make money as musician

This post is a guest post from Michelle, who writes at Savvy History. In this post, she shares her side hustle story. Throughout Michelle’s life, she has been a full-time musician, and part-time musician, and has actually made good money doing both! In this side hustle guest post series, I’m looking to inspire others with unique stories of how people are making some extra money. Starting a side hustle as a musician might be for you. Read on below to learn if you can actually make money as a musician!

Hi, I’m Michelle from the band and blog Savvy History.  

I play original music while selling my own CDs at festivals, private parties, coffee shops, bars, and colleges in the Midwest.  

Sometimes, I even get to ride on cruise boats going up and down the Mississippi! My husband used to play bass with me at most of the shows, but now, he stays home with our son (or they come along to watch.)

I’ll be sharing with you how I’ve made money with my music, and talk about this (potentially) lucrative side hustle.

How I Got Started as a Full-Time Musician

I started playing the guitar at 17 because I had stress fractures in both my knees.  

Long story short, I felt useless on crutches and wanted to push myself in a different way than long-distance running.  I was looking for a creative outlet after a unique upbringing.  

When I realized I could put my life-long love of poetry into music via learning to play an instrument, I was hooked on the guitar and played it every chance I could get.  

After writing a few songs and garnering a positive response, I naively decided to be a singer-songwriter when I grew up.  

I pulled back on my interest in college and kind of did a 180 with my life. (For example, I had visited Stanford and actually considered applying.)  Instead of pursuing an academic path, I started learning more and more on my own after school and looking at society differently (all while forming an opinion about the type of life I wanted with the help of artists and music). 

By 18, I was making money off my music.  I wrote songs before ever learning to play anyone else’s hit songs (this wasn’t the wisest way to go about it, but I simply had a lot I wanted to express).  The first song I did learn to play was Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes.

Early Success as a Musician Investing in My Musical Career

While not everyone can become successful after a few years, I found some early success as a musician after participating in a battle of the bands in high school.

After getting 2nd place at a battle of the bands in high school (and making a whopping $38 off my original songs), I invested my own money to make a CD.  

I realized if this was a dream of mine, I’d have to upgrade my equipment and take it a little more seriously.

I bought a $350 PA, bought a few mics, and started playing at coffee shops and bars in the area. Some places paid me money, some places paid me in food, and sometimes I simply made decent money on tips and CD sales.

Also, I obtained a bartender’s license in Wisconsin just so I could legally be in some of the bars (where I was paid the best as opposed to some of the coffee shops).

I worked in a factory part-time while going to community college.

When I realized I could make more money off my music than working “a real job,” I became incredibly frugal, launched a website, booked up to 100 shows a year, and became a full-time musician for a couple of years!

What Skills Do I Need to Make Money as a Musician?

There are a number of skills to learn and focus on to become a successful musician.

The discipline to learn an instrument is an obvious and absolute must.  You need to be able to keep your eyes on your own life and put creative living above all else.  

I’m still working on this and have a lot to learn after all these years.  

Also, if you want to make money playing shows, you need to garner a business mindset, learn to schedule and book venues, and promote yourself (to some extent).  

In addition, in my experience, the ability to write your own music helps a lot.

If you are a great musician (but you only play other people’s music), you are already technically in the red because you need to pay licensing fees to big publishing companies like BMI (in order to perform popular songs live).

I had CDs of my own original music which would cost me $1 to make, I would buy 1,000 of them at a time, and then I would sell them for $10. I did this with five albums (and this brought in some decent income).

Self-Promotion is Very Important for Musicians

As a side note, I absolutely stunk at promoting myself.  To make up for it, I would purposely book shows where people were already milling about (versus expecting people to come to me).  

For example, I would start by sending a song sample to a booker at a large festival (like the Stone Arch Bridge Festival in St. Paul). Then I would get there, play my music, have a built-in audience, sell CDs, and leave with variable amounts money (I never knew if I’d sell 40 CDs or 10).  

I was not the type of artist who could sell tickets for quiet intimate shows where the focus was on me for the night.  The “go-where-the-people-already-are” approach (or I guess you could say “strategy”) worked for me.

While I didn’t garner a large specific fan base or make as much money as I could have, I also skipped all of the parts about marketing myself that I wasn’t comfortable with.  

I didn’t have a social media presence most of my career, or an email list. I was basically banking off how good I could be each time I showed up in front of strangers.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the above approach was wise for a variety of reasons.  I simply think it’s what I did at the height of my career because I lacked self-esteem and any true belief that people would become long-term “fans.” I struggled with artistic promotion SO MUCH.

It’s probably the main reason I quit playing full-time. Maybe you will be able to handle this better if you pursue a musical side hustle.

How Much Money Can You Make as a Musician?

Contrary to popular belief, you can actually make money as a musician.

Make no mistake, making money as a musician takes a lot of work and luck, and is very tough.

However, it is possible.

For me, I never know what I’m going to make off a given show because I never know how the audience is going to react.  

While this might drive some people crazy, I’ve always found it kind of exciting and informative. Some nights, I’ll sell all of my CDs and get a bunch in tips; other nights, I won’t sell anything.

Now, I accept gigs at $200 an hour or more as a flat rate, though in the past, I’ve made anywhere from $10 to $700 at a gig.

For tips and CD sales, it’s an interesting psychological challenge to make money.  It’s a great way to obtain direct feedback from people about my music. I have learned a ton about behavioral economics while putting myself out there.  

For one, it takes a crowd to make a crowd. If people are already coming up to me and buying items, then others suddenly feel comfortable doing it. If a crowd sees someone else has already tipped me, then they all start doing it.

However, there are other ways you can make money if you don’t want to try to sell CDs.

Gigs and Events Where You Can Make Money as a Musician

There are a number of different events and occasions where people will hire musicians.

I’ve played weddings (my least favorite) and I’ve played private parties (where my enjoyment depends on the party – Norwegians and Irish people are COOL).  

My favorite type of gig is a daytime family-friendly festival that pays well for a morning or early-afternoon slot and then I’m back in time for dinner (and able to hang out with my own friends and family that night).  

When I show up to play music, I treat it like a job.  I don’t like wasting time. Some might even say a “musician’s lifestyle” doesn’t fit me well. (They are right.  It doesn’t. I’m a square who hates waiting around.)

However, the “behind the scenes” tasks of songwriting and hyper-scheduling DO fit me incredibly well,… so I’m working on switching it up.  

Part of our blog is devoted to figuring out how to make money as niche musicians no longer willing to travel or stay out late.

Pipe dream?

Maybe… But we’ve seen stranger ideas succeed (like paying off our house with our music money), so here we are!

How You Can Book Festivals and Well-Paid Gigs as a Musician

As said above, I’m kind of leaving big festivals behind, but I do have a lot of past experience.

Festivals are fantastic for having fun (free ticket bonus!), getting exposure as an artist, and meeting people – if you are ready to hustle.  

Below are 6 steps you can use to land a gig as a musician for money:

  1. Obtain decent recordings of your music (this is a huge task if you are taking it seriously)
    • These can be audio recordings (and/or live videos of successful past shows).
    • Choose around 3 samples of your music. 
  2. Put this music online in an EPK (electronic press kit)
    • When you are ready to target some festivals, you can easily send this as a link in an email functioning like a pitch.
  3. Make sure you have a great bio written in 3rd person
    1. include recommendations from others (it’s better to have someone else brag about you than to have you brag about yourself)
    2. include some press pics in the EPK that you would be comfortable having on posters, in brochures, and in local papers.
  4. Understand the nature of the festivals you are pitching to.  
    • For example, what level of musicians do they book?
    • Are you going to fit in at the bottom of their roster or the top?
    • Do you have any ball-park about how much money they are paying other artists?
  5. Understand your niche.  
    • For example, I’ve played bluegrass festivals and barely fit in (I knew it and so did everyone else).  I fit in much better at folk-festivals.
  6. Be a decent human being.  
    • It should go without saying, but show up on time, don’t swear in front of kids, say thank you, get your money, and leave without a trace.

By following these steps, you will have a better chance of landing gigs and paid festivals.

What are some of the Pros and Cons of a Musical Career?

With all side hustles, there are pros and cons.

For my musician side hustle, one of my favorite things is how I’ve been able to meet some amazing people.

I actually met my husband while playing music at a benefit show in a small town on the Mississippi!

He was in a band with a lot of music industry “experience” when I met him (quotes used to denote the music industry can be a mess). Then he started playing music with me almost exclusively. We’ve kept everything independently owned and operated as opposed to his music label experience.  

One con of being a musician would be you may need to travel a lot to get to different gigs and events.

We’ve never traveled nationally or internationally together because we like to sleep in our own house. He toured nationally in his old band before I met him.  

In addition, we used to travel up to 8 hours away, but now only travel within a three-hour radius.

Does Starting a Musicial Side Hustle Sound Interesting to You?

I love playing music and hope that this post on my musical side hustle can inspire you!

For now, my husband and I are trying to figure out the next steps. While being a musician is a lot of fun, it is also tough.

We started our current blog because we are at a crossroads with our entire music operation.  

We used to play dozens of shows per year (up to 100)! Now, I am playing solo and only booking gigs that seek me out first. I put no effort into booking gigs anymore. If something comes up, it’s riding off past networking.

