5 tips to get started with an online side project that makes money

Thousands get home from work and run a small business on the side to generate extra income. But where do you start?

There are thousands of people around the UK working on side projects when they get home from work.

Those extra hours in the evening or weekends allow you to develop new skills, work on something you are truly passionate about, and, above all, generate extra income.

Some people will earn extra money selling things on eBay or at a car boot sale at weekends – but for those more entrepreneurial types, setting up an online business in your spare time represents a fantastic opportunity.

It has never been easier to set up an online side project and if it really takes off, you could be one of those people who end up leaving their jobs to pursue their online business full-time.

Here are some great tips to start you off with setting up an online business on the side.

What to sell

Ideally you want to sell something you are passionate about and that allows you to gain traction and income when you can only devote a few hours a week to it.

Some of the best questions to ask are:

  • Is there a gap in the market?
  • Who else is selling what I’m selling?
  • Is the market saturated or is there room for one more?
  • Are there high barriers to entry?
  • Is there a popular trend I can capitalise on?

Some good examples of online side projects include ways to sell old jewellery, customised bags, fashion blogging, sports writing, property in your area, comparing financial products such as car insurance, credit cards and payday loans. These are the types of things that have high-conversion rates and will get people clicking.

When you look at the barriers to entry, consider the investment of buying stock, creating partnerships or needing a license.

Creating the website

There are several cheap website platforms which allow you to create a functional website.

Wix.com or Moonfruit.com are easy to use if you are looking to set up a cheap brochure-like site.

However, for something a little more sophisticated, WordPress has gained huge traction and enables users to create more bespoke designs and a more efficient e-commerce set-up. You can always speak to a professional designer to help you make the most of a WordPress site.

Buy a clever domain name

A good domain name will cost around £10 a year and it is best to pick a catchy name or one that does exactly what it says on the tin.

Picking a specific keyword in the domain will allow the page to rank better on Google and also tell your potential customers exactly what you do. For more information, read Startups’ article on the 4 golden rules for choosing a domain name.

Advertising your business

Once your site is up and running, you need to think about how you are going to advertise it and get customers on board.

Posting on social media pages you’ve created for the business is the most obvious and free way to gain some traffic. If you are willing to spend a bit more, you can use Facebook advertising or Google Adwords to target specific keywords or locations – so you can reach out to your audience.

Other options include practicing search engine optimisation by trying to rank on Google’s organic searches. However this can take a number of months for your website to show up.

Long term plan

Once you have customers on board, you can start thinking about the long-term plan for your side project website. Do you want to grow it? Do you want to sell out? Do you want leave your job to work on it full-time? The possibilities are endless…

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