Starting a Design Side Hustle – An interview with Scotty Russell

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If you want to start your own design business the recommended approach for most is to start it as a side hustle whilst your 9-5 job brings in the money. But how do you make time around a full time job? and how do you reach your goals?

In this weeks episode Ian speaks to Scotty Russell, the founder of Perspective Collective, a business he built and run on the side of a full time job. We discover how he built his own personal brand, how he makes time with a family, goal setting and more.

Through Perspective Collective Scotty helps creatives find their gift, establish a side hustle and win the battle against their inner critic with a podcast, community and coaching.

Freshbooks: Accounting that makes you look good.

Books & Resources Mentioned




Scotty Russell Interview Transcription


Ian Paget: I’ve been following you a while now, and recently found out that Perspective Collective was a side venture for you, although I now know that your situation just changed. What have you been doing full-time until now?


Scotty Russell: For the past five years, I’ve been working at a large corporation. I jumped into a web design role because I saw a need of it. Recently I’ve been a senior web designer, focusing in UI/UX world, for the day job, as well as I was the go-to guy for illustrations and any kind of branding logo design. It’s like the stuff that you’re passionate about and geek out over is the stuff I still do, too. I just don’t show it as much.

Recently, there was widespread budget cut, and our whole marketing department was eliminated. That put me in a weird situation, but as we work through it and I’m speaking to the future in just two weeks into it right now, which would be a month into it, it’s been pretty much the biggest blessing in disguise. Starting the new year, when I’m through my severance package, I’m going to be going full-time me.


Ian Paget: Yeah. That’s awesome. You know what? I think you’re so lucky because you have been building this whole platform on the side, that you’re in this wonderful situation where … I mean, no one likes to lose their job. That’s the worse thing that could possibly happen, but you had this security blanket because you’ve been spending time on the side of a full-time job building up your own brand, and you got it to the point where, I assume, that you have clients established already?


Scotty Russell: Nothing …


Ian Paget: Well, you built up a brand and-


Scotty Russell: Exactly.


Ian Paget: You’re in the fortunate position where you can jump onto that and start building that, rather than looking for a job on the side of looking for another job.


Scotty Russell: Yeah. It’s fortunate when I started there five years ago is the exact same time I started Perspective Collective. It’s because of things like coaching and the podcast that are really giving me the ground-way to spread my wings and take this leap, I guess. Then I stopped doing freelance for the past year because I’m like, “I don’t need to do it. I got this all building”, but now I feel like I can do 50/50 coaching and 50/50 freelance, for sure. I feel like I’m at a good point now.


Ian Paget: Yeah. I’m really curious then. You had your day job, and you started to build up your own side venture. What’s the reason why you made up your mind to start your side venture?


Scotty Russell: I guess I’ve always kind of had that little side itch. When I was in college, I was doing logos and tattoo designs for people for $50 a pop. From connecting the dots, it went back … Actually, it went back to first grade. I was drawing Pokemon and Disney characters for people for a buck a piece for a drawing that they would take home. I guess I’ve kind of always had that side-hustling nature.

Then, right out of college, I started a T-shirt business with my buddy. We did it for four years, Daydreaming Clothing. It didn’t go to wear we wanted it to go, just through some issues between me and him that we’re since worked out, but a lot of those things led me to where I am today. If something didn’t apply that I created for the T-shirt brand, then I used it for my personal account.

That’s when I started posting on Instagram pretty religiously. I’m like, “You know what? I need a name to put this under.” Scotty Russell designs just sounded weird, and I went the more abstract route of Perspective Collective because, one, if you didn’t like my work, you didn’t need to know who I was. I could hide behind that curtain. Two, just something about the word perspective … I’ve had a pretty up and down rollercoaster life, and something about perspective has always come around, especially perspective, right now, in getting through what could be the biggest adversity and turning it into the biggest, best thing that’s ever happened to me. It’s all about perspective in life, and that was big meaning to my name.


Ian Paget: Creating that name for yourself, was that literally the first name that you came up with and it just happened to be free?


Scotty Russell: No, it’s been three months just writing down all types of words, everything I could think of and it just kept coming back down to perspective and collective. I thought this could be a collective of maybe perspective-based drawing, because I like drawing in perspective a lot, too, and it had that double entendre meaning. Finally, I just picked it. I rolled with it. I didn’t even like it for the first couple months. Now, it’s like that’s just become part of me. Now it is what it is and I love it.


Ian Paget: Yeah. I know when I came up with Logo Geek originally, it took so long to find that name. It turned out, just because of the domain was free and, like you, I wasn’t sure about it for some time. But I think if you persist with something and you continuously use it, it just becomes part of your identity and it works. It’s good to know that you took a similar path.


Scotty Russell: I would have to say, here’s a quick tip. Perspective Collective is super, super long, so I had to use condensed type faces and fonts to make it work. If you’re out there and you’re looking for a way to name your business or your side hustle or just your Instagram handle, try and pick something a little bit shorter. It’s a lot easier to work. Logo Geek, that flows. That’s easy. That’s memorable. You can get that on pretty much any handle. Perspective Collective, it’s not so easy.


Ian Paget: It’s a mouthful, but I remember it. That’s how I know you. When I looked up Scotty Russell when I first found out about you from Dianne Gibbs, I’ve not forgotten that. You must be doing something right.


Scotty Russell: That makes me feel a little better, man.


Ian Paget: I know that you’re really into hand lettering. I’ve seen a lot of your logo design work and hand lettering work. You’re sharing a lot of that work on social media. Your work is incredible. I really love the stuff that you’re putting out. What was it that got you into that as a skill?


