$100 a Month Spotlight: Each month, I will be shining the light on a resource, hobby, or money-making idea that you can start to implement for $100 or less. Our first guest is Sharon Hujik, who I have been working with since 2011. This is the third in a three-part series on how to start a side hustle. Catch up by reading the first post and second post.
You have an idea and you’re getting excited to hustle! Woo Hoo! Carpe Diem! Seize the Day! You’ve got this! Look out World! Nothing can stop you now! And the best news of all… you can definitely start a side hustle for $100 or less. There are many solid options that will get you going with a professional presence without breaking the bank.
First, Give People a Way to Find You
We all know the famous line uttered by Kevin Costner is the baseball movie Field of Dreams… “If you build it, they will come.”
When it comes to starting a business, I love the tweak that Alan Weiss applies to this iconic saying:
If you build it, and YOU TELL THEM ABOUT IT, they will come.
You need to start telling people about your side hustle and give them a way to find you. Your strategy will vary depending on your hustle – go old school and hang a poster in the campus center, leave business cards on your neighbor’s porch, or fliers at local businesses. Go digital and share pins on Pinterest, ask friends to share your website via social media, or create content for YouTube.
There are lots of great options, but you will have to start telling people!
What Resources Should You Consider
Buy the Domain Name:
It’s cheap (often only $10 a year) and low risk. My favorite registrar is NameCheap and it’s as simple as 1, 2, 3 to run a search and see if a domain is available. Ideally, the domain name you choose is easy to remember, easy to spell and ends with dot COM. If the name you are thinking about it available grab it. Trust me, you will kick yourself if the domain name is sold before you have the chance to snag it! (I also have a bit of a soapbox advocating for people to buy the domain of their personal name if it’s available. You can see I feel strongly about this one :-).
If you expect to have in-person contact with potential customers, you will want business cards. Keep them simple and legible; don’t worry about paper weight, colors, or fancy fonts. Include the essentials like name, services offered, phone number, email, and website URL. Use Google to find a good price – there are tons of deals and promos available year round.
CAVEAT: The printing companies make their money by selling you all the EXTRAS in addition to business cards. Don’t fall for these upsells (t-shirts, pens, websites, etc). Take the best price on business cards and skip the bonus offers.
In this digital age, your business is going to need a website sooner rather than later. A website confers credibility and allows potential customers to use search engines to locate you (much better and less expensive than the yellow pages!). A simple website should include three things – a contact page, an about page and a search engine friendly description of what you offer.
Since technology and products change so much, I keep a list of recommended resources up to date, especially for website hosting and online stores. If you need more specific input on your situation, send me an email and I’m glad to point you in the right direction.
Social media is an incredible resource that opens up doors and transcends barriers – you can easily set up a Facebook Page in just a few minutes. This will give you a starting point to share your hustle’s offering with potential customers (as well as an online URL).
CAVEAT: Facebook is obviously in the business to make money and will entice you to invest in Facebook ads. If you do your research and carefully target your ads to a small, specific niche you can get some marketing traction, but don’t assume it’s easy. There is a definite art to Facebook advertising and you don’t want to waste your $$ doing it poorly. As I said above, your marketing strategy will vary depending on your hustle. At the beginning keep it simple and focus on getting some customers. Once you have some practical experience you will have a much better feel for how to grow your business in the most effective manner.
Keep it Legal: Check with Your Town Clerk:
If you are planning a hustle that operates locally take a few minutes to call your local government officials to make sure you’re in compliance. If they aren’t able to answer your questions ask them to refer you to the person who can. Since each state and locality will vary, you will need to do some legwork to make sure you don’t step on any toes.
A way to get paid
The whole point of a side hustle is to make some extra income, so don’t forget to think about how you will get paid! In this day and age when cash is rare and digital transactions rule the roost, you will need to think beyond paper checks and currency. Even lemonade stands take cards now! Fortunately, the internet provides great and affordable options. Pick the one that fits best for YOU and your potential customers.
