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How to build your side hustle on a budget – Six week plan

By Will Stretton - January 19, 2022

Looking to get your side hustle off the ground but aren’t entirely sure where to begin? Although it may seem like a daunting task, there are plenty of affordable and easy-to-use tools that you can use to start your project and grow it further. Our weekly plan will identify and outline the main actions you’ll need to perform to help you maximise your business for less:

  • Week 1 – Purchase your ideal domain
  • Week 2 – Create your website
  • Week 3 – Create key content for your site
  • Week 4 – Set up a social presence
  • Week 5 – Use free marketing tools
  • Week 6 – Get started with our Digital Marketing Suite

Prices in this article are correct at the time of writing.

Why 123 Reg?

With over 20 years’ experience and more than 3 million domains registered, we’re the largest domain provider in the UK.

Whether you need domain names, websites, professional email addresses, marketing tools or more, our affordable and easy-to-use products enable anyone to get their brand online and grow it further, regardless of their technical skill level. What’s more, our expert customer support teams are available to assist with any queries via telephone, email and live chat.

Having helped thousands of UK companies get online, we seek to simplify the entire process so that our customers can focus on what they know best: their business.

Week 1 – Purchase your ideal domain

Adam Blakey and Vicci Small of Lil Beatz

Adam and Vicci, founders of Lil Beatz, powered their business with a 123 Reg domain name

Registering your own domain name is the first important step you’ll need to take as it represents your business’s online identity. It immediately tells visitors who you are, where you are and what you do.

With over 400 affordable extensions available, such as .london, .xyz and .org, the choice is yours. If you’re not sure which one to go for though, we recommend using a popular option such as .com or .co.uk since they’re affordable and trustworthy.

Here are a few items to consider when choosing your ideal domain name:

Length

We recommend using a name that is less than 15 characters long. Otherwise, visitors may struggle to remember your chosen domain.

Branding

It’s advisable to include your company name within your domain name. That way, you’ll help visitors associate your domain with your business.

Memorability

Consider using a name that is both easy to spell and pronounce, so that visitors don’t accidentally enter the wrong address and receive an error page.

Availability

Avoid using any names that have trademarks associated with them. If your ideal name has already been taken, then why not consider using our domain backordering service.

In addition to this, every domain purchase with 123 Reg comes with a free email address as well as a 1-page website that’s free for the first 30 days, then just £1 per month.

Tip: If you’ve got a strong idea of domain name you want, it can be a good idea to buy it as soon as possible even if you’re not yet ready to build a website. That way, you won’t have to worry about someone else registering it before you do.

Ready to go? Search for your domain name now.

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Week 2 – Create your website

Once your domain name has been secured, you can begin setting up your website. Although you can purchase your website separately, every domain order with us comes with a free 1-page website: Website Builder Starter.

One of the great benefits of this tool is that it will create a website for you, with no technical skills needed.

Simply enter your business details into our brief form, choose a suitable template and we’ll start building your 1-page site in less time than it takes to make a cup of tea! We’ll even generate some relevant images and text for you to help populate your website, although you can easily add your own content using the drag-and-drop tools.

If you’re looking to build a fully-fledged website, then you can build a site with our Website Builder. Prices start from £2.50 a month (paid yearly in advance).

Here are a few things to consider when building your site:

Perfect your homepage

Since this is often the first page that your visitors will see, it must provide a clear and concise overview of your business along with the types of products or services that you offer. Furthermore, this information should be immediately visible so that visitors know exactly what you do without having to take any further actions.

Use professional images

Always use good quality images throughout your site to promote your products and services, since poor quality or low-resolution images may present your business as unprofessional. Keep them between 300KB – 1MB though, otherwise they could slow down your site.

Look at the competition

It’s also worth reviewing what your competitors have on their websites to see if there’s any additional content you can include on your own site.

Create a sitemap

Having a sitemap allows your visitors to navigate your site and quickly find specific pages that aren’t easily accessible. If possible, you should also categorise it by including headers and dropdown links.

Page titles and descriptions

Create a brief, unique title and meta description for each page of your site, complete with appropriate keywords, to help people and search engines understand what your content is about.

