With 67% of Americans worried about rising food and energy costs, it’s no surprise that many are seeking any opportunity they can to make some extra cash. However, with job markets more competitive than ever — and wages remaining relatively stagnant — a career change might not be the answer.
Of course, there’s always the option of going nuclear — quitting your 9-to-5 and attempting to make it on your own — but unless you’ve got the perfect idea in a launch-ready state, this is ill-advised, too.
For most of us, the middle ground is a far more agreeable proposal, but what does the middle look like? This is where the side hustle comes in. Borne by the mentality that we can have our cake and eat it, think of the side hustle as more than a hobby but less than a full-time profession. An adult lemonade stand, if you will.
If the idea of making some cash on the side excites you, then read on. Below, we’ll guide you through how to take your side hustle dreams from fantasy to reality.
1. Decide Your Big Idea
So, you’ve decided to build your own side hustle. Brilliant! Now comes your first (and arguably largest) hurdle — what will you sell?
If all you’re armed with is the pure will and determination to make things happen, then your first step should be to, well, make things happen. We’ll elaborate: your first task is to generate some ideas. Lots of ideas. In the words of Alfred Nobel, “If I have a thousand ideas and only one turns out to be good, I am satisfied.”
First, jot down a list of your skills and passions. From this list, identify any that could be monetized. For example, do you love to bake? Is there any demand for hand-delivered baked goods in your local area? If you answered yes to both questions, the idea may be worthwhile. Love animals but live under the tyrannical rule of a pet-hating landlord? Why not offer your services as a dog walker?
At this early stage, your goal should be to generate a boatload of ideas. Remember, even if only one or two are usable, this takes you a step closer to your side hustle! Once you’ve whittled down your shortlist and made a final selection, it’s time for the next stage. You’ve got to take this lumpy ball of “idea clay” and mold it into a market-ready masterpiece.
2. Find Your Crowd
Finding your target market is one of the most important stages of the side hustle process. To kick-start the process, begin by building up a consumer profile. Think of this as a shrine to your ideal customer.
Your obsession with this imagined person should border on creepy. In this profile, you’ll want to list their:
- Education level
- Income range
- Values and beliefs
Once you’ve nailed down who you’re selling to, your next job is to nail down how you’ll get them to take notice of your hustle.
The key here is to get specific. In the case of a dog walking service, instead of marketing yourself as “A dog walker in the area,” say you’re “An experienced lunchtime dog walker — perfect if you work away from home!”
Similarly, instead of “Baked goods made to order,” promote your service as “Local, hand-crafted vegan cakes, perfect for birthdays or other special occasions.”
This is called niching down, and while it may seem better to cast a wide net, getting specific should be your primary aim.
3. Plan Your Attack — And Measure The Costs
Preparation is key. You’ve got your grand idea, you know who you want to sell it to, and it’s almost time to pull the trigger. Hold your fire for now, though — it’s time to engage in some espionage.
Let’s go back to our dog-walking example. You’ve already established who your ideal customer is, and you’ve found a unique angle for your services. To increase the likelihood of your hustle’s success, you’ll need to immerse yourself in your local dog-walking community. Join your area’s local pet groups on Facebook, check out the dog walking competition, and consider asking any dog-owning neighbors if they’d use such a service. Your research doesn’t have to be expensive or even particularly time-consuming. Aim to get a broad sense of the dog-walking community as a whole.
There’s also the small matter of costs to consider. How much will your business cost to operate? How much profit do you expect to generate? Some costs may be one-time (such as a new lawnmower for your amateur landscaping service) or recurring, while others may be far less obvious. For example, it’s not a legal requirement for a one-person dog-walking business to be covered by insurance, but it’s something worth considering.
Pet Care Insurance is just one of the many companies offering an all-in-one dog walkers insurance package, but it isn’t just dog walkers that require protection, either. Any small business, from catering to candle-making, is likely to benefit from some sort of insurance policy, so factor that into your budget, too.
4. Launch Your Side Hustle
Congratulations! You’ve put in the groundwork and are close to your product’s launch day. Before you unleash your new mini-business, there are a few finishing touches to take care of:
- A logo: Every business needs a logo. Don’t worry if you’re not a designer at heart — Canva is an excellent free tool that anyone can use to generate some professional-looking results. You can also find a great freelance designer on Fiverr without spending a lot.
- A website: Having your own place on the web is another signal of authenticity to potential customers. However, if you’ve never owned a website before, you may find things a little challenging to set up (and end up paying far more than you need to). If you’re new to publishing your first site online, we’d recommend heading to Google’s guide on the topic.
Above all, be sure to pick a host with robust security features and at least 99.99% server uptime. If your side hustle is e-commerce-based, this may affect your choice of host, too; providers like Cloudways are optimized for stores built on e-commerce platforms such as WooCommerce or Adobe Commerce (formerly Magento). Do your research and make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck.
- Social media: Social media is important, but it shouldn’t be the sole focus of your side hustle empire. Choose one platform — the one where your audience hangs out — and pepper it with high-quality content as often as you can. Remain consistent and you’ll soon build a loyal following of customers.
- A payment method: Make sure you know how you’re getting paid! Remember to accommodate card payments, too — an increasing number of consumers don’t even carry cash nowadays. Modern card payment systems are remarkably inexpensive (and small) — check out Square’s payment terminal to see what we mean!
- A marketing plan: There’s no need for reams and reams of overly-complicated plans, but a little strategizing won’t hurt your hustle. Try to figure out a basic plan and work out how you’ll get your hustle out in front of your target audience.
5. Focus On Expansion
Your side hustle has truly taken off, and you’re starting to get some bold ideas about where things may lead. While a relatively uncommon occurrence, it’s not completely unheard of for a side hustle to snowball into something spectacular.
If you’re finding it difficult to meet the demands of your customers and wishing there were more hours in the day, it’s a good idea to expand. Expansion can take many forms, but one of the most popular ways to handle your business’s growing needs is to hire some employees. Just be aware that once your side hustle expands to this size, you’re unlikely to have any time left for your day job!
Where do you find your first employees? It’s always a great idea to hire workers who are already personally invested in your product. If you’ve got any side hustle superfans in your audience that possess the relevant experience, consider making them a part of your operation. Job sites like Monster make it simple to find skilled employees in a snap, too.
Struggling to find any locals possessing the necessary skills or experience for the role? An employer of record service can help with this. An EOR enables you to employ workers from anywhere on the planet — legally and completely hassle-free. So, if you’re open to your new team members working remotely, an EOR could be just the ticket.
Aside from recruiting some helping hands, it could be worth expanding your marketing efforts, offering online deliveries, adding new product lines, or investing in new equipment — expansion looks different for every business!
Making a little extra cash on the side can be an extremely rewarding experience. Whether you’re already brimming with ideas or just curious about generating a secondary source of income, knowing how to get started can make all the difference.
Looking to switch up your usual working routine but not quite ready to commit to a side hustle? Check out our guide to 20 creative twists to the 40-hour working week.
|Alex Daintith is a content writer hailing from Northwest England. He loves to write about business, technology, and e-commerce. In his spare time, you’ll find him tinkling away on the piano or pottering around his garden.
This article is part of Buildremote’s contributor series. Occasionally, we’ll share other people’s ideas about running a remote company. If you have a topic you’d like to pitch for Buildremote, send us an idea here.