The decision whether to take on a side gig or focus on getting a raise at work can be a tough one to make. Watching colleagues make more money while you work just as hard or harder can make you think that focusing your limited efforts on getting more from your employer is the best way to go. But seeing friends or neighbors who are working their way out of the rat race by spending their spare time creating their own business makes that possibility seem attractive, too. If your free time is limited, you might have to choose between raise or side gig. Of course, like most things in life, the right path for one person isn’t necessarily the right path for everyone.
Before you decide which path to choose- side business or getting a raise at work- consider these questions:
The most important part of developing a steady stream of gig income is finding regular clients who will come to you over and over again for your services. Most people who pursue freelance pursuits spend 50% or more of their time looking for work instead of actually working. Here are five of the best ways to find new clients for your gigs.
Networking gets a lot of buzz, but most people do it all wrong. If you’re heading out to networking events and pushing your business card into the hands of everyone in the room after a two-minute conversation that mostly involves “so…what exactly do you do…?”- that’s not going to help. Seriously- when’s the last time you called someone based on their business card information. Looking back through business cards you’ve received- do you even remember meeting half those people? Probably not. Real networking is about making meaningful connections. Talking with one or two people who are genuinely interesting and making plans to get together for coffee or a beer later. Those are the people who will call you when they need what you’re selling- and they’re the people who will refer you if someone asks them “Do you know where I can find a reliable (whatever it is you do)?”
2- Cold Calling
Everyone is terrified of cold calling. We’ll just get that out of the way right now. But the fact of the matter is, cold calling works. When you call enough people, you’re bound to get some gigs. If you’re trying to break into a new industry or starting to expand your gig into a business, you’re going to have to get on the phone at some point and just make those cold calls. (I’ll be doing a post soon about cold calling to help you get better at it- so if you aren’t subscribed yet, you might want to subscribe so you don’t miss that one)
3- Online Advertising
Online advertising can bring in customers when you do it right. There are plenty of options- you can pay to advertise on Google Adsense bars on blogs catering to your field, or you can buy a Facebook ad to capture attention on that site. Create a few different targeted ads and test them out before going all-out with an online advertising campaign.
4- Job Brokers
Job brokers take the hassle out of finding new clients for your gigs, but you’ll make less money going through a broker. Brokers are businesses that hook up freelancers with gigs- they include places like Tutor.com, Odesk, Sitter City, and Elance. If you’re looking for the type of gig listed on these sites, you can register yourself as a worker and either search job listings or wait for someone to approach you. Depending on your specific industry, brokers might take a percentage of your total payment or a specific amount per gig.
5- Think Local
Local advertising is targeted advertising. Put flyers or ads where the people who might hire you hang out. If you’re a trained masseuse, try putting up flyers at a yoga studio or in the local natural health free paper given away at the nearby natural foods store. If you’re interested in tutoring, local schools and libraries are good bets for finding students. An experienced DJ might advertise at wedding expos and events in the city.