I Have the Best Side Hustle: Jason Falls at Cornett

The fact I can play around with content platforms and mediums and earn an extra paycheck from it now and then is icing on the cake.

 

Cornett
Full Service
Lexington, United States
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Jason Falls
Director of Digital Strategy Cornett
 

Tell us a bit about yourself and your side hustle.

I have the best side hustle because it ultimately benefits my main hustle! Being a digital strategy lead at a dynamite creative agency means I’m looked upon by my colleagues and clients to offer the latest and greatest ideas and strategies for communicating in the digital space. Along my journey, I carved out a bit of thought leadership and expertise in the industry and developed my side hustle as an author, speaker, podcaster and industry voice. So not only do I interview and network with those defining the latest and greatest ideas and strategies in the space, I’m a part of those looked upon as a thought leader.

My side hustle has produced three books (I’m an author), deep relationships with social technology and marketing software vendors (they pay me as an influencer in the marketing space to create content for them), a reputation as a strong keynote speaker (I’ve spoken on three continents and in eight countries) and myself as an industry media outlet (I host two podcasts). And when someone in all that side hustle magic says, “Do you know of a good agency that can help us with this challenge?” I have a great answer. 

 
What inspired you to start your side hustle? How long have you been doing it?

I started blogging about social media in 2007 after a few fledgling years trying to be the next Dave Barry, writing a humor column for a newspaper and learning how to publish it online. As businesses and brands began using social media, I saw an opportunity to position myself as someone who knew a thing or two about that. I thought it might help me attract some clients and fun projects at my agency. In 18 months I went from PR account manager to Director of Social Media to VP and Director of Interactive. The blog took off, eventually landing as the No. 1 marketing blog in the world based on one advertising magazine’s old blog rankings. I was approached about writing a book which required a second to fulfil the contract and became a noted speaker as a result. Over the years, I’ve maintained a thought leader position in the social media, social technology, influence marketing and digital marketing segments. My standing has resulted in gigs for IBM, Salesforce, HubSpot, NetBase, Workfront and many others.  

 
Does your side hustle benefit the community in any way? If not, do you plan on using it to give back at some point?

Certainly the value I bring to the table is frequently used to help non-profit organizations, schools and communities. I’ve frequently conducted talks and training sessions at schools and typically do not charge for non-profit events that ask me to speak. I also sometimes use my publishing platforms to pursue the interests of the community through advocacy. For example, I’ve focused several interviews and even just my own opinion elements of my podcast on pursuing both my agency’s and my personal commitment to change in light of the Black Lives Matter movement. And then there’s the simple math: My side hustle provides me with some degree of additional income I can use to support the academic and social organizations I personally align with. I’ve served on the boards of three non-profit organizations in my journey, all of which benefited from my side hustle. 

 
What motivates you to keep hustling?

I love creating content. I love publishing. I love broadcasting. It goes back to seeing my name in print for the first time in a by-line or hearing my own voice on the radio. I just dig it. The fact I can play around with these content platforms and mediums and earn an extra paycheck from it now and then is icing on the cake. 

 
Were there any specific skills you needed to start this project? Has your day job helped in developing those skills?

Because they’re so closely related, I think both my education and training as a writer, broadcaster and communicator and my day job of using those to help market brands, products and services contribute to my side hustle success. I wouldn’t be successful at this without the ability to speak in public, write good content, look and sound professional on camera. I also wouldn’t be able to get much traction if I didn’t have some idea of how to market what I’m doing. They go hand-in-hand.

 
Does your side hustle benefit your day-to-day work?

Absolutely. As I indicated in a previous answer, that’s the best part of it. My agency winds up with clients because I’m visible as a thought leader, speaker, podcaster and influencer in the marketing space.

 
What have you learned since you began your side hustle? Has it evolved it evolved the years?

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is not how to balance the side hustle with the real job – I’m good at that – but I’ve learned that your boss, your colleagues and others around you don’t always perceive that you are good at it. You have to really communicate what you’re doing, why and how often with those around you at your main job so they don’t think you’re just off doing something that only benefits you. That’s another reason the fact my agency benefits from my side hustle is so powerful. It makes up for any doubt when you roll in with new clients.  

 
Is there any advice you’d give to young creatives & executives on how to pursue their passion projects on the side?

Communicate early and often as you develop your side hustle. Define the line between what’s good for your job and what’s a conflict of interest and always respect it. It’s okay to say no to side hustle opportunities, especially if they interfere with your work or clients at the real job. And always – ALWAYS – be able to walk away from the side hustle. You may switch jobs or get a new boss or the company’s policies may change. Unless your side hustle is enough to sustain you – which most aren’t – you always have to be loyal to your main gig. That’s where the bread is buttered.