Build a successful online side business with these three methods

Last month I reached a new height with my online business, I earned over $4,000 online. That is almost double what I earned per month from my full-time job when I quit. In just 15 months, I went from making $285/month to over $4,000/month from my online business that started out as a side hustle.

I attribute a big part of my online side hustle’s success to the method I used to build my business – word of mouth. There are lots of different methods you can use to build a successful online side hustle. Just because I built my online side hustle purely by word of mouth and referrals doesn’t mean that’s the method you want to use to build your side hustle. Here are 3 different methods to building a successful online side hustle.

Job Boards

Although I’ve never personally used job boards, I know there are plenty of successful people who used them to start their online side hustles. Catherine Alford, a family finance expert and the blogger behind BudgetBlonde.com, used job boards to help her get started with her side hustle turned full-time business, freelance writing.

“When I first started freelancing I primarily found work on the Problogger job boards. It was a great way to break into freelancing because new jobs came every day,” Alford said. “They don’t pay a lot so I don’t use them as this point in my career, but the job I got back then gave me the launching point to get a good portfolio together to get the higher paying jobs I have now.”

Besides the Problogger job boards Alford used to help her business get started, there are a few other popular job boards for those looking to get started freelancing online.

Elance and Upwork are both job board websites dedicated to freelancers of all kinds, not just freelance writers. You can use those job boards to get started with lots of different online side hustles, like being a virtual assistant, a freelance photographer, offering freelance tech services (like Grayson does), and more. If you offer simple services, you might even be able to get you side hustle started on Fiverr.

Cold Pitching

Surely you’ve heard of cold calling. This is a technique businesses sometimes use to try and gain new customers. They blindly call people and give a sales pitch in the hopes of getting new business. With an online side hustle, we call this cold pitching.

I have done a little bit of cold pitching in my business, but not much. One thing I noticed that helped increase the success of my cold pitches was building a relationship with the people I’m trying to pitch before I pitch them.

Related: Learn how to cold pitch and get work in 30 days or less

Before you pitch an individual or even a company, you need to keep in mind that there is a person on the other side of your phone call or email. You need to treat them like a person, not a way to make more money. I show interest in the people I cold pitch by following them on social media, frequenting their websites, leaving comments on their work, and by using the information I gain as a lead-in when I send my cold pitch email.

If I have something in common with an editor at a site I want to write for, I mention it. If I read a particularly good piece of content on someone’s blog and now I want to work with them as their virtual assistant, I mention it. The key to using this method successfully is being authentic. Don’t tell someone you have something in common with them if you don’t. Don’t mention a piece of content on their site and say you enjoyed it if you didn’t.

Word of Mouth and Referrals

Word of mouth advertising and referrals are the bread and butter in my business. Almost all my current clients have come by referral from clients I already had. Grayson has built his business solely on referrals of his customers. This method allowed him to quit his job and run his business full time! He couldn’t have done it without starting a blog first. It was the key to his success.

Building a side hustle solely by word of mouth and referrals can be a bit slower at first. My business didn’t really take off until I had been working with the same clients every month for 4-5 months. By that point, their word on my skills was seen as reliable to others in the industry and their referrals of me were taken more seriously.

In order to get good referrals and word of mouth business, you need to make sure you are going over and above client expectations. Some ways I do this by asking for more work, asking if I can help them with other aspects of their businesses, and by turning all of my work in on time. You’ll be amazed how much turning work in on time will do for your referral-based business.

The other thing you can to help your side hustle grow with word of mouth and referrals is to ask for them. I always ask my clients for feedback on how I’ve done on a new project, and I always ask if I can use clients as a reference the next time I’m applying for a new freelance gig or trying to win a new client. I also ask my current clients if they wouldn’t mind giving my name out to others who may be seeking services that I offer.

The best thing about growing your side hustle by word of mouth and referrals is that the clients you gain are more likely to be reliable, well-paying, ideal clients instead of someone you dread working with. You also have the option to say “no” or demand a higher rate when clients approach you about working together. Building a side hustle by word of mouth and referrals definitely gives you the upper hand.

Building a successful online side hustle isn’t nearly as difficult as you might think. There are many different ways to build an online side hustle and grow your income. They key is to pick one and get started. If you need some suggestions, then here are some good posts with ideas! Did you know you can make money starting this weekend? You can…

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4 Comments

  1. I am trying to grow a business (just started my website today actually) and hoping to get into freelancing and possibly some online courses and affiliates and this is a great article for me to read over and over to help move me along to my goals.

  2. Referral system is becoming popular here because when I recruit job applicants I can earn much and sometimes it can equal to how much I earn at work.