From Iceland — Side Hustle Of The Issue: The Podcaster

Side Hustle Of The Issue: The Podcaster

Published August 23, 2023

Side Hustle Of The Issue: The Podcaster
Photo by
Art Bicnick

“It’s called Backwater Bastards and it’s the galaxy’s greatest best friends show of all time.”

I speak with Taylor Garcia van Biljon well beyond traditional working hours, as she joins me from her makeshift home studio. Here, she spends countless days and nights working on an ENNIE-nominated podcast with friends. This is her side hustle, even though it sometimes feels like a lot more.

Taylor Garcia van Biljon, 33, UX Designer & Researcher 

During the day, I work on software and apps. At night, on the weekends and whenever I can get two minutes, I’m working on my podcast with two other people that both live in different countries. The podcast that we’re making is basically a sci-fi comedy improv narrative play. We’re telling a really cinematic story – there’s a lot of voices, sound design, music and ambience. It’s about six years old now. 

Do what you love

I’ve never done anything like this before. But I had a friend, who was a fan of podcasts like this. He said, “I think we could do it.” None of us really had any background. But we were all working in creative fields – everybody was a concept artist, an illustrator, or a graphic designer. We thought we could tell cool stories together and then we never stopped. It’s finally making some money after all this time, but really, we just do it because all day we make stuff for other people and we really don’t get to make anything for ourselves. This is just what we love to do.

“We do this at night”

Sometimes it’s hard just to manage the day job by itself, but this – we do this at night. Once I log out of my day job, I come home and start my second job. It takes up weekends, nights, sometimes we travel and go to conventions and that takes months to plan. We’re on a network now, so we have a bit of a motivation to keep producing content. There’s only three of us and we each do probably five people’s worth of jobs. One of us manages all of the sound design, the editing and then we have social accounts, hosting, the website and all of the collaborative work. 

My favourite thing is that I get to make something with people that I love. We definitely put more money into this than we get out of it. It’s not a lucrative side hustle, but it’s amazing to choose what you want to make and completely control it. We control every aspect of it – from what content we put out, how we do it, what it sounds like, what our art looks like, what we say about ourselves, even the principle of what kind of ads we’ll accept on the show, who we work with, and when we do it – all of it is up to us. That feels incredible. 

It has made us better communicators and better problem solvers. The show is improvisational, so we’re constantly trying to get ourselves out of problems. We’re braver people. At this point, we’re making better art than when we started, which is gratifying to look back and remember how horrible and rough the process was. We made some weird stuff in the beginning. 

There’s nothing about the making of it that I don’t like. It’s more how challenging it is to put out good product and have people find it. Discoverability is really challenging – the way that social media works, it’s up to how much you’re willing to pay for ads. Or if you have an existing platform – if you’re a celebrity, or you’re independently wealthy, you’re in. But if you’re a regular person, good luck. We’re regular people, so we just keep making stuff.

The pod code

Don’t buy the fancy equipment first, make stuff without it. The first show that you make is going to be awful. Just do it and get it out of the way. You’ll make something really incredible after that, but you have to make a horrible show first. These are the rules.

Check out Taylor’s podcast: backwaterbastards.com

Want to share how you’re making ends meet? Email us at grapevine@grapevine.is with the subject line “Side Hustle.” We’ll happily keep your identity anonymous.


Follow along with the Side Hustle series right here.

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