*This post was originally published on KristaAoki.com.
Working wages aren’t keeping up with the cost of living. And it’s freakin’ rough to be stuck in a cycle of living paycheck-to-paycheck. But how can you break that cycle and live a life on your own terms?
You should start a side hustle.
Because, feel me on this one: we should be working to live, not living to work.
Do you think that a “normal, regular” person such as yourself couldn’t start a profitable side hustle? Well, scrap that mindset and stop self-sabotaging your potential success.
In 2017, I worked an entry-level customer service position and started a blog on the side to give my paycheck a little oomph. Eventually, I started making money writing about topics I got nerdy about – student loans, personal finance, millennial problems, and even my love for blogging.
In short: I figured out how to earn an income on the side each month – which meant larger payments towards my student loans, and larger payments towards my personal savings.
So stop making excuses. Stop putting things off because you’re scared (because trust me, now I only wish I started blogging SOONER!). It’s time to diversify your income stream and start a successful side hustle.
After all, starting a side hustle can help you:
- Stop living paycheck to paycheck
- Pay off your debt (and live debt-free!)
- Save money to travel
- Improve your resume
- Or even build a business that helps you ditch your 9-5
So here are ten simple steps you need to take in order to start your money-makin’ side hustle.
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1. Decide on your hustle.
Obviously, start by deciding what you want to pursue to start building that side income.
Protip: Your side hustle should be something you’re passionate about! Because you don’t want to burn yourself out by spending your free time on something you don’t love.
Instead of feeling burnt out, you’ll be excited to be laying in bed thinking about all the ideas you have for that side hustle of yours. Maybe you’ll even wake up in the middle of the night with a brilliant, lightbulb idea.
Some of the best side hustles are the ones which you can work on from anywhere – on your lunch break, at the library, or maybe even during slow periods at your day job. Here are some ideas for inspiration:
- Start a Blog (Don’t know where to start? Follow this guide to get your blog up and running in minutes!)
- Virtual Assistant
- Social Media Management
- Blog/Freelance Writing
- Physical Product sales
- Digital Product sales
Related Reading: Work Online from Home with These 15 Job Ideas
2. Target your audience.
It’s natural to want to appeal to everyone when you start a business.
The truth is, your message will be SO much clearer if you’re speaking to a specific person. By figuring out as much as possible about who you want to serve, you will:
- Create social media posts your audience will relate and engage with
- Design products your audience will love
- Have a following of people who aren’t afraid to tell you what they struggle with, so you can help solve their problems.
Think about your audience as more than a demographic. By knowing your audience, you know where you should market your products or services, and how to speak in a way that draws your future clients to YOU!
Take GRIT Consulting as an example. In her messaging, Kelly speaks directly to her audience of non-profit leaders. Her welcoming message addresses non-profit leaders, and reads:
Are you bogged down by everything – grant reports, posting to your Facebook page, and letters of inquiry to all those foundations? And then there’s still last year’s annual report.
Let GRIT Consulting tackle the funding and marketing tasks on your non-profit’s plate that you keep putting off, so you can push forward.
So save your time, money, and pleas for a part-time fundraising person, and allow us to write your non-profit’s grants, tackle your projects, and check stuff off your to-do list. We’ll get your stuff done with GRIT.
This specific messaging is like, 1,000,000x better than if she just listed her services for “anyone”, right?!?!?!
So do your homework: figure out exactly who you want to work with or attract to your business, and write your marketing and messaging FOR THEM!
3. Outline your mission.
A mission isn’t only a guiding statement for you. That mission also tells your audience what you can give them.
Think about your audience’s time like money.
Except unlike money, everyone is limited to twenty-four hours in a day. Seven days in a week. You get the picture. Time is valuable, and there ain’t much of it.
People need a reason to give you a chance. They need a reason to give you, and what you offer, a time of day.
So you need to show them that freakin’ value you can bring from the get-go.
You already know your audience and WHO you want to impact. Now, ask yourself:
- What problems are you going to solve for your audience?
- How are your services, or blog posts, whatever, going to transform their lives?
Starting without a mission makes it way too easy to get lost or off-track. Having a mission helps you refocus and achieve clarity when you feel way too scatterbrained trying to accomplish everything.
