Over the last decade, the side hustle has become a booming business. Supplementing income can be as simple as dedicating a few hours per week to food delivery or taxi services like Uber or Deliveroo, all the way to professional services like bespoke marketing campaigns, creative design, or teaching.
One of the most attractive aspects of a side hustle is its flexibility and one of the most popular industries to open side hustles in is fashion. It’s about a lot more than designing clothing – your skills can be hugely varied and still be applicable to running your own or freelancing for fashion brands.
You can put as much or as little time into your work as you like with a side hustle. But if you wanted to take it further, how do you upgrade to full-time freelancing in the fashion industry?
Things are a little different if you’re looking to get more serious about your side hustle. Going entirely freelance is tough. Clients are harder to come by (especially in fashion retail), they’re usually harder to please and the competition is tight.
Often, the difference in who they opt to work with comes down to reputation and branding, rather than simply being the best or most original at what you do. Thankfully, the internet and a little know-how can arm you with the tools you need to grow a fashion-based side hustle the right way – and put you on the right path to going full-time in the future.
1. Find Your X-Factor
We’re not suggesting you need to start singing or come up with a crazy USP to advertise your services. Knowing your niche, however, is an important first step to going full-time. A scope that’s too wide – for example, going all-in on a clothing brand because you’ve sold a few shirts you made yourself – can lead to difficulties with ever being noticed and meeting consumer needs. Because freelancing margins are much tighter, isolate the things you’re best at within the space and try to build your business around that, to begin with.
Here’s another example – if you’re thinking of going into freelance writing or graphic design, offering to create or write ‘anything’ isn’t necessarily going to win clients. Look at the skills and specialties you have today. The fashion industry is massively focused on changing trends and seasonal shifts, and living and breathing that world is important to stay relevant.
If you want to differentiate your brand from others, guarantee some demand, and portray your business as one with experience, demonstrate that by knowing precisely what you can offer other brands or everyday customers from day one.
2. Home Is Where The Heart Is
Unless you’re intending to go door-to-door handing out flyers, an online presence is essential to building a brand in fashion and retail. E-commerce is big business these days, so don’t expect to kick off your business, whatever it is, without some serious competition. Designing a website is an opportunity to do one thing early on: instill trust in your services. A shoddy-looking site or a thin portfolio are both big red flags, especially if you’re offering a professional B2B (business-to-business) service.
Design and creative industries demand experience and trust signals to show you know what you’re doing, because the services they’ll pay you for aren’t going to be cheap, and requests are often more bespoke than other industries.
Look at great examples of graphic design portfolios and they indicate that the main factors actually making them great are largely down to clear structure and a deep personalization of the brand. It’s less about screaming about everything you can do and more about communicating the essence of your brand and service.
Freelancers understand that their platforms need to be seen in the right places (consider your social media presence carefully) and the right messages need to be communicated by their site and portfolio across the board. Visual platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube are better suited to fashion brands and their customers – so you need to be seen there, and in a way that captures your ambition for your own business.
3. Key Qualifiers
There’s huge value in qualifying yourself in aspects of your chosen field. Many freelancers will enter competitions to build reputation, run giveaways, and take accredited courses to become certified in specific skills. For example, if your idea is to provide SEO site strategy to other retailers, you can take courses on mainstream platforms like LinkedIn and Hubspot – and certify yourself via platforms like Google’s Skillshop (all for free, by the way) to help show to potential clients that you aren’t all talk. A rich portfolio is one thing, but a verified certification can really raise your game.
4. Keeping Clients Close
Advertising your services on freelancing platforms, even before you go full-time with a side hustle is a great way to both, be noticed and be recognized. There are several specialist creative freelancing platforms you can look into. Repeat customers and positive reviews on these platforms can be big difference-makers in such a competitive industry like fashion, design, and retail. Build good relationships with one or two of your first clients, if you can.
Offering discounts on projects, taking a real interest in their work, or offering post-project support are all ways to create brand ambassadors for yourself. One or two people like this will be a bigger differentiator for you than ten customers you never communicate with again. After all, the number one priority when you’re a full-time freelancer is creating consistency in your workstream.
Many people maintain side hustles for extra money, but it’s a different story to go all the way to full-time freelancing. When your name is your brand and your profits are the fruits of your labor, the major challenge for many people is sustaining it in the early days.
That’s why things like building a great site early, advertising a rich portfolio, qualifying yourself, and attaining brand ambassadors are key to quickly cementing your name in the conversation of your chosen industry. The sooner you can instill some financial stability, the sooner you can reap the benefits – and there are many – of being a full-time freelancer.
Keep being AllDayChic!