17 Steps to Side Hustle Sophistication
More than 44 million Americans have a side hustle. Are you one of them? Would you like to be?
Many of my clients launch service-based side hustles (and main hustles). The idea of getting started with any level of sophistication can seem overwhelming. It's not the service itself that you're providing that's a mystery. You've probably aligned that to something you could do even in your sleep.
It's the online aspects of side hustling that typically get confusing. Finding answers to questions like: How do I build a website that I'm proud to share with others? When do I stop giving out my firstname.lastname@example.org address and get a real domain? What do I have to do to accept payments online?
I've got the answers to all your questions right here. Keep reading for a list of 17 steps that will put you above the rest when it comes to side hustle sophistication.
#1: Get a Squarespace site.
I love using Squarespace because I literally cannot mess it up. Your DIY site designed in the Squarespace platform will never turn out looking like one of the original Myspace pages (remember the purple backgrounds and neon stars?). Squarespace forces consistency across your site with easy to choose options for making it your own. There's even a free trial.
#2: Book your name as a domain when you sign up for Squarespace.
Here's why: First of all, it will be easy to set up without needing to transfer your domain name from another site like GoDaddy. Secondly, you are likely to shift and change your side hustle over time, so I would avoid spending much time in the branding and naming space for now. Give yourself a good 12 months of offering services on the side before diving into any significant branding or naming efforts.
#3: Get G-Suite for free.
When you sign up for Squarespace, you'll be able to get G-Suite for free which will give you access to all the apps you need with your new professional email address (email@example.com, for example). That way, you won't be asking your new corporate client to please share that Google doc with you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
#4: Make a list of the services you intend to offer.
Now that you've got a website, we need to create some content for it. Let's start with your services page. Simply write down a list of the services that you'll offer your clients. For right now, keep it to no more than three and try to make them available at different price points so that your prospects have options. Also, design your middle option to be the one you want most people to choose. It should shine with value for your client and profitability for you!
#5 Write your about page.
The most visited page on any site is the "About" page, so you'll want to make sure yours is excellent. There are three main components to this page that you don't want to miss: a photo of you that includes your smiling face, proof that you are a credible resource, and evidence that while you are brilliant, you are also human like the rest of us.
Here's a simple guide to help you write a bio that feels authentic, if you'd like to download it.
#6 Get a professional photo.
You'll need this for your website and for your social media profiles. Having one consistent picture will help people know they are in the right place. This doesn't need to be expensive or take a long time. Just put on a nice sweater, step outside, and ask someone over the age of 14 to snap the picture (while you're smiling).
#7 Write three posts.
Think about the top three questions that your clients bring your way. Write three posts - one that answers each question. Have these on the ready for your website when you pull it all together.
Mid-way Check In
Let's check in to see what you have done so far. You've got a Squarespace site that maps to your personal domain, a professional email address, a professional photo, and content for three critical pages on your site: About, Services, and Blog. Cool! Let's keep going.
Seriously, you can do this. How do I know? Because these are the exact same steps I shared with Mary Courtney Southwick, Michael DeVita, and Brad Ledford to create their sites. Check them out. They are beautiful and inspiring. Keep going :)
#8: Find some testimonials for your site.
This shouldn't be too hard if you've got a Linkedin page. Simply go to your page and find a recommendation that some kind colleague has written for you. Or go to Facebook or Twitter to find that "thank-you-for-being-an-awesome-human" shout out and pull it on over. If you've done any work for free getting started side hustling, send them a quick email to ask for feedback. Social proof is a must.
#9: It's time to design your site.
Here is the one rule you must never loose sight of in this step: Done is better than perfect. Your first step is to choose a template. Check them out here before you login to your site for a preview, and narrow your search to 2 or 3 that you love. I use Rally (in case you're wondering). Once you choose a template, you've already got your copy ready for your services page and about page - and three posts for your blog. Of course, you'll need some beautiful photos. If you don't have your own, check out Unspash.
#10: Start an email list.
Don't skip this step. If you do, you'll be so sorry years from now. Let me paint a picture for you. Years from now when your side hustle is your main hustle, you're going to reach a tipping point where you're frustrated that your ability to earn money is directly related to the number of hours you have available to work. When you get there, you'll decide to offer a digital product or online learning experience to make your services available to more people. When you make a plan to sell this offering, someone will inevitably ask you: "How big is your list?" They are talking about your email list. Cultivating an engaged email list may be the most critical component of your long term success. Are you convinced yet? Please trust me on this one. Head on over to MailChimp, open a free account, and add a "Join my newsletter" option to your site.
#11: Share your posts with your list, Every time.
Don't skip this step either, because the only thing worse than not starting a list is starting one and never sending them anything. You're gonna love this set-it-and-forget-it option even more than you love your crock-pot. Here are the step-by-step instructions. I promise you can do this! Seriously, if you get overwhelmed, email me, and I'll step your through it.
#12: Publish your website and find your rhythm.
Publish your website. And, find one hour each week that you will spend writing and publishing a new post on your site. As long as you are writing and publishing, content will be going out to the people on your list, which will bring them back to your site, so they'll be thinking about you and your services. Once you publish your post, simply use the share buttons at the bottom of your post to share it with your social media networks. As long as you are putting a thumbnail picture and an excerpt in the "Settings" for your posts, everything is ready for you.
#13: Get your money straight.
Right now, not tomorrow or next week, open a business checking account, savings account, and get a business credit card. Then, sign up for QuickBooks Self-Employed. You'll be able to accept payments online, keep track of your expenses, and track your mileage so easily. And when it is tax-time, you'll remember this post and think "I'm so glad I listened to Jeannie on that one!"
#14 Go get this free legal checklist.
Clearly, I'm not a lawyer, but I do know one. Rachel Rodgers created a legal kit for small business that will give you everything - seriously every single thing - you need to make sure your moonlighting adventures don't lead to any mishaps because of contracts, privacy, or terms + conditions. Get your checklist here.
#15 Set up your Facebook Business Page.
It won't take you more than 15 minutes to set up your Facebook Business Page, then invite all your friends to like it. Every time you share your posts, share to your timeline and your page. Easy, breezy.
#16 Give away a little something for free.
Now, let me be clear about this one. I'm not suggesting you give away your services for free. Start charging right now, even if it's only a few dollars, because your clients will only value your time as much as you do. What I'm talking about here is transforming a sliver of your genius into an experience that you can create once and offer endlessly.
It's like swapping business cards in the online world: "Hey, great to see you online! I've got some brilliance I'd like to share with you in exchange for access to your inbox. And guess what, there's no commitment. I'll stay as long as you think I'm offering value. If at any point I'm not, simply click that button that says unsubscribe. You're in? Okay, awesome, me too."
One great way to do this is to create a free email course. I've got a free resource on that for you if you're interested. (See how I did that?)
#17 Rally your advocates and launch your services.
You're ready now. And you should feel GREAT about what you've put together! You're next step is to reach out to your family, friends, and colleagues to let them know about your services. Don't be shy because you've put the effort in to make sure your side hustle offers an unparalleled level of sophistication. In your ask, be authentic and direct.
Share useful information, show off your online presence, and ask for them to send people your way who need the services you offer.
I'd love to know what you think about this wacky idea! Are you interested in a revenue retreat? It's like a writing retreat, but instead of writing your short story, best-selling novel, or award winning poetry - you'll create a way to make some money and change some lives.
Does that sound even a little fun to you? If so, I'd love to get your thoughts on it! I'm thinking of hosting one next year and your feedback would be very helpful :) Click here to answer a few short questions.