We’re busy at home with our child, we have other full-time careers, and we like it this way.

Looking ahead, we would like to record our 30 songs (written through the perspective of overlooked historical people), start a Youtube channel or podcast devoted to the songs, and possibly experiment with selling music online.  We hope to pull together information on education, money, creativity, and music (and make it fun).  

We’ll see! Stay tuned…

There are so many amazing side hustles out there in the world. I’ve found a side hustle I love, and hope you can too!

Readers: what do you think about this side hustle idea? Would you want to become a musician to earn some extra money?

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This post is a guest post from The Budget Epicurean, sharing her side hustle story. Her side hustle is as a food tour guide, and she was able to make a few hundred dollars a month sharing her passion of food. In this side hustle guest post series, I’m looking to inspire others with unique stories of how people are making some extra money. Starting a side hustle as a food tour guide might be for you. Read on below to learn how to become a food tour guide to earn some extra money on the side!

I remember it like it was yesterday, the early afternoon of April 11, 2015 in Denver Colorado. My mom had come for a visit while I was attending graduate school.

The sun was shining but the weather was still chilly up in the mile high city.

She was in town for just a few days, and had a super fun surprise planned for us, she said.

She took my on my very first Food Tour.

I had never heard of a food tour before this, but it totally makes sense. The tour usually stops at 4 to 6 food or drink spots, with some sightseeing along the way. The group with us was about ten people total, and we had a blast.

We ate, drank, laughed, learned, ate some more, walked, made friends, drank, and ate some more.

Why would anyone pay $50 for one dinner at one location, when you can see five different places and sample all their food and the different ambiances?! Why not learn about all sorts of fun facts, history, and information about the city you are in as well as each restaurant and food you try?

From that day I was hooked on food tours, and thought I could become a food tour guide.

food tour guide

Starting My Food Tour Guide Side Hustle

This food tour experience stuck with me for the next few months.

Sadly, soon after I left graduate school, and not long after that, also left the state of Colorado.

Real estate prices were just too high (thanks, pot laws) for my soon-to-be husband and I to afford the home we wanted.

With these high prices, we jumped ship to the other side of the country, and moved to Connecticut.

In February.

Where the ocean was literally frozen and the high was zero.

Yes, we are well aware of how insane that was.

Anyways, we settled into East Coast life, and the idea of being a food tour guide stuck around. My husband was so supportive, he even thought I could start my own tour company.

Step one was to see if there was even a market for such a thing in our new town. Turned out, there was a market, because there already was a food tour company! It had been around for several years already at that point.

So, I figured, rather than try to start up a competing tour, why not keep my lucrative day job and just see if I could learn the ropes from this company which clearly already knew what it was doing?

And the rest is history.

I was a guide in Connecticut for 2 years. Then when we moved again, to our forever home in North Carolina, I immediately found a tour company, contacted the owner, and have been guiding for them for another 2 ½ years.

I have done between 1 and 6 tours per month, on Saturdays or Sundays, and a few special events. Most tours I’ve done are 1 – 2 miles walking, round trip, and take 3-5 hours.

I’ve loved doing this fun side hustle and want to share some more details on how you could start working as a food tour guide.

What is a Food Tour Guide?

food tour guide hustleA food tour guide is exactly that, a guide for a food tour!

A food tour is typically walking, and has several stops. The group meets up somewhere, and the guide will introduce themselves and the tour route, set the expectations, and hopefully do a little intro of the town.

In addition, you’ll include an icebreaker to get the group comfortable if they don’t already know each other and look to create an enjoyable experience for everyone.

The guide then leads the group through the tour from restaurant to restaurant, sometimes stopping at notable locations along the way to describe some history of the place you’re touring or a notable piece of art, etc.

We also call ahead to each stop to let them know the final head count on the tour, remind them of any allergies or special requests, and let them know if the group in on schedule or not.

The guide’s main goal is to make sure each restaurant treats us well and that the guests are having a good time.

How Can I Become a Food Tour Guide?

Most cities have food tour guide companies.

I’d start by googling “Food Tour in <your city>” and see if there are already any companies locally.

If so, go check out their website. There will likely be a contact page, just send the owner an email and say you are interested in learning more and becoming a guide for them.

If there are no tour companies in your area, then you have some big choices to make.

  • Do you have a cluster of good food stops close enough to walk between them all (1-2 miles is pretty typical)?
  • Do you have enough interest that people in your town will want to do tours, and preferably a good amount of tourists as well?

If the answer to these questions is yes, you could possibly start your own food tour guide company and take people to different restaurants.

You would need to go talk to the business owners to find partners on your tours, and work out arrangements with each restaurant/business.

Joining an existing company would most likely be the easiest, but starting your own company is always an option.

What is Expected of a Food Tour Guide?

As the tour guide, you are the de facto expert of food, culture and geography.

On the tour, people ask you about food, the restaurants you are going to, anything about the town you are touring or the state you are in. They also ask about you, and how you got into food tour guiding.

You should make sure you have an elevator pitch about yourself prepared, and some fun facts about your town.

It helps if you’ve been to the stops on your tour before, and for a real overachiever introduce yourself to the owners and or staff and ask if they have any stories or history they want your tour to know about.

Some additional expectations and things to do on the food tours are:

  • You may need to pay or tip at some of the stops, in which case your company owner should supply you cash ahead of time or a company credit card.
  • You are expected to show up on time, to be able to command a groups’ attention, and to shepherd people safely through a city.
  • When you are on the tour, show your personality! You are also expected to be outgoing, fun and loud, especially at the beginning of the tour before everyone gets more comfortable.
  • Finally, you want to provide them a relaxing, fun, and memorable experience.

How Much Can I Make as a Food Tour Guide?

As a food tour guide, you can make potentially $100 a tour. You will likely be paid a flat fee per tour by the company, plus any tips from your guests.

While this isn’t a super lucrative side hustle, you can still make some extra money to pay down debt, save more, or get some extra spending money.

I have been paid between $35 – $50 per tour by the companies I’ve worked for, and for tips, these have varied drastically.

My best tour was a 6 person for which I got $100 in tips, but I’ve also had several tours with $0 in tips.

You typically can’t predict how well people will or will not tip you; I’ve had tours I thought went very well and the group had a blast, and then got nothing.

The hourly rate is not the greatest, as most tours run 3-4 hours, but the tips can push it into lucrative territory.

That being said, you will most likely get a free meal out of it, which adds a little bit more to the compensation!

What are the Hours Like for Food Tour Guides?

Each food tour is different, but typically, a tour will be 3 to 5 hours. The amount of time a tour will take is completely dependent on how many stops you are scheduled to take.

Most tours run on the weekends, some companies have weeknights or daytime tours offered. Companies offer private tours for birthdays, company events, bachelorette parties, etc.

Depending on the company you work for, you could work up to every weekend each month.

Finally, most tours also run no matter the weather unless it is truly severe. You will want to dress and plan accordingly. Whether that means bringing an umbrella, layers, or a thick winter coat and hat, you’ll want to be prepared.

All in all, if you work most weekends, you could expect to make a few hundred extra dollars a month from your food guide side hustle!

food tour guide side hustle

What’s the Best and Worst Parts of Being a Food Tour Guide?

Every side hustle has its pros and cons.

The best part of being a food tour guide is definitely getting to meet all the people on the tours, and the local restaurant staff in your town.

I meet people who lived there their whole life, and meet out of town people visiting family, touring colleges, or celebrating birthdays. Touring different places and meeting people is always fun and different, and I get to learn a lot myself about other people and cultures.

Also, you usually get to eat and drink along with the tour group, so I get a free dinner every Saturday tour!

The worst part of being a food tour guide is when you think you did a really great job guiding the tour, and then get zero tips. I try not to take it personally and think some people just don’t know to how to tip so, or maybe don’t have the spare cash flow to do so.

Become a Food Tour Guide and Make Some Extra Money

There you have it, the glamorous life of a food tour guide side hustler!

If you are the type of person who is very outgoing and likes getting people to talk to each other and telling stories, becoming a food tour guide might be for you.

If you seek out knowledge about your town and local restaurants and like sharing those facts, and if you love eating and talking about food and don’t mind walking, becoming a food tour guide is the hustle for you.

There are so many amazing side hustles out there in the world. I’ve found a side hustle I love, and hope you can too!

Readers: what do you think about this side hustle idea? Would you want to become a food tour guide to make some extra money?

How to make extra money as a food tour guide.

blogging income report

A few years ago, I decided to start researching ways to make more money on the side of my day job. Searching “how to make more money” in Google kept leading me towards websites saying “start a blog”, fill out surveys, or join some silly apps.

After some thought, I decided to take a step towards creating an online business, and started a blog.

My goal with my blog was to see if I could turn it into an income stream and make money from blogging.

After 2 years of writing, hustling, and grinding away for hours and hours, I haven’t made a lot of money, but I have made some money.

Can you actually make money from blogging?

Short answer? Yes.

Long answer? It’s complicated.

In this post, I’m going to share with you my results from my first 2 years of blogging, what you can expect if you start a blog, the skills necessary for growing your blog, and an answer to the question if you can actually make money from blogging.

