Spending time work on my side hustle

Starting A Side Hustle, The Frustrations, Trials and Tribulations (Part 3)

I’m terrible at writing this series of blog posts. It’s been over 8 months since I published part 2 of working on a side hustle. You can check out part 1 here. It looks like there was an 8-month gap between parts 1 and 2. At least I’m consistent if nothing else.

So, without further ado. Here is what I have been up to, and what frustrations, trials and tribulations I have been going through with my side hustles.

Over the past 8 months. I have focused on Outflash. I’m happy to report I got my first paying customer, which I’m over the moon about,

As always I’ve also thrown in something else to work on. I will go into detail about how it came about and what it actually is and does later in this post.

Hustling During A Lockdown

Part 2 of this series was published just before the U.K went into a national lockdown. Crazy times!

A few things happened in March and April that made me evaluate what I should focus on.

If you have followed my blog for some time. You will know I’m still working full time, with the goal of getting something off the ground in my spare time to replace my salary.

The company I work for was hit hard by the Corona Virus. Long story short, they asked if I would take a 15% pay cut and go on a 4 day week to help cut costs.

I actually jumped at the chance as it mean’t I could use that extra day to work on my side projects.

Look At My Outgoings

However, this meant money would be tighter each month. I use my 9-5 to fund my side projects.

I have a 6 month emergency fund, which I’m always adding to, trying to get it to 9 months.

With the business being hit so badly, I knew that there was a massive chance of being made redundant. (The redundancy process did happen a few months later, luckily I kept my job).

How could I extend my emergency fund?

I had to cut some expenses. Not only personally but in the side hustles.

What Side Hustle Should Be Kept Going

Outflash had gained some traction over the last 6 months. I had managed to get about 20-30 free users onboard.

It costs me around £100 a month to run Outflash. Even though this sounds a lot as people weren’t paying. This side hustle was making ground. If a bit slowly.

So I decided to leave Outflash switched on.

This decision was justified in August 2020. When a sales funnel (which I will discuss later) that I had been working on managed to land my first paying customer.

A gentleman had subscribed to use the add-in. I was over the moon. 12 months of hard work seemed to be paying off.

What Side Hustle Should Be Paused

I can’t say the same about Elementary Analytics.

After years of work on this project, with only one sign up. I made the tough decision to switch off Elementary Analytics for the time being.

It was costing me around £65 a month to run. Yes it was cheaper to run than Outflash. However, with little traction, I decided to switch it off for now.

Switching off Elementary Analytics was actually a good thing. It gave me a bit of clarity about the product.

I had the goal on integrating LinkedIn company page stats into the product. Something that I have been putting off.

With Elementary Analytics switched off and the fact I had an extra day to myself each week. I used the time to improve the SaaS tool and go through the lengthy process of getting approved by LinkedIn.

It didn’t take me long to get LinkedIn working in the product.

A word of warning. You need to factor in approval for access to third party tools. I think I wasted over 3 months for it to all go through.

Ah well. I got there in the end.

Learning To Promote Your Side Hustle

For me, being a techny/geek/nerd at heart. Having a logical brain and being good a problem solving.

Learning how to market and sell my products is a constant challenge.

While software development is a ‘Science’, well according to my degree certificate. I’d say marketing is more of an art.

Taking On A Challenge

I had been getting more and more frustrated at how slow I was at getting my marketing efforts to work.

To get around this I had read a number of books by Russell Brunson. If you aren’t aware of him you may have heard about his software company, ClickFunnels.

A lot of people don’t like the way he does things. He can come across as a bit of a ‘bro marketer’.

However, I thought his books were useful and had started to use them to look at how I was marketing my software.

Learn From Someone Who Has Done It

Russell Brunson has built ClickFunnels into a huge business and an even bigger community. “He must be doing something right”?

One thing he has built to help people is a 30-day challenge called the One Funnel Away Challenge.

I won’t go too deep into what you do for the 30 days. The end goal is to walk you through the process of building your first sales funnel.

Now that I only had one product to focus on. I thought this would be great to do the 30-day challenge and focus on promoting Outflash. Hoping to get paying customers.

As I’ve mentioned I managed to do this by building a sales funnel from the stuff I learned in the One Funnel Away Challenge.

I signed up in early May 2020 and the challenge began on the 18th May 2020. It costs $100 dollar to sign up for the 30-day challenge.

It sounds like a lot. However, the stuff you learn and the amount of content you get. It’s well worth paying $100.

Using What You Learned

One thing I will say about the One Funnel Away Challenge is that yes it is cheap to sign up.

However, if you do what I did and go all in. It can get expensive.

Like I said I was trying to cut expenses and build up my emergency fund. Going through the sales funnel process can cost you a lot of money.

For example, I spent money on buying eBooks and other sell-able assets.

I came up with my own eBooks which I paid a ghost writer to produce the end product. As well as finding designs to create covers, mock-ups and other art work

Then there is the ad spend cost. I spent a small fortune on Facebook ads to land my first paying customer.

The first funnel I built didn’t work at all. Neither did the second.

