Building a Side Hustle. 6 Steps To Consider Before You Start
Do you want to earn some extra money? Silly question. Of course you do. After all, everything’s getting more expensive, and the paychecks aren’t stretching as far as they used to.
That’s why there’s never been a better time to turn dreams into reality and start a side hustle. Literally.
Faster internet speeds and better tech mean it is easier than ever to find a side hustle, but also more flexible and convenient to run one too.
In 2022 around 48% of Americans have a side hustle, spending an average of 14 hours per week working on them. The global gig economy is expected to be worth more than $455 billion by the end of this year.
Soon you’ll be ready to cross the side hustling landscape, armed with all the knowledge you need to set up and run a successful side hustle.
But first, we’ll take a look at what you should consider if you want to build an online business that offers returns worth your time.
6 STEPS TO CONSIDER BEFORE YOU START YOUR SIDE HUSTLE
1. Inspiration & Outcome
Why do you want to build a side hustle? Before you begin the journey, it’s important to know why you want to start it. And where you want it to go. It all comes down to two things.
Inspiration and Outcome.
What inspired your idea?
Want to turn your passion into a paycheck? Earn extra income for a big expense, an investment, or to clear a debt? Maybe you just hate your boss and think you could do better.
Understanding (and reminding yourself) why you’re doing this will help motivate you. It also helps define your business goals, and what you want to achieve. Your ideal outcome.
Understanding (and clearly defining) these goals, or outcomes, is essential to creating a business strategy that helps you achieve them.
What’s your ideal outcome?
Where do you see this going? Do you have a specific short-term goal in mind, or is your plan to become CEO of the next billion-dollar business?
If you want a side hustle to meet a short-term goal by generating some quick cash, then the gig economy could be what you’re looking for.
Uber driver, Fiverr freelancer, Affiliate marketing, it doesn’t matter.
What matters is that you can pick and choose how and when you work. Then just work until you’ve earned what you need to achieve your short-term goal.
And if you have a bigger goal in mind? A solution to a common problem or an amazing product you know has potential? Maybe you just hate all bosses and are sure you can do better.
Then you need a completely different strategy. Something you enjoy, that’s sustainable, and with room for growth.
Understanding your goals helps you constantly focus and refine your strategy to eventually grow your side hustle into something more serious.
2. Skills & Interests
My mate Dave says “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Dave doesn’t have a job right now. Regardless, it seems like solid advice.
So what are you good at, and what do you enjoy doing?
It’s not far off from the Japanese concept of Ikigai.
Already love what you do during your 9-5, but want to be your own boss? That’s perfect! Why? Because now you know you’ve met all three criteria needed to help discover your side hustle.
If the only passion you have for your job is how much you hate it, then look at what you love. Is there something people know you’re passionate about? Something that brings you joy? Then maybe that’s the thing to think about.
Ask yourself – What’s that one thing I want to/already do spend a lot of time and energy on? What do I care about most in and outside work? How can I earn money from it?
3. Market Demand
When you start thinking about your side hustle, one of the first things to ask yourself is “who is this for?”
All successful businesses have a product or service that does the following three things:
- Meet a need.
- Serve a community.
- Solve a problem.
Not only will this kind of market research help work out if your business idea is feasible, but will also identify potential customers and competitors.
To discover if your startup meets a need, serves a community, or solves a problem, you should:
Do market research.
Learn about the needs, preferences, and concerns of your ideal audience by collecting information from potential customers.
Set yourself apart.
Identify the problem or need that your product or service will address. Learn if and how it differs from other solutions on the market.
And, if you already have a basic product or service (or MVP; minimum viable product.)
Engage with your audience.
Gain feedback on your product and see how it meets their needs. Try user testing, gathering customer reviews and testimonials, or asking people you know and trust.
Analyze & adapt
Use this information to make any necessary changes to your product or its positioning in the market. Now you know their needs, your side hustle is in a better position to meet them.
Overall, it’s important to stay in close contact with your target audience and regularly listen to what they’re saying. This way, you can make sure your product or service is always providing value.
Before you properly start your side hustle you need to ask yourself three questions:
- What are the bare minimum resources I need to get this hustle started?
- Who is the ideal target audience for my side hustle?
- What needs or problems am I looking to solve for them?
If you can’t answer these then it’s probably time to roll up your sleeves and get back to some more market research.
4. Ideal Audience
Who are your potential customers and do you understand their needs and preferences? This ideal audience are the people you want to target when selling your products or services.
Your ideal audience is usually defined by stuff like age, gender, location, etc. With this data, you can create a buyer persona and start to learn what will excite or appeal to potential customers.
Identifying and understanding your audience matters because it lets you focus your marketing to meet the needs and preferences of an ideal customer. Tailored marketing increases the chance of creating a sale.
You can use market research methods like focus groups and data analysis to gather information about potential customers. A little bit of competitor research doesn’t hurt here either; learn who is using their product or service, read reviews to discover what their customers like or dislike, etc.