What a New Blogger Can Expect During The 1st 2 Years of Blogging

I launched The Mastermind Within on the 1st day of 2017. It’s now 2019, and I’ve been blogging for 2 years.

During this time, I posted a ton of content, redesigned this website a handful of times, made a ton of mistakes, and have made some money.

Overall though, after two years, my return from my blog is a large negative.

When I started blogging, I didn’t know how to build a following, provide value, and monetize this following.

Over time, I learned, but it’s been a long slog.

Below are the revenue statistics from the first two years of blogging on The Mastermind Within.

What You Could Expect in Your First Year of Blogging

In the first year (2017), I made $161 and received 40,957 page views (~3,500 page views a month).

blog income report December 2017

Not included in the picture above is the expenses. In 2017, I spent around $1,300 on different software, website hosting, and education resources.

During this first year, I added nearly 175 pieces of new content to the website, but my marketing wasn’t fantastic.

I wasn’t on Pinterest, wasn’t doing any Facebook advertising, and wasn’t super consistent with my posting or outreach.

Also, I was still learning how to make an appealing website, and was struggling with focus for my new and existing readers.

Some of this was addressed in year two, but after one year, I still didn’t really know what I was doing (and it shows in the results)

What You Could Expect in Your Second Year of Blogging

During the second year, I focused in a little more, secured some sponsored content contracts, and continued to build up the content on the website.

In the second year of the blog, I made $2,520, and received 128,932 page views (~11,000 page views a month).

blog income report decebmer 2018

blog statistics december 2018

During the second year, I posted 3 times a week, but the main driver of the increase in traffic was from search engines.

For money making, I was experimenting with a lot of different ways to make money blogging, but none of them really worked out. Some were based around affiliate marketing, other ideas were based around ads.

One blogging money making method that did work out was securing a sponsored post contract with an advertising agency.

Sponsored content is not for everyone, but I wanted to see if it would be beneficial. For this website, it seems it has been okay.

In the second year, I hired a few people to help me with this blog, but the return on that investment was not instantaneous.

Overall, for the second year, I took a monetary loss of $650, as well as all of the time I spent on the blog.

Can You Actually Make Money Blogging?

Let’s go back to the original question, can you actually make money blogging?

Yes, you can make money blogging. Affiliate marketing, ads, sponsored content, partnerships, paid products – all of these can lead to income if done right.

I’m currently working on a paid product that could bring in $3,000 a month if done right. We will see the result when I’m done with the product!

Making money online is certainly possible, but will take effort and patience.  For me, in my first two years, I made nearly $3,000.

However, to make this money, I spent about $4,500, and worked countless hours on writing, designing and learning how to become a better online business owner.

I made a lot of mistakes, but also have grown a ton from my experience.

During my first two years of blogging, I was exposed to the following concepts and experiences:

  • providing value through your writing
  • web design
  • social media marketing
  • lead magnets and email marketing
  • search engine optimization
  • community building and meeting other bloggers

I wouldn’t have learned any of these blogging skills, or had some amazing experiences with other awesome people if I didn’t start.

Also, what’s amazing about these relationships and skills is they will not go away over time.

For example, one of my side hustles to earn more money now is freelance web design. I design websites for small business owners who don’t know how to get started online.

Over the past 6 months, I’ve earned nearly $3,000 from this side hustle. This more than makes up for the loss I’ve taken on the blog.

In year three on my blog, I’m continuing to focus in and learn more about what makes my readers tick, how I can serve them, and what will lead to growth on this blog.

Can you actually make money online and make money blogging? Yes.

Will it be difficult? Yes.

Should You Start a Blog to Earn More Money?

Above, we talked about what you can expect during your first two years of blogging.

Maybe you are still thinking about starting a blog, or maybe you already have a blog and are looking to grow.

Buying a domain, getting paid website hosting, and installing WordPress on your website can be done in less than an hour for typically less than $150.

It’s never been easier or less expensive to launch an online business than it is today.

Even with my less than stellar results after two years, I’m still very thankful I took the plunge and started this website.

If you are on the fence about diving in deep on the blog, let me share some more thoughts on the benefits I’ve found from blogging.

The rest of this post will be talking about your mindset towards creating a great blog, how to start a blog, and my best tips I have for new bloggers.

Take Action and Do Work

On this blog, I talk a lot about the importance of action.

Back at the beginning of 2017, I started The Mastermind Within. I registered the domain, https://personalfinanceblogs.com, and got to work building out the website.

I decided to take bold action, and put my thoughts and opinions out into the wild World Wide Web.

What started out as an outlet to help others, to connect with like-minded individuals, to document my journey, and to potentially create an income stream has become all of this and more.

I’m incredibly thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to meet some amazing people and am looking forward to continue on this journey in year number 3.

It would have been easy for me to not start this blog, but I decided to take action and do the work. It would have been easy to not write thousands of words spanning hundreds of blog posts, but I decided to take action and do the work.

There are so many “hard” things that are necessary for success in this world. But, speaking frankly here, they aren’t actually that hard. The difficulty comes in the consistency and application of discipline.

Ideas are Worthless Without Action

How many million dollar ideas have you came up with over the last few years?

How many of those have you implemented?

For all of your ideas that you’ve implemented, what was the gain or loss?

I have plenty of ideas, but have realized that all of these ideas are worthless unless I actually try and capitalize on them.

Starting a YouTube channel, buying a rental property, starting a blog, getting started with a new hobby, getting into shape, building a new company – all of these things make for great conversation and goals, but without actually doing the work, nothing will come of it.

This blog, The Mastermind Within, wasn’t the most original idea. There are plenty of blogs which talk about personal finance, self improvement or entrepreneurship.

Here’s the thing: you don’t need an amazing idea the first, second, fifth or tenth time you do something. Surprisingly, taking action actually will lead to bigger and better ideas!

Over the last two years, I’ve seen some fantastic results personally, on the blog, and in my other hustles.

These results include:

  • A crazy amount of content on this website
  • Personal growth and self improvement from my hustle
  • New relationships with amazing people
  • A potential income stream going forward

Let’s go into these in more detail.

The Raw Output of Taking Action on Your Blog

In 2018, I added nearly 200 pieces of content to this blog, with the word count totaling 253,515 words. In 2017, I added nearly 175 pieces of content to the blog, with the word count totaling 216,269 words.

That’s a lot of freaking writing.

One of my life mantras is the following:

Simple daily disciplines over time will lead to MASSIVE SUCCESS.

Over 2 years, I stayed consistent with my writing and growth on this website.

There were days when I didn’t want to write, days where I didn’t have a great idea, and days where I could’ve just pushed it off for another day.

Now, I have a strong foundation, and with consistent efforts, you could create a site like this as well.

Personal Growth and Self Improvement from Blogging

Growing up, English was my worse subject in school. I got B’s and C’s in English, whereas in my math and science courses, I got mostly A’s.

In college, I graduated with a math degree, and only took 1 writing class.

Communication, English and comprehension has always been a struggle for me.

With these as weaknesses, why did I start a blog? If I’m bad at these things, then why try?

Something I like to do is spin situations and look at them from a different angle. With these weaknesses, maybe they are reasons why I actually should start a blog or podcast!

Blogging has drastically improved my communication and ability to think on my feet. Writing over 200,000 words in a coherent matter takes practice (my first posts looked horrible – and my new ones still have room for improvement!)

With this improved communication, I’ve seen improvements and an impact in my relationships and career.

Communication is incredibly important for having a successful career, and through my efforts to improve my communication, I’ve seen an increase in my salary at my day job.

Another skill I’ve learned from blogging is web design. As I discussed above, this new side hustle has helped me increase my side income.

Designing websites and making improvements to this website has been a lot of fun, and also helped me in my day job.

Learning HTML and CSS isn’t too difficult, but there is definitely a learning curve to get started.

Now, I’ve been able to market this skill and help others with their websites!

From blogging, I’ve learned a lot of great skills which will help me going forward in my hustles.

Making New Connections, Forming New Friendships and Finding Love

When I started blogging, I had no idea that there was a huge community of other bloggers who all loved talking about money, hustling and personal growth.

Over my first two years of blogging, I met and interacted with hundreds of awesome people at different meet-ups and media conferences.

I even dated someone amazing for about a year who I met through this blog!

A number of these people I met over the last year I now consider some of my best friends 🙂

Discussing interests, having accountability buddies, sharing great stories and experiences, and raising my “average” (you’re the average of the 5 people you spend your time with in all ways – wealth, social skills, health, interests, career success, etc.) has been so much fun and so great.

I’m very excited to continue to keep having fun with these new blogging and finance friends, but also meet new people too!

A New Income Stream

In the first section of this post, I told you that one of my goals with this blog was to make money. When I started, I took inspiration from other bloggers who had turned their personal website or blog into an online business.

As we saw above, through the first two years, I made roughly $3,000.

While this isn’t a lot, it has set the stage for a potential income stream going forward with the correct actions and efforts.

Time will tell if I’m able to make it into a profitable endeavor, but if others can do it, then so can I.

What Can You Accomplish?

One of the sayings I hate the most is, “I don’t have enough time for X.” 

Yes, I do understand that there are situations where kids are involved, multiple jobs are being held, or because of past choices, there aren’t enough hours in a day to get everything you want done.

