This is the fifth and final installment in a series of posts in which, as encouraged by Austin Kleon in his book Show Your Work, I let you in on the process of creating my next commercial side hustle starting from the ground floor. In Part 1 of the series, I introduced my amended version of inspirational speaker Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle which also starts with defining my “Why”. In Part 2, I answered the next level in my circle: defining “For Who?”. In the third installment I tackle “For What?”, and in the fourth installment I explored “How?” I can meet the needs or wants of my target persona (Jonas 😊).
After careful consideration, I have decided that my next side hustle would enable my target persona to increase their skills, so they achieve personal, financial and professional advancement. To this end, I will develop an offering that utilizes my public speaking and negotiation abilities and real estate investing knowledge.
I fondly recall a discussion we had in class in college on the difference between selling and marketing. The consensus we reached is that marketing is about creating an opportunity for the exchange of money for a good, a service or an idea, while selling is facilitating that exchange. Countless purists in both professions would take issue with these simplistic definitions, wanting to insert nuance that will do justice to their craft. I don’t blame them. For our purposes though, these simple terms will do.
In school, I learned all about the 4Ps of marketing (in no particular order):
- Product: a physical or digital good, a service or an idea
- Price: a financial value ascribed to the above product
- Place: a physical or digital environment where the exchange of the product for money occurs
- Promotion: channels to communicate the existence of the product and encourage its sale
Over the years, as I worked in the field and came to learn what it takes for marketing to be effective in the real world, I added the following 2Ps:
- People: every product has a target person “in mind”. Hence my Jonas 😊!
- Partnerships: producers depend on each other to make sales happen
You can build the foundation of a pretty comprehensive marketing plan for your side hustle just by elaborating on each of the above Ps. I’ve already defined my People in my amended version of Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle. Now let's tackle the remaining Ps.
Product: a physical or digital good, a service or an idea
According to Forbes, over the past few years, projections for the global e-learning market have been overwhelmingly positive with the e-learning market having expanded significantly recently. The spike in demand for courses presents an opportunity for people looking to start an online course business. The digital nature of online courses means they can generate revenues for their producers (e.g. me 😊) without the constraints of space and time. A digital course does not require physical storage, and can be automatically sold and delivered, at all times, across borders. I have therefore decided that my next side hustle will be (drum roll please): an online course on how to invest in real estate!
I can hear you ask: “aren’t there many of those courses online already?” Indeed there are, just as there are many brands of bread in US supermarkets and each of them gets a slice of the $14bn in annual sales in the US alone. Brands’ Unique Value Propositions sets them apart and compels customers to pick the yellow bag instead of the green bag when what’s inside the bag would look almost identical to the naked eye. In my case, the narrow scope of the course's content constitutes my USP. My course will focus on:
- investing in real estate in Canada (vs. the US)
- buying the properties remotely (vs. locally)
- managing the properties yourself (vs. with a property manager)
- landlording while working a 9 to 5 job (vs. being a full time investor)
Place: a physical or digital environment where the exchange of the product for money occurs
Since the release of my book, Dad’s Car Rides, I’ve relearned and learned a ton about how potential buyers engage with a product through its delivery channel. If there is one overarching message it’s that the key to winning big with audiences and customers alike is to be “Everything Everywhere All At Once” lol! Everything I read about self-publishing mentioned the importance of releasing the book in as many formats (e.g. paper, eBook, audiobook etc.) through as many sales channels as one can afford. I am sure glad I heeded the advice. To date, I meet people who refuse to order the paperback on my website even though I would mail it directly to their house. They prefer paying me cash and receiving it from me in person when we meet in social settings we jointly attend. And I like that! Likewise, my new online course must be accessible “where the people are.” I intend to deliver the course on my website but also on several eLearning sites such as SkillShare and Udemy where people already go to gain knowledge.
Price: a financial value ascribed to the above product
Assuming you've been following along and developing your own side hustle idea with me, you too now need to come up with the price of your product, service or idea. Here are a few methods you can use:
- Cost-plus: you add up how much it costs you to make your product, then add an amount on top as your profit (the amount you get to keep). For example, if making and selling paintings, your costs will include the canvases, paints, and brushes.
- Comparable: here, you simply look for others who are selling similar wears and you base your price on theirs, a little lower or a little higher, but in the same range. Be careful with this approach though because if your costs to make the product are higher than those of comparable products, you may lose money.
- Profit target: this method also entails calculating your costs, but in addition you set an objective for the profit you want to make after selling all your products. You then set your price per product so that you can achieve your overall objective.
I opted for a mix of the comparable and profit target methods. Prices for online real estate investing courses range widely from free to many thousands of dollars, but the ones that most closely resemble mine in duration and subject matter are between $20 to $40 on Skillshare. I will launch at $9.99 to generate initial interest and reviews, monitor performance and adjust accordingly.
Promotion: channels to communicate the existence of the product and encourage its sale
Promotion refers to all of the activities used to communicate the existence and value of your product and to encourage its exchange for a price. Here is a short list of key types of promotional activities:
- Advertising: this usually entails less-personalized communications comprised of images, words and sounds about an organization, good, service or idea intended to reach many people through channels like magazines, websites, flyers, outdoor signs, online ads, and radio and television commercials. I may use a few of these techniques over time to promote my new course.
- Public relations: a type of communication that tries to influence the feelings, opinions and beliefs held by prospective/ current customers or influencers about your company and product. Getting a celebrity to publicly say good things about your product is a good example. I will try to get a few of my professional contacts in the real estate market to take a look at my course and consider mentioning it to others in their networks.
- Relationship building: this allows for more of a two-way flow of communication. Companies create opportunities for dialogue with people through conversations, meetings, events and online interactions, all in an attempt to befriend people before the sale. I keep a busy schedule of events and speaking appointments and will have no shortage of places to talk about the course and hear what people are interested in.
Partnerships: producers depend on each other to make sales happen
I was first exposed to real estate investing as a side hustle over 20 years ago. A mentor, himself a seasoned investor, explained the financial advantages, showed me some of his properties and even offered to sell me one of them at a deep discount to help get me started. I try not to dwell on how much that property would be worth to me today had I taken the plunge back then. President Barack Obama said it best: “The future rewards those who press on. I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I don’t have time to complain. I’m going to press on.” As I press on with my investment journey today, I think of what opportunities I can create that can enable the next “young Wanito” to feel empowered to take the risk I didn’t take. Knowledge is power. In keeping with my practice of using my professional skills to serve my community , I intend to partner with organizations that aim to educate and build entrepreneurship skills and capacities for youth.
Alright, this bring my series on "How to start a side hustle" to a close. Hope you enjoyed and gained some value.
Cheers and happy new year!
P.S. I actually launched the course on my website today :-). Check it out!