Your Side Hustle Deserves a Website. Here’s Why.
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 using a 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, it’s pretty easy to do. Set aside some of your side hustle time to think of a domain name for your site, register it, and choose a web hosting plan. If you use HostGator’s WordPress hosting, you’ll be able to pick a theme and customize your site in a matter of hours.
By investing a small amount of time and money in a site for your sideline now, you can see a better payoff for your time and effort going forward.
Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelancer who enjoys writing about business development and marketing, e-commerce payments and fraud prevention, and travel.