Scotty Russell: Let’s see. If we were to go back, again, connecting the dots … It’s all about connecting the dots. One of the things I used to do as a kid that you still like, that still interest you as an adult today … For me, I was that kid who was drawing that cool Stüssy S-looking thing. I would always draw my name on my book covers or other people’s names.

Then around 2013, early 2014, is when I really started getting serious on Instagram and I started seeing this hand lettering craze. I’m like, “Wow. This is stuff I’m already doing.” I was doing custom logos for my T-shirt brand or for friends, or custom lettering for tattoos. I’m like, “This is actually a thing?” I saw people were making money from it. Like, “Well, this something I want to do.”

At the beginning, I was just drawing as before, not really going through the typographical parts of it, the anatomy and things and learning it truly, but just throwing it out there and covering up my lack of knowledge with lots of details to hide the blemishes. Finally, I’m like, “Okay. I’m starting to get some attention, growing an audience. People want to hire me for it. It’s time to take it a little bit more seriously and take myself more seriously.” That’s when I was like, “Okay, I need the Doyald Youngs of the world. I need to start taking workshops, because the people I was surrounding myself with at these conferences, they were like the big-time. They knew what they were doing. They could spot out error. They spoke in other terms of poles, apertures, crossbars, ears, tittles, all that stuff. I’m like, “Okay, it’s time to step my game up.”

That’s where things really, really took off, and especially when I started mixing in my first love of illustrations in with the mix. That really helps me, I think stand out a little bit more. Because anyone’s a letterer, but how many people really thrive with mixing their illustrations with lettering?


Ian Paget: What was it that you did to help you get to that next level, to up your game?


Scotty Russell: Number one, it was realising that I was stuck in a bubble in my state of Iowa. Nobody around me was doing anything remotely similar to what I was doing. I saw this community on Instagram and I’m like, “I want to be a part. I want to find people.” I was going to a conference. Creative South was my first conference, and that’s where I met my people, letterers, typographers, designers. Then I attached myself to them, to be completely honest.

I just became other people’s shadows, asking questions and seeking out resources, and finding online workshops, or taking workshops at conferences, or courses, or anything like that. Then the books that helped me out the most, that I just packed up recently, that we’re moving our home in a couple days, but it was anything from Doyald Young. They’re expensive. Pretty much, you’re going to have to buy them used off Amazon, but he breaks down everything.

If you want to geek out, nerd out, over some typographic structures and learn the ins and outs of letters … You got to know the rules so you can break them. And I was just breaking rules without knowing them. But once you know the rules, then you can break them, and that’s where you can really develop your own style, your embellishments from there. Conferences, find community, seeking out courses, workshops, and then books, and then just deliberate practice, tons of practice …


Ian Paget: Yeah. Those books you mentioned, I totally agree they’re incredible. I know they are expensive. I actually imported mine brand new from the States. It was cheaper to buy in the States and have it shipped over to the UK, when I bought them. They are really thick hardback books, and it’s just pure gold. Doyald was a pure genius when it came to lettering. It’s sad that he’s still not around today, but the work he was doing is just phenomenal, and you can learn so much from those books. For me, that was one of the best investments I’ve made. It’s one of my favourite books, so I’m glad that you mentioned that.

Also, with hang lettering and logo design, as well, it really is one of those crafts where you need to put the time in and keep working and keep practicing. It’s good to know that you did the groundwork to understand the things that you were doing wrong, but then continuing to practice. Here today, your work is … It really stands out. It is fantastic work and I think all of that effort, that time, really paid off.


Scotty Russell: I appreciate you saying that, and it’s so hard. I’m sure a lot of your listeners get it, too, getting wrapped up in comparison about what other people are doing for their work. That’s something I deal with all the time, because you throw out some compliments and I’m like, “Well, have you seen this person’s work? I want to be on their level.” There’s a fine line of, “Yeah, you’re good.” I’m getting better. I can see the growth, and the growth is what fuels me and drives me, and I’m sure it is with you, as well as whoever’s listening.

Looking back a year from now, you can see that growth of putting a picture side-by-side of this piece you created two years ago and now you recreated it, and you’re just like, “Wow.” The growth is there, but it’s not comparing yourself to other people. That’s big for me. And realising there’s always a next level you can take it … I haven’t mastered anything yet. There’s a lot of room for growth. That’s exciting at the same time.


Ian Paget: Yeah, but I also think … I know you say it’s wrong to compare yourself with others, but I do think it’s healthy to think that there’s still room to grow. Because, I think if you was to get to a point where you felt that your work was just incredible and you didn’t have that drive to continually develop your skills and improve them and push forward, if you didn’t have that drive, you wouldn’t be where you are today. I think it’s natural as graphic designers to be this way. Even though, from a mental health perspective, it is unhealthy to be comparing what you do, but I think having benchmark work and pushing yourself to get your level of work to that level, that it’s a good thing.


Scotty Russell: I completely agree. Comparison from a standpoint of setting a benchmark and using it as fuel, that’s great. That’s a good kind of comparison. But it’s when comparison paralyses you from even doing the work or showing up, that’s the bad negative side that I’ve had to work on. Yeah, if you can use people’s work as fuel, then that’s a good healthy way of doing it. You know?


Ian Paget: Yeah.


Scotty Russell: But then, as long as you’re competing against yourself and not seeing the world as competition …


Ian Paget: Oh, yeah. Absolutely.

