How to Make Time for a Web Design Side Hustle

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Hi, I'm Chris and I'm super glad you're here. 7 years ago I taught my self-web design and freelancing. Now, I do my best to teach others what I've learned so they don't have to struggle as much as I did.

Every week, I write an article and release a podcast episode. Sign up if you want to get notified when that happens.

“How do you have time to work on a web design side hustle?”

I get that question a lot.

And, I understand where it’s coming from.

The older you get the more responsibilities pile on and the less time you have to take up new hobbies or even build skills that make you money.

But despite all of that, it’s doable.

Take my friend Thiago for example.

He built a web design side hustle as a father and husband while working full-time AND going to school for 2 masters degrees and a PHD.

How He Made Time for a Web Design Side Hustle

Thiago was able to make time for a web design side hustle despite being so busy because he learned techniques that allowed him to finish a website in half the time it would take most people.

What were those techniques?

  1. Learning how to use the right tools
  2. Being hyper focused while you’re working
  3. Having a solid idea of what the client wants before you even start working

Those 3 things might seem simple BUT they take a lot of time to dial in and create an environment where you’re able to punch out websites even before a client’s deadline hits.

Thankfully, Thiago is sharing all that he’s learned with the Self-Made Web Designer podcast in this 2 part series.

The first episode focuses mainly on how to make time for a web design side hustle even if you’re super busy. I know you’re going to love it.

You’ll Learn

  • How to start a web design side hustle even when your super busy
  • How to have a healthy marriage while you’re busy with a side hustle
  • How to stay focused when you have ADD
  • How to stay efficient with your time to get web design projects done quickly
  • How to find your strengths as a web designer
  • How to communicate your strengths to clients and differentiate yourself from other freelancers
  • How to figure out what your client really wants before you start a project


Chris: [00:00:00] I don't know about you, but I don't really know anybody that would say, Hey, Chris, you know what? I've just got away too much time in my day. In fact, most of my days are spent me just twiddling my thumbs, looking for something else to do. No, in fact, almost everybody I know would say the exact opposite.

They would say, I don't even have time for the essential stuff. Let alone things like hobbies or. Hanging out with friends or catching up on sitcoms. So then the question becomes, if you're already busy, if you're already pushed to the max, how do you fit in something else? Like a web design side hustle.

And that is exactly. What we're talking about with this week's guests who wasn't just a dad, he wasn't just a hug. He wasn't just a full-time teacher. He was actually a student going to get, not just one but two master's degrees and then on to get a PhD. And while he was doing all of that, he was building a successful web design side hustle, and he's sharing how he did it with us this week.

Hey everybody. Welcome. To another episode of the self-made web designer podcast. My name is Chris and it's so good to have you here with us yet again, every week is like just a great big family reunion. Only. These are the kind of family reunions that you actually like. To be a part of. So I'm glad that you're here.

Consider this your weekly digital online hug from your friend, Chris. This week's guest is the one and only Thiago Olivera. And I say his name that way because he spent a lot of time trying to teach me how to pronounce it correctly. And yet I'm still pretty sure that I'm not pronouncing it correctly. So, sorry, Thiago.

Thiago was actually my roommate in college. And when I was first getting started, he was one of the first persons that I reached out to for advice on how to build a web design side hustle, because he himself had gone before me and figured out. How to do it. There is so much goodness packed into this conversation that I couldn't fit it into just one episode.

So this week is about how to build a successful web design side hustle. Even if you have. A busy schedule. Thiago's sharing with us a whole bunch of his tips and tricks, and I know that you're going to love them. But before we dive in, I want to tell you about a free course at self-made web called the web designer starter kit course. This is a four video course that I map out the exact blueprint that I took to build a successful web design side hustle going from knowing absolutely nothing to doubling my income and only 18 months by building a web design side hustle. I was able to get out of debt and to thrive financially.

And I know that you can too. So go to self-made web Sign up for the web designer starter kit course, skip all that learning curve business and go straight to the results. All right. Are you ready for the one and only mr. Thiago only day though. Okay, here we go.

Thiago Olivera. So good to finally have you on the self-made web designer podcast, what took you so long?

Thiago: [00:03:36] Well, what number is this what's the, what episode is this?

Chris: [00:03:40] Oh, it's like episode 35 ish or so

Thiago: [00:03:45] 35. Can I just stop this podcast right now? Okay. And just reference that it was big daddy over here who taught you everything you know about web design. So why don't you sit over here on my lap because you've waited 36.

