Picking up extra work on the side is the American way these days.
A new Bankrate survey found that 44 million of us have a side hustle, whether it’s selling things online, dog walking or something else. A quarter of Millennials with side jobs bring in more than $500 each month just by moonlighting, while young Baby Boomers are in the best position to rake in an extra $1,000 or more each month on the side.
If you haven’t started your side hustle yet – or if you have one but don’t earn as much as you’d like – here’s the why and how of building a professional website to win customers and make your side-hustle pay off.
Why have a side hustle?
Paying the bills is a big reason people pick up extra work in their downtime, but it’s not the only one. Here are a few more reasons to start your own side business.
1. Do what you love
Not everyone is lucky enough to love their day job, and a side gig can help balance out the daily grind with work that’s fun. Maybe after a day at the bank, you’re ready to unwind with a couple of hours of writing short stories. If you’ve got readers who subscribe each month through a service like Patreon, your hobby can pay off. Or maybe a Sunday afternoon that you spend baking and decorating a cake for a local client’s party is the perfect way to refresh yourself for the 9-5 workweek ahead.
2. Transition to self-employment
If you’ve ever seriously thought about becoming your own boss, you know it can be a tough leap to make – financially and emotionally. By testing out your business idea on the side, you can see if it’s workable without losing your regular income. And if you’re one of those exuberant folks who has a new business idea every other week, testing them out as side gigs can help you decide which are keepers before you go all in.
3. Counteract “economic uncertainty”
Even if your finances are good now, extra income can help you prepare for whatever life throws at you later on. Having a few months’ worth of living expenses saved up is always a wise move, and having extra money to invest when you’re young can help you out when you’re ready to retire someday.
Does your side hustle really need a website?
Yes. We’re admittedly pro-website here at HostGator, but these days a business without a website is a business many customers will never even know about. There are also marketing and sales advantages to doing at least some of your business online. With a website, your side hustle can:
1. Get found
Most shoppers start the purchase process by searching online, and this step in their purchase process is where small businesses like a side hustle can stand out.
According to new research by Microsoft, some 70% of shopping searches happen on Google, Bing, and other search engines, rather than within marketplaces like Amazon. That’s good news for independent sellers, as long as you know how to get your side hustle’s site to rank well in search results.
If you provide local services or goods, a website is a must – and the site must be optimized for fast and easy-to-navigate mobile use. That’s because a whopping 88% of “near me” searches happen on mobile devices while consumers are out and about. If they’re going to find you when they’re ready to do business, it will almost certainly be because of your site and SEO.
2. Establish credibility
To buy from you, customers need to trust you, and a website is an important tool for building trust. A good site gives visitors the information they need to make a decision, including product or service details, testimonials and awards, purchase and refund policies, contact information, and more.
In contrast, businesses without websites can seem shady or amateur. As Craig Reardon writes at Smart Company’s Australian site, “The lack of a website will make customers question your fundamental business savvy. You just can’t be serious if you don’t have a website because it is the most basic of customer service tools.”
3. Build your list
When business owners talk about their list, they’re almost always referring to their email list.
This is the group of customers and potential customers who’ve opted in to getting newsletters, promotions, and offers from you via email, which means there’s real value in building your side hustle’s list.
Put a sign-up form on your site and create a welcome-to-the-list autoresponder email using an email marketing tool like Constant Contact. Then when you’re ready to let your list know about sales and new products, all you have to do is write them up and hit send.
4. Sell direct
Does your side hustle sell products you can delivery digitally or ship easily? Do you sell services that people outside your immediate area can use?
If so, a website can expand your side hustle’s potential customer pool far beyond your hometown. We’ve got the lowdown on setting up an ecommerce website and creating a portfolio site for professional services.
Setting Up Your Side Hustle Website
Even if you’ve never set up a website before, you’ll be pleased to learn it’s easy to do. Are you skeptical?
It’s time to cast that skepticism aside and get ready to do something you may have never thought you could do.
This section will walk you through the steps of setting up your website fully in a matter of days.
Visualize the structure of your website
It’s true. There is an art and a science to the structure of websites. If you stop and think about your favorite sites, you’ll realize they are logical, have a basic navigational structure, and include main categories and subcategories. Think about the navigation menu with its main categories (home, about, services, contact) and all its potential subcategories.
Before you click out of this article, thinking you’re going to have to do a bunch of wireframing, coding, and designing, read on.