Now, I wanted to ask you about your own business, Perspective Collective. We’ve already briefly spoken about how you created your name, but you’ve obviously built a brand around that now. You have a community. You have your own podcasts. You got work under that umbrella, as well. I know you mentioned that you haven’t been doing that for some time because you haven’t needed to, but it’s cool to see that you built your own brand, in your own time, around a full-time job. I’m curious. Once you created that name, how did you go about creating that brand for yourself?


Scotty Russell: It’s been all by accident. I still don’t know what I’m doing. I stumbled into everything. Totally stumbled into all of it, but I’m a big believer in when you see the signs of life or signposts, omens, or anything coming to your way, it’s like you got to … One, you got to be able to be receptive and notice things. Two, you got to start doing more of what works, to put yourself in a position to continue to attract more opportunities. For me, again, it all started with Instagram. I wanted to just have a name I could house drawings under, again, because Scotty Russell Designs just didn’t have that memorable factor like you were talking about earlier.

From there, catching features here and there, that’s what started the freelance. People wanted to hire me for my work. I was getting more than just $50 a pop for certain things. That led to me … I’m more than just a polished drawing on Instagram. I have something to say. I’m not a writer. I still don’t consider myself a writer, but I’ve been writing a blog or doing some kind of outline or a podcast, or writing a speech or an Instagram caption, weekly, for four years now. I guess I am a writer, but it turned into blogging.

Blogging is what got me linked up with Dianne Gibbs. She heard me mention to the universe that I wanted to be a public speaker. A year into blogging, she gave me my first speaking opportunity, which led to me speaking at Creative South a couple weeks after that. Drawing on Instagram turned to freelancing, which turned to blogging, which turned into public speaking. The talk at Creative South went really, really, really well. I almost said no to all of it, because it scared me so much.

Everybody’s like, “You should have a podcast. You should have a podcast.” I’m like, “You know what? Damn, I’m going to do a podcast.” Then four months of being too afraid to pursue that … Finally, I put it out in August 2016, and I became a podcaster. From there, I’ve taught workshops because someone asked me. Then I started doing coaching because I have a coaching background from sports in college.

Now, I’ve morphed into a creative coach this year. It’s like each little step, I don’t know what’s coming next but, clearly, doing my thing full-time between coaching and freelancing, that’s the next step for me. The beginning of this year, I would have never saw myself coaching and I would have never saw myself going into 2020 doing my thing full-time, but here we are. Again, stumbled into everything.


Ian Paget: You know what? It’s good that you say that because I know I’ve had people say to me that I’ve created a really strong brand for myself, and I feel like I did it very much in the same way. You just do one bit, and then you do another bit. And it created a domino effect. Each opportunity that comes along creates another opportunity. If you take it by the horns, then you never know where it’s going to take you. It’s cool to hear that just blogging created another opportunity, and you then eventually went on to speaking, doing workshops, and stuff like that. It’s cool to think that that all started off from just posting your work on Instagram. It’s amazing, really.


Scotty Russell: I would say the consistency throughout it was creating work and speaking to things that I believed in, like inclusivity. I grew up getting bullied and picked on. Acceptance was something I always sought, so I wanted to, somehow … I didn’t know I was building a community, but I wanted to build something that people felt like they could be a part of, too. I wanted to speak out against things like bullying, which is something I want to really dive into more because I was bullied.

Being vulnerable and honest and transparent, those are very big things for me, as well. The drawings and the blogging and the early days of the podcast, that was more just me having more therapy sessions to talk about being a creative dealing with anxiety and how it keeps me up at night. It was more therapeutic for me. I think it’s talking about real things that I believe in, that I have values about, as well as just openly sharing parts of my life that people can be like, “Hey, that’s me, too. He’s waving his freak flag like this is his tribe. I want to be a part of his tribe.”

It was just, I would say, those were how I built the brand, as having something I was passionate about that I wanted to speak about, that I cared about, that I had values for, and then just being transparent.

Sometimes, I probably overshare but, at the same time, like I’m telling you, I got laid off. I’m sure someone else can relate to that, or they have no idea what they’re doing. I have no idea what I’m doing, but people come first, for sure.


Ian Paget: Yeah. You know what? I totally agree that it’s important to be transparent, because when you get to a certain point, like me … People can look at what I built, and it’s like you got loads of follows. You have that. You have that. You have that. I experience anxiety and I still go through those same problems like you do. I’ve experienced that, myself. I’ve spoken about that on the podcast in the same way that you are. I think if you was to go on stage and pretend that you’re some bulletproof graphic designer that’s had every success, it’s not relatable at all.


Scotty Russell: Not at all …


Ian Paget: No one can look at you and think, “I can do that.” But when they understand your background and how you started, people can relate with it. They’re like, “Oh, yeah. I can do that, too.” That’s something that I believe in and something that I try and get across on this podcast, so it’s nice to hear that you’ve mentioned that and that’s something that you push with your talks and with your podcast in your community, as well.


Scotty Russell: I think it comes back around to sharing your story. Your story is your most powerful, valuable asset. That’s what attracted Dianne Gibbs to me in the first place, or why she gave me the speaking opportunity, because I was out there sharing my story on top of sharing my work. It there’s something you want to do right now that scares you, that’s whatever you want to believe in, your faith, the universe, your gut, intuition.

That thing is trying to nudge you to do that. That’s how you unlock the next version of yourself is by rattling your comfort cage and shaking the tree and doing things that gets you out of your comfort zone. Sharing my story, sharing my artwork, and doing things that made me uncomfortable is how I’ve always unlocked the next step, even though I didn’t know I was unlocking that step at that time, if that makes sense.


