Charli Marie: Balancing A Creator’s Life With a Full Time Job

Last year Charli Marie made £64,790 out of her side hustle doing what she’s passionate about.

And she did it while being a full time employee at ConvertKit.

It’s impressive how she managed to balance between pursuing personal passions and excelling in her professional career.

Who is Charli Marie?

Charli Prangley started working at ConvertKit 7 years ago as a designer, then after a few years she led the marketing design team.

Now, she is the Creative Director of ConvertKit leading the Brand Studio team of mixed-discipline creatives in building a strong creator-focussed brand and effective marketing materials.

Besides working there, Charli used ConvertKit to launch her newsletter about brand and marketing design which reached 17.000 subscribers.

She also created two podcasts. 

One is Inside Marketing Design where she interviews people behind marketing design in tech.

The other one is called Design Life and together with her co-host, Femke van Schoonhoven,

they talk about design and side projects for motivated creators.

Since 2013 Charli has been making YouTube videos documenting her design career and posting educational videos about the design process.

There she managed to create an audience of 224.000 subscribers.

But, it’s time to get into more details about Charli Marie.

What makes Charli a B2B creator?

  1. Charli’s side hustles
  2. Being a brand advocate
  3. Building a team at ConvertKit
  4. Balancing creator’s life with a full time job

Charli’s side hustles

Every year Charli creates a break down of her earnings as a form of giving back to the community that has played a significant role in her personal and professional growth.

In her newsletter issue from 2021, she says that by providing transparency into her financial experiences, she aims to help others in their journey by offering benchmarks, ideas, and perspectives on different income streams. 

She is committed to create a culture of openness, collaboration, and mutual growth within the creative and entrepreneurial space.

This year from June 2022 to May 2023 (her accounting year), her side hustle business about design education grew by 49% making her £64,790.

“It is more than my salary was when I first started writing these reports six years ago.”

Marketing Design Dispatch Newsletter

This is how Charli’s newsletter is called.

Here she shares her knowledge about brand, marketing design, and running a Brand Studio in tech to more than 17.000 followers coming from her YouTube channel, Twitter, and from her website.

Charli started writing her newsletter on ConvertKit three years ago when she transformed the emails she used to send to her followers into a proper weekly newsletter.

In a podcast with Nathan Barry, Charli shares that probably the inspiration for her newsletter was actually Nathan, particularly his idea of building up authority on a topic before launching a paid product.

A part of her side hustle income came through sponsored videos, podcast episodes, social media content, but also through newsletter issues that were sponsored through the ConvertKit Sponsor Network.

The CKSN has secured numerous sponsorships for her in the past year. 

She sees the value of her newsletter as a prime space for brands to sponsor with 44% open rate.

These metrics indicate a significant and engaged audience, making her newsletter an attractive platform for brands seeking to promote their products or services.

Plus, the written format allows for a broader range of brand collaborations as she doesn’t need to know the products by heart as opposed to showing demos of products on her YouTube videos.

Charli’s YouTube channel

Charli Marie started her channel back in 2013, and since then she published 727 videos and gained 224.000 subscribers.

One of her oldest videos are about travel, fashion, diy, and she slowly went into adding more videos about design after a couple of years.

Since 2017 she has published more and more videos about a designer’s life trying new tools, talking about creating design portfolios, about landing design jobs, and more.

Her growth on YouTube was slow and steady except for a moment when she was featured in a design list to follow on YouTube which gave her a significant boost on YouTube raising her following by 20% at the time.

For the first five years in her YouTube journey she used to post videos every week making a habit out of filming, editing, and publishing videos, becoming better at making them.

This helped her be more consistent.

What else helped her grow her YouTube?

She thought more about her audience and what she wanted to talk about. That’s when she went all in, talking about design.

She said in Nathan’s podcast that she wanted to understand people’s design projects and the decisions they are making while making a project, and not just making tutorials like others do on YouTube.

One of the videos I liked is the one Charli made in 2022 when she created a video to see if she still stands by the advice she gave on YouTube when she first started posting about design.

Charli’s advice for people just wanting to start a YouTube channel about design is to think about what is not talked about or talked about in a way you find useful.

Create your videos about your unique point of view and stop waiting for your videos to be perfect.

The two podcasts

Her podcast Inside Marketing Design started as a curiosity of hers of how marketing departments set up their marketing design teams, how their marketing design teams get their jobs done, and more.

People would talk about product design and UI/UX design often, but too little about marketing design and that’s why she wanted to hear more about it.

She made out her mission to raise up the marketing design in the eyes of the wider design industry.

She’s already at the fourth season of her podcast and has guests from WebFlow, ConvertKit, Zendesk, Zapier, Monday.com, Shopify, Figma, Buffer, and many more.

All her interviews are around 50 minutes and can be listened to on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or watched on YouTube.

She is also a co-host on a podcast called Design Life together with Femke van Schoonhoven.

Her friend, Femke is a Design Lead at Gusto and a digital tinkerer who teaches product design on YouTube and is often sharing her learnings at conferences and events.

They have already posted 283 podcast episodes about design and side projects for motivated creators.

The reason the girls started this podcast is because they saw a gap in the podcast market for a conversational show about design and the issues young creatives face.

Besides their episodes, the duo launched a Slack group where they talk about topics related to design where there are currently 216 members.