36 episodes to have me on when I should have been. Numero UNO, right? I believe it's 35

Chris: [00:04:10] And that is maybe slightly an over-exaggeration, but I'll let it pass because of the amazing hat that you're wearing episode, you definitely take the cake for the best hats. All I've had is. Snap back and you have a feather.

So I do have, for everybody listening, who has not gone over to YouTube, I want to encourage you, especially to do that on this episode to take a peek at Thiago's hat and all of its glory, but I do owe I do owe a lot of where I am now and what I do as a web designer to you, you paved the way for me. You, you were doing this for years before I did.

And then when I was getting started, you were the guy I called, or one of the guys that I called when I, when I had questions. So, so, so thank you for all of that, but, uh, uh, in all seriousness, talk a little bit about your journey, um, what you do now, how you got started in web design and what that looks like.

Thiago: [00:05:11] So I am, you know, obviously I was, I was born. If you, if you can hear my accent there. Um, I am from Brazil. I was born, I was a missionary kid. Uh, I was born in Sao Paolo Brazil. And, uh, we just lived all over the place every three years, we would move from country to country, but my parents were medical missionaries.

And then we came to the, uh, the land of opportunity here in America. Uh, and, um, and then we, we joined this. Well, we like to call the Harvard of, of, of, of Dallas, Dallas Baptist university.

Chris: [00:05:48] I've never heard it called that, but I'm going to start telling people I graduated from from the Harvard of Dallas.

Thiago: [00:05:55] It is highly competitive. And where I met.

You know, um, the talented, uh, Chris, Misterek, and, uh, yeah, so it was, uh, you know, I began, I became a school teacher right out of DBU, uh, and then continue on getting my masters in counseling and then got another master's just because I don't know why. And then I got a doctorate, which I still don't know why I did that.

And, uh, in educational psychology, I've been in education for for 16 years actually today, you know, this, this, this year is my 16th year and this whole time, you know, especially when we got, we got, um, married with, with Ryan, my wife and we were both educators. She was a teacher, I was a teacher and we were living our best life.
Like we didn't have mortgage, we didn't have kids. And we weren't, we didn't have savings either, but, you know, we have plenty of money to just play around and buy stuff and enjoy being young and married. And then we had lovely Henry, mr. Henry James, and we had the brilliant idea of buying our first home.

And so now we had a mortgage and we had. Henry then a big event happened, uh, my wife, uh, kind of the, having Henry onset, her Crohn's disease and her arthritis. And so she really wasn't, she wasn't enjoying teaching at all. And so I just remember us having this conversation about, you know, she was going to quit teaching and then she wouldn't into a.

Just raised Henry, you know? And so we went from, well, having plenty of money to now, half her salary totally gone. And so to no money, really. And so I remember just sitting with her and just praying and I'd be like, how are we going to make up whatever 40, 50 grand a year that, that has gone, just gone and, and a DBU.

I, uh, my major was, uh, very, very competitive. Communications major. Okay. So difficult. And, uh, it was basically the major that everybody takes that, you know, just wants to enjoy four years of high school

Chris: [00:08:19] Non-commital it's the non-committal major.

Thiago: [00:08:22] The noncommittal major. Uh, so taking classes like child development and nonverbal communication and, you know, all those wonderful classes, but one of them was web design and graphic design that I took.

And I really, really enjoyed it and always had an affinity to. Um, to, to make things look prettier, you know? And, and so then it just the opportunity kind of presented itself. Right, right. As we're having this conversation about what are we going to do to make money? And it was, maybe let's start investigating on web design and this was what, 10 years ago or so.

And that's what it all began. I started exploring my first website was obviously free. Many of ours that are starting out, a lot of them are just begging, right. You're like, please I'll do it for free.

I'll do it for free.

And so yes, that's how it all began. We just, I just started, I think my first website that somebody actually had.
The courage to pay for. Uh, it was 500 bucks. I thought that was a huge, huge deal. I remember the first check that I got for 500 bucks. Well, of course you wanted to do invited in two payments, two 50 at the beginning, and two gift here at the end, just in case this fool doesn't deliver. Yeah. You know, uh, but it was, it was, it was, it was my first West.

Yeah. Let's about 10 years ago. And, and that's how my little journey. Started in, in, in, uh, in the web web sphere.

Chris: [00:09:50] I mean, it's impressive that you've, you've done so many things like you've gotten, like you said, multiple masters and, and gone on to have a doctorate, but how you're able to like, navigate all of that.

Like, like you were. Going to school. Part-time you had, you had a side hustle, you had a full-time job, which an education, you know, like that's not, that's not something like you just walk through the door and all of, you know, the, the worries of the day, just kind of brush off your shoulders. You kind of carry that with you.

