5 Expert Tips for Mastering Your Small Business Side Hustle

Featuring @athomewithashley & @icecreamfordinner

Extra Space Storage helps many small businesses with their storage needs—from providing inventory space to sharing tips on our blog for running a successful at-home business and turning your side hustle into your main business.

At Home With Ashley and Ice Cream for Dinner

Recently, we even partnered with Ashley Wilson (@athomewithashley) and Elizabeth Petersen (@icecreamfordinner) to host an Instagram Live side hustle master class, where Ashley and Elizabeth shared how they turned their passions into a monetized platform via social media.

Here are their top tips for mastering a side hustle on Instagram:

  1. Create content that people want to see.

…and then test that content with your followers to see what they best respond to. One way to do this is to make a list of your posts along with the “likes” each post receives, and then customize your future content from those learnings. You can also adjust your Instagram feed to look a bit more aesthetically pleasing, such as sticking to a specific color palate or recurring pattern of posts that align with your personal brand.

“I would squint and look at my feed and see what popped out to me that I liked—and it was pink, so I went from there,” Ashley says. This gives your account a visual way to tie your personal brand together.

You should also aim to find actively used hashtags that match your image and caption, and create engaging and interesting Instagram stories that encourage your followers to interact with your content.

  1. Plan a consistent schedule and stick to it.

Instagram’s algorithm will reward you for posting often and around the same time. Your followers will also know when to expect new content. Elizabeth suggests choosing a time that works for both you and your followers—which you’ll learn from testing the performance of your content; this helps you know what time your followers are most likely to both see and engage with your content.

  1. Engage frequently—and with purpose.

If your goal is to monetize your Instagram account, or to focus on becoming an influential blogger, point your attention toward name recognition—with brands, with other influencers, and especially with your followers. Like, comment, and follow others in your niche interest areas.

“You have to actually engage with your followers and with people who have similar interests to you,” Ashley says.

Be genuine, too. Commenting something generic on a photo isn’t enough. Read the full photo caption and make sure your comment is actually relevant (and in alignment with your brand). Don’t forget to engage with Instagram Stories, too; there’s an option to send messages, and Ashley and Elizabeth note that this is a great way to get noticed—and let people know you enjoy their content!

  1. Find ways to collaborate.

No matter what stage you’re at with your Instagram account, seeking collaboration opportunities is a must for spreading brand awareness. It’s also a helpful way to connect to other influencers within your niche.

Building a network of brands and other influencers can help you increase your brand awareness and followers, as well as improve your content. “It’s really, really important to build those networks—and just support each other,” notes Elizabeth.

  1. Identify your “why.”

A definite key to ensuring a successful Instagram side hustle is to clearly identify the reason(s) behind pursuing Instagram influencer status to begin with. Your reason(s) should go beyond popularity and money alone. While these may hold some influence, having a deeper purpose and clearly articulated goal for it all will provide more value to your efforts. For example, Ashley’s “why” involved having an outlet to share her interior design passion and a way to financially support her family.


Check out Ashley and Elizabeth’s full side hustle master class!


With thoughtful planning, drive, and dedication—mastering your side hustle on Instagram can become a definite reality. “There’s no better time to be an influencer than right now,” Ashley says. “The sky’s the limit. It’s so exciting!”