4. Decide how you’ll market your hustle.
So, you’ve got a pretty good handle on who you want to help, and with what. The next natural step to take is deciding where you want to flaunt your side hustle, and how you will market it.
Where will you flaunt your side hustle? Where can your audience find you? There are a few places you can start advertising your side hustle:
- Your own website (click here to get 60% off your first hosting plan with Siteground)
- Opening an Amazon shop
- Starting an Etsy shop
- Offering gigs on Fiverr
- Advertising your services, products, etc. on social media
Don’t feel like you have to limit yourself to just one of the above when you’re working that side hustle!
5. Make a plan and decide the “how”.
It’s important to make a plan. Not just for your business concept, but for everything about your business.
Whether you’re writing a post, developing a product, or even marketing your services as a freelancer, you still need to answer how.
- How are you going to market the post in order to get it in front of as many eyes as possible?
- How are you going to appeal to your audience?
- Or even, how are you going to stand out from the crowd?
When it comes to goal-setting, start small.
- How am I going to make that first sale?
- What am I going to do to sign that first client?
By focusing on your first sale/client/whatever, you can figure out what about your strategy works, or doesn’t work.
6. Connect with your audience via storytelling.
If you are building a side hustle, you are also building a brand.
And how is your brand going to stand apart from others? Through your story.An outstanding brand stands out through its compelling story. Click To Tweet
You know your mission, you know your audience, you know your plan. Now you just need to connect with your audience by tying everything together for them.
- What you can do for your audience/your customers
- How you got to where you are, and how you started your business
- Why you started your business
Personalize your story. Think about personalizing your brand’s story like applying for a job: you personalize your resume and previous experience in order to show you are the right fit.Building a brand is like personalizing your resume & experience to show you're the right fit. Click To Tweet
If you personalize your story in order to connect with your audience, you show them you are the right fit for them, and you are more likely to make the sale.
7. Pay attention to what works, and eliminate what doesn’t.
It’s important to pay attention to what works and eliminate what doesn’t.
When you start your side hustle, treat it like a business.
What do businesses do? They track as much as possible (e.g. clicks, conversions) in order to see what programs equal success, and what programs just aren’t working.
You don’t really have to eliminate everything that doesn’t work. Sometimes, you just need to ask yourself: how can I make this better?A successful entrepreneur always asks: how can I make this better? Click To Tweet
Because if you’re not getting traffic, not receiving engagement, and not moving forward, you’re probably doing something wrong.
8. Create a task list and stick to it.
I can’t stress this enough: even though you’re starting a side hustle, it’s important to get in the mindset that you’re creating a business.
If you want your business to grow, treat it like a job.
Create a task list and stick to it.
It’s easy to get home after a long day of work and put things off until later because you’re too tired. Well, maybe you need to change the time you commit to your side hustle. I’m personally more productive in the mornings.
Figure out what you need to do. Then do it.
We use Asana to organize our blogging and business tasks.
Related Reading: How to Find Blogger Clarity (and Make More Money) Using Asana
9. Network, network, network.
To succeed in your side hustle, you should also network. Think about it this way: no one grew their business or empire alone.
By networking, you can:
- build supportive relationships & community
- collaborate with others who have similar audience
- increase referrals & revenue to your business
Don’t know where to start? Join this Facebook group of goal-getters working to be their own CEO.
10. Make time for you.
Most importantly, remember to establish a work-life balance.
It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed by your task list, especially if you hustle on top of working a full-time job.
But to avoid driving yourself absolutely crazy, make time for you. And that’s the beauty of your side hustle: you create your own working schedule, instead of being subject to someone else’s.
Relax while you sip your coffee. Go on that run. Binge on that new Netflix show. Hustle…when you want to.
It’s all on you.
You are the gatekeeper of your own future. We all have fears and self-doubt. But if you’ve read this and gotten this far, it shows you’re dedicated. You’re doing the research you need to succeed.
It’s easy to complain, and it’s just as easy to give up.
- “No one is visiting my blog.”
- “My products aren’t good enough.”
- “I don’t have the time anymore.”
Well, figure out how to entice people to visit your blog. Create products that are good enough. Make time for your side hustle.
Are you going to let your doubts and fears control you? Or, are you going to show them who’s boss?
LMK in the comments below.