Episode 236 — Side Hustle



One of the big frustrations that we all have is — we want more money. Anytime we want a pay bump, we have to wait for our annual review and see if we get a salary increase at our main job. Yet we spend our spare time doing something more creative because we aren’t being challenged at work. We go home to do the work that we find fulfilling in the first place.

This Podcast is about is ways to leverage that creative outlet. If you’re already doing something you’re passionate about, here is your chance to turn it into a small business; one that you can automatically run and get some pocket money. What would you do with an extra $1,000 a month?

In this Podcast, Allan McKay gives actionable tips for building your side hustle and teaches how to leverage your current skills to make money on the side.


[05:09] What Would You Do with an Extra $1K / Month
[06:21] Two Train Theory
[11:44] Figure out Your Product
[13:04] Post Your Progress on Social Media
[13:47] Websites Where to Sell Your Product
[27:01] Other Places to Sell Your Product


Welcome to Episode 236! I want to talk about building your side hustle and how to leverage your current skills to make money on the side; and what kind of impact it would make to have an extra $1,000 per month, or more.

With this one, I want to get into this subject in depth. You don’t need to quit your job or wait for the next pay bump. What are the immediate solutions to having more money? Now, some people can make an extra career out of their side hustle. I just want to hand you the tool set and it’s up to you to do what you want with it. I want this to be a conversation. I want to give you step-by-step process to anything you want to do. I just had Live Reviews in my Mentorship and several of my students want to build tools and share them with others. Hopefully, they can get a bit of money from it which may help them bankroll their next endeavor.

Next week, I will be continuing the conversation about how to build your own brand.

Let’s dive in!


[00:52] Have you ever sent in your reel and wondered why you didn’t get the callback or what the reason was you didn’t get the job? Over the past 20 years of working for studios like ILM, Blur Studio, Ubisoft, I’ve built hundreds of teams and hired hundreds of artists — and reviewed thousands of reels! That’s why I decided to write The Ultimate Demo Reel Guide from the perspective of someone who actually does the hiring. You can get this book for free right now at www.allanmckay.com/myreel!

[30:08] One of the biggest problems we face as artists is figuring out how much we’re worth. I’ve put together a website. Check it out: www.VFXRates.com! This is a chance for you to put in your level of experience, your discipline, your location — and it will give you an accurate idea what you and everyone else in your discipline should be charging. Check it out: www.VFXRates.com!


[04:19] One of the big frustrations that we all have is — we want more money. Anytime we want a pay bump, we have to wait for our annual review and see if we get a salary increase at our main job. So we wait a year hoping for that increase. Yet, we spend our spare time unfulfilled and dabbling around in Zbrush or Photoshop, doing something more creative because we aren’t being challenged as much at work. We go home to do the work that we find fulfilling in the first place. What I want to talk about is ways to leverage that creative outlet. You’re doing something you’re passionate about, but here is your chance to turn it into a small business; one that you can automatically run and get some pocket money.



[05:09] Let’s just start small. I don’t want to say let’s make an extra 100K a year (although that is possible). You could be making that money! In the future videos, I may talk about it. Here, I want to keep it small: What would you do with an extra $1,000 a month?

  • You could buy some new hardware or new toys.
  • Or you could save it for your rainy day fund. So the next time your boss gets under your skin, you can tell him to get lost, knowing that there is back-up money to keep you secure.
  • Or it could help you transition careers.
  • Or you could use it on a vacation.
  • Or this could be the capital to invest back into your business, like buying a better 3D printer, or whatever you’re looking for.


[06:21] Sometimes what starts as a hobby can turn into a career. I’ve talked about the Two Train Theory a lot: You have your regular career which is going really well and then you have your side hustle. Bit by bit, that might side hustle becomes more successful and you could see yourself making more money with it. This is a good position to be in! This is a chance for you to decide whether you want to jump on that second train and make it your primary vehicle. Or you can just continue to make that money. You’ve got that option later down the line.

[07:06] I remember 5-6 years ago, I was working at a big studio and I was so stressed that I remember texting my friend at Weta, asking him, “Have you ever walked out on a job before?” I’ve personally never walked out. I’ve seen people quit or not show up. For me, my reputation — and not leaving people high and dry — was always more important. However, the conditions of this place weren’t good. As I texted my friend, he called me right away and I was actually considering walking out. I created this additional business and in a single day I made more money than I’ve made in a year, in the beginning of my career. Bit by bit, my bank account was blowing up while I was stressing about a job that wasn’t giving me much. To get to that place, I had side hustles that I created and some of those became automated. It was tricky to work on something stressful and earn a bit of money — while the other thing that was making me money wasn’t stressing me out at all. Instead, it was exciting me. That was very eye opening. I kept to the job and finished the project, but I took some time off, knowing that I had this side hustle.

[09:21] The cool thing that a lot of what we’re going to be doing can compound over time. If you were to start selling prints of your illustrations or your models or renders, this is chance to build one and then start selling them online or on your own website. Then you build another one and another one. Some of these might plateau, but you will still be generating income. That’s one of the key advantages: You might start out small, but it will grow over time.

[10:06] One of the things I did early in my career was sell assets on TurboSquid and a few other sites. I would make some good money, sometimes bad money. I read some books on the business mindset. One of the big things I’ve done was to make all the money I make go toward my studio — and I wouldn’t touch that. Sometimes, I would get a check for $500 from TurboSquid — and that was all going toward my leisure. If I got a check for $5K, I would take a vacation. This was a mindset shift. Without having to do much, I had more money in my savings account. This where I started to save. It was also fun: This was the money that was guilt free.


