Unlock Your Side Hustle Through Community

Meander
6 min readMar 29, 2023

Margo Laz is a community builder specialising in events experience design and programme development. In this article, she eplains how you can make community a key ingredient to your side hustle success. See some of her work here.

Birth of My Local Creative Mornings Chapter

I have long held the two concepts of community and physical space as one in my mind. Almost ten years ago, I launched a coworking and events space as my first entrepreneurial venture. It was successful — over 3000 creatives had attended or been involved with my space at some point in that time.

After two and a half years, this physical space came under threat — the terms of my lease were changed abruptly. For someone whose monetisation was inextricably linked to the shared environment, this was destabilising.

I had to get creative with my idea of environment. I launched a local chapter of CreativeMornings with small monthly breakfast meetups and in time the thing snowballed into a tech conference attended by more than 15000 people.

The abundance of support I received from those 3000 members of my active community taught me so much of what I now know about monetising expertise. A space can be physical or virtual, and will really depend on the kind of product you’re trying to monetise as well as the scale you seek to operate on.

You might be trying to do something like:

  • Create a newsletter with x thousand email sign-ups
  • Launch a blog that nets you six figures
  • Host a podcast with a large audience

Each of these is an amplification channel that can bring a huge audience (or a specialised, highly-attentive smaller audience!) to your door.

And when the content comes regularly, the trust builds with your audience. You’ve created an environment people are invested in and are willing to come back to.

Regardless of the experiences you’re trying to monetise, there are shared foundations you need in place to hit your goals for passive income.

1 — It All Starts with Content

Content puts you on the map. It’s how you communicate what you know and what your experiences are, and convince people to buy into your monetised product.

It can also help you refine what your value-add even is. By building an audience for your content, you are able to create a community around you, who can not only give you feedback on your skills, but also may act as a potential catalyst for new business.

When I first started creating content, I did not have a clear value proposition. I was caught in a moment of career transition, so I felt that I didn’t want to write about the career I was moving away from, and didn’t have the knowledge to write about a career I was moving into.

Instead, I started creating content around the very journey of transitioning careers. This was something imminent that I felt I had a good amount of authority over. In getting LinkedIn posts out there on a regular basis, I met a lot of inspiring people and began to form a community which helped me hone my USP.

I actually got my first two clients after a month of regular posting.

How Do I Create Content?

Get started on day one and test as you go. You already have an idea of your USP (unique selling point), now it’s time to dispense your knowledge and see what’s resonating with your target audience.

One of the cheapest, simplest things you can do is write a blog post. You can put something together in a few hours and most blog-hosting platforms have tons of metrics you can use. If you’re right at the beginning of your monetising journey, focus more on writing regularly than producing viral golden nuggets of wisdom for now. The habit is the important thing.

Where Do I Host Content?

Think about your target audience and their ‘natural habitat.’ When I started creating content about my career transition, LinkedIn made perfect sense to me. It’s a platform for professionals to network, look for jobs, and grow their skills. All of those were relevant to the things I had to say.

But don’t get too held up about where for now, anyway. You can always change where you publish your content down the road. Output. Output. Output. That’s the short and medium term goal.

2 — Create a ‘third place’ for people to participate in

I’ve talked about the importance of environments to community-building. The “third place” is where ideas are exchanged, knowledge is traded, and yes, community is built. You’ve got two options in using a virtual environment: building one from scratch, or working with one that already exists.

In the post-pandemic lull in office activity, and the lack of spontaneous “water cooler conversation” when we work from home, this is exactly the kind of environment you could tap into!

Building An Environment from Scratch

As you can imagine, this one takes more upfront work. There are lots of ways you can get it going though:

  • Interacting with people on social media
  • Posting your content regularly
  • Organising events and getting the word out

If you’re doing all of these things on a monthly basis, you’re laying the foundations for a ground-up community.

Working Within an Existing Community

Depending on the kind of product you have in mind, an existing community might be a better starting point. For example, let’s say you want to be a mentor for money. You could invest in your own website, or try to start things off by yourself.

There are already a bunch of platforms out there supporting individuals who make paid mentorship their side hustle (Vektor AI is one of them). By adding your profile to their platform, you might get tons more exposure from a broader audience than you could have managed alone. You can always opt out down the line, but why make things harder if there are already pathways to you booking your first paid mentoring sessions?

3 — Always be clear about your value-add

Don’t be shy about what you want, and what other people want. Be clear about the prize. It is so hard to attract attention and keep it for a long time. You want to give people interesting information, great problems and challenges, but it’s important not to be too ambiguous. You need to make sure as soon as possible people understand that you provide services and they come with a fee — if not you may be wasting their and your time.

Be as direct as possible about what services you offer and the value of these, and the objective of the conversation. If you do it right, it’s easy to monetise.

I made a simple Google Doc with a list of services and pricing. It’s available on my website and I share it with clients before we’ve even had an intro call. I want to set expectations of my skill set and budget.

Conclusion

If you’ve read this article and you’re keen to build a community of your own, I’ll wrap up with these short action items:

  • Find Your Specialism — your niche, your secret sauce. You know things in a way other people don’t. It might take some time to work out how you articulate those things uniquely, but producing content is a great way to do this.
  • Build Your Space — promote yourself on socials, at networking events, with colleagues and former colleagues. Eventually they’ll start to pull in others.
  • Monetise Your Value — your content calendar is up and running and you have a loyal audience. Show them how you can add even more value to their lives with an itemised list of services. This is where the side hustle comes full circle.

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Meander

Meander is a mentorship platform that helps you make better career choices and grow in the career you are passionate about.