But for many people, a lot of time is spent on their phone, watching TV or laying in bed. Heck, I used to play 3-4 hours of video games EVERY DAY. That’s over 1,000 hours a year!

What is interesting, is humans underestimate how much they can accomplish in a year (or 3, or 5 years).

In my second year of blogging, I added over 250,000 words and nearly 200 posts to this website. In the past two years, I’ve added over 450,000 words and 350 posts to this website.

Could I have done all of this in 1 day? No.

Could I have done all of this in 1 week? No.

Could I have done all of this in 1 month? No.

What about 1 year? 2 years? 5 years? Yes 🙂 (I did it!)

Think about this for a second: in 5 years, you’ll be on this Earth for 43,800 hours.

How many hours does it take to reach your goal? 100? 200? 500?

I think you can carve out 100 hours in the next 5 years 😉

Spending 30 minutes a day for 200 days will hit lead to hitting your goal. Spend an hour a day for 100 days and you’ll hit your 100 hour goal.

I know you can do it.

Take action today. Do the work, and you’ll be on the path to success.

6 Steps to Starting and Growing Your Blog

At this point, you might be interested in starting a blog, but don’t know the next steps to getting your website started.

Maybe you are skeptical that you should start a blog.

There are plenty of reasons why you shouldn’t create a blog:

  • You don’t know what you would write about
  • You don’t believe your writing skills are up to par
  • The time isn’t there to build and maintain a blog
  • You don’t know anything about blogging and are scared to learn

While these are valid concerns, I will address each one of these concerns here:

You don’t know what you would write about

There are millions of things you could write about.

What are your interests?

  • Do you like winter sports such as skiing or skating?
    • You could start a blog talking about different hills that you have tried out or different skating rinks.
  • Do you like traveling?
    • There are many travel blogs (and the best part is, your tickets possibly could be tax-deductible!)
  • Are you passionate about a certain topic?
    • Do you know about personal finance, cooking, survival, fashion, fitness, or something else other people are looking to learn?

There are millions of things you could write about; it is important to brainstorm and think big.

You don’t believe your writing skills are up to par

When I started blogging, I knew my writing skills were not perfect (I told you above, I’m a math major, not an English major 🙂 ).

That being said, I have been able to work on these skills over time and have developed a skill set that has helped me in my day job and in other settings.

Communication is extremely important in today’s world.

You don’t want to put in extra time to build a blog

As I will discuss later in the post, I only spend about 5-10 hours on this blog a week.

Setting up your blog does take some time initially, and depending on how big you want it to grow, you can put as much time in as you want.

As I said before, after setting it up and getting it rolling, you probably will spend 5-10 hours on the blog a week going forward.

You don’t know anything about blogging and are scared to learn

There are so many amazing resources on the web to learn about content creation, web design, email marketing, and successful blogging. Later in this this post, I’ll provide some amazing blogging resources which have helped me grow my website.

With these concerns out of the way, how can you start your blog today?

Steps to Setting Up Your Blog

There are 6 steps to set up a blog:

  1. Choose a topic
  2. Choose a domain
  3. Get web hosting
  4. Install WordPress
  5. Design your website
  6. Write your first post!

Let’s dive into each one of these.

1) Choose a topic

First and foremost, you need an idea for starting the blog.

For The Mastermind Within, the idea was to start a community that focused on discussing trying to live a balanced life. A balanced life would include being financially successful, holding a great job in the field you are passionate about, and pushing to grow over time.

For you, what are passionate about?

  • Is it helping others?
  • Winter sports?
  • Do you love DIY projects?
  • What about planting flowers?

There are many different avenues you can take here.

2) Choose a domain name (website name)

After you have picked a topic, now is the fun part: coming up with a website name.

This name should be simple and memorable (3-5 words).

For this website, the domain name is https://personalfinanceblogs.com.

We picked The Mastermind Within because we believe everyone is the creator, owner, and master of their lives. In addition, when someone is called a Mastermind, there is the implication the person has control on their lives.

By reading our blog, you can become more successful in life and become the owner of your life.

Once you have an idea for your domain, you can check the domain availability on a website like Instant Domain Search, or when you go to buy paid hosting.

3) Get paid web hosting

A web host is the server your website runs on. Web hosting is like the land, and your website is the house on that land.

Why paid web hosting?

When starting out blogging, some people will start with a wordpress.com or a blogger.com blog. While this is perfectly okay, there are so many limitations for designing, monetizing and growing your following on those sites.

It is possible to still have a free blog, however, to have complete control over your website, and have support if something went wrong, I still recommend a paying for web hosting.

For web hosting, you want a web hosting service that has been reliable, stable, and high performing.

Personally, I’ve used Namecheap, Bluehost and Siteground, and now have all of my websites running on Siteground. Siteground is super fast, affordable, and has great customer service.

If you need paid web hosting, I recommend Siteground. I will earn a commission if you buy through following link, but I truly believe Siteground is a fantastic web host for bloggers.

siteground

After clicking over to Siteground, for new bloggers, you can get the start-up plan, and then create your account.

Once you find a domain that is available, then you will enter your personal details and select the package information settings.

I recommend getting the “Domain Privacy Protection” for $0.99 a month.

If you are trying to stay anonymous, this will hide your name and phone number from others. For the other settings, I don’t select any.

The only one I considered selecting, in addition to the “Domain Privacy Protection” setting, was the Site Backup Pro. For me, I back-up my site manually, and save some cash.

4) Install WordPress

After purchasing hosting, it is time to get WordPress. To continue with our analogy, Siteground is the land, your domain is the house, and WordPress is the materials to build the house.

Just like you can pick different materials (i.e., wood floors vs. carpet), you can pick different blogging software.

WordPress is a fantastic blogging software application which makes managing and customizing your blog very easy.

Installing WordPress on Siteground is very straightforward.

After the install, you are ready to get to work on the web design and content 🙂

5) Design Website

There is a couple of things that are important to mention at this stage.

1) Theme (Free or Premium)

When you first start-up WordPress, you will probably have the generic WordPress theme activated.

This theme is fine for starters, but this one is as default as they come and may not have the customization you want.

There are many free themes you can get. The positives for these themes are they are free, and they will have more customization than the default WordPress themes. The negatives are there may be little to no support, and the theme may get abandoned and become outdated over time.

For starters, it might be wise to stick with a free theme.

For The Mastermind Within, we use the XTheme. This is a premium theme and costs $59.

The reason why I decided to go with a premium theme is premium themes are supported, the layout is more professional and the customization is superior to free themes.

To install a theme, go to the Appearance tab on the left sidebar of the WordPress dashboard, and select themes. You will be led to this page:

xtheme wordpress theme

2) Plugins

Plugins are extensions to a base WordPress theme. These extensions help you do many specialized tasks.

Some plugins I use and I suggest are the following:

  • Yoast SEO
    • Helps a TON with your writing
  • Askimet
    • A spam blocker – no one likes spam!
  • Contact Form 7
    • A simple and flexible contact form
  • Pretty Link Lite
    • A plugin to convert ugly links into pretty links
  • WP Rocket
    • A plugin designed to improve user experience and page speed
  • Smush
    • Reduces the size of your media files and improves page load speed
  • Sassy Social Share
    • An awesome social media sharing plug-in with the ability to share to 100+ platforms
  • TinyMCE Advanced
    • Enables advanced post editing features

Depending on your goals, there are thousands of other plug-ins out there you can use to make our website perform how you want it to perform.

3) Integrate a Free Email Service

Growing your brand and following on your website can be done on social media, but an email list is what you want to start building from day one.

To start building an email list, you need to sign up for a free email service.

I recommend Mailchimp or MailerLite for new bloggers. I’ve used both, and think they are both great (plus they are free!).

After signing up for an email service, you will create a list and a form to collect emails.

Then, after creating your email form, embed this form on your website and you can then collect emails.

If you start collecting emails, you will need a privacy policy on your website. Contact and data storage is a HUGE area of scrutiny for online businesses.

These email platforms keep the data safe. But for your customers, they need to know exactly what you are doing with it.

4) Site Layout and Design

Once you have your theme and plugins, you can start to customize the layout of your website.

Go to the “Appearance” tab on the left sidebar and click “Customize”. Here you will be able to customize many different aspects of your website, from fonts to widget placement to backgrounds to menus to headers and footers.

There will be many different combinations you can choose from.

Find the one that is best for you!

If you need more customization, then you can create a child theme and change the template files.

6) Write your first post (and then your second and third…)

After completing the first 5 steps, you have your idea, you have your website, you have your design. Now, it’s time to produce some content for your readers.

Here’s the awesome thing: you can do whatever you want!

Maybe you want to do an introduction page, or an about me page.

It’s possible you want to get right into writing about your passions and save the intro page for later. Maybe you want to start promoting a product, such as an e-book, right away.

The possibilities are endless! You now have your own platform to do whatever you want on it!

Resources to Help You Grow Your Blog

Now, that you’ve set up your blog, you are probably wondering, “What’s next? How can I grow this website?”

There are a number of fantastic resources I’ve used over the past two years which have helped me improve my knowledge around blogging.

