There are so many good reasons to start a digital marketing side hustle: extra income, plan B, job security, and 9-5 exit strategy. So let’s dive in with four things you need to start digital marketing side hustle.
Lessons from a Digital Marketing Virtual Assistant who actually does the work:
I’ve been helping my friends and students of the Unicorn Digital Marketing Assistant School get started with their digital marketing side hustle businesses for a couple years now.
When I started over a decade ago, I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. More obvious, I did not have a clear vision on where my digital marketing side hustle was going. I just knew I liked the work.
I started out by taking my first “freelance client” as I was leaving my full-time job to move across the country with my family. Although I’ve worked many PR jobs before, it was still intimidating to start with a client ON MY OWN. With no safety net of an office for admin or HR support. I didn’t doubt my abilities, I just felt silly over-thinking the “professional admin” side of things!!!
Now I look back and kind of chuckle at how timid I felt sending those first few invoices and writing press releases from my computer hundreds of miles away from my clients. And that was 10+ years ago There are so many easy and free online tools and it’s just too easy to start.
I jumped in with two feet and really didn’t think twice. And I don’t want you to overthink it or second guess yourself.
If you’re capable of using your brain, checking of tasks for your clients and getting work done, you can can start freelancing with a digital marketing side hustle ASAP.
Let me help you with a few things you’ll need to take on your first client (and maybe feel more confident than I did)
4 Things You Need to Start a Digital Marketing Side Hustle
1. Business PayPal Account
Do things right from the beginning! Set up a business account to keep your business income and expenses separated for tax purposes. Even if you are starting out with one client, it could easily grow to several clients and a need for better accounting. You’ll wish you had done it properly from the beginning. And it’s so super easy. There are tons of other options for collecting money and sending invoices, at the beginning when your business is just starting off PayPal is easy to set up, cost-effective and common among business-to-business transactions. You can send out your invoices and create buttons to pay you.
2. Professional Work Email
The keyword is professional, even if it just your name. Sorry HotMamma1988, you should probably save that email handle for your other accounts! Come up with a name that is EASY to type and remember. I also suggest you use gmail – it makes it easier to work with client’s accounts and work within a shared Google Drive. Of course, it would be ideal to have your own domain, but that is pricey to set up and may not be necessary early in the game.
Create a gmail account here –> https://accounts.google.com/SignUp
3. A Fast Computer & Fast Internet
Ok this is a big duh. Don’t you dare try to use an old dinosaur era laptop for your new business. If you are going to take this job seriously and truly help your clients you HAVE to be fast, efficient and proficient. Upgrade it all.
I’ve had a Macbook for ages, and once I upgraded my slow desktop to a 27″ iMac my productivity skyrocketed. I’m not kidding. The big monitor lets me have two tabs open at once and that’s where the magic happens. I am really tempted to do a dual monitor set up if I ever get a dream office, and recreate my work space from my newspaper days.
If you’re working with video, you’ll want a faster internet connection. It can really affect your upload and download speeds. But you can expense that!
4. Online Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSAs)
You HAVE to have technical know-how to get started as a social media manager or unicorn digital marketing assistant… but you do not have to know it all. There are a lot of subtopics and specialized fields to concentrate on. If you can take a course and have specific experience, you can do that ONE task for a client and either expand from there as your client needs more, or you can use that same skill and “make it your thing”. Get that client’s testimonial and reference and broaden your client base doing the same skill. You don’t need a marketing degree to be able to be a social media virtual assistant.
But I would highly recommend learning all about one social media platform and using that as your starting point.
I started with one of my early clients by using my knowledge of press kits and media kits to branch out into her helping her with Pinterest, blogging and SEO. It just went from there because I enjoyed learning new things and as her business grew she needed more help and I was willing to learn. But I also could have specialized in JUST making digital media kits for clients or handling public relations only… So many options and that’s what I love about this business.
Here’s a podcast that may help you figure out that one thing to go all in with.
⚡️ Related Podcast Alert
Start learning digital marketing skills
So are you wondering what kind of online tasks you could for clients? I have a list of 10 service ideas for you here… this will help you quickly expand your digital marketing services!
Sign up for my free training series
If you’re not sure where to start, sign up for my free Digital Media VA Training Series and you can learn digital media skills ASAP.
This series will give you a quick taste of digital marketing tasks you can do behind the scenes for business owners. It’ll totally set you apart from admin virtual assistants if you can help with graphics, websites, email service providers, etc. Check it out!
1 Thing you don’t need right away: A Website
You don’t have to go all in with the full-blown website. It’s can cost about $500 to buy a domain and pay for a year of hosting. Plus the time it takes to build it. It’s something to work toward. Take on those clients at first. You can start with a free Facebook page and Instagram as your resume page. You can also use Canva to host your portfolio!*
*This is my affiliate link. If you upgrade to a premium version of Canva I could earn a small commission! All depends on the cookies, etc. I’m not getting rich here, but every bit helps! I only recommend tools and products I love. Thanks for your support.
I’m giving you permission to say yes to helping a client or two. You’ll gain so much clarity by taking action and doing the work. In fact, you’re automatically considered a sole proprietorship by doing freelance work. You’l’l need to report your taxes with a schedule c with anything over $600. If you’re serious about business, you will want to develop contract for your clients, accounting and financial systems and perhaps a legal business entity and insurance to protect yourself. But for right now, when you’re just at the beginning, just start doing the work! Make sure it’s lucrative and sustainable for you. Keep the overhead costs down.
You’ll want to protect yourself with how and when you get paid, and the scope of your services with a client services agreement. Download my contract checklist here to help you prepare for the contract.
A perk to doing the work before being perfectly ready and all set up is you’ll start building your portfolio and your reputation. Think testimonials, raving reviews and referrals! If you want to start building yours, check out this blog post here.
More Tools & Resources
I know I kept it simple with this blog, you don’t have to overthink it. But if you’re looking for extra tools and resources, check out this page with great resources to help you.
3 Ways we can work together
- Do you need to acquire digital marketing implementation skills? Check out the Unicorn Digital Marketing Assistant School. (It opens twice a year so jump on the waitlist)
- Already doing the work and have clients? But need more clients and a better a referral network? Apply for my Digital Marketing Workgroup.
- Maybe you don’t need to learn the hard skills but need help setting up your independent contractor business? Don’t spend $1300 on a “typical start-your-VA business-course.” Learn the quick steps in my Freelance Biz Kickstarter only $297. Inside you’ll get a contract to use with your social media clients and services.
Hope this article gives you the courage to start!
– Emily Reagan
Digital Marketing Consultant & Implementer