Multi-Hustle Mastery: Turning passion into profitable projects alongside the 9-5 [Leanpreneur 2]

This week, Sam joined me to talk about having fun building side hustles that interest you and provide income.

Multi-Hustle Mastery: Turning passion into profitable projects alongside the 9-5 [Leanpreneur 2]

Sam joined me to talk about having fun building side hustles that interest you and provide income.

Sam is a serial entrepreneur who builds projects in his spare time whilst working a 9-5. He’s scaled and sold multiple ventures and currently runs one of the best newsletters out there for builders and entrepreneurs.

Building audience through newsletters has always been a cornerstone strategy for him, so, along with sharing his advice on solopreneurism, he’s also generously shared his lean newsletter writing process.


Contributor: Sam Dickie

Sam is a Senior Product Manager who has spent the last 15 years working in the tech sector after starting his career as a town planner.

In addition to his job he spends some of his spare time building side projects.

These have included a 3D printing startup, a tech directory, a newsletter, a beta product directory, and consultancy.

Sam is the epitome of making a success out of following your interest and curiosity.

He enjoys his business ventures and builds in a risk-free way.

He’s also someone who I think has already found his 1,000 true fans through his writing.

Read on or watch below to find out more.

Click here to watch the Interview and Tutorial (52min)

Descending rabbit holes; Sam’s journey of invention and curation

3D Printing

Sam’s first foray into launching a startup was with Fiilo, a 3D printing business. This was at the height of the 3D printing craze and he admits that he used the launch as an excuse to buy a 3D printer.

He ended up with two printers and launched a product called GrowGrow. GrowGrow is a sustainable 3D-printed product that turns any bottle into somewhere where you can grow plants and herbs.

He eventually sold this business and the printers, making around £10k.

Along the way, he was exposed to various business tasks, including building a website in Weebly, the biggest nocode website builder of the time, and building an API that enabled print-on-demand for his product.


The experiences of building as someone non-technical led to numerous friends asking how he built all of this tech.

Back then, nocode wasn’t popular, and it had almost zero search volume, so Sam created a basic directory.

A quick landing page on Weebly with a basic value prop, a short explanation and a list of the tools he had used before.

v2.0 of the site

It hit the 3rd top spot on Product Hunt, and he landed 2,000 subscribers in the first 48 hours.

But, he hadn’t built it at this point, so he set about getting to work.

He built the directory and list to 30,000 subs and monetised the site through advertising. At its peak with Sam, it was receiving about £2,000 per month in ad revenue.

He was still working his 9-5 at this point, so thought it might be a good time to exit. The site was still growing, but it was becoming anxiety inducing whilst he was still working full-time. So, he ended up selling the site and making friends with the buyer.

What Nocode.Tech looks like now

Fast forwarding a bit, Nocode.Tech was eventually acquired by Stacker, a nocode app. Sam was working for their competitor at the time and ended up being offered a job by his friend who acquired the site.

All of this from a side project in his area of passion!

Creator Club

After selling the directory, Sam lost his outlet for sharing his tools and learnings.

Being fascinated with curation and loving sifting through for nuggets, he invested more time into his personal website and launched Creator Club newsletter.

Sam writes monthly and currently has over 8,000 readers.

It’s one of the few newsletters that I let bypass my email filters and land in my main inbox.

Life as a Part-Time Multipreneur Side Hustler

If it’s not obvious already Sam is a curiosity-led business creator.

He’s found that the products without a revenue focus or intention have ironically outperformed those created for the sole purpose of creating money.

And he enjoys the journey.

He could have run the Nocode.Tech for 10 more years and wouldn’t have tired of it as it’s a byproduct of his interest.

For this reason, he has also created the Beta Directory, simply because he loves unearthing early-stage products.

He admits he gets the Fear when he thinks about quitting his 9-5, although he suspects if he devoted the same energy to one of his projects it could replace his income (no doubts from me here).

This same worry means that he can run his ventures with less fear. He can experiment with freedom and isn’t risking the ranch with a young family to consider.

For example, recently he stopped paid sponsors on his newsletter as it was more stress than the value of the income to him.

Something to think about when you're building your ventures and audience.

The pure side hustle status magnifies the need to run lean, so let’s jump into his process….

