Having a side hustle can be a great thing. It can lead to you discovering new skills and abilities, starting your own business, and lead you to financial freedom.
I really enjoy finding people who have done extraordinary things in their lives. Like starting a business from the ground up, paying off massive amounts of debt in a short time, and more.
First, we had Alexandra Fasulo, who made $150,000 in just 6 months. Today’s interview is with Joel Young, a 34-year-old dad who paid off his debt, quit his job, and made his side hustle into his full-time business.
Joel started off with Fiverr and quickly found himself running his own business. He made $1 million from his side hustle and is the founder of jumpstartvideo.net.
As a pastor, Joel needed to find a voice-over actor for a project. He searched on Fiverr and paid $10 for the job and that sparked an idea in his mind. Joel was looking for a way to dig himself out of about $50,000 in debt.
In his first month he made $400 and within 18 months, he paid off all of his debt. Now he travels full-time with his family and lives in an RV!
This interview has lots of gold nuggets to share. This is just another piece of proof that anything you want in life is possible!
Tell me your story. Who are you and what do you do?
I was a pastor for about 12 years, so I found myself in South Florida. I’m from Cincinnati, Ohio. I was living with my family in South Florida at the time. We had worked at several different churches across the nation really at that point, over 10 or 12 years. It was a profession that didn’t require you to move but because of the flow of the places we were at, they were more short-term situations. So we ended up moving every 2 – 3 years.
We were at the time just really frustrated with a lot of things about Ministry. We loved the work, and are happily still involved in our church and our faith is still strong. But Ministry was not a great fit for me or my personality. I think being a self-starter entrepreneur, I was kinda being squashed by some of the limitations that I found in the church. I was not necessarily dying to get out, but looking for a way to get out of some of the things that it created. And one of them was this huge pile of debt.
We had started a couple of churches which meant really really low funding and I was working for almost nothing for most of it. I had 3 or 4 jobs while church planning often and we had accumulated close to $50,000 of debt.
So we started to look for ways to get out of that. We had to figure out a way to make an extra income and get out of this hole because we were not doing better than just getting by.
So I started thinking of ways how I could make extra money on the side and I actually hired a creative actor to do some voice work for me. After the work was over, my wife was like, “You could do better than that, that’s good but you could do that.” And I agreed, “Yes, I could but then everyone would know it was my voice and that’s not the point.” My wife kept insisting that that was something I could do really well. So I started it out.
I used to be a musician so I had all the equipment. I had a MacBook and a microphone and I just set it up and wanted to see if I could do this. I kept thinking, “If I can make enough to pay for our groceries, great.” And that was kind of the goal.
So I started selling voiceovers online with the goal of making maybe $40 – $50 bucks the first month, paying the cable bill or something. I ended up making $400 dollars the first month. It was totally mind-boggling. At the time we had no clue or expectations at all from doing this!
And it all started from there. I went from voice work to video. My clients started seeing me on camera and started asking, “Hey would you shoot a video for me?” I started saying, “No, I don’t shoot videos, I do voiceovers.” I was thinking to myself, well I don’t have a camera. And then I realized that was the dumbest answer ever. When someone says will you do something for me and are willing to pay, (as long as it’s not morally objectionable) you say, yes.
So I learned to say yes and started shooting videos. I didn’t have a camera so I just started shooting them on my iPhone. I rigged up a little corner in my bedroom with an Ikea lamp or two, got a cheap little tripod and stuck it up on there.
And the first year, when it was all said and done, I made $35,000 with that microphone and my iPhone. I started to build this little business that I never expected. Before long, I would be coming home and be working 6 to 8 hours in the evening. So I was basically working two jobs. Sometimes I would work past midnight filling orders.
And about 18 months in, we had all of our debt paid off. We paid off all $50,000 and my wife looked at me and she said, “Do you think this could ever be like a real job?” I said, “No, this could never be like a real job” because I was scared. You know the freelance life is like floating on a boat in the ocean. You have some really slow times and some are busy times. So I just thought, no I don’t ever want to go there.
Well about the time what I was earning on the side was eclipsing what I was earning in my full-time 9 to 5, we sort of looked at each other and said, “OK, let’s set up some goals here. Let’s save up an emergency fund, 3-6 month rainy day fund, once we have that, let’s revisit this being a full-time thing.” Because it was eclipsing my full-time salary. I was essentially making double what I was because I was working two jobs and it was just being more lucrative.
But it wasn’t even about the money, it was about the timing. The timing of the church was getting right, there was an opportunity that came along to hand the work over to somebody else. It’s all kind of timed out. The housing market was booming in South Florida, we had an opportunity to sell our house and make a great profit, and that filled in some of the blanks for us and we just looked at it and thought, wow we could actually, if we wanted to, we could sell our house, have our emergency fund, keep the same salary and live wherever we want.
And of course, South Florida is an extremely expensive place to live. We’re 1300 miles away from home and thought that it was the right moment. We thought what God was giving us was an opportunity to move back closer to family and to make this transition from the church and so we decided to do that.
It was totally unexpected, I did not set out to do a business or any of that. I don’t want to say I fell into it because I certainly didn’t, I walked into it and worked my way into it. I just took the opportunity that was coming to me and walked forward with it.
From there the business began to snowball. I went on from on-camera acting voice work, to teaching myself animation and that really 10xed my earning potential. Pretty much every year since we started, the business has doubled with more than 100% growth. It’s just been an incredible ride and now were doing mostly animation videos these days. I still do a lot of voice work and I’m the creative overseer of the animation. I have a team now who does most of that, so now I’m focusing on building other parts of my business.
It’s funny how when you’re an entrepreneur at heart, you never focus on one thing for too long.
What does an average day look like for you?
