Meredith: Food & Lifestyle Blogger

Name: Meredith Tolleson

Age: 26

City: Birmingham, Alabama

Main Hustle: Senior SEO Coordinator for automotive advertising agency

Side Hustle: Food and lifestyle blog that provides the modern Southern woman with easy recipes, entertaining hacks to impress your guests, and other lifestyle tips to achieve  a fun and hospitable life.

How did you get started?: I’ve always had a passion for sharing recipes and entertaining. It’s how I show my love! I tried to start blogging when I graduated from college and actually landed my first job because my employer thought it was very admirable. My first blog (under a different name) fizzled out due to the fact that I really didn’t know what I was doing, and I put all of my energy into my first job.

After I left the start-up world, I began working on the digital team at an advertising agency. I was brought on to manage and edit on-site content for the SEO team. I soaked up everything within the first few months on how to work on the backend of websites, optimize for Google Search, and how to effectively set up a blog.

Personally I felt really uninspired because I had no creative reign within my current role. I also wanted to see if I could start something from scratch and get it ranking organically on Google. So I built my own blog and began driving traffic almost immediately!

I started the Instagram page as a way to push extra traffic to my site, while the organic traffic slowly built… this takes time!

The blog has grown into a true passion project and has opened so many doors for me that I could never have imagined. I have full creative control and am able to share the things I love, test marketing strategies, and help promote local businesses (which is something I am also passionate about).

Getting involved in my community has always been something I had longed for, but I didn’t know how or where I would be needed, and starting this blog has been the answer. I wake up everyday excited to grow The Southern Source as a brand and continue to connect with my local and online community!

When/where do you work on your Side Hustle?: I work on it during my lunch break, at night, and sometimes on the weekends.

In the beginning (the first 6 months), I was working nonstop on it. Now I’m happy that is running more on auto-pilot, and my workflow has become more efficient.

What are the challenges of your Side Hustle?:

Balancing my full-time job and family has been the biggest challenge. I had to be selfish for the first few months and made sure my husband knew all the sacrifices we would have to make. I was HUSTLING in all of its meaning. Getting something off the ground is hard work and stressful. Not just for the entrepreneur, but for everyone involved.

I work in a high-stress environment at my full-time job, so sometimes I became overwhelmed with all the things I had going on and would forget things outside of work that were important to me and to other people. It’s imperative to know when you need to take a step back.

What are the rewards of your Side Hustle?: Networking and getting involved in the community! I love meeting people and helping small businesses. I have loved the chance to connect with like-minded women on my social platforms and also be able to meet local business owners to help with their marketing!

Who is your greatest supporter?: My mother is my greatest supporter. She has helped me in so many ways with my side hustle. Running errands, helping with photoshoots, and just making me laugh.

Who/what is your greatest source of inspiration?: I get a ton of inspiration from traveling. Even if it’s traveling to new places within Birmingham. There is so much going on here, and it’s so exciting for those of us who grew up here calling it “Boring-ham.”

I also get inspiration from other bloggers and friends who have amazing taste!

Have you received recognition for your work? If so, please toot your horn below: Yes, I was featured in our newsletter once, and our owner says he reads the blog.

What is your dream for your Side Hustle?: I would love to go part-time doing my blog and part-time doing marketing consulting

Do you have any advice for others working on a Side Hustle?:

Surround yourself with positive people who truly support you and have your best interest.

To learn more about Meredith and her Side Hustle, visit her blog, follow along on Instagram, or reach out via email to connect or collaborate!

Feature Image by Lindsey Ann Photography

Images below by Lindsey Ann Photography

Kitchen Headshot by  Iron City Photo

Monica: Blogger

Name: Monica Dutia

Age: 27

City: Washington, DC

Main Hustle: Marketing at George Washington University

Side Hustle: Founder & Editor of

How did you get started?: I initially created a blog during the summer of 2012 when I was living and interning in DC. It was food-focused: mostly basic recipes and concoctions I was creating in my apartment. During the following year (my senior year of college), I posted maybe 2-3 times and went beyond just food. During this time, I’d started reading more blogs in my free time and right after graduation, I decided to really run with my blog in a more formal way. I purchased a domain, started posting consistently, and very, VERY slowly, started telling people about the site!

When/where do you work on your Side Hustle?: I work on my side hustle whenever, wherever! I’m much more of a morning person than a night owl, so I tend to wake up early and aim to get 1-2 hours of work done before heading off to my 9-5. We did recently get a puppy, so the routine has been really off lately! I also make sure to have several hours available on the weekends and work on it most weeknights as well. I’ll also utilize the “Notes” app on my iPhone and knock out written content while on the metro–I’ve found myself to be weirdly productive during this time, and it’s nice coming home with content that’s close to ready to go!

