Now that you’ve picked your side hustle and prepared for launch, you are ready for the next step — getting started! Finally!
Hopefully you’ve already thought about it when you worked on your marketing plan, but now is the time to decide whether you are going to start off with a big launch, or skip doing a fancy launch altogether.
As with most things in life, there are pros and cons to putting together a big, fancy launch for your side hustle.
- Putting together a launch is great for generating buzz
- Doing a launch can help you build momentum
- A launch can help you gauge interest in your product/service
- Launches are a lot of fun!
- Launches can be expensive
- A launch can be intimidating to put together for a beginner … which may mean you put off starting your side hustle altogether
- If you don’t already have a large following (on social media or elsewhere), it could be difficult to generate the kind of hype you are hoping for
Ultimately, whether or not you go for a big launch is up to you. Some side hustles don’t really need them — for example, you don’t really need to build hype around a lawn moving service, or announce to the world that you are going to start driving for Uber.
Keep in mind that if you do decide to do a launch, to plan it out early — especially if you want to contact anyone in the media (newspapers/magazines, broadcast, bloggers, YouTubers, etc.). Most media companies (and even bloggers) have what’s called an editorial lead time. This means that they plan out their content several months (typically 2) in advance. In other words, if you want anyone to feature your new side hustle on their blog, in the newspaper, or wherever, you will need to contact them at least two months before your planned launch date.
Open for business … now what?
So you’ve launched your side hustle and you are open for business … now what? Once the shiny-new-car phase has worn off, it is time to really dig in your heels and get to work. Here are a few things you will want to focus on in the early days.
Step one: Write out a timeline
By now it probably feels like you’ve written out a dozen timelines for a dozen different things, but trust us, this one’s important.
Business timelines and marketing timelines and daily-schedule-timelines are all incredibly useful (and you will need each of them), but for now we want to talk about writing an achievement timeline. In other words, you should write a timeline for business goals you would like to achieve, as well as a timeline for when you will evaluate your progress. Giving yourself tangible deadlines will help you to gauge your success and better understand how your business is performing.
How do you do this? It’s simple. First, break down any goals you have into concrete, time-oriented steps. Put these on your calendar. Next, decide how often you want to evaluate your performance (we suggest at least once a month). Then, mark those dates on your calendar as well. These two simple steps should be enough to get you started. Remember to keep your calendar in a place where you will look at it often — whether that be on the wall, in a planner, or on your phone.
Step two: Market yourself to friends
We mentioned this briefly before, but one of the best places to market yourself — especially when you are just starting out, is to your friends, family, and colleagues.
Who do you know who might benefit from what you have to offer? Reach out to these people, and let them know what you are doing. Even more importantly, encourage them to recommend your product or service to other people they know, and to leave reviews for your business online. While getting a little bit of business is nice, the true benefit to reaching out to the people you already know is that it gives you a chance to reap the rewards of generating word-of-mouth interest around your side hustle. Friends and family make great fans, and great fans will be willing to spread the word about you and what you are up to.
Step three: Sell yourself to the public
Eventually, you will have to move beyond selling your products or services to people you know. Hopefully, the work you’ve done through your friends and family will have begun to bring in business, but word-of-mouth can take awhile to spread, so chances are good that you will have to wait to harvest those seeds.
Beyond friends and family, there are so many great ways to promote your new business. Having a dedicated advertising budget is helpful, but there are many free ways to advertise your side hustle as well — you will just need to be creative. Here are a few free (or low cost) ideas for marketing your side hustle to the general public.
- Try some guerrilla marketing tactics and write your website or social media handles with sidewalk chalk in places people might see them
- Do some good, old-fashioned cold-calling and go door-to-door to spread the news
- Send a press release to media companies (or influencers) who might be interested in sharing about you
- Put up some fliers, hand out business cards, and/or give out brochures
- Look into paid advertising on Facebook or other social platforms. With these platforms, you can specify a spending cap, which means that you can spend as little (or as much) as you want.
Step four: Immerse yourself into the day-to-day
Now that your new side hustle is running (somewhat) smoothly, it is time to immerse yourself in the day-to-day details. Ultimately, it is through practice and repetition that your skills will grow, and by immersing yourself in the work, you will gradually grow more and more confident.
Keep mental notes while you work. What have you tried? What are you struggling with? What successes have you had? These details will be helpful later.
Step five: Gauge Baseline performance
Once you have been up and running for a month or so, take a pause and gauge your baseline performance. Remember the checkpoints you decided on when writing out your timeline above? This should be your first one.
Take a little time to sit down and think about those mental notes you’ve been taking. How has your side hustle been going? How many sales do you have? What marketing strategies have you tried? Are they working? Write down the answers to these questions and keep them in the back of your mind as you push forward. It is through little sessions like this that you will grow and slowly improve your side hustle.
By now, your side hustle should be up and running, and you should be getting a clearer idea every day of what it will take to be successful. Perhaps your new hustle isn’t thriving quite yet — and that’s totally okay! It will take time to get the feel for things and spread the word. In the meantime, what is most important is that you keep pushing forward, and that you continually monitor your progress and look for ways to improve.