To understand your ideal audience you need to know:
- Where do they spend their time (online and IRL)?
- How do they talk to each other?
- What platforms or networks can I use to tell them about my side hustle?
- What types of messaging and format will work best? Do they prefer humor, infographics, newsletters, video, etc?
Don’t try to bring them to you. Instead, plan to meet your audience where they already are.
5. Small & S.M.A.R.T
Most people fail to start their side hustle because they think you need a lot of time or money. Think big, start small; one of the best bits of business advice anyone ever gave me.
Just start with what you have, and don’t over-invest time or resources – especially if you haven’t made any money yet. Social media accounts and a free website are all any new side hustle really needs to get started.
Small thinking is a great approach to untested side hustle ideas for a few reasons, like helping you focus on the essentials, build momentum, test and validate your ideas, and manage risks.
Thinking small is a great start, but you also need to think smart. SMART is an acronym for a popular method of creating goals that are clear, achievable, and effective.
A specific goal should be clear, with a particular outcome in mind. For example, a specific goal might be “I will increase my Twitter following by posting once and day and engaging with other accounts for 4 hours a week.
A measurable goal is one you can track and compare your progress to work out if you’re on the right route to hit your goal. For example, the number of tweets sent and time spent engaging are easy to measure.
An achievable goal is one you can actually do (with the resources and skills you have). It should be challenging, but not impossible. For example, “tweet once a day” is more achievable than “gain 10 new followers every day”.
A relevant goal makes sense to your overall plan. It needs to be important and meaningful enough to contribute to your long-term plan. For example, if your long-term goal is to gain more customers, increasing your social media following would be relevant.
A time-bound goal has an actual deadline (rather than “ASAP”, followed by pestering emails asking for updates). For example, I will have X number of Twitter followers by Y date.
By following the SMART criteria, you can create a business plan that outlines your ideas, target audience, marketing, and sales strategy. This only increases your chances of success and keeps you motivated to achieve your goals.
6. Business Toolkit
When you start a side hustle you’ve got to be prepared for anything. Creating and implementing a business plan, managing your finances, marketing, and promoting your business.
It’s a lot to think about, and that doesn’t even include creating, and improving, high quality products and services.
That’s because as a solopreneur you’ll be in charge of every part of your business. Chances are you’ll be limited when it comes to time, money, and other resources too. Juggling so many tasks and responsibilities alone can be – stressful – to say the least.
With that in mind, it’s a good idea to look for support and advice wherever you can find it; networking, mentorship, social media. This can help you stay motivated and overcome any obstacles you might run into.
Another handy bit of advice before starting your side hustle is to find as many free tools to help make your solopreneur existence that little bit easier.
Here are some free tool suggestions to help support your side hustle:
Rank higher in search engine results, and drive more organic traffic to your website with search engine optimization (SEO).
A strong SEO strategy – think keyword research, content optimization, link building, etc – can help your side hustle reach its target audience and achieve its goals.
Create professional-looking graphics for your products, services, adverts, websites, and other materials without the need for expensive software or deep design skills.
As well as saving money, these tools can also save time by helping you create high-quality materials quickly and easily.
Sites like Canva and VistaCreate are great for graphics and visual content, Unsplash for stock photos, and Hocoos to create professional-looking websites and online stores in minutes.
Increase your brand’s visibility with potential customers through efficient marketing. When done well, it’ll give your side hustle a serious boost in sales and revenue.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media can’t replace a business website, but they can help support it by driving awareness.
Using tools like Hootsuite or Buffer to manage your social account will save time and increase engagement, while Mailchimp is tried and tested when it comes to email campaigns.
Improve the quality of your writing by making it more effective at engaging and persuading your audience. Here are some free writing tools we swear by here at Hocoos.
Grammarly is awesome for checking grammar and spelling, Hemingway Editor helps improve writing clarity and simplicity, and ProWritingAid gives detailed feedback on your writing.
When it comes to writing, our go-to is Google Docs. It lets you create, edit, and collaborate on documents with others in real time.
Mostly because it’s free and easy. Also, any good note-taking app is essential; you never know when inspiration is going to strike.
These are just a small number of the free solutions available to help support and grow your side hustle. The important takeaway here is that for every task your business will face, there’s a tool to help.
A side hustle is a great way to earn some easy money from your skills, hobbies, or interests.
Whether you’re saving for a vacation, paying off debt, or just want to be your own boss, starting a side hustle helps turn your dreams into reality.
Whatever the reason for wanting to make a little extra on the side, following the points in this article will seriously increase your chances of success.
When you find an idea you’re ready to share with the world, come find us. Here at Hocoos, we help people just like you take their business online.
How? By creating websites & online stores. You just answer 8 quick questions and our AI Wizard can create your unique website in 5 minutes.
And if you’re still not sure what your side hustle should be?
Then create a website anyway. It’s fun and free. Who knows, if you like it maybe you could earn some money spreading the word as one of our affiliates…