Sam’s lean newsletter curation and creation process

  1. Using Stoop Inbox to manage sources
  2. Curation with Pocket
  3. Managing content with Airtable and Zapier
  4. Using to summarise
  5. Substack for writing

Starting out publishing his personal newsletter

Going against his expertise, Sam originally over-engineered his process.

He curated with Feedly and tried to automate the full writing process with Zapier.

The trouble was that there were too many points of failure which lead the whole chain breaking down, which led to time spent fixing the system he had created.

For a 200-subscriber newsletter, he needed to pare things back.

His set-up now

Sam scaled back and now simply builds automations when he needs them.

He keeps the process simple, right down to the design and any welcome automation.

Keeping things real

We touched on the trend that keeping things raw is better.

Content has come full circle with the advent of AI. Everything looks too perfect and consequently, people’s tastes are changing.

Sam mentioned watermarks that show content isn’t AI written, and we referenced content such as Greg Isenberg’s sketches, and Chris Donnelly’s image posts on LinkedIn.

From Greg's recent newsletter

Step-by-Step Process

1. Monitoring content sources

Sam uses Stoop Inbox, an RSS curation tool, to manage his content sources. It gives him a dedicated email address for newsletters and he follows an Inbox Zero methodology. He checks in daily in Stoop, and on X, Reddit and IndieHackers.

With X, he just uses the standard interface but has been careful to curate his feed, sometimes adding in extra notifications to hear from interesting people.

2. Highlighting content

When curating links, Sam uses the Arc browser and the Pocket extension to save links. It’s super simple and lightweight. He creates tags that trigger an automation that curates the link to Airtable.

If you watch the video, here’s a shoutout to Alice, the AI interface I use which has recently featured on Product Hunt. It’s a fantastic tool with bags of potential to enhance a solopreneur’s life.

3. Ranking and sorting content

He sends the links indexed using Pocket to a basic Airtable base via Zapier. From there, he grades the content and sets aside some time to read it in more depth.

Pocket pulls through the title, metadata, and URL link.

4. Review

Sam does this manually but has used a tool as a shortcut for digesting long form content — was created by Trung Phan, the memelord himself. Linking back to raw content, Trung is 1/3 of the hosts on the Not Investment Advice podcast. Its irreverent style and thumbnail are an example of a successful podcast that doesn’t over-polish.

Cognitively it gives him more mental breathing room to stay on task and create.

5. Writing it all up

Being a huge Notion fan (check out the free templates on his site), Sam originally used Notion for writing and linked it into Revue.

When Elon sunsetted Revue, he switched to Substack. He loves the Substack interface so drafts in Substack based on a duplication of last month’s edition.

Before publishing, Sam runs through a Notion checklist, which he’s kindly shared with us here.

Parting Advice

Keep your tool stack as lean as possible.

Avoid tool switching to the shiny new object.

Getting launched quickly is key so using tools you know well is a benefit.

Don’t think that you have to be everywhere for distribution, Sam sticks with what he knows on X and LinkedIn.

Overall, he advises just keeping things simple and therefore minimising risk.


He says they’re cliche, but I don’t agree; they’re timeless.

Paul Graham of Y Combinator is someone Sam recommends following. He doesn’t write much, which is great as Sam gets anxiety when someone good often writes and he can’t keep up with the writing. His content is well thought out and distills complex concepts in entrepreneurship and startups.

In addition, Sam loves Naval Ravikant’s approach. He mentions checking out the Almanac of Naval Ravikant for collected wisdom and here’s a link to an audio collection of his interviews.

Follow Sam's journey

Sam is sure to keep on writing over at Creator Club, so you should subscribe.

You can find out more about him on his personal website and on X.

His personal website is beautiful and contains loads of free downloads. He has also curated personal websites he admires if you need some inspiration.

Sam is a super nice guy so reach out to him, I did before I started my personal blog earlier this year, and he gave me some great advice.

Also, worth keeping an eye on Validation Co, where he aims to help early-stage makers and creators validate their ideas.

He’s building super slow — trying to enjoy the process without unachievable deadlines.

Maintaining his stamina and passion.

Amazing, I hope he writes more about that soon!

I loved interviewing Sam and learning about his approach to business.

That's what my newsletter is about; helping you to pursue your passions by gifting you back time.

Anyone you would like me to speak to? Or would you like to feature? Let me know.

If you fancy sharing this with a friend, I would be very grateful - send them here to sign up.

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