Well these days, I sleep until my body tells me to wake up. Now that being said, I’ve never slept past 7AM. So it normally tells me to get up before that. I like to get up early, I’m an early-riser and I think my most productive times are when I get up, to about 1 o’clock.
So that’s when I try to focus on my most creative stuff and the things that need my top attention usually get done in the morning. I’ll typical work 5 – 7 hours before lunch if I can. I do a lot of the high end work then and then spend my early afternoons with clients and customer interactions like answering emails.
Then I’ll go back and do some clean-ups on projects later in the afternoon.
But these days, I try to be done with work before dinner time but it has been really hard for me. I used to work 14 hour days and now I don’t work much more than 8 -10 hours because every night we’re doing something fun. I gotta get done with work because my family is waiting on me so we can go do something fun.
We’ve been in a new place every week, sometimes we’ve been in two new places. So we have things to explore. My boys are small, they are 4, 8 and 10. And when they go to bed, that’s a good opportunity for me to catch up on some things but I like to try to not work at the end of the day so I can spend time with my wife and kids.
What are you doing when you’re not working on your business?
If I’m not working, I’m spending time with my family. And when I’m spending time with my family, we’re going to try to experience everything that we can. We just don’t like sitting in the same place.
When we moved home to Ohio, it was back to a very rural area and we quickly got bored with it because we felt like we had experienced everything that that area had to offer. It wasn’t ever new to us and we were truthfully bored.
So we said, “We gotta go see this world before our kids get too old and this opportunity passes us by.” That was the real motivation to sell our house and moving into this RV was to just get out there and see what there is too see, because life is too short to sit around in one place and not do what you want to do.
Right now since were traveling, we’re going out and seeing things. We’re kind of a nature family. Our goal is to see every one of the 59 national parks before our oldest turns 18. We’ve hit 2 so far and 3 by the end of this month. We like to see the wide open spaces, the national parks are way up on our list. So we just generally try to find the most interesting thing we can in the area we’re in and just go out and live it.
How much does RVing cost you v.s. living in a traditional home?
That’s a really good question and we’ve been really bad at calculating it. The way we’re doing it is that we’re not trying to save and do everything as cheap as we possibly can. Thankfully because we don’t have to.
We eat in restaurants more than we need to, which we’re trying to do less of because we realize it’s just a big waster of money. But when you just boil it down to what campsites cost you, it’s pretty equivalent. We estimated that we’re spending about $1500 a month.
We are up in the North East right now, (New York, Boston, Connecticut, Maine) so it’s a little more expensive than it is when you’re in the mid-west or even out-west because in these urban areas, camping can get a little more expensive.
A pretty average price for a campsite is maybe $40 – $50 bucks a night. So if you take 30 days or a month if you’re in there, it’s about $1500 a month just for a campsite. It’s similar to our mortgage. The only difference is when you’re on the road, you tend to eat at restaurants more and you tend to have a higher gas bill.
But certain things we don’t waste money on. Like we don’t waste money on shopping because we don’t have room for it. I would say that you’re not going to save a lot of money doing it but you’re also not going to spend a ton of money either.
What’s it like living in an RV with 3 kids?
It’s not easy, but then again, it’s not easy to live in a house with 3 boys either! I think the only downfall to it is just the working situation. There are times when it’s hard for me. I don’t have a designated space for just me or have an office that I can go to and be 100% quiet.
So that’s the only time it’s really hard. But I don’t think the space bothers us. It makes it harder to go to bed because their 3 in 1 room and they goof off a lot more. I think the newness is yet to wear off of it. It’s really not that much more difficult than living in a house.
What is the entrepreneur lifestyle like for you and your business?
It’s definitely something that you have to prepare your mind for because more than anything else it’s a mental shift of not giving up.
Even for me, I mean, I’ve worked for myself for 5 years but I had an office. I was getting up and going to an office everyday. Now, I don’t do that anymore. It’s a freeing and frustrating thing at the same time. More good than bad, I’ll say that. It’s different, you gotta certainly develop the courage to make the jump and trust that you won’t disintegrate and you won’t die in the process.
I think every couple of years my business has gone through a change. I used to work 14 hours a day and now I’m close to 10 hour days. I have a couple people on my team now, I don’t do a 100% of everything myself anymore. I’m also trying to build a youtube channel that I’ve been working on.
What piece of advice do you have for someone who wants to reach the same success as you?
To me success isn’t money, success is freedom. The best piece of advice I could offer anyone is to just start something. Don’t sit around saying, “If I had this, I would do that” or “If I could do this, then I would try that.” Because everyone has something that their good at and they believe other people are also good at so they undervalue themselves.
If you look around your set of abilities and your skills, you’ll quickly see that there’s something that you’re good at that other people aren’t naturally good at and you’re undervaluing that skill or that ability just because you’re good at it.
So just start, even if it’s something simple. Whatever it is, find something that you already know how to do. Don’t go get a loan for it, don’t wish you had tools – use what you have, or what you can buy with what you have and go do something.
I have failed at many things that never saw the light of day because they never took whole. I think the biggest thing is start something, try something, even if you’re not where you want to be, just do it anyway.
Everything has a starting point, and I’m a firm believer in you can’t skip ahead. You gotta start small. You gotta work up to it and learn how to hustle because it develops this muscle in your brain and keeps you going when things are good and keeps you from getting down when things don’t go exactly how you plan them out.
It takes a while for something to take whole. You are not going to be an overnight success. Anybody you think is an overnight success, probably worked for 20 years to get there. So it’s never what you perceive it to be. It’s always a long road and just kind of starting and saying, “I am going to be successful at this” is the best way to do anything. Just try it, start it and do it and see where it takes you!
I hope this interview inspired you to work on your own dreams! What questions do you have for Joel?
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