Harnessing The Power Of Online – The Side Hustlers Guide

The foundations of a successful side hustle are built in your spare time; working around the daily demands that life throws at you. As such, a truly successful side hustle requires time management and commitment – and some helpful online hints. That’s what we’re here for.

Project Management Tools

First up, organising your demands and ensuring you have a handle on what you need to be doing. Keeping track of clients is all very well when you have a small business and a targeted client base, but as your side hustle grows it can be easy to lose track of promises you’ve made and workflows you’ve taken on.

There are a number of online project management tools that you can use to your benefit, ensuring your time is planned out to ensure maximum productivity.

One of the most popular is Trello – a one-page planner of sorts which allows you to create as many Job Streams as you like. Splitting your commitments into smaller chunks can help it seem more manageable, and Trello’s addition of useful tags allows you to easily highlight which jobs are Urgent, which are Ongoing and which are New Business. Trello is a visual way of presenting your tasks, and each individual entry is moveable. Another great feature of Trello is the ability to add multiple team members to each card, and even assign responsibility to individual people.

The other project management tool that’s worth a look is Asana – an online cloud software system that enables users to schedule tasks, plan how different project demands fit together, and – perhaps more usefully of all – quickly identify overlaps in your schedule.

Invoice Tracking Tools

Creating invoices is fairly straightforward if you have access to simple software such as Microsoft Word, but that doesn’t make it any easier to keep track of which invoices have been sent out, paid, and are still outstanding. That’s where online Invoicing Tools come in.

There are several free tools that you can find online to keep your finances in order, allowing you to keep client information safely stored in one location and presenting summaries around how much you’ve earned.

Invoicely is the first of these free tools. You can personalise your profile with company logos, personal information and an area to store your client details. The homepage dashboard enables you to see pending and paid invoices all in one place, and the quick and easy invoice creation feature sends out invoices automatically – with clients able to pay via Stripe, PayPal, BACS and more.

Payment Processors

Working hard to create a successful side hustle is all very well, but ensuring you get paid is one of the most important parts of success. Collecting payment can be a challenge, and that’s why presenting as many convenient options as possible is always preferable to, for example, only accepting cheques or cash.

There are a few payment processors out there that can link to your mobile device for payment on the go, linking seamlessly to your side hustle website – making direct payment quick and easy.

Stripe is one of the most popular as it allows you to accept payment online or through a face-to-face transfer. There are of course fees included with each payment, and Stripe tends to take an average of 3% per transaction – but without hidden fees you can rest assured that the rest of your money really is yours.

Stripe also sends out receipts to your clients and includes features that show you how much money has been received over a specific period of time.

The Power of Apps

If you’re a side hustler who’s constantly on the go, time management apps are probably a good idea for you – particularly if you work and are paid by the hour. Hubstaff has both a free and a paid version of the app – but even just using the free version will allow you to track your time effectively to make sure your hourly invoicing is correct. If a client puts you on a budget, Hubstaff will help you keep track of that – telling you the amount of time to spend on that specific project and ensuring you don’t go over.

The extra features such as payroll software and team scheduling come with the paid package, and can be an excellent investment if your business looks set to grow.

Another good app for time tracking is Toggl. Toggl has a focus on watching how you spend your time, featuring one-click timers and tracking reminders that will make sure you keep to your allotted schedule for each job.

With an overview summary board available as well, Toggl encourages users to view reports on the efficiency of your workstreams, helping you establish where you can save time and make more money.

In short, planning your time around a growing side hustle requires some dedication – there’s no escaping it. But you don’t have to go it alone, and it doesn’t have to be entirely manual. With so many apps and websites available to support you with all areas of your side business, keeping on top of your workload has never been easier.

What to expect from social media in 2020

2020 may seem like months away, but the truth is that as the evenings grow darker and the temperature drops, the end of the year is well and truly in sight. The new year brings with it many resolutions, lots of retail sales and discounts, and some exciting new developments for technology – especially social media.