What are the challenges of your Side Hustle?: Making the time to do everything! Having a side hustle means so many more boxes to check, but the other responsibilities in your life still need your full attention, too. Time management is key and while I feel like it’s one of my strong suits, there are definitely times when it feels impossible to get it all done.

What are the rewards of your Side Hustle?: I’ve gained amazing friends and a wonderful mentor through my side hustle! There are so many rewards, but that’s probably my most valued one.

It’s also really incredible being able to see the outcome of your work…I really just started my blog because I loved sharing things that inspired or resonated with me, and it’s really cool that people from all over care about the same things!

Who is your greatest supporter?: This is a tough one! I feel lucky to be surrounded by a very supportive group of friends and family. My family is very entrepreneurial so there has always been enthusiasm from their side, and even my friends who don’t read blogs at all offer their advice, encouragement, and ideas, which means a lot! My boyfriend has been a massive help, too…he helps photograph content, weighs in on the admin side, gives great advice, deals with me when I’m stressed (a lifesaver!), and picks up the slack in so many other ways.

Who/what is your greatest source of inspiration?: I don’t know that I have a specific, great source of inspiration because so much of what I see and do on a daily basis inspires me. Travel does play a huge role, though, as do aesthetically-pleasing things and good food. So, everything I guess?!

What is your dream for your Side Hustle?: I have a few ideas in mind but being able to work for myself full time has always been a goal of mine. I initially wanted to get to that point in my late 20s, but I feel like I still have so much to learn from others that I’d be content waiting a few more years to get some more experience under my belt.

Do you have any advice for others working on a Side Hustle?:

It’s worth the hard work and long hours! Keep trekking on even if things don’t fall into place immediately, and make sure you’re doing what you’re doing because YOU love it! Also, don’t compare yourself to others. People will always have more followers, make more money, and have cooler partnerships. Don’t worry about them–do YOUR thing!

To learn more about Monica and her blog, check out her site, follow along on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter, or reach out via email to connect or collaborate!


Gemma: Healthy Lifestyle Blogger

Name: Gemma

Age: 27

City: Sydney, Australia

Main Hustle: Journalist

I am a radio news journalist turned online digital journalist. I write mainly current affairs and news, but I also freelanced for health/fitness and travel sites while travelling the world for two years.

Side Hustle:
Sunlit Eyes – a healthy lifestyle blog

How did you get started?: My side hustle is my true love. On Sunlit Eyes I write from my heart. It’s healthy lifestyle, but through my eyes.

I don’t see healthy as a diet of kale and having an instagrammable rig 24/7. I had that—it was boring. I am passionate about sharing a manageable form of healthy. For me, a big part of that is travel and lifestyle, not just what you put in your mouth and how you move your body.

The phrase “Sunlit Eyes” was formed, because I want to remind people to always see the positive, to see the sun in everything they do. Be positive, and you’ll attract positive.

I am already a writer and a journalist by trade. Sunlit Eyes started at a turning point in my life. I quit my job, my life, and my current boyfriend and I moved to the other side of the world. I wanted to document my life jump, provide inspiration for others to do the same and focus my then unemployed self toward the things I was passionate about.

When/where do you work on your Side Hustle?: I write on public transport, be it a train or plane.

When I travel, I keep track of cool places I see and visit in the notes section on my phone. I write articles on my lunch break and while I am relaxing on the couch after my day job is done. My mind is full of ideas, it never runs dry, and I fit content creation in where and when I can.

I only recently started my Sunlit Eyes Instagram. I post on my way to Crossfit, on the 6:20 AM bus. It’s become a routine.

What are the challenges of your Side Hustle?: There are so many “healthy” blogs out there. So how do I make mine shine? What makes mine different? Breaking into the industry is hard when you start from nothing. If I had the financial freedom to work on it full time, I am sure I could grow it quicker, but I don’t have the luxury to do that. But I am just going to keep creating content from the heart when and where I can and see where it takes me.

What are the rewards of your Side Hustle?: It’s my therapy. It’s my passions written down.

I have always been an “over-sharer” so by creating this content and having it live somewhere, even if no one is reading it, it makes me happy to get it out there and write it down.

My friends will say to me “Where should I stay in Greece?” or “What was that banana cake you made that time?” Well, I now have somewhere to direct them to.

Who is your greatest supporter?: I can’t pick one. I have three, and they support in different ways.

My parents: subscribe to my site and read everything I do. My parents have never questioned the decisions I make in my life—they just support them.

My boyfriend: lives a very similar, health-focused lifestyle to me, and is more than happy for me to blog, photograph, Instagram our lives and holidays away without a second thought.

My best friend: my travel inspiration. She’s a dreamer, a supporter, and my own personal cheer squad.

Who/what is your greatest source of inspiration?: There was a time when I never would have admitted this. But my strength is my greatest inspiration.

