Are you wanting to create a little extra income each month, but not sure how or where to start? Maybe you are yearning for something more than your corporate job or in need of some extra cash to fund your dreams of travel.
Starting a side hustle can be something that builds a side income and gives you an opportunity to either make more so you can have more experiences or more savings and investments, or maybe even one day pivot and be working full time on something that you love.
Let’s dive deeper into the side hustle by breaking down the steps involved to bring a side hustle into the world and how to do it in a way where it’s more than just a hobby. This includes finding your passion, gauging the interest, starting with work samples, getting your first clients, and celebrating your wins along the way.
Finding Your Passion
The first step to building a side hustle is deciding what you want to do. Start by considering the things you do in your free time. What do you read about when you get home from work? What do you do on the weekends?
Maybe you are an amazing cook or you love to bake, and so you’re always making things for your kids’ school programs or you love to have people over for a meal.
Is there anything that your friends offer to pay you for or ask for your help in? Maybe you’re really good at home organization and whenever someone has a room that they need to declutter, your name is top of mind to help.
A lot of times other people will say or notice things before we even realize it for ourselves because they don’t have that same level of pressure attached to it. They might see something in you that you haven’t yet seen in yourself. So if you are always being told you’re really good at this, perhaps that could be your side hustle.
These are all ideas I would watch for that could potentially turn into a side hustle.
For me, I was always reading health books in the evenings. That’s how my journey started and why I became so interested in health and nutrition as my first business.
Still not convinced? Instead of trying to come up with a skill you currently have, you can think about an industry that you’re interested in. For example, some of the writers in my content marketing agency may not start out having a particular interest in writing until they start writing for an industry or a brand that they absolutely love.
Maybe for you, your side hustle can be something like copywriting or editing even though you are not a writer per se, but you love to write when you are learning and researching something that you are passionate about.
When I decided to pivot into copywriting, yes I do love to write, but I like to write about certain topics. It has to be something that I’m really interested in like health or personal development for me to love writing all day. If there is an industry I don’t know as much about, such as cars or mechanics, I’m sure I could write about it, but it’s not going to make my day fly by.
Being open to the possibilities in your skillset or in the industries you are passionate about will help you decide the best starting place for your side hustle.
Gauging the Interest
The next important piece in starting a side hustle is making sure there is a market for what you choose. The caveat here is there’s a market for almost anything these days with the internet, but it might make you feel more confident by testing out the market first.
One thing that I coach beginning writers on if they are nervous about making an investment, to go into a Facebook group for marketers or for brands and put a very friendly post in there saying,
“Hey, I’m thinking about starting a [insert interest here] business. I wanted to see if you have a need for this or what kinds of things that you are interested in or looking for. I’m not going to sell you anything. I’m just gathering information at this point.”
Creating a post like that is so disarming and easy for others to help because people know they’re not going to be sold to and they get excited about someone who’s starting to launch their dream. See what the responses are and if there is a market for your interest. And who knows? Maybe you’ll learn that everyone is interested, and you’re onto something good here. This will also give you the confidence that sometimes is missing in the beginning.
Another tip to gauge if there is an interest in what you choose is to visit other job sites or Google to see if there are other websites or businesses out there that are similar. Are there other courses out there? Are there podcasts about this? These give you insight on how much interest there is and how many people are talking about it. You can look up accounts on Instagram and see what their followings are and what the comments are.
There are many ways to feel out what your industry is like and what the demand is. That is the beauty of having such a connected social world. Your social media habits don’t have to be just for entertainment and scrolling. At this point, you can start using these platforms as business tools like a lot of online business owners do and see what your audience is into, how big the audience is, what they’re talking about, and what they’re asking for. Use this information to guide and reinforce or determine where you go next with your side hustle.
Starting With Work Samples
Let’s say you found your interest, and feel confident that people are excited about it and there is an interest from people who want to buy and work with you. What you can do then, is start to get some work samples in whatever industry or side hustle you’re in.
Once you start approaching people, have some samples that you can show them. At this stage, you do not need anything fancy – no website, no branding, no logo. I promise you don’t need these to start! That can come later. I spent hundreds and thousands of dollars on these early in my business when my focus should have been elsewhere. It made me feel really good and professional, but it wasn’t bringing clients in.