  • Google Analytics 
    • A free and very powerful website traffic tracking software from Google
  • Google Search Console
    • A free and very powerful website search engine tracking service from Google
  • Content Inc
    • One of my favorite books, Content Inc is a fantastic resource about content marketing and building a content based business.
  • Do You Even Blog
    • Pete McPherson has created an amazing blog and podcast all about blogging. His posts and tips are amazing for helping new bloggers get to their goals.
  • Lindsay Lawless, for Pinterest
    • I hired Lindsay and she has helped me grow my Pinterest over time. She grew her personal Pinterest to 5,000,000 monthly impressions, and now she helps others improve their Pinterest accounts full time.
  • Code Academy, for web design
    • I learned how to design websites through Code Academy, and then through practice. Without the basics though, I would have never succeeded.
  • Canva, for graphic design

Searching on Google will lead to some other amazing blogging resources, but these should definitely help you get started.

Will You Make Money Blogging?

In this post, I’ve provided you some amazing resources and tips to get your blog started, or get your blog growing.

As I mentioned above, I’ve gained some amazing skills, met some awesome people, and created a space for myself on the internet for my thoughts.

While this website might never become profitable, the connections and abilities I’ve acquired are totally worth it.

For you, my number one tip is to start, and be consistent with your actions.

Simple daily disciplines will lead to massive success over time.

Can you actually make money blogging? Yes.

Will you love blogging even if you don’t make money? Absolutely.

If you have any questions or comments about blogging, web design, or marketing, feel free to contact me. I read and respond to every email.

How I Reached 1,000,000 views

Are you looking to get more followers, increase answer views and build your brand on Quora?

Building a following on Quora is possible with a strategy similar to building a following on other social media and content platforms.

It is not necessarily difficult or complex, but will require you to post unique content and be consistent.

Over the past year, I’ve been utilizing Quora to start to build my brand establish myself as an authority figure in the personal finance and entrepreneurship space. I’ve grow my following to 1,000+ followers and over 1,000,000 answer views.

views on Quora

By increasing my reach and following, I’ve been able to send more traffic to my website through Quora. By increasing my traffic with Quora, I’ve also been able to grow my blog’s email list.

If you build a following on Quora, you will have another channel you can use to acquire leads, increase viewership, or grow your email list.

In this post, I will be sharing with you the strategy I used to get more followers, received 1,000,000+ answer views, and became a Top Writer on Quora.

What is Quora?

quora logoQuora is a question-and-answer site where questions are asked, answered, edited, and organized by its community of users. Quora is like Yahoo Answers, but a much more sophisticated and mature version.

The topics on Quora range from health to personal finance to everyday philosophy to anime to old movies to entrepreneurship – and the list of topics is growing larger each day.

Users are able to sign up and answer questions in their area of expertise. These answers can be viewed, upvoted, and if someone likes your answers, they can follow you.

Some people have tens of thousands of followers, and after answering a question, can get thousands of views (which could result in hundreds of clicks to a link of your choice.)

Using Content Marketing on Quora

One of the most influential books for contenting marketing is Content Inc., by Joe Pulizzi. In Content Inc, Pulizzi discusses a new way on how to build a business and brand.

First, build an audience. Then, create the product.

Traditionally, businesses have tried to do the opposite, and the track record speaks for itself: 90% of start-ups fail.

Content Inc. breaks down the business startup process into six steps, making it simple for you to visualize, launch and monetize your own business. These steps are:

  • The Sweet Spot
    • Identify the intersection of your unique competency and your personal passion
  • Content Tilt
    • Determine how you can “tilt” your sweet spot to find a place where little or no competition exists
  • Building the Base
    • Establish your number one channel for disseminating content (blog, podcast, YouTube, etc.)
  • Harvesting Audience
    • Use social media and SEO to convert onetime visitors into long-term subscribers
  • Diversification
    • Grow your business by expanding into multiple delivery channels
  • Monetization
    • Now that your expertise is established, you can begin charging money for your products or services

On Quora, I’ve found the most success focusing on #1 and #2: The Sweet Spot, and Content Tilt.

Write about Your Passion on Quora

“The sweet spot is a place where a combination of factors results in a maximum response for a given amount of effort.” – Wikipedia

When looking to build a following on Quora, you must identify your content sweet spot. Your content sweet spot is the intersection of your knowledge or skill area and your passion.

While it’s possible to develop a sweet spot without a passion point, your passion will drive you to continue answering questions and posting consistently.

For me, my content sweet spots are personal finance, book recommendations, and self-improvement.

Asking yourself which subject areas you have expertise in and which subject areas you are passionate about will lead to finding your content sweet spot for Quora.

Creating Unique Content for Quora

“Everything under the sun has been said… you have to find a new way to say it.” – Henry Winkler

The majority of content developed every day is just like everything else out there.

It doesn’t matter the frequency or delivery or the channel you deliver the content through; if the content doesn’t tell a different story, it will most likely be ignored.

What’s your unique story? What makes your expertise different than other people’s expertise in your field? Can you tell your story on Quora which will be compelling and inviting?

There’s so much power in story telling!

Figuring out what makes you unique in your subject of expertise will allow you to grow faster on Quora and increase your viewership.

Specific Strategies to Get More Followers and Views on Quora

Below are 4 specific strategies and tips for getting more followers and views on Quora.

These strategies are specific to Quora, but could potentially be applied in other content creation platforms.

  1. Answer Questions in Topics Which are Highly Followed
    • I like answering questions on the topic of Personal Finance. The topic of personal finance has 1.7 million followers, which is fairly large for a topic on Quora. In comparison, real estate investing has only 135 thousand followers.
    • To get a lot of page views, answering questions in topics which many people are already looking for will result in a higher chance of your answer getting viewed.
  2. Answer Questions that Highly Followed People have Answered
    • There are a number of people on Quora with THOUSANDS of followers. They answer a question and get 5,000 views in an hour.
    • A strategy I’ve utilized is to answer questions which these people have already answered – in an effort to gain readers off the coattails of the “famous” person. These people have shown they enjoy this type of question, why wouldn’t they like my answer?
  3. Re-Purpose Existing Content to be Able to Produce Long Form Content
    • With over 400 blog posts on The Mastermind Within, I have a LOT of content. For my book recommendation answers, I will typically copy and paste from existing posts and then make some edits to make sure it’s tailored to the question.
    • Having 1,000+ word answers tend to do better than shorter answers. If you already have the content ready to go, this will allow you to leverage past work.
  4. Put in a Few Pictures where Necessary to Spice Up Your Answer
    • Humans are visual creatures and like pictures.
    • Yes, Quora is an information driven site, but having a few pictures can help break up the content!

How to Become a Top Writer on Quora

Each year, Quora selects a number of high performing users and awards them the status of Top Writer.

Becoming a Top Writer is quite the achievement, and requires consistency in posting, having unique and solid content, and being an active member of the Quora community.

While there are no specific rules on becoming a Top Writer on Quora, I became a Top Writer through answering about 10-15 questions a week and looking to provide high quality information.

Becoming a Top Writer will further your influence on the Quora platform and give you some perks other writers do not have.

Is Medium or Quora a Better Platform for Content Marketing?

When approaching building a following online and increasing your brand exposure, people will ask if Medium or Quora is a better platform for content marketing.

Business owners and marketers love Quora and Medium because they can amplify their content and reach a bigger audience. Readers and users love Quora and Medium because these websites provide a simple interface to read about topics in which they’re interested.

These two platforms can serve different purposes for your business. Quora is great to build a following and use it to supplement marketing efforts of an organization. The questions answered on Quora can position an individual as a subject matter expert.

Medium is another content platform which already has a user base which individuals and companies can use to build their brand online. Medium is a powerful platform which could serve as a company blog.

Deciding on Medium or Quora will be dependent on your organization’s goals. Both could serve a role for building your following online.

Whatever your decision, your organization will want Medium and Quora to be secondary to a website with product offerings to drive sales.

Gain Thousands of Followers and Views on Quora

Getting more followers on Quora, increasing your answer views,and building a following will require consistency and effort.

Overnight success is rare, but over time, you’ll be able to drive more traffic to your website. With more traffic, your sales people will be able to capture more leads and hopefully close more deals and sales.

Are you building your brand online? What strategies are you utilizing? Are you interested in getting on Quora?

How To Get Millions Of Views On Quora

save money on vacations

Building a business and bringing in passive income each and every month is an entrepreneur’s dream. Creating a passive income stream might seem intimidating, but it is possible with dropshipping print on demand niche products.

Traditional merchandise stores are becoming obsolete, but buying niche products will never go away.

As a merchandise business owner, you can use powerful, and affordable, print on demand technology to design, sell and fulfill from your home laptop.

Best of all, learning about creating a print on demand store is not rocket science.  Successfully building a print on demand dropshipping business can be done through the following 5 principles.

The 5 Principles for Building a Dropshipping Business

Strategy is very important when starting out in business. Without having a plan, you can waste a lot of time and money not doing what will lead to success.