Ever since the launch of Facebook over 15 years ago, the way we use the internet to interact with each other has never quite been the same, and it seems as though every month there is a new trend or social channel that’s got the young people hooked to their phones and devices.

So, with the promise of many more updates and developments, what sort of changes are we likely to see in 2020?

Privacy

Privacy and online security have become a far bigger threat in recent years, with so many different social channels available and the average user age dropping every year. Information is collected by these social media platforms and we are expected to tick a small box to acknowledge this – but do we know what it all really means?

Facebook have recently launched a televised advert about the importance of privacy settings and understanding what information is available to who – and in 2020 we predict be a much larger focus on being aware of your online security.

Video content

In a world where everyone wants everything immediately, reading a blog suddenly seems long and laborious. Why read a whole article when you could learn the same information in a one-minute video?

Video content makes for a great and memorable marketing platform for many small businesses, and as such has seen an incredible rise in usage recently – from video ads to GIF’s that we send privately in messages. Facebook and Instagram have even upgraded to allow for automatic video playing – what more reason do we need to assume video content is set to grow even bigger?

Augmented Reality

Carrying on the technical branch, augmented reality is set to rise very soon – as the new and more sophisticated older brother of virtual reality. While virtual reality creates something entirely new and makes you feel like you’re in it, Augmented Reality is an extension of what is already there – adding extra elements to existing experiences or images. The most basic explanation of this is the filter features you see on Snapchat and Instagram – being able to alter and add props to existing photos and screens.

It will simply be able to do more

In short, social media will be able to do more. Facebook and Instagram recently extended many services into online shopping channels, and social media is fast becoming people’s go-to when they want local news and gossip. So much so that very soon we anticipate social media becoming the main news reporter across the board. Promoting engagement and sharing, people are continually reporting that most of what they know about global issues comes from social media – and this is set only to increase as these channels grow.

Of course, the risk of fake and highly opinionated news is prominent if you rely entirely on social media for your daily updates, but on the whole social media channels do a good job of filtering the real from the so-called “fake news”, and can even tailor stories just for you based on your interests and location.

Specialised search engines

If you’re looking for a video or audio example of something specific, you search in YouTube. If you’re looking for a certain person or business, you might use Facebook. If you’re looking for a particular company or organisation, you could use LinkedIn. Becoming more like modern search engines is the direction that many social media channels seem to be moving in, promoting the search function and allowing users access to as much information and predicted search terms as possible.

Influencers

As social media grows, so too does the barrel of influencers who specialise on each channel. Of course, with so many smaller businesses opening their doors and their websites every single day, influencers are a valuable asset in terms of endorsements and effective consumer marketing. With such high demand, 2020 is likely to see the rise of influencers gain even more traction – and even more competition!

Personalisation

The more personalised and specific your marketing is, the more of a buzz you will generate among your users. Personalisation is already all over social media, but the challenge remains that with the increase in privacy and security, gaining the information needed to create a unique and personal experience on every channel could begin to be a problem. How social media channels deal with this will be interesting to look out for – watch this space!

In short, 2020 will be a big year of social media. A constantly evolving and always updating platform for marketing and online interaction, each channel has its own user base, its own demographic and its own benefits.

Each of the above trends exist in some form already, and how social media chooses to develop these in the next 12 months will certainly be an interesting one to watch.

Our top 10 SEO trends for 2020

The Winter months have well and truly set in, and with the end of 2019 fast approaching, it’s time to turn your attention to your 2020 strategy.

Keeping up with the constant developments is a never-ending job all of its own, and unfortunately the same goes for keeping up with the competition. The internet is an endless minefield of competitors all vying for attention from prospective customers and clients – and the best way to get this attention is via the global search engines.

But as technology and content information matures, so does Google. It is no longer enough to just write a great blog – now it has to work alongside and in partnership with a specific set of rules implemented by organisations like Google.

