How to set up a side hustle and turn it into your main gig

PHOTO: Unsplash

Cecilia Loh was just 27 when she got laid off from her first job as a brand executive at an international beauty brand two months ago. She was devastated.

Ever since she graduated four years ago, she had dedicated about 80 per cent of her time to boosting campaigns, maintaining analytics and brainstorming. She was a workaholic, but a happy and willing one at that. 

In the spare (and seemingly endless) time she had, Cecilia didn’t know what to do. So she signed herself up for some affordable online lessons to brush up on social media skills and take up a new language. 

Although she enjoyed the lessons, she couldn’t help but berate herself for not taking them on during the weekends while she still had a job.

She would probably be way more employable and could even be a proper freelance consultant by now, she thought to herself. 

Cecilia is just one of the hundreds who were laid off during the pandemic without additional skills or a side income. So we decided to get some tips from entrepreneurs who started their career as either side gigs or taking up freelance projects. 

We spoke to Charmaine Lee of Sky Digital Agency, and lifestyle vloggers Michy and Tiffanie (who have 600,000 subscribers on YouTube and their most watched video stands at 2.5 million views) to get a wider scope on how various side hustles work. 

Research and identify the market gaps

Identifying your niche can be difficult at first. So instead of just going about it blindly, Michy advises to look at the market gaps and conduct due research.

“You have to put in the effort to analyse your competition,” says Michy. “There are so many types of videos uploaded to YouTube every hour – but there are bound to be gaps in the content.”

And you may be surprised at what people will pay for. Even if you think your skill isn’t something worth marketing, others may think otherwise.

“I always encourage people to adopt the habit of wanting to share their knowledge,” says Charmaine. “Teach what you know, even if you don’t think other people might be interested.”

Choose your medium

You need to be comfortable with the platform you’re putting your content on. Knowing what kind of medium you’re adept with is important when it comes to creating useful content.

It also helps you easily troubleshoot issues in future.

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“Start sharing your knowledge in the format you prefer to create,” Charmaine says. “It can be email marketing, blog, infographics, Ebooks, videos or even podcasts.”

She adds: “The best way to test for demand is to create content in bite-sizes online first to observe response and traction.

The mini-content can be a one-hour webinar, or a test run for your brand (i.e. 2 to 3 hour workshop) to see if there is demand, and whether learners are comfortable learning online.”

Adapt your business to the changing times

When Charmaine first took over Sky Digital Agency, the digital marketing courses offered under the company site weren’t as client-friendly as they are now.

She received many questions about her services and realised it took way too long to address these issues one by one.

“We realised that every project consultation we are providing a mini-training to our clients before on boarding them. Some of our meetings took half a day,” she reveals.

“That was when we knew we had to rebrand and start offering public training courses at our agency so clients know what we do as an agency, and our approach to digital marketing.”

Tiffanie and Michy also agree: “Once in a while, video trends or social media trends may arise. Such trends are opportunities for us to appear on search pages as there will be more-than-usual number of people searching for such videos or posts.”

This article was first published in Her World Online.