How to Get Your Side Hustle off the Ground

by | Dec 14, 2020 | Entrepreneurship

There’s nothing strange about holding down a day job as a creative.

But all things being equal, you might prefer spending more time on your passion, or something equally creative (passion adjacent).

Well, so far as I’m concerned, this is the best time in history to get a side hustle off the ground, and regardless of your passions, experience, or skills, there are opportunities waiting for you.

Let’s look at how you can make it happen.

My Side Hustle Journey

I first started writing content for the web in 1997. Websites were quite primitive at the time, and generally required manual coding.

I started getting into blogging in the mid-2000s, and by 2007, I had embraced Content Management Systems (CMS) like Movable Type and WordPress.

In 2012, I started blogging for money and at that point, it became more than just a side hustle. I even experimented with various niche sites.

Since then, I’ve ghostwritten for dozens of blogs as well as Entrepreneur and HuffPost contributors. I’ve also written hundreds of blog posts and articles as a freelance and staff writer.

Today, writing is a significant part of my livelihood.

Looking to get your side hustle off the ground? If you know what to do and where to look (you can find hundreds of worthwhile side hustle ideas here), you can make it happen much faster than I ever did.

Here’s how to launch.

Step #1 – Start a Website

I know this goes contrary to what some are saying, which is to build a presence on social media, YouTube or Medium because that’s where all the people are.

I like YouTube and Medium and all those other platforms myself, and I even utilize them heavily. You’re more than welcome to use them in your marketing too.

But due to algorithm updates and mounting competition, it’s getting harder than ever just to get your post seen never mind engaged.

Facebook, for example, announced an algorithm update that put more emphasis on original quality news content earlier this year.

I’m not saying it’s necessarily easier to get traffic to your website. It takes some serious work either way.

But if there’s one thing I can say for sure, it’s that you’ll retain full control over your website, its content, how you position the elements, and everything else. You won’t get banned or deleted either.

Plus, if you’re trying to attract clients, I can promise you that you’re going to look far more professional and credible if you have a website at a custom domain name.

I would never send a prospective client to my Facebook page. They’re going to get lost amid all the noise and needlessly cluttered layout (though I would use Facebook to make contacts and drive traffic to my website).

Finally, your website can – and should – act as your portfolio.

Your website should act as your portfolio. Share on X

If you want to become a writer, like me, then you should blog regularly.

If you’re a graphic designer, you should show samples of your latest work.

And so on.

If you use it wisely, your website will become a significant long-term asset.

If you use it wisely, your website will become a significant long-term asset. Share on X

Step #2 – Make Your Presence Known

If no one knows who you are, then it doesn’t matter how pretty your website is. You’re not going to get any work.

Every bit of work you put into your website is worth it, because you can document your journey, track your progress, and share samples of your work. That said, you still need to build awareness.

As I was beginning work as a contract blogger/digital marketer for a music industry startup in 2012, I started interacting with all the brands, bloggers, and podcasters publishing music business related content.

I left comments on blogs and social media posts everywhere I went. Before I knew it, I’d built quite a bit of awareness among blog and site owners, with whom I also built relationships.

I started trading guest posts. I was invited onto podcasts. And long-term, I even got hired on by one of the site owners as a staff writer.

This is also how I ended up building connections in the ghostwriting realm. Basically, one contact kept leading to another.

Freelance writer Alyssa Walker says:

The more you use social media with professional networking in mind, the more you’ll be able to connect with others – and see results.

She’s right. But I would argue that you don’t necessarily need to be “professional.” You just need to add value. And that’s done by leaving thoughtful and insightful comments on other people’s posts and keeping conversations going.

Also remember – even if it is nerve wracking, you can reach out to your entire network letting them know that you’ve started up your side hustle and you’re available to work.

Step #3 – Know the Landscape

So, you’ve built your website and you’ve started interacting on social media.

Although it might take longer if you’re not tech savvy, you should be able to do all this over the course of a weekend. I’m not saying your website will be fully fleshed out in that time, but you can have a nice-looking site with some basic content up and running in a few hours.

But what else can we do to set ourselves up for success?

While steps one and two are the crux of it, there is one more thing we can do to start filling our pipeline with work.

Well, if you didn’t already know, there are dozens if not hundreds of sites where you can list your services and actively seek out work.

If you’re thinking about blogging professionally, for example, you can find new opportunities on the ProBlogger Job Board popping up all the time.

Here are a few other places worth knowing about:

  • Upwork: A few years ago, Elance and oDesk combined and became Upwork, a place where freelancers can go to find work. I have had good success with Upwork, and so have other well-known marketers like Brian Dean.
  • Freelancer: Freelancer is a lot like Upwork, except that freelancers bid on projects and talent seekers can hire (or buy from) whoever they feel is best for the job.
  • Fiverr: A directory where service providers can list and offer their low-cost services. It used to be that all service providers charged $5 (thus Fiverr), but these days they are charging more based on their skill level and add-ons.
  • Funnel Rolodex: If you’re well-acquainted with any aspect of building a funnel, be it copywriting, graphic design, video production or otherwise, you might have success listing your services on Funnel Rolodex as well.

Side Hustle, Final Thoughts

Starting a side hustle need not be complicated. And there’s a good chance you can get paid for something you love, or at the very least enjoy.

There’s a good chance you can get paid for something you love, or at the very least enjoy. Share on X

Depending on the nature of what you’re trying to accomplish, you might leverage different platforms, but your overall approach probably won’t change much at all.

Best of luck in your endeavors!

Do you have any questions? Is there anything else I should have covered?

Let me know in the comments below.

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