What Resources Should You Consider
PayPal: PayPal is a fantastic option for online store sales and for generating invoices. You can set up a PayPal account, link it to a variety of bank accounts and receive payment with confidence. PayPal has an excellent invoice option and well-established payment protection services. Transaction fees vary for businesses but typically include a small flat fee plus 2.9% of the money transferred.
Stripe: If you need to take payments in person, Stripe is a solid option. The company will provide the plugin adaptor that allows you to swipe cards via your phone or device. Again, transaction fees are deducted from the payment based on volume and card type.
Venmo: A relatively new addition, Venmo is a free app created by PayPal that offers great options for person to person payment. When you send money using your Venmo balance, bank account, debit card or prepaid card, there are NO transaction fees (so it’s free). The only time a there is a transaction fee is with credit cards. Venmo is particularly popular with Gen X and Millenials, you’ll be seeing more of this one.
Wave: Wave is a free, online bookkeeping and financial services program designed for small businesses around the world. Their interface is very intuitive and easy to use. The best part? There are no fees charged for accounting, invoices or receipts. You only have pay-per-use fees for credit card transactions.
Small Business Bank Account
It is worth the effort to set up a small business bank account to keep your finances clean and help you manage your expenses. Keeping your balance sheet separate from your personal finances allows you to manage the financial viability and track profits.
My advice is to comparison shop for an online checking account with no fees, and low balance requirements. There are many web pages that compare and contrast the different banking options, and you should look for the one that is the best fit for you.
Many side hustle bloggers advocate setting up a travel reward credit card just for your side hustle so you can get airline perk miles. While I understand their motivation, this rubs me against the grain since it makes it easier to charge things you can’t afford (“But you get points!!” they exclaim). I’m no Dave Ramsey, but I am a fan of staying out of debt. Use your best judgment but don’t forget the cardinal rule of side hustles: Don’t Go Into Debt to Get Started!
Look Professional (or Fake it ’til you Make it)
Truth: You don’t want to spend a lot of money investing in a logo and branding when you are just starting. It’s not a good investment before you’ve validated your concept and gained momentum.
Truth: Homemade “clip art” logos look tacky and lack professionalism. They don’t inspire confidence in your side hustle and you will probably waste too much of your valuable time creating it.
Solution: Find a low-cost option that looks professional enough, and remind yourself that DONE is better than PERFECT
What Resources Should You Consider
FREE: Canva is a well-respected online option that has a logo building interface. If you use your own image and design elements for your logo design, the entire process is free. (There are also professional layouts and elements available for purchase at a competitive price.). Many online content creators also use Canva to create images for blog posts, Pinterest and PDF downloads.
LOW COST: Fiverr is the world’s largest freelance services marketplace, with THOUSANDS of individuals offering services for hire. On Fiverr, you will find illustrators, voice over artists, graphic designers, tech support, copywriters, and more. Each freelancer publishes their prices and offerings. You can also review their work history and ratings from previous jobs. While it can feel intimidating the first time you hire someone, this is a great way to get a good product at an affordable price.
MONTHLY COST: Tailor Brands is a competitor with Canva that automates brand development. If you get excited about branding, graphics, social media campaigns and logos, BUT you don’t have the skills to do it yourself, Tailor Brand is an option to look at. They offer a monthly subscription service that includes logo development and brand development tools. Starting a $50/year.
This is Your Time!
This is the best time there has ever been to launch new ideas and make extra income. As I said before, I am profoundly convinced that each and every person has a talent or skill that they can leverage into a side hustle. Having already heard from many of you and see the ideas that you are sharing, I am again inspired by the creativity and passion that happens when people “step into their dreams.” I hope this series makes you feel excited and empowered to make it happen in 2019. Thanks for letting me hang out with you this month!
Ready to Learn More? I invite you to download a free copy of Five Steps to Start your First Side Hustle at SharonHujik.com. It’s a great way to access resources and tips that will help you get started. And if you have questions or successes stories, I would love to hear them!