This article is continually updated so that those looking to create extra income (side-hustle) in today's ever-changing economy have some guidance to get the ball rolling.
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
Why create a side-hustle?
When it comes to making money, it's all about marketing and branding. Whether you are a Fortune 500 company, a sole proprietor working out of your home, or starting a part-time side-hustle, keep that front and center as you consider what type of website you want to put together.
Even with a side-hustle, you have to have a way to stand out from all the noise. That's called branding. It would be best to be perceived as someone to trust with your potential customer's hard-earned dollars, especially when folks are holding on to those dollars more than before.
Create a list of those things you know about, that you'll enjoy, and that you can honestly commit to. Without this first step, your chances of success are hindered. You need to know about and enjoy the process; otherwise, you will not succeed.
Then look at that list and think about how you can find a need and fill it. Or how can you offer a product or service in a better or different way than what is already “out there.” With this approach, you might be surprised at the additional income you can generate.
SIDE-HUSTLE:The Origins of Side-Hustle, Merriam Webster
Although the precise definition of this term is still in a bit of flux, it appears to be centering on “work performed for income supplementary to one’s primary job.”
How to Start a Side-Hustle Using WordPress
WordPress is excellent for your side-hustle website because it is inexpensive (compared to a professional designer) and easy to set up and add eCommerce. Plus, tons of layouts, themes, plugins, and extensions add features and functionality as needed.
But before you get that far, it's best to have a plan. You know the saying — fail to plan, plan to fail? That's the truth right there. So the more you can plan out what you want to do and all the necessary details, the better your chances of having a viable side-hustle.
Any side-hustle should be based on something you enjoy doing, are already proficient at, or want to put the time and effort into becoming great at. You have to have this approach to succeed with something you will be doing in addition to your full-time gig.
There are no easy set-and-forget revenue streams. Therefore, you are going to have to “hustle.” You want to make sure that, at the very least, your side-hustle is something you do not mind dedicating lots of time to.
Today I'm going to list a few side-hustles that will provide the opportunity to turn into extra income based on the skills you already have or your desire to learn.
Affiliate marketing is a way to monetize your website by recommending products and services. This approach works best on a site with many topically related content that talks to the same market as the affiliate marketing programs you are promoting.
IDEAS: You could put up a community website or forum that helps your neighborhood keep in touch. Or a local site to help promote businesses with their new hours and procedures. Then add affiliate links to products and services that folks are interested in based on those focused businesses and discussions.
Integrating affiliate marketing into the following side-hustle websites can help to create some residual income. But it takes time and affiliate products that fit your niche so they can turn to clicks.
A word of caution: Like anything that involves making money, tons of “programs” out there claim affiliate marketing is the path to riches. Be skeptical before investing. Affiliate income, like any online gig, is easier said than done.
Authority or Niche Blogging
Do you have a skill set, knowledge, or a passion for a topic that you can share and help others with? Or how about something you enjoy doing that you can write about those experiences (traveling, hiking, camping, crafts, cooking)?
IDEAS: You can blog about how you are productive at home. Have kids? What are you doing to accommodate the current environment? Write about your journey as you start your business. Any lessons learned? You can share your experiences and discoveries. What are you good at? What can you write about with confidence and authority?
The more focused and niche, the better. Having a niche is the best way to get found in search engines over time. (The more you are about, the less you are about any one thing.) Therefore, building a site that shows your personality combined with a wealth of knowledge and sought-after information is vital.
Offering detailed and helpful eBooks is another way to generate income. If you are not a writer, you will have to work on your skills. There are many great tools to help you, such as Grammarly, which I use every day.
IDEAS: eBooks or tip sheets don't have to be very comprehensive. They can be a tips PDF that's just a page or two that you offer for a couple of bucks. The more info, the more it is desired, and the higher the cost. Folks are looking for projects and how-to guides on everything from home improvement to self-care. What can you offer?
It would be best if you created a well-thought-out publication in PDF format and a plugin to facilitate those downloads. For example, I use Easy Digital Downloads.
Can you handcraft something neat, cool, and unique? Don't make the mistake of getting discouraged if you see what you can make already being made by others.
Instead, think about how you can put your spin, personality, or customization to be different. For example, invent a memorable or catchy name (with a domain name to match).
