So you’ve decided that the time is now. You’re going to start your side hustle, no matter what it takes. Only, you’re not really sure where to start, or how you’re even going to figure it out.
You think to yourself, “Man, I wish there was a plan I could follow to hit the ground running.”
And here it is!
But before we jump in, I want to preface this by saying that starting a side hustle is the quickest way into a full-time freelancing career, if that’s what you want. It’s how I got started. I worked my full-time administrator job while I did my freelance writing side hustle part-time, until I was ready to take a risk on myself and go all in.
It’s also the safest way to test the waters and see if your side hustle has legs, if it’s viable and if it’s something you actually want to do.
Because, let’s be honest, you might decide that having a side hustle is enough and that doing your own thing is just too much hassle — because it is a hassle to step out on your own — but I truly believe that it balances out in the end and I would NEVER go back to working for someone else unless I had the freedom to do as I please like I do now 🙂
Ok, ready to get yourself up and running? Let’s go.
7-Day Plan for Starting a Side Hustle
Day #1: Choose your side hustle
Awesome. Day 1 is all about figuring out what your side hustle is going to be. What is your skill that you're going to monetise?
Answer these questions to dig a little deeper if you don't already have an idea:
- What are you trained to do?
- What are your hobbies?
- What are you good at?
- What do others ask you for help with/seek your advice about?
Write the answers to these questions on a piece of paper, in your Evernote notebook or anywhere that you can easily access over the next 7 days.
Now, identify your top 3 that you would enjoy doing in your spare time, and could get paid for, AND don't need any further training in. This last point is important if you want to be up and running within 7 days.
You need a skill that you can do with your eyes closed, literally and figuratively.
Don't move on to Day 2 until you've got at least 3 options.
Day #2: Verify your side hustle has 'legs'
Ok, Day 2 is all about verifying that your side hustle is actually in demand. There is no point having a side hustle that isn't going to earn you some moola. Kinda defeats the whole point, right?
So, here's what you need to do to verify your side hustle is going to earn you some cash:
- Start on Craigslist.com. Look in the services and see if there is anyone advertising a skill similar to yours. Next, check out the jobs section as well. If you see 3 or more advertisements, this is a good sign your skill is in demand.
- Next, check out Upwork.com. Look in the job search (you may need to sign up to view) and search your skill. This only works for online opportunities. (If you're a dog walker, Craigslist is your best bet.) If there are plenty of jobs that require your skill set, then you've just found your side hustle.
- If none of the above shows much promise, look in your local newspaper classifieds and see if there is anything there. If you get nothing here, it's back to the drawing board. Head back to Day 1 and review your list. Sometimes, you might need to go through the whole list to find that one skill that's in demand (this is very rare though).
Now that you've confirmed you can make some money with your skill, let's figure out what's next. Head to Day 3.
Day #3: When will you side hustle?
Day 3 is figuring out how you're going to fit your side hustle into your already busy and chaotic life. Because the reality is, no-one really has that much spare time, particularly if you've got kids, am I right?
So, before you get too far down the rabbit hole, answer these questions for yourself:
- When will you do your side hustle work?
- How much time do you have available to dedicate to your side hustle? 1 hour in the morning before work, 2 hours after work, 5 hours on the weekend? Be specific and block those times out NOW.
- Do you have consistent times available or are they likely to change all the time? How will you fit this into your schedule?
- How will you balance your work schedule, your family schedule and your side hustle schedule?
Spend some time answering these questions. Use your piece of paper, Evernote notebook or Word document to keep track of your answers, and be honest with yourself.
How much time you can actually dedicate to your side hustle will also determine which side hustle you ultimately pursue.
Once you've got an idea of how much time you have, look at the verified side hustle skills you have and figure out which one you're going to run with.
As an example, when I started I had 2 hours each night spare plus 3-4 hours over the weekend to dedicate to my freelance writing side hustle.
I can write a 1000 word article/blog post/chapter within an hour. This is because I've been typing for many, many years. So this meant that I could take on 2-3 jobs per week that were after blog posts that were 500-1000 words long.