What will help bring clients is producing a work sample that you can email to a prospective client or creating a PDF with samples. For years I sent my portfolio with marketing and copywriting samples to prospective clients. I made a PDF as pretty as I could by adding photos and cute text. That didn’t cost me anything except my time.
If you are someone who does home organization for example, you are not going to have samples of blog posts you’ve written like I did, but you can have pictures of before and after rooms that you’ve done.
If your interest is photography or art, you can put together a beautiful portfolio showing your work. Or if you do lawn services, put in some pictures of work you have done. If this sounds overwhelming to you, instead have a simple document ready to send when needed. So at the very basic level – and this is what I tell my copywriting students that I mentor – have some really polished Google Docs ready to send and make them look good, with all the same headlines and fonts.
See? I told you it does not have to be super fancy. Make sure that whatever you do, it looks professional, and is well thought out and well edited. This shows that you have a strong level of care for your craft. Even if you don’t have all the bells and whistles, people are still going to sense that you put thought into whatever you delivered and that will convey your work and your attention to detail.
Getting Your First Clients
This step is probably the most scary and exciting part, and it’s actually getting your first clients.There are a million ways you can put yourself in front of people, but one way is event networking. Sites like Meetup or Eventbrite are great for finding any local events or online events that you can attend. You can also reach out in Facebook groups and start to post examples of your work. You can even follow up and say,
“I was in here a few weeks ago and you gave me such great feedback. Thank you, everyone! I want to share that I am launching my business (or my side hustle). Here are some examples of my work.”
You may be surprised by the positive comments you receive! They may feel connected to you because they already weighed in and helped you build your business. This may potentially lead to new clients, just from posting something like that.
Another great option for getting your first client is asking for referrals by emailing twenty five people that you know. You can write,
“Hey, I’m starting a side hustle and I’m super excited! I would be so thrilled if you shared this with anyone you know who might be interested.”
People are so excited to see someone else go after their dreams boldly and bravely that they’re very excited to help.
Everyone knows someone looking for something, especially in the areas that other people have already told you you’re good at. Don’t be afraid to really lean on your network. It makes people feel good to be givers and they will be thrilled to help in your success!
There are so many ways to get in front of people who are creative and find websites for what you’re interested in. You can start a social media account and post regularly so people learn about what you’re doing. This is not permission to hide behind social media! Be taking active steps toward directly interfacing with people and getting clients.
The great part about a side hustle is if you already have something else you’re doing, it’s okay that it takes time to build and goes slowly. One of the mistakes I made in the earlier stages of business is wanting things to always grow faster than they were.
Once you start working with clients, you learn quickly what does and doesn’t work, where there are gaps in your process, what tech is needed, or maybe there’s more work than you thought and you didn’t bill accordingly for the amount of time it takes. There are so many things that you just don’t know until you begin building your side hustle.
Celebrating Your Wins
Congratulate yourself on doing something not everyone is brave enough to try! There is something sweet and special about getting those first one or two clients. A big part of enjoying this journey is to celebrate at every stage. I have learned to celebrate small wins these past few years which I think begets more things to celebrate since I am always looking for them. Plus, it’s fun to celebrate!
Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx, said that every day at the dinner table her father would ask,
“Sarah, what did you fail at today?”
It was not intended to be a mean question, but rather to get her trying new things and being comfortable with failing. She put herself out there and was brave enough to try. Sometimes you need to be gentle with yourself and understand building a side hustle is a process. This could mean you gather a ton of data on what doesn’t work, and that’s still amazing forward progress. Celebrate that!
Bringing it all together
You are about to embark on an amazing journey of starting a side hustle by finding your passion, gauging the interest, starting with work samples, getting your first clients, and celebrating your wins.
I’ll say this again to remind you- you do not need to invest in all the things before getting clients. I understand it is scary to put yourself out there, and instead stay where it’s comfortable working behind the scenes on getting your website copy just right or putting together your portfolio.
One bonus tip is setting a date for each of these phases. Spend two weeks in each stage before moving on to the next. What is great about setting these timelines is it allows you space for each of the stages, but it also gives you a timeframe to put a little fire under your booty so that you don’t stay stuck perfecting your samples or in market research forever!
If you are interested in learning more about starting a side hustle as a copywriter, download my Freelance Copywriting Starter Kit. If your interest lies elsewhere, let me know what your side hustle is going to be so I can be one of your first supporters! This is the start of creating your biggest, brightest life, whatever that looks like for you!
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