Name: Michaela Bucchianeri
City: Minneapolis, MN
Main Hustle: I’m a clinical psychologist in private practice. Prior to that I’ve conducted research, consulted on program development, and taught college courses. My (career) closet’s packed with all the hats I’ve worn, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Side Hustle: I’m a freelance copywriter, ghostwriter, and content creator. Over time I’ve niched that down to the health + wellness fields, the sweet spot where I feel I have the most to share. Most recently I’ve launched an online copywriting platform focused on helping other health + wellness professionals get clear on their unique value, communicate it with heart, attract and serve the people they love working with most…and actually have fun along the way.
How did you get started?: I’ve always loved writing, and I enjoy the challenge of finding new ways to communicate with different audiences, from research peers to students to clients and members of the community. Not everyone shares that love, however, and over the years I found myself moonlighting as an unofficial writing coach to classmates, academic colleagues, and friends launching their own practices and businesses. It got me thinking about all the constraints we experience when we’re wearing these different professional hats. And how it influences the way we think about our strengths, how we feel about our work, and–most of all–how we communicate with others about who we are and what we have to offer.
So, when I started my own therapy practice, I asked myself, “What would happen if you forgot about all the professional SHOULDS and showed up as the real you instead?”
So I got crystal-clear on what I’m best at and what parts of my work I love most. I wrote my bio and blog content for the clients I most wanted to work with. (In words that I actually use.) And it worked. It worked so well, in fact, that I felt inspired to share it with other folks in the health + wellness fields. That’s how my copywriting business and blog were born!
When/where do you work on your Side Hustle?: Historically, I’ve had to get creative and fit things in whenever and wherever I can. Early mornings, long flights, extra hours borrowed from unexpectedly cancelled plans…but, a few months ago, I switched up my schedule to set clearer boundaries around my therapy days and my writing days. So now I write mostly from the comfort of my pjs, with occasional field trips to favorite spots around the Twin Cities. It’s been an incredible gift that I certainly don’t take for granted!
What are the challenges of your Side Hustle?:
Peeling myself away and switching gears when time’s up, honestly. Being present and engaged with my family (for dinner, homework, play time, unhurried conversations) is a non-negotiable for me, so firm boundaries are essential.
I shut work down at 5pm (or earlier), I don’t typically work on weekends, and I try hard to build a business that serves my life…and not the other way around.
Fortunately these boundaries have pushed me to rethink my whole approach to a day’s work, and I’ve become much more efficient and intentional with my time.
What are the rewards of your Side Hustle?: Too many to name here!
It’s allowed me to explore my creativity and challenge my brain in new ways. It’s taught me the beauty and humility of being a true beginner. Of working through the inevitable frustration and uncertainty that comes with any new endeavor. It’s forced me to step (well) outside my comfort zone and continually put myself out there before I’m “ready”. It’s connected me with communities I didn’t even know existed and that have enriched my life in sweet and surprising ways. It’s reminded me that I’m more than simply what I do for a living, and that the experience of creating something just for fun is a reward all its own.
Seriously, I could go on! I won’t… but I could. 😉
Who is your greatest supporter?: I’m blessed with incredible support everywhere I turn. My family, who have cheered alongside me at each twist in the road. My husband, who urges me to indulge every creative whim I might have (even when there’s no obvious payoff), and who’s a true partner in both the emotional sense AND in all the practical ways that help free me up to do work I love. My friends, those I’ve met “in real life” and the ones I’ve gotten to know through our conversations online. The solidarity I feel with them is palpable, and it really spurs me on to keep contributing where I can.
Who/what is your greatest source of inspiration?: I’m biased, of course, but my sisters are two of the most creative people on the planet, and both are exceptional side hustlers. My sister, Gina, designs gorgeous, minimalist jewelry pieces in her spare time (https://www.etsy.com/shop/HONEYBEANstyle). She’s also the one who opened my eyes to the beauty of the Instagram DM for building community in an authentic way. It’s truly expanded my understanding of what it means to be “social” on social media. And my sister, Alyssa, creates stunning, hand-lettered signs and watercolor art for weddings and other special events (https://www.letteringbyalyssa.com). She inspires me to get in there and just give things a try without having it all figured out first. You can stumble down some pretty fun paths that way!
What is your dream for your Side Hustle?: As much as I enjoy my 1:1 freelancing work, I’d love to expand the educational/training side of my copywriting platform to reach as many health + wellness professionals as possible. Folks in the health + wellness space are truly dedicated to our work. But, unlike those in the more obviously “creative” fields, we’re often pressured to hide behind a mask of formality in the way we communicate with the people we’re trying to help. This leads to website copy, marketing, etc., that sounds either cold and distant or generic and bland. Again, I understand WHY this happens, but I wish it didn’t. It’s bad for business, bad for clients… it’s bad for everyone!
I truly believe that with the right blend of guidance and encouragement, anyone can learn to “preach what they practice” and communicate meaningfully and effectively with the people they most want to reach.
I think a more intentional approach to the way we talk about what we do has the potential to create powerful ripples throughout the health + wellness fields, and I feel more passion for this every day. Definitely more than I can realistically fit into my side hustle schedule. Stay tuned!
Do you have any advice for others working on a Side Hustle?: Even though I’ve just used the word “passion”, I actually think this sets us up for some unreasonable expectations of ourselves. No one wakes up sizzling with creative passion every single day. It’s not sustainable! I much prefer thinking about it in terms of curiosity instead. Elizabeth Gilbert talks about this in her book, Big Magic (which I highly recommend to anyone). She advocates simply following your curiosity like a treasure hunt and seeing where it leads you.
Another (related) piece of advice I’d offer is to let go of the need to have a clear plan worked out before you embark on something.
In my experience, our efforts often feel like a jumbled mess in real time, but when we look back we see that it was all part of a connected path. That goofy idea that never fully panned out? It wasn’t a “failure”; it got your creative wheels turning. That blog you started, then stopped? It’s the reason you now know how to set up a website. Everything can be Googled, and figured out, and refined into something better. But not overnight. So give yourself some grace! And pause every now and then to remind yourself you’re attempting something few people ever do: you’re using your precious time and energy to create something and share it with the world. That takes real courage.