Ian Paget: Yeah, it does.


Scotty Russell: I wouldn’t be podcasting if I wasn’t blogging. I wouldn’t be podcasting if I didn’t get over my fear. I was terrified to share my work. I was terrified to claim I was an artist until I was 20, 21 years old. It was really hard for me to share my work in the beginning, and none of this would have happened. No brand would have been built in five years of doing this outside of a day job had I not overcome the fear of sharing my work in the first place.


Ian Paget: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. One thing that’s coming to mind … One question that always comes up in the Logo Geek Facebook group and other communities is people struggle to get clients. They want to do what we’re doing, but clients is what everything boils down to at the end of the day, because if you don’t have clients, you don’t have a business. If you don’t have a business, you’re going to have to be working for someone else.

I find it interesting that you’ve taken a similar approach to me and built a brand around you. You’re not just posting work. You’re also speaking. You’re also podcasting. You’re also building a community. Have you found that by taking that route, that you’ve had more opportunities to get clients? I know you mentioned about the consulting, which I can imagine brings in a good income for you as well, but has it allowed you to get clients from doing that, as well?


Scotty Russell: Not necessarily consulting … More like coaching other creative side-hustlers who crave to build something for themselves outside their day jobs … That’s the niche that I found, is helping people build something for themselves outside of a day job, because that’s all I’ve ever known how to do. But in terms of … Are people looking for tips on how to attract clients? Because I can talk a little about what I’m in the process of doing, overhauling my portfolio.


Ian Paget: Yeah, I think it’d be good to hear that from you, because I know people look at other graphic designers like yourself, and they think that you’re doing all of this stuff, the speaking, the podcasting, the community-building to attract clients. I’m just curious. Does that work for you in that way, or do you have to do other things to get clients?


Scotty Russell: The whole building a personal brand … I know that a gross a word to some people, but that’s truly … You are your own personal brand, regardless if you’re a business or not. Every day you’re performing and you’re selling, whether you’re selling your ideas or performance, whatever. You are a personal brand. But, for me, when I set out to do this, I had no desire, thinking that any of this was going to pick up clients or attract an audience or collect speaking gigs or anything like that.

But now that I’m going to be doing things full-time, me, I need to be a little bit more strategic about what am I posting? Is this to attract someone to my tribe, or is this to attract a potential client? Where am I posting this? Am I building a case study on my site and on Behance, or is this just something fun and personal, like pizza related? On my Instagram page, can I create something that attracts both a tribe member as well as a client? Can I do that with a story? Can I do that with the work can I do that by presenting it on a mock-up?

Right now, the biggest tips I’m using that I’ve always preached to other people that have worked for me in the past, that I’m redoing now, is … I’m in the middle of … Since I’m out of the freelance game for a while … I said no to it after my son was born, but now I’m getting back into it, and I’m really starting from the ground up. The current work I did in my last five years is nothing I want to show to attract the work I want to do now, which is heavy illustration, lettering, and branding. That’s my bread and butter right now.

I haven’t shown a lot of my branding work, so now I need to start showing branding. I’m doing this by creating two to three fake companies and brands. That’s what I’m doing, going back to basics. I’m making stuff up to just go all out and just showcase what I’m capable of doing. One is a pizza, one is coffee, and I’m going to be pursuing cannabis because I know that’s a huge market and it’s something that really interests me. I got the pizza and coffee down, and I’m just showing things on mockups.

I’m going on all different kind of mockup sites, Creative Market, Graphic Burger, Free Mockup World, Mockup PSD, whatever. I’m just downloading these mockups that not only show how a logo will look as an identity set or responsive branding, responsive illustrations, but then how is it going to look on tangible commercial products? I think that’s a huge, huge tip for people to do, is not only show the work you want to get, but let a potential client see how that work can apply to them.

How can they hire you to do that for their business? Whether it’s T-shirts, or candles, or pillows, or blankets, or murals, whatever … If you want to attract mural jobs, you need to start putting your work and photoshopping them on murals, if you’re not painting a mural yourself. If that makes sense … You got to show that work in a real-life setting, a tangible commercialised setting. That’s what I’m really, really focusing on right now.


Ian Paget: Yeah. Well, I think that’s good advice because, at the end of the day, you attract the kind of work that you put out. I think it’s good what you’re doing because a lot of people don’t really know where to start, when they don’t have a portfolio. I often recommend people go and reach out to charities so that they have a client to work with, so that they can develop those skills.

But I think when you’re in your position, if there are certain markets that you want to reach or a certain type of client that you want to reach, creating a fictional project and really putting in the effort and presenting that well, hopefully you’ll attract someone that wants that kind of work.

Then, as you build up a portfolio of real client work, then you can eventually swap those pieces out, or you can leave them in but it would make sense to eventually swap them out so that you can do some really detailed case studies and testimonials and stuff in there. But I think it’s a really good way to start the ball rolling, especially when you don’t have examples to show already.


Scotty Russell: Exactly. If you have personal work that you’ve already done, find a way, instead of just showing it in a flat static version … Yeah, you can build these splash sheets, which I’m going to be doing, but I’m also going to be showing how my work can be used in those tangible settings as well. Maybe I’m not getting this responsive branding project that I know can net me something. Maybe it’s more usage rights or licensing for a design for a large company with T-shirts or something like that. Mock your stuff up on T-shirts or coffee mugs or anything like that if it’s not true heavy duty logo design. If you’ve already done a bunch of personal lettering illustrations, that’s a really good way to do it, too.


