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3 Strategies to Making More Money from Your Side Gig Running a business in addition to holding a job is a lot of work, but for just a tiny bit more effort, you can make a lot more.

By Wendy Keller

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


A "side gig" is anything you do in addition to your day job to earn a little extra money. But hour for hour, if you'd going to do it anyway, you may as well earn even more for the time you're putting in.

There are plenty of smart ways you can make more money. Your side gig doesn't have to be with a corporation that pays every worker at your level the same wage (for instance, working nights at McDonald's). This article offers three great strategies you can use to grow. You can find even more in the upcoming webinar "Supersize Your Side Gig: How to Make More Money From Whatever You Do To Make More Money."

The trick is to recognize and emulate the strategies that more successful companies use, and then do them as well or better. Success leaves clues. Follow them to your own success.

Below are a few things that bigger businesses do that "side giggers" tend to skip. When you incorporate these strategies (which you may not have even thought about) you will be surprised at how much easier it becomes to accomplish these five goals:

  • Attract more customers easily.
  • Satisfy your existing customers so they refer friends to you.
  • Raise your prices.
  • Have more fun growing your business.
  • Find that your side gig really can provide all you ask from it.

The following three strategies will help you grab at least your fair share of the money available in return for the goods and services you provide.

Strategy #1: Become the Preferred Provider in Your Area.

Chances are, you are not the only provider of your services or products. In most cases, your customers can comparison shop – and they will. Most new business people believe consumers primarily shop on price, but this is actually not true. There are customers who prefer Walmart and customers who prefer Bloomingdale's in Manhattan over Bloomingdale's anywhere else. People go to the provider that gives them the result they want. That result may be a feeling like, "Look how thrifty I am!" or "Look how chic I am!" When you begin to ask what your customer is feeling when they work with you and your company, you start to see insights into how you can dominate in your space.

There are four ways you can influence the experience your customer has when they buy from you. Honestly evaluating these experiences and making wise improvements will help you quickly build a position of dominance in your product or service category, regionally or online. Just 5 percent extra effort can make you 100 percent more desirable as a provider.

The four stages of customer experience are:

  1. The customer attraction experience – What do they see first when they look at you or your business? A smile? A clean, inviting website? An attractive arrangement of products? A sharp-looking office space? Does it match their self-image? Do they match the image of the kinds of customers you want?
  2. The product or service delivery experience – What is happening while they're buy from you? Are you and your team courteous? Do you keep your word – and your patience? Do you deliver what you promise on time and with a smile?
  3. The post purchase experience – Do you thank them? How sincerely? Do you make them feel recognized and appreciated? Or is your post-purchase experience the equivalent of a junior staff person chomping gum, talking on her cell phone while at the cash register and mumbling a meaningless "Thanksforcomingin" because that's what you insist she does?
  4. The follow up experience – For businesses that collect or could collect the customer's name and some contact info, what's your strategy for following up, bravely asking for referrals or testimonials, and courageously and humbly resolving any problems?

These elements determine how well – or how poorly – your business will fare in the long term. They also determine whether you will become the preferred provider.

Related: Success Begins When Your Image Matches Your Market

Strategy #2: Match Your Image to Your Market

Some people who run side businesses often look less than professional. They may not return phone calls until the mood strikes them. They may not show up when they say they will. Some don't even have business cards or a website. But all of these simple things help to attract a consistent flow of business -- whether your side business is weekend antique selling at the flea market or a little electrical work done at night after you get off the job.

The reason for upping your image by looking more professional is counter-intuitive. By putting a little effort into your image, you increase the trust people have for you. Since we know that people prefer to do business with people they like and trust, even a simple website that features some stability and some testimonials from previously satisfied customers will help you look trustworthy.

Having a great image and providing a great experience for your customers while they're interacting with your business is critical to your future. (Don't ask me how the airlines stay in business! They're an anomaly that survives on the principle of Supply and Demand.)

Look at thriving companies in any industry you interact with. Try to see how they do what they do and adapt it to your business model. Don't be deterred by thinking, "Of course they can do that! Look at how much money they have!" They make that much money because the principles were applied even before they had it.

Related: Improve Your Great Idea by Listening to What Your Customers Tell You

Strategy #3: Be Adaptive

Before any gigantic chain store builds in an area, they do an assessment of the neighborhood. They know how many people live within driving distance, their average income and their median level of education. From this data, they can predict in advance whether they will succeed. Those companies are usually right. We can learn from their strategy.

Many people who start stores, restaurants, shops or side gigs fail to gauge the market they are entering. I live in Southern California where Indian and Thai food is very popular and almost all of us do yoga, at least sometimes. My parents live in the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. Within driving distance of their home, I can find only one dreary Indian restaurant that serves questionable reheated meals to save money, and two yoga classes – neither of which is taught by someone who has been properly trained. Is it because those places provide marginal food or classes that they are struggling for survival? Or is it because there's not enough interest in their product (food) or services (classes)? If I asked the owners, I'm sure they'd justify their business decision to open that kind of business in that area. But customers vote with their dollars and so far, not so many votes have been coming their way.

The willingness to see if you're getting the results you desire and then adapting is a vital key to success at anything. Taking responsibility for your results, and then changing to adapt to the feedback you're getting from your potential customers is how you become profitable.

Ask yourself the hard, scary questions. Here are a few of them:

  • Am I selling the right product or service?
  • Am I in the right physical location to do it? (If relevant)
  • How do I know?
  • Is my problem weak marketing or bigger than that?
  • Are there other businesses in this same space that flourishing?
  • What are they doing differently?

Know your market. Give them what they want in the way they want it. It's as simple as that. You've heard, "Find a need and fill it." It's true.

These three strategies require you to think about your business from the customer's point of view. When you shift your focus to that perspective, it becomes easier to succeed in business.

Related: 4 Principles to Become the Preferred Provider in Your Area

Wendy Keller is the author of the upcoming book Ultimate Guide to Platform Building (Entrepreneur Press, November 2016) and the host of the webinar "Supersize Your Side Gig: How to Make More Money from Whatever You Do to Make More Money". Click here to find out more.

Wendy Keller

Literary Agent, Speaker Trainer and Entrepreneur

Wendy Keller is an award-winning former journalist, a respected literary agent, an author, speaker, acclaimed book marketing consultant, and branding expert. She is the author of Ultimate Guide to Platform Building (Entrepreneur Press®, 2016) and got her first job as a newspaper reporter as a 16-year-old college freshman. Since then, Wendy worked for PR Newswire; the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain; as managing editor of Dateline magazine; and as associate publisher of Los Angeles’ then-second-largest Spanish language weekly, La Gaceta. She works with authors, speakers and business experts to help them build and promote their brands. She founded Keller Media, Inc. in 1989.

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