Writing a blog

Having your own blog is a great way to demonstrate your authority. Not only does it indicate that you’re an expert in your industry or given field, but it also encourages customers to engage further with your business and return to your site for more information.

Frequently creating content that’s relevant to your audience also helps to improve your search engine rankings. Our Website Builder tool includes blogging tools as standard, which can be easily integrated into your main site.

Need more help? You can learn more about building a website with our Website Builder in this guide.

Week 3 – Create the key content for your site

Making a great first impression is critical to piquing your visitors’ interest and converting them into customers. To give you an idea, it takes about 10 seconds for a visitor to form an impression of your website and 0.05 seconds to form a design opinion.

As such, here are a few elements that you’ll need to include to make the most of your website:

Contact information

Make sure that all key details are displayed on your Home and Contact Us pages, such as contact information and opening hours. You may also wish to include a contact form so that visitors can submit their details and get in touch with you.

Your logo

Make sure that your logo can be seen on every page header throughout your entire website so that customers will always know that they’re still browsing your site.

Colours

Make sure that any colours you use throughout your site match your brand’s colour scheme and don’t clash too hard. If in doubt, white text on a black background is generally a safe option.

Font

Consider the font that you use for your website as it should reflect your company’s tone of voice. Fonts such as Palatino Linotype and Georgia are typically seen as more formal, while others such as Tahoma and Oswald are considered more casual.

Call-to-action buttons

Encourage users to complete a certain action by including clear call-to-action buttons such as ‘Read more’, ‘Buy now’ or ‘Contact us’. The colour and font for these buttons should also match your site’s branding.

Testimonials

Highlight your business’s legitimacy by showcasing testimonials about your brand or products, along with links to credible review sites such as Trustpilot or Yelp.

Social media widgets

Connect your website to social media platforms by allowing visitors to share content through their own profile.

Mike Gregory, managing owner of The Floodgate, whose website is powered by 123 Reg

Week 4 – Set up a social presence

Social media is a great way of promoting your side hustle, especially since most of the sites available are completely free to sign up to.

Although you could get your business listed on every single platform, it’s worth knowing and understanding the nature and user demographics for each one first, so that you can decide where to spend most of your time and resources. Here’s a brief overview of some of the most popular options:

Facebook

As one of the largest social media sites, with around 2.4 billion users accessing it every month, Facebook is a fantastic starting place.

By engaging with customers through text, photo or video posts as well as polls and stories, it offers a great place for you to address any customer concerns, tease any upcoming promotions and foster your online community. What’s more, you can also set up your own Shop through your Facebook page, granting you an extra platform to sell your products and services.

Twitter

With more than 145 million active daily users, Twitter is an incredibly busy and fast-paced platform that requires a lot of attention. Daily posts are often the norm here, which can include images, videos and GIFs. Much like Facebook, this platform is primarily used to communicate and engage directly with customers, whether it’s for customer service purposes or through light-hearted posts.

LinkedIn

As a business-oriented platform, LinkedIn offers more of a professional environment than most other social media sites. Regular posts aren’t as important here, while original, high-quality content is valued over opinion polls and light-hearted posts. As such, it’s a great place for networking and growing your business’s profile.

Instagram

Marketing on Instagram is an incredibly competitive area, with 90% of accounts following a business on the platform. Most posts revolve around high-quality images and videos, although its built-in editing tools can allow you to post incredibly unique content. Instagram Stories also offers a great platform for you to advertise your products, with 500 million people using it every day.

Once you’ve chosen your desired platforms, you can use paid advertising to further expand your business’s reach. As part of it, you’ll be able to segment users based on their age, gender, interests and location, allowing you to share content with your ideal demographic.

Liz Pilgrim, founder of Babye has been a 123 Reg customer for over 15 years

Week 5 – Use free marketing tools

Looking for better ways to manage your workload or get your brand noticed? Check out our suggestions for free marketing tools that will help make your life that little bit easier:

Social media management

With so many social networking services available, it can be difficult to stay on top of them all. To that end, tools such as Hootsuite and Zoho allow you to effectively manage all your accounts from one central platform.

