Interview with Kate Paine

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Kate Paine

Small business owner of Writing and Research Skills and Discovering Music

Websites: www.writingandresearchskills.com and www.discovering-music.com

Instagram: @katewritingresearchmusic

Side Hustle or Non-Academic career?

My side hustles are my career for now. I’ve always loved the idea of a composite creative career, and I find my two side hustles, my music and writing, and my PhD study feed into each other very nicely. There are so many similarities in terms of approach and ways of thinking.

What does an average day in the life look like for you?

An average day for me is a mix of parenting, studying, writing, teaching, and music. My husband recently started his own business so he’s at home, too (meteorology/climate change) and is also a musician so we juggle who uses what room depending on what we’re doing at the time. I have to be ruthless about carving out space for my PhD, as it’s usually the first to suffer.

What is your PhD about?

My PhD is a combined creative work and exegesis. The creative work is a full-length historical novel set in colonial northern Australia (1880s). It’s a reimagining of the (real life) disappearance of a young English woman from a tiny island off the coast of Far North Queensland, and the impact on the very volatile local community, which, at the time, was a mix of European settlers, Chinese, and the fast disappearing indigenous population. The exegesis is an exploration of the colonial North as an archipelagic landscape, with a focus on the island trope as a narrative device for exploring the poetics of frontier narrative.

What advice would you give others looking at starting a side hustle?

Think carefully about what you have to offer, and be as professional as you can right from the start, including costing, website, and other materials.

Tell us about yourself

I’m Australian and have been living near Zürich, Switzerland for the last ten years with my Australian husband and daughter (14). I did a music degree straight out of school, taught music for a while, then did a postgrad degree in Equal Opportunity Administration, followed by a Master of Arts in Sociology. Apart from music teaching, I’ve worked in Australia and the UK as a developer and deliverer of educational programmes at secondary, vocational, undergraduate, and postgraduate level, mostly in the areas of academic writing, governance, management/leadership, and career development. My workplaces have included a university, government department, a few non-profit organisations, and a college of further and higher education (in the UK). I’ve also worked in the UK as an organisational and educational consultant to the non-profit sector.

What is your side hustle?

I love teaching, writing, and music, and try to do as much of all three as I can, and my two side hustles came out of this. The first is a music-teaching studio (piano and singing), and the second is a writing and research skills consultancy. A third is the gigs I do with a big band and with my husband but it’s hardly a money-spinner!

What would you do differently if you had your time over?

Learn German before moving to Switzerland! I’d like to have worked more consistently in academia, but I’ve loved working with the non-profit sector, which is so much more hands on. I’d also have loved to do my PhD full-time and on campus, which seems like such a luxury! It’s been very hard at times as I’m so isolated from the academic community where I am, but I try to mitigate this as much as possible through other channels.

How does your PhD help you in your side hustle?

It helps with the consultancy and gives me more credibility and legitimacy, and will give me the option of more formal employment options once I finish it, although I’m not sure I want to go down that path. I’d also love to continue writing, and the PhD has been an invaluable way for me to get the support (editing, advice etc) for writing a novel, as well as being able to access all the historical documents needed to write something historical.

Why did you start your side hustle?

Outside the corporate world it’s very difficult to find work in Switzerland if you’re not fluent in the local language. For a while I lectured in an international college, teaching academic skills and management/leadership in English but stopped because I didn’t agree with many of the college’s practices. I saw a market for music lessons in English and started my teaching studio in 2010. There are lots of English speakers here, and English is also very popular with the locals, so music lessons in English are a great way to combine learning both. I rely on word-of-mouth and it’s going very well. I’ve always loved writing and started an off-campus Masters in professional writing/creative writing through a university in Australia, but halfway through decided I’d like to pursue a PhD instead to help me write my novel. A lot of Gymnasiums (academic high schools) and universities here teach some subjects in English, and there are also quite a few international schools, so I decided to offer my services as a coach for writing and research skills in English. I offer help with all aspects of non-fiction writing, essay writing, creative writing, study skills, and research skills. I also do editing and proofreading.

How much did it cost you to get started?

I haven’t had to invest much, apart from some hardware for my teaching room and some resources (music, books, business cards). Both businesses are home-based, and I also offer online services for my writing consultancy. I created my websites myself and haven’t paid anything for advertising as I use word-of-mouth, forums, and other social media.

How can our readers find out more about your company?

Through my websites (www.writingandresearchskills.com and www.discovering-music.com) and Instagram (@katewritingresearchmusic) Instagram is still fairly new for me, and, for the moment, I prefer to have fun with it rather than use it as an aggressive marketing tool, instead using it as a bit of a teaching tool by way of having fun with the quirks of English and including bits of poetry I love and photos of my cat!

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