Having a side income isn’t a luxury anymore that you can put off for a later time when you “feel like doing it." This is especially true considering how economies left and right are spiraling downwards.

Nearly 10 million people in the U.S. alone were laid off or furloughed at least temporarily in April due to the Coronavirus. And it’s still unclear how many will be able to return to their old jobs.

When job security is out of the question, side incomes will get us by.

For many of us, building a side income is no longer about improving our lifestyle. It’s about surviving.

Luckily for us web developers, the demand for our skillsets just shot up because more businesses are going digital.

That means more business owners need websites, apps, and digital marketing services.

There’s an incredible opportunity for us if we know where to tap and how to continuously build up our side hustles to earn at least $500 a month.

We personally use these strategies to earn a lot more than $500 a month, but if you can get to $500, you can get to $5,000+.

This article deals mainly with earning an income through web design, but there are obviously many other income streams.

In the future, I'll be writing in-depth content on drop-shipping, digital products, and others, but for now, let's mainly look at web design as an income stream.

Here's what you can do.

Look for Clients in the e-Commerce Industry

It’s no surprise that more people are turning to online shopping and delivery services to get their basic needs met.

The reality is, for many families worldwide, online shopping, grocery, and apparel will replace store and mall visits until a vaccine is available.

In fact, a Morning Consult study of 2,200 U.S. adults found that 24% of consumers said that they wouldn’t feel comfortable visiting a mall for more than six months.

Now is the perfect time for existing businesses to create more experience-driven mobile apps and websites and for new businesses to aggressively build an online presence.

Let's look at what you can do in more detail.

Discover the challenges they're facing

First, you should discover the challenges existing businesses face in adapting to changing consumer behaviors.

Let’s look at the real estate market as an example.

Normally, people would have to personally visit a property to purchase or rent or to buy at an auction. With the threat of the virus, this is proving to be not as straightforward as it used to be.

This presents a need for real estate companies to turn to online viewings and online auction biddings. They will need an app or website that is secure, stable, and fast enough to process the leads and bids.

Look for real estate companies (or any kind of business) in your local area and see if they already have a website or app that can meet their customers’ changing behaviors. If not, send an email where you briefly discuss your proposal and why it can benefit them.

Then invite them to a call where you will discuss it in more detail.

Connect with e-commerce business owners

Look for new e-commerce stores and find out where they commonly struggle when it comes to building their stores and generating sales.

One good place to find them is on Facebook groups for e-commerce business owners.

A quick search of “e-commerce business owners” returned the following results:

Once you join a group, give value to the members by answering their questions, offering help where you can, and giving genuine feedback.

Once you’ve been an active member for a while, you can then start sending direct messages to members who seem to be having difficulties that you can help with.

If you want to learn more tips for looking for potential clients, here’s a great in-depth resource we’ve written on it: How to Get Clients as a Freelance Developer: The Complete Guide.

Get Monthly Retainers

I personally almost always aim for monthly retainers because it provides stability.

You only market and convince a client once, but you’ll get to enjoy a steady source of income month by month.

What kinds of projects demand a monthly retainer?

  • Website SEO – This is a long-term project and needs at least 6 months or more to see results
  • Website Maintenance – Maintaining fast loading speed, ensuring security, analyzing website statistics, updating a website, backup services
  • Social Media Management – Posting, responding to messages, social media campaigns
  • Blogging/Content Writing – You can outsource this to a freelance writer so you won’t have to do any writing yourself. Make sure to explain to your client the benefits of blogging for their business.
  • Shopify/WordPress Store Management – This involves checking inventory, uploading new products, monitoring sales, and more. You can also outsource this to a VA that you can find on Upwork, Hubstaff Talent, or other remote work websites.
  • Email Marketing – These can be email marketing campaigns you manage for an e-commerce website as an example.
  • AdWords/PPC – Any PPC related ad spend you can set up and manage.

If you charge $300 a month for basic SEO and Content Writing, you only need to close at least two clients and you’ll already surpass the $500 mark.

