Welcome to the second post in this series about starting a side hustle to boost your income. If you missed the first post, I recommend you start there to decide which side gig is right for you. Then come right back here to learn about the next step, which is:
How to Go Into Business for Yourself
Fortunately, starting a side gig is way easier than launching a formal business, but you’ll be more successful if you think about your side gig like a business instead of a hobby. That means getting organized so you can be responsive to customers, getting the word out about your services, and tracking your income so you don’t blow your extra cash on lattes by mistake.
If you’ve decided to work via an app like Lyftor TaskRabbit, most of the legwork is already done for you. All you have to do is sign up and start working. Still, you’ll get better results if you schedule regular time “on the job” to pick up rides and search for good gig matchups. Once your side gig becomes part of your routine, you’ll be more likely to keep up with it than to blow it off for an evening of Netflix binging. Set a reminder in your calendar app so you don’t forget to buckle down and work on your side hustle.
If you’ve decided to build a side gig all on your own, it can feel a little harder to get things off the ground. Follow these steps to get started:
1. Start Working for Free
Hear me out! The only way to know if you’re going to be good at tutoring, dog walking, or designing tattoos is to give it a try. If you already have experience in side your side gig, feel free to skip ahead. But if you don’t, you’ll be able to build your skills, create a network, and earn testimonials by doing some free work first. This is a crucial way to lay the groundwork for earning real money later.
Pro Tip: You can learn more about why this strategy works in my Advanced Personal Finance Course.
2. Advertise Your Services
The easiest thing in the world is to put an ad on Craigslist. It’s free, and lots of people start here to find local services. I recommend writing a draft of your pitch first, so you can run spell check and edit your wording so it’s crystal-clear. You only get one chance to make a great first impression, and people will definitely judge you based on your writing. Be sure to include prices, availability, and all relevant details.
You can also use social media to spread the word about your new side business. Post reminders on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, and ask your friends to share your name with anyone who might be interested in your services. You can even set up a free Facebook page for businesses so you have a home base to link to. This is an easy way to get noticed, and you can make it look great with just a few nice photos and a clever name.
3. Automate Your Savings
Once you get those first side gig paychecks, make sure they end up in your savings account or are swept toward your credit card debt in the form of an extra payment. This is absolutely critical so your extra income does you the most good. The worst thing you could do is to let it languish in your checking account so you end up spending it on something you don’t need.
If you earn a steady check from your side gig, consider setting up an automatic transfer from your checking to your savings account each month. If you’re paid through an app, you could open separate savings account that your side gig money is dumped into so it stays “hidden.”
If your freelancing income has ups and downs, use your banking and budgeting app to tag those deposits. At the end of each week or month, add up the tagged amounts and transfer them to savings. Set a reminder on your phone so you don’t forget.
Keeping track of the money you earn from your side hustle is a big deal when it comes to taxes as well. We’ll talk about how to deal with business income from your side gig in our next post—keep your eyes peeled for these important tips!