How to Start a Side Hustle: Test the Waters

This is the fourth post in the How to Start a Side Hustle series.

If you have any sort of talent or passion, you can definitely use your education, experience and entrepreneurial spirit to earn more money for your household with a side hustle. You might even call it the new overtime for folks who want to earn additional income beyond their full-time jobs. If you’re thinking about going out on your own, I strongly encourage you to test the waters first. As you begin to experiment with letting people know about your services or products, you will begin to encounter opportunities to actually make good on your side hustle and determine if it’s actually a viable idea and something you enjoy. Here are a few ways that I tested the waters to obtain my first clients while I still had a full-time gig.

Tell People What You Do

When I was a Development Director at my previous organization, I would meet other nonprofit leaders at events and tell them that I managed the fundraising for the organization. Since most nonprofits struggle with raising money, it was a conversation starter where folks often ended up asking me about fundraising trends or advice on how to find good grantwriters. As a result of my networking, I was asked to provide pro-bono training for a nonprofit board of directors to get them more engaged in fundraising. I was thrilled to do it because it gave me experience in delivering a workshop to board members and the nonprofit also gave me a great reference on LinkedIn for potential clients to see!

Give Away Stuff for Free

You might consider giving away products for free on your blog or setting up a table at a festival to see if there is any interest in free samples of your wares. Use your friends, family and colleagues as guinea pigs to test out your product or service to see if it’s really something that customers would pay for. The possibilities are endless because no one can say no to free!

Volunteer to Do Pro-Bono Consulting

Providing pro-bono support for a company can be an easy way to gain experience and build confidence in your consulting abilities. Especially if you don’t have 10 or 20 years of work experience under your belt, it can be really difficult to convince yourself that you have something so amazing to offer an organization that they would pay you for it. In my earlier example, I did a free workshop for a nonprofit board of directors. Because I was doing the work for free, it eased some of the pressure. To get started on your own side hustle, you might give away your services to friends and colleagues and then ask them to write testimonials for you for your website or promotional materials.

Speak for Free

My very first speaking engagement was as a panelist for an event discussing African American leadership in the nonprofit field. I looked at the current speaker list and realized that there were no young leaders slated to talk about our experiences. So I emailed the conference organizer with my bio, we followed up with a phone conversation, and they added me to the panel. I prepared and overprepared and gave the best remarks I could. Then, people began to contact me for other speaking opportunities as a result of seeing me on that panel. And guess what? The second speaking engagement after that first one I did for free was actually PAID. If you want to get into the spotlight, public speaking is a great way to start to share your expertise within professional networks. But don’t wait for someone to ask you to participate in an event or conference; the first step may be you reaching out to them. It’s great exposure, and you never know how many potential clients might be in the audience. Also, be sure to keep a good bio handy for when you see an opportunity to volunteer your time and expertise.

Are you thinking about getting started with a side hustle?  What are some other ways to test the waters?

Up Next: How to Start a Side Hustle: 28 Passion-Based Business Ideas You Can Launch Online

 

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