side gig income organization notebook

10 Low-Cost Ways to Market and Scale Up Your Side Gig Income

By, Alex Croom

Make More Money From Your Side Gig With Low Cost Marketing Solutions

The gig economy is here to stay, and that’s both good and bad. It’s good because working a side gig can help you make ends meet or allow you to make more progress toward your financial goals in ways that weren’t available before the Mobile Age.

For those who aren’t sure about the side gig meaning:

“A side gig is a piece of work or a job that you get paid for doing in addition to doing your main job: Teaching, selling art, and side gigs can provide a livelihood for an artist.” ~Cambridge Dictionary

But creating a side gig and working in the gig economy also has it’s disadvantages. Frequently, people need money from gig economy jobs just to get by. The popularity of side gig jobs is both an indicator of and solution to the hard economic times so many of us face.

You can make the most of your side gig income by scaling it up.

The more money you make from it, the faster you’ll improve your financial situation.

Here are 10 great ways to scale up and market your side gig.

10 Low-Cost Side Gig Marketing Solutions to Boost Side Gig Income

There are high-cost ways to increase your side gig income, but I don’t recommend them for two reasons:

First, high cost marketing strategies reduce your income. Expensive marketing also requires high-level results before it’s worth the initial investment. You risk reducing your income by spending too much on marketing your side gig.

Second, when you turn to high-cost marketing to produce high earnings, you’re entering the realm of starting a small business. There’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but it’s a different path than a side gig. This story focuses on side gig jobs, not full time entrepreneuship.

With those things in mind, let’s talk about low-cost solutions for scaling up your side gig.

hand shake

Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

1. Always Say Thank You

Miss Manners and Mister Rogers already told you this, but you might be amazed by how powerful this simple piece of etiquette can be for your side hustle.

Saying a quick “thank you” as you finish your business with a customer isn’t enough. You need some kind of formal, visible thank-you on social media, via email, or even in the regular mail. When a customer receives this kind of thank-you after you’ve already wowed them with the quality of what you do, it comes as a surprise in our current fire-and-forget culture. It provides the personal connection customers crave.

This leads to repeat business from that customer and often means they’ll mention you through good reviews, social media posts, and personal referrals.

Read: Tips to Increase Your Income

2. Post Your Successes

Standup comics like to make fun of people who post their meals, but these remain among the most popular types of posts on social media. It’s so common and successful it’s spawned its own catchphrase: “The camera eats first.”

People like these photos for two reasons. First, they provide personal connection, a glimpse into the real and everyday lives unfolding around us. Second — and most important for your purposes -— the image captures a job well done.

In the case of food photos, that job is a dish well prepared, well plated, and served with love. For your business, a photo of the end result of what you do provides evidence of your skill and devotion to your side gig. It also provides a visual reminder to your fans, friends, and followers that this is something you do. It reminds them to think of you the next time they need that service.

3. Practice “One In, One Out”

This concept is simple to understand and easy to adopt, but it’s surprisingly rare even among full-time professionals. It addresses the issue of feast and famine, where lean weeks and fat weeks lead to an unpredictable flow of business.

Under the “one in, one out” strategy, you get in the habit of reaching out for a new client every time you finish an existing assignment. The specific strategy you use for reaching out depends on how you communicate with clients, the nature of what you do, and what kind of presence you maintain on social media.

Whatever form it takes for you, simply establishing this habit and guideline will help keep a steady stream of business for your side hustle, increasing your opportunities and improving your profits.

4. Get Systematic About Job Sites

No matter what your side gig is, you can find an online job board where people who need what you do are paired with people who do it. If you do your side gig from home over the Internet, sites like Fiverr and Upwork can be a good source of global listings and connections. If you do your work locally and in person, look to local Meetup groups and review sites to find potential clients.

Once you’ve identified the sites you need for growing your business, systematize your approach to them in two ways:

  • Get systematic and professional about how you look on the site. Fine-tune your profile, initial approach letters, brochure, resume, or whatever else your business and the site call for. Look better than your competition so you can earn better than your competition.
  • Get systematic about how you use the site. Set up a time every week to approach new clients, follow up on open leads, and generally use this marketing tool to your best advantage.

Doing both of these things will set you apart from others by making you a more attractive provider to potential clients, earning you more consistent extra work.

side gig - woman on bed with books flying in the air

Photo by Lacie Slezak on Unsplash

5. Build a Partnership Bundle

Whatever you do, you’re likely have a handful of friends or acquaintances with related side hustles. Maybe you clean houses and have a buddy in landscaping. Maybe you’re a freelance writer and went to college with somebody who does graphic design. A dog walker might team up with a housesitter.

Find three or four people who provide services complimentary to yours and join forces to create a package deal for your side gig services. Discount your service a little as part of this package, knowing you’ll make up the difference with the increased business. Invest a little money in an attractive website or flyer describing the deal.