And you had a family, you had a growing family at all these responsibilities. So how, how were you able to balance. All of that stuff. And yet still able to grow your web design business.

Thiago: [00:10:33] So it takes well, it takes a lot of communication, you know, obviously, uh, Ryan and I, uh, she, she knew that there are seasons.

There's going to be seasons where we're just going to be swamped, right. Uh, big projects and. You know, especially in the beginning, as you're trying to grow this little tiny business, there's a little side hustle, you know, uh, there were, there were nights that, yeah, it goes into, into midnight 1:00 AM just trying to get things done.

Now, one thing about me, you know, I see a lot of your podcasts stars. I wouldn't consider myself one. I mean, a lot of them are just very successful and if I can speak at all for, for the people that are listening, I'm just kind of a, just the, uh, a generic, you know, just middle-class man, low middle class, you know, I'm not incredibly talented or incredibly smart.

It just an opportunity presented itself. And. No, I have anxiety. I certainly, you know, there was times that I doubted myself about whether or not I can deliver a particular project and there may be some fears there, but I think the only thing that I can, that that happened for us is I just put myself out there and, and learned is, is that as the process was going on, a lot of learning.

As you're doing it, uh, maybe faking it until you make it kind of philosophy for me. Uh, and so for us, it was just, yeah, there were times where I'd be like, honey, this is going to be a long night for me, or this is going to be a long weekend. Uh, and we just have to make some sacrifices. There are times you just have to say no to social stuff or miss out on some things just so you can deliver the project.

Then for me also, You, I struggled with, with add all my life, you know, and, and what I've learned as a professional is that for me to be able to focus on a project or anything that I'm doing professionally, I have had to be very organized because if I'm not organized and if I don't have great time, like if I'm not efficient with my time, Then everything just kind of falls apart for me and I, and I'm not able to finish what I start, you know?

And so I have learned throughout my years of career and I'm 38, that to be very, very efficient with my time and do things probably quicker than the average person, you know, I just have to, because of my kind of high level of distractability I, um, my energy. With a lot of us is I just want to get things started.

I have all the energy to get things started and maybe lack of some energy in the betweens and then finishing the project, you know? And so for me, I just had to learn to stay, just do it as quickly as I can and do it with quality. As well, try to find that balance. Um, so certainly a challenge for us.

Chris: [00:13:38] Well, and I know, you know, like, especially, I mean, I mean, even today, like definitely when I was first getting started, the amount of time it took you to build something was a fraction of the time that it would take me to build something.

And even now you're like, Hey, I got this. We, you know, cause we, we collaborate on certain projects and, um, You know, you're like, Hey, I got this thing done. And I'm like, I gave it to you two days ago. You know, it would have taken me like a month to do so. So talk a little bit about the process that you learned.

To become more efficient and more productive when it comes to, you know, taking care of your time. But also when it comes to just building the websites,

Thiago: [00:14:18] Certainly you and I can agree that we all have strengths. Chris is incredibly talented, always been, he was that one kid in college where we're like, Oh, you had this long hair.

We called him. We called him sunshine, you know, from the movie. And, uh, you know, he's a little guitar and he just always talons it. Um, so you have these strengths that, that you, you just love to produce quality, whatever it was, whether it was a recording or a song you wrote. Or, or some graphic. And so that, that is something that you've always brought to the table.

Whenever we are in projects. Just the quality of work for you is, is top class for me on the other side, uh, I am, I I'm just efficient. Uh, it just kind of comes natural to me, mainly, like I said, based on. Um, and just struggled to, to stay attentive in my high level of distractability that I've, you know, just, I was born with this, you know, ADHD.

Right. And so, um, and so for me, it was more of, um, Oh, how do I get to be professional in my everyday life?

And so in my mind, I had to meet up, make a volitional decision, a conscious decision of I have to get it done while it was still in my conscience. It's like, well, I'm still in front of me. I got to get it done.

And, and so I just develop that over time of, of when it's in front of me, just get it done as best as I can with you. You challenged me. And I think we challenge each other, right? You just had to make a decision. You got 60 variations of a logo or whatever. Just make a decision, you know, For me, I have to be like, you challenged me to be like, yeah, you already make a quick decision, but is that the best decision, right?

Is that the most quality you can, maybe you should spend a little bit more time on it instead of just you're done with it because you're done with it. So it's, it's I think with both stretches each other throughout this process too, to, you know, for you to, to be, you know, just make a decision and move on.

And for me, maybe, maybe just. Think about it a little bit more, spend a little bit more time, make a little bit more detail and quality.

