The Non-Tech-Savvy Person’s Guide to Starting a Side Hustle
Our world has shifted in the past several weeks, and like many people, you’ve likely found yourself in one or more of the following situations:
- You are stuck (but safe) at home.
- Your income has diminished or disappeared.
- You are increasingly concerned about your financial future.
It’s a tough place to be, this uncertainty, but, if you decide to take back control (and you should!), there can be opportunity in these newfound circumstances—like starting or growing a side hustle. Something that, depending on your goals, you can use as supplemental, short-term income or even a springboard to a new career.
The prospect of starting a side hustle is exciting, but it can also be intimidating. You may love the idea of starting a business of your own, but maybe you don’t feel comfortable enough with the technology to get started on your own.
That’s why we decided to put together this guide.
In the following sections, we’ll talk about some of the most important elements of starting a side hustle, explained in a way that everyone can appreciate—no matter how much experience with technology you have.
Overcoming the Mental Block
First, it’s important to address the mental block that negatively affects many people who would describe themselves as “not tech savvy.”
These days, new technologies are designed with accessibility in mind. They’re created specifically to make them easy to use, no matter your skill level. If you enter your side gig with the mentality that this is something you can learn, and not something that’s going to confuse you before you even begin, you’ll stand a much better chance of success.
Think positively. You can do this.
Creating a Website
No matter what kind of side gig you’re running, you’ll need a website. It might sound intimidating, but it’s easier than ever.
Lots of websites today are built with the help of free website builders, like Wix, Weebly and WordPress. Using these tools, you can design and launch your own website almost immediately.
Most of these builders use something called a WYSIWYG editor, which means “what you see is what you get.” With it, you can drag and drop new elements, type new text, and see a live preview. And you don’t need any coding knowledge to use it. If web design isn’t in your wheelhouse, you can use templates to create your site, filling in text details to start.
One caveat is that most free website builders give you a subdomain, such as yourname.wordpress.com, so you’ll probably want to buy and connect your own domain name. GoDaddy is a popular tool and makes the process quite easy.
Managing Social Media
Social media connects us all, so your side hustle will benefit from having a presence. Getting started is free for businesses on most platforms, and it’s just as easy as creating a personal account. Some sites, like Instagram, allow you to set up a separate business account; others, like Facebook, require you to connect from your personal account. (Don’t worry, your personal information will not be publicly visible on your business page.)
For example, on Facebook, when logged in on desktop, click the arrow in the upper-right corner to see an option for “Manage Pages.” From here, you can “Create a Page” for your business or brand. After clicking “Get Started,” you’ll be prompted to fill out various fields, like your page name and category, and add a profile picture and cover photo. And just like that, your page is up, and you can start posting.
Try to post new content at least once or twice a week on your social pages, and reach out to new people and new groups regularly. For help figuring out what to post, check out “100 Killer Ideas for Your Social Media Content.”
Building an Email List
Building a highly engaged email list can be a game-changer for any side hustle. Email lists are essential for building your audience and keeping your customers engaged and buying from you over the long term. However, many side hustlers are so overwhelmed by the complicated tech involved, that they lose sight of the value a list can bring their business.
The good news is that it’s never been easier set up, launch and grow an email list. In fact, most of the software available today have easy-to-use drag and drop features and are completely free to start for new businesses with small lists.
Mailchimp is a great place to begin your list building efforts. It’s free to get started, and easy to use. Whether you use Mailchimp or a similar email application, you’ll be able to design your own email templates, again, with a WYSIWYG editor or by basing your work on templates. Here’s a simple resource for you to get started with Mailchimp in just a few hours: Mailchimp 101
Videos as a content form are gaining in preference, and are a great way to engage your audience. Not only does the combination of visual and audio aid result in more absorbable information for the viewer, but it also presents more opportunity to promote your brand across platforms.
To kick-start your video recording, you don’t need much more than your laptop or smartphone, which have built-in cameras. Begin with narrowing down the focus of your video, find yourself a nicely lit space and press record. It can be that easy!
Although you don’t have to worry about producing a professional, high-quality video right off the bat, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Audio is just as important as the video image. Without clear audio, the video can lose more than half of its purpose, so remember to speak clearly and avoid shooting in places with excess background noise.
- Orient your video for the intended platform. Typically, videos are more visually appealing and perform better when recorded horizontally; however, if you’re filming something to share on social media, you may opt to record vertically.
Overall, uploading a video to your website or social media pages is as easy as posting a regular blog post or status update, and just like building a website, videos can be as easy or complex as you need them to be. Once you’re confident in your video capabilities, try leveling up with a ring light or upgrading your sound with a wireless phone-suitable microphone.
Using Google Analytics
One of the best things you can do for your website is to set up Google Analytics, a free service that helps you measure and analyze the traffic coming to your website. Once you have it set up, you’ll be able to see how many people are visiting your site, where they’re coming from, and what they’re doing when they get there (e.g., are they making a purchase?). It’s extraordinarily helpful for evaluating the effectiveness of your marketing strategies.
Getting started is simple, and the Analytics Help Center provides step-by-step instructions:
- Create an Analytics account.
- Set up a property, which represents your website.
- Add the tracking code to your website, so you can collect the data properly.
As you develop your side hustle, you may consider other forms of online marketing. Many of these sound technically complex, but anyone can learn them with the help of online tutorials.
- Content marketing/blogging. One of the easiest things you can do is create regular blog posts for your site. With content marketing, you can make your site more robust, appeal to new customers, and hopefully achieve more conversions.
- Search engine optimization (SEO). SEO relies on a combination of content marketing, changes to the phrasing and structure of your site, and content development with other publishers to increase your rankings in search engine results.
- Paid advertising. Many forms of paid advertising exist to make your website more visible, often taking advantage of platforms like Facebook and Google, but they require an upfront investment. The easiest place to get started is Facebook, and here’s a guide that will show you how to get set up in just a few hours: Facebook Ads
Inevitably, you’re going to run into issues as you build your site, market your business and make new sales. What’s important is that you know how to identify and resolve those issues.
Here’s a best-kept secret: All those “tech geniuses” you know? They probably don’t know that much about technology. Instead, they are probably exceptionally skilled at Googling. Whenever they encounter a problem, they type a description of it into the search bar (e.g., “WordPress blog post not publishing”) and look at the top results. In most conceivable scenarios, you’ll find a short video or a concise post that walks you through the problem and its solutions.
Get used to this flow of search-read-apply, and you’ll be able to solve almost any tech problem—even without formal skills to back you up.
Planning Your Business
Even if your side hustle feels more like a hobby right now, it’s important to treat it like a business. Develop a business plan, keep a tight leash on your budget, and remain committed to learning and adapting, and you’ll stand a good chance of being successful—tech savvy or not.
Photo by GaudiLab/Shutterstock.com
Jayson DeMers is the founder and CEO of EmailAnalytics, a productivity tool that connects to your Gmail or G Suite account and visualizes your email activity—or that of your employees.
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