How to turn your side hustle or hobby into an online business

- May 19, 2018 3 MIN READ

Bernadette Schwerdt founder of the Australian School of Copywriting shares her wisdom on how you can build an online business without getting out of your pajamas…

The baby’s napping. I’m in bed, eating toast and drinking coffee. I fire up the laptop to see how my new website is going.  It’s only been up for a day and to my delight, I discover that two people – one from Perth, the other from Brisbane – have purchased my home-study copywriting course.

I sweep the crumbs out of the bed, snuggle down to catch up on the sleep I lost the night before (tending to my newborn) and realise that I just made $1600 overnight – more than the average Australian earns in a week.  If this is what online business is, I want more of it!

That was a decade ago and that little website has earned me more than most high-level corporate jobs ever could. Perhaps more importantly, it’s given me the freedom and flexibility to work when and where I want, something I value more than money.

So, that’s my side hustle.  What’s yours? What passion, hobby or special skill could you turn into an online business? If you’re keen to jump on board the internet juggernaut, here’s two simple questions that will help you kick-start your online journey.

What will you sell?

Choosing what to sell is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make.  Will it be a product or service? Who will you sell it to?  For how much? Will you make the product yourself or buy it wholesale? Is there a demand for it?  One quick way to check if your product has a market is to start small and sell your product offline before you start selling online. This may sound counter-intuitive but it’s how many of Australia’s most successful entrepreneurs launched their start-ups.

For example, Gabby Leibovich, co-founder of deals site Catch of the Day started off selling clothes and handbags at a suburban Melbourne market.  The stall was so successful, he launched an eBay store. His start-up is now on track to being a billion-dollar business. Jane Lu’s Showpo online fashion empire started life as a pop-up store in Bondi.  David Rohrsheim launched Uber in Australia by putting fliers under the windscreen wipers of taxis at Sydney Airport.   From little things, big things grow.

When should you get started?

Believe it not, now is one of the best times in history to start your own business.  Why? Because it’s never been cheaper, easier or quicker to launch your online presence.  For example, you can now build a website for free (or very low cost) using web-builders like Wix, Weebly or Squarespace. You can get a logo, a corporate video or a brochure for just five dollars using fixed-price website Fiverr.com, where everything is just, yep, you guessed it, five dollars!  And to cap it off, you can advertise your product on Facebook and reach tens of thousands of potential customers for as little as $10.  Getting started has never been easier.

Online is the future:

Like anything worthwhile, building your online business will be harder than it looks, take longer than you think and cost more than you anticipated but if you value freedom and flexibility and want to make the money you know you deserve, taking the online plunge might just be the best decision you ever make. Especially if you’re like me, and you love lying in bed drinking coffee and eating toast!

Top 5 tips for turning a side hustle into an online business:

  1. Work out why you want an online business – Do you want to make money, have freedom or work from home to avoid the commute? This determines what you’ll sell, how you sell it and how much time and money you’ll invest in setting it up.
  2. Decide what you’ll sell – Will you sell a product or service? Will you make the product yourself or buy it wholesale? Do your research before starting to make sure you can turn a profit and that there’s a demand for your product.
  3. Start offline – test your concept by selling in the real world before you delve into the virtual world. Market stalls, pop up stores and selling on eBay or etsy are great ways to test if your product has a market.
  4. Create an info-product – turn your special knowledge into an ebook, online course or webinar and create an info-product people will pay for. It costs virtually nothing to make except your time. Pure profit.
  5. Access free resources – sites like Canva.com, Envato.com and Pixelbay.com have loads of free or low-cost templates and images you can use to create your logo, build your website and design your brochures.


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