Libraries have long offered computer and technology-oriented classes to our patrons. Many times, patrons sign up for these classes seeking to improve their job prospects, and by extension, their income. At the same time, it is important to note that even among those who are employed, a substantial number of people continue to struggle to make ends meet. According to Business News Daily, “More than 25% of workers and job seekers have at least a second source of income.” By teaching a tech side hustle, your library has an opportunity to quickly deliver value–and dollars–to your patrons!
Entrepreneur Magazine defines side hustle as “a way to make some extra cash that allows you flexibility to pursue what you’re most interested in.” Online marketplaces can offer patrons a venue to sell new or used items, as well as their own creations. Consider developing classes for some common platforms, including:
- Etsy: A self-described “global creative commerce platform,” Etsy is a popular marketplace of handmade items.
- eBay: One of the largest online auction and shopping websites in the world.
- LetGo and Carousell: These snap and sell services allow you to quickly take a picture of an item and create a listing using an app. These services require that you meet in person, rather than arrange shipping.
When developing these classes, you’ll want to ensure your curriculum covers some core concerns. Among these are:
Creating a listing: What are the best practices of each service? What are the elements of a successful listing? How does one upload a photo and when should one pay a premium to use additional photos? Discuss the use of keywords to improve discoverability. Cover how to write a catchy headline and effective description.
Marketing: Aside from discussing how to upload photos, you should also spend some time on how to take them! There are entire website dedicated to bad eBay listings; often a poor photo central to the catastrophe! Instruct your class on how to create a simple light box, or better yet–offer one as a public service! What are the costs/benefits of a promoted listing? Finally, discuss social media. While this can be a topic for a separate class, you should touch on the ability of sites like Etsy to integrate to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
Shipping and taxes: We often consider shipping and taxes as a consumer, but they are also a common concern among sellers. Shipping can easily impact profitability for a seller. Be sure to go over postal scales and how to print mailing labels. While libraries shy away from directly providing tax guidance, there is, of course, good referral information for Etsy, Ebay and other services.
Protecting yourself: It’s not just buyer beware! Sellers should be aware of how to manage issues involving scams, failure to pay, unwarranted negative feedback, and general disputes. Shipping insurance is a necessary topic.In the case of in-person meetings, educate patrons on SafeTrade Stations, where they can do their business safely. Finally, familiarize the class with their chosen platform’s seller protection policy.
By teaching a tech side hustle, your library has an opportunity to quickly deliver value to your patrons in the form of additional income. The outlined classes and similar ones offer a gateway to entrepreneurship that can grow into full-fledged businesses. Along that journey, the library can continue to offer assistance in the form of business counseling, tax assistance, supplementary classes (such as social media marketing), and a wide range of electronic and print resources with business applicability.