U.S. News & World Report senior money editor Kimberly Palmer started selling money workbooks on Etsy in 2011 because she was wary her job stability. In addition to making a few extra bucks, she discovered how common it had become for people to have side hustles. With sites like Etsy, it’s easy to start a small business in your free time. Just make sure you’re selling stuff people are gonna want to buy though. Palmer has 5 tips for those trying to make a little extra income and maybe even turn it into a full time gig.
No. 1: Figure out what you have to offer.
Before starting your own business, Palmer says it’s necessary to get a sense of the overall market, and where you might be able to fit in.
“Go to popular ecommerce sites like Etsy, or sites like Fiverr, Elance or Freelancer.com, to see how people are making money,” says Palmer. (Fiverr is a marketplace for online services costing $5, while Elance and Freelancer.com help people find freelance gigs online.) By exploring online marketplaces, Palmer says budding entrepreneurs can better understand what they might be able to offer that’s unique, or how to price services that others are offering.
No. 2: Keep costs down.
Palmer says a common mistake first-time entrepreneurs make is spending too much to get a business off the ground.
“It’s easy to take advantage of existing ecommerce sites,” says Palmer, like Etsy or eBay. By setting up shop on one of these platforms, Palmer says entrepreneurs can bypass the need for a potentially costly website.
No. 3: Identify your weaknesses.
While you may be an experienced graphic designer, you may not have a lot of marketing or sales experience. Once you figure out what you don’t know, Palmer suggests connecting with other entrepreneurs online to improve your own abilities.
“I copied what the people I admired were doing,” says Palmer. In her case, the key to marketing her money workbooks was getting coverage on popular online blogs aimed at mothers; by reaching out to these writers, Palmer was able to increase sales.
No. 4: Test the marketplace.
“It’s hard to know or predict what customers want,” says Palmer. She says soliciting feedback from clients can help you figure out exactly what’s going to resonate with your target audience. In her personal experience, Palmer started out selling paper money planners, but soon discovered that buyers were more interested in online money workbooks.
No. 5: Embrace challenges.
If you’re a first-time entrepreneur, it’s unlikely you’ll hit it out of the ballpark on your first try. However, Palmer says new business owners can’t let early-stage struggles get them down.
“Know there will be failures and bumps along the road. Being entrepreneurial means there’s going to be rejection. It just means you have to tweak things or slightly change what you’re offering,” says Palmer.