You’ll be happy to know that HostGator has already done the hard work for you. HostGator’s Website Builder is tailored to beginners that have zero experience with building a website. As soon as you sign up, you have instant access to over 200 customizable website templates.
When building a website with HostGator, you don’t have to start from scratch, but you also have some flexibility to be creative.
All you have to do is select a template you like best, decide how you want to organize the pages, add elements and features you like and delete what you don’t like. Thankfully, you can do this all with the built-in drag and drop tool.
Brainstorm the pages you want to include
The next step in building the perfect website is to brainstorm exactly which main pages you want to include on your website. Typical pages to choose from include:
You can also create subpages underneath your main pages. For example, let’s say your company has three owners, and you want to highlight each owner individually. You could create three separate pages, and nest them under the “about” main page as subpages.
Again, creating a page in HostGator is easy. It’s a matter of clicking a few buttons, naming your pages, and dragging and dropping in your favorite elements.
Start Building Your Side Hustle Website with HostGator
Now that you know what you want your website to look like and which pages you’d like to include, you’re ready for the fun part.
It’s time to sign up for HostGator and follow six easy steps to the launch of your new website. Once you’ve completed these steps, your website will be live, and you’ll be ready to start your side hustle.
Step 1: Pick a hosting plan for your side hustle website.
The Gator Website Builder has three hosting plans available. You can pick the plan that best meets your needs.
The starter plan includes a free domain, 200+ customizable templates, a drag-and-drop editor, cloud hosting, and website analytics.
If all you need is a basic website, the starter plan is a great deal. If you know you’ll need priority support while creating and maintaining your website, opt for the premium package. Finally, if you plan on selling any products on your website, choose the eCommerce plan.
Once you’ve picked a plan, click “buy now” and you can set up your account.
Step 2: Pick a domain name for your website.
Now that you’ve picked out your web hosting package, it’s time to select a domain name. Every Gator Website Builder package includes a free domain, so there is no need to purchase a domain from a separate domain hosting company.
To pick your domain, all you have to do is type something in the “get domain” box. If your top choice for your website isn’t available, then select another until you find a domain that is available.
If you are set on a specific domain name, but the .com version is already taken, you can select another top-level domain.
Need help picking a domain name? Read our guide to choosing the perfect domain name for your new website.
If you already have a domain name, then you can connect it to your HostGator account by clicking “connect it here.”
Step 3: Create your account.
Once you have selected a domain name, it’s easy to connect your HostGator account. All you need is an email address or Facebook account to connect. Then, enter your payment information, and you’re officially part of the HostGator family.
Step 4: Pick a template for your website.
As mentioned above, the Gator Website Builder comes with pre-designed and proven templates. All you have to do is select the one you like best. That’s right! You don’t have to know how to code to get your website up and running.
Once you create your account, HostGator will direct you to the “choose a template” page. You can scroll through more than 200 professionally-designed templates and select the one that works for you.
You can also customize any of the templates to match the colors and theme of your business.
Step 5: Add the content you planned out to your side hustle website.
Once you have selected the perfect template for your side hustle website, click “start editing.” Clicking “start editing” will send you to your dashboard where you can add, edit, and delete pages.
Gator Website Builder includes a drag and drop builder to make it easy to design your pages. All you have to do is point and click. However, if you have any questions, Gator Website Builder also includes a free and easy step-by-step guide for reference that you can access at any time.
To access this guide, click the “menu” icon next to the Gator by HostGator logo and select the “getting started tour.”
Step 6: Review your content and launch your website.
The last step is to review your website, make any changes, and then publish your site. By clicking “preview,” you can see your website in full.
During your preview, review your website and make sure everything looks perfect.
If everything looks right, then click the “finish preview” button at the top and then “publish website” at the top of the dashboard.
Gator Website Builder will present a series of quick steps to help you go live.
Starting a side hustle is not easy, but it’s rewarding. Not only will you make a little extra money, but you’ll also learn unexpected skills (like how to build a website) along the way.
Robert Platt, owner of Travelou Baby and HostGator customer, shares:
“Owning a side business can be very challenging, but also very rewarding. It may take two to three years for your business to really take off, so it will require patience and persistence. The upside? You will learn things that you may not have ever learned in a corporate setting, and the pride you feel knowing that you have created something very unique that meets the needs of others is priceless.”
What are you waiting for? Get your website up and running today by signing up with HostGator. Your dreams of starting a successful side hustle are just a few clicks away.