So you want to build a side hustle but you aren't sure where to start. It can be hard to know how to monetize your passion projects—you may paint beautiful watercolors, take incredible photos, or build the best websites, but how do you get in front of potential clients in a cost-effective way? Enter: Social Media. It's cheap, it's easy, and it may be the most important marketing tool you'll ever use. The key is knowing which platforms are right for you and your new business.
To help you decide, we’ve pulled together a handy guide on how to use social media to start growing your side hustle today.
If the output of your work lends itself to photos and video—meaning products like fashion, beauty, arts, crafts, or retail—you need to start taking advantage of Instagram immediately. That’s because visualizing your brand is exactly what this platform was designed to do.
But therein lies the rub. Before you can market yourself on Instagram, you have to know yourself. Your brand identity, that is. If you don’t know who you are or what you stand for—including how you want to express yourself to the world—you can end up wasting your time on Instagram. The good news is, once you’ve figured that out, posting on Instagram is a piece of cake.
The filters and effects that Instagram offers are endless, so even if you aren’t a fashion photog by nature, the easy user-interface can make you seem like one without minimal effort. Try the Amaro filter when you want a washed out look, or Hefe to make your colors pop. Heck, you can even doodle on your photo with the marker tool if you want to. Just remember to stay consistent and appropriate to your brand and your work will never look better.
Pro Tip: Use location tagging on Instagram. If you have a physical store or location, make sure you take advantage of Instagram’s search functionality. Instagram users are increasingly using the platform to search for local businesses (and posts) that contain location tags.
(For a step-by-step guide to adding location tags to your photos and videos, click here).
Encourage your customers to include your location when they post photos of your stuff. Then, their photos will become searchable, too. That snowball effect will drive serious traffic to your profile. Happy customers do a far better job advertising your products or services than you can—and with location tagging, they’ll do it for free!
One more thing about how to effectively tag posts: Make sure you use hashtags! You’ll index better in online searches which will, in turn, help new, potential customers find you. TrackMaven says five hashtags per post is ideal.
Be visually interesting always
Use location tagging
Include 5 hashtags with each post
According to Google, over 80% of Twitter’s usage comes from mobile accounts. So if your side hustle requires you to be responsive to your customers, Twitter can be an incredible customer relationship management platform. It lets you post content from your mobile device with ease, and it allows you to reach your audience on their mobile devices. Win-win.
Because Twitter lets you hear directly from your customers in real time, it makes for a great research tool as well. You can get rapid feedback on a new product, crowdsource solutions to a problem, or poll your potential customers on what they would like you to work on next. Just make sure you stay engaged and provide content that is relevant and timely to your customers’ unique motivations. That way, they know you’re listening to them.
Running a side business takes a lot of your time, but fortunately, using Twitter to connect with your customers doesn’t. In fact, it’s one of the most efficient ways to market yourself on social media. Every post on Twitter is restricted to 280 characters or less, which means you can get your message out quickly and get back to work.
Pro Tip: Make sure you commit to Twitter. The rapid-fire nature of the platform means you need to stay engaged consistently. According to Hubspot, “Users who tweet between 10 and 50 times per day have more followers on average than those that tweet more or less frequently. The "peak" of the curve below is at about 22 tweets per day.” If customers have questions and you take too long to respond, you may do harm to your reputation because you will look like you aren’t paying attention to them. It’s better not to have a Twitter account than to have an inconsistent one. If you commit to using it right though, Twitter can be a powerful tool in your marketing arsenal.
Offer timely content
Don’t be too formal
Stay engaged consistently
If there’s one platform that can instantly build credibility for your business and career, it’s LinkedIn. The platform is arguably the most business-oriented social media site out there, with more than 260 Million active monthly users. To take advantage of all that LinkedIn has to offer, focus on forging strategic connections that will propel your business forward.
To do that, you’ll want to create a Company page separate from your personal page. When you create your Company page on LinkedIn, your customers take your business seriously. Having a well-articulated mission and value proposition on your page gives you the kind of legitimacy that can go a long way toward building trust with your client or customer base. It can also help you attract partners and employees, in case you ever want to expand that side hustle into a small business.
If you’re wondering what you should do on this platform, it’s pretty simple: present yourself professionally, and post helpful content that positions you as a thought leader in the minds of your potential customers. For example, if you are a marketing professional, write posts that demonstrate your subject matter expertise—such as social media, email marketing, or SEO optimization. If you’re a woodcarver, post videos about how to sharpen your gouges. Regardless of your product or service, the strategy is to prove that you know what you’re doing so you can attract more potential customers.
Pro Tip: Use LinkedIn for lead generation, not sales. Building a customer base on LinkedIn takes time. People on LinkedIn are thinking about advancing themselves and their career—not shopping. So don’t expect direct sales. Instead, spend your time cultivating leads on LinkedIn by offering valuable content that will help your potential customers in their day-to-day jobs. Once you have a steady pipeline of leads coming in through LinkedIn, you can find other ways of monetizing them.
Build strategic connections for growth
Be professional in your tone
Generate leads, don’t convert sales here
Facebook is where people go to kill time at work, catch up with friends, and generally pass the time. But Facebook is also a major marketplace for lifestyle products and brands,because word-of-mouth is an incredibly effective marketing tool. . If your friends and family are talking about (or liking!) a certain product, chances are others will be interested in it, too. Use Facebook to promote your work, or at the very least, as an effective marketing research tool to gain invaluable insights about your productor ideas .
On the surface, the largest social networking site in the world sounds like an intimidating place to start marketing your side hustle. But Facebook is not as daunting of a platform as it may seem. Especially because you probably already have a ton of personal and professional connections—which means you have a ton of potential customers who already know you. See the pro tip below to learn how to tap into this latent audience easily and effectively.
Pro Tip: Invite your followers to a group on Facebook. This may sound like an unnecessary step since you already have connections with people on Facebook. But remember that those are personal connections. By launching a group, you’ll be able to legitimize your business enterprise and, in the process, avoid alienating people in your life outside of your work. Your personal followers don’t have to join the group, but those who do will be opting-in to hear about your products and services. Over time, as you grow your group beyond your personal connections, it will develop into a fan club of people primed to take advantage of your announcements and promotions; a strong customer or client base that you can count on as you take your hustle to the next level.
One word of caution—distractions are bad for business. It’s easy to find yourself diligently working on your Facebook group page, only to notice your best friend just got a new puppy today. The next thing you know, you’ve abandoned your work to consider your own cute Corgi.. Block time for heads-down work on Facebook and resist the temptation to mix business and pleasure.
Pressure-test ideas with close connections
Create a separate group for your business
Don’t get distracted
The upside of marketing on social media
To grow your business, you need to increase awareness and customer preference for your work. Social media is one way to achieve those goals at little to no cost.
Whether you choose to use one platform or all of them, make sure it’s what's best for marketing your side hustle. Just remember, that no matter how you decide to start, t it’s better to begin by using one channel really well, than to dabble across multiple. You can’t afford to take on too much right now, you’re already hustling enough as it is!
Want to learn more about marketing your small business? Skillshare has hundreds of classes to help you take your side hustle to new heights.