[11:44] I want you to think about what are the things you normally do that others might be interested in. The go-to response most of us have is, “No one is going to be interested in this!” If you spend money on this thing, then you’re bound to have people be interested in. If there are people out there getting rich on selling pet rocks — then you can find something to do as well! On top of that, you can look at the blue ocean: It’s place that’s not filled with sharks, a new place that you can jump into and do something no one is doing yet. I think 3D printing is such an area. I just interviewed a feature film director who’s been printing 3D props for his film from his house! There are so many things you could do, so many ways you could leverage this! So what are the habits, what are the things you enjoy doing: Matte painting? Illustration? Photography? You could leverage that to make some money.

[13:04] The best part is while you’re doing it, you can show work in progress and show it on social media. You can build your brand! By the time, you’ve completed the project, you have people interested in buying it. My wife has just put out her first print for sale. It’s fascinating to see people lining up to buy it. One of my friends built a 3D model of the White House that took him a year and a half to build. Now he’s looking at the best way to sell this $3,000 product.


[13:47] I want to go through different types of product you could make. This is just scratching the surface. It’s more to just start the conversation:

I. One of the key things is: If you make models, you can sell them on TurboSquid (https://www.turbosquid.com/). I’m planning to interview the VP of TurboSquid about success stories. Sometimes, what starts as a side hustle ends up being your career. There are people on TurboSquid who are making 100K a year selling models. They’re making assets all day long, as their career. I’ve also seen people make a model and a studio ends up hiring that person to make a model just for them. This is also a way to be scouted. (Please leave some ideas about the product and other websites for a side hustle.) There are other websites as well. There is Unity Store (https://assetstore.unity.com/) if you want to do real time assets.

II. What if you are not a good modeler? These days, with photogrammetry, there is a chance for you to go out there and make models without needing to do much work. Just by taking pictures from every angle and then cleaning them up in Zbrush, you can make a decent model. You can sell those as assets. You could take pictures of landscapes, statues, literally furniture in your house! One of my friends climbs a lot of mountains. He takes photos of them with a drone and later creates models out of those.

III. You can also be creating brushes, shaders and assets that people can use for their work. These could be supplemental materials for Zbrush. A good place to sell those would be Gumroad (https://gumroad.com/). That’s a good one and it’s organic and easy to set up. You can also sell the product from your own website, of course, but then you’re more responsible for bringing the traffic to you. I talk a lot about building your brand — and that’s exactly what you’d need to do to sell from your own website. If you want to make the 100% of your sales, you need to build your audience.

IV. What if you’re a traditional artist and you sell your prints? This is something you can make money from, but it is a saturated industry. It’s a good way to get exposure and get your name out there. There are so many websites out there: Deviant Art (https://www.deviantart.com/) is where I bought some prints myself. I want to also make a video on how to set up an online shop. Because you don’t want to be doing shipping and fulfillment yourself. Eventually, you can sell your prints on Amazon. You can also embellish your prints, to give them texture and to raise the price and quality a bit. You may have the cheaper stuff on Etsy (https://www.etsy.com/) but I find that website to be more of a lower tier. People going on Etsy are looking to spend $10. You can also stop by local stores and see if they would sell your stuff there as well. With starting out small, there is more leg room. There is no ceiling on this and you can continue to expand. There is no major cost involved.

V. Another one is selling courses online. Gumroad is a great place to do that. Udemy (https://www.udemy.com/) is great because it will get a lot of traffic. It’s a great place to host your courses or training.

VI. In addition, there is 3D printing. This is a new thing but a very booming industry. Getting your models and printing them is a chance for you to create cool characters and buildings — and to get other people to enjoy them. There is a lot you can do in here. You could also sell at an art store on weekends, or sell your stuff on Ebay. I was recently at a conference in Texas and some guys had a small store set up. You can make a lot for a low cost. I think there is a lot of potential there, and there are so many options.

VII. Going through the last ones: HDRI packs. If you want to do a lot of High Dynamic Range Imaging, you can go out and use a camera and a pan head. There are so many options out there. You can sell these on Gumroad, social media, etc.

VIII. Another one is matte painting assets. Rather than selling your matte paintings as prints, you can sell elements that people can use. One of my friends at ILM in London travels the world, goes on vacations and builds out packs. She creates these textures packs and matte painting asset packs. You can even finance your trips with this work. The world is your oyster!

IX. The final one I’ll bring up is Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/). If you’ve been building your personal brand and audience, this is a chance for you to leverage that. You can have people who believe in you help finance your product. I think this is the future for a lot of us.


[26:16] I want to start becoming laser focused on making these business ideas happen. I wanted to throw out a lot of different ideas to spark that interest and start the conversation. I want to start getting laser focused on these subjects, so I can showcase the step-by-step process. So you tell me what you want to know: [email protected].

[27:01] The final thing I want to mention is art books. Once you’ve been selling your prints, you can create a book that shows all of these and sell that as well. A lot of my friends who speak at conferences also set up a table with books of their artwork. You can autograph them, sell them at $50. It’s a great resume to have. You can also sell those on Amazon.

[27:47] The last one I want to mention is stock footage. My friend accidentally became a travel blogger. She would travel and then sell the assets on Getty and other sites. She is making an equal amount of money by traveling and taking photos, as she does at her job as a compositor. I can be the reason for your media path, but not as an influencer but a travel blogger. There are so many things you can do! As long as you have access to a camera, you can make that money on the side.

[29:16] I did this talk just to wet your beak but also to have you start the conversation on what you want to see first: Which business do you want to start? I want to show you how to build out these businesses. You can build it out overnight and automate the whole thing.

I hope you enjoyed this Episode and got a lot from it. I will be back next Episode to continue the conversation on how to build your brand. These are the two topics that I want to continue talking about. Shoot me an email with what burning questions you have: [email protected].

Please share this Episode with other. I will be back next week.

Until then —

Rock on!



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