The Heart of Community: Deb Schell’s Inspirational Journey on Hustling Sideways

If you’ve got a full-time 9–5 job and want to start a business, you might be familiar with the term “side hustle.” It refers to building a business while maintaining a full-time job by working on your business when you aren’t at work, like weekends or evenings.

This new interview with the hosts of Hustle Sideways is an entertaining and informative conversation about travel, community building, and business challenges.

The word “hustle” has been something I’ve struggled with because as I look back on my experience of building a business, I find that these were the times that excited me the most.

If you’ve read Creator to Community Builder (If not, you should… buy it here), you’ll know my background in journalism and my hopes for travel writing.

To give you a quick version of the story, I began working on my “side hustle” in 2017 while working at a corporate sales job. To learn more about online business, I searched the web for resources and discovered Location Indie, a community that helps you kick butt in life and business. That group helped me identify my niche as a travel writer, and shortly after that, I began pitching travel stories to online publications.

In December 2019, I decided to jump without a net, quitting my sales job to begin my new career as a travel writer. However, the world shut down three months into the new year and stopped traveling. While I was deeply saddened by the fact that my dreams of being a travel writer quickly dissolved, I began learning more about online communities like the one I joined and decided to start my own online community.

Why I wrote a book about online community building

During the pandemic, I wanted to bring together my friends online to share our goals, challenges, and dreams for the future. The idea for a business emerged when I realized I could build a membership and charge for access to the community’s content, people, and resources.

When my launch in 2020 failed, I struggled to know the next steps for my new business. I continued to run the community and hosted over 30 virtual events throughout the year. I hosted a small group of community builders over six months. That’s when I shifted from building my own community to helping others develop their community.

The book came later after learning directly from the members of my community (now community builders) what would best help them navigate the challenges of building, launching, and growing an online community.

From the beginning of my online community journey, I struggled with the tech, needed help to gain new members, and was challenged with engagement strategies. The book is a way for community builders to learn about the steps and things to consider when creating a community.

Since I’m working with many people who consider themselves business owners, creators, or leaders, I decided to share my story and experiences since opening my consulting business.

Inside the book, you’ll discover proven strategies to help you save thousands of hours of your valuable time building an online community that can help you scale your business while connecting more authentically to your ideal clients.

Ultimately, I wrote this book for new online community builders who need a roadmap to guide them as they clarify their community concept, set a community strategy, and grow their membership, network, or programs.

Side note: check out this FREE companion workbook. It provides a quick overview of the book with actionable steps to help you build an online community and business faster and with less stress than doing it without this tool. Inside, you’ll find exclusive content from the book and links to articles and videos to enrich your learning experience.

Build a community with help! Once you’ve downloaded your workbook, join us inside the Community Builders with Purpose community to connect with fellow community builders.

The book club returns in 2024 and meets the last Tuesday of the month at 11 a.m. Eastern.

Email for questions or comments.



Deb Schell, Author and Community Strategist

Community Strategist, Author, Podcaster, Designer. Find Calm Here, where community strategy meets intentionality.