In my last post I discussed broad monetization definitions based on where your money comes from, and hopefully made a convincing argument that a job is not necessarily the best option for getting money. But that’s where a lot of self-help books stop, leaving you with the impression that if you go to work tomorrow you must be a loser, that quitting your job now and striking out on your own is the best option.
And if that sounds good to you, by all means go for it! Maybe you have 12 months’ worth of income saved up in your emergency fund and are totally comfortable starting your own business. Maybe you know that your parents/spouse/trust fund can and will support you while you build up your investment portfolio. In which case, awesome, and can I have some of your trust fund?
But to many of you that doesn’t sound good. That sounds terrifying and/or stupid. It takes time to start getting income from your business, whether it’s a S, a B, or an I. What are you supposed to do in the meantime?
But it doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. Here are some things you can do to diversify your income stream without quitting your job.
Most electricians and auto mechanics (at least the ones I know) install wiring and fix cars on their off days. I don’t know why they do this, but I’m grateful, and it can be a good source of income for you if you’re willing to do the same. Keep your day job, and do the same job for other customers in your spare time. Base your prices on industry standard, and you can pick up a little extra cash.
Note: If your freelance job is doing basically the same stuff as your day job, make sure you build your customer base within your own network and NOT by stealing customers from your employer. Customer poaching may be perfectly legal, but it’s highly immoral.
Write a book
Know a lot about something? Help teach others. This option is less often related to your current day job (although it certainly can), and more likely to come out of one of your hobbies. If you’ve spent time tinkering with something, odds are good that you know something about it that no one else does, whether it’s a technique for painting miniatures, a nifty purse pattern, a quick way to replace a carburetor, or the best seed varieties to grow in northern Montana. Ever wished that you could find a book on this so you wouldn’t have to figure it out by trial and error? Probably other people feel the same.
Make a Website
Don’t think you can get your writing published? You’re probably wrong, but I totally understand. Writing a website can feel a lot less intimidating. But it still provides a lot of value to people looking for information, and can provide you with income from people you’ve helped. How? Well, it depends on your topic, but the following are common:
- Refer interested readers to a local business that can help them (your own or someone else’s) and get paid by the business for the referral
- Sell related goods on ebay or from an online store
- Charge for a membership that gives access to your content
- Ask for donations from anyone who found the information helpful
- Go in joint with a company that wants a website on your topic
- Sell ads to businesses that relate to your topic
- Send interested readers to someone else’s online store to get what they want; get a percentage of the sale.
- Sell related information products
Write Information Products
Don’t feel up to writing a full website either? How about a 10-page booklet? Or a 1-page How-To? Could you record a few minutes of video or audio where you explain why you do this thing differently from the rest of the industry? All of these fall under the category of information products — things that provide information for their consumer, usually small, usually delivered digitally. An ebook or podcast or video can be sold on someone else’s website to help out their customer base, and net you a few dollars per sale.
The conclusion? Employment may be lame, but there are ways to be less lame without turning in your two-weeks’ notice.