Many millennials settling into professional adult jobs were just kids during the last recession, nearly a decade ago. Now, everything is looking pretty good, and we’re reaping the benefits of a healthy economy.
Except the reality is that we’re overdue for another recession. The housing market has spiked and the stock market has experienced a wave of fluctuation lately.
Yikes. That cushy 9-5-er you have is actually risky as hell. In the event of layoffs, the newbies are often the first to go.
That’s why you need a side hustle.
Side hustles are money-making hobbies that hopefully you can turn into a business later.
Many people hesitate to launch an online business because they don’t know where to start. It’s true that there is a long list of to-dos for launching a successful online business, but having a clear guide can make the process more manageable.
If you have a side hustle going that you dream of turning into a business someday (or you even just want to get a side hustle going), check out this guide below.
Get down to business
Make sure you have a proper workspace. Working in your pajamas on the couch is great, but studies show you work better in a clean, well-lit area. You could make a home office if you have space, or try working at a coffee shop if you need a change of scenery.
Many freelancers and start-up business owners utilize community workspaces specifically designated for people like them. Try using a resource like WeWork to see if there are any available in your area.
Once you’ve got that down, don’t forget the essentials: a business phone number and email address. Also, make sure you have reliable (and secure) broadband connectivity to avoid annoying internet issues that could cause problems and setbacks for your work.
Now that you’ve got a good workflow going, hopefully, people are starting to pay for your services. But money can get a little tricky. Be sure to cover your bases by setting up a business bank account and credit card separate from your personal ones. This makes it easier to keep your expenses and income organized when it comes time to file your taxes. These separate receipts and statements will also make it easier for you when tax season hits.
Create your brand
This is the fun part. Now that you have some work under your belt and at least a barebones portfolio to share with potential clients, you should start thinking about your online presence.
Step one is choosing a business name, which can be harder than it seems. Before finalizing your decision, be sure to do some research to make sure it isn’t taken or too close to someone else’s business name (especially if their business is similar to what you’re doing. That could be considered a copyright infringement).
Make sure your business name also works as a domain. Sometimes, if it’s already taken, you can purchase the domain for a higher cost than an available domain, but that’s not always financially feasible in the beginning stages. Available domains might also influence your final decision on a business name, so take some time in this stage to make a choice that you feel happy about.
Once you have a domain, it’s time to build your website. WordPress is the most popular platform for easily designed websites, but you have to make sure you have compatible web hosting (such as GoDaddy and BlueHost).
Other options like Wix and Squarespace might be more appealing, depending on your site needs, because they package hosting, simple site templates, and the purchase of a domain name all in one fell swoop. They also have really good customer services ratings if you ever need help.
Lastly, don’t forget that you need consistent branding when you’re doing your work so that products and services can be traced back to you. Take time to design an appealing logo (or hire a designer to do it for you) that you can use on your website, emails and all other business-related products.
Market the hell out of it
When you’re just starting out, word of mouth is probably the best way for you to get clients and drum up business (and the most effective). However, once you’ve built up a client base, you should start thinking about taking your business practices to the next level.
Marketing and advertising is the lifeblood of new businesses, helping you drive traffic to your website and get the word out about your work. Create social media profiles, build an email list for sending offers, and invest in digital advertising to increase your business’s chances for success.
Whether you’ve never thought of having a side hustle before, you just started one, or you’ve been working on putting your name out there for a while now, creating a presence online is one of the best insurance policies that you can take out on yourself.
Launching an online business requires a lot of work, but understanding the essential first steps can help make the process easier to tackle and less overwhelming. Use this guide as a baseline to inspire you to take that hobby and turn it into a lucrative (and potentially life-saving) business.