Who doesn't love a good side hustle? If you're serious about turning that side hustle into a real money-maker, either as an additional income stream or as an initial step in starting a full-time business, you're going to need an email list and an effective email marketing strategy.
If you're ready to take your side hustle to the next level, read on to learn about why an email marketing strategy for your side hustle might be your best investment yet, plus see our top tips on how to get started with building your list.
Why should you create an email marketing strategy?
Any side hustle has the potential for becoming a real sustainable means of income, but it's not without its challenges.
Difficulty reaching the right prospects and establishing your credibility and unique offer are all things that even side-hustlers have to think about if they wish to be successful at their craft.
So how does email marketing help you with all these things?
For one thing, if you're relying on social media to reach new customers, consider this: you don't always reach your audience even if they're following you. Plus, if Facebook or Instagram were to suddenly shut down your account, you'd have no way of reaching out to your followers or finding them again.
An email list, on the other hand, is your own asset. You own the emails you collected in your list. And when you send emails, you land in a valuable spot to reach your audience: right in their inbox.
Secondly, email marketing is easily automatable – after setting up the right sequences, your email list becomes your 24/7 salesperson, giving value and offers to your audience all on autopilot.
Also, because email marketing is a consistent way to get in front of your audience, you're always delivering value and establishing your credibility and expertise.
With these factors in mind, it's no wonder that email continues to be the preferred way businesses communicate with their audiences. For your own side hustle, it should be no different.
How to create an email marketing strategy for your side hustle
Convinced that you should build an email list for your side hustle? Here are the steps you can take to get started.
Know your target audience
Your side hustle is a small business, and businesses of every size have an ideal customer.
Create a detailed avatar of whom you believe is your target client or customer, and be sure to include these things as you're doing it:
- Their goals
- The pain points keeping them from their goals
- Where to find them online
You can even compile all your ideas and findings in a buyer persona (see below) that you keep on referring to.
Identify your email marketing strategy goals
Your ultimate goal for your email marketing strategy is to make sales, so there are supporting goals you ought to set to hit that goal.
Think about how many subscribers you want to be getting each day or week. Also, consider how many times you want to send an email to your list in a month.
You'll also want to think about goals like:
- Increasing open rates
- Increasing click-through rates
- Increasing return on investment (ROI)
Get your email marketing tools in order
You can't start an email list without the right tools. You can refer to this list of the best email marketing tools out there and see which best fits your needs, goals, and budget.
A few important things you'll want to look for in your side hustle's email marketing provider are:
- how easy it is to build automations;
- how well you can track behaviors and engagements on your email campaigns, and;
- the provider's documentation and knowledge base
Create an opt-in offer
Once you've already decided on your marketing tool, now you can start to think about how to build your list and get subscribers.
The best way to do this is with what's called an opt-in offer – or a free resource or tool you give out to your audience in exchange for their email address.
To create an irresistible opt-in offer, you'll want to refer to your buyer persona or the pain points that your ideal customer has.
Think about what kind of quick win you can offer them that will get them closer to meeting their goal. If this opt-in is also related to your main side hustle offer, all the better.
As an example, let's imagine your side hustle is being a content manager.
You've determined that one of the main pain points of your ideal client is that they don't know what kind of content they should be putting out for their blog and social media.
One opt-in offer you can offer is a free list of, say, 100 blog and social media post prompts.
This resource is a quick win for them, and at some point, they might even consider outsourcing this task altogether.
And luckily for you, because they're now on your email list, you can keep sending them valuable emails about content management so that you become top of mind for when they're looking to hire.
Set up your opt-in
Create your opt-in using a tool like Google Docs, Adobe Indesign, or Canva.
You can link it up as an opt-in on your preferred email marketing provider, where if somebody signs up on a form to receive your free offer, they immediately receive it in their inbox once they give you their email address.
It's also good practice to constantly test and come out with new opt-in ideas. Also experiment with different ways of offering the opt-in – be it across your website, through social media, or others.
Example of an opt-in form. (Source: Converkit)
Write your email sequences
Getting people on your list is only step one of your email marketing strategy – step two and beyond is constantly nurturing them, so that they see you're an expert in what you do so that they can eventually hire you/contract your services.
When writing your own email sequence, test out a few of these general goals:
- Educate email. This can be a how-to or a case study you can share with your audience.