Ian Paget: Yeah, very true. I think that’s really good advice to hear how you’re going about getting clients. I think it sets the stage that building a personal brand is a lot of work, but that, alone, doesn’t actually get you clients. You have to be quite intentional with your actions and your approach to…


Scotty Russell: Intention … That’s exactly it. Be intentional. Sorry to interrupt you, but I got to piggyback off that, because I think a big thing, the secret key ingredient of this, my crust that I’ve baked up in five years, is intentionality. I need to know what exactly I’m working on each week. Each day, I have a plan of attack. As long as it’s one big thing a day, I know what I’m going to work on. I think that’s what’s brought me a lot of success, especially outside of a day job, of helping me build this personal brand, attract an audience, and now … not turn down a lot of client work, but I know that intentionality is going to really come and help me out in that disciple. Sorry to cut you off there, but I had to-


Ian Paget: No, no. That’s good.


Scotty Russell: That’s so important.


Ian Paget: That actually leads on to something else I wanted to ask you, because I know you’re now full-time, and I know that you’re really hustling down to load out your own client base on top of the brand that you’d already built. But that was a side gig, so you had a full-time job. I know you have a son and partner and everything like that. You, somehow, made time to build this, and you’ve obviously put a lot of time and effort into that. How have you actually gone about making time to fit all of this in so that you can be in this amazing situation where you’ve lost your job but now you can just build on what you’ve already got?


Scotty Russell: I love how you say amazing situation. So many other people are twisting it and be like, “I’m so sorry for you.” There’s pity and empathy behind it. I prefer to see it as you see it, this amazing opportunity that I was shoved into. Another stumbling, here we go.

For me, again, intentionality … My work is play but, at the same time, getting up early is hard, but I realise how selfish I was with my time in the past, and I wanted to put my son and family first so, at nights, I couldn’t work. That’s why I said no to freelance and murals and everything that I loved to do, that brought in extra income.

I would work in the mornings, but every night before I go to bed, I plan my next day. I know my plan of attack, and that’s something I teach in the coaching program, this creative grind system that I have, this ABC method that’s really, really helped me.

Because, if you’re not the person that can just thrive by winging it and just showing up each day, you need a plan. There’s a few unicorns out there that can just show up and wing it and they crush it, but I feel most people, especially with the day job … It’s 168 hours in the week. 40 of them are already allocated. If you don’t know what you’re going to show up and do each day, you’re going to have a hard time having progress and going in the right direction. You may be making minimal progress in a million different directions, but you got to know what you’re working towards.

I’ve been good at spreading myself too thin in the past, so learning what it is I wanted … The reason I had so much success in coaching this year is because I said no to freelance. I knew the podcast and coaching. The podcast is the main gravy to my business. That’s the backbone. That’s my marketing channel. That’s my funnel now, when that was never my intention. That’s the main marketing stream. If I want to promote something, it’s through the podcast. The podcast and coaching have been the focus. Now, with 40 hours back in the week now, I can mix back in the freelance, but it’s knowing what to say yes to, what you’re prioritising, and what to say no to. Intention, discipline are huge.

You got have fun. If this wasn’t play to me, then it would just be another soul-sucking day job. I’m not saying mine was soul-sucking because I had … It was a great experience. I’m definitely not bashing. I’ve had crappy … I don’t know if I can swear here, so I’ll be nice.


Ian Paget: It’s fine.


Scotty Russell: I can? Okay. I’ve had plenty of shitty day job, and I have friends with plenty of shitty day jobs. But, luckily, I’ve had one that complemented what I was doing, and they supported me on the outside, too. Kind of rambling, but time management is huge. Time management … And having a visions and goals, that’s everything.


Ian Paget: Yeah, I agree with that, because I know … I have a part-time job myself, so I work for a company three days a week. I’ve got Thursday and Fridays when I can focus on my own projects, and I can stretch that into the weekend if I need to, but the first thing I do on a Thursday morning … I know you do yours the night before. The first thing I do in the morning is plan what I’m going to be doing over the next four days. Then I just sit down and I get on with it.

One thing I wanted to ask you … And it’s something I read in one of your interviews. You said that you work in the morning. Is it right that you wake up at 4:30 AM?


Scotty Russell: Since I’ve been laid off, it’s been 6:00 AM now, but yeah. Yeah, I would work from 7:00 to 4:00, so that meant, especially during a launch week or when I was prepping for my first live podcast at Creative Works, just so many different things going on, I needed to that time in the day. I’ll be honest. I wasn’t getting enough sleep at all, but I feel like, sometimes during the seasons, you got to grind. You got to switch it on. But I’m an early riser. I try to go to bed at a decent time as well.

I find for me … I’m a natural night owl. I love to stay out late, drawing, but I found the things that require the most willpower are things like writing, for me. I have the most willpower in the mornings, once I get that first cup of coffee in me, and I just have complete silence before the world wakes up and tries to shove its problems on me or tries to distract me or get on social media, any of that. That was my time in silence to grind, where I could just do my best work that requires the most willpower. That’s why mornings were special to me.

Now, I’ve just got to find a new routine, but I feel like the discipline and the tactics I used and groomed myself into having … Because I used to be the kind of person that winged it each day, as well. That’s all got to come into play now, 2020, once I really hit it hard, doing my own thing. It’s like I’ve been building these disciplinary characteristics that are now going to really help me thrive.