For a successful print on demand business, there are 5 principles which lead to success:

  • Mindset
    • Do you have want it takes to be a successful business owner? Do you have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset?
  • Design
    • People buy niche products because they like the design on the t-shirt, coffee mug, hat or sticker you are selling. Can you come up with unique designs?
  • Partners
    • There are many powerful, and affordable, platforms and fulfillment companies which will help printing and shipping your products on demand.
  • Marketing
    • Without sales, you have no business. Getting the right customers in front of your product will result in sales and making money.
  • Operations
    • Printing, shipping, tracking and customer service can all be outsourced making print on demand a fantastic opportunity to create a lifestyle business.

Below is a more detailed description of each of these principles.

Print on Demand Business Principle #1: Mindset

product design businessTo become successful as a print on demand business owner, it’s important you have the right mindset.

Do you know what makes your target customer happy? What kind of product would your target customer love to wear?

Picking a particular niche is the first step in creating your print on demand business.

Focusing on a particular niche which has passionate people in it makes all the difference in the print on demand business. You must find a niche where people are very proud and passionate about their interest.

Going a step further, it is best if your niche has people who are already represent their niche and are willing to share their passion on social media.

For example, people are very passionate about their jobs. An idea is you could sell t-shirts which are job specific to various professions. Those individuals will be proud to wear their job-related shirt across their chest and will hopefully buy uniquely designed t-shirts from your niche merchandise store.

Next, it’s important to leave your assumptions at the door and let data drive all of your decisions. For example, if you are marketing t-shirts to teachers, don’t assume that only teachers in their 40’s would buy your shirt.

You MUST test to confirm your hypothesis.

Also, it’s important to live inside your niche – get into the mind of the niche fans. Spend a couple of hours on Pinterest, Instagram, and competitor stores to find themes, colors, logos, and products which can give you a sense of the niche and existing products. No need to reinvent the wheel!

Finally, take action. Once you have your store set up, and a shareable product to market, you can launch.

It’s never been easier to sell niche merchandise – don’t wait to build your successful lifestyle business.

Print on Demand Business Principle #2: Design

Design quality is essential to a high performing niche gifts and merchandise business.

For your designs, ask yourself the following question: would you be embarrassed someone saw you with your design on a coffee mug or t-shirt?

If yes, time to start over on that design. If no, post it and start marketing!

The designs need to be stylized and unique so that people will buy. You can’t just take any old image off Fiverr and expect people to buy.

The successful niche gift and merchandise sales equation is the following: passionate niche + shareable product = big sales.

Your niche specific merchandise designs can be created on your own or sourced from a designer. You can find designers on websites such as Upwork. You should look for freelance graphic designers who are talented but are still building their portfolio. These designers need to understand how to design for screen printing and print on demand.

As you become more experienced, you and your designer will be producing stunning designs. Over time, you will be pumping out high quality designs that you like and can passively sell.

Print on Demand Business Principle #3: Partners

There are two types of partners: a website partner and a printing partner.

business around dropshipping t-shirts platformShopify: your go-to Website Partner

There are many e-commerce platforms out there, but there is a clear, winning solution for print on demand businesses: Shopify .

Shopify is an easy to use platform with a fantastic backend. Shopify will fulfill orders, produce in-depth reports, has highly functional payment gateways for credit cards and Paypal, and has many integrations to print on demand companies.

You could use a service such as WooCommerce (a WordPress Plug-in), but I’m not a huge fan because you have to worry about hosting.

If you are driving 10s of thousands of people to your WordPress site and your site goes down, you are on the hook for hundreds of dollars of lost profits from wasted dollars on ads and lost revenue from store browsers. Shopify has 99% up-time and has fast acting support.

Like I said above, Shopify has great customer support, secure and solid payment gateways, and all the required integrations to get your t-shirt lifestyle business going.

Selecting a Printing Partner

After signing up on Shopify, you need to connect to a print on demand company through an integration application.

For a printing partner, you need to find someone who is reliable – these printing partners are an extension of your brand. If you pick an unreliable print on demand service, you will damage your brand.

A good printing partner should also allow you to scale your business, and have superb customer service.

For example, Teelaunch is a very reputable t-shirt print on demand company for t-shirts.

If you want print on demand other products, there are a number of free print on demand Shopify apps available for integration.

Print on Demand Business Principle #4: Marketing

The number one goal of marketing is to match the product with the right customer.

If you can’t get your product in front of the right people, you can kiss your advertising money down the drain and any dream of that Ferrari good bye!

Matching the product with the right customer is marketing 101: if you have dog products, show your products to people who love dogs!

For many niche merchandise businesses, Facebook ads is a viable solution. While organic reach via fan pages are okay, targeted paid traffic is fair superior for driving traffic and getting sales.

Through paid traffic, you are able to target very specific interests and niches because Facebook has so much information on people from their liking, commenting, sharing, and other behavior.

Remember the winning sales equation: passionate people + a shareable product = big sales.

Print on Demand Business Principle #5: Operations

Shopify and the print on demand integrations you select will take care of the printing, shipping, and tracking. Traditionally, these tasks would be incredibly time intensive for a merchandise design business, but you don’t need to worry! Shopify has all of the tools to help you manage your business.

On the backend, you will still need to run reports to determine profitability, analyze the markets and current trends, and identify any new niches to get into.

However you’ll have time to do what you want with your new business. Since you are able to outsource the operations, you will have the time and ability to think big picture.

Outsourcing the operations is the beauty of the business of print on demand! It’s passive and not all that time intensive after you get your designs up!

Start Your Print on Demand Business Today

By following the 5 print on demand business principles above, you will be on your way to building a successful dropshipping empire, and profitable lifestyle business.

Creating a dropshipping business and selling niche merchandise is possible but will take work. No one is an overnight success, but in a few years, it could be possible that you have a lifestyle business bringing in a few hundred dollars a month without any effort.

The most important are mindset and marketing. Make sure you have the right mindset and set-up, and continually push to get your designs in front of the right customers. Once you match your design with the right customer, you will be successful.

What are your thoughts on dropshipping? Do you have what it takes to create a print on demand business?

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how I make $85 an hour statistical consulting

About 18 months ago, I received a text from an old co-worker and he asked if I was free to grab a beer and catch-up. I believe networking is extremely important given the field I am in (banking), and I also enjoy getting a drink and chatting with other like-minded and successful individuals.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that this discussion would lead to more than $7,500 in income during this time.

Sometimes the best side hustles are the ones you don’t plan or expect to happen.

In this post, I will be sharing how I make $85 an hour doing statistical consulting for dog doctors, how I came into this side hustle, and share with you why networking and providing value is the key to side hustle success.

“Luck is what happens when Preparation meets Opportunity – Seneca

My Statistical Consulting Side Hustle

Let’s go back to the bar that February night.

When I go there with my old co-worker, we exchanged pleasantries and made small talk for a few minutes.

He told me that he had been doing some side consulting work for the past 10 years and is looking to bring on some more help so he can take it a little easier. Starting off, he would give me a few hours a week and if that was manageable, I could take on a few more hours.

He said, “Are you interested?”

Without hesitation I said, “Yes, I’m always interested in work outside of my day job. I’m looking to build wealth, learn, and grow.” He was elated to have me on board and believes this will be a fantastic time for me to learn and help out his side hustle.

Why was he interested in seeking my help?

The explanation is pretty simple. At my day job, I was a valuable asset to the team and people took notice.

For $85 an hour, I would be helping my old co-worker perform statistical analysis for dog doctors doing research.

I’d only taken 1 biology class and 2 statistics classes in college, but after a year of working as a statistician and quantitative analyst, I’d shown that I could provide value in the field of bio-statistics.

The situation isn’t too complicated. I provided value, showed I could communicate and was willing to go the extra step, and someone had an opportunity for me.

What do I actually do for $85 an hour?

Okay, so at this point you are probably thinking, “Erik, this is great in all but what do you ACTUALLY DO??”

I’ll explain what I do here. 🙂

Every few weeks, I receive a new project. Some doctor has performed a study and needs statistical help.

After an introductory phone call laying out the goals and gaining an understanding of the study, I get to work.

We receive the data in Excel, but use something more high powered for our analysis. Using the statistical software SAS, I write out code to analyze the data.

After running the required pieces of code, I put the results back into Excel and send it back to the doctor.

To give you a little more information, many of the studies I’ve done in the past 18 months have been related to some sort of throat disease. I get a list of 50+ dogs with 100+ attributes and am asked to see if there are any associations between certain attributes and the disease.

Speaking statistically, first, I perform some descriptive analysis by finding the descriptive statistics of continuous variables (min, max, mean, median, range) and frequencies of categorical variables.

Then, depending on the questions and study at hand, I will be looking at Chi-Square analyses, ANOVA, or survival analyses (Cox for continuous variables or Kaplan Meier for categorical variables).

All of this is pretty standard statistics, but certainly took some learning to get used to the terminology and methods.

As I mentioned, it was a great opportunity that just happened to fall into my lap. I kept my options open, looked to provide value, and was willing to take a chance. Would you do the same?

Networking and Providing Value is the Key to Side Hustle Success

Back at the beginning of 2018, I outlined how I made $107,000 in 2017 as a 25 year old. At the end of the post, I recommended to reach that level of income, it’s so critical to provide value to those around you. That is a vague statement, so let me expand on it like I did in that post.

There are many people we interact with on a daily, weekly, monthly, etc. basis. With each person we interact with, there is an opportunity to either add to that person’s life, subtract from that person’s life, or leave that person’s life be.

