8 Simple Rules For Starting A Successful Side Hustle


Starting your own side hustle has countless benefits!

H5Y00D4OFTFor one, they’re great portfolio builders as they demonstrate your passions, skills, and confidence to potential employers. Additionally, being able to call something your own and watch it grow into a successful business can be extremely fulfilling.

Taking that entrepreneurial plunge can be daunting for many people, but don’t let fear and doubt get in the way of your goals. With diligence and these 8 key steps, you can start and manage your own successful side business.

1. Analyze your existing skills and those you hope to develop

The first step to starting your own side hustle is to determine your strengths

What do you excel at?
What are you knowledgeable about?
What hard and soft skills do you possess?
What are your hobbies?
What topics interest you?
What would you share with others if the world was listening?

Being able to pinpoint your strengths can help guide the type of project you end up pursuing. Perhaps you are skilled in photography and like rock music… you could start up a side business as an event photographer. Alternatively, if you’re into social media and have a passion for politics, you may decide to start a political satire YouTube channel. The possibilities are truly endless!

Similarly, identifying all your current strengths can help you recognize those you lack. For instance, if you want to get into public relations, you could start a blog where you analyze media campaigns, advertisements, and promotions. That way, when you apply to PR positions in the future, you’ll have an online platform exhibiting all of your relevant competencies in that field.

2. Define and leverage your existing resources

What tools, programs, equipment, and supplies do you have that pertain to your line of work? What do you need that you can easily obtain from friends, family, or your university? Based on your particular side project, this will differ from person to person. For instance, if you are interested in starting your own YouTube channel but don’t own a high-quality camera, many universities with a multimedia program rent out equipment to students for free.

Additionally, starting up a new business typically requires some financial banking. According to startups.com, friends and family account for 38% of the funds in start-ups. If your friends and family are interested in contributing to your start-up, it will be a significant help to you. However, emotional support is just as important as financial support; being able to get assistance of any kind from those closest to you will help you stay positive and focused.

Lastly, decide on a reasonable amount of time you are willing to commit to your side ventures and stick with it! It can be difficult to manage your time and you might be tempted push your side project aside if you’re not getting immediate results. However, setting aside a devoted amount of time will give your venture structure. Even if you feel like you’re lacking resources, try anyways. There is never a perfect or ideal time, but the potential results are worth going after!

3. Determine your Unique Value Proposition

One of the most challenging aspects of creating your own business is knowing where to start. That’s why creating a “value proposition” (i.e the reason why your service is valuable to clients) will be helpful. Being able to concretely understand the purpose of what you are doing and what you hope to achieve with your side hustle can help give you a sense of direction. In addition, it allows you to define and share your mission with others.

Ask yourself: What are you doing that no else is doing at all or as uniquely? Your value proposition doesn’t need to be over the top. Something as simple as being a photographer who focuses on a specific niche can help you stand out in the market and attract clients. Understanding your goals and how they’re unique will allow you to focus on what is important and necessary to achieve success.

4. Understand your industry and highlight your target audience

Some industries are more competitive, more elite, and have higher barriers of entry than others. Therefore, having an in-depth knowledge of your industry, the terminology, and the current trends is crucial to remaining relevant. For instance, if you’re a wedding photographer, you need to understand the implicit expectations your client has prior to shooting. Many couples may expect a photo where the flower girl and ringbearer are holding the back of the bride’s dress and assume that this is a standard, routine shot. Failure to deliver may result in dissatisfaction.

Knowing your audience and their expectations will be fundamental to your success. Not everyone will be interested your project so you want to pinpoint the type of work you can best deliver to a client. Targeting your approach to a specific audience will make you more successful in the long run.

5. Create a name and set up communication channels

Your next step is to come up with a creative brand name that best represents your project. Bridge the meaning between the name, your values and goals, and your “product.” Keep it simple, write it down, and say it out loud. Get used to the way the name rolls off your tongue.

Once you have decided on a name, think of the most appropriate promotional channel to reach your targeted audience. The easiest and most affordable options are social media (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) and a website. Even if you don’t need to use them right away, set them up. In the event your business takes off, it is better to have those accounts ready to go, rather than scramble to register an account name at the last minute. Email is also a crucial tool to have, since a dedicated business email often seems more professional than using a personal address.

6. Coordinate your first project/assignment/demonstration

Begin building your portfolio. For example, if you are starting a YouTube channel, start filming! Even if your content is not amazing right away, everybody has to start somewhere! Be prepared for criticism or worse, no views or reaction at all, but also take note of positive feedback. Look at what you did well and what you could do differently and apply it to your next project. Practice makes perfect!

7. Market your work

Marketing can seem like a hassle if it’s not your forte, but it is necessary if you want to gain exposure. Look at your target audience and find ways to reach them. Can you link to your site from your Instagram account? Are you able to post your new YouTube video on your university’s Facebook group for other students to see? Are there similar or local artists who you can reach out to that are willing to promote your art? Don’t be afraid to share your content! Even if you’re just starting out, you’d be surprised by the amount of support you can find if you put yourself out there.

8. Rinse, Lather, and Repeat

Whether your side hustle turns into a full-fledged business or not, trying anyway will show employers that you have the ability to take calculated risks, think outside of the box, and act independently. And according to Industry Canada, “85% of Canadian business that enter the marketplace survive one full year, and 70% survive two years.”

There is no better time to start a side project than now. Happy hustling, my friends!

About the author

Jessica Huynh is a Creative Industries Student at Ryerson University, specializing in Storytelling in Media and Curatorial Practices. She is interested in visual culture and stimulating intellectual conversation through text and design. She is passionate about inclusive practices within her works and advocating for equity-seeking groups. When she is not creating content, you can find her lounging in the park with a good book at hand. View her creative works at iamjessicahuynh.com or follow her on LinkedIn.