Finding a realistic job that offers flexibility to mothers is no easy task. For a while during COVID, remote work opened up new arrangements of balancing childcare with earning an income. But now, many industries are requiring a return to the office. Between the newfound independence of working from home and skyrocketing costs of childcare, moms aren’t happy about it. Furthermore inflation and economic concerns are motivating stay-at-home and working moms alike to add income streams to help support their family. As a result, many women are asking friends, family, and the internet: what’s a great side hustle for moms?
Are you a stay at home mom who wants an extra stream of income, a working mom who wants to cut the daily commute, or somewhere in between? Might we suggest a side gig you might not have considered before?
Of course, we’re The Speaker Lab, so we’re talking about speaking. It might surprise you, but speaking can be a fun, fulfilling, and financially fruitful side hustle for moms. Today we’ll dig into why that is, how you can get started, and what challenges you might face on the journey.
1. Why Speaking is a Realistic and Flexible Job for Moms.
Maybe you have always wanted to be a mom-preneur, trying your hand at different businesses you run from home. Or you have experience or education in a particular field but don’t want to work a 9-5. Or you recently had an opportunity to speak–for work, at Church, at PTA meetings, or community events–and wish you could spend more time doing it. People from all kinds of backgrounds can be incredible speakers.
Let’s knock out one common objection that might be holding you back. You don’t need a crazy story or an Olympic medal to succeed. You just need a topic, an audience, and a stage. If you can solve a problem for a particular group of people, you can be a speaker. Sure, you need to spend time spreading the word about your new initiative, creating promotional materials, reaching out to potential clients, and building your platform. But too many aspiring speakers think they need some huge come-to-Jesus moment as the fulcrum for their speaking business. Here’s a secret: most audiences actually prefer to hear talks from normal, relatable people who understand their situation and can offer reliable strategies for success. This means you have a huge capacity for impact!
Let’s dig into why the flexibility makes speaking such a good side hustle for moms. While in most families the mother is the primary caregiver, many jobs (even those marketed as mom-friendly!) don’t necessarily take into account the extra responsibilities and time commitments that entails. From chauffeuring between home, school, and doctor’s appointments, to staying home with a household laid low by the stomach-bug, to managing meals and household maintenance, the traditional American work day is a poor fit.
On the other hand, if you’re a professional speaker, you work for yourself. You don’t have any employees to manage or supervisors to deal with (until you decide to scale once your business takes off). You set your hours, you decide which engagements to take, and you choose when to take a vacation. This is very empowering! By feeling more in control of your schedule, you free yourself up to give yourself more fully to your family and other sundry duties.
But with great power comes great responsibility. The process of starting a speaking business is no joke. Fortunately, a truckload of money up front or copious free time are far less important than consistency and dedication. And whether you’re a mom of one or of seven, you’ve had a lot of practice learning those! Much of the grunt work that goes into building your speaking business can be done during short spurts of down time. You can email potential leads from a coffee shop, from your couch, during nap-times, early in the morning, and late at night. The key to using those rare pockets of free time is establishing systems so you use them well. We’ll get into some of those systems next.
2. How to Start a Speaking Business as a Mom.
We cover all the aspects of launching and growing your speaking business across our TSL resources. In this section we’ll go over eight pillars from our podcast on a day in the life of a professional speaker, adapted specifically for moms. These pillars are the essentials to structuring your day so you can accomplish your goals! We truly believe speaking is a great side hustle for moms, and want to help you every step of the way. You can always check out our coaching programs here if you need or want guidance for the next steps.
Pillar #1: Mindset. You have to treat speaking as a business from the very start. Not a hobby, and certainly not a secret!
Pillar #2: Clarify your time. Figure out early on what are the time blocks you have for working on your speaking business. Naptime, schooltime, weekends–whatever works for you!
Pillar #3: Develop a routine. Form a consistent method where you can get productive even in just a 15 minute block. That way, when you know someone will be crying for a snack soon, you can still work effectively.
Pillar #4: Create an environment that puts you in the right mindset to do work. A home office or favorite coffee shop is ideal, but not always realistic for moms. A parked car during dance practice or a pair of sound-canceling headphones at the kitchen table can do the trick too!
Pillar #5: Leverage your peak energy. Listen to your natural rhythm. If you have too much on your mind to focus at a particular time of day, don’t force it. Whether you’re a morning person, night owl, or naptime warrior,
Pillar #6: Focus on the right activities. Do the important stuff first. If you’re not exactly sure what that entails, we have some podcasts to set you on the right track here and here.
Pillar #7: Delegate. As a mom-preneur, you might be tempted to keep going it alone even once you’re overwhelmingly busy with speaking. Don’t do that. As soon as you can, reinvest your money back into your business by hiring people to take the less important items off your plate.
