Updated: Sep 15
You might already have an idea for one. Even if you don’t, fret not! Read on to discover how you may take the next step in this direction.
This is our second article in a 2-part guide on establishing a side hustle. If you’re interested in the first one, read about the benefits of having a side hustle, and what to look out for in developing your side gig.
A side hustle brings in extra income. It answers the biggest question, “Why”, and for good reason.
But money aside, having a side gig helps you in other ways too. There are thus more things to plan for.
If you have found a field you’re passionate about, and understand how you need to grow, congrats! You’ve nailed down most of the thinking and planning. Now, what comes next is the doing.
Acquiring Skills for a Side Hustle
You know what you need to pick up, and you’ve crafted a timeline for mastering specific skills. That’s great! Let’s look at how you can do so.
1. Sign up for free online courses, workshops and webinars
One of the few blessings born from the pandemic is the boom in free online resources as businesses attempt to keep their audiences engaged. This includes greater access to webinars and workshops you can attend in the comfort of your home. There is also a huge online library of specialized courses you can tap into to enable learning in a structured and systematic manner. They can be found on websites like Coursera and Udemy, where there's paid courses you may consider too. Upon completion, some courses also give out employer recognized certifications, enhancing your credibility in the field.
The practice of learning-by-doing was put forth by John Dewey, an American philosopher, who proposed to prioritize learning as an active experience. There’s a saturation point in acquiring knowledge when undergoing passive learning. But when learners apply what they learn, they are more engaged. In turn, this helps one better internalize practice and mistakes, translating to better outcomes. This is because it deepens your understanding of the content at hand. Practicing also helps you better grasp what the working process demands.
Making Things Happen through Your Network
A common challenge for those just starting out is the lack of opportunities to showcase their skills.
If opportunities are scarce, create one yourself!
Take up any chance to do volunteer work or personal projects that intersect with the field of expertise you wish to pick up. You can also approach friends and family to help them in services for the areas you wish to grow in. These enable you to hone your skills. Through these projects, you can articulate your interests to others as well.
For instance, I established a home-based business selling tiramisu last year. Baking aside, I'm responsible for promoting products and engaging food reviewers. But prior to this, I had no experience with design or marketing. With help from friends, I have been dabbling with Adobe Illustrator and Canva slightly, and can now promote my business consistently through Instagram and Facebook. I plan to expand marketing efforts through email subscriptions and ads in the near future as well. Though it may not seem like much, I was able to gain some exposure in marketing through this business. If you have any ideas in mind, you can definitely get your journey started!
“That sounds great! In that case, how can I start working with clients?”
This is the most important part of a side hustle – landing clients. You can first gain experience by working on projects within your personal network. Publicize your services by contacting friends and family, or posting an open call on your social networking pages. Since you'll be working with closer contacts, it provides you with a safe space to grow and learn from your mistakes. They will also endorse your work.
After you gain more confidence from working with your personal network, you can then pursue cold leads by listing your business on freelancing websites. Popular platforms include Fiverr and Upwork, which operate as online marketplaces that seek freelancers to undertake projects. You can respond to a request or list yourself as available to work. Do include details about your work, such as your qualifications and your rates. If you're selling products, do check out Shopify, an ecommerce platform where you can set up an online shop for customers to visit.
Money can be a touchy issue, especially when you call the shots operating your own business. Learn how to establish your rates as a freelancer!
Once you’ve listed your services on various platforms, remember to check in constantly to stay updated and answer any queries from interested parties. If you fail to respond quickly, you may miss out on business. Delayed responses can greatly hurt the impression that potential clients’ may have ahead of the actual business.
You might also want to create an email address specific to your side hustle, for anyone who wishes to contact you. It segregates aspects of your life clearly, as this email address will be solely for your new venture.
Important: Be honest about your capabilities and keep your network in the back of your mind. If certain projects are too demanding for you, refer them to other practitioners who may be more qualified! This improves your relationship with your network, and meets your clients’ needs too.
Talk to Experts in the Field
Find out how experts got started on their journeys, and get insight on what they have learnt along the way. Accomplished as they may be, they too have started small in the past. Since these seasoned practitioners have already “been there, done that”, their advice can help you build your own industry cheatsheet to navigate the common pitfalls and adopt shortcuts to learning. Ultimately, this allows you to streamline your upskilling journey.
You can seek them out by joining interest groups on Facebook, Telegram or even manually searching them based on their job roles on LinkedIn. Remember to stay genuine, curious and open when building relationships with people!
Tip: Request to keep in touch with them. As you develop this relationship, consider asking them to be your mentor. Having one helps facilitate your journey entering this field. You'll also learn and grow immensely. Choosing the right experts, and posing the right questions is crucial. Like most other things, planning ahead is necessary. Here's some pointers you should follow when approaching a potential mentor.
You’ve learned the essential skills for your field, and you’ve had some practice. Some professionals in the field might have helped you out along the way as well. Next, would be to show that you have what it takes.