If you’ve been online recently, you’ve probably already seen the social media posts and advertisements encouraging you to ditch your 9-5 for good and discover your dream job. What you’re seeing in action is known as the gig economy. Within the next 10 years, as much as 50% of the U.S. population is expected to be freelancing, and even more on top of that will have their own side hustle.
So what’s a side hustle? A side hustle is any type of employment you do in addition to your full-time or part-time work. It’s a supplemental gig that might align closely with one of your passions. Before you quit your day job, you want to have a plan to make sure your side hustle is actually profitable. Here’s your 12-month guide to building your side hustle this year.
January – March: Getting Started
It’s time to figure out you’re going to use as a profitable side hustle. Start with these steps in the first months of your business.
Research Side Hustles
First, you need to discover what you’re passionate about. It’s not enough to simply love something. You need to love something that can actually be turned into profit. Luckily, just about anything you can think of can become a money-making machine if you’re creative.
However, also take a close look at the reality of starting a side hustle. This isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme. You’ll need to put in the work if you want to find financial freedom.
You need a team to make the dream work. This doesn’t mean you can’t be a one-man show, but you still need a network to tap into. Who are you already connected to? Does your uncle own a business you do some freelance design work for? Are you Facebook friends with someone in the role you want? Don’t be afraid to explore your network.
Build a Website
You won’t get far without a website nowadays. Unless you plan to run your business 100% by word-of-mouth, you’ll need a website. It’s best to choose a self-hosted website so you own your content yourself. Consider this your first business investment.
April – June: Launch
Now that the groundwork is laid out, it’s time to hit the ground running. Business owners can spend years waiting for the “right time,” so just go for it. You can always make changes along the way. Lean on your website, your social media, and your network to start finding customers or clients.
Time management is one of the biggest struggles of having a side hustle. You spend so many hours each week doing your full-time “real job” that it’s hard to find the extra time for your passions. This is where you work out the kinks in your schedule. Think about how you can fit your side hustle into your current downtime.
Organize Your Finances
Even if you’re not yet rolling in the dough, it’s important to take a moment to address your finances. Make sure you’re being wise with your money decisions in your side hustle. Keep a clear spreadsheet with your incoming and outgoing money. More importantly, educate yourself about your local tax laws so you know if you’re preparing for tax seasons. Yes, you have to claim income earned through your side hustle!
July – September: Marketing
Do you have as many clients as you’d like? If you’re like most beginning business owner, you could use some extra work to supercharge your business. Take this summer month as a chance to revamp your marketing. You’ve probably already learned a fair bit, now it’s time to put your knowledge to use.
Advance Your Marketing Skills
Since July is a slow month when many people are taking vacations, now’s the time to really figure out your marketing and sales skills. What promotions work best for your customers? Where are your customers spending time? Answer these questions and more.
Ask for Help
You’ve likely encountered a few snags with your business by now. It’s okay to recognize you need help sometimes. Once again, look for a professional group or community to ask for help in problem areas. You might need WooCommerce Support for your ecommerce business or just someone to help you handle phone calls. Whatever you need, take this month to get things settled before the final quarter.
Understand Your Customer
You’ve worked with a few different clients and customers at this point. You might have discovered this individual isn’t who you thought they’d be. On the other hand, you might have a better understanding of the types of customers you do want to attract. Learn as much as you can from your current customers and your target demographic.
October – December: Reflect
Finally, you’ve reached the last stretch. It’s time to pick up the pace and really push your business. At the end of this stretch, you’ll know if this is the right side hustle for you. If possible, you might even be ready to leave your day job behind.
Go Big or Go Home
It’s the end of the year, so now’s the time to push for more leads and sales. You’ve been laying out this blueprint since the beginning of the year, now it’s time to see how far it’ll go. Outsource necessary tasks, engage with customers, and use your network.
This is a time for giving back. Be thankful for all of your opportunities up until this point, as well as the clients and customers who trusted in you along the way. Showing them you value their business will go a long way towards earning referrals and keeping them coming back.
Reflect and Set Goals
Finally, it’s time to reflect on this year’s progress. Look at how far you’ve come. How much further do you have to go? Set goals for next year so you can start January off strong.
Are you ready to take your side hustle to new heights? Now’s the time to strike out on your own whether this is your first venture or your fifth. There’s an entire world waiting for your product or service, so don’t wait.
While you likely won’t be able to quit your day job in a few months, if you keep with it you might surprise yourself. There’s something thrilling about doing something you’re passionate about and earning a profit from it. Are you ready to make it happen?