Hey, while I’m definitely one of the people who is a-okay with keeping a creative passion project just a creative passion project, there also comes a time when your creativity wants a bit of a challenge, and you’re itching to turn one of your hobbies into a profitable side hustle.
This might seem a little daunting at first, but honestly? It’s simpler than it seems.
Don’t let all those big scary business books tell you that you need a ton of money or an MBA to start anything that’ll turn a profit. With all the great opportunities we have from social media and the internet, anyone can start their own super side hustle with these five simple key steps.
Step 1. Think of you and your ideal customer first
As you churned out the work for your creative hobby, the only person you had to think of was you, the creator. (Quite possibly your supportive mom too, but that’s beside the point.)
With a side hustle or creative business, however, you need to do a little perspective shift.
Instead of thinking about all the ways your creative hobby benefits you, think about how your creative side hustle benefits other people.
These other people – the ones who would love to have your service or offer – are your ideal customer.
How to Find Your Ideal Customer
First thing’s first, before you look at where your customer is, take a good hard look at where you are.
What are some strengths you have? What are the things you’re good at? What are things people look up to you for?
Pull out a sheet of paper, and let her rip. Don’t self-censor either! You never know which of your skills (both hard and soft) will mesh really well together. So get everything out on paper.
Get super clear about your answers because – here’s the mindblowing part – somebody out there is going to pick up what you put down.
From the perspective of your own creative strengths then, start to think about the kind of people who would love to buy from you.
I’ve got some examples for you to help you with this brainstorming bit:
- You might be an Instagram goddess who knows how to take stellar photos and churn out content that people are always fawning over. You can offer to do a full package of Instagram services that include content planning, photography, post-processing, and account management.
- You might have a really unique art style that your friends are always impressed by. You can try creating sets of stickers, pins, mugs, notepads, etc where your amazing art is the star of the show – now people can own a piece of your art without you having to show them those sketchbooks.
- You might notice that everybody is asking you about your fitness routine since you always seem so energetic and healthy. You can turn your workout routines and meal plans into a 2-week fitness program for even the most inexperienced of fitness beginners, all delivered in one neat eBook.
Do you see how your own unique strengths might be exactly what someone else needs?
Step 2. Be clear and specific with your side hustle goals
Remember back in high school when we learned about SMART goal-setting?
For your side hustle to be sustainable, you’ll need to brush up on those skills and get to setting those SMART goals.
From the exercise above, you might now have a clear idea about the kind of customer you’re serving plus the exact offer that you want to help them with.
Now, in this exercise, you’ll break down exactly what your sustainable side hustle goals are. This might be your first creative side biz, so you might want to start with one big goal first instead of a thousand.
Here’s an example of a big goal of broken down into SMART goals. I’ll take off from that last example in the previous section about someone offering a fitness program eBook.
- Specific: I will launch a 2-week fitness program for beginners eBook to my friends and social media network.
- Measurable: I want to sell 20 copies when I first launch it. (Or I want to earn $200 dollars from when I first launch it.)
- Actionable: To accomplish that, I will 1) talk about my eBook plans on my social media at the start of the project; 2) post updates and behind-the-scenes looks at my progress for the project; and 3) get interest by posting snippets of my daily workouts and meals on social media.
- Realistic: This goal makes sense to me because I am already following my own fitness regime that doesn’t require a gym membership or expensive ingredients. I walk my talk, and people already know I am happy and healthy because of my fitness habits.
- Time-Bound: I will create and launch the eBook in 3 months.
Using a notebook or a Trello board, start breaking down that big side hustle goal into its SMART-er version.
And once you've set your goals, resolve to be more productive at work to make sure you can manage your time and energy to accomodate your side hustle.
Step 3. Create a post-launch income goal every month
Now, it’s one thing to get that side hustle up and launched, it’s another thing to keep it sustainable.
If you want to be hitting $$$ month after month, then you need to get ridiculously clear about the kind of moolah you want to be earning.
Use details and data from your initial launch/first month of sales to determine what your next month’s goal should be.
While it’s great to make a consistent income every month, challenge yourself to try earning more from that same side hustle every three months.
Here are a few things you can do to keep on increasing your income per quarter:
- Come up with different but related services or products (expanding your services)
- As you get better at your offer, increase the price of your service or product (adding value to your current offer to justify price increase)
- Get more customers every month (expanding your reach)
Need a hand to plan out your quarters more clearly? I actually have a Quarterly Milestone Tracker that’s free for download below.
Step 4. Determine how much sales you need to hit those income goals
After you’ve set your sights on a particular number per month (looking at you, $1k-per-month-from-a-side-hustle crowd!), it’s time to break down the steps you’ll take to get there.
If your goal is to earn $200 extra for the first three month from this fitness program eBook, divide that total income goal by your intended price (say $10), and then you know how much sales you need to make to hit $200/month.
$200 (income goal for Q1) / $10 (price per eBook) = 20 customers
If you want to increase that goal to $300 per month, think of how you want to do this.
If you want to increase your price, justify it first with some kind of added value, like a brand new section of the eBook that adds a whole ‘nother week of workouts and meal plans you learned over the course of the past 3 months.
If you want to keep your price the same but increase the number of sales you get per month, think of ways to broaden your reach or make your offer more prominent.
You could try going on Etsy or Amazon to promote your eBook, or partner with a paid fitness influencer who’s got just enough engaged followers.
Step 5. Promote yourself where your customer is
Last but not least, it’s really hard to make any sales without promoting your offer.
Like, we wish we didn’t have to constantly promote, but hey, if even Kylie Jenner has to keep promoting her beauty products too, then what more us mere mortals?
To really get the best results with your time and effort, I recommend hanging out in places where you know your audience is already hanging out.
Bringing back the fitness program example again, maybe your audience goes on YouTube a lot to look for easy healthy meals or workouts. Consider using this as a medium for your promotions.
Some extra ideas to see where your audience is hanging out:
- Facebook groups
- Forums related to your niche
- In-person communities (gyms, PTA meetings, school clubs, etc)
You’re on the way to a sustainable side hustle
And there you go, my entrepreneurial friend: a step-by-step guide to help you start and sustain the creative biz of your dreams. Got any questions about the topic? Let me know in the comments.
Also, as an added bonus, I’ve got a free Quarterly Milestone Tracker you can use to help you track those side hustle goals. Use this to break down those quarters and see exactly where your progress per month ought to go.
I’m excited to see where this creative venture takes you.