Perhaps you’re looking to earn some extra “walking around” money. Or maybe you’re having trouble making rent. Whatever your reasons, if you’ve hit this article, then you’re likely looking for a side hustle. That is, you want a spare job outside of your other work.
Stepping into another faction of the work force is a daunting task. But don’t worry; we’re here to help. This article includes 6 battle-tested tips to help you step out into the hustle. In the process, you can earn a little extra dough and have some fun.
1. Find a Side Hustle that Works for You
Side hustles come in many shapes and sizes. From multi-level marketing (MLM) companies like Mary Kay and Amway, to dog walking, parking lot litter removal, online surveys, child care and more. The options are positively endless.
Some side gigs require an upfront investment in the company, while others are free. If you’re starting out on your own, you might incur marketing and associated start-up costs for your new business. For example, if you’re going to do yard work on the side, you may need tools and a way to transport your equipment from location to location. Likewise, if you’re going to open up a business services company you might incur marketing expenses and other software costs.
So how do you choose what will work for you? First, find something that fits your interests. If you can’t stand make-up, Mary Kay is not the hustle for you. Allergic to dogs? Then dog walking or pet sitting is out of the picture. You don’t have to be passionate about your side gig, but it should be something that you don’t dread doing every day.
For example, if you have a creative streak and enjoy making things with your hands, consider selling homemade jewelry or crafts on Etsy. If you enjoy reading and writing, consider writing content for small businesses or editing copy for writers.
Next, look into what’s popular in your area. Demand often equals more opportunity, and greater opportunity generally means easier sales and more money (if that’s your goal).
If you live in a city, chances are Uber and Lyft are doing quite well providing rides—and thus drives. If you live in a subdivision, perhaps the families around you could use help with running errands, cleaning their homes, or even tutoring their students.
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2. Research the Hustles in Your Area
If you’re joining up with a business versus starting your own, check out the reviews and learn what is needed from you to qualify. Some companies require a large investment to obtain a starter kit for sellers, while others have special programs or sales to let you join in for less.
Do not be afraid to contact current contractors in the company to get feedback. Ask them about their day-to-day schedule, what they like and dislike about the gig, and for any advice they might have to someone just starting out.
If you’re looking to start your own side business, pay attention to what the competition is doing to be successful. Notice ads on Facebook or engagement in online forums. Pay attention to ads being run in your local newspaper. Learn as much as you can and begin to apply similar tactics one by one to see what works best for you.
3. Investigate the Market
Another good idea is to talk to the people in your area, such as friends and coworkers, to get feedback on your idea or hustle. Would this product or service interest them? How much would they be willing to pay? If you were selling, would they be interested in hosting a party or buying from you? Would any of their friends and family?
A little market research can go a long way when you’re first starting up. Don’t have any ideas? Ask others what needs to exist in your community. Are people looking for tutors? Dog walkers? House cleaners? What already exists in your area?
By checking out the current service providers—or lack thereof—you can set up a solid business plan and figure out what you will charge. Some sites like Thumbtack can help you gain clients for your services, while other sites like Fiverr will help you start selling remotely with online jobs. Job-hunting sites like Indeed and Monster also receive contract work and remote positions.
4. Getting Set Up
You will need to be prepared for your side hustle. Starting a successful business, even a simple side hustle, is all about planning. Like the old adage says, those who fail to plan, plan to fail. First impressions are important no matter the business, and nothing says “shoddy” like being unprepared.
You also need to decide how you will accept payments. Cash is always a plus, but some people may want to pay with a check or card. You can sign up for a Square account or a PayPal, but will you send invoices or request payment up front? If you don’t use an electronic service like PayPal, will you carry an invoice or receipt book to log payments? Have you decided what you will charge? Per hour or per service?
In addition to your equipment and procedures, you need to be sure you are prepared. Is your resume or CV up to date? Do you have examples of your work or a portfolio you can show prospective buyers?
5. Start Marketing Yourself
Once you’ve chosen your hustle of preference, the time has come to get your name out there. Even if you’re working through a website or existing company, business cards go a long way in leaving a lasting impression. You can add your personal URL to the card so people can easily find you online.
If you don’t have a website, start up a social media page on Facebook or LinkedIn. This gives your potential customers a point of reference and an easy way to contact you if they’re not comfortable calling your personal phone. As your business grows, you can find more ways to market and start asking customers for testimonials or if they would act as references.
Remember, you’re not just advertising your service. You’re advertising yourself. Present yourself well, be friendly, and graciously accept when the answer is “no.” Even if someone declines your service, you may leave an impression that leads them to recommend you to someone else.
6. Above All Else, Persevere
This is a big one. Starting a side hustle, no matter the type, can be slow going. It takes time to build up a loyal client base and spread the word. Do not be discouraged! Do your best, and the rest will fall into place in no time flat.
Some hustles, such as photography, can start off smoothly if you offer a few free photo shoots to friends. This will help you to build up a portfolio. (Just make sure your friend knows that mum’s the word about the fact that you worked for free.)
Never hesitate to research opportunities in your area or reach out to small business owners or your fellow hustlers for advice. Everyone’s journey begins differently, so they may have some advice you would not have otherwise considered.
Many will even collaborate with you—a referral for a referral, finding hustles to start a co-owned business, or displaying your cards or flyers. With luck, your side hustle will grow exponentially to the point you can make it a career!