How to Start a Side Hustle: Strategies and Best Practices

More cash? Yes, please.

Most of us would love to have a little extra money on hand to save for a rainy day – from vacation money, or, given current gas prices, some bucks to fill up your car’s gas tank.

If you’re already working a 9-5 job, getting a second job or even a part-time retail or service job can feel overwhelming. You’re not in control of your shifts or schedule, you might make considerably less than you do at your regular gig, and you will probably have to do some undesirable tasks.

Starting a “side hustle” could be JUST what you need. In today’s article, we are going to look at some strategies and best practices to help get you rolling in the side gig dough.

What’s a Side Hustle?

A side hustle is a cool way of referencing anything you do to make money that isn’t your regular job. The great thing about a side hustle is that the options are endless.

Here are a few side hustle ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Selling handmade items on Etsy.
  • Teaching or tutoring. For example, giving lessons on a musical instrument, a school subject, or yoga.
  • Creative services like graphic design, freelance editing, and photography.
  • Delivering groceries or other goods.
  • Consulting with your strengths/expertise (perhaps you’re a master of business, great at solving problems or planning landscaping/interior design/construction?).
  • Becoming a virtual assistant.

To decide on your perfect side hustle, it should be something you enjoy doing as well as something people need. Ask yourself, “What’s something I already spend my free time doing that I could turn into a side hustle?

While a lot of people use their side hustle as a path to full entrepreneurship, it’s perfectly fine to keep your full-time job and let your side hustle be…well, just a side hustle.

Five Actionable Steps to Getting Your Side Hustle off the Ground

Side hustles take time and effort.

You probably won’t make a big profit overnight. There may be things you need in order to get started, like a website, marketing materials, or time to put together your actual product or service offering. And while there are likely a lot of details that you will need to work out, here are five best practices you can follow to help get you started.

1. Make the Time

Some people are full of ideas. They’re going to write a book, build something, design something, etc., but it never seems to happen.

If you’re serious about making money from a side hustle, you have to decide when you’re going to make it happen. It might require some sacrifice.

Start by setting a reasonable schedule and sticking to it. Let’s say you want to dedicate at least ten hours a week to your side hustle. Put it on your calendar like a meeting you cannot miss, and then show up ready to work.

2. Research. Research. Research.

It’s easy to think of products or services people might need, but research is where your ideas begin to truly take form. It would be terribly disappointing to get down the road only to discover no one wants what you’re selling.

Here are some tips to help you vet your ideas:

  • Consider Your Skills: What’s something you’re good at and that you love to do? What is a problem you can solve?
  • Try an MVP: No, not “Most Valuable Player.” In this case, MVP means “Minimum Viable Product.” See if you can put an idea out there and find a buyer, or a potential buyer. It could be a trial lesson, a trial product, etc.
  • Get Feedback: This could be as simple as a Facebook or Instagram post to your community asking, “If I were to sell XYZ, would you be interested?” It’s like taking a survey to see what people would be interested in and how much they might be willing to pay.
  • Observe the Competition: This is where you need to find out if anyone else is doing what you’re doing. Look at their website, their prices, their process, etc. You can use this information to make your process/product/service even better and set yourself apart.

Putting in the effort to research appropriately will save you time and money. Once you’ve gathered all this valuable information, now you’re ready to start putting a plan together.

3. Build Financial Capital and Support

Most businesses require some kind of financial capital. Even if you design a website or business cards yourself, there will still be associated recurring fees for hosting or printing. The goal when starting out is to save efficiently and quickly.

One great strategy is to sign up with a banking institution that helps you save money. Everyone is feeling the pinch in this economy, so every penny counts. Fees can add up and eat into your capital if you’re not careful. Here,

Beyond partnering with a reputable financial institution, don’t forget to build “soft” support, too. Ask family and friends for honest feedback about your ideas. They can also help build buzz by engaging with you on social media and sharing any content you may have.

Pro Tip: Be wary of getting too many cooks in the kitchen, however. It’s best to choose one or two trusted individuals to help you think through potential challenges and problems.

4. Set Realistic Goals and Expectations

The fastest way to lose steam when starting a side hustle is to set unrealistic goals and expectations. You should be optimistic while also recognizing the difficulties you are likely to encounter.

This is the time to start mapping out your process and defining your offering. When setting goals, keep these tips in mind:

  • Write down every task, no matter how small, and divide them based on category. For example, if you need a website, you should create a specific list of website tasks like writing content and taking photos.
  • Write down very clearly what it is you are offering and who your target audience is. This should serve as your guide for every decision you make. Be as specific as possible, because “targeting everyone” isn’t a viable strategy.
  • Assign a due date for each task to ensure you’ll get things done.
  • Don’t aim for perfection; aim for progress.
  • Take into consideration your capacity. If you keep your day job, how many hours can you reasonably devote to tutoring or creating?

This step requires hard work but is critical for long-term and sustainable side hustle success.

5. Attract Customers or Clients

Marketing isn’t always easy, but don’t give up. Finding clients or customers is something every business, no matter what size, struggles to do.

Pro Tip: Always keep in mind your target audience and go where the people are.

If you want to teach middle school kids to play the piano, get in contact with your local school district and find out how they can help. Somebody in your network has to be a teacher, a coach, or an after-school volunteer. Be creative about how you can find access to your target audience.

Part of continually attracting new customers or clients is asking your current ones for feedback. Find out if they’re having an issue at any stage of your selling process. Don’t be afraid to make changes to get things going in the right direction.

You Can Start a Side Hustle

What could you do with an extra $1,000 a month? Are you already thinking of ideas for your side hustle? You’re probably closer to making extra money than you think! Use the tips covered in this article to get your side gig started. With a little bit of patience and some strategic planning, you will have that extra cash in hand in no time. Best of luck!


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