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Marketing Your Startup as an Introvert

Marketing and sales can help side hustles grow. You don’t have to be an extrovert to be successful.

Written by Elaine Pofeldt / July 27, 2022

Quick Bites

  • Trying to figure out how to market your side hustle? Share your knowledge with your network for free, and support your supporters. It’ll go a long way to promoting your work.
  • Start with the network you already have, aka, the low-hanging fruit.
  • Take stock of your personality and use your strengths to build up your customer base.

Steve Toth, a self-described introvert, wasn’t sure he had it in him to market and sell his own services.

In 2019, Toth started a side hustle doing freelance search engine optimization work, alongside a full-time job. But he wasn’t sure how to sell his services without a sales team. He took a page from The Go-Giver, a book that encourages entrepreneurs to give away their knowledge to build their reputation and network and created a newsletter to share his insights on SEO. He started with 100 subscribers.

After one of Toth’s missives went viral on LinkedIn in the summer of 2019, business exploded. He was able to quit his full-time position and work full-time for himself within a year.

“I never liked the idea of being on the clock or being told what strategies to use,” he says. “I wanted to be able to outsource everything that wasn't my strength and I wasn't always able to do that working for someone else. I also didn't like not having the choice of which clients I wanted to work with.”

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His advice to other side hustlers? Look for ways to share ideas for free with as many people as possible. If they offer to help you in return, accept it, whether it’s by following you on LinkedIn or subscribing to your own newsletter or anything else.

“That was the guiding principle I adopted to grow my business,” he says.

Today, he brings in about CAD $40,000 a month, which converts to about USD 31,233 a month–much more than he made in his old job–and the business is just getting started.

Your turn

If you’re looking to build and grow a side hustle, finding a way to market and sell your services that is comfortable for you is mission-critical. There are almost limitless ways to spread the word about any small business, but you’ll only benefit from them if you’re ready, willing and able to tap into them. If you’re too shy to cold call potential clients, you may be better off putting your efforts into building your presence on LinkedIn, posting how-to videos on YouTube that showcase your expertise or investing in paid search engine advertising.

Here are some tips on how to spread the word about your side hustle.

Make sure you’re allowed to market yourself

Remember all of those papers you signed when you took your job? Double check them to make sure you are allowed to start a side business. If it’s in the same industry as the one in which you work, make sure you know any limitations on whom you can market yourself to.

Watch out for non-compete agreements! You don’t want to get forced into taking your side hustle full-time prematurely because you got fired.

Start with the network you already have

For many side hustlers, their first customers are people they know—be they former employers and colleagues or members of their community. When you’re getting ready to launch, tell trusted members of your network what type of business you’re trying to start and ask them for their advice on how to make it successful. Some are likely to offer to help you, such as making introductions to potential clients, or even maybe give you work directly. Take them up on these offers whenever possible and find ways to support them, too. You’ll be surprised at how much confidence you get from winning that first customer.

Pablo Fernandez headshot

Meet the Expert

Pablo Fernandez is the co-founder of Secret Table, a startup that connects leaders, innovators, artists, and entrepreneurs through strategically-designed live experiences.

Take stock of your personality

Are you an extravert? You may find that attending live events where you can network, holding information seminars or doing product demonstrations can be a great way to win new business. Do you love social media? You may find it intriguing to master social media marketing, whether through organic posts on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter or through paid ads. Are you a deep thinker with a lot of wisdom to share? Perhaps posting a blog that helps you build your presence as a thought leader will help you grow your business. Paying attention to the ways that you are most comfortable talking about what you do—even if it’s in an indirect way—will help you make the most of your natural talents.

Deepen your relationships with clients

It’s usually more costly to win a new customer than to sell more to your existing customers. So, as you start building your business, take the extra time to get to know your customers and ask about their needs so you can look for ways to be even more helpful to them.

Say you’re a website designer who is sprucing up a client’s website and hear that they’re also writing a book. Suggesting some great ideas for the cover design could land you another project with them—designing the cover yourself. Or if you’re a part-time yoga teacher and your students keep asking if you know of any outdoor yoga classes during the summer months, perhaps you could offer one and sell tickets on Eventbrite.

Listening is ultimately the best marketing tool there is. It’ll help you tap into the needs of the marketplace without ever feeling like a pushy salesperson. When you’re truly there to serve by delivering a high-quality service or product, you’ll find clients flocking—and your business growing by leaps and bounds.

About the Author

Elaine Pofeldt

Elaine Pofeldt

Elaine Pofeldt is a freelance business writer whose work has appeared in FORTUNE, Money, CNBC, Inc., Forbes, Crain’s New York Business, and many other business publications. She has contributed to the Economist Intelligence Unit. She is also a ghostwriter/collaborative editor.

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