There are many more kinds of services you can offer depending on the needs of your clients. Understand the specific needs of your clients, and from there see where you can offer help.

Want to know how much to charge for your services? I wrote a very detailed guide on this topic.

Learn More Skills

Expanding your skillset lets you offer more services that can complement your main service.

For me, the best service that can complement web development is digital marketing.

Clients want websites because they want to bring in more leads and close more sales. But for their website to perform well, they first have to bring in traffic.

Digital marketing services can help bring in a steady stream of traffic to your clients’ websites. Digital marketing is a broad area of practice, but it mainly involves the following:

  • Content marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Paid advertising
  • Search engine marketing

You can read more about how you can market your client’s website here: 12 Actionable Tips to Market Your Client's Website.

Once you’ve learned a skill (or found a business partner that can handle that side for you), come up with packages to offer to clients.

Here’s an example for an e-commerce site:

The more value your services provide, the higher you can charge.

If you’re not sure what to charge for a website, this article might offer some insights: How to Charge for a Website in 2020 (and Beyond).

To know how to prepare a web design proposal in detail (with a free download), you can read it here.

Build a Passive Source of Income

Having a passive source of income is always a good idea because you will be earning money while you sleep. It’s a good cushion for challenging times like when you get sick and can’t work.

When we hear of passive income, blogging and affiliate marketing are the first to come to mind (and they are both great income streams).

Blogging - you can write for other established blogs for $$$ or you can write your own blog and get advertisements or sponsored articles on your blog.

Affiliate marketing - this is simply the process of promoting a product or service and if someone buys the product or service you promote, you will receive a commission (usually between 10-50% of the value) for each successful sale.

But there are more sources of passive income including the following:

  • Sell information products like e-books or audio/video course
  • Sell digital files on Etsy Etsy is a marketplace for handmade items including jewelry, clothing, shoes, and more. You can also sell digital prints like artwork.
  • Build your own app – You can earn money through app sales and/or adverts.
  • Invest in dividend stocks – This is a proven way to earn passive income, but you have to study it well before making any investments to avoid costly mistakes.
  • Flip websites – This is only a semi-passive source of income, but I’m including it here because it can be very lucrative. It involves buying domain names for cheap, parking them, and then selling them later on at a higher price. It’s pretty much like online real estate selling. Granted, it's not as easy as it used to be, but there are many people who do this full-time because the income can be lucrative.

Keep in mind that no passive income will make you rich overnight. Most forms of passive income require an initial investment and a lot of time and strategy to set up. But you will eventually reap the benefits if you do things right.

Sell Products on Amazon or Your Own Website

Selling products online is a lucrative source of income with unlimited growth potential.

We are in a fortunate position where we have 2 successful e-commerce businesses and it's going really well.

It all started with finding popular products sourced in China, bringing them in, creating a website and a brand, and implementing effective marketing. All that resulted in a successful e-commerce store.

That brings me to how you can sell your products.

You can choose to sell products on Amazon or your own e-commerce store.

Selling products on Amazon is the easier route because you’ll take advantage of Amazon’s credibility and huge traffic, but there is generally a lot more competition.

The way it works is really simple: you buy products at a discounted rate (wholesale, clearance sale, thrift stores, and so on), ship them to Amazon, and mark them up to their market prices.

This business model is called Amazon FBA, and it can easily earn you $500 or even more a month.

You can also build your own e-commerce website which will take more time and effort. But, unlike Amazon which takes a cut from every sale you make, you’ll keep all your profit and you’ll have total control over how your online store looks.

If you go this route, you’ll have to learn paid advertising and marketing tactics to steadily drive traffic to your website. You will also take care of the payment and fulfillment (if you’ll sell physical products).

Wrapping up

This was a very brief article on how to earn $500 on the side each month.

There's a lot to take in, and there are so many options available, but I hope this helped shed some light on the process for some of you.

Until next time,

Kyle Prinsloo

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