In this episode, Emily interviews Elana Gloger, a 5th-year PhD student at the University of Kentucky and the host of the Dear Grad Student podcast. Elana and Emily discuss Elana’s motivation to start Dear Grad Student, how the podcast makes money and how much, and the podcast’s expenses. They both give advice on how to earn money from a podcast for someone just starting out and list examples of other types of side hustles grad students pursue and how generate a high pay rate over a short period of time. At the end, Emily shares a key strategy with Elana for managing her business finances going forward.
Links Mentioned in the Episode
- Emily’s E-mail
- PF for PhDs Financial Education
- PF for PhDs S8E9: Be a Fly on the Wall During a Financial Coaching Session (Money Story with Elana Gloger of Dear Grad Student)
- Dear Grad Student Episode 27 (feat. Emily Roberts)
- Dear Grad Student Patreon
- Better Help Affiliate Link
- Magoosh Affiliate Link (GRE Prep)
- Otter.ai (Transcript Service)
- Dear Grad Student Merch (Redbubble)
- PF for PhDs Community
- PF for PhDs S10E7: The Financial Upside to Leaving Academia (Expert Interview with Dr. Christopher Caterine)
- PF for PhDs: Best Financial Practices for Your Self-Employment Side Hustle
- Her First $100K Podcast
- Her First $100K Instagram (@herfirst100k)
- Dear Grad Student Podcast Website
- Dear Grad Student Twitter (@DearGradStudent)
- Elana’s Twitter (@Elana_Gloger)
- Dear Grad Student Instagram (@DearGradStudentPod)
- PF for PhDs Podcast Hub
- PF for PhDs Subscribe to Mailing List
00:00 Elana: If you want to start a podcast, overwhelmingly, my advice is going to be, do it. It is awesome. It is fun. If you want to make money off of a podcast, it’s hard. That’s my biggest piece of advice. If you figure it out, let me know!
00:20 Emily: Welcome to the Personal Finance for PhDs Podcast: A Higher Education in Personal Finance. I’m your host, Dr. Emily Roberts. This is Season 10, Episode 17, and today my guest is Elana Gloger, a 5th-year PhD student at the University of Kentucky and the host of the Dear Grad Student podcast. We discuss Elana’s motivation to start Dear Grad Student, how the podcast makes money and how much, and the podcast’s expenses. We both give advice on how to earn money from a podcast for someone just starting out and list examples of other types of side hustles grad students pursue and how to generate a high pay rate over a short period of time. At the end, I share a key strategy with Elana for managing her business finances going forward. In my business, I’m well into scheduling events for the spring term. If you have a position in a Graduate School or Graduate Student Association or similar—or have the ear of someone who does—please consider bringing my material to the graduate students and postdocs at your university or institute. I offer live and pre-recorded seminars and workshops on a variety of personal finance topics, all tailored for the PhD audience. I’ve noticed that my investing content, whether as a deep-dive workshop or as part of a comprehensive seminar, garners a lot of interest and questions. Most popular of all is my tax workshop for graduate students who are US citizens, permanent residents, and residents for tax purposes, which teaches them how to calculate and report their taxable income and determine which higher education tax benefits to use. If any of that piqued your interest, please start a conversation with me over email, [email protected], or visit PFforPhDs.com/financial-education/. Without further ado, here’s my interview with Elana Gloger of Dear Grad Student.
Will You Please Briefly Introduce Yourself?
02:21 Emily: I have a very special episode for you today, Elana Gloger is back with us. You know her as the host of the Dear Grad Student Podcast. She’s also a PhD student at the University of Kentucky, and we are talking today about her podcast, but specifically the financial side of her podcast and how it’s working out as a side hustle. And maybe some ideas about how you can best manage side hustle income or pursue side hustle income as a graduate student or PhD. So very, very exciting. Elana was last on the podcast in season eight, episode nine. So if you want to learn more about her personal finances, not just the podcast side, you can listen to that one, sort of a mini coaching session. But Elana, welcome back to the podcast and for anybody who is not a listener of your podcast, or didn’t hear the last episode, would you please briefly introduce yourself?
