In the middle of a subarctic storm, your water heater calls it quits. Your kids need new braces. Beyoncé drops a new album. You find the perfect couples snuggie set for your pet ball pythons.
What do all of these events have in common? You need money to make them happen.
While the side-hustle was once relegated to questionable deals in parking lots with slightly misspelled merchandise after big events, the modern side-hustle is a thing of beauty. It’s lucrative, it’s convenient, and if you’ve got the right website ideas, it’s easy to launch.
Today, we’ll talk about a few actionable website ideas you can implement to make the side-hustle work for you. We’ll cover:
And, we’ll take things further than that by giving you WordPress-ready recommendations for rolling out your side-hustle with no fuss and all the frills.
So, in the words of the great Roger Waters: “Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash.”
What Every Website Idea Needs: A Target Audience
No matter what kind of side-hustle you want to run, there’s one universal truth you need to abide:
If you don’t have a target audience, you don’t have a viable website idea.
Without identifying a target audience, you can’t identify a market need. You also can’t identify your competition (which means getting outshined), find the right people with the right skills to address the market, or price your products at a premium people are actually willing to pay.
All of these are among the five leading causes of startup death.
So, don’t doom your side-hustle to the business autopsy table and make sure that you’re trying to hit an identifiable target audience with your products.
If you don’t, you’ll waste time, money, and earning enough pocket cash for a cup of coffee will be a miracle.
OK, then. Identifying a target audience before starting your side-hustle is a must for making it work, but how do you get started?
Think about factors such as:
- How old is your target buyer?
- Do they have a family?
- What’s their income?
- What do they do for a living?
This demographic data alone is not enough, though. You need to go deeper if you want to truly understand your target audience:
- Pain points. What are they struggling with?
- Desires. What do they really want?
- Language. How do they describe their pain points and their desires?
Keep in mind that figuring out what really drives people isn’t as easy as it might seem.
For example, if you know a lot about fitness and want to help men gain muscle, you need to ask yourself why do they want to gain muscle in the first place.
Ultimately, it’s not about strength, it’s about becoming more attractive and gaining higher status among people (or at least that’s what they think).
That means when you are selling your product, you need to not only assure the potential customer that it will indeed help them gain muscle but also make the connection between your product — gaining muscle — and gaining a higher status.
And you can make your marketing even more effective if you research how men who are interested in gaining muscle talk about it (you can find that on Reddit, fitness forums, etc.).
Same applies to every niche. People say they want to “lose weight”, “get fit”, “make money”, etc. But you need to dig deep to find out what it is that they really want.
Your aim should be to understand your potential customers better than they understand themselves. Once you have done your research, use what you have learned to create a customer persona (or personas).
A customer persona is a fictional character that represents your target audience (or a particular segment of it). It helps you to think more clearly about your business and make better decisions.
You can create your customer persona the old fashioned way with pen and paper or you can use a customer persona generator like HubSpot’s Make My Persona.
Click on Build My Persona. You will be taken through a multi-step persona building process where you will be asked to provide information about your ideal customer. This will include their age, level of education, workplace details, information consumption habits, social media habits, and more.
Take a look at this customer persona called Jane:
This customer persona is missing the pain points and desires but it’s a good place to start.
After all, it’s much easier to relate to a fictional character than to an abstract cloud of various characteristics, so even a very basic persona is better than nothing. You can add to it over time.
However, do not to make your customer persona too rigid or formalized. Your goal isn’t to create a complete picture of your audience, it’s to provide direction for your side-hustle business.
Dr. David Travis of UserFocus explains why most teams don’t create fully-fleshed out personas on the first pass:
“Traditional personas began to look too finished, too final. Teams were savvy enough to know that fully formed, completed descriptions of users are an impossibility at the early stages of design. Instead, they wanted conversation starters.”
So add detail but keep it loose. Your target audience is just that: a target with a layer of rings. The bull’s eye is just one small, incomplete picture of the board.
And now onto the side-hustles…
Website Idea for Your Side-Hustle #1: Sell Online Courses
Socrates once said that the unexamined life is not worth living. Based on the explosive growth, both present and projected of the online education market, the modern man agrees.
Case in point: the e-learning market is expected to boom to 243.8 million dollars by 2022.
But that market isn’t limited to professors and higher academic institutions anymore. Every day, new entrepreneurs enter the fray and deliver quality education (at a quality price) to the masses.
It’s a lot like a fruitcake. Time-intensive to create, but once you do, the revenue (or regifting) can go on for years with an appropriately evergreen topic.
Fortunately, the going-price for online courses is a lot higher than the unwanted Christmas gremlin. In fact, Podia found that the average price across over 132,000 sales for an online course is $182.59.
So if you want a side-hustle that can keep delivering and is easy to implement on a WordPress site, look no further than an online course.
This side-hustle can be so lucrative that a single course can pay for a brand new Hyundai Sonata in a month.
At least, that’s what one creator’s WordPress-based online course is doing, bringing in over $27,000 in monthly revenue.
How can you tap into that hustle power? Go back to your target audience and personas. What could you teach them that they’d be willing to pay for? What do they need to make their lives healthier and happier?
Or, what can you offer them that no one can? Teaching someone doesn’t require you to be an expert, you just have to be willing to take the time to instruct.
Once you’ve figured out that, it’s “just” a matter of picking the right WordPress plugins.
You can check out our list of the best WordPress learning management system (LMS) plugins, but these are the highlights:
Used by higher academic institutions and major business powerhouses alike, LearnDash is an affordable LMS solution for selling online courses which enables you to create quizzes, has built-in forums, and every marketing monetization option you can think of.
A one year license will run you $159, though the price jumps up to $189 if you want to run it on multiple websites.
WP Courseware is a promising LMS plugin that is used by over 20,000 users worldwide.
It provides all the functionality that you might want, from a drag-and-drop course creation interface to drip content to quizzes to grade books.
Their least expensive license is $129.
LearnPress is a free plugin that offers many of the same features as LearnDash.
It integrates with the major payment gateways, allows you to create quizzes and other interactive content, and has gamification features like points and badges to keep things exciting and competitive for your students.
On top of these, it lets you create paid memberships, which happens to be our second side-hustle idea.
Website Idea for Your Side-Hustle #2: Create Premium Memberships
If online courses are fruitcakes, then premium memberships are macarons.
People are willing to pay a lot for them but they require a lot more maintenance. The tradeoff is a nice one, though: while online courses provide income through multiple one-time purchases, premium memberships are a source of recurring revenue.
Which means a bankable monthly income you can add to your budget. 46% of online shoppers report having a subscription service in the past year, and many of them have multiple subscriptions.
That said, this side-hustle isn’t as straightforward as the previous one, and there are a lot of important things to keep in mind for hosting a membership program off of a WordPress site.
Mainly, that you need a caching solution. If you’re with Kinsta, we’ve got you covered.
So, just how profitable can this side-hustle be?
Visual Media Church’s founder started their membership program with a strict $2,500 budget. Today, they have over 575 members at $25.00 or more a month.
Which comes to close to $15,000 a month, at the minimum. The math on that is excellent.
Coming up with ideas for a membership program is identical to generating ideas for an online course.
Reference your personas and ask what they can get from a monthly program. Can they benefit from a well-run community of like-minded people? Are they willing to pay for it?
Or, if you’re a content creator, can you produce enough material to justify the cost? The average blog post is nowadays over 1,000 words, so think about how much time you’re willing to invest before you jump in.
If you’re willing to put in the extra hours, here are some tools you can use to get started: