Side Checks Podcast

Choosing To Side Hustle Over Full-Time Entrepreneurship With Melinda Atkinson

April 5, 2023

I'm Amy! I'm a small business educator who got hooked on entrepreneurship after starting a cleaning business in college. Since my Clorox days, I've built many businesses. I've sold businesses. And I've helped small business owners do the same.


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Pursing Career Fulfillment Through Side Hustling

This episode is for all the 9-5’ers out there. A lot of times when we pursue entrepreneurship we think that being full-time is what makes us successful. However, career fulfillment shouldn’t stem from here. On this episode of Side Checks, I sit down with Melinda Atkinson. Melinda is a full-time assistant principal and runs a luxury wedding photography business. In this episode, Melinda is sharing her wisdom on career fulfillment through side hustling and why she chooses not to go full-time.

Melinda Atkinson of Melinda Anita Photography is a Wedding and Branding Photographer based out of the Hudson Valley, NY area. She loves capturing special moments in people’s lives as well as helping small businesses elevate their online presence through curated photos. Melinda works full time as an Assistant Principal in NYC schools and is a mom of two while running her photography business.

Identifying Career Satisfaction

We are all chasing career satisfaction. In fact, this is why most of us get involved in entrepreneurship, to begin with. However, it’s important that we recognize what career satisfaction is for ourselves. Your career fulfillment will look different than others. And it should.

As you pursue any side hustle venture, get very honest with yourself about what out of your career fills you up. Or what you need from your career to accomplish this. In this episode, Melinda explains how so much of her career fulfillment stems from her being multi-passionate. She has such a strong love and appreciation for her career in education as well as photography.

Melinda is a beautiful example of having career satisfaction in both entrepreneurship and a full-time job. So many of us buy into the lie that we need to choose one or the other. This episode gives us an amazing reminder that we can in fact have both. Episode #1 of Side Checks also highlights how side hustling allows us to rethink career fulfillment and enjoy tailoring our career though various avenues like Melinda has.

Balancing A Full Time Career w/ Side Hustling

Being a mom, an assistant principal, and a photographer is a lot. In this episode, Melinda talks about her journey with balancing all of these areas. One question I ask is if she feels like a different person throughout the day as she moves from task to task. Melinda agrees that she does sometimes. However, she’s grateful for the separation since it allows for more balance in her life.

Choosing Not To Be A Full Time Business Owner

There are so many amazing nuggets inside this conversation with Melinda. However, I think the biggest takeaway is Melinda’s reason for not pursuing full-time entrepreneurship with photography, even though she could. Melinda’s photography in the New York area is wildly successful and growing. In fact, Melinda is actually even branching into food photography, as one of my newest contractors for my side hustle.

However, Melinda sees a need for her to be in schools and being intentional with a career in education that she worked very hard to obtain. Plus, Melinda believes in something that I think is incredible and that I completely agree with too; and that is to represent someone truly achieving both sides of work. True side hustling needs representation. We need to set examples of side hustling and pursing full-time careers to show others more versatility within entrepreneurship.

Shifting Within Your Career

And of course, I cannot chat with a wedding photographer without chatting about all of the past wedding gigs we booked in order to grow our businesses. Melinda shares stories of her first photography projects and how her business naturally shifted over the years.

When it comes to career fulfillment and side hustling, these natural shifts are so important to listen to and lean into. Your career is meant to shift and evolve. Shifting within your career doesn’t mean you’re not getting things “right”, it means you’re getting closer to what entrepreneurship means to you. Listen to Episode #10 of Side Checks where I dive into career pivots versus exploration. This highlights fantastic points for side hustlers to understand the journey in career development.

Notes & Resources

Career fulfillment is out there for you. And side hustling is a fantastic avenue to pursue career satisfaction in a safe way. But remember, you don’t have to choose one or the other. A huge misconception when it comes to entrepreneurship is that you need to be “full-time” to be successful. I believe; part-time businesses can earn full-time income any day of the week. And that going “full-time” isn’t always the goal. Especially if we are passionate about our 9-5 careers like my friend, Melinda.

To connect more with Melinda, visit her website at There you can read more about her, see her beautiful work, and explore her wedding and branding packages. You can also keep up with Melinda and see a bit more behind the scenes right here on Instagram.

I hope this episode inspires you and gives you permission to truly chase your own career satisfaction. Career fulfillment looks different for everyone. So your definition of career fulfillment should and will be unique.

Looking for a creative side hustle idea? I have 97 of them! Check out my Free 97 Creative (and profitable) Side Hustle Ideas right here! This list is way better than what you’ll find when you Google search….

I'm Amy Schmidt

Hi there!

I'm a small business cheerleader, strategist, and course creator who loves seeing others earn income in unconventional ways. I started a cleaning business in college and have side hustled since, selling my latest part-time business for $151,000.


I'm Amy Schmidt, your new business strategist!

I'm a small business development and sales strategist who loves seeing others earn income in unconventional ways. I started a cleaning business in college and have side hustled since, selling my latest part-time business for $151,000

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