Ian Paget: Yeah. Yeah. I think waking up early, you’re not actually the only person I know that does that. I’ve got a friend, a guy called Ryan Robinson, who has actually been on the podcast in the past. He built his business on the side of a full-time job. What he did is he woke up early in the same way that you do. I think you actually wake up even earlier than he did, but he found that his most valuable time because that was when he was most alert, when he’d just woke up. His mind is fresh and nobody else can bother him, because nobody else needs that time.


Scotty Russell: Exactly.


Ian Paget: None of his friends, none of his family want to bother him at that time, so he would wake up early. Doing that, he’d be able to get two or three hours work done in the morning and then go to his full-time job. Doing that every day, you can get so much work done in a week. I’ve never tried it myself, mainly because that just sounds way too early. I’m just curious to know, how do you get motivated, or what are you doing to make yourself wake up that early? Because I know people will be listening to this and think, “Well, 4:30 AM is crazy.” What motivates you to keep waking up at that hour?


Scotty Russell: One, nobody is going to make my dream happen for me. That’s number one. That’s the driving force of … I want to do my thing full-time one day, and I treated my side hustle like it was my full-time job, right from the get. From the jump, it was hard, especially going to work at 8:00. I would get up maybe at 7:00 instead, then maybe 15 minutes earlier the next week, then 15 minutes earlier the next week. It’s like quitting cigarettes. If you can do cold turkey and you normally wake up at seven, now you get up at 4:30, that’s great. Hell, yeah. Kudos to you. But for me, that’s hard.

If your normal routine is get up at 7:00 and you got to fly to work, get up 15 minutes earlier. Just putting in 15 minutes a day for, I believe … What is it? I read this somewhere, about 15 minutes a day, putting into your work, equals up to eight whole hours by the end of the month or something like that. Imagine how much work you can get done in eight hours in a day.

For me, it’s incremental change, over time. Then, not only if you are someone who is able to start getting up early and putting in just an hour of work before you go to your day job … you’re going to get so much done … but then, how are you leveraging your lunch breaks? This was big for me. I would do all my recordings … not all my recordings, but once my son was born, a lot of my recordings with people for the podcast came over lunch.

Now, I hustle on my lunch breaks. I’d have two 10 minute breaks in a day. That’s when I would respond to emails, post on Instagram, and respond to people, just to make sure I’m building that community and making face and building those relationships with people. I want to be known as someone who always tries to get back to someone. Even if I’m busy going through chaos, I want to make sure I’m responding to someone.

With you, I always try to get back to you. Even though it was really, really hard and may not have been right away, but I always try to get back to someone. Utilising that time, and then I go to the gym when I get off. Then, at night, after I put my son down, I found another hour I could allocate to the dream.

Maybe I was only getting two and a half hours in a day on my dream, but you can get so much done, as long as you focus on doing one thing a day. Even if it takes you 15 minutes, just do one thing a day.


Ian Paget: Yeah. You know what? I’ve always found that something really amazing, because I know my Twitter following … I’ve nearly got 100,000 followers on there now.


Scotty Russell: Oh, shit. I apologise, but I’m looking you up on Twitter as we speak.


Ian Paget: It’s the result of what, like five minutes a day, every day, and just first thing in the morning, just making it a routine just to post. It’s crazy that those couple of minutes … What’s a couple of minutes? It’s nothing, but if you keep doing that and you work towards a goal, you can do anything. I’ve always liked the idea that … Say if your goal is to get to the top of the mountain, if every single day you did one step, you will eventually get there. That’s the analogy to reaching your goals and just putting in five, 10 minutes, or even as much as an hour every day. You will reach where you want to, because you’re working with intent.

Where it goes wrong for a lot of people is when you’re walking up that mountain, if you see a shiny new penny on the floor, you’re going to steer in a slightly different direction. Suddenly, you’re wasting time. You’re steering in the wrong direction. What I’m trying to say with that is if you know your final destination and you continuously work towards that with intent in the way that you’ve said, even though you’re just doing 10 minutes a day, half an hour a day, or if you’re lucky enough to fit in a couple of hours a day, all of that builds on, and it’s that compound effect where you will eventually reach that final destination, no matter how high that mountain is, because you’re always, every single day, doing one step or a couple of steps towards that final goal.


Scotty Russell: It boils down to you got to know what you want. When you know what you want, then you got to reverse engineer it to, how do you get there? When you have those steps and that outline, you know what you want and your vision is crystal clear, you have the clarity and the conviction and the confidence in the direction you’re going and it’s way easier to say no to that shiny object syndrome.

Before, I really knew I wanted to make coaching work. I was doing freelance speaking workshops, selling merch, physical merch and digital merch, and doing all the things, and I wonder why I wasn’t making a lot of progress. It wasn’t until I focused in one direction for a season … I’m not saying forever, but for a season. If you can just work in one direction for a season … If you want to really get really good at, say, letting.

You want to get really, really good at lettering. Spend the next six months practicing your ass off. Go buy those books. Don’t care about anything. Don’t spend time on calligraphy. Don’t even worry about custom logos at the moment, or illustrations, or knitting, or underwater basket-weaving, or soap carving. Just go all out in lettering for that season. Blinders up … Tunnel vision … Just straight focus, and you’re going to be amazed how good you can get in a short amount of time by blocking out everything else.

Me preparing for coaching was more like copywriting and coming up with criteria and everything like that. I took all of 2019 and just … Well, the podcast has always got to be there, but I said no to everything. No speaking … No anything else … I really got good at the copywriting and email marketing and everything that was the backbone for the coaching program. And selling … No selling people on something I believe that is a great product that can improve their life, something I believe in, that I put into practice myself. Go in a season of something. If you like to do all the things, just take something for a season.


