8 min 55 sec

Journalist Gets Paid to Host Outdoor Activities

Faced with a wave of newsroom layoffs, a journalist in Maine launches a membership community of readers who want to participate in outdoor activities.
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What It's About

In need of a "Maine" hustle, a former journalist creates a fun, fitness-focused social club.

Business Model
Skills Required
Organization & Marketing
Profit Potential

Words of Wisdom

Facing a job transition can be challenging but it can also be the motivation one needs to create a hustle. Try to capitalize on any opportunity of momentum that pushes you to move forward with your project.

Fun Fact

Shannon also had the opportunity to do a segment on local TV a couple times a month. It started as a gig for her old job at a newspaper. When she left the paper, the TV station kept her on, so now she gets to plug Fit Maine there, as well.

Notes from Chris

Episode 1134
Dream jobs are only great until they aren’t. For ten years, Shannon Bryan got to write for a major news outlet in Maine. She covered popular happy hours, brunches, and the best hills for sledding. But layoffs rolled through every couple years, wages froze, and some of her bosses didn't seem to value what she brought to the table. Shannon was frustrated.

So in early 2015, she decided to create something that she had more control over. She started a small website where she wrote about paddleboard yoga, cross-country skiing, and lesser-known sports such as lightsaber combat as aerobics—basically the things she did with her friends on weekends.

Her followers on social media were already asking questions like "How hard was that class?" "Do they do it every Thursday?" and “Can I use rechargeable batteries for my lightsaber?”

Shannon suspected that if active people in Maine were asking these questions of her, it meant they were probably searching for this information as well. And there wasn’t a single website that answered them, so she created FitMaine.com.

$150 bought her a domain, hosting, and a WordPress theme. Her only other expenses starting out were the costs of taking the classes and attending the events she was writing about. This ranged from an additional $40 to $150 a month, and she was occasionally able to work out deals from the studios.

At first, Fit Maine was just for fun, and she didn’t intend to make it profitable. It was something she worked on for a few hours here and there when she could squeeze it in. She’d schedule a day or two each week to go to classes, then write up content. Even with the classes, Fit Maine took up only 10 to 15 hours per week.

The real change happened in January 2019 when Shannon launched the Fit Maine Social Club: a paid membership club that ventures out to do all the fun, adventurous things she writes about.

When Shannon launched the club, she mailed a knit hat embroidered with the phrase "Maine is my gym" to every person who signed up that first month—her early adopters, so to speak. Of the twenty or so people who paid to hang out with her and be part of a club that didn’t really exist yet, Shannon didn’t know half of them.

This excited her: people who didn’t know her signed up because they thought this was a good idea. But it was also scary … what if they didn’t like the club or hated the events? Shannon almost hoped they didn’t show up.

But they did. And they kept showing up. The club was growing beyond her network, but she still needed to get the message out to more people.

Fit Maine has seen progress in its first five years. Businesses now comp Shannon to cover classes and events, and between the club memberships (now up to 84!), content and event promotion, selling a little bit of swag, and sponsorships, Fit Maine is making about $2,500 a month.

Her aim is to grow considerably before the end of the year.


  • FitMaine.com: Learn more about Shannon's business at her website, FitMaine.com.

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,


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Quote of the Day
"My passion for the work has grown, and my understanding that what I'm doing really matters. Yes, I want to make more money at it, but I also genuinely love this work."
—Shannon Bryan #SideHustleSchool

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Chris Guillebeau