Making your side gig look less like a hobby and more like a business

With about a third of Australians freelancing in 2016 alone, it’s clear the side gig is disrupting the traditional workforce across a range of different industries. From tutoring to graphic design, and pet care to bookkeeping, an increasing amount of people are expanding their outlook, finding new and interesting ways to earn money that allow them to pursue their passion and be their own boss.

The challenge can be making your side gig look like a professional business so that potential customers take you seriously. Here are five simple techniques to help your side business look less hobby and more legitimate:

Use social media wisely

When used properly, social media will propel your side gig forward, making your brand known and connecting you with new customers. That being said, it is also important that you create a clear distinction between your personal and business social media presence. Mixing the two can make a brand seem amateur.

Turn on strict privacy settings for your personal account, and establish new social media profiles for your business. Be consistent with sharing on-brand content and commit to keeping it active. Posting regularly is important, as this allows you to engage with your customers (and potential customers) in a positive way. Community management is also essential. Ensure you are replying to your customer’s messages and fielding any queries in a timely manner.

Create a standout website

Creating a user friendly website with a professional look is both an easy and essential step. Businesses without a website lack credibility and accessibility.

However, you don’t need to be a graphic designer to have an eye catching website.  There are a range of low cost tools to assist with setting up your side gig’s page. Services such as Wix.com, Squarespace, Weebly, WordPress and GoDaddy make design simple and easy to customise with both free and paid plans, depending on your needs.

Send professional, branded quotes and invoices

You may not realise it but even the quote you send to win the job, and the invoice you send at the end can go a long way in helping you look professional, ensuring your credibility is kept intact. Invoice2go allows you to send customised, branded invoices as well as quotes from your phone. Clear and concise communication allows you to build trust, giving the customer complete visibility on your costs and assuring them you know what’s required to get the job done.

Make payment as easy as possible

Simple tech tools now empower micro businesses to take control of their payment process, enabling you to offer a range of payment methods that will help your side gig appear professional. How you ask for payment will leave a lasting impression. Technology like mobile payments and card readers make it easy for anyone to accept credit card payments and look professional during the process, and because of this customers will usually expect it. This also benefits you, as the easier the payment process, the more likely you are to get paid on time and spend less time chasing late payers.

Be skillful in your follow up

Once you have completed a job, make sure that you check in with your customer a few weeks afterwards. Ask how things are going, prompt them to provide feedback, or simply send through some information you think they’d find useful. This solidifies your impression as a professional, demonstrating you have the customer’s best interests in mind even after the transaction is complete while setting up the foundation for a long term relationship.

Whether you are running a side gig for extra spending cash, or you’re building yourself up to be a full time entrepreneur down the road, it makes sense to put your best foot forward from the very beginning. If it’s worth doing at all, it’s worth doing right. By following these steps, you’ll look more professional, and inevitably, be more successful.

Chris Strode, Founder, www.invoice.2go.com

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