11 Key Tips To Start A Thriving Side Gig

By Zach Buchenau

Last Updated: January 13, 2021

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11 tips to start a thriving side gig | BeTheBudget

One of the best things–if not THE best thing–you can do to improve your financial situation, is to plain ol’ make more money with a side gig. And I’m not talking about $5 or $10 here and there. I’m talking about a well thought out side gig that can bring in thousands of extra dollars per month.

But if you’ve never started a business, or you’re an introvert, I understand how the idea of running your own side gig can be a little intimidating. But don’t let that stop you. You don’t have to have a PHD in entrepreneurship to start making good money on the side. You just have to have guts, and a never-say-die attitude.

Just a fair warning though, if you want to get anything out of this post, you have to be willing to be bold. You need to be ready to get outside your comfort zone, and on top of that, you need to have rhino-thick skin.

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that running a business–big or small–is an easy, quick and painless venture. There is a lot to learn. There is a lot to do. There will be a lot of naysayers. And it will take time to get there.

The good news is, there is a lot of money to be made in this world for the people willing to work for it.

So, if you are ready to put in the time and effort, and leave all the other mediocre side gigs out there in the dust, here are 11 key tips to start a THRIVING side gig.

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Stop Talking And Start

If you want to run a mile, you can read all the books about running, or watch every single youtube videos on running; but they will never get you closer to your goal. The only way you’ll ever run a mile, is if you go out and run a mile. It’s really that simple.

The same goes for your side gig. If you want to run a successful business on the side, just start. Stop talking. Stop reading. Stop dreaming. Just start. Take the first step, and then take the second. As important as planning and strategizing can be for a business, action and hard work are much more important.

If you want to start a blog, stop talking about how you want to start a blog, go buy a domain on GoDaddy, set up a WordPress blog through BlueHost, and publish your first post.

If you want to start a social media business, first, determine how much you’ll charge. Then, walk into every local business in your area, and offer your services to them. Most business owners hate running their social media, so they will be happy to pay you.

If you are a DIYer, and you want to start selling the things you build, go set yourself up on Etsy, and post your first product. Then, tell everybody you know about it.

No matter what kind of side gig you want to run, you just need to start. It doesn’t matter if it’s messy, or even a little embarrassing. Years from now, when you are rolling in the Benjamins, you will be proud of the first step you ever took.

Build An Email List

In the age of the internet, few things are more valuable to a business than an email list of customers or people interested in what you have to offer. In fact, I have been in digital marketing for years, and nearly 100% of the time, the highest ROI for any business comes from email marketing.

So, if you want to make a decent amount of money with your side gig, this is one of the most important things you can take from this article. Build an email list. No matter if you are mowing lawns, blogging, selling products online, or anything else, start collecting emails. This will become one of your greatest assets!

If you are looking for an email service to use, we highly recommend either ConvertKit, or GetResponse.

ConvertKit is built for bloggers, and it is our email service of choice for BeTheBudget. We love it, and honestly, if you are a blogger, it is a fantastic service.

For non-bloggers, however, we recommend GetResponse. It is powerful, full-featured and just plain awesome. Plus, they have a ton of different pricing options, which is nice for your budding side gig.

Oh, and if you aren’t ready to pay for an email service yet, there’s nothing wrong with plugging emails into a spreadsheet for the time being.

Hey, speaking of email lists, have you subscribed to BeTheBudget? Be sure to enter your email to receive all future BeTheBudget updates, emails and recommendations!

If You Fear It, Do It

Fear is the absolute enemy when it comes to starting a business or chasing a dream. And let me tell you, it is ever-present. The only difference between people that succeed with their side gig, and people that fail, is the willingness to overcome their fears.

So, the earlier you overcome your fears, the quicker you will start seeing success. For example, when we started this blog, I honestly feared publishing new content. I used excuse after excuse to avoid hitting that publish button on a new post. From, “I still need to edit this post,” to, “I’m not sure I like the featured image”; what I was really thinking was, “I’m nervous to put my thoughts out into the world.”

So, how did I overcome my fear? Well, one day I decided that the only editing I would do before hitting publish, was spell-check. This might seem crazy to you, but it cured my fear. And guess what, the blog is growing, and I have learned to love hitting that publish button!

So, whatever it is that scares you about your side gig, face those fears early and often. If it scares you, do it until it doesn’t anymore. I promise, you will grow as a person, and your side gig will see some pretty awesome results.

Work On Purpose

We have talked about the importance of starting, and facing your fears at this point. But there is another really key topic that we need to discuss; working on purpose. Once your side gig starts to roll, it’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae of your business, instead of working on the things that move the needle most.

For example, when my wife and I first started this blog, I spent a bunch of time on site design. I loved tweaking the look, and adding cool visual features. (You should also know that I am a web developer, so this is in my blood.) The problem was that I had only published a few articles, and design doesn’t matter when there isn’t enough content to build traffic. I was not working on purpose. It wasn’t until I stopped focusing on site design, and started focusing on writing that we started to see traffic coming in.

So, in an effort to help you avoid the same mistake in your side gig efforts, here is what I recommend. Write down the top 2 things that will build your business the fastest, and focus 90% of your time on them–maybe even 95%.

You can worry about the other stuff later when you are making bank. But for the time being, you need to build your side gig, and working on a bunch of random, insignificant stuff will not get you anywhere.