03:07 Elana: Absolutely. So, so, so happy to be back! I have recommended this podcast to so many people since I was last on it. But yes, hello. I am Elana. I’m a fifth year PhD student and I study health psychology at the University of Kentucky. I focus on how our immune system interacts with how we manage stress and regulate ourselves and how that determines how well or poorly we age. And I host Dear Grad Student, which is a podcast. And I’ll just give you my slogan, “for all grad students to celebrate, commiserate, and support one another through grad school.” And yeah, I started it in summer 2020, 6 months into COVID, feeling lonely. Wanted to complain with fellow grad students, and I missed doing that in the hallways between classes and I made a virtual space for that to be, you know, more than just Twitter. So yeah, I love to podcast. It’s a great creative outlet. And as we will discuss today, not a great side hustle for cash, but super, super fun.
What Inspired You to Start Dear Grad Student?
04:07 Emily: Yes. I feel the same way about my podcast. What inspired you to start Dear Grad Student, aside from just lonely during the pandemic?
04:14 Elana: Yes. Well, right. So that was sort of the first one, right? I was lonely. I missed complaining. The other thing is that I really needed something creative to occupy my time that I wasn’t just going to drop off. You know, I crocheted for a really long time and I loved that, but it was like, after you make a few blankets, it’s like, you’ve done it. You know? So it was like, what’s going to be the next thing? And what’s something I can do long-term, that’s going to be fun and relevant for me? And then the other thing, I mean, I did want something that was going to be a side hustle. I don’t make a lot of money as a grad student. We talked about this on your episode, we talked about it on the episode you are on for my podcast, it’s episode 27. We don’t make a lot, but I’ve made a little bit of money from the podcast, and it’s sort of incremental. So, maybe one day this will be, you know, a big dent, but mostly it was, I wanted something fun and creative. I wanted to feel fully me in whatever that was. And I wanted to do something that was impactful to other people, which luckily the podcast has been.
Return on Investment (ROI)
05:12 Emily: I think that ordering of your motivation is really crucial. That you wanted to create something that you’re passionate about. And also, if money comes from it, that’s cool. And that would be a nice supplement. Let’s talk more about how that’s actually working out. So I know from our kind of offline conversations, how much of yourself you put into this podcast. So let’s kind of talk about the ROI here. Like what are you putting in and what are you getting out aside from the feeling of creating community and helping people?
05:43 Elana: Yes. I mean, as a hobby, it’s incredibly fulfilling. Like you said, I mean, I could not be happier. I’m probably at one of the happiest points of grad school, not just with my own personal stuff going on, but because of this podcast, so absolutely fantastic and satisfying for that. Regarding time I spend, which is of course what you were alluding to, I’ve done a little bit better this year. I have shortened the length of my episodes. I’ve gotten some folks on my team to help me out. Last year, I was spending a solid 10 to 15 hours a week, basically unpaid, to do the podcast. This year, it’s a little bit closer to six to 10, depending on length of episode, depending on the hype I’m making for each episode, you know, communications and things. And regarding what that looks like financially, I mean, I’ve actually been making profit every month, profit quote unquote, every month since March.
06:34 Elana: So like individual months, I’m in the green, I would say. But over my whole chunk of this experience, I think I still am in debt, like 134, like that’s, my net is negative $134. And that comes from a lot of different things. And I’ve spent, I will say probably the minimal amount of money that I would spend on a podcast of this size. So it’s been a lot of time to be unpaid. I mean, you really have to love something to put this much time in and get no money and be in the negatives despite the popularity of the podcast over the last year.
07:10 Emily: Yeah. You know, I think that information might be surprising to some people who know how well your podcast has taken off and how well it’s doing and the fact that it is monetized. Just to know that, okay, it is great news the last six months or so, like you’ve made more money than has gone out. But one, that doesn’t account for your time spent at all, you’re not paying yourself directly.
07:33 Elana: Literally not at all.
Emily’s Podcast’s Business Role
07:33 Emily: But then two, like it does cost money to get a podcast off the ground. And so those initial expenses, you’re still paying yourself back for those initial expenses that you incurred near the beginning. Podcasting is definitely a labor of love, I would say for the great, great, great, great, great majority of podcasters, but yeah, it might be surprising to know that behind podcasts and behind bloggers and YouTube channels and all these things like, yes, there are ways to make money from this, but the percentage of people, the percentage of creators who are making any kind of substantial money is so, so, so small.