- Nurture email. You can tell a relevant and engaging story, or some behind-the-scenes of your latest projects and offers.
- Offer email. Every once in a while, you can pitch your offer to your list. Not everyone might know you have certain offers, so make it known through an email sequence.
Promote your opt-in
One of the best ways to promote your opt-in is through content marketing, such as through a blog, podcast, or video.
Because you're already giving away free content on your website, audiences will automatically assume you know a lot about the topic you're talking about. So if you offer a free resource that will level up what you explained in a blog post, for example, they'll be more inclined to opt-in to your list. (This strategy takes a bit of work. If you're busy as is with a full-time job and delivering on your actual side hustle offer, you can consider outsourcing the content writing portion for your side hustle to experienced blog writing providers.)
Whether you're starting a side hustle to make extra income or to transition out of a job, one of the best ways to grow it is through an email list. Implement the steps above to start your own email marketing strategy, build your list, and start making side hustle sales all on autopilot! And check out these tips for making a general marketing plan!
A version of this article previously appeared on Skillcrush, an online education program for creatives, thinkers, and makers that gives total tech newbies the tools to make major career changes.
Kelli Smith, Skillcrush
If you're reading this, you're probably either freelancing full-time or as a side hustle or at least considering it. But, with the freedom of freelancing, some days (or weeks or months!) you just don't know where to start. You're so overwhelmed with work you can't even contemplate when you've last invoiced your clients. Or you're so freaked out because you don't have any work that you end up jealousy-surfing site re-designs on Dribbble all day.
But I'm guessing you don't enjoy either of those situations too much – and I imagine your bank account ain't too happy about them either. So now's the time to do something about it. And I promise it won't take much time.
The super easy and ruthlessly efficient checklist below will help you right now, and that help is just 10 minutes away. That means, if you do all 5 of the money-making actions on the list, it'll take you under an hour – less than the time you could waste watching a couple re-runs of "Friends". (Sorry, Chandler! We love you, but we gotta get some funds – fast!)
And no need to feel bad that you need a list like this. When you're a freelancer, you and you alone are running the show. Which is all "I am woman, Hear me roar" cool. But sometimes you just need someone or something (like maybe a 10-minute checklist, hint hint!) to make sure you take care of what's important right now. And I'm guessing the most important of your most important things right now is to make money ASAP!
Agreed? Good! But still wondering why, if this is so critical, I'm only giving you 10 minutes to get each thing done? Because 10 minutes is enough time to actually make a difference without taking a huge chunk out of your busy schedule. And, when you know that it literally only takes a few minutes to do something AND that the result of it will be something you truly want, you're so much more likely to actually get 'er done!
So, here are your 5 actions to take to make more money freelancing today…
ACTION #1: Make a doable to do list
Before you can get something done, you gotta know what you're doing! Just letting all your tasks rattle around in your brain waking you up at night is NOT good for your productivity. And poor productivity equals poor freelancer. Booooo! Time to get it out of your head and get it organized.
ACTION #2: Send that hard email
Every freelancer has a message that they know they should send but… Stop making excuses about not knowing what to say or how to say it. It only takes a few sentences to get it over with – and, eventually, get the money you need!
ACTION #3: Refresh your site
Choose one way to update your portfolio. Your own website is a reflection of you and your skills so keep it looking awesome! You know that there's more than a few little (or big?) things that you've never loved about your site. It doesn't help for you to just ignore them because the whole Web can see them – and that includes your potential clients! Instead, grab a friend to get a fresh take on how to make your site shine.
ACTION #4: Recalculate your rate
It's hard to admit, but you're probably not charging enough. Really! Forget being "nice" or "modest". You have skills. Skills that other people don't have. So those skills are worth paying for, and you have todemand what you're worth.
ACTION #5: Commit to getting better
Working in tech means you have to keep up, constantly. It can be a bit overwhelming some times – with new tools, tricks, frameworks, and even whole languages coming out all the time. Instead of stressing out about it, try seeing it as an opportunity – a money-making opportunity! The more you can offer your clients, the more you can make. So, there's no procrastinating learning new skills…
That's it! 5 actions. 10 minutes each. Sounds simple enough. But how are you going to do it in 10 minutes or less?? Download the guide and get the simple, step-by-step instructions for finishing ALL of this in less than an hour – plus 5 bonus actions to take your money-making to the next level!