It’s never been easier to turn your hobbies into a steady trickle of income, so if you’re good at something, there’s a good chance someone will pay you to do it.
We spoke to Sheahan, one of our Digital Marketing experts, to find out how he got started on his side hustles, and what you need to consider before you dive in headfirst.
1. Work out what you’re good at
You don’t even need to be that good at it – if you’re passionate about what you do, you’ll improve over time. I started selling my designs on Redbubble because I’d previously made them for my mates’ birthdays.
I do a bit of design in my day job and this was a good way to improve my skills and make some money out of it. They were bit “rustic” to begin with, but I’m pretty pleased with some of the stuff I turn out these days – and I’m always pleasantly surprised when someone buys them!
If you look on a website like Airtasker or TaskRabbit, you’ll see amateur photographers, people who write CVs and cover letters, music and dance teachers, even people who will come to your house and put together your IKEA furniture – and that’s a small price to pay to save you having an argument with your spouse! And if you’re a crafty type you’re probably already familiar with the wonders of Etsy.
No matter what you want to do, there’s likely somewhere you can do it and someone who will pay you to do it. Which leads me to my next point…
2. How much time do you want to spend?
A side hustle is supposed to be just that – something you do on the side. Sure, you might be able to dedicate a couple of hours a day to reviewing everything on Netflix now, but if you find yourself in a new job or with new commitments you might struggle to get through a whole season of Nailed It in a couple of days.
There are plenty of e-commerce websites which will do most of the hard work for you. They’ll likely take a bigger cut of your profits, but if you don’t want to get stuck in the nitty gritty, then these are good solutions. If you do have the time and motivation, tools like Shopify can help you set up an online business in a few clicks.
The best thing about what I do is I can set my own schedule. When I have an idea, I can do some work on it. When my artwork is finished, I can upload it and Redbubble does the rest. And once a month I get the money from the stuff I’ve sold.
If I wanted to make more money out of what I do, I might set up my own website or start selling on Etsy as well, but for now it works for me and it fits around my life.
If you think you can make it bigger than something you do on the side, you might want to check out our tips for getting started on your own small business.
3. Don’t expect it to happen overnight
Just because you’ve built it, doesn’t mean they’ll come. At least not straight away. If being an “influencer” is what you want, then you’ll need to take the time to build an audience – i.e. people to influence. If you’re starting out on a review-driven website, like Airtasker, it might be worth doing some work for friends or relatives and getting them to review you.
I started an Instagram page for my Redbubble store once I had a few designs up. I’m quite lazy with it, but I definitely notice the difference in sales and engagement when I am putting more effort into social media.
So, if you don’t see immediate success, stick to it - especially if you’re enjoying what you’re doing.
4. Don’t undervalue yourself
This is the classic issue most freelancers and side hustlers run into sooner rather than later – how much to charge people for what you do. And unfortunately, there’s no easy answer.
You can always look at your competition to start with. You don’t want to price yourself out of the market, but you also don’t want to undercut it either. But people are also willing to pay for quality – or perceived quality – so keep that in mind too.
If you aren’t having to outlay money on materials, then what you’re really valuing is your own time. Are a sore back and knees worth £10 an hour to put together a bookcase, as well as the time to get there and back? And don’t forget to account for the convenience of having someone do something you can’t/won’t do yourself.
Your pricing doesn’t have to be fixed either. If you are attracting more clients, selling more products, or have better reviews, you might be able to bump the price up slightly. Likewise, if you aren’t attracting people, then you may want to lower your prices to build a customer base. It’s a balancing act, but one you’ll get the hang of after a while.
5. Be yourself, be different
It’s important to remember that unless you’ve got a brand-new idea, you’ll probably be entering a saturated market so making yourself stand out is critical. Use what’s unique to you to make your side hustle a reflection of who you are. Finding your unique selling point (USP) can make you more attractive to your audience, and help you grow by word of mouth.
Sometimes it’s as simple as asking yourself “why should people come to me?” That can help you unpack what your USPs are and help your frame yourself within a market.
When I have an idea for a new product, I have a quick browse of Redbubble to see if there’s anything similar so I can make my designs different. This helps to keep my creative wheels turning, but also helps me find any gaps or over-supply in various markets.
6. There really is something for everyone
I’ve mostly written about selling products and services, but there’s plenty of side hustles you can get into without having to do much at all. Answering surveys, product testing and mystery shopping can be quite lucrative for the effort required.
If you have a niche interest or skill, you probably aren’t the only person interested and there’s plenty of easy-to-use online tools for creating video and audio content, plus free tours could net you plenty of cash-in-hand tips. It’s also never been easier to self-publish a book. And it’s fairly easy to get into voice-over work too.
Have a google and see what you can find. There are dozens of websites where you can pick up tips and start earning.
For me, selling stuff on Redbubble and writing about the NFL (my other side hustle) are labours of love. It’s nice to get paid for doing them, but I get far more out of it as a creative pursuit than I do financially. After all, if you’re not having fun doing it, why bother?
Have you got a business idea you want to make a reality? Our enterprise programme could help! Enrolment opens in July 2021, but you can register your interest now and we’ll help you get started while you wait.