08:05 Emily: Since you’re disclosing, I may as well disclose that for me, the podcast is not a money-making endeavor. It actually costs me a lot of money directly to make the podcast. And secondly, I pay virtual assistants to work on creating the episodes with me. And so each episode probably costs me 150 to $175 in direct costs of paying assistants and other things like hosting and doing transcripts and so forth. And I’ve decided to incur that cost because this does supplement and support the rest of my business. So for me, the podcast is technically content marketing. So it’s me talking about things that are related to my business. Hopefully, you know, people listen to this, they get something out of it. And eventually they get around to somehow sending money my way through the various means that that could happen like speaking engagements. So that’s kind of my business model. The podcast is in itself as isolated, a money loser and a time loser, but it bolsters the rest of my business. I think to me, in a way, that’s worth it. So that’s kind of my perspective on the podcast financials. Is there anything else that you wanted to add about how you’re like managing the finances of the podcast?
Dear Grad Student Main Revenue and Costs
09:17 Elana: Yeah. I mean, I’m happy to be super transparent about like what my main revenue is, the costs that I’m incurring, things like that. So I have it broken down here in front of me and I just think it would be helpful to let people know like, what is the minimal cost as I mentioned? Like, you know, so people know that the podcast has a Patreon group. I currently have 17 active patrons and I allow people to contribute 1, 3, 5, or $10 a month to the podcast. And it’s listed on the Patreon page, all the things that you can do and the reasons that I’m, you know, trying to earn money. So I have 17 patrons that all have those choices. And last month I made $60 after taxes, which maybe sounds like a lot. It’s actually not. And that’s the most I’ve ever made in one month.
10:00 Elana: And I do have other ways of making money. Like I am an affiliate for you and some of your tax workshops, I promote BetterHelp and their therapy services, Magoosh which is a GRE prep service. I’ve worked with Instacart, things like that, but it is really hard to make money with an affiliate link. I think that you and BetterHelp are probably the ones that I make the most money off of. But it’s a lot. Because with, they say that it’s like 1% of the people that click will buy something. So a hundred people click on something, you might get one purchase. My rate is a little bit better than that because I’ve never had a hundred clicks and I’ve sold things, but it’s really hard.
What is an Affiliate?
10:37 Emily: I want to make sure we were clear about this. So like, when you say affiliate, people might not know like what that means. So an affiliate is like, you’ve decided you as the content creator have decided that you’re going to have an advertising relationship with another entity. But you only get paid if someone actually makes a purchase to, you know, BetterHelp or one of my tax workshops or whatever the different partnerships are. And so it’s like, by the way, for the listener, it’s really helpful if you are going to make a purchase anyway, if you actually do it through the link where you heard about it, right? Like give that person the credit, let them get the few, you know, the dollars or whatever it is that they’re going to get from that sale. That’s really, really helpful. So thank you for those of you who are doing that. This is different from maybe like flat rate advertising where like maybe an advertiser would pay you to run a commercial based on your listenership, like based on the exposure they think they’re going to get, but they’re not going to directly track sales. Two different models. But that’s how affiliate marketing works.
11:36 Elana: Yeah. I’m so glad that you explained that. That’s one of those things that like, it’s now normal knowledge for me, but like, this was all new for me a year ago when I was diving into it. It’s usually bigger podcasts or YouTube channels that if they have millions of followers and people just are like, yeah, the exposure is fine. And then whatever. And so those are my main sources of revenue. And like I said, the costs I’ve put in, despite making, you know, 50, $60 a month off Patreon and other things, I still haven’t broken even. So some of the costs that I’m accruing regularly are things like hosting the podcast on Buzzsprout and that’s $18 a month. I do use a social media schedule to make sure that I can have boundaries with the podcast and have things automatically post.
12:16 Elana: And that is, I think about $14 a month. Because I had to up that a little bit. And then there’s the stuff I pay for yearly. And this is where the big chunks come from. Hosting the website on Squarespace: $200 a year. Otter.ai is what I use for transcripts, which is a big must for me, that is $80 a year. And I pay my transcript editors, Kayden Stockwell, and Vishal Thakkar. And you know, there’s also things like patron benefits, which people are starting to sign up for the tiers where there’s a free mug, a free sticker or whatever it is. And that comes out of my pocket because I’m really thankful for anyone who is putting enough money towards the podcast, that it warrants a free item. And then the last way that I get revenue is merch sales. And so I have made probably $25 in profit from Dear Grad Student merch that’s on red bubble.