Pillar #8: Experiment. It might take some time before you find the right niche. While we always recommend starting with one topic and one audience and really refining your signature talk, it’s ok to pivot. Growing a speaking business requires some trial by error, so factor this into your plans!
You can find some incredible tips directed toward women speakers on our podcast with Kindra Hall, a mom who started her speaking business while busy taking care of her small child.
3. The Challenges of Speaking as a Side Hustle for Moms.
Not every aspect of being a speaker is perfectly suited to motherhood–or any state in life. It’s still a great side hustle for moms, but sometimes a challenging one! But challenging does not mean insurmountable! Here are a few challenges that might seem and how you can address them.
- Marketing. Marketing yourself, establishing your expertise, and building your personal brand might look a little different for you as a mom. All the more so if you have a gap in your resume or have pivoted careers due to family priorities. As you work on your website and other digital assets, you might be tempted to leave out the things you care about like your home and family. Or maybe you’re worried you won’t look professional if you reference your parenting in your personal story. Here’s the thing. When event planners hire speakers, they are hiring people. They want to see your kids in the bio on your website. They want to know that your favorite family hobby is rollerskating. They want to hire the speaker who ties a hilarious story about toddler life into their audience’s business needs. If it’s part of who you are, it can and should be a part of your personal brand. And being a mom is an incredible part of who you are!
- Traveling. Serious speakers who take dozens of gigs every year often end up traveling week after week. It can be incredibly exhausting, especially when you’re building your business! If you don’t want to spend that time away from your family, you can focus your business around one geographic area. On the other hand, with some clients, you can look at opportunities to travel as opportunities for your entire family. Ask if they can add a hotel room to the travel budget so your family can explore a new city while you’re speaking! Remember, it is always your prerogative to ask potential clients what accommodations are available to you as a mother. Whether that’s a pumping room, flights that align with your partner’s schedule so they can watch the kids, or even childcare at the event, advocate for yourself whenever possible. The worst that can happen? The event planner says no. Then, you can evaluate whether that engagement is worthy of your time. As we said above, experimentation is just part of the process! This podcast episode with Jane Atkinson has some tips for how to balance travel and family time, and when to sacrifice which.
- Lack of supportive relationships. Hopefully, your partner and kids want you to follow your dreams and find a side hustle that really works for your family. After all, isn’t the idea of Mom becoming a famous speaker the best thing ever? Unfortunately, the idea of speaking for a living sometimes still carries some stigma. Even with those closest to you in your corner, you might want or need support beyond your immediate family. Be honest with your family and friends about why you want to be a speaker, the impact you can make, and how you plan to make money.
The naysayers might be right about one thing–if you’re pivoting to speaking from a full-time career that supports your family, extra financial precautions are in order. Many speakers with families start by saving up a “cushion” to fund the early stage of their speaking journey. This podcast has some great tips for how to decide how much you need to save. (It’s important to note that “speaking full-time” means different things for different people. Replacing full-time income could mean $50,000 for one person or $200,000 for another…or you might want to earn just enough to pay rent, or your mortgage, or any other expense for the year. That’s why don’t give you any specific numerical goalposts in these kinds of articles–setting and hitting your metrics is entirely up to you.)
The best way to meet these challenges? Set realistic expectations. Don’t set goals that will only leave you feeling like a failure. Don’t create a fake personal brand that doesn’t align with who you really are. Decide which weekends will be reserved for family events. Block out birthdays and other special occasions months in advance so you don’t accidentally book a gig during the year-end dance recital.
Most importantly, get your family in on the fun. Your partner, children, and anyone else who lives under your roof should be on your team. Yes, even if they never attend a single one or your events and don’t understand what you speak about. Speaking is already a somewhat isolating business. Don’t make it more lonely than it has to be! Involve them with your personal brand as much as possible. If your speaking business feels like a team effort, the rewards of your impact on your audience will bring your family as much joy as they do you!
Mothers are often left out of the conversation when it comes to the professional landscape. We want to change that, at least when it comes to speaking. Chances are, the lessons you can offer an audience don’t just come from your corporate experience, but from your experience caring for tiny humans. That is part of the unique impact you can bring to the stage–and part of why speaking is such a great side hustle for moms.
If you want more inspiration for speaking as a mom, we recommend this incredible podcast episode with Alli Worthington. Alli was a stay at home mom with five kids before she jumped into a career in speaking and planning events. Every day, moms deal with raw emotions, fundamental needs, and fast-moving situations. Leaders and workers in just about every industry could use a good dose of the skills that you practice daily on the battlefield of motherhood.