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The term “side hustle” has gained some popularity over the past few years. Side hustles used to be called moonlighting or part-time gigs or side projects. Calling them remote side jobs seems to fit with what most people want.
After all, remote work is superior to working in an office (according to everyone who doesn’t own an office building).
My favorite remote side job success story was started by a few Google employees in their spare time: It’s a little company now called Twitter.
Maybe you need some help paying your bills every month. Or maybe you’re saving for a big purchase, like a house or an engagement ring or a vacation of a lifetime.
The best remote side jobs take advantage of the skills and interests of regular people. Many of them start as hobbies that eventually become profitable businesses.
These are some broad categories of remote side jobs.
- Online businesses
- Service-based businesses
- Consulting and coaching
- Reselling, drop shipping and eBay arbitrage
- Shopify stores and Amazon stores
Step One: Find A Remote Side Job Idea
The strategy here is to get a bunch of ideas in a short period of time. We called this brainstorming when I was in grammar school.
Don’t discard anything. Write everything on a piece of paper or type it in your Notes app as it comes to mind.
Your snap reaction may be to discard some ideas because you think they will cost too much, take too much time or because the idea is already taken. Or maybe you want to discard an idea because it “sounds dumb.”
Don’t do that. Keep them all for now.
Everything you think about gets put on your list. We’ll refine the list later so don’t freak out. More is better! Nobody will see the brainstorming list besides you, so don’t sweat it.
Step Two: Narrow Your List
How do you pick the best remote side job ideas? I use a few criteria to make it easy on myself (and I save the rest of my ideas in the Notes app on my phone). These questions help me filter my ideas:
- Will it cost $100 or less to get it up and running?
- Does a similar product or service exist?
- Will it generate money right away?
- What’s my customer acquisition strategy?
Will it cost $100 or less to get it up and running?
I’m willing to risk $100 if I believe I might have a good idea. If it’s a total flop, so what? $100 isn’t going to make or break my finances even if my experiment is a disaster.
Most of my $100 budget is usually spent on ads, which help me validate or invalidate my ideas. There’s a bunch of interesting stuff you can do to experiment with Facebook and Google ads if you don’t mind spending a little money.
I’m talking like $20 per ad test. You can learn a ton about what people like and don’t like with $20 worth of ads.
If I get a favorable response to my ads (which drive visitors to my website), I’ll continue. If I don’t get a favorable response, I either adjust my approach or abandon it altogether.
The tools I use to test ideas are Facebook and Google ads, a WordPress site and Google Analytics. That’s it.
Does a similar product or service exist?
Competition doesn’t scare me, but I want to know if I’m competing with something that has dominant market share. There’s almost always room in the market for a competitor.
Seeing a successful competitor helps me validate my idea. If someone else has already gone to the trouble of building a similar product and that product has succeeded, that means people want it!
A product or service isn’t automatically the best because it was created first. MySpace was the first large social network, but look what happened when a competitor called Facebook showed up.
Will it generate money right away?
The whole point of a side hustle is to generate some cash. Maybe someday you’ll discover that you have one of the best remote side jobs and it will turn into a full-time job for you as you grow it into something massive.
But that’s not how you should start.
You should start by finding ONE paying customer who is not a friend or relative. If you can get your friends and/or relatives to buy everything you create, kudos to you! Keep doing that.
The true test is whether you can get strangers on the internet to buy from you.
Also, it’s important that you don’t spend weeks or months perfecting your pitch or website or Facebook page. Many of the best side hustles end up dead in the water because they are constantly being “perfected.”
Action trumps perfection every time.
You don’t need an elaborate future product strategy or in-depth market research in order to get your side hustle up and running. You are looking for the fastest path to obtaining paying customers.
As Reid Hoffman (founder of LinkedIn) is famous for saying, “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”
Amen to that.
Sometimes good enough is good enough. Go find some people to pay you for the basic version of your new product. You can refine and improve things after making some money and getting some feedback.
What’s my customer acquisition strategy?
This is another way of saying:
“How will I find people who will pay me for this?”
Word-of-mouth is wonderful for customer acquisition. So are referrals from existing customers. And don’t forget about repeat customers! Those are the best.
The problem: Your thing is brand new and you don’t have any customers who can send their friends to you yet.
The fastest way to find paying customers is to buy their attention. Pay for those clicks.
Google and Facebook are the best places to start when you’re running ads, mostly because of the ease of use. Take some time to learn about ads and the bidding process before you plunk down a credit card, though.
Step Three: Pick The Best Remote Side Jobs
You can repeat the testing process as many times as you need to refine your ideas. After some practice, you should be able to test your ideas within a few hours of inception.
Building a quick website and creating some ads will become second nature if you build, say, one or two per weekend for a few months.
Some discipline here will serve you well. Don’t let your emotions cloud your vision. Remember, the goal is to launch a side hustle for less than $100, with a clear customer acquisition strategy that will make you money right away.
You’ll know where to start after you run some tests. Let the data show you the way. Don’t follow your gut on this one. Follow the money.
If you want to get a jump start, click here and launch your side hustle in an hour or less.