Think about this for a second: how would you feel if you could add to every single person’s life you came across. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? If everyone walked away from interactions with you saying, “hm, I really like that guy/gal.”

It’s not going to be easy – and I can assure you, I struggle with getting in to this mindset with all I have going on.

At the end of the day though, you are a strong and smart individual. You are capable of so much and can get started today on your goals.

Networking, sales, talking to people, whatever you want to call it will help you meet the right people. After that, it’s up to you to provide the value and get paid your worth.

I’ve found a side hustle that pays me $85 an hour. Will you find a side hustle like this?

Never burn bridges. Always stay hungry and be open to new opportunities. Look to provide value and make other people’s lives better.

Readers: do you have a lucrative side hustle? Do you like trading your time for money, or do you prefer to build something that can scale?

Erik

How I Make $85 dollars an hour doing statistical consulting

9 Books to Read for Entrepreneurial Success

It’s been quite the journey – these last 3 weeks have pushed me to write about content outside of my comfort zone.

While it wasn’t my best content, I’m still very glad I was able to share with you a number of things I’ve learned in the past year through my entrepreneurial endeavors.

Here are all of the posts in our Wantrepreneurship to Entrepreneurship series:

Even though I’ve just provided you 9 great resources and posts to get you started from wantrepreneurship to entrepreneurship, I’m just one person and only have 1 point of view.

In this post, I will be sharing with you 10 books which would be great for you to read to learn more about entrepreneurship.

10 Books to Read for Entrepreneurial Success

Below are 10 books which I highly recommend you read for entrepreneurial success.

The Millionaire Fastlane

The millionaire fastlane

“What if I told you ‘insane’ was working fifty hours a week in some office for fifty years at the end of which they tell you to piss off; ending up in some retirement village hoping to die before suffering the indignity of trying to make it to the toilet on time? Wouldn’t you consider that to be insane?” – Steve Buscemi

Is your financial plan destined for greatness or mediocrity? Is your financial plan tied to variables you can’t control, such as the stock market or your job? Why spend 40 years working 40 hours a week so you can be rich in a wheelchair? It doesn’t make sense.

The Millionaire Fastlane is a great book which targets individuals who are willing to live like no one else today, so that they can live like nobody else tomorrow.

The End of Jobs

the end of jobs

Entrepreneurship is connecting, creating, and inventing systems – be they businesses, people, ideas, or processes.

The End of Jobs, by Taylor Pearson, discusses how now is the best time in the history of the world to become an entrepreneur. Pearson spent three years interviewing hundreds of entrepreneurs from all over the world and working with dozens of them to grow their businesses.

The End of Jobs is the culmination of Pearson’s interviews and experiences. This book was eye-opening, thought provoking, and gives a rough outline of how you could be a successful entrepreneur.

Financial Intelligence

financial intelligenceMany companies and executives expect managers to use financial data to allocate resources and run their departments.

Unfortunately, even with this expectation, many managers can’t read a balance sheet, don’t understand how to calculate return on investment, and don’t understand all of the assumptions that go into the income statement and statement of cash flows.

With all of these moving parts, it’s essential to have a very strong understanding of accounting and finance – that’s where Financial Intelligence comes in.

In Financial Intelligence, Karen Berman and Joe Knight teach the basics of finance – but with a twist. Financial reporting, they argue, is as much art as science.

The Slight Edge

The Slight Edge, by Jeff Olson

Humans are creatures of habit. Every day, we make simple decisions: what to eat, should we exercise, should I call my parents, should I read my book, etc. Are the decisions you are making helping your life? Or are they detrimental to your life? Are they bringing you closer to your goals? Or are you still a long time away from achieving those goals?

The Slight Edge, by Jeff Olson, walks us through a strategy to achieve success in anything we want in life. Do you want to lose weight? Well, first, you have to start. You have to be consistent. A positive attitude helps keep you going. You will have to pay the price, and you may need to be committed for the long haul. It will be worth it!

Sam Walton: Made in America

Sam Walton: Made in America

As a student of personal finance and entrepreneurship, Sam Walton’s story of success and growth interested me. Sam Walton: Made in America was one of the recommended books on Jeff Bezos’ reading list.

If a nobody from the Midwest can build a retailing empire from the ground up, then there must be something to learn.

Sam Walton: Made in America, is Sam Walton’s autobiography of his life and work. Starting in the 30’s, he talks about growing up during the Great Depression, and the impact it had on his life. Then he takes you on a 50 year retailing journey, from his days running his first store, to owning a national brand and a company bringing in billions of dollars a year. This book was a great read – I definitely recommend it!

Question Based Selling

question based selling

Without sales, you have no business. Let’s look at a great book on sales.

Secrets of Question Based Selling, represents a shift in traditional sales thinking.

In the past, sales training programs focused on defining the steps of the sales process. It turns out that just identifying “what to do” provides no advantage over competitors who also have a sales process in place, as it’s likely their process is very similar (if not identical) to yours.

As a result, rather than just continually rehashing the sales process, Question Based Selling was specifically developed to teach salespeople and entire sales teams “how” to execute more effectively. There’s a reason top salespeople in every industry (and within every company), are outperforming their struggling counterparts, even though they’re all following the same sales process steps!

Spin Selling

spin selling

The method of SPIN selling was developed, through the careful observation of sales experts on 35,000 sales calls, to identify exactly why a sale was successful or not.

It turns out that specific questions and the quality of those questions were most important during the sales process.

The book, SPIN selling, talks about these specific questions: Situation questions, Problem questions, Implication questions, and Need-payoff questions.

For business to business, and large product salespeople, this is a fantastic book for you to read and apply.

Zero To One

Zero to One

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, by Peter Thiel, with Blake Masters, touches on the mindset required to create a thriving and successful business in the modern world. In addition to thoughts on the required mindset, he poses questions and criteria which are important for any founder to ask and examine as they decide to go into the harsh world of startups and business.

Peter Thiel co-founded PayPal and Palantir, and has made investments in other startups, such as Facebook, SpaceX, and LinkedIn.

Given this first hand experience in working in and with startups, he created a class which he taught to Stanford students on startups; Zero to One is the book version of this class.

POP!

pop marketing

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, sales manager, or executive, you know that when it comes to connecting with your customers, every word counts.

In POP! you learn about the secrets behind some of the biggest successful brands, names, and slogans.

This is a great book for you if you are looking to break through the crowd, stay at the top of the mind for your customers, and make a huge impact.

I really enjoyed it while doing through my most recent re-brand of my business. Check it out!

The Power of Broke

The power of broke

Have you ever been down to your last fifty dollars? You didn’t know where to go? Were you energized by the fact you had no where to go but up? What you experienced was the power of broke…

The Power of Broke is a book about how being broke, on a tight budget, and hungry for success can be motivating, exhilarating, and a catalyst for great success.

It’s a story book profiling a number of successful entrepreneurs who didn’t have large amounts of funding starting off.

I was drawn to reading The Power of Broke because I saw Daymond John on the popular TV Show Shark Tank and wanted to learn more about his story. In addition, I’m constantly looking to surround myself with the ideas of successful business owners and entrepreneurs. There is no better way than to read about them in books!

Your Task

With every post in this Wantrepreneur to Entrepreneur series, I will be providing you with a task for you to think about after finishing this post up.

For you, decide today that your education is never done.

Each and every hour, day, and week, there is an opportunity for you to learn more.

The books above span a wide variety of topics.

Each book I read, I add a little bit to my perspective of the world. I hope you will experience wild growth from learning and the application of your knowledge in your career, business, and life!

Conclusion

Your level of success will rarely exceed your level of personal development, because success is something you attract by the person you become.

The world of business is a wild one – there is so much to learn and know.

Look to grow a little bit each and every day.

While there’s so much to learn and know, you can become knowledgeable in any field you want over time.

Readers: what is your favorite book on entrepreneurship? What about sales and marketing? Do you have a favorite book for self improvement which could tie nicely into this discussion?

Erik

fiverr help

A few of us took some interest in the freelancing site Fiverr this week without having a plan down to use it and after my previous post of cold calling and Whitelisting arbitrage. In this post, I we’re going to go down to its most minimal actionable level. Brace yourselves, because this entire post is spoon-feeding you exactly what you need to to make passive income via Fiverr Service Arbitrage -a fancy phrase to mean paying someone else to work for you over a cheap freelancer website.

I made a lot of mistakes in Fiverr, whitelisting, outsourcing, and purchasing freelancing work. You’ll learn from my mistakes so you can save a year long struggle of getting things right.

fiverr-service-arbitrage
My Expenses for a Year by Fiverr Service Arbitrage

This post is split into four parts, each with their own segment. I ask that if you’ve gotten value from this post to say so below in the comments.

0. SCOPE OF THE WORK & REQUIREMENTS

Fiverr Service Arbitrage can be done can be completely hands off. Depending on your experience on WordPress and your hustle, it does not matter what your level of expertise is for this website builder. Depending on your skill set, you will be outsourcing work to developers for web design services which is completely scale-able. You can assemble a team of people who will spend a few hours to complete their part and profit the rest.