I used to care what others thought of me. But I’ve come to realise, someone might “care” for a few minutes or a conversation, and then they go back to their lives. My life is MINE; it’s completely unique to me.

I draw inspiration from my hardships, my successes, my tragedies, my personal motivations, and my learnings from others. I gain such inspiration by observing how they fit into the tetris that is life and everyone else out there in the world.

Have you received recognition for your work? If so, please toot your horn below: My site has sparked the interest of similar, more accomplished sites along the same vein. I have written content for both Hip and Healthy and Bekibo,  which are both UK based.

What is your dream for your Side Hustle?: I would love to make it my main hustle one day. I would love nothing more than to make my own rules and stop working on someone else’s dream. I want to work on my own dream.

Do you have any advice for others working on a Side Hustle?: Just keep swimming.

I have by no means “made it yet” with Sunlit Eyes,  and if I wasn’t strong or I cared about what others might say, I might have just packed it in already. But instead of worrying about how many people are reading, or how many followers I have, I am just focusing on making great content I am proud of and having it live somewhere. I am treating “followers and readers” as a bonus.

To learn more about Gemma and her Side Hustle, visit the Sunlit Eyes blog, following along on Instagram, or reach out via email to connect or collaborate!

Ashley: Food & Lifestyle Blogger

Name: Ashley Maiberger

Age: 33

City: Austin, TX

Side Hustle: I have a food and lifestyle blog that involves all things pertaining to motherhood, travel, food, fashion, and beauty. I mostly enjoy creating new recipes and identifying family friendly spots.

Do you have a website or store?:

How did you get started?: I’ve always loved trying new restaurants and sharing recipes with friends. My website gives me a platform to create a community.

When/where do you work?: From home.

What are the challenges of your Side Hustle?: Work life balance!

What are the rewards of your Side Hustle?:

It thrills me when I get emails or social media comments that let me know I have inspired someone to try something new. I think sometimes as parents we get stuck in a rut with restaurants and recipes and knowing what works. I love highlighting new places for families to enjoy and new dishes to create in their house!

Who is your greatest supporter?: My husband!!!!

Who/what is your greatest source of inspiration?: When I was young, my mother made everything from scratch, and I love spoiling my husband and daughter the same.

Have you received recognition for your work?: I am still new to the scene and climbing, but honestly every like I get on Instagram still excites me. I hope that novelty never wears off.

What is your dream for your Side Hustle?: I dream of having a well-known website with recipes plastering Pinterest boards!

Do you have any advice for others working on a Side Hustle?: Patience and consistency.

Check out Ashley’s blog, follow along on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook, or reach out via email to connect or collaborate!

Chelbe: Food & Lifestyle Blogger

Name: Chelbe Hudgens

Age: 23

City: Austin

Side Hustle: Food & Lifestyle blog called Peachy Jean.

How did you get started?: My family is full of amazing home cooks. While growing up, I always helped in the kitchen. When I went away to college, I still desired the home-cooked meals I grew up with so it went from simply helping to preparing whole meals for myself and my friends. My friends loved that I baked and cooked for them and they are the ones that told me I should start a blog. It took me a few years to listen to them, but I finally started a food blog my senior year of college.

When/where do you work?: I work at Spredfast, a social media software company.

What are the challenges of your Side Hustle?: Time is my biggest challenge. Because of my 9-5 job, I usually plan on cooking/baking something on the weekends. The weekends can still be hectic because of life and such, so it’s hard to find time to set aside for prepping, cooking, plating/styling, photography, editing, writing, etc., etc., etc., etc.

What are the rewards of your Side Hustle?: The best reward of Peachy Jean is being able to combine several of my passions and interests. I get to cook/bake, photograph, edit, write, and create my own website.

Who is your greatest supporter?: My greatest supports are my friends and family. My friends are the ones that pushed me to start a blog. My family is so proud of me and is always sending me family recipes to share. My boyfriend is always there for whatever I need, whether it be kind words or a helping hand.

Who/what is your greatest source of inspiration?: My greatest inspiration is the food and culture I’m surrounded by in Austin, Texas. There are amazing restaurants here with innovative chefs who are always blowing my mind with their delicious dishes.

What is your dream for your Side Hustle?:

My dream for Peachy Jean is that it inspires people to step out of their comfort zones, whether that be in the kitchen, their style, or elsewhere.

Do you have any advice for others working on a Side Hustle?:

Be patient, good things take time.

When I first started brainstorming Peachy Jean and everything that came with it, it was very overwhelming. I knew that if I tried to tackle everything at once that I would get overwhelmed and that could lead me to potentially giving up. I decided from the beginning that I wanted to be organized and take small steps. This was supposed to be a fun way of flexing my creativity and passions, and I didn’t want it to turn into something stressful.

Check out Chelbe’s blog, follow along on Instagram, or reach out via email to connect or collaborate!


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