Once you have the details nailed down, agree that each of you will mention the package deal any time you get a new order for whatever your gig happens to be. This way, everybody involved is doing low-key and low-cost advertising for everyone else.

Bonus: Top Small Business Ideas

6. Write Side Gig How-Tos

If you didn’t have some degree of expertise in your side gig, you wouldn’t be doing it. That means you have the skill to teach others how to do it.

You can make extra money by writing articles, recording videos, or publishing tutorials on the entry-level skills of your side gig. For example, a handyman might do simple repair videos. A pet sitter might write articles on dog training. A personal trainer might make a set of perfect workout playlists.

You can publish your side gig articles and videos on various sites:

  • Your own website
  • YouTube or Vimeo
  • Medium
  • LinkedIn

Writing how-tos provides two benefits for your side gig income. First, it can produce money in its own right through upfront payment to write for somebody else or via advertising income from YouTube or other sites that host your content. Second, it’s solid proof of your expertise. You can share links to these how-tos as part of your approach to potential new clients, demonstrating how much you know about what you do.

Great Side Gig Job: Become a Virtual Assistant

7. Combine Side Gig Efforts With Your Main Job

Unless you’re relying on your side gig for all your income, whether as a part-time hustle to support a partner’s earnings or a stop gap side hustle between full-time jobs, you can find ways to leverage your main job into a source of further side gig income.

Potential ways to maximize side gig income (some may require your employers permission):

  • Apply skills from your main job to your side hustle.
  • Promote your service to company clients and contacts.
  • Watch for opportunities while out in the field.
  • Transfer on-the-job skills and training to your side gig job.
  • Leverage the reach of company social media.
  • Include your employer in a partnership bundle.

There are ethical implications of using company resources for your own business, but all of them disappear when you ask for and receive permission. Be sure to have full transparency both with what you plan to do and what happens as a result of that plan.

8. Embrace a Simple Loss Leader

A loss leader is something a business gives away for free or at a deep discount to get people’s attention. Black Friday deals are a well-known example of this: the super-cheap advertised gizmo gets you in the door and spending money, and you end up buying other items at full price. Another example is authors who give a free copy of the first e-book on Amazon.

Think about what small service you could give away or offer at a drastically reduced price to get the attention of potential customers in your area. Advertise it widely, and perform whatever it is as well as you possibly can.

There is risk in using a loss leader with a side gig because you don’t have the scale and scope of a full-time business or a sales team to follow up on the leads the loss leader produces. To mitigate this risk, come up with two or three immediate “upsell” opportunities from that loss leader and bring them to a new client’s attention right away.

Easiest side gig ever – sign up for InBox Dollars.

9. Make a Referral Card

A referral card is exactly what it sounds like: a simple message to your existing customers offering them benefits for telling their friends, family, and colleagues about what you do. In the old days, this was usually a physical card or coupon. In the gig economy era, it might still be physical, or it could be some kind of social media badge, coupon code, or discount.

Whatever form it takes, your referral card must contain the following information:

  • A benefit for the referrer, like a discount on their next time working with you or a deal on a new product they haven’t tried.
  • A benefit for the referred customer, usually your loss-leader.
  • All the ways you can think of to contact you and book your services.

If your referral card contains those things, it will do good work for your side hustle. If it’s missing any of those elements, it might underperform.

10. Pick a Fight

Social media is one of the most powerful tools for marketing a side gig because it has the potential to get a lot of attention for very little money. The best tool for accomplishing this is engagement: getting people to read, think about, and interact with what you post.

A high-risk, high-reward way to get social media engagement is to start an argument or a debate. The argument should never be about politics or religion, but rather a debate about a finer point of what you do in your side gig. Ask a question you know that has multiple answers, and lead a conversation in which people debate the finer points of that question.

Twitter offers an easy way to create a survey. And asking and answering quesions on Quora is another great side gig marketing hack.

If you keep it polite and respectful, the nature of a mild argument demands engagement. That engagement leads to attention, and that attention can lead to more clients for your side gig.

Side Gig Income Final Thoughts

I don’t recommend trying all 10 options at once. Doing two things at the same time usually means doing neither of them right. Besides, this is supposed to be a side gig. Don’t let it eat up all of your free time.

Although, you can make money in your free time with this simple side gig app ($5 sign up bonus)

Just try your favorite side gig income-boosting strategy and see if it works, then capitalize on that success with a second technique a few weeks later. By the end of the year, you’ll have five or six strategies working for you more or less automatically.


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Featured image credit: Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Alex Croom lives in Florida, where he has practiced a number of side gigs in his 20-year insurance career. He now has a small online business where he sells items.

Disclosure: Please note that this article may contain affiliate links which means that – at zero cost to you – I might earn a commission if you sign up or buy through the affiliate link. That said, I never recommend anything I don’t believe is valuable.