13:10 Elana: The way that red bubble works is you upload artwork and then you can put it on any item. They handle the payment, the shipping, making the product, all of it. But you get a very, very little bit of the actual sale made. So that is a small place that I get some profit, but I don’t make a ton. And the podcast was never meant for that. So that’s okay. And you know, even if I did make more, probably wouldn’t pocket it, it would probably go to growing the podcast more until I was at like a really steady rate. So, it’s a balance and I’m doing the best that I can, but maybe don’t go into podcasting for money unless you already have a big following.
13:47 Emily: If there’s anyone listening who wants to support either one of our podcasts monetarily and wants to know what is the biggest impact action they can take, they are willing to part with some money. What can they do to make sure these podcasts continue? So for you, what’s your answer to that? I’m assuming it’s Patreon, is that right?
Patreon and Networking
14:05 Elana: Is, yeah, Patreon’s the biggest one. I do have a couple of affiliate links that pay me quite a big chunk of money. The most being from BetterHelp, but I’m not going to say like, if you want to support the podcast, I would ask you to please go to therapy. What I would rather is to have a relationship with you, and Patreon really allows for that. So you can contribute, like I said, 1, 3, 5 or $10 a month, which hopefully is in a range grad students or postdocs can afford. And it allows you to have a private message with me on there. There’s benefits like you can ask questions I put in the episode, you can know episode themes early. One of these days, I’m going to have special Patreon-only merch. So you really get some extra fun content. And it means a lot to me. I shout the patrons out every month on the podcast, I take special requests from them. So it’s also a benefit for people who really like the content that they know that I’m making. So Patreon is the biggest, and I think the most fun for me as well. So I really see it to be mutually beneficial.
15:05 Emily: Yeah. I think if someone wanted to send a message to you through their money that says, I support Dear Grad Student, the Patreon is the clearest way to send that message, and possibly the least expensive for the person sending the message. Because as you said, for some of the other things, you only get like a small payout compared to what the customer would be paying via the other entity. Of course, that’s how that works. To answer the question for myself, really monetarily, the best thing that comes out of me for the podcast, similar to what you were just saying, is networking. So it’s getting it’s when listeners refer me well, either when listeners themselves have the power to host me for an event with your university or your grad student group or whatever, or can refer me to someone at their university who can. Like those sort of bigger jobs and bigger payouts literally sustain the business. So that is amazing. And thank you so much for those of you who have made those recommendations.
Starting a Podcast and Knowing Your Audience
15:58 Emily: Let’s turn the advice to a different segment of the audience. Let’s say that someone else really wants to start a podcast and they want to make money from it. What is your advice for that person?
16:09 Elana: Great question. If you want to start a podcast, overwhelmingly, my advice is going to be, do it. It is awesome. It is fun. If you want to make money off of a podcast, you have to be really, really good at shameless self-promotion. You need to know your audience. So there’s a reason that I have Magoosh and BetterHelp and things like that, that grad students or people applying to grad school would benefit from. It’s a reason why the merch that I sell is on mugs and stickers because grad students have coffee and laptops. So you want to know what your audience would actually buy from you. And then there are websites like Podcorn. That’s P O D C O R N. I know there’s others, but this is the one I’ve used before, where other people that want to advertise on podcasts, even small ones will say, Hey, we have this thing we’re trying to promote.
17:01 Elana: And then us podcasters can submit a proposal to say, Hey, we want to promote it. Would you pay me X amount of dollars to read an ad? I have never gotten one of these, but I know other small podcasters who have, that spend and dedicate more time to it. So there are ways to do it. You can also get on YouTube with your episodes. And then if you have, you know, X amount of followers and you become a YouTube partner, that’s the way to get a little bit. You can have ads on your website, which I do not do, because I don’t know how, but technically that can also happen where Google analytics can track how much money each page makes. But it takes a lot of time to build money from that. So I think the biggest thing, if you want to make money from a podcast, maybe have a big audience first, know your brand, know your audience, and do things that would make sense for them buy. Like I’m not going to try to sell wellness things because grad students don’t have the extra money to try some tea. Like, that’s not going to work. So it’s hard. That’s my biggest piece of advice. If you figure it out, let me know.
18:04 Emily: I think that is great advice.