I was just about to give up on the third funnel when that magical email came through saying I got a customer. WAHOO. I dread to think what it actually has cost me in ad spend to land one customer.

Looking at it as purely wasted money isn’t productive though. I’ve looked at everything I have put together are assets for my side projects.

I still haven’t worked out this ‘sales funnel’ thing to a point where things are working. I’m still struggling with the sales and copy-writing side of it.

Hopefully, it will be like working out. You keep going to the gym for weeks and weeks without any improgress.

Then one day. BOOM. You are able to smash a squat or deadlift workout.

Blatant Self Promotion

One thing that doing the One Funnel Away Challenge has taught me is you need to be consistent in your ‘promotional’ efforts. In terms of showing up every day.

This is easier said than done. I’ve found this a really tough ask. On top of everything else it just seems like I need to be doing more and more. Not less, more focused work.

I can see the reasoning behind it though. You can’t always run ads to promote yourself or get new customers.

You need to be building awareness.

My Side Hustle Promotional Platforms

So, what have I decided to do?

One thing the One Funnel Away Challenge suggests if use platforms that you consume. For my this mean’t

Blogging – I’m not much of a video watcher but I like finding my information by reading article.

Podcasting – I’m an avid podcast listener. Love em. Although I only listen to a select few.

Instagram – I like the simplicity of Instagram so thought I would just give it a go.

LinkedIn – I’ve been on LinkedIn for a while, not sure how to promote myself on it. I believe it’s like Facebook was 4/5 years ago, where you can reach a lot of people without the restrictions.

Newsletters – If you have been building a list, email is still on of the best ways to reach people.

Find Your Side Hustle Podcast Is Born

One of the scariest things I’ve done over the last 6 months is to start a podcast.

What do I even chat about? Do I interview people?

Actually, it was pretty simple as to the topic of my podcast. Working on side hustles.

It’s consumed so much of my time. Why don’t I just document my journey and see what happens?

The “Find Your Side Hustle” podcast was born

This evening I am going to be edited the 25th episode of the podcast. I’ve been consistent at publishing one every week since July.

It’s been great. I’ve reached out to people I know too and had quite a few guests on the podcast.

Even better I’ve been a guest on a couple of other people’s podcasts. Let’s hope it helps me with promoting my products.

Putting yourself out there and hosting your own podcast is scary. Promoting it in itself can be a massive challenge.

If you want to get the word out about your products though. It’s something you have to do. I feel I’m getting better at it and getting used to the sound of my own voice.

That has been the biggest issue for me with all this self-promotion work. Putting your face and voice out there on social media, Podcasts and other platforms.

Daily Content For Your Side Project Marketing

This is one of the things I’m really struggling with. Is coming up with content on a daily, if not hourly basis. This has been really tough due to the Corona virus.

How can you come up with content, when you aren’t doing anything?

I have the same routine pretty much everyday. I can’t just put the same thing on repeat everyday.

It’s really hard.

Coming up with a ‘newsletter’ idea everyday that has a ‘soft sell’ in there to promote something.

Writing a blog post each day that is relevant or engaging. How do you come up with blog ideas for a product? Without re-hashing stuff you have already blogged about?

Finding stuff to post on Instagram. Remembering to record 10-30 stories each day. Again without repeating yourself and it being a bit dull.

Writing a LinkedIn post that gets you noticed and gets your products out there.

It’s a tough ask. What I’ve started doing this week is to plan these things into my day.

Plan Your Day

I exercise first thing in the morning. So I’ve started using this to at least do a couple of stories on Instagram each day.

Getting up so early to do some exercise also gives me an hour or so before I start work.

So, as soon as I have finished a workout or run and done some stretching. I spend 15 minutes writing an email to send to my subscriber list. Which, currently has over 500 emails addresses on it.

I then spend about 45 minutes writing a blog post. I’m not necessarily publishing a post everyday. However, if it ends up with me posting 1 or 2 a week. That’s far better than the last 6 months of pretty zero a week.

Spend 5-10 minutes coming up with a LinkedIn post to promote Elementary Analytics or just chat about myself.

Launching Yet Another Side Hustle

As I’ve touched upon. Switching off Elementary Analytics gave me a bit of extra mental capacity.

Looking back I should have used this to really focus on Outflash. I did to a certain extend. It’s number one on my business priorities list.

However, I gave myself yet another thing to work on and promote.

Mobile App For Anglers

My new idea came about from chatting to someone on Twitter.

A guy I follow basically tweeted “DM me and I will give you a side project idea”.

This sparked my interest. So I dropped him a quick message. The response wasn’t what I was expecting.

“So, what are you into”. Eh? This isn’t an idea. We ended up sending a few messages back and forth chatting about my skills and interests.

Looking back it was very clever what he did. He got me thinking how I can come up with an idea related to a hobby or skill.

BAITCAMP Is Born

I won’t go too deep into all the ideas I had. One though was how could I take my software skills and love of fishing and combine them?

I’ve built a mobile app in the past. People always take their phone to go fishing. So can I come up with something that combines the two.

My initial idea was a fishing log app, that has weather and sunrise/sunset information in it with notifications.

