Why You Need an Evergreen Side-Hustle
If you want to make a huge splash with your idea and exit fast, before the current trend dies—build a trend-based business.
However, the problem with trend-based side-hustles is they’re set-up to be disposable. Whether you like that or not.
It’s easy to get wrapped in a trend without knowing it. There are new trends every day.
Trend-based businesses are exciting. But if you want a side-hustle that will feed you for years, it’s time to think evergreen.
Evergreen side-hustles are the long-game.
What Makes a Good Evergreen Side-Hustle?
If you want to build an evergreen business there are some core principles to follow:
- The business can’t be based on a current trend—cultural, political, or newsworthy (think: masks and hand sanitizer here).
- The business can’t be education-based for some ever-changing piece of software (unless your want to constantly update your content with every version change)
- If the business is dependent on a platform, can you switch platforms and retain the business? (For example, reselling on Amazon. Can you go elsewhere if Amazon dies?)
Instead of starting a business teaching people how to prepare their homes for Coronavirus, you might teach people how to keep their homes clean from any pandemic.
Instead of starting a YouTube channel based off the success of a single video game, start a gaming news channel that reports on any current trend (the business is evergreen, based on trendy content).
Instead of building an app for a temporary social problem that might disappear in a year (did I contact someone with Covid?), build an app that solves an evergreen problem (has anyone in my contact list been hospitalized?)
Start with Your Tribe
Who are the people you wish to serve? We aren’t going to just make a product and hope people will buy it.
Instead, we find the people we want to serve first, then we lurk where they hang-out and spend time online. We read their comments. We reach out to them.
We build a free, Easy Invite, and encourage readers to join our email list.
When you start with the people you serve you’ll have a much better chance to create an evergreen business with less chance of failure than guessing and hoping (as most new entrepreneurs do).
Ask your tribe what they want.
You can’t reach out to your subscribers and ask them what they want. Sure, they’ll give you an answer, but this probably won’t be the product they would buy.
Most people can’t articulate what they want.
We haven’t seen the answer yet. It’s your job as the entrepreneur to build a side-hustle to solve their problem.
But everyone can tell you what they don’t want in their current situation.
Using carefully-crafted email surveys, we target our niche subscribers and ask them to respond to a single question.
“What don’t you like about X,” or “In your current situation, if you could wave a magic wand, what would you change?”
When we ask people what they don’t want they’ll give us their gut responses. I use this method every day. I keep a rolling list of survey responses in my phone.
Your tribe will help you understand what they want by telling you what they don’t want.
We Solve Big Problems
An evergreen side-hustle solves a big problem. We will always need plumbers, cooks, doctors, teachers, fix-it people, and artisans.
Your tribe has at least one big problem they’re willing to pay to make it go away.
This is the problem you solve. This is the problem that will remain relevant six years from now, no matter the political climate, the economy, or the health climate.
Here’s a general list of evergreen categories that will always be relevant:
- Making money
- Event planning
- Music lessons
- Dog training
- Child raising
- Learn a trade skill (electrician, handy person)
- Learn a timeless craft (woodworking, painting)
- Mobility and stretching
- Video recording
- Audio recording
Many of the tools required for these categories will change with time. No business is perfectly evergreen. But all the categories will still be relevant in 30 years from now.
Serve an a Evergreen Niche
It’s also important to make sure you choose an evergreen niche of people to serve. If you let niche is based-around a trend or celebrity, you could lose your entire business once the niche disbands.
For example, I serve writers and creators.
I chose this niche on purpose. I didn’t want to choose a group of creators who all like Facebook, or writers who only write for one publication.
If someone can take away your tribe by removing a single trend, you don’t have an evergreen niche.
Evergreen products serve evergreen niches. Otherwise, not only will your have to start a new side-hustle, you’ve also got to find a new group of people to serve.
Starting a new niche and a new product could put you years or decades behind.
We Work Towards the Long-Game
Evergreen side-hustles are not get-rich-quick businesses. Think slow-simmer instead of rolling-boil.
The rewards of the evergreen business are the accumulated earnings over time. These type of side-hustles will feed you for years, not just the next six months.
Trends are trends for a reason.
They jump quickly and fade as fast as they arrive.
There’s no jump with an evergreen side-hustle. It’s similar to starting abusing as selling hot dogs to a hungry crowd.
The problem already exists (people are hungry). Tomorrow they’ll be hungry too. All you need to do is position your cart in the right location. You’ll earn money as long as you stand next to the hungry line.
Evergreen businesses provide predictable income.
People will still get married ten years from now. They’ll also want help organizing their homes, being more productive, and promoting their businesses.
While you probably won’t get the hockey-stick results you would from a trend-based business, you won’t need a exist strategy with your evergreen side-hustle.
Make it Once and It Feeds You Forever
I have a little project I created a few years ago. It too me about a week to make. The solution is evergreen. Short of fixing a couple typos, I haven’t touched the product since.
I earn enough money every month to pay all my annual business expenses with a single month of sales.
The sales are consistent, no matter what’s on the news, or which celebrity dies today.
I don’t get massive spikes in sales, but the income is very consistent. You can do the same if you choose the right business model and the right tribe.
How much do you want to tinker with your product?
If you develop a piece of software you’ll have to update it forever. There are operating systems out of your control, regulations out of your control, terms out of your control, and a hundred other variables.
- What if you could make a timeless course to solve the problem instead?
- What if you could write a book to solve the problem without a piece of software?
I’m not saying we don’t need software, but if you want to build an evergreen business, part of the benefit is the hands-off nature of the operational structure.
If you want a business with fewer customer emergencies, go evergreen.
Can You Move Operations Overnight?
Every business relies on platforms to keep it running. You’ve got digital distribution, payment processing, vendors, and email service providers.
All these platforms will come and go.
However, if you want an evergreen business can you relocate that portion of your operations quickly, to avoid disruption in your business?
If the business is not separate from the operational/infrastructure platforms you may rely too heavily on one service.
That service could fail overnight and so will your business. This happens every day. When designing your evergreen side-hustle, make sure you can pack your bags any time and love to a different service provider with minimal interruption.
Build an Email List Today
Don’t wait until you finish your product before you start your email list.
When you own your email list you own your traffic. When you own your traffic your own your business. If you build your entire side-hustle based on your social followers, or some social app, you can get de-platforms and lose your business overnight.
One bad comment and you could lose your account.
One bad post and you could be shamed out of business.
The social platforms own your following. If you want to reach them you have to pay for the privilege, using ads.
Not so with email.
When you own your list you can reach 100% of your customers at any time, with little expense, save for the email service provider.
Email is all the last great frontier. It’s more than 30 years old and has outlived every other social site. Email (or some form of it) will still be around as long as we want to communicate with people in writing.
You have just as much right to your customer’s in-box as the biggest names in business.
The best time to start your evergreen email list was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. Before you need the list. You never want to open a business to an empty parking lot.
August Birch is an author, email expert, and entrepreneur from Michigan, USA. As a self-appointed guardian of writers and creators, August teaches indies how to make more work that sells and sell more work once it’s made. When he’s not writing or teaching, August carries a pocket knife and shaves his head with a safety razor.