18:06 Elana: I guess my conclusion there would just be, there are so many other ways to make money as a grad student that aren’t related to this, like tutoring or transcribing things for businesses or podcasts or a research lab. Making things for an Etsy shop where you probably get a similar, you know, the content is something physical that you can send people. So it’s not like making money. Isn’t possible. Like, I don’t want the total takeaway message from this episode to be grad students cannot successfully have a side hustle. Because that’s not it, but we already have a full-time and a half job probably. So the time it takes to get something that is lucrative, we don’t have as much. That’s where it gets tough.
18:47 Emily: Yeah. I agree. Podcasting is an ultimately very indirect way to make money, if that is your goal at all. And until you get very, very big, you’re not really directly making money.
19:00 Emily: Emily here for a brief interlude. If you are a fan of this podcast, I invite you to check out the Personal Finance for PhDs Community at PFforPhDs.community. The community is for PhDs and people pursuing PhDs who want to take charge of their personal finances by opening and funding an IRA, starting to budget, aggressively paying off debt, financially navigating a life or career transition, maximizing the income from a side hustle, preparing an accurate tax return, and much more. Inside the community, you’ll have access to a library of financial education products, including my recent set of Wealthy PhD Workshops. There is also a discussion forum, monthly live calls with me, and progress journaling for financial goals. Our next live discussion and Q&A call is on Wednesday, December 15th, 2021. Basically, the community exists to help you reach your financial goals, whatever they are. Go to pfforphds.community to find out more. I can’t wait to help propel you to financial success! Now back to the interview.
Finding Your Unique Space as a Grad Student
20:12 Emily: So you just mentioned a couple of great examples of ways that graduate students can have a lucrative side hustle that is not podcasting. I would say like generally speaking, the fastest way to make money is to sell services. So like you can immediately start making money if you are putting yourself out there for tutoring, like you just said. Or writing or editing services or coaching services, if that’s within your wheelhouse. Selling sort of directly your time or how you apply your time to like a project is the fastest way to make money. It’s not necessarily the most lucrative. Unless I would say as a subset of that, you look at what your really special skills are. Like, what makes you unique in the marketplace? And so for graduate students, like maybe that is some skill you’ve been developing during graduate school, like maybe it’s like super ninja data analysis, something or other, and you can sell that as like a consulting service. So that’s something else to think about. Like, if you want money now, go for a service. If you want a lot of money, what makes you unique? A lot of people can tutor. A lot of people can teach, what is it that you do that’s special?
21:22 Elana: And I would say as well, I mean with how big Academic Twitter is and how much advice there is out there, there are a lot of people doing coaching in that space. So now it’s even not just, you know, what’s unique about you, but what can you provide above and beyond what people are accessing for free? And I think that that would be the really tough thing. It’s why I am not offering that kind of thing because I don’t think anything I have to say is that unique. The podcast just gives me a place to say things that I hope everyone knows accessibly. And so it’s really hard to be unique. I think that that’s really something that people don’t quite understand. I don’t know if it’s that we all just think we’re special or what. But I’m having a very hard time on a regular basis figuring out what is unique for the podcast. And that’s something that I’ve spent a lot of time doing to make the podcast something. But when we think about like you said, services, it is hard to sell yourself. That’s why I’m not doing it. I’m selling, you know, the podcast, I’m selling merch, blah, blah, blah, because that’s something that is so hard. And I don’t know if I have the self-esteem for it. I mean, it’s tough, it’s tough.
22:24 Emily: That’s such a good point. I’ve had like, if this will help people who are feeling that way, I’ve had several episodes on the podcast, and I’ll try to link everything I can think of later in the show notes of people who have done things, like consulting, something very relatively high ticket for a graduate student, finding their unique space. And I think a lot of times that just starts with like, you talking about your work with people who aren’t necessarily your peers. So like pivoting, like out of academia and looking in the wider world where they have more money for higher pay rates and like asking yourself, how can my services help these people in this other area who don’t typically interact with PhDs and academics? And maybe what I do seem special. I don’t think it’s special inside academia, but maybe it is special in this other setting. And how can I connect with those people? And this often results in like amazing like work experience and growth experiences. I have an episode with Dr. Chris Caterine that I published recently, we’ll link in the show notes on yeah. Taking those skills that you developed in academia, outside of academia. And having them be really valued because they’re rare. They’re not rare at university, but they’re rare elsewhere.
