A passive income through sharing expertise

Copywriter Frani Heyns on how she started a side hustle as a career coach and her advice for anyone looking for a little change.

Frani Heyns is a freelance copywriter who works with the JustPark Business Marketing team. She’s also a qualified Career Coach and offers one-to-one sessions for those looking to up their game or find their calling. However, she realised that she could get a much wider reach by offering coaching on goal-setting via online learning and meditation platforms. She put in the hours to pull all her learning material together and now sees a passive income from her efforts. Here she tells us about the learning curve that came with it.

Opening more doors

I’ve been a copywriter for quite a long time and around 2012 I felt like I wanted to learn another skill so I decided to do a Master’s degree in coaching, mostly focusing on career coaching. It was incredibly difficult juggling it alongside working five days a week, but I did it, and it was a great learning experience too. My dissertation looked at what happens to your sense of identity as a creative person when you move into a more corporate or non-creative role. As part of the degree, I also had to coach people and build up hours and got graded on that.

Clarity of mind

When you’re coaching people, you have to have real clarity of mind and not have elements of your life clouding the advice you give. While I was doing my Master’s, every second Friday we’d have these almost group therapy sessions where we’d sit in a circle and share fairly personal stuff and everyone would feed back to the person who had just spoken. It was a useful vulnerability exercise. We would talk about what was going on for us personally and also in our practice with our clients. There were two sides to it because, often if you’re having some sort of personal issue or crisis, that will influence your coaching with your clients so the tutor acted as a supervisor and advisor. For example, two people who were in our group had to deal with their grandparents passing away while they were doing the course. That was quite a traumatic experience and she said, “Okay, I don’t want you to work with clients for at least two months.” So she made sure that we were mentally okay, therefore keeping our clients safe. Kind of like how therapists have to have therapy!

Finding a larger audience

Even though I enjoy it and I still do sometimes offer sessions on weekends, I realised I was taking on quite a lot with coaching one-to-one. It’s great, but it takes time because you have to prepare beforehand, have a one hour session with your client and then write up all the notes afterwards. So I was thinking, “How can I use my degree as well as my writing experience and create something that won’t require any more of my time, consistently?” I came up with the idea of creating an online course, so I created these mini coaching sessions, there’s one on goal-setting on Udemy, and another one on a meditation app called Insight Timer. Obviously, it’s hard work setting it all up; filming the lessons and remembering all the words. I’m not really someone who takes every opportunity to get in front of the camera, but I really enjoyed it. I designed the slides that go into the presentation, wrote the scripts, chose all the imagery so it was a really good way of using the creative part of my personality with the coaching side.

Sound production skills

I’m very lucky that I have a friend who’s a sound engineer. He did the recordings for me, all the editing and mixing the music. Some of it I edited myself, so I had to learn to use Audacity. He gets commission from sales meaning I didn’t have to pay upfront; if I had to pay someone I didn’t know, it’d probably be a lot more. And it’s free to upload to Udemy and Insight Timer which is great.

A tale of two platforms

I previously looked at launching it myself via Teachable, but it was so hard to make a break into this industry going that route. So I chose two platforms that have an audience ready and they do all the marketing. I don’t make as much (they take a cut) but it’s much easier and I get exposure.

Another revenue stream

It doesn’t make huge amounts of money, but it makes enough passive income to help pay the bills. It’s a nice way to use my degree and of course, once you’ve done one, it’s up there on the platforms, and you can let it do its thing. It’s a good little way of adding to my income. I’ll probably do another one next year.

The future of learning

Online learning is all about making it engaging, changing up the slides with some video and offering a variety of ways to learn. It probably is the future of learning, and I guess a lot of universities and schools have experienced its benefits recently. It feels like that’s the way things are going. I think previously, online and video was maybe seen as a bit inferior to being in the same room but it’s about how it’s presented. Insight Timer is very interactive, there’s a classroom, students can contact me and ask questions and I leave audio replies.

Pace yourself

I still have one-to-one clients occasionally. I have a Google ad that I run when I’m looking for new clients. I tend to just take on one client at a time and depending on their requirements – sometimes it’s polishing up their CV or a LinkedIn profile or interview tips – that’s normally one to two sessions. But I get a lot of people who want to change their career and that’s a much longer process, maybe five or six sessions. At one point I had four clients and I was almost at burnout point so now I have a rule that I only have one at a time! Normally, over the summer people aren’t really thinking about their careers but September, October, people start thinking about making a change and of course, January is peak time for change.

Getting to know you

I do a lot of work on personality – I find the Myers Briggs test incredibly accurate. I’ve never had anyone say, “Oh no, that’s not me,” it’s usually spot on. I think there’s even a dating app that uses Myers Briggs personalities now!

The value of values

I do a lot of values work because often those are the drivers behind people’s decisions and they offer valuable clues about what someone may want to do moving forward. So it’s really interesting teasing that out of people and they often haven’t even realised their core values. I always say values are like an inner compass that gives you direction and once you know your core values you can measure up every situation and decision.

Re-tell your career story

Sometimes people feel that they’ve made the wrong decisions career-wise so I always try to help them re-frame it into positive experiences. Rather than seeing something as a failure, you can see it as a story of survival or gaining skills that you would never have acquired. Knowing their key strengths and skills, they can then apply that information going forwards.

People don’t always let me know that they found a new job or if they decided to go in that new direction. But occasionally people do email me and tell me they found a job and they’re really happy, it’s very rewarding.

If you have skills you’d like to share but are still in the process of setting things up, why not rent out your driveway to get the ball rolling on a passive income? It takes just a couple of minutes to set up a listing and then you’re good to go. The first £1,000 is tax-free and our space owners tend to have a passive income of between £500 and £3,000 a year. Draw from that income whenever you like!

This story is part of a series about side hustles and passive income. Interested to read more? Find out how Mike created affordable geo-tracking for SMEs and how Jeyda spotted a gap in the bike repair market (while taking photos of doors!). Or, if you’re thinking about a side hustle of your own, read our top ideas for boosting your income.

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