you, you.
Couldn’t agree more.
What’s next for Elana Lyn? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I’ve never been very good at being in the present moment. I always try to plan ahead or think about the past. I’ve been meditating and reading about meditation a lot this year and, right now, my goal is to be better at being in the present. That being said, I hope I continue to share meaningful advice, strengthen my writing, work with mission-driven brands, and pursue personal and professional growth every step of the way.