Side Hustle Lessons:
How I Make Money Without Any Skills
How I earn money without any specific skills other than a little bit of Marketing.
After selling my small IT business two years ago I tried to find a new job. I thought that my 5 years of experience as a successful entrepreneur would be worth something to someone but it turned out, the opposite was the case. Since I’m not a person who will sit around and wait for a new job, I decided to act. So I started a small Online Marketing Agency from home (bear with me, these lessons don’t only apply to just this kind of business) — meaning, I created a brand and made a website. The plan was to create websites, brands, and logos for clients and then upsell a monthly SEO (Search Engine Optimization) service. I had experience with making websites and graphic designs up to this point but not for doing SEO. So I started looking into Tutorials, courses, SEO guides, Tools and all that jazz.
Step 1. Set Up Your Business
To get my first major customer I knew the agency had to look very professional, not like the home alone office it actually was. “Fake it till you make it”, I thought. So I brainstormed great brand names and designed the logo. I did a lot of research on the competitor's websites and tried to match my style with theirs, not copying them but getting inspired.
Step 2. Get Your First Customer
I tried to apply a little SEO myself to call attention to my website via Google, but SEO usually needs around 3–6 months to take significant effect. Also, it would’ve taken a lot of time to do the actual work, a time I didn’t have (at this point, I hadn’t had an income for a year). I couldn’t wait that long so I paid (my last twenty bucks) for an ad on “Willhaben”, Austria’s greatest classifieds website (it’s like Craigslist in the US or Gumtree in Australia).
Soon after I got a call from a taxi company needing a new website, a monthly SEO and a monthly SEA (Search Engine Advertisement — it’s GoogleAds) service. After some negotiating with dollar signs in my eyes, I managed to underbid all the competing agencies and I finally landed the job.
Step 3. Outsource and Deliver
Creating the website wasn’t as easy as I had assumed because the client insisted on changing the ordering system 3 times but I still managed to complete the website after 1 and a half months. In the second month, I started with the SEO. I began by creating backlinks and trying to optimize the website (the customer wanted a WordPress site which was hard to optimize).
After completing the first month’s SEO, I calculated the €/hour I worked and realized that it’s under my desired value. So I had the idea to outsource the work to Fiverr, a Freelance Service Marketplace. I found some very well-reviewed sellers of SEO services for less than 1/5th of the price I was charging my customer. I took the liberty to try out a few sellers without really losing money. I found a few really reliable sellers and my customer’s website got an amazing boost on their Google ranking. Naturally, the customers were very happy. So I continued with the same Fiverr sellers for the next few months, earning five times my investment on Fiverr. After the 3rd month, I started buying ads on Google Adwords for my customer's website. Again, I contacted some Fiverr sellers to optimize and monitor the ads and I continued earning on that additional service every month without really doing any real work. …
Step 4. The Secret Sauce
… This is the moment when I realized that I had approached this all wrong. I should’ve just let a Fiverr freelancer do the logo and the website and everything else too. Why do it yourself if someone else can do it better and faster and therefore cheaper (because time is money)? MY job should’ve only been to pull in new customers. Thus, I could’ve virtually offered any service that was provided on Fiverr and start any kind of agency being just a Fiverr “reseller”. And in the future I will consider doing just that.
However, with this method you should keep two important things in mind:
- Finding the RIGHT customers can be a hard job in itself, so you do need some marketing skills to do this. You can do direct marketing, online marketing, social media marketing or take any other approach to reach good customers. Be creative! But like you can see in my case, some small cost advertising options also may work for a starter.
- It’s not as easy as it sounds to find the right Fiverr seller. You have to find somebody reliable and trustworthy, who can deliver high-quality services. You might have to try out some sellers beforehand, but eventually you should be able to find a good freelancer (Fiverr offers a 5-star rating system as orientation). It’s a lot of trial and error. Also, keep in mind that there are many more Freelance Service Platforms like for example Upwork, Freelancer.com, and PeoplePerHour where you can find the right person for the job.
At the moment I do this on a side hustle basis, because I am working as a full-time software engineer and I don’t really have to do much other than pay for some ads here and there and talk and negotiate with customers when they call.
As you can see it doesn’t involve a lot of technical skill or otherwise to be successful in this kind of business. It only depends on how much effort you put into acquiring and maintaining customers. However if you think that you are not the best salesman/saleswoman or don’t really have any idea how to market your business, I’m sure there are freelancers who can help you with that too.
If you liked this story you might also enjoy one of our other articles “These 5 Misconceptions Are Holding You Back as A Freelancer”!