7 min 44 sec

Philadelphia Lover Maps Out $35,000/Year Side Hustle

A neuroscientist turned marketing manager moonlights as an artist, selling original papercut designs on Etsy with very little marketing.
Arts & Crafts Etsy Niche Ideas Product Social Media

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What It's About

A neurosurgeon tries her scalpel on a new medium and makes an extra $35,000 a year!

Business Model
Arts & Crafts
Skills Required
Creativity & Design
Profit Potential

Words of Wisdom

Because she views her side hustle as a project and not a business, Emma is able to avoid the pressures of entrepreneurship and the need for constant expansion. Which is also the same advice she’d give to anyone looking to start a side hustle themselves: view it as a long-term project and don’t get too caught up in the fact you’re now an “entrepreneur.” Keep it as a passion project and try not to focus on the end result!

Fun Fact

Emma’s first sale was a trade with a street artist she loves. She swapped a map for a faux sign saying, “Dream Big.” Pretty appropriate for what this project has become!

Notes from Chris

Episode 347

After a strange career jump from Neuroscientist to Marketing Director—and a few bad break-ups—Emma Fried-Cassorla found herself in the midst of an existential crisis. She loved her new job but felt a strong urge to make something that showed off her artistic side.

In order to force herself into extra-curricular creative activities, Emma set herself a challenge: she’d create a paper-cut map of the city of Philadelphia. (A papercut being precise incisions into paper to remove all of the sections of paper that don’t look like what you’re trying to make). She’d spent a lot of time with a scalpel performing experiments as a Neuroscientist and felt her skills would transfer across perfectly.

For the next three months, Emma spent her evenings and weekends working on the 4x3 project. She documented her progress on her Philadelphia-centric blog, Philly Love Notes, and through its associated Instagram account. Once the project was completed, and on the recommendation of a friend, she scanned the finished work into her computer.

Little did she know that this labor of love would go on to become the backbone of her entire side hustle.

Custom maps make up around 95% of Emma’s monthly orders. But while for most businesses custom means a lot of extra work, Emma has managed to refine it to a relatively painless process. In her own words, Emma says she basically makes the same map over and over again.

The sales of these maps—and that initial three months of work back in 2014 —has earned her an extra $35,000 annually around her day job. That’s almost a full-time job’s wages on the side! But, she’s not using all of that cash for herself. Lots of her extra income, like the $5,000 she raised during a recent Black Friday sale, is donated to a wide-range of projects in and around Philly.


  • Etsy | Philly Love Notes: Cut a minute out of your day to check out Emma's papercut maps
  • Philly Love Notes: Head on over to Emma's blog for a reminder about all of the wonderful things that make Philly so great
  • NextFab: The local "makerspace" in Philly that Emma used to make her papercut maps

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
"When you don't need something to work, you can take your time, and you're less likely to make decisions that you wouldn't make unless you were wholly dependent on that next paycheck."
—Emma Fried-Cassorla #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau