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We’re hitting the end of the year and it’s a great time to think about resolutions for 2019. Why not start a side hustle online? This exciting frontier offers tons of opportunities for new entrepreneurs. Moving from a dream to a fully-functioning business isn’t easy, but this week we’re going through the process step-by-step with a few helpful tips and tricks along the way.

How to Start a Side Hustle Online for 2019
1. Initial Planning
2. Map out the steps you need to launch your business
3. Start connecting with customers
4. Figure out where you’ll launch your business
5. Launch your business
6. Build up a base of reviews
7. Explore new ways to market and grow your business

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A pinterest graphic of a business man for our article on how to start a side hustle online.

1. Initial Planning:

One of the biggest reasons businesses fail is lack of initial market research. By getting a sense of the existing market and the niche that your product will fill, you can save yourself a lot of hassle later on.

Start by mapping out the challenges you expect to face with your product in your niche. Getting a sense of the difficulties ahead will help you avoid nasty surprises and get a sense of the solutions available. At the same time, map out your relevant experience and how you can bring it into your business. Finally, schedule out time to make space for your business. With the hectic nature of our day-to-day lives, it can be tough to prioritize a large project outside of your usual obligations. By specifically scheduling out time, you can treat your side hustle for what it is- a new job.

A group of people plans strategy. Planning is the ket to starting a successful side hustle online.

2. Map out the steps you need to launch your business:

Now it’s time to explore what exactly you need to do to get your business up and running. There are three key questions to ask in this phase:

  • How will you host and sell your product?
  • Who is your target market, and how will you reach them?
  • How much money will you need to set aside to get your business up and running?

Build a roadmap for yourself. Explore the steps you’ll need to take to get your product rolled out, marketed, hosted, and sold. Mark the key points that you’ll need to spend money and face obstacles. Think long-term as well. Once your business is live, how will you continue to grow and scale over time?

This planning stage is also a great time to connect with other entrepreneurs. Their input and advice will be invaluable moving forward. There are tons of online communities out there devoted to entrepreneurship. Get plugged in, but fight the temptation to simply market your products in these spaces. Instead, focus on the big picture. Develop genuine connections, ask for advice, and generally become an engaged member of these communities.

A photo of a map being marked for a road trip. Mapping out your business is a great way ensure success for your side hustle online.

3. Start connecting with customers:

Before you launch your product, you want to connect with potential customers and build up an audience. Social media is a great way to start here, because it lets you get to know customers and tease your eventual product release. You can also ask questions to your audience, which is a huge tool for tailoring your business to the needs and desires of your customer.

Facebook is the first step for most businesses getting started on social media, and with good reason. With about one and a half billion daily active users, Facebook can give your business an enormous reach. Selz boasts a powerful Facebook integration, allowing you to turn this page into an online store in minutes. With that in mind, Facebook should be your first stop on the way to social media domination.

From here, consider which platforms will be the best suited to your business. For products with a strong visual draw (i.e. clothing or art), Instagram is a great option. Twitter can be great for teasing content from an eBook or video series. Pinterest allows potential customers to pin your items for later viewing, and can be a powerful selling tool. Don’t spread yourself too thin here. Because these platforms excel at showcasing radically different kinds of content, it’s generally better to pick a couple and own those spaces, rather than spreading too widely and struggling with the time commitment.

Blogging is another great tool to explore at this stage. By creating content in your niche, you can make a case for the need for your product and the range of applications that it has. WordPress and Blogger are popular choices for blog hosting, and both can host Selz stores with very little effort. Alternately, each Selz store comes with a fully functional blog, so you can start there and add your products later.

Regardless, building up SEO juice for your store is an effective way to get eyes on your products. Explore keywords related to your niche and build up authority.

Two woman smiling at content on a laptop. Connecting with your audience is essential as your build your side hustle online.

4. Figure out where you’ll host your products:

Many beginning entrepreneurs struggle to choose between hosting their products on a marketplace and building a unique online store for their business. If you expect to only sell a few products and are okay with high fees, a marketplace like Etsy or Amazon can be a solid choice.

For entrepreneurs looking to grow rapidly and scale their business over time, however, a unique online store is hands down the best option. Marketplaces don’t allow for much in the way of branding, and will advertise similar products next to yours, meaning that it’s easy for customers to click away and lose your product in the shuffle. A unique store, on the other hand, can be branded specifically to your style and encourages deeper connections and repeat business over time.

As you make a decision on hosting your products, ask yourself a few questions:

  • How much can you afford to spend?
  • How will your customers leave feedback?
  • Will you get the support that you need?
  • How will you promote your business?
  • How will your business scale over time?

People playing chess. Just like with this game, strategy is crucial when you start a side hustle online.

5. Launch your business:

You’re ready to get out there. Your product is a big deal, and your release should be a big deal too. Set a date and build hype in the lead up to launch day. The social channels and blog that you’ve set up are invaluable tools here. Create content consistently in this period.

Consider using an in-person event to connect with an audience. What does this look like? For an eBook release, you could organize a reading, workshop, or training event. A clothing or accessory merchant could put together a pop-up or take part in a local artisan market. A personal trainer getting started might offer a free training session or two in their area.

Regardless of how you make your initial sales, you’ll want to make a point of building your list. Capture emails at checkout and consider offering special deals for these customers if they return. Alongside your paid offerings, consider putting together a lead magnet for your site (like an eBook or white paper) to get more emails for your list.

Open sign. When start a side hustle online, all of your hard work pays off when you launch.

6. Build up a base of reviews:

Social proof is a huge way to stand out and convert potential customers. When you start a side hustle online, you need to think of ways to show the value that your product provides average customers. Luckily, there are some great tools out there for streamlining this process. Fomo, Yotpo, and Disqus are fantastic tools for this process, and you can learn more about each here.

Four people holding speech bubble signs. Reviews and comments can help build the authority of your side hustle online.

7. Explore new ways to market and grow your business:

Your business is live! Of course there will be day-to-day operations to deal with moving forward, but part of the trick to starting a side hustle online is to scale your business over time. What does this look like?

Consider running paid ads to your store. Google AdWords is a powerful tool for selling online. Keep in mind the power of advertising on social media. Our Facebook Pixel integration allows sellers to create targeted ads, and makes it easy to re-target customers who have visited your site before, capturing leads and giving you a more targeted approach. The Pixel can even be set up to automatically bid for conversions. With all of this powerful functionality, the Pixel can be a phenomenal tool for sellers learning the ins-and-outs of running a side hustle online.

Developing partnerships with other business can be a great way to expand within your niche. Think about complementary niches. If you sell clothing, say, consider partnering with an accessory store and marketing some of their products alongside your own. This can be great in the next step as well, which is putting together popup events.

We’ve already mentioned physical events as a launch strategy, but they can be a great way to get your products in front of new eyes as you continue to grow your business. Consider joining a local artisan market once a week to sell your products in-person or putting together events a few times a year.

A person explores lakes in a canoe. Exploring new avenues is a big part of pioneering your side hustle online.

Each of these techniques can be helpful as you grow and scale your business over time. The key is recognizing that continually exploring and learning are all vital processes when you start a side hustle online, but it can’t stop there. Growing and scaling over time requires innovative thinking and hard work. We’re with you all the way.

About the author

Bryce Patterson

Bryce Patterson

Bryce is a social media specialist and content marketer at Selz. Outside of giving businesses and non-profits a more human, relatable voice; Bryce has written a novel, worked on a comic book, and played in a handful of bands. He lives in Colorado.

2 comments

  1. Andrea

    I’ve always wondered is reviews make a difference. If you want something you’re going to buy it! But I can see how they woud help build authority and trust for a new online store.

    1. Tara Storozynsky Selz

      Tara Storozynsky

      Hi Andrea, absolutely! For converting eCommerce customers, it’s all about trust.

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