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Weekend Warrior: Can't Knock the Side Hustle

Website Magazine is a vibrant and exciting community of Internet-business professionals, and its ranks are filled with digital generalists and virtual specialists, filled with as many C-suite executives as entrepreneurs.

It's a fascinating audience by any account, so from time to time, Website Magazine editors like to profile those we regularly come across that are making a positive difference on the Web today.

In this edition of our new Weekend Warrior series, Website Magazine interviews Nick Loper of SideHustleNation.com. 



(WM) Tell Website Magazine readers a little about yourself, your background, and your role or position at SideHustleNation.com (and it’s Side Hustle Show podcast).

I was very fortunate to have been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug early in life. I had my first taste of working for profits instead of wages when I ran a house painting business in college, and despite all the stress and headaches that came with, I was hooked.

Still, after graduation I did what you're supposed to do and got a "real" job — even though I knew before I started I had no desire to climb the ladder and make a career of it. I spent my nights and weekends building my first official side hustle, a comparison shopping site for footwear called ShoesRUs.net (later ShoeSniper.com). The site made money on the affiliate model, earning a commission for every shoe sale that passed through the site. 

Three years later, I finally had the confidence and revenue track record to give my notice at work.

While running the shoe business, I started a half dozen other little side projects, most of which failed miserably. One that stuck around though, was SideHustleNation.com. I started it as an outlet to document some of my side hustle experiments as well as to showcase the stories others who'd found success with this lower risk brand of entrepreneurship.

The weekly Side Hustle Show podcast, which started as an experiment for less than $100, has really become my main focus and the #1 way new people discover the site.

(WM) What is that people misunderstand about the “hustle” – do they come with outsized/oversized  expectations or is it that they rarely put in the work required?

To me, "hustle" just means controlling the one thing you can control in life: your own effort. There are always going to be people smarter and more successful than me, but that's beyond my realm of control. I can only control my own hustle, my own effort.

It's not necessarily about working non-stop or only sleeping 4 hours a night, but it is about taking responsibility for how your spend and prioritize your time. A few people I come across have drank the Internet Marketing Kool-Aid and have outsized expectations (and in a way, I feed that because many of the guests I feature ARE remarkable), but most understand that it takes time and effort to build a real business.

(WM) There are thousands of sites developed to provide guidance for those looking to earn extra money – how do you differentiate your content and its guidance from others?

I try and differentiate on both on depth of content and variety of ideas. I found the best way to stand out is to try and build content that's truly helpful, like step-by-step case studies and in-depth tutorials, rather than a collection of half-assed listicles.

On the podcasting front, I think interesting shows spread more by word of mouth than they do by SEO or social media or even discoverability in iTunes. It took a long time to hit my stride as a host, but my top priority is putting out actionable episodes without a ton of fluff, and I think over time putting that audience interest first week after week begins to compound. 

(WM) What actionable insights can you provide Website Magazine readers that are looking to earn extra money quickly?

If the goal is to earn extra money quickly, I think these are the 3 fastest ways to get started.

1. Tap into the sharing economy. These are platforms like Uber, Airbnb, TaskRabbit, DogVacay.com (pet sitting), Turo (peer-to-peer car rentals), and hundreds of others. They rely on underutilized assets like our homes, our cars, our time, or even our money, and aim to put those to work and cut out traditional intermediaries in the process.

The advantage is these companies have already built out the marketplaces and make it very easy to get started and get your first customers. One gentleman I met while researching my latest book was earning $1500 a month on Turo, the peer-to-peer car rental service. He started by listing one of his family's vehicles, and then after seeing strong demand, actually ended up leasing a couple new SUVs to list on the site as well.

Another couple I met paid for their Costa Rica vacation by listing their New York apartment on Airbnb while they were away. But the opportunities don't end with the big names and high-value assets like cars and houses. 

For instance, Robert Murray of Miami reported earning $3000 a month making deliveries on the Shipt platform. Mike Naab of Pennsylvania reported earning an extra $150-300 a week completing surveys and other small jobs on Amazon's Mechanical Turk. Shreyans Parekh of San Francisco told me he makes $75-150 renting out old toys and power tools on NeighborGoods.net.

The drawback to this peer-to-peer or sharing economy platforms is that if it's a job anyone can do, that naturally puts a downward pressure on how much you can earn. Uber continually cuttings rates for drivers is probably a prime example of that. 

2. Sell a skill. If you want to increase your earning power, selling a unique skill on a freelance basis is a great way to do it. And if you're worried you don't have any skills, every job you've ever had illustrated at least ONE skill someone thought was worth paying for.

A couple of my favorite places to look for freelance service inspiration are the category pages on Upwork and Fiverr. You'll find dozens of in-demand services that may coincide with your own skillset, even if you don't want to use either of those marketplaces. (Though I did just recently connect with a Fiverr seller who combined her copywriting skills with the hot topic of crowdfunding to clear $100k in 18 months.)

After deciding what service to offer, the next challenge is getting that offer in front of your target customers. To do that, you have to ask where are they already searching or who are they already doing business with. For instance, my wife and her business partner found their first photography clients with a free ad on Craigslist. Later they expanded to some local wedding shows.

I've met tutors who've found clients through platforms like Wyzant, voiceover actors who've found work through platforms like Voices.com, and I've even taken consulting calls on the Clarity.fm platform, a pay-by-the-minute phone support service.

The most common push-back I hear with freelancing is it's still trading time for money, but there are a couple creative ways I've seen of packaging your skills into digital assets to remove some of your time from the equation. For example, Matthew Bochnak of Chicago does freelance motorcycle repairs in his garage. His stroke of genius though was filming himself doing the repairs, and then selling the complete tutorial to do-it-yourselfers via his website and YouTube. Now the income from these video sales outpaces his earnings from "turning wrenches".

Others are packaging their knowledge into online courses on Udemy or self-published books on Amazon.

3) Buy low, sell high. The third quick-start business model I want to share is the age old business model of buy low, sell high. You can do this, as I have, while you're out running your regular errands. All you need is the free Amazon seller app and a free Amazon seller account. Then when you're in the store, stop by the clearance section to see if anything is worth significantly more on Amazon than it's selling for locally. 

My general rule is if I can double my money (according to the app) and the item's sales rank (according to the app) is less than 100,000 in its category, I'll go ahead and buy it. Then when I get home, I'll upload the inventory to my seller account, bundle up that trip's haul and ship it off to one of Amazon's fulfillment centers and they handle the rest.

One of my favorite buy low, sell high stories comes from a gentleman in Orlando who calls himself the Flea Market Flipper. Rob Stephenson earned over $100,000 last year flipping items he found at a discount. He told me he looks for the "odd items" and shared a story about buying a prosthetic leg for $30 and selling it on ebay the next day for $1000. 

(WM)Is there one piece of advice you want your site visitors and listeners to take away?

There's no such thing as the perfect side hustle. One of the best pieces of advice I've received was from a podcast guest of mine, Ryan Finlay, who said, "The best opportunities aren't visible until you're already in motion."

That means start something today. Anything. That first dollar you earn outside a traditional job is empowering and addicting; I know you'll be back for more!

 
nickloper

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