You may recognize this blonde, branding babe—that’s because she appeared on Side Hustle less than three months ago as a Marketing Communications Manager running a graphic design, photography, and branding business on the side.
In June Lydia traded in her 9-5 to run that same side business full-time, a transition she made happen in just seven short months. And she’s back on Side Hustle to share all of her tricks of the entrepreneur trade.
Lydia Kerr’s career started off in the corporate world, working for an outdoor apparel company based in England that shared her passion for marine life. Sailing has always been a huge part of Lydia’s life, spending countless days sailing off the coast of North Carolina and around the world. It was the perfect fit, until Lydia recognized her desire to spend more time in the creative industry, rather than the marketing world.
When Lydia’s brother-in-law got engaged and asked her to design their wedding invitations, she was given a chance to fill the creative void in her life. She had created her own wedding invitations as well when she got married, so after a second successful jump into the bridal industry, she decided to build up her client list.
“I started reaching out to strangers on Instagram, direct messaging them to establish contact and promote my business where I saw a need. I offered discounts on services if they would just give me a shot.”
One small decision she made on social media turned out to be a pivotal move in her business strategy.
“I decided to eliminate my personal Instagram and solely use my business account. Suddenly people started finding me and my services, instead of vice versa.”
As she got to know her clients and followers, she realized she was no longer solely targeting a bridal audience. It was time for a rebrand.
“Three months after launching my side business I realized that my audience had changed, and my brand was no longer in line with my client base. I chose Telltale Creative because it blends my love of sailing, which is such a huge part of who I am, with my passion for creative design. The name originates from the telltales on a sailing vessel—small strings attached to the sail of a ship that tell the sailor how efficiently they’re moving in the direction they want to go. In the same way that a telltale provides visual signals of the presence of a boat, a branding process provides direction for your business.”
Following the rebrand, Lydia dove right in offering a number of services including branding, photography, web design, and a multitude of graphic design options. As business rolled in, she began to realize this just might become something more than a side hustle.
“I started with an income goal to match my income at the outdoor apparel company. I launched my side hustle business in December of 2017, I matched my income goal in early June, and I quit my full-time job on June 15th.”
While her journey from side hustle to main hustle was relatively short, it didn’t come without its share of worries and fears.
“The transition was nerve-racking. I craved security, but as soon as I made the jump, my car died, and there was a lot of coupon use in those early days. My husband constantly reassured me that I could do this, and I had to remind myself that from a financial perspective this was possible. But even my grandmother told me she was worried about me. I just responded, ‘Well, me too!'”
Now Lydia works with a portfolio of 25 clients—and growing. The majority of her clients still come from Instagram, while others find her via friends and family or searches on Google.
With so many free design platforms out there, Lydia remains unfazed by the saturated options online and doesn’t consider them to be a potential threat to her business.
“Trends change and go away. Pre-made templates are usually not personalized or on-brand. I spend so much time on research: fonts, colors, symbols, objects, landscapes, etc. They are all purposeful design choices in my work contributing to the brand as a whole. I research the competition, the industry, the strengths and weaknesses of the current brand. It is all part of the brand strategy, and you have to have a strategy for your brand to work. By the time the process is over and you have launched your new brand, it will pay for itself.”
Lydia in Ten:
- Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama
- Pets: 2 dogs
- Education: Homeschooled until she was 18
- Alumna Status: Samford University (and Side Hustle!)
- Other Roles: Young Life Leader
- World Travel: England, Iceland, Morocco, Israel, Haiti, over 30 Caribbean islands, and 29/50 states in the US
- Biggest Adventure: She studied abroad in college on an 88′ traditionally rigged schooner in the Caribbean Sea for four months.
- Random Act of Kindness She loves to give $5 to strangers on Kickstarter. “I love the thought of getting to play a role in people’s dreams, in starting their business.”
- If not branding, what?: Flight Attendant. She actually went through the process of applying at Delta, but it was unsuccessful, so she followed a different dream instead.
- Advice for other Side Hustlers: “Slow down, plan, and create a strategy. Brand yourself before you launch your site. People will take you more seriously because it makes you more professional. It also gives you more confidence and direction as a business owner.”