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The Best Way to Market a Side Hustle on a Budget

Over Saturated is a platform that is all about supporting African Content Creators, most of whom are running side hustles on a budget. Those are people, I want to help. Having been in SEO and content creation for the last 5-6 years, I have learnt that when you are running a side project the best marketing strategy is to just not stop.

I recently hosted a webinar on this idea with a virtual community called eQuills. I wanted to share what I spoke about with you. In the webinar, I looked at various elements to side projects that I have worked on, and what I have learned over the last few years. I am going to look at the same topics here:

Starting Over Saturated

black & white over saturated logo

I initially came up with the idea for Over Saturated at the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018. The idea piggy backed off of a project that I started while I was studing, called Sport Saturated. That was a sports satire website, which overall did okay but ended up failing.

The initial plan to create Over Saturated was to create a website that would have different sections like music, sport, blog, podcasts, etc. The aim was to start website with a video project called Saturated Sundays, we made one video and then the project died. That happened in the beginning of 2018.

At the beginning of 2019 I decided to fully commit to creating the platform of Over Saturated. I started with a budget of R0. Fortunately, I had the privilege of knowing someone who could host the website for free.

I now spend a small monthly amount on hosting, and still run the platform on an absolute budget, but I have seen some really positive signs of growth over time.

What all my failed projects have in common

projects failed because I stopped

Something I noticed about all of my failed projects though, is this, I stopped working on them.

When I look at every project I’ve worked on, they all had the potential to be succesful, I was never spending mass amounts of money on them and they always had good feedback.

The reason they failed was because I stopped working on them.

A minimum 3 month rule

3 month seo rule

A bit of context into SEO (the industry I have been in for the last few years), it is all about getting a website to rank on search engines, the main one being Google.

A key factor of getting a website to rank on a search engine is time. It takes times to rank. As SEO specialists something we often tell clients is as a general rule they won’t see a difference in ranking of their website before 3 months after the work has been done. In SEO, especially for small websites, I like to think there is a minimum of 3 months rule.

In actuality in SEO, you only really know if what you’ve done has worked after about 6-12 months.

This is helpful because it is a reminder that it takes time, and that you cannot get discouraged in SEO if you don’t get immediate results – because you won’t.

How growth online works

growth online

Growth for a website online is something that really does take time. An interesting aspect of this growth though is the long term impact of virality – i.e. when something you create gets a big audience.

When that happens there is a massive spike of traffic when your release the article/video/etc. That traffic then slows down and it can feel like your traffic has gone down to where it was before. However, what has actually happened is that your traffic has now gone down to a new normal.

So if you had 4 users a day, but then a blog post performed really well and got 5000 views in a week, that traffic would then go down to 10 users a day. That would feel like very little traffic but in actuality your new normal is double what you used to get.

Here is a video of a creator, Ian Michna, that I really respect talking about how that happened to his website. Watch between 09:00-10:35.

Ian Michna on traffic growth for his blog.

To follow this growth I use Google Analytics and Google Search Console. I use Analytics to track all traffic to the platform, and to see how that traffic behaves. Search Console is used see how the platform is performing on Google specifically.

To see how this correlates to things taking time, we are going to look at three aspects of Over Saturated’s traffic.

We will firstly look at the traffic to the platform as a whole over it’s lifetime, then we will look two of the best performing blogs on the platform; My Experience Of Initiation in an all Boys School and 5 Ways to Make Money Online as a South African.

Over Saturated’s overall growth trajectory

You can see what I am talking about when you look at the growth of Over Saturated’s traffic. After each spike there is a new normal in daily traffic which is higher than before. Additionally, overall you can see a gradual increase in traffic.

When I look everyday, I often miss the fact that the platforms traffic has grown immensely over the last two years. Looking at the data like this is a reminder that growth takes time.

Google Analytics traffic of Over Saturated
Over Saturated’s lifetime traffic

My Experience Of Initiation blog post

If you look you can see that I published my experience of initiation blog post on January the 28th of 2020, however it’s organic traffic only started to pick up in July of 2020.

It is a blog post that performs really well, and get’s traffic every day. It was a 6 month wait before that organic traffic started rolling in.

5 Ways to Make Money Online as a South African blog post

You can see the same thing happening to the making money online in South Africa blog post traffic.

That blog post was published on the 8th of May 2020 but only saw it’s organic traffic pick up in August and September of 2020. That blog had a 4 month wait before it garnered serious traffic. It is another blog post that gets new reads every day.

Just Don’t Stop!

What I have learned through this experience is to just not stop. When you are on a budget it can be easy to get discouraged. Looking at how other people are growing, or focusing too much on what you could with a big budget, can really get you stuck in your own head.

Rather work with what you have, build and create. Keep actively putting yourself out there. Your platform will grow.

The only guarantee is that if you stop then you won’t grow. So, if you want to see your passion succeed, it is simple, just don’t stop!

You can watch the video of the webinar here:

You can download the PDF of the webinar here:

Tyrone Fisher, creator of Over Saturated, standing on a bridge

Written by: Tyrone Fisher

Founder of Over Saturated. A platform for African Content Creators.