Are you a crafty genius whose letter-pressed stationery could easily become the next Etsy sensation? Or perhaps you’re a social media whiz with some time to spare.
If you have a professional skill or passion that’s not being used to its full potential, it may be time to consider how you can supplement your salary with a side job.
Stymied by where—and, more important, how—to start? LearnVest spoke with Kimberly Palmer, author of “The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life,” for some insider advice on getting a side business off the ground.
Palmer speaks from experience. The financial journalist began writing and selling digital money guides on her own Etsy shop as a way to bring in extra income—a journey that compelled her to interview other successful side-giggers to cull their advice, along with her own, for the book.
Eager to bring in some serious money from your own part-time passion? Start with these seven top Palmer tips.
1. Be Smart About Start-Up Costs
There’s no need to spend much—if anything—when you’re testing out different ideas in the beginning.
“It’s so easy to launch a side gig today,” Palmer says. “If you have an inkling for something you might want to do, just get started.” You can always make adjustments later—what matters is that you take the plunge, and that’s easier to do when you’re not dishing out much money early on. “You can often launch a side business for $100 or less,” she adds. In fact, she recommends avoiding any kind of endeavor that would require a big initial investment—a red flag that you may be headed down a risky path.
Do you need a business plan? “Not really,” Palmer says. “I urge people to skip that formal step and just try launching the business that they have in mind” because e-commerce sites—like Etsy, Elance and Fiverr—can get you set up in a weekend.
In terms of low-cost marketing, Palmer recommends developing your own following, starting with social media—and then building on that by communicating with your followers through a blog and a regular newsletter. “One of the best ways to find new fans and customers is by writing guest posts for other blogs that share your target audience,” Palmer says.