Side hustles are only getting hotter in 2022. According to Zapier, 40% of Americans currently have a side hustle. And on average, those with a side hustle are generating over $12,000 a year – spending less than 10 hours a week on their side gig.
Everyone seems to have a side hustle, and if you don’t have one – you probably want one. But maybe you don’t know where to start?
I was lucky enough to speak to side hustle expert Hala Taha, founder and CEO of YAP Media, an award-winning social media and podcast marketing agency, and host of the popular Young and Profiting Podcast.
Hala successfully turned not one, but TWO side-hustles into flourishing businesses. She started her podcast in 2018 as a side hustle, and two years later she launched her agency, YAP Media, while working in corporate marketing at HP and Disney, respectively. Today, her passion projects have transformed into 7-figure operations and Hala is a full-fledged entrepreneur and major player in the podcast industry with 60+ employees.
I got a chance to sit down with Hala to discuss her side hustle success stories, and from that conversation, I’ve distilled five steps to help you start a side hustle from scratch – no matter what industry you’re in.
Identify Your Skillset
Turning your passions into a side hustle might be as simple as looking at the things you already spend your free time on in a different light or taking a look at your existing skillset. What do people always compliment you on or ask you questions about? What are you interested to learn and would continue to stay interested to learn even if rewards didn’t come right away?
Whatever your side hustle angle may be, make sure you’re passionate about it and that it is fun to work on. You’ll need that interest and curiosity to fuel your motivation to be consistent – especially in the early days and months.
Define Your Offer
Start small with one service or product offering; pick something you do well and have proven to do well already. Figure out how much it costs to do and charge double that to start (50% profit margin). This may seem high, but many people forget to bake in their own time when it comes to pricing.
Remember to test your pricing as you go along. If someone says yes right away, try increasing your pricing. You should only be landing about 30%-50% of deals. If you are landing more than that, chances are your pricing is too low. In the end, if you aren’t making money, it’s not a business – it’s simply a hobby.
Identify Your Niche
Be clear and specific about your target market so you can tailor your marketing efforts to cater to them. Once you know who your avatar is, the next step is to find out where they hang out online and build a community there. Ask yourself questions like: Who’s problem does your offer solve? Where do they live? Is this relevant to a certain industry? Are they a certain age, gender, or ethnicity?
Once you have the answers to these questions, the next step is to create a lead generation tool or platform to attract your target market to your company. For Hala, her agency, YAP Media, caters to best-selling authors and CEOs. Her podcast, Young and Profiting, interviews guests with the exact same avatar, which enables her to make genuine relationships and build trust with new connections who can become future YAP Media clients. Podcasting is a great example of a lead generation tool.
Validate Your Idea
After you define your offer and identify your niche, you need to validate this idea as soon as possible. The only way to know for sure that you aren’t wasting time is to get your first PAYING customer as soon as possible. Once you prove to yourself that a handful of people will buy into your idea, it’s easier to stay motivated and get feedback from your customers so you can improve.
Warning: Don’t spend a lot of money on this phase. Don’t worry about a fancy website or logo. Try to get your first clients from your direct network, and make sure there is organic demand.
If you see traction, then you have product-market fit. If not, then repeat the steps above until you find an offer with product-market fit.
Prepare For The Long Haul
Before you start your side hustle, you need to make a self-assessment about how badly you want this. Remember that your side hustle will take away 10-20 hours each week so plan accordingly and leverage your “unproductive time” like watching TV or aimlessly scrolling social media, to build in time for your side-hustle priority. That means sacrifice. This is also why you should love what you are doing because it will take self-motivation in the beginning – with the only reward being spending time and learning more about your passion.
Identify a fun passion of yours with potential to monetize and start validating quickly. There’s no need to invest more than $500 and a week or two, test the market, and grow from there. This lean start-up approach will get you making money and real-world feedback as fast as possible – both key elements in making your side hustle work!
Hala Taha is the host of Young and Profiting Podcast, a #1 Education podcast across all apps with over 5M downloads. She is also the Founder and CEO of YAP Media, a full-service social media and podcast marketing agency for best-selling authors, podcasters, and CEOs. She is also known for her vast influence on LinkedIn and was featured on Podcast Magazine’s 2022 40 Under 40 List.
Opinions expressed by US Insider contributors are their own.