Ian Paget: Yeah. I’ve always loved goal-setting. A book, for me, that really changed my perspective on everything was a book called The One Thing. I don’t know if you’ve read that, as well?


Scotty Russell: Yes, Gary Keller … Yep. It’s been a big one.


Ian Paget: It’s a short book. You can read it, probably, in a few hours. But yeah, that really changed my life, because what you can do is-


Scotty Russell: Same …


Ian Paget: … you can plan your longterm ‘somewhere out there’ goal, and it doesn’t matter how big it is or whether you’ve got the skills or whether you’ve got the confidence to do it. But if you got that somewhere out there goal, you can then break that down into where do you want to be in five years time? In order to get to where you want to be in five years time, what do you need to do each year? Then you can break that down into a yearly goal. Then you can break that yearly goal down into monthly goals, then weekly goals, and then daily goals, and then hourly goals. And then, ultimately, it boils down to what you do now.

Since I created that somewhere out there goal … There was a point where I actually had a notice board up in my bedroom, and I pinned up what kind of house do I want to live in? What kind of place do I want to travel to?


Scotty Russell: So a vision board?


Ian Paget: Yeah, it’s a vision board. You know what? Within quite a short period of time, I started to go on the holidays I wanted to go on, because it was like, rather than going on that short holiday that is a bit cheaper than where I really want to go to, I can just save up and go to where I’ve always really wanted to go to. It’s allowed me to do things I wanted to do, like start buying a house, because I know that I wanted to, and I worked out a way that I could.

Business side of things … What kind of projects do you want to work on? It really did change my life. Because you can picture where you want to be, you can actually reach it, because you just need to work out how you can get there, step by step, and just write down what you need to do and to work through it. It’s actually quite simple to pretty much do anything that you want in life.


Scotty Russell: Agreed, and I think there’s a different between setting goals and smart goals, something that’s specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. Anybody can say, “Hey, I want to lose weight this year”, but you got to tie something to it. You got to be specific … How much weight? How are you going to measure your progress? You want to lose 15 pounds by the end of the year? Is that going to be pounds every other week? Two pounds a month? Exactly when are you going to do it by? Everything … Is it relevant? That’s the most important thing.

Yeah, set goals, but set smart goals and write them down, and then place them where you can see them each day, along with your vision board.


Ian Paget: Are you doing that for our business, say writing down smart goals?


Scotty Russell: I have been, but, for real, last night was the deciding factor of, “Hey, I want to take my thing full-time.” As people are hearing this, this was recorded in November and today is basically the first full day of me deciding, “Yes, this is what I’m going to do.” You’re hearing it fresh, after nights of anxiety, of staying up late. I’m just trying to chew through everything going on in life, between moving a house, kiddo number two on the way, everything.

For me, yes, I’m going back to the drawing board and setting smart goals. How much do I want to make by now with coaching? How do I want to make by then with freelancing? How am I going to do it? Who do I need to outreach to? Who are my friends in the creative community that can help me gain some more clarity or give me insights on what I need to do differently, or my pitching, my presenting, all of that. I will be starting from the foundation of setting smart goals for both the coaching and the freelance moving forward. I haven’t done that yet, because this is a day into it, but by the time this episode comes out, you better believe I’m on that shit.


Ian Paget: Yeah. You know what? I’m really excited for you. It sounds like this couldn’t have come at a better time for you, because with the way that you work and with everything that you set up, you’re going to make this work, and it’s going to be so good. I’m really excited for you.


Scotty Russell: I appreciate it, man.


Ian Paget: I’m excited for you, and I think the relevancy of the topic that steered down … I didn’t actually originally plan to take this route, but I think talking about goal-setting and creating your vision and working through actionable smart goals is a perfect topic to start 2020 with. People that are listening to this that are already starting to plan for 2020 … Hopefully it will give people some inspiration to really plan their next year with intent to have a massive success from it.


Scotty Russell: I have to plug it right now. If you are someone who has a side hustle outside your day job and you’re just needing some help … You need accountability. You’re looking for clarity, and you need community because you feel just isolated right now. This is what I specialise in is providing those three pillars. If that’s something you think you need a little extra hand to elevate your creative career and your side hustle to the next level in 2020, then there’s the Side Hustler’s War Chest. That’s a free download for you too, but the, that’s where you can apply to be a part of the program that start in about mid January through April.


Ian Paget: Yeah it’s exciting!


Scotty Russell: Just want to plug that if there’s someone listening out there and you’re needing some assistance, I feel like this is the time to say it.


Ian Paget: That’s cool. And I will link in the show notes as well, so that people can find that, because, yeah, like I said, it’s perfect for the new year. It’s a great way to kick things off.


Scotty Russell: I’m a living example. I’m a living example of it. I’ve been side-hustling, and now I’m doing my thing full-time, going into the new year. It’s like I can walk you though everything.


Ian Paget: You mentioned about this ABC method earlier. You briefly mentioned that about the three steps. Could you briefly explain what that is?


Scotty Russell: Yeah, for sure. I could say it here but, again, it’s in that free download of Side Hustler’s War Chest. That’s my lead magnet, but it’s killer content, six different guides. Time management, how to make time to grind and execute outside your day job, that’s one of them that talks and breaks this down. But, essentially, I kind of vomit everything I need to get done in a week, say, on a Sunday.