Charli’s job board

She launched a job board due to a platform called Pallet which is a way companies can create a job board to advertise to their community.

Its creator focused on marketing design roles.

So you can use her job board to post a job post or to search for a marketing design role. 

If you want a plain job post on her job board you will have to pay $300, $500 for a feature which has a special feature in her newsletter as well, and $1200 for the one which includes a YouTube shoutout. 

Creating a font

Charli thought it would be fun to try to create a font because she’s an avid font collector.

She created it as a fun handwritten font, but people started using it to annotate designs because it is highly readable, and they even use it on the ConvertKit website.

That font has become one of her passive income streams. 

Indeed she did not make a fortune out of it, she made $3600 in 2021, but she does minimal marketing for it.

She tweets when someone else tells her that they used her font and that’s it.

But it brings her joy every time someone uses her font.

The reason why I wanted to mention this here is not because of the financial reward, but because creating something that you like can be useful to others as well and bring you joy and satisfaction on multiple levels.

Being a brand advocate

Charli was promoted as a Creative Director at ConvertKit in 2020.

For the past several years she enjoyed working for ConvertKit and she’s still not taking other freelance design work.

In her YouTube videos she often talks about ConvertKit and how she organizes her job there, and what plans she has for her team.

She even made a video about their team retreat. If you watch the video you can create a sense of what it’s like to work at ConvertKit and how their team bonded during their retreat.

And she doesn’t stop at YouTube videos.

She talks about ConvertKit in her newsletter as well.

She talks about the website improvements she made, about creating a messaging guide, about redesigning ConvertKit’s homepage, and many more subjects around this company.

I think probably the reason why she talks so often about ConvertKit is due to Nathan’s Barry idea of building in public and his openness to having creators in his team.

Same happened with Derrick Hicks, Marketing Director at ConvertKit, Isa Adney, Senior Storyteller at ConvertKit, and many more of ConvertKit’s employees who started building their audiences.

Building a team at ConvertKit

For many years of Charli’s career she was the marketing design team and she learned to become a domain expert, learned to build relationships, and most importantly prioritize ruthlessly.

Before she was even promoted as a Creator Director, Charli created ConvertKit’s brand campaign, a subject she talks about in ConvertKit’s blog post.

When she was looking for new hires for her team, Charli saw a few common mistakes designers make in showcasing their work.

So she created a video sharing what these issues were and how to fix them in the hopes of helping out anyone applying for a design job.

Charli’s team is called Brand Studio.

They are responsible for all the creative assets that are produced at ConvertKit, for building the brand, for defining the reputation they want to build, and how they could change people’s perceptions to get the reputation they want.

She best describes what she used to do at ConvertKit and what she does now in one of her newsletter issues.

Where before I was responsible for designing, art directing and project managing any marketing design needs, I’m now also responsible for building a brand creators love, reaching more creators with it, and managing the multidisciplinary crew that is the Brand team: A

designer, a filmmaker, a writer, and a content producer. That means spending time on strategic planning and team development, diving into data, and thinking about a much wider scope of work.

In one of her YouTube videos she talks about the goals she set for her team in 2023 which were 

  • Increasing their influence in the creator’s economy
  • Get more consistency and alignment with ConvertKit’s brand personality
  • Increase organic engagement on their brand content.

I am curious to see if she’s going to review all these goals at the beginning of the new year, or if she’s going to make a video about ConvertKit’s Brand Studio goals for 2024.

Balancing creator’s life with a full time job

Even though she is a full-time job employee she managed to build a small design marketing empire.

What matters most to Charli Marie is that she’s still designing and that is why she contributes to a project that’s bigger than her own.

She enjoys working for ConvertKit. She’s not into freelancing and that’s why she doesn’t deep dive into full time creating 

To balance both she used to walk up early and edit her videos, but what she does now that she’s earning money from her side hustles is paying people to help her.

She pays for editors, podcast video editors, virtual assistants for bookkeeping, and content management uploading. 

Now she only does the parts of the creative process that she enjoys and doesn’t take up so much of her time.

What can B2B creators learn from Charli?

Diversify your income streams

Charli Marie leverages her role as Creative Director at ConvertKit but also actively engages in side hustles.

Plus, Charli’s commitment to sharing detailed insights into her earnings contributes to a culture of transparency within her community.

You can learn to explore various avenues for monetization and understand that different channels can contribute to a more sustainable income. 

You can balance full-time job with a side hustle

Charli effectively balances her full-time role as Creative Director at ConvertKit with her side hustles. 

It’s important to learn the art of time management and delegation to sustain a successful side hustle while being employed full-time. 

Charli’s decision to delegate tasks, such as video editing and virtual assistants for administrative work, showcases the importance of prioritizing tasks that bring you joy and find support where needed.

You can be a brand advocate

Charli’s role as a Creative Director at ConvertKit showcases the power of strategic brand advocacy. 

She doesn’t just work for the company but promotes it across various platforms, including her YouTube channel, newsletter, and social media. 

You can align with the company you work for if you genuinely believe in it and consistently integrate it into your content because creators can contribute to and benefit from the growth of the companies they advocate for.

Final Thoughts

As the year ends, I hope you had time for reflection and thought about charting the course for what lies ahead.

If you didn’t, it’s not too late to contemplate your goals, and draw inspiration from Charli Marie.

Learn that your passion can be a driving force for substantial financial success while being professionally committed to a daily job you enjoy.