At the end of the day, you will be able to create a website with the core pages a basic site needs as you hand off the website to your client. Given everything you do is based off the work of an individual on Fiverr, charging $250 for the design will net you $200 in profit. If you offer a five-page website, the cost and revenue breakdown is as follows:

  • Spend $5 a week for local Craigslist ads in an effort to get a payment of $250 to start the project.
  • Next, you’ll spend 2-4 hours with the client collecting all the needed details for the site.
  • You will earn $65 off a BlueHost affiliate purchase when you tell your client to purchase a domain and hosting via BlueHost.
  • To Install WordPress, you can either use EasyEngine.io to rapidly start using it OR pay someone $20 to install WordPress and a good looking premium theme (2 hours of their time or 5 minutes via installing via EasyEngine.io)
  • For $30, you pay someone to fill out the rest of the core pages that you negotiated for the basic website:
    • A home page
    • An about us page
    • A contact us page
    • A product/service page
    • A privacy policy page
      • Any additional pages you can up-sell for $50 per page while charging $5 or $10 for a 1k word article on a website.

At this point, you will have your client’s website completed and will have paid $50 in labor. At this point you deliver the website back to the client. Once you deliver, you need to be front and center explaining what the website has. At this point, the client is eager to get started. Explanation might take an hour and an hour of ‘support’ such as answering questions such as, “What’s my password again?” and “Where’s the Admin Page?”

That is the scope and high level summary of what the rest of the post will touch on. Now, on to the details!

1. COPYWRITING AND CRAIGSLIST

Copywriting is the art of marketing aimed towards creating a sale through the written word. It is also a numbers game. I welcome you to post this SAME ad and see where that gets you – you can also purchase a virtual assistant who can post twice every day to your Craigslist account but you will find the same level of success by offering this to your friends and family off Facebook.

Contact EVERY single person, and show them this ad. You could press urgency and say that you’re looking to get a client this week; otherwise, at the end of the week,  you would bump it up to $500. I’ve had cases where someone was told that, beat around the bush, and paid an extra $250 as a “hesitation tax”.

craigslist-webdesign-service-arbitrage

Get a SEO Optimized Website made for $250 right here in Minneapolis!

WordPress websites made for you right here in Minneapolis!
  • Flat $250 fee for full website setup (if you order before 2017)
  • 24 hour turnaround time.
  • Will go through full setup with you, or do it for you.
  • Will show you how to edit the website.
  • Expert in setting up bootstrap templates
  • Free Consultation for copywriting or marketing ideas
  • Portfolio of my work: www.jakegosskuehn.com

Call/Text Jake to start: *Phone Number Here*

do NOT contact me with unsolicited services or offers

With your ad in hand, clients will contact you. Now, on to dealing with the client!

2. CONNECTING WITH THE CLIENT

Now, let’s say you actually got someone interested. It’s time to get them to agree to give you $250 of their hard earned money. This is a question-based methodology that helps cement your position as someone who can genuinely help them.

Here’s how the story goes. You get a trickle of inquiries once or twice a day if you’re really good or one a week if you’re only posting ads.

For each one you follow the following mindset: you establish yourself as a salesman and an expert before offering your solution and price. First, you need to establish credibility. To show you know the market, ask them STATUS questions where it’s a one word answer to qualify them and understand where they’re at.

Status Questions

Is getting more customers through placing your page on the first page of Google something that you are interested in?
Are you currently automating any marketing processes such as a sales funnel or email drip campaign?
Are you using a cheap Apache server host such as BlueHost, Go Daddy, or Host Gator? 
If I can show you a 4-5 ROI based on that marketing sheet, would I be welcomed to show you how that can happen?
Are you currently tracking conversions, if so whats the rate? Whats the average ticket? How many of them are repeat?

Uncover Their Issues

After you ask those, they know that you have some level of competency. The next step is to build rapport while uncovering ISSUES. These are longer form questions where you want them to talk a bit more.

What would you like to accomplish with our services? 
What’s the most significant business issue you currently face with regards to customer acquisition and branding?
What other challenges do you foresee?
To what extent is (getting consistent warm prospects through your website) important to you?
How do you promote through your existing customer base?

You want to keep them talking, and you want to ask this question at least once: “To What Extent Is X Important To You?” This forces them to dive deeper into the issues they may have.

Guide The Prospective Client to the Sale

Now, it’s the time to press them. We’re not telling them that they have a problem. The more forceful you are in your sales pitch will result in a higher defensive state from them. They need to come to the conclusion that they need your services. Let’s guide them towards that through IMPLICATION questions like these.

Have you ever calculated how much money every month your lack of a site is costing in terms of missed opportunities?
Is the core of your business repeat clients or new clients via word of mouth?
How important is getting at least a dozen business citations and reviews every month for your word of mouth?

It’s good to develop 3 implications per issue that they have. For the most part, they might just want a website. Others might want a web store. Maybe they just want to get this done as fast as possible. It might be good to press into each need they have for this by creating a need in their mind.

Close the Sale

After asking the questions above and determining the issues and wants of the prospective client, it’s time for the close. You should be able to just say, “to offer the solution I presented in the ad, I’m asking for $250 if you close by the end of the week.”

If your client is a local business, for the love of god, don’t sell a website for $250. Even though they say they might not be able to afford it, pick up top notch sales book that covers everything in this segment and after reading  you will be able to pitch your $250 services for $2,000 or $3,500.

Don’t think that people would pay that much for a website? This business paid $3,500 and is full of spelling errors. Here’s what you can close with if you want to close a business client. (If it’s a friend or family member will be OK if you just say the first line.)

“So, would it make sense for me to send you an invoice right now so we can [[fix your specific problem]] and build that site?”

“[[Prospect Name]], if this is what you need, we do this, would it make sense to schedule a time to get the appropriate people together in front of a piece of paper to map out your options, the impact on your business, and the associated costs?”
“If money was no object in your decision, what would you do to solve this problem?”
“In your mind, what would the ideal solution to this problem/issue look like?”

Now, once they are close, ask what they need. Most of the time they will give you basic requirements such as I would prefer a certain color or feel. Whatever it is, it is up to you to bring what they want to reality.

3. COMMANDING YOUR FORCES

Great job. You have a client! Now on to making the website through Fiverr Service Arbitrage.

If you have patience, this will be a true test of that. Going on Fiverr.com and finding any virtual assistant to copy and paste an ad can be done. Negotiating $5 for 5 minutes of work a day for a month is possible but international fiverr service arbitrageworkers are interesting to work wit and some can be great.

I’m not sharing my virtual assistant, but creating a request on the site with a description of each stage of your work will bring you 2o to 30 bids. Most of these are one sentences saying “BUY NOW FOR MANY RESULT FAST THANKS” or a variation of how happy I will be.

Thanks to the hiring info from one of our book review posts, you want to filter out people who have the hustle and speak English. The best way to filter through all the people who want to work for you is by adding this sentence to the the ad:

“Start your first sentence of your reply for this job request with Chocolate to be considered for the position”

Install WordPress Job

Anyone browsing in the ‘Install a WordPress’ job requests board already can do WordPress Installs. They’re just looking for bids. Now, those 20 job bids become 2 or even 3. Very easy to look at all and then close a sale.

You need to purchase a gig to Install WordPress. This is done by a technical person and will cost $10 to 20. Some people pirate their designs and don’t use the real deal. Make sure you ask if they have a licence for the theme. If so, then they will show you examples of what they can use. You can also purchase a theme for your client over at a website like themeforest or if you’re really into this you can get an annual license at elegantthemes.com for roughly $89 a year.

You then need to purchase a gig for someone fill out the WordPress Template. This is done by a technical content writer. The pages you have are already made, but you need to go through and finalize it. Telling your content writer of the specifics it just needs 5 pages is really all you really need. Excellently researched articles can be done at $30 per article, but you need someone proficient in English.

4. COMPLETING YOUR CLIENTS WORK

Now your gig is done and you got the site back. It looks great. Your client knows you’re working on it, and now that it’s done, spend some time to double check the website. Test everything. Make sure each button doesn’t go somewhere it’s not supposed to or that there isn’t an extra template page there with sample words left behind in the template.

Once that’s done, ping your client and schedule a time to chat for 15 minutes for a Q/A. This is where you could upsell extra services for $500/month if you had read this sales book. Give them the rundown of what you did. You made 5 pages, and they can login at the WordPress admin page. The default login for a WordPress site looks something like this (this is ours):

wordpress sign in

Login yourself as they would, and tell them how to make a new page. Explain that WordPress is everywhere and that they can easily find help on Google. This is where you can start to up-sell extra features.

You can fix their WordPress problems at 50$/hour. Most people think that’s too steep. If that’s the case, you can bring that $50 an hour down to $50 for gigs where it takes longer than 2 hours and you give them half off the first hour. You can even offer extra page creation for $50 per page. I’ve had people order 100 pages of content deliverable throughout a year where I outsourced every single article.

Conclusion for Using Fiverr Service Arbitrage

Well, there you have it – you now have the exact steps to start practicing Fiverr Service Arbitrage today. Create an free account on Fiverr right now and your first step will be to hire a Virtual Assistant to start posting the same ad above for you. It will cost you $5 or $10 for you to hire someone for a few minutes of their time for 30 days.

Leave a comment below if you think I presented value for you in this post.

Jake