From there, I prioritise my tasks from A, B, or C. A is these are things that need attack. These are high urgency quadrants, so you can put that in quadrant one. Here’s all my B tasks. These are on the back burner. If I get through my A task for the day and I got that 10 minute break at work, I can hit a B task real quick. C tasks are things that are cool to get done. They’re not urgent at all. I just keep them. They’re nice to get to, but it’s not going to make you broke and make you on the streets if you don’t get them done. Anything that’s a D task in that other quadrant, that needs to be destroyed or delegated. That’s something you shouldn’t even waste your time on.

Each day, I plan my day. I want to encourage someone to just start by doing one A task, that one thing each day, but if you can get through that, well then you already know what that A2 task is. Oh, yeah, you got to list them, too. Once you have all your A tasks funnelled in a quadrant, then you prioritise them. Seven days in a week, here’s seven A tasks. I list them out, A1 through A7. Each day, my whole goal is to get through that first A1 task. If I have time, then I’ll go to the next A2 task. All right? Every day, an A task for that day … One through seven …

Again, if there’s time, I’ve got through it, I got a small little break or something like that, then I could hit a B task if the moment is right. But C task could eventually eliminated as well. Does that make sense?


Ian Paget: Yeah. You know, I really love that. It’s similar to what I do, but actually I think I might borrow that because it’s brilliant. What I currently do is I write down a list of everything I need to do. I like to keep paper lists because it makes it easier.


Scotty Russell: Same … I keep everything in my fields now. I’ll have my bank of everything I need in Wunderlist or something. You can use an app tracker thing. I just vomit everything in those, keep them separate, but every day I write it in my fields note. I work by hand, because there’s power in checking something off or crossing something off. You know?

But the reason why I organise them, though, is because when you’re just … Some people get so paralysed by just staring at a full long list of stuff, and they don’t know where to start. This gives you where to start and what is your next step from there. You know? That’s what important. Exactly, you need to know what you’re going to do each day.


Ian Paget: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. What I’ve always done is I haven’t had an ABC method, but I have an A method. I use a highlighter and I highlight the thing that have to get done on that day. Then, sometimes, I might number then so that I know what priority that they need to be done it. But, yeah, I’ll just literally work through those highlighted bits. Then, if I got an extra bit of time, I would then progress on to things that, I guess, would be in your B category. But I do like the idea of having and A, B, C and D. It’s a brilliant method for prioritising.


Scotty Russell: I think you ought to do what works for you. This is what works for me, and I’ve been able to record the process. One of the biggest people tell me, when I capture it on an email or Facebook community when they join, is what’s your biggest struggle when pursuing your creative career? Time management is number one. I’m like, “Well, that’s what I thrive at, so I could teach this.” So I’m currently working on a product as well, but that’s something I really, really go over in the coaching program. That’s one of the main things we hit on.


Ian Paget: Oh, yeah. That’s sounds really exciting. Like I said, I will link to that in the show notes for anyone that’s interested in looking into that or signing up to it. I’ll put a link in there. We’re nearly an hour, you know? We’ve got through quite a lot. I’m going to throw in one last question. If you could offer a single piece of advice for people listening who want to get into hand lettering, which has always been one of your specialties, what advice would you give for people that want to get into that.


Scotty Russell: Learn the rules so you can break them, and don’t be like everyone else. That’s two. I cheated.


Ian Paget: No, I’ll make that one sentence.


Scotty Russell: Okay.


Ian Paget: That’s really good advice.


Scotty Russell: That’s totally what it would be. Again, in the beginning, I could pick out all the errors, now, but I tried to hide them with detail. But now, I’m like, “Okay.” You got to know the rules so you can break them. There’s still a lot I need to learn as well, but you got to know the typographic structures and the letter forms and spacing, kerning and how the connectors of script need to smoothly go into the next connecting down stem of a letter.

There’s so many intricate details, but once you know the rules, you can break them. That’s where you can start getting crazy with your ligatures or you swashes or your flourishes, or combining or overlapping things. You can’t over lap two thicks, like a thick over a thick. It’s just little tiny rules that will help you go far.


Ian Paget: Yeah. Like you said earlier, Doyald Young’s books are incredible. Was there any specific training courses that you took, that’s worth a shout out?


Scotty Russell: It’s been more workshops I’ve taken at conferences. But, again, in that Side Hustler’s War Chest, I have a whole book recommendation suite too with links to everything – every Doyald Young book that you can possibly want, along with any other lettering books that I found were useful, as well as logo design and inspirational and personal development, so everything. It’s chock-full.


Ian Paget: Yeah, sure. People can check that out and also Creative South. I’ve heard so many people say incredible things about that event. It’s a shame that it’s on the other side of the planet from me and it would cost an absolute fortune to get there, but I’m always envious when I see photos. I’ve got friends that go there every year, and I’d definitely like to go one year. But it sounds like those workshops are worth attending. You got a lot of value from them and the books and everything as well.


Scotty Russell: Yeah, definitely. Highly recommend it if you can.


Ian Paget: Cool. Well, I think we will wrap things up. It’s been an absolutely fantastic interview. I’m glad that we steered it in a slightly different direction to actually make it quite relevant to the end of the year so that people can start planning their goals and making time for everything. Scotty, thank you so much for coming on. It’s been really great to chat with you.


Scotty Russell: Ian, it’s been a pleasure getting to know you through this today. I thank you so much for having me on.


Thank you to the sponsor, FreshBooks


I’m incredibly thankful to FreshBooks for sponsoring season 6 of the Logo Geek Podcast! FreshBooks is an online accounting tool that makes it really easy to create and send invoices, track time and manage your money. You can try it out for yourself with a free 30 day trial.

Starting a Design Side Hustle - An interview with Scotty Russell

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