23:32 Elana: Yeah, for sure.
Impact of Podcast on Personal Finances
23:33 Emily: You mentioned that in recent months, you’ve made something like $60 a month on average from Dear Grad Student. Is that impacting your personal finances at all at this point? Like, are you actually taking that money home? Are you reinvesting it somehow? What are you doing with it?
23:48 Elana: Yeah, that’s a good question. I mean, I’ll say sort of broadly, you know, I track everything for the podcast on this, like Google spreadsheet, because I don’t have a lot of money going out or coming in. So it’s very easy. There’s, you know, three or four lines filled out every month. It’s not high-tech. And because I’m tracking, oh, you know, what is my net gain or loss of the podcast since I started it in August, 2020, I know that I’m still like in the negative one thirties, like I mentioned. So right now, when I get paid from the podcast, it goes into my checking account and it just becomes part of whatever I’m paying off of my credit card or throwing into savings. I’m just replenishing at this point, even though it’s been long-term, like I bought the podcast website in February of 2021. Technically, you know, the $200 I spent I’ve made back, but in all with everything I’ve spent, I haven’t.
24:33 Elana: So right now, it’s just going into my bank account, like normal income, almost like I’m not even seeing it. When I get to the point of hitting zero, which, you know, cross fingers because we’re coming up on a one year of Otter and one year of the website and I’m going to start all over again. But when I get to $0 and I can start actually making profit and, you know, and getting somewhere, I think that will be a question of how much of this do I want to invest in the podcast for what? Right? What’s going to have the biggest gain and growth for the podcast? Like the website was a big one, huge. Transcripts, huge. So the question really will be what is going to be the thing that makes this income even higher? And from there, I can start thinking about investing or fun things or other things like that. But for right now, just replenishing, just trying to hit zero because, you know, I don’t want to be in debt for this. I don’t want to like regret, and I don’t, but I don’t want to be in debt from it. Even $130, like that’s a lot for a grad student.
25:34 Emily: May I make a recommendation?
25:35 Elana: Yes! Help!
Keeping Business and Personal Finances Separate
25:38 Emily: If listeners, as I was talking about earlier, want to learn more about this recommendation, I’m just about to make, I have a course inside my Personal Finance for PhDs Community called Best Financial Practices for Your Self-Employment Side Hustle. And you can find that course directly at pfforphds.com/S E S H for self-employment side hustle. So go there. But the basic basic basic tip is to have some separation between your business finances, and you do have a business, now, even if your business is in the red, you still have a business, and your personal finances. And so I totally understand what you’ve been doing because you’re still in the red net over time and it makes sense that you’re paying yourself back with whatever, you know, monthly profit you have. But once you get to that zero point, once you get to being in the black overall, my recommendation is to have a separate checking account where you’re running everything for your business through that.
26:28 Emily: So all the expenses are paid from there. All the income goes to there. At first, you may not pay yourself, right? Once you’re back to black, you’re not relying on this income, let it build up a little bit in that account. And then you can make decisions about, do I want to reinvest in something? You know, you can save up for maybe a bigger expenditure using that account. Or maybe the answer is no, I want to pay myself a tiny bit for the massive amount of time that I’m putting into this. I’m going to set a salary for myself. And it almost sounds like silly to say that because you know, when we’re talking like $60 a month level, like maybe you would have the ability in a few months to pay yourself a hundred dollars a month. Maybe you’d have that ability.
27:07 Elana: I mean that’d be incredible, because a hundred dollars goes a long way as a grad student.
27:11 Emily: It does. And especially a hundred dollars you can rely on. So this is not like, oh, maybe I’m going to get 60 or maybe 150, or maybe this other amount. When you have the separation between your business finances and your personal finances, once again, you build up some kind of buffer to, you know, ride out the ups and downs. You can make these regular salary transfers. And then maybe it starts out at a hundred dollars, but then maybe in six months, it’s 200 and then maybe it’s 500 and then maybe $1000.
27:37 Elana: It’s the dream, right? It’s the dream.
27:38 Emily: Exactly. And this is how I’ve handled my business as well. Like my salary, I didn’t pay myself a salary for a while, and for a while was a thousand dollars, and then it was 2000, and then et cetera, et cetera, we’ve gone up from there. But I think it’s so, so helpful just mentally to have that separation. Because you don’t feel like you’re being, like you mentioned earlier about like not wanting to put yourself out there and sell and stuff like that. Like, how well you’re doing with selling doesn’t have to immediately impact her personal finances. You can have this degree of separation. So, that’s the first tip.
