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How to Start a Side Gig

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Jenny Hoff shares how you can become an entrepreneur in one month. 

By Jenny Hoff

On The Money - How to Start a Side Gig

We are living in the age of the entrepreneur. No longer is your only path to income a good job at a decent company. Technology has enabled anyone to start a business with no upfront costs and no need for a brick-and-mortar business. The best way to test your entrepreneurial prowess is to start a side gig you can commit to outside your normal working hours, one that can help you boost your bank account or even pay off debt. Here are some steps to get you started. 

1. GENERATE A LIST OF SIDE-GIG IDEAS AND THEN PICK ONLY ONE. 

Make a list of all the things you are passionate about or just seem to always be doing for other people as a favor. Ask friends and family what you’re really good at, suggests Chris Guillebeau, founder of sidehustleschool.com and author of Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days. Once you’ve made a list of a few ideas, focus on only one. For example, if you’re a great amateur photographer, consider selling photo shoots at a cheaper rate than professional photographers. Many people can’t afford a $400 session for headshots or family photos, but they might be willing to pay $50 or $100 to an amateur who has a good eye. 

2. CALCULATE POTENTIAL INVESTMENT. 

Once you’ve settled on an idea, you’ll need to calculate potential costs and then rate their importance. Sticking with the photography example, maybe you need to buy a decent camera or build a website (which you can do on your own with an easy website-builder service). Keep your costs low and then make a plan to pay them off quickly through getting clients. 

3. DEFINE YOUR CLIENT. 

While it’s tempting to open up your services to the general public, it’s more effective to target a niche market. That way, you can speak directly to your clients because you know what they want and where to find them. If you’re a photographer, perhaps your target market is families. You would build your portfolio with that niche in mind, join Facebook groups in which they are active and direct your messaging specifically to their needs. 

4. TEST THE MARKET WITHIN YOUR NETWORK. 

You don’t need a marketing specialist or a Facebook ad campaign to start getting customers. Simply update your LinkedIn profile and send out an email to five to 10 potential clients, like friends and family. Include a call to action, even if it’s just asking if they will forward the information to anyone who may be interested. If you’re active on social media, reach out to your network there. “Go where your people already are,” Guillebeau suggests. Don’t try to master a new social network before getting started. 

5. LET GO OF YOUR EGO. 

You might be jazzed up right now when thinking about how you’re going to get tons of clients and make great money, but Guillebeau cautions to stay realistic and pay attention to what the market is telling you. “What tends to happen more often is it works a little bit,” he says. If your side gig isn’t taking off the way you anticipated, look to where you can tweak your message or service. 

A side gig doesn’t require a fancy website or expensive equipment, just some creativity and courage to figure out what you can offer, how much people are willing to pay for it and the guts to tell the world you’re open for business. Good luck! 


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