IDEAS: From making face masks from items you find in your home to creating tools that you can use for tasks you didn't have to deal with before (or may not want to go out to purchase), folks are making some pretty ingenious things. What can you make?
Think of a fun visual way to display your items with a solid, consistent color palette * and creative photography that shows your distinctive style and personality. Then, continue this creativity via your product packaging (wrappings, containers, business cards, promo items).
If you have the gift of gab and are comfortable speaking on the fly, podcasting is for you. Download Audacity and purchase a quality microphone to start.
IDEAS: People crave that human connection. How can you “connect”?
The company I recommend for podcast hosting * is Blubrry — lots of great resources on their site. There are a bunch of WordPress podcasting plugins to choose from, including one from Blubrry. Here's a great podcasting rundown on Medium: Podcasting Resources.
Online Courses / Tutoring
If you excel at a skill that many folks need to hone, tutoring or online classes can be a great way to earn additional revenue. I've used and recommend WPCourseware.
IDEAS: Downtime and “at home time” can get the monotonous fast. Now is a perfect time to pick up new skills and learn new things. Think about the skills or experience you have that others may want to know about/from. What can you teach people?
Each marketplace is different, and some products do better on eBay than on Amazon or Etsy and visa-versa. Here again, finding a niche product folks are looking for (or don't know what they need) is the best approach.
I've sold on all three, but I always have my website as my primary selling channel. Putting all your eggs in marketplace baskets dictates how and what you can sell. And believe me, it can be frustrating with all the rules and obligations you will have to abide by.
So you want to thoroughly review the rules and policies of any marketing place you want to sell on before you dive in. Keep in mind that 3rd party marketplaces can change their policies at any time and without notice. They can also change their fees too.
Some marketplaces also take a percentage of your sales — above and beyond any other fees. And those fees can add up. So be sure you do the math first before committing.
That is why it is wise to invest in your side-hustle website in case you decide not to use a marketplace in the future. This way, you are not starting from scratch in building your brand.
Before you list a single item, read each marketplace's Terms of Services, Rules of Participation, and fee schedule. The fees, while small individually, can add up fast! And, you may find that some of the rules are not those that you are able (or willing) to follow. This is another reason why you always want to have your own website in addition to any marketplace presence you may have.
Setting Up Your WordPress Side-Hustle Website
Now we need to get your side-hustle website in place. Let's go through the steps.
Choosing a Domain Name
Setup Your Web Hosting
You can view my preferred hosting providers, tools, and services in my ToolKit. Web hosting may be one of your most important decisions as it is the power and support behind keeping your website up and running.
Just as with anything online, do not decide based on price alone. Think of expenses as investing in your success.
Plan Out Your Website
You'll want to think about the structure of your site before choosing a theme. For example, how many pages, categories, and topics do you want to have? By contemplating how much and what type of content you will have in advance, you can better envision its display when looking at theme demos.
You will want to plan on having a Blog to share your expertise and show you are the one to do business with. Brochureware sites (a handful of pages with no solid content) are no longer effective or convincing to those who may consider buying what you are selling.
Choosing Your WordPress Theme
With all the premium WordPress themes available, it is easy to find one to fit your personality and the layout for the information you want to provide. WordPress makes it easy to showcase your products/services while looking credible and legitimate.
Adding eCommerce is simple with the WooCommerce plugin and the numerous add-on plugins to enhance features to meet your needs.
Sign-up for a Payment Gateway
If you want to accept payments through your site, you'll need a payment gateway. I use Paypal. However, WooCommerce Payments, Stripe, or Square are alternatives you can investigate.
Read my article: Realistic New WordPress Website Expense Planning.
Plan on Being Super Active on Social Media
You'll need to get the word out about your side-hustle. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram are the primaries to look at. You don't do social media; you are social media.
Do your best to have the same username/handle across all platforms to help build your brand. Then, make sure your header and visuals are consistent across the board in both color scheme and personality. You want customers to recognize you regardless of what platform they see you on.
The Sky is the Limit
Of course, this post is not the end all be all, but I hope it helped you start thinking about how you can set the groundwork for your online side-hustle. My blog is full of how-tos and tips on everything you need to consider. So bookmark this site now so that you can read and learn!
You never know… It could turn out that your side-hustle turns into your main hustle.
At your service,