So, you’ve been inspired by a particular side hustle and you want to get started. The only problem is you don’t have a lot of experience or any leads as to how you can obtain clients and start earning money.
If you are considering starting a side hustle in a completely new territory, don’t get discouraged. You’ll have to immerse yourself in the role, build up your skills and establish new connections in order to find paying clients and build a thriving source of side income.
Here are five ways to help you find paying clients and turn your passion into profit.
1. Reach out to someone in your Industry who is Getting Paid
If you look up to anyone in particular or come across someone who seems successful at something you want to do, don’t be afraid to reach out to them with questions. Most people are happy to give advice and if they aren’t or seem standoffish, you can always move on to the next person.
Getting advice and helpful tips from someone who has been where you are currently and knows exactly how they were able to establish paid work can be very valuable. They might even have leads for you. You shouldn’t email someone you don’t know straight out asking for a job lead, but you should establish a connection with them first and stop looking at other people as competition.
If you know what you want your side hustle to become and can add your own creativity and flair to it, there will be plenty of opportunities for you and everyone else. Even with freelance writing – which is supposed to be an over saturated industry – there is plenty of work for everyone and successful writers are often more than willing to give newbies advice.
2. Start a Website or Online Portfolio
If you want to get paid for your side hustle, you’re going to have to look professional so people can take you seriously. In order to help market yourself to people who are willing to pay you a decent wage, you’ll need to create a website or online portfolio to showcase your work.
Having a website just automatically screams ‘professional.’ It tells people that you have a web presence other than Facebook along with some background information on your website and an easy way for people to get in contact with you.
Starting a website or blog doesn’t have to be expensive. You can get a free theme and even purchase a domain and hosting for cheap ($4 or less per month through Bluehost) so you can showcase all your work online.
If you don’t want to set up and maintain a website, you can always create an online portfolio to showcase all of your work so potential clients can reference it.
3. Do Some Work for Free
It may not always be ideal, but sometimes you may have to start doing work for free in order to build up some experience and work samples. Reach out to other professionals in your industry to see if you can help them out in any way or even start a no obligation trial.
When I first started freelance writing, I reached out to a blogger and offered to be a contributor on their very popular website. I wrote for free for about two months, then I stopped. Three months after that, she emailed me asking if I’d like to be brought on as a paid contributor.
When I wanted to start diversifying my skills a few months ago, I connected with a client who needed help transcribing his webinar videos. Even though I never did any transcription work before, I wanted to try it and I pretty much knew I’d be successful. I convinced the client to take a chance on me by offering a free no obligation trial for the first video transcription.
After finishing the unpaid trial, the client loved my work and we’ve been working together ever since.
This just goes to show you that you may not get paid for the work you do at first, but it can open the door for future opportunities or even referrals for even more work.
4. Build your Network and Start Telling Everyone you Know
When you first establish your side hustle, I know it might feel awkward to start marketing yourself to others but it’s something you need to do especially if you don’t have many client leads. Start telling everyone you know about what you’re doing and that you are looking for clients.
Choose your rates so you can be ready if someone asks you for a quote.
Most important, start introducing yourself to more people and building your network. Sites like LinkedIn are great for building up your network and you can also join private Facebook groups that cater to the industry you’re in so you can meet other people who have similar goals as you or are looking to hire.
If you take the necessary steps to build up your network, it will certainly pay off and you’ll have more people coming to you and referring you for work as opposed to it being the other way around.
5. Build Your Side Hustle Business
If you are still in the process of building up your network, sending out pitches is the most common way to try to secure clients when you are just starting out and don’t have much experience. Find out what all the hot spots are for leads in your industry. You can always search for client leads on sites like Indeed.com, Craigslist.org and Elance.com.
Cold pitching can be effective if you do it right. First off, when you send a pitch to someone who you like to hire you, make sure you are clear and to-the-point. You may want to establish some type of connection with them before you send your pitch though. Follow them on social media, share their work, comment on something they posted online to build up some type of background even though you’ll technically be sending a ‘cold pitch.’
Be sure to include past samples of your work and/or your resume in your pitch along with any ideas of ways that you could help simplify their tasks or be an asset to them. People love to hear about how you can help make their lives easier. Busy professionals, parents and entrepreneurs are also willing to outsource and pay people to take care of certain tasks for them so really try to touch on your value in your cold pitch.
Finally, check the grammar and spelling in your email before you press send. Follow up with the potential client a few days after if you don’t hear anything just to express your interest once again. Keep cold pitching again and again until you start hearing back from people. If you pitch enough, you will get a response.
How do you get paying clients for your side hustle? What challenges did you face in the beginning? What have you found that works when you cold pitch a potential client?