Chris: [00:16:31] Well, I think it's really interesting though, because it highlights the fact that there's not one cookie cutter template for a successful web designer. You know, like, like everybody has their own strengths.

Everybody has their own weaknesses. And you know, like we, we are both successful web designers, side hustle, web designers, you know? And then I went on to have a full-time job in web design, but you know, still do freelance side hustle stuff on, on the side as well, you know, but it's not like I'm more successful than you in that, you know, like we both get.

You know, really big projects that sometimes we do together. Like we're both charging the same amount, uh, to clients. And so, you know, it's, it's not like, I think it's encouraging. I think it's encouraging to people listening. Like you don't have to be one type of way in order to be good. You don't have to be like super creative.

You don't have to be like super high quality level. Like, like you find what it is that your strength is. And. And, and you focus on that and that's, and that's what you deliver. So talk, talk about, talk about that with, with clients that you've had, how do you, how do you communicate that strength? How do you differentiate yourself from other people?

Like, like say somebody who would maybe would deliver a higher product, but it would take them double the amount of time, like how do you still win those?

Thiago: [00:17:55] Yeah. And I think that's because that has become, it has become my strength that I can deliver. Not just on time, but, uh, you know, I can beat the deadline.

Uh, and so that is usually my, my, my pitch with, with, with clients is just, you're going to find that you're going to email me, um, whatever revision and I will get it done. I hate wasting people's time. Okay. And so for me, and I hate wasting my own time. And so my time is valuable. It's become more valuable, right?

For all of us. Once you have valuable humans around you, you know, like your kids and your wife. And so to me, when I come home, you know, that time is valuable to me because I'm spending time with my wife and my kids. And then I have valuable time now that. That I, uh, that I have set up and at night or whatever in the weekends to do website.

And so you don't have a lot of time, like you do in a full-time job. We have all the time in the world to be creative and brainstorm you. Don't people like us. We're, that's our hustle we're side hustle. So we are, we have to manage our time wisely and be efficient as best as we can is to be efficient. I think that is.

The key, how can I be efficient with my side hustle? So it doesn't become two full-time jobs. Nobody wants to have two full-time jobs. That's incredibly stressful. Nobody wants to work 80 hours a week. So cause you still have to function, you know? Um, and so. For for, for me, it has just been that, um, you know, and I think also the tools to today's tools to, to create a website are evolving, right?

I mean, it's a lot easier, you know, every everything out there, you don't have to know how to code, to make a website, which is. Partly true back in the day, you didn't have millions of templates available that somebody had created. Um, and so there the tools available through the war press, which is basically what I w what we do is WordPress a hundred percent.

It it's, it's a lot easier. And so, yeah, when I pitched to clients it's, um, you are, you will find someone who, who will answer quickly, who is responsive to your needs and to your requests, uh, and will deliver the project brief, you know, quicker than, than, than we are. Then we are setting her deadlines to be, and I think clients really appreciate.

The respect I have for them in their time, because they are there. They're busy, you know, usually these are either start-ups or the redoing something or established small business or whatever, and they don't have a lot of time to, to be revising websites. They know nothing about it. Their website is incredibly ugly and you know, they don't have a sense of design or style.

So they're relying on me to provide that. For them, um, and also deliver it in a reasonable time. And so that's, I think that is how I've made my, my side house. So our living out of it and, and to the point now where, yeah, I mean, it's, it's not only match my wife's salary that she, she did as a teacher. It surpasses and some years, depending on the year, um, And I have been able to give that blessing to my family, allowed my wife to stay home.

Right. And, and raise our kids and, and not do it on a, in a 40 hour capacity, you know, uh, do it in much less at times than a part-time job. And so. It's been a win-win situation for us.

Chris: [00:21:31] So let's, let's get down to, I like the practical nitty-gritty tools for getting, getting a website done quickly. Like I know, I know you've mentioned templates.

Um, I know you've mentioned like different processes that you have. So talk, talk about your workflow, talk about your systems that you use to make sure that you get projects done before the deadline.

Thiago: [00:21:56] I hate creating something from that that has already been created. Um, so I love editing and, and customizing something that that is a template.

So. At first, when a client wants say, um, you know, a website for, for, uh, for a doctor's office. Right. Um, and so the first thing I do once I accept the project and we begin is I like to ask clients, um, Kinda their, their idea, their, their design idea of what, what websites out there that you love. You absolutely love position websites that when you look at it, you're like, wow, it's amazing.

They'll send me three or four. And that way I can kind of have a framework of, of what, um, what, what type of, of website I'm going to create that. Is is, is a good design, but it also is a design that they will appreciate and they will think it's is, is, uh, is beautiful or presentable and functional and so forth because hasn't, this happened to you sometimes where you create a beautiful website for them.