Advanced camera functionality to help you take pictures of your catches if you are on your own.

How to videos and a couple of other idea.

Normally I would just go and build it. This time I had to validate my idea.

Validating My Side Hustle Idea

I was already a member of a couple of fishing groups on Facebook. So I posted my idea in the groups to get a bit of feedback.

Reddit is also a good place to get feedback, brutal feedback if I’m honest. I put my idea in a few groups on there too.

It was the best thing I did. Somethings people liked, other features not so much.

All told though things were positive. People who had commented on my posts, I message directly and thanked them. I also asked if I could get their email address so I could drop them a message when it’s ready.

I also created a one page website and used Google ads to drive a bit of traffic to it and see if I could get a few email addresses that way.

After about 4 weeks I had a list of just over 30 people who where interested in the app.

That was it. That was enough for me to think “right, I need to get something out there”.

The website for BAITCAMP is still live you can check it out here.

Building The Side Project

I won’t go into the technical aspects of building BAITCAMP. On top of everything else I managed to find the time to get the idea out of my head.

Other things did get put to one side. I got the app to a good place but hit a bit of a barrier.

I tried fast tracking the app by hiring a developer to do some work that I was struggling with. Which ended up being a disaster and I ended up having to use a different way to build the app.

Fast forward a few months and at the end of September, BAITCAMP was launched on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

I had the idea in April. Launched at the end of September. 5 month turnaround wasn’t that bad.

On top of everything that was going on. Working on Elementary Analytics and Outflash, trying to find paying customers and build sales funnels for Outflash.

I managed to do it though. I never say “I don’t have time”. Time is relative, you can always make time if you are motivated to do so.

I would love it if you could check out BAITCAMP and let me know what you think.

Nose To The Grindstone

The last few months have been a slog. I’ve learned a hell of a lot. I’m not where I want to be yet, but I feel I’m heading in the right direction.

The journey is taking longer than I would like, I’m sure I will arrive at my destination pretty soon.

Going down to a 4 day week has certainly helped me work on things more.

Blocking out between 6:30am – 8am each morning to do something everyday has also helped, I think.

It’s hard work though on top of everything else that is going on.

I’m not sure how long I can keep working early mornings and evening around my 9-5. Along with actually having a life.

I need to figure this shit out and get something moving.

I’d like to give you some thoughts and lessons learned to help you. However, I think I could go on and on. I will leave you with 3 things

3 Lessons From Side Hustles

No one knows your products better than you. No one is more passionate about your products than you.

If you want to be successful with them you have to take the scary leap and get them out there.

For too long I tried hiding behind the product. Trying other ways to market them. This could work, I was finding this wasn’t working for me.

Lessons Learned

1 – Develop a thick skin and just be blatant with your self-promotion. No one is going to do it for you.

You have so much to do, it can be overwhelming. I still find I’m overwhelmed each day.

Going from “zero to one” is hard. Or at least it’s hard for me. Not know what the best way is to market my products is massively frustrating. I just need to do something.

I was finding that I was putting off the marketing/promotional tasks. So what I’ve done is block out 90 minutes each morning in my planner, to do this sort of work.

2 – Plan time each day towards your marketing efforts. They should be the first things you do. Do the hard thing first, things you don’t like. This feels like you achieve something every day and leaves the rest of the day to do other, more fun things.

You don’t know, what you don’t know. Build up your skills. Heard a lot of people say outsource things you aren’t good at.

Great advice. However, self-funding a side hustle, or if you are like me, multiple side hustles isn’t cheap.

Throw outsourcing on there and it’s even more expensive.

Instead, what I have done it to use the money to take online courses. I have mentioned the One Funnel Away Challenge.

This year I have also signed up for two copy-writing courses. Last year I paid for two marketing courses which I still refer back to.

Follow In The foot Steps

3 – Learn new skills that are hard for you. Try to “fast track” by learning from people who have walked the path you want to walk.

There you have it. The last 8 months of working on my side hustle and other projects.

Hope you found this post interesting. If you have any question about anything please reach out to me.

Thanks

Phil

2 thoughts on “Starting A Side Hustle, The Frustrations, Trials and Tribulations (Part 3)

  1. Your post “Progress over Perfection” was very well done so I came to your website. One additional thing that has made sense to me over the years is an article that Mike Masnick of the TechDirt blog wrote which basically said a means to success is to “Connect with Fans, Give them a reason to Buy”. You seem to be very good at connecting with fans. Perhaps a reason to buy would be to offer a Freemium edition where you get extra features of your app for a charge or to use ads on your basic app and then ad free on the premium. I also believe in reuse and since your are into fitness I think an app along this line and maybe tie it to the pandemic such as how to workout when you can’t go to the gym, etc.

    • Hi John. Thanks for taking the time to find my blog and comment. Thanks for your kind comments and for reading the “Progress over Perfection” post. Glad you enjoyed it. Great ideas for the app. The freemium with extra features is something I really thinking about and trying to map out how that would look. Always good to hear that other people think that this is a good way to go.

Leave a Comment