7 Secrets to Launching a Lucrative Side Gig

Christine Ryan Jyoti

side business growAre 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.

RELATED: How I Did It: Opened My Own Etsy Shop

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.

  • sallybrown12

    Good article but it really should mention near the top it’s mostly talking about online businesses. The Barefoot Executive is another good book on starting an online side-gig.

  • Margaret

    A compelling topic, but I found this article to be too light on content and facts – i.e. how much of a tax break could a home business render, how exactly do you calculate home office costs in a tax return, what kinds of IRS forms or what section specifically on the tax return pertains to home businesses? Some personal anecdotes would have been helpful as well. Without these more substantive elements, the article reads as more filler and general/abstract advice.

    • Angelica

      yea but taxes are a whole article within itself! I starter my business as a side gig and it became a full time gig. As for taxes all depends on the type of business sole, partnership, llc, etc etc… but as a side gig a sole proprietorship is great with a good agency for liability insurance you are good to go! and usually taxes is a matter of adding the income subtracting the expenses and file a schedule C or C-EZ with IRS at the end of the year and if its a product sales taxes with the state website every quarter. sounds like a lot but its not there’s still great profit to make from home based businesses and great apps online to help keep track of the income and expenses.

  • http://www.rocknrob.com RocknRob Gomez

    I agree with 2 other post not much meat to this article, but if anything it should get people thinking about a Plan B. The tax benefits alone are reason enough to start your side gig. I have been doing mine very successfully for past year and the savings alone is great and my overhead is minimal. Job’s pay your bills but a Plan B pays for your dreams!! Have an awesome day!!

  • http://Www.debtfreeindubai.com desertscrooge

    I have two side gigs and the one I spend more energy on isn’t really going all that well. I’ve been a bit discouraged the last few weeks about it but trying to regroup now and refresh my approach.

  • Sarah

    Any advice on getting an LLC without incurring too much as far as start-up costs? What are thoughts about dependable legal resources for small businesses, i.e. LegalZoom, etc.?

  • http://www.customline.com/ Jeannette de Beauvoir

    Both of my businesses are freelance—I left the corporate world to open my own writing and editing company, Customline Wordware, 20 years ago. And then a couple of years back I decided to put my education (I hold a M.Div. from Yale) to use, performing weddings. At first I kept the two very separate indeed, thinking that there’ no crossover and it would just be distracting.

    But I have found that my wedding clients love to hear about the writing I do, and my writing clients get a kick out of me saying, “I can’t do it then, I have a wedding.”

    I haven’t gotten any crossover *business* yet, but it could happen. So I agree. You don’t need to build a wall between the various things you do.

  • http://www.livelovemanja.com/ LIVE.LOVE.MANJA

    Hooray! you use Disqus for commenting too :) Wonderful article, thanks for the smarty tips. Manja! #blogger #foodmedia #blogwithus

  • Kamile Ko

    In my opinion you forgot to mention one of the most crucial factors- crm
    , believe me, it is really important thing when launching new business :)

    • Alison Shirley Perrin

      What language is that? What is the translation? Is there something similar in English?