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Starting a side hustle meant I worked more hours, but it actually cured my burnout. I now do it full-time.

Tayla Blaire in Morocco sitting on sand dunes wearing a black puffer jacket and beanie hat.Tayla Blaire’s side hustle has allowed her to fulfill her love of travel. She went to Morocco in 2023.

Photo credit: Lauren Melnick

  • I loved many aspects of my teaching job, but there were other things that made me feel burned out.
  • When my husband was unemployed, I decided to start a side hustle freelance writing.
  • I worked more and had less free time, but it cured my burnout. Now, I do it full-time.

Teaching is one of those professions that is often referred to as a “calling,” and I was indeed called to it. I loved my students and have remained in touch with many of them. I loved seeing them connect with the literature we studied, I loved watching their skills improve, and I loved that I could play a part in shaping their futures.

What I loved less about teaching was the early mornings, the extracurriculars, the additional lessons, and the seemingly endless mountain of papers to grade. English is a subject that requires substantial feedback and editing so students can understand where they went wrong and remediate for the next time. Sometimes that meant spending 20 minutes grading a single essay. When there are a hundred students to get through, those hours add up, and there are always multiple assessments each term. It’s just the nature of the profession.

After a few years of teaching, I burned out. Sadly, it’s an all-too-common reality for teachers. The quickest way to start an argument with me was to call teaching a half-day job, when nine hours daily was standard, excluding the hours spent grading papers and helping students with extra academic support.

I started freelance writing and had less free time than ever

A few years before the pandemic, I started freelance writing as a side hustle. It arose from necessity when my husband was unemployed and struggling to find work. I’d always been a good writer, so I started learning everything I could as quickly as possible so I could make money with my writing skills. I found my first client, who referred me to my second. Soon enough, I was fully booked.

Initially, my clients were local. Soon enough, they became international. I wrote web copy, blogs, and social media captions, and expanded from there. I learned to interview and started writing for publications I’d grown up reading. And I had less time than ever before.

I went from working 9-hour days to 14-hour days, but felt less burnout

I would teach for a full day, come home, grade some papers and then set up my laptop to begin writing well into the evening. I spent my weekends writing, and during long school vacations, I took on massive writing projects. My work days became 14 hours long. The little free time I had disappeared. And, counterintuitively, I felt my sense of burnout improving.

I was working harder and longer than ever before, but I had this feeling of lightness every time I sat down to write, no matter how exhausted I was from teaching. Freelance writing is certainly not easy, but I loved it. With writing, I could work from anywhere, often asynchronously, fitting it in whenever I had a gap. I could alternate between sitting, standing, and lying down, something doctors recommended during my recovery from a slipped disc — something impossible to do as a teacher. Most importantly, though, for the first time, my family had disposable income.

I decided to quit my teaching job and write full-time

My side hustle took away my free time, but it gave me something I never realized I was missing: choice. I was able to nurture a passion and create an income from it, while still supporting my family at my day job. I could choose whether to stay in teaching or go full-time with writing. I was able to wait until the right time to make the switch.

As a full-time writer, I get asked how I made it happen. So, I decided to continue teaching, albeit in a different capacity. Now I help people start side hustles so they can also write their way out. I miss teaching high school, but I love the life I’ve created. Side hustles might compromise your free time, but they have the possibility of delivering more than you can imagine.

There are plenty of suggestions out there for curing burnout — I’d never have guessed starting a side hustle was one of them.

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