5 ways to get the word out about your new side hustle

Drum up demand for your side business with these marketing tips.

5 ways to get the word out about your new side hustle
Shutterstock
  • If you want to attract customers, then you'll need to be proactive about telling the world what makes your products or services special.
  • It's hard to point to just one issue that's holding 89 percent of people with side businesses back from earning more than $1,000 per month, but failure to drum up significant demand likely plays a significant role.
  • To start, you'd do well to experiment with social media marketing, maximizing customer reviews, receiving referrals, making the most of the marketing real estate you have at your disposal, and pay-per-click ads.

Moonlighting with a side gig is growing in popularity as a way people are supplementing their income. The gig economy is thriving, and people are eager to acquire new skills during the pandemic, so there's arguably never been a better time to experiment with working for yourself.

Once you've chosen your business niche and set up your side hustle, it's time to spread the word. This is the downside of how easy and popular it's become to run your own micro-business – if you want to attract customers, then you'll need to be proactive about telling the world what makes your products or services special.

The harsh reality is that if you fail at building this buzz, then your side hustle is likely to fail altogether. You might dream of striking it lucky and seeing your side hustle grow into a multi-million dollar company that allows you to quit your day job and focus on the business you love (hey, it worked for Steve Jobs with Apple – and a whole lot more examples). But most side hustlers only make small change.

The average income from a side hustle is $1,122 per month, or $13,464 per year, which is nothing to sneeze at. But focusing on the average hides the fact that the vast majority of side hustlers make nowhere near this amount.
Side hustle monthly income chart

Bankrate

Nearly three-quarters of people with side businesses bring in less than $500 each month, while only 11 percent succeed in crossing the $1,000 threshold. It's hard to point to just one issue that's holding the lion's share back from greater success, but failure to drum up significant demand likely plays a significant role.

Of course, depending on what kind of ongoing investment of time and money your side hustle requires, $500 could be a win. As a gainfully employed member of society, a big part of your project's allure is that it's the proverbial icing on the cake. There's no shame in being aware of your ceiling – you've chosen not to quit your day job just yet.

On the other hand, building marketing momentum doesn't need to be an "all or nothing" kind of thing. There's a lot that you can achieve on a shoestring budget with just a few hours a week, as long as you go about getting the word out the right way.

Here are some ideas to set you in the right direction.

1. Ask for referrals

Word of mouth is the single most effective way to let people know about your side hustle, and it's the best way to get started. It doesn't need to cost a cent, although it will require you to spend some time reaching out to your friends and family to ask them to share the news about your business.

It's a good idea to write a few template messages and posts that you can ask people to share on their social media profiles and in WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger chats.

The easier you make it for people to share information about your side hustle, the more likely they are to do so. And using a template also increases the likelihood that they'll describe what you do accurately.

2. Use the real estate you have

Sometimes the best marketing assets don't need to be built from the ground up. To draw an analogy from the big brand advertising world, posters in front of restaurant urinals are arguably more impactful than setting up new highway billboards – and they require a fraction of the regulatory and engineering hurdles, too.

Try to think about what you're already doing that can be leveraged to draw attention to your side hustle. For example, you probably don't even realize how many emails you send. An estimated 293.6 billion emails cross the world every single day, and despite what people say about messaging platforms, that isn't about to drop any time soon. In fact, it's predicted to rise by 18 percent in the next year.

WiseStamp

Email signatures are much easier and faster to set up than a website, which is appealing if you're just starting up or testing the waters and you're not yet ready to run a website, and they can reach hundreds of people every week. Using an email signature tool like WiseStamp, you can add brand messaging to the bottom of every email you send.

Designed email signatures are so much more attractive and stick in the mind much more than a plain text signature, presenting your business name and branding in front of every person you communicate with, and you can use it to link directly to your social profiles, website, online store, or latest blog post. No need to get too loud or intrusive here to pack a serious marketing punch.

3. Gather positive reviews

BrightLocal's data indicates that 86 percent of consumers read customer reviews before they choose a business to patronize. That's a pretty big majority.

BrightLocal

If someone's looking for a service-oriented business, like a personal trainer or a graphic designer, for example, they'll often begin by going to a review website or asking their contacts for recommendations.

This makes it extremely worthwhile to spend the time setting up profiles for your side business on review sites like Yelp!, Google My Business, TripAdvisor, or other industry-specific platforms. Once you've staked your presence there, reach out to former satisfied customers and let them know so that they can leave you a review.

4. Get strategic about your social media marketing

Social media is a valuable marketing channel, but when you're running a side hustle, it can be overwhelming. When you're short on time, you can feel like you can't make a dent in the crowd.

That's why you need a strategy:

  • Choose just one or two channels to get started. Either focus on the ones where you already have a following, or choose the platforms best suited for your niche (e.g., Instagram if you're a photographer, Pinterest if you're running children's birthday parties, etc.).
  • Automate your social media marketing with tools like Hootsuite, which offers a reasonably powerful free version. Use them to prepare and schedule a week or month's worth of posts in advance, to save you time.
  • Connect with micro-influencers, people who have 1,000 to 100,000 followers, as sponsoring their posts is generally more affordable than those from bigger influencers. What's more, as a whole, micro-influencers have higher engagement levels and a higher levels of trust and authority among their followers. Choose micro-influencers in the relevant niche for your side hustle, e.g. beauty and style influencers if you're selling cosmetics on the side.
  • Track both your side business brand and your specific niche with social listening tools like Mention. This is especially important for ecommerce marketing, where tracking influencer mentions can be so important. What's more, a quick response to someone on Instagram looking for sparkly high heels in emerald green, for example, can redirect a potential customer to your online store and score a sale.

5. Experiment with paid marketing

Paid online marketing is definitely not for anyone who's just beginning with a side hustle, but it can be effective if your business is established, you've acquired a reasonable sales volume, but now you're stuck and don't seem to be able to increase your revenue further.

You may be surprised to learn how affordable clicks from Facebook ads can be. Although these rates are consistently rising, here are some benchmarks from a few months ago that can give you a sense of what you might want to budget, based on your side hustle's business vertical.

WordStream

You need to tread with caution here, though, because there is a risk that you'll sink money into paid ads without seeing much ROI. But when you get paid ads right, they can be a valuable way of extending the reach of your side hustle. Do educate yourself about how to succeed with paid ads before you jump in. Learn about different objectives, ad formats and networks, multi-touch ad funnels, and conversion rates. And if you're in the search ad game, definitely don't skimp on the keyword research.

Effective promotion is your key to side hustle success

Your new side hustle is really important to you and you want to make it a success, but you can't do that if nobody knows about it. Social media marketing strategies, reviews, word of mouth, email signatures, and paid ads should all have a valued place in your side hustle marketing toolbox, to help you see success from your new business venture.


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