Work within your means. Don't overcommit or you'll land yourself in a whole lotta hot water.
Ok, by now you should have your side hustle nailed down and also have an idea of how much time you've got available to work that side hustle. Let's move to Day 4.
Day #4: Build your one-page website
Now, don't freak out because you're not a web designer! You don't need those skills to set up a simple one-page website.
I'd recommend grabbing a free about.me site. It's simple to set up and allows you to add links to your social media profiles (more on that in Day 5), highlight your work and how people can get in contact with you.
If you're low on funds, this is definitely your best option. Here's what I've got for my about.me profile: www.about.me/lisecartwright
If you want something with a few more bells and whistles and you've got an entire day that you can spend on creating a website, then I'd highly recommend going with a hosted WordPress website. You can learn more about setting that up over at www.wordpress.org. They can help you find a domain, get hosting and setup your website.
The Hustle & Groove blog is on a WordPress hosted website, as a point of reference.
If you don't have the time or the skills, don't waste your time trying to figure out WordPress. Stick with an about.me site and just get something up.
Day 5 awaits...
Day #5: Get your social media sorted
If you haven't already, you need to get yourself some social media accounts on the following platforms (depending on your side hustle skill):
- Facebook Page
- Google +
If you're skill is largely online, stick with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google + at a minimum. If you're skill involves anything visual, ie, web designer, graphic designer, photographer etc, then you'll definitely want a Pinterest and Instagram account too.
I won't go into detail on how to use them, because that's a whole other blog post (and course!) but if you want to know more, check out this website: www.socialmediaexaminer.com
Make sure you add a bio to each social media platform that includes information about your side hustle and a link to your one-page website. Don't forget to be active on these platforms. I find that I can actively participate on 3 platforms well, any more than that and it's a scattered approach. Keep this in mind when deciding what you'll set up.
Once you've got yourself set up on these platforms, you'll want to go and follow other people doing your skill or that are similar. For example, if you're a freelance writer, follow other writers, novelists and editors. If you're a graphic designer, follow other graphic designer's, logo companies etc.
Start interacting now.
As a side note, you should be completing these assignments in the time you've allocated to your side hustle, as this will give you a fair idea if this is something that is going to work for you.
Move on to Day 6.
Day #6: Find your first gig
Before we get stuck into Day 6, let's recap on what we've covered so far in the past 5 days:
- You've identified your side hustle (make sure it's gonna make you money)
- You've identified when you can work your side hustle (and are completing your assignments in those times)
- You've setup your social media accounts and started interacting with others in your niche
Got all of that? Great, we're ready to find your first gig!
Remember back on Day 2 when you were verifying your side hustle? You used Craigslist and Upwork to do this? Well, these are the two places we are going to start with in landing your first gig.
Depending on your side hustle, choose the site that you know has the most demand for your skills.
Identify three gig's you'd like to apply for. If possible, find out as much as you can about the potential client and what they are looking for. Do they list their website? What can you learn from the information they've provided?
At the same time, you'll want to be connecting and interacting on your social media accounts. Developing a profitable side hustle and freelance career is all about relationships and networking. The sooner you can develop these, the better. Make sure you set aside 10-20 minutes each day to develop these relationships.
Got your three gig's? Awesome, you're ready for Day 7!
Day #7: Apply for your first side hustle gig!
D-Day has arrived. It's time to apply for your first side hustle gig.
Depending on your niche, this may require writing and submitting some samples of your work, a portfolio or fulfilling some other request. Do what you need to do.
If you are submitting a pitch on a site like Upwork, check out this blog post on how to write one, with template included!
If you're applying for gigs on Craigslist, keep it brief and to the point and highlight why the person should hire you. If you're confident in your abilities, let your personality shine through too. People hire people based more on a 'feeling' than your skill set, so be friendly and open to communication.
Now, hit send or apply! You did it, you've applied for your first gig. Now rinse and repeat on the other two 🙂
Now, take a bit of time off, you’re likely feeling pretty overwhelmed right now. So skip a day of doing anything in your side hustle and then come back to it. You’ll likely be in discussions with those three gigs you applied for!