Four ways to use tech to create your side hustle

This article first appeared on The Citizen

The rapidly changing job market

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused severe disruption in the South African job market and many people have either lost their jobs or been retrenched as our economy has contracted. We also find ourselves in a rapidly evolving Fourth Industrial Revolution globally, which is introducing jobs that did not exist five to ten years ago.

Technology is accelerating the disruption of multiple industries. Recent IT advances offer new and more accessible ways to access business opportunities. With the acceleration of all things digital, there are opportunities to grow a side hustle not just in your own neighbourhood, but across borders.

In this economic environment, I believe it’s more critical than ever to find a side hustle. The times we live in call for personal innovation, adaption, agility and reinvention. I know several individuals, including myself, who’ve made the side hustle their main source of employment.

What exactly is a side hustle?

It’s basically a means of making money alongside one’s main form of employment or income. The word is a combination of the word “side”, meaning “not the main thing”, and “hustle” meaning “hurry, press ahead, to pursue something energetically”. A side hustle using technology could be almost anything including selling your baked goods online, doing grocery shopping for the elderly in your neighbourhood, submitting financial returns for individuals, selling mobile hair and nail treatments, offering marketing services to small businesses and tutoring online.

Here are four possible routes to consider when looking to upskill yourself and pivot to income-generating opportunities:

1. Educate yourself

Because we live in the Age of Information, education is vital for participation in the global economy and it has never been more easily accessible. There is so much content on the internet but knowing where to start isn’t always easy. When educating or upskilling yourself, keep in mind the topics you are passionate about and start with those.


YouTube provides some excellent content and channels of vloggers who share their journeys to financial freedom using technology. However, knowing who is credible and which solution will work for you requires patience and trial-and-error. You may initially waste hours sifting through content to establish which ‘experts’ are the real deal and which are not. If you are not familiar or experienced with YouTube, and feel uncertain about navigating the space, then consider using another platform.


Udemy is a more organised platform serving content from credible sources. They often run specials with courses starting from as little as R230. You can learn online marketing, website building, programming and much more.

Google Digital Skills for Africa

The Google Digital Skills for Africa platform offers free online marketing courses. These courses include how websites work, building online marketing strategies and creating long-term social media plans. Learners can learn in their own time and also receive Google certifications upon completion of a course. 

2. Build an online shop

Online-store platforms like Ecwid offer quick and easy solutions to get an e-commerce store up and running in no time. Anyone can sign up with them and get going within a few days. Sales could potentially occur within your first month of operation. However, don’t forget the most crucial step, educating yourself. Make sure you understand the ins and outs of e-commerce. Make sure you have equipped yourself to manage your online store effectively and that you can market your store to potential buyers. Watching tutorials on how an e-commerce platform works will help.

3. Use Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) to sell someone else’s online product

If you are not into the tangible goods business, then SaaS may be for you. There are digital products already developed that you can white-label and sell as your own. From email marketing platforms to lead generation engines, the possibilities are pretty endless. Although not many SaaS platforms get developed in South Africa, you can research a website called sell-saas. Relatively simple to set up, you will need to upskill yourself to market these types of products. 

4. Create an online course you can sell

If you have a subject that you are passionate about and good at, why not create content to teach others how to do what you do? It could be baking, photography, drawing, teaching a language or showing others how to build a website. Whatever it is, use what you have and turn it into something others will pay to learn how to do. Udemy is one of the best platforms to market your new online course. 

Believe in yourself, be patient & don’t give up

Not every business can serve every consumer. We need to help each other and partner in a way that builds relationships, creates employment and unlocks wealth for generations to come. Believe in yourself and put in the hard work to learn something new. The landscape is continually changing, and it can be easy to fall behind when not paying attention. So, put in the hours, learn as much as you can, implement again and again and fail forward until you hit success.