Focus On The Individual

Whatever side gig you choose to pursue, be sure to focus on your individual customers. Don’t just pay attention to the general problem you are solving, but rather, the problem you are solving for each person. There is a difference.

For example, if your side gig is running social media for small businesses in your area, the problem you will be solving will vary from customer to customer.

One customer might not understand social media very well. So, your job is to not only run it, but to educate them on the importance of social media through the results you provide. You also might need to meet with this customer (in-person) a couple times a month to go over everything you are doing.

Another customer might love social media, but amid the chaos of running their business doesn’t have the time to run it effectively. So, placing an extra emphasis on organization and posting consistency will be a breath of fresh air for them. You also might offer a monthly report and summary of progress in place of in-person meetings to avoid adding to their hectic schedule.

Keep Your Costs Low

When you are starting a side gig, you should keep your expenses as low as possible. You don’t want to go burning through cash, when you aren’t even making any yet.

Remember, the whole point of your side gig in the first place is to earn more money. If you spend it all, what’s the point?

Good business owners handle their money wisely, and that’s what you are now–a business owner.

Don’t Try To Beat The System

No matter what industry you are in, there will always be people trying to convince you that there is a better, faster way to success if you are willing to bend the rules a little bit. Avoid these people, and this kind of behavior at all costs.

Remember, your reputation is everything when it comes to running a side gig. So, if something feels too good to be true, or low integrity, walk away. Any business, small or large, takes hard work and time. Anybody that tries to convince you otherwise is lying to you. Don’t take shortcuts. They will only divert you from your path to success.

Be Consistent

Have you ever been to a gym on January 2nd? Parking is a nightmare, there’s barely any room to walk around, and 90% of the people there are gasping for air because they haven’t worked out in exactly 12 months.

In contrast, have you ever been to the gym on February 1st? It’s pleasant, wide open, it’s easy to find a front row parking spot, and the few remaining people are pounding out rep after rep like they have worked out every day for the last 5 years. And honestly, they probably have.

This same situation goes for your business. Everybody can start a side gig, but very few will stick with it. And that is where the greatest opportunity lies. If you can just stay consistent, and show up day after day, eventually, the competition will dwindle, and you will be the top dog!

Every day, you should move one step closer to your goals. I don’t care how small the step is. Just show up, and move the ball down the field.

Embrace The Long-Term

Along the same lines of staying consistent, when you start a side gig you need to give yourself enough time to become successful. And I’m not talking about one week, or even one month. If you really want to be successful, you need to dedicate serious effort, day-in and day-out, for at least 6 months to a year. And honestly, that might not even be enough time.

Sure, you might make a decent amount of money in the beginning, but if quick cash is your goal, your best option is probably to go and get a second job.

If you want to build a thriving side gig with enough momentum to eventually become a full-time gig, you need to put in the time and pay your dues. But don’t let that deter you. This is the part that will separate you from all the other failed side gigs out there. You are the one that refused to quit.

Determine Your Profit

As is true with any business, you need to make a profit to survive. But too many business owners let their expenses determine their profit instead of the other way around. You own this business, so you get to decide how much profit you make.

This is very similar to the ‘save before you spend’ rule we talk so much about on BeTheBudget. If you want to make a 30% profit, then set aside 30% of every dollar you earn. Then, make sure all of your other expenses (including taxes) never exceed the remaining 70%.

Operate your business finances with a purpose, and decide how profitable your business will be.

Remember, you control your business; it doesn’t control you.

If this piqued your interest, you should read Profit First by Mike Michalowicz. This book will change the way you run your business, and turn your side gig into a profit machine.

Toughen Up

Running a side gig is not for the faint-hearted. There will be people that make fun of you, tell you your idea is dumb, and even go as far as working against you to make sure you don’t succeed.

On top of that, you are going to run into difficulties as a business owner. Things aren’t going to go your way a lot of the time. You’re human, so you are going to experience moments of doubt and thoughts of giving up. But no matter what, don’t give into those thoughts.

Find your inner warrior and set out to be the toughest and best business leader this world has ever seen. Fight back against any temptation to quit. Combat criticism with even harder work. Be brutally honest with yourself about your weaknesses, and then work day and night to transform them into strengths. Tune out the naysayers, and be your own leader. And when you start to experience success, and people start to get mean and nasty for no apparent reason, use it as fuel to take your business to new heights.

Starting a business might be tough; but you’re tougher.

Final Thoughts

You can start a thriving side gig; plain and simple. With the right attitude, a little bit of know-how, and the willingness to be bold and work hard, you can achieve anything you want. Just remember these 11 tips, and you will be on your way to success.

We want to hear about your side gig! Let us know in the comments below what you do to make money on the side. We can’t wait to hear your success story!

Looking to make extra money on the side? Check out these 11 tips to help you start a thriving side gig. www.BeTheBudget.com #sidegig #sidehustletips #makeextramoney #sidehustle

Try these 11 tips to start a thriving side gig that makes thousands per month. www.BeTheBudget.com #sidegig #sidehustletips #makeextramoney #sidehustle

Zach Buchenau

About The Author:

Zach Buchenau is a self-proclaimed personal finance nerd. When he isn't writing about budgeting, getting out of debt, making extra money, and living a frugal life, you can find him building furniture, fly fishing, or developing websites. He is the co-founder of BeTheBudget, and Chipotle's most loyal customer.

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