And then they're like, yeah, it's great. And then they'll destroy it, right. Uh, can you just like change the whole website to like blue or something, you know? Um, and so of course at the end of the day, it's that great balance of, of trying to do something that, that we believe is, is, is a, is a gorgeous website, but also something that they believe is as beautiful as well.

So for. That is a very important piece for me because I find myself once again, with the time management, designing something, without understanding who they are and wasting my time when I probably shouldn't spend a little bit more time understanding who they are and what they think is is, is good, you know?

And so, uh, so. Once they give me that, then I start looking at some templates, premium, premium templates. I use theme forest for that. And in Bato, uh, and I, I purchased, um, a template that I believe would be comparable to what they're looking for. And then I just customize it to their needs. And whether that means purchasing a theme, purchasing plugins, uh, premium plugins.

And then just uploading their content and reformatting it to, to the theme

Chris: [00:24:25] That was really important for me what you just said, um, at the very beginning, because, and I know you helped me out a ton with that. Like I found that I, a lot of times had a hard time designing for the clients and of course, like you're building this thing for the client, but a lot of times I'd sit down, I'd be building this website.

According to what I liked, according to what I thought looked cool, you know, and then I'd show it to them and I'm like, isn't this so amazing. And they're like, you know, I need you to try again. And, uh, and so that, that level of, of empathy in, and really like, like getting on their level to the point of like, I'm like, you're not saying this in a way, that's understandable, but you're like, I understand what you're trying to communicate, you know?

And, and it's a skill, it's a skill that, that takes time. You know, it's like being a communication major and, you know, having a master's in counseling and everything else that you have a master's in like, like understanding people takes, it takes a lot of, a lot of work. So how do you do that? How do you really cut to the core of what a client is looking for and what they're going to be happy with?

Thiago: [00:25:39] So I feel like we, we have, we, we have different strengths with this as well. Cause I've noticed how you, you are much more upfront with clients and suggesting, okay. That is. Not pretty. That's how ugly. Okay. Thank you for showing me. And I believe website, I'm going to tell you what's pretty, you know, and so you, you, you, you have, you know, you've always had, you know, these, I mean, you have much more creative mind.

And so you're able to pursue that on my end. You know, I'm a lot, you know, I think it's interesting. I think I've never thought about that, but empathy. Right. Uh, which is probably the one thing that makes you a counselor in my job is empathy is a skill of empathy. And, and to understand. What other people, you know, putting yourself in other people's shoes.

Uh, but yes, in the web designing, you know, w w when you're with the clients, having empathy is essential, isn't it? I mean, just trying to understand what they think is appropriate. What they think is, is functional. What they think is, is, is worth the money that they're paying you for, you know, uh, Because it's not like they're showing, it's not like you're building a home necessarily what you have, all these things that they, like.

I like this tile and I want this color of the wall. Um, so some of those things are subjective, right? And you're putting yourself and your creativity in, into their, to their website. So I think what you have challenged me is to just be a little bit more. Uh, upfront with my opinions, because at the end of the day, their, their opinions about the create the creative vision, uh, and almost challenging them just to just lightly to push the, push them to just to the edge a little bit.

Right. Like, you know, um, so that you can also be proud of that work and potentially, uh, promote the website is there's websites. We have done bro, where it's like, I am not. Gonna put that anywhere. No,

Chris: [00:27:46] Not having it

Thiago: [00:27:49] started really well, and it was wonderful. And then they just destroyed it and I'm like, I'm done.
I'm not even putting my name in the footer.

Chris: [00:27:59] Well, you've probably guessed from our conversation that Thiago and I have a lot of fun together and I hope you had fun with us as well. And I hope that you learned a lot from the incredible insight that Thiago has to offer. I used all of his insight to build a successful web design side hustle.

And I know that you can take his insight and do the same thing. He's coming back next week for another fun episode. And in this episode, he's going to be talking about all things pricing for web design side hustlers.

So you do not want to miss it. Can't wait to see you in next week. I can't wait for us to hang out and give each other digital hugs again. But until that gracious time on Wednesday morning at 12:00 AM don't forget if you don't quit, you.

man standing in front of a blurred train to represent how to make time for a web design side hustle despite having a busy schedule


Hi, I'm Chris and I'm super glad you're here. 7 years ago I taught my self-web design and freelancing. Now, I do my best to teach others what I've learned so they don't have to struggle as much as I did.

Every week, I write an article and release a podcast episode. Sign up if you want to get notified when that happens.



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