As part of it, you can create, plan and schedule content at once and track their effectiveness in real-time, saving you time and effort for your marketing campaigns. Some platforms even allow you to view and respond to comments as well as set up automated responses on your followers’ posts.

Creative tools

You don’t need expensive or complicated graphic design software to create stunning visuals for your brand. By using tools such as GoDaddy Studio, you can easily enhance your existing images and create professional branded adverts without any previous experience.

High-quality images

If you’re struggling to find suitable images, you can use stock image sites such as Unsplash or Pexels to source relevant, high-quality and copyright-free images.

Collate customer feedback

The best way of finding areas of your business that need improving is to ask your customer base directly. Using SurveyMonkey, you can set up and send a detailed survey to your customers.

Email Marketing

Tools such as Campaign Monitor, FreshMail and Mailchimp provide an excellent way of engaging with customers on a personal level by allowing you to easily create and sending them custom emails straight to their inbox.

Google My Business

Create a profile for your business on the world’s most popular website: Google. As part of it, you’ll be able to display your contact information, opening hours and Google Maps location, along with relevant photos, reviews and promotional offers, so that any potential customers will immediately see all your business’s details and get in touch with you.

What’s more, it also features a built-in analytics service where you can see how people are interacting with your profile and whether they’re choosing to call you, go to your website or book your services.

Videos

Live videos are an inexpensive means of sharing content about your business or any relevant topics, which can be achieved through streaming services such as Facebook Live and YouTube Live. Since viewers can ask you questions on the spot, it’s a great way for you to create an interactive atmosphere and show how well you communicate and engage with your audience.

If you’d rather use flashy, well-edited videos to promote your products or services instead, Vimeo Create is a great starting place. This tool offers a selection of templates to choose from along with easy-to-use editing tools and a stock footage library that will allow you to create a video within 10 minutes.

You can learn more about creating videos for a small business in this guide.

Week 6 – Get started with our Digital Marketing Suite

Once your website is online, you can start growing your local and international visibility across the internet. Our suite of digital marketing tools can help you promote your side hustle across multiple popular platforms and grow it further. Simply choose from one of the following products:

Competitor Insights

This tool effectively serves as a helpful introduction to online marketing. As part of it, you’ll be able to see how your most relevant keywords are performing against your main competitors, helping your business stay ahead of the competition.

You’ll also be notified when users review your website and when your site is mentioned on other platforms, such as Twitter and Google My Business, allowing you to easily monitor and protect your brand’s image as and when you need to.

Ad Builder

This insightful product will allow you to create a Google Ads campaign within minutes, helping you to attract more customers and boost your sales. Upon accessing it for the first time, it will automatically generate content suggestions for your advert based on your business’s industry and specific audience, all of which you can easily edit so that it suits your needs. You’ll also be able to analyse the performance of your ads so that you can further improve upon them.

Search Engine Optimiser

Using this tool, you’ll be able to optimise your website so that it ranks higher on search engines such as Google and Yahoo. To begin with, you’ll be given a multitude of tasks to complete that will enhance your online visibility, although each task will have a step-by-step explanation on how to achieve it.

Search Engine Optimiser is kept up to date with Google’s latest algorithm updates, ensuring that it is compliant with all guidelines laid out – meaning that you can get on with the important task of improving your ranking. There are also more than 10,000 video tutorials available to help you accomplish your goals.

Full Digital Marketing Suite

Not sure which option to go for? Why not get our full Digital Marketing Suite!

Not only does it include all the products listed above but it also comes with Local Listing: a digital marketing tool that will publish your business’s details on local directories such as Facebook and Google Maps.

Adding your business’s details to these directories will help potential customers find your website or physical address, helping you to build your customer base and revenue. Local Listing also helps you to keep your details accurate by updating them simultaneously across multiple directories, which is a huge help in boosting your online visibility.

You can also view any reviews you have received, helping you to manage your reputation and reply to any feedback you’ve received. 

Summing up

Getting a new venture online can feel like a huge task, but it doesn’t have to be. By breaking down the launch of your online side hustle into smaller steps, it will feel less of a challenge and you’ll be able to tick off your goals as you go.

Need more help getting online? Give our support team a call on 0345 450 2310 and we’ll be happy to help.

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