Facilitating Taxes for Business
28:11 Elana: Yeah, that’s good for the boundary of it. I mean, I hear that and my first thought is like, Ooh, when do I have to start paying taxes on this kind of thing? But I know that that’s the next step. My mom can help me with that. It’s going to be okay. But I know that that is sort of the next step. And maybe that’s what I should have said. Like, I’ve thought about it. It kind of feels dramatic, but I think that I just need to let go of that mindset. Like it isn’t dramatic. Like you said, this is a business, you know, as much as it’s fun, and it really is a hobby. I mean, this is really a passion project for me. There’s income going in and out, and maybe I should start treating it that way.
28:41 Emily: It’s going to be a lot easier come tax time to have this easy record in this one bank account of all of your expenses. You’re not going to have to go hunting through your personal expenses to find all the charges from XYZ different services that you use. So like, that’s one of the main reasons to do it. One is the personal finance reason of the separation. One is the tax simplicity of like the tracking of it. I am very, like we said, this is September, 2021. I think you’re going to sound like you’re going to be in the black in 2021, right? Like overall?
29:10 Elana: Oh wow, I hope so. From your mouth to God’s ears. I mean, truly let’s hope so.
29:15 Emily: So, 2021, you get to file your schedule C and pay tax on this whatever amount of income it ends up being above your expenses. It’s going to be helpful to have that separate account. But yeah, separate account and eventually a salary that you can build into your budget.
29:32 Elana: I’m excited to tell you when I get there. I’ll definitely let you know, I’ll tweet at you. I’ll say Emily, it’s happened. It’s time. I made it.
It Takes Time to Build Something
29:40 Emily: Anything else we want to talk about in this episode about, you know, starting a side hustle, managing finances from a side hustle? Any other comments you want to make?
29:48 Elana: Yeah, I think my biggest thing is that it takes time. Don’t get discouraged if you are trying to build something. I mean, you know, when I started the podcast, I had 372 followers on my personal Twitter account. I ended up having my tweet go viral, which is really what started and launched the podcast. But it takes time, you know, over a year I’ve had like 26,000 downloads. I have almost 5,000 followers on Twitter, over a thousand on Instagram. But all of that has taken all of those hours I mentioned with basically zero income and being in the negatives. So don’t give up, if you have a passion project and you want to go for it and it might make you money, go for it. But you never know if it will or not. And I think that it has been so satisfying and fulfilling in my personal life that, you know, here we are over a year into me doing it. And I don’t even care that I’m in the negatives, but I’ll be super happy when I’m not anymore. So let the passion fuel it rather than the money. Because I feel like that spark will leave really quick if you become impatient with that part.
30:49 Emily: I totally, totally like could not agree more that when you start this kind of thing, creating content that maybe will eventually result in money, you have to be passionate about it to get it off the ground. You know, you mentioned earlier when you had the idea to start the podcast that you wanted something that you were going to stick with long-term. Frankly, a lot of people don’t stick with podcasting, long-term, right? Like most people produce a few episodes and then it’s a lot of work.
31:11 Elana: Yeah, the average is about seven. I saw that online. It was like a threat. It was like, the average is like, they’ll make seven and they’ll stop forever. And I remember when I published my seventh episode, I was like, yeah, watch me. You know, like it became like a dare to myself, and then when I got the followers, it was like, well, now people are expecting a weekly episode. And of course, if I was like burnt out, people are like, oh my God, like, we don’t care to take a week off. But generally I’m like, I have a schedule. I have a structure. People are expecting an episode and I want this to keep growing. So it fuels me.
Best Financial Advice for Another Early-Career PhD
31:41 Emily: Okay. So final question that I ask all of my guests and I asked this to you last time, maybe you’ll come up with something new.
31:46 Elana: I have something new. I’m ready to go.
31:48 Emily: Okay, good. What is your best financial advice for another early-career PhD? It could be something that we touched on in this episode or it could be something completely different.