Without further ado, here’s 10 ways you can use SEO to harness Google’s attention and make sure your website features in those all-important top search results.

1. Consider featured snippets

When you Google something and wind up on a result page, generally the first thing on the screen is something called a Snippet. This literally does what it says on the tin, offering the searcher an extended preview of what they might find on that first site result – whether it’s instructions, tips or generic information.

To gain a chance at being the featured Snippet for any given search term, ensure you are answering the most common questions in clear and concise language. The Snippets receive a high percentage of clicks so it is worth spending the time tailoring your content accordingly.

2. Voice recognition and voice-driven searches

Our phones and smart devices are getting clever by the upgrade, with many now offering users a chance to search for anything they want – without having to tap a single button. While this has been attributed to accidental searches and even unintentional holiday bookings, it seems the powers of tech have honed and matured the technology to enable voice search to grow in popularity.

To work in partnership with this trend, you need to think about how people are searching using their voice – rather than their keypad. In short, the searches will be more detailed and keywords will become more conversational.

3. The growth of Artificial Intelligence

The majority of drivers may not be ready for driver-less cars yet, but artificial intelligence is on the rise and has recently become on of Googles most trusted advisors when it comes to user searches and search result algorithms. In short, the AI robots have learned what makes an article great; creating their own set of rules that we, as content creators, have to abide by if we want to continue to perform well online.

Does anybody know what these sets of rules look like? It’s all trial and error.

4. Online security

First GDPR and now this – if a user doesn’t feel that their information is safe when browsing your website, they won’t use it. It’s as simple as that. Increased user security is a trend which is only going to continue to grow, and one which will influence our strategies for many years to come.

5. The power of the blue tick

Blue ticks have never meant more than they do today. A sign of status and popularity in the online world, a blue tag tends to mean that someone is a verified influencer – usually with an extremely large following and valuable networks.

Having one of these influencers endorse your brand is a priceless tool that enables your brand to be seen by networks and potential customers you couldn’t even dream of reaching before. Allow the social media trend to improve your website traffic and widen the reach of your content.

6. User experience

Remember the days when everything took minutes to buffer? We used to sit in front of the screen and watch the buffering wheel for days on end – but not today. Today, users want everything instantly, and if it’s not instant on your website then they will simply head to a different website that is. It doesn’t matter if you have great content – if the user experience isn’t exactly what they expect, you will very quickly find yourself losing valuable visitors.

Quick load times, an easy to navigate website, and optimised content for all devices – they’re all important!

7. Videos vs. Written content

Facebook has launched a new video viewing page which takes you straight onto another related video once your first one finishes. This subtle but clever way to introducing you to new content highlights how important video is becoming in the world of online content, as users are now just as likely to watch a tutorial as they are to read one.

Youtube advertising has never been so popular, and online videos are starting to take over and attract more and more interest – pulling viewers away from their television screens. Make sure your videos are optimised in terms of SEO, to harness the power of this ever-growing trend. Great keywords and descriptions can mean the difference between a viral clip and a video that falls flat.

8. Quality Content

A pretty simple one really. You can do all the SEO and tagging in the world, but without quality content you will never be able to retain potential customers. Give them value, well-researched information and clear calls to action! After all, in a world where everything is so fast-paced and temporary, your content needs to prove itself as informative yet entertaining; useful but also high quality and approachable.

9. Dwell time will increase in prominence

The amount of time someone sits on your website is about to become even more important to your SEO success. If a user is spending lots f time on your website, the search engine will know that the quality of your content and website is likely to be high – and this is going to become even more of an influential factor as we enter 2020.

10. It’s not going to be just about Google

Google pretty much owns the search engine world, with the phrase “Google it” being used to answer probably half the questions that are voiced by millions of people every single day. However, this could be set to change, as other search engines rise in prominence and give Google a run for its money.

This may mean that SEO requirements will differ particularly as different and new search engines work to attract users and gain support. We’ll have to watch this space to see what happens…