31:56 Elana: Yes. So this is going to be sort of a bridge between the last episode and this one. You said that was season eight, episode nine. Okay. Everyone should go listen to it. It was a great conversation. So I think my best financial advice bridging these two together is follow a budget early, and listen to financial tips about how to grow wealth at any income. Ever since I was on this last podcast, I’ve been looking for other places where I can also learn about this. One place that I’ve gone, there’s a podcast and Instagram account called Her First $100K, which is kind of like a feminist approach to women building income, which is like, I’m living for it. Your podcast. I’ve listened to many, many, many additional episodes. Like, before I think I’d listened to like what I thought were quote unquote relevant. And now I’m like, just listen to more because you’re going to find bits and pieces, especially when you have like the Q&A section at the end, which may be, or may not be related.
32:47 Elana: I’m like, that’s where I’ve learned the most. I’ve now invested, I know you told me to stop putting money in my Roth IRA. And I did to keep that in my bank, but, I invested that in a mutual fund and I learned a lot about, you know, what to pick. So I think similar to my last advice, it’s about the little steps, but realizing that even at a small income, you can start making those steps. Even at a small income, you can build things and don’t be afraid to go for something. Don’t be afraid to try to make money on the side. There’s nothing wrong with that. And you know, at the end of the day, we’re all just trying to build the best lives for ourselves.
33:21 Emily: I love that. I love finding some people to follow who are having these conversations that feel relevant to you. So like I’m sitting in this like grad student, PhD, academic like perspective on this, but obviously you can learn a ton. And I learned a ton from people outside of that specific niche. And so finding someone else, I mean, there’s so many in the financial space content creators now, like you’re going to find someone that you can identify with, whether it’s Her First $100K, excellent, excellent brand. Whether it’s, they’re all these, like people, you know, people of color and like first gen, you know, college graduates, you know, if that’s the group you are in, like, you can find someone who’s speaking to that audience and will address your, you know, the particular issues that I might not be talking about. Because I’m focused on people in academia. So like assembling like a team of experts that you’re like listening to.
34:09 Elana: Yes, it’s my like mentorship team and they don’t even know about it.
34:11 Emily: Exactly. Excellent, excellent strategy. Well, Elana, it’s been such a delight to have you on again. I’m so glad we were able to do this. I don’t know when this is going to be released, but I will be on your podcast in tax season. So check Dear Grad Student in tax season for that one. And yeah, it’s just great to have you, and thank you so much for coming.
34:30 Elana: Thank you so much for having me again. I have loved this partnership that you and I have built and the collaborations back and forth. Your episode will be coming out on Dear Grad Student at the end of January. So really like, beginning of tax season for me, but maybe that’s actually middle of tax season for normal people who are on top of their finances. But yes, end of January. And then for anyone listening who has not heard of me or Dear Grad Student before, you can find everything for the podcast at deargradstudent.com, you can find me on Twitter @DearGradStudent or @Elana_Gloger. You can find the podcast on Instagram, @DearGradStudentPod. You can find me on Apple Podcasts or Spotify or anywhere. I’m really easy to Google. So I hope you’ll join me if this was interesting, and definitely listen to Emily’s episode on my podcast we’ve already done. You can find that at deargradstudent.com/episodes/27.
35:17 Emily: Perfect. Thank you so much!
35:18 Elana: Thank you!
35:26 Emily: Listeners, thank you for joining me for this episode! pfforphds.com/podcast/ is the hub for the Personal Finance for PhDs podcast. On that page are links to all the episodes’ show notes, which include full transcripts and videos of the interviews. There is also a form to volunteer to be interviewed on the podcast. I’d love for you to check it out and get more involved! If you’ve been enjoying the podcast, here are 4 ways you can help it grow: 1. Subscribe to the podcast and rate and review it on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or whatever platform you use. 2. Share an episode you found particularly valuable on social media, with an email list-serv, or as a link from your website. 3. Recommend me as a speaker to your university or association. My seminars cover the personal finance topics PhDs are most interested in, like investing, debt repayment, and effective budgeting. I also license pre-recorded workshops on taxes. 4. Subscribe to my mailing list at PFforPhDs.com/subscribe/. Through that list, you’ll keep up with all the new content and special opportunities for Personal Finance for PhDs. See you in the next episode, and remember: You don’t have to have a PhD to succeed with personal finance…but it helps! The music is “Stages of Awakening” by Podington Bear from the Free Music Archive and is shared under CC by NC. Podcast editing by Lourdes Bobbio and show notes creation by Meryem Ok.
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