This is a crash course in making money on the side. If there’s one message I want you to get from this – and from everything I write on this blog and the Friday emails – it is this:
You have options
That includes options as to how much you earn.
When in a job – or a single-focus business – it is easy to assume that your salary is your only possible source of income. Your boss tells you how much you get and that is it.
Then, if you need more money for something unexpected you only have two choices 1) dip into your (very finite) savings, or 2) put it on credit (and start a dangerous debt spiral). To me, that feels like a pretty helpless position.
Luckily there is a third way. You always have the option to make money on the side – and you can start right now with what you have.
Why this matters
I got to thinking about this recently because I met someone who is about to make a big life decision to save a sum of money that isn’t impossible to earn on the side. It got me thinking about how money can have a big impact, and how no one tells you that you have an option other than ‘save or borrow’.
Look at the decisions people do (or don’t) make because of relatively small sums of money. No matter how much you earn, I’m betting ‘money’ is a reason that’s holding you back in some way right now:
- It might be a life choice you don’t make because you keep saying “can’t afford it yet”.
- It might be that you move to another part of town that you don’t want to live in, a move that impacts your life day in day out, to save an amount that you could have made on the side (and had fun doing in the process).
- It might be that you have debt hanging over you that doesn’t quite go away and you’re tired of dipping into overdraft at the end of the month.
- Or, it might be that your finances are great… but you have never actually earned money outside a job! You might want to practice acting like a free ranger even before you’ve figured out what you really want to do with your life. A very good reason to earn on the side.
There are a lot of reasons extra money would come in handy – and there are a lot of ways to have fun making it.
How it works
Let’s say you want to make an extra £500 (or $500). It might seem like a big call but break it down. 500 a month means about 125 a week. Or 25 per weekday. Which if you took as an hourly rate you could condense into around three hours, just two nights a week. More do-able?
You can even break it down further. You don’t have to just do ‘one’ extra thing – what if you found two things each bringing in £65/$65 a week? Here are some ways to do just that.
5 simple “on the side” ideas
- Go on elance.com or peopleperhour.com and rent out your services. Yes, if you put yourself up and do nothing more then you’ll get no clients. So take the time to look at the top people on there and review how they got rated like that. Follow what they did. There’s generally no need to reinvent the wheel – hack into their process instead. These sites are first port of call for more and more people looking for professional services/random assistance: this week alone I heard from two people this week alone who paid for someone on guru.com (one hired a lawyer, another hired a designer).
- Sell your time directly to clients, based on the skill you have. What can you do from your work or personal life that is marketable? Important principle: If you can get a job in it odds are you can offer it at cut price to a few people/businesses on the side too.
- Make stuff and sell it to a business (or an individual). For example, I spend disproportionate amounts of times in cafes during the day and have been surprised how many of them accept freelancers’ cakes! At least twice this month I’ve seen someone come in and get an agreement to supply cakes baked in their own kitchens. That’s the sort of simple thing you can add to the mix.
- Teach something. What do you have to teach? Find people. Do that. At first this will return nothing. Then £100 a month. But stick with it and soon you’ll be at £500 extra at least. You can up your return (and lower costs) by doing small groups, and you can definitely up your rate by knowing how to position yourself. For example, I know of school tutors who make almost as much on the side than they do in their salaries. You don’t have to be a tutor – what do you know a bit more about than most people? What do people come to you for help with already? What do you have to share? Teach that.
- Rent out your spare room on AirBNB.com. I know people who essentially live rent/mortgage free by renting out their room on AirBNB for a certain number of days a month – and AirBNB make it stupidly easy to start by sending over a professional photographer to photograph your place for free! Their insurance policy is also insanely good – AirBNB is the safest way I know of to rent out a space. To get the best results go to their website and follow their guidelines.
My hint as a regular user: reviews are king. AirBNB is a community and reviews are how people pick you. You don’t need the highest end property, if you are well reviewed you can consistently book out. So, launch below market rate for the first several guests to get as many good reviews as you can fast. And describe your place honestly : this is not a real estate advertisement, you want people to arrive surprised and delighted at how accurate/better than expectations your places is, be open about any flaws so they don’t get a surprise – that leads to way better reviews!).
Of course not everyone has a spare room. If that’s you, rent out your couch. Really. If you’re housesharing and don’t even have the option to do that go sleep at a friend’s place and rent out YOUR ROOM (assuming that’s an option – which it might be).
Are these options too obvious?
GOOD. you’re not reinventing the wheel here, you’re looking for money on the side. Plenty of people get paid for obvious things – there are far more tutors and freelancers than world changing widget makers. Don’t reject an option for being obvious.
Remember, this isn’t about creating a full time free range income, or coming up with the One Thing you want to do for the rest of your life. We have a bunch of other more advanced techniques for making a full time, consistent income doing something you love. That’s not what this article is about.
This is quite simply, money on the side, more than you’d earn if you were just thinking about things for the next few months. The bonus is, you get out of your daily routine and exposed to new ideas and people in the process. That in itself is a good enough reason to make this happen
Now, your next step is to do something. It’s not enough to read about it and think ‘nice idea’: get out and try it. To increase your chances of success, try it with these principles:
10 Steps To Your Extra Cash
1. Ask yourself ‘what do I already do well?’ and brainstorm 5 ways to offer that out.
2. Figure out your market rather than spending a month planning the product. For example, ‘I will sell cakes’ is a vague idea. You don’t know where the money will come from! So change that to saying ‘I will identify local cafes that actually do take freelancer cakes, and visit them with samples’. That’s a plan that will actually get you results.
3. Niche. Know who your market is and you’ll speak to them better.
For example, if you realise you’re surrounded by cafes that cater to a certain type of health conscious/trendy organic client what you provide will change. Go in and look what’s on display. Seeing gluten free polenta cakes? That’s a hint that they have clients who care about the free from market. If you then notice that they don’t have dairy free cakes you have a beautiful selling point if you make those (but make ‘em good!).
Of course you don’t have to fill a gap – that realisation could lead you to make your usual full-of-everything cake but position it in line with that market (eg: ‘I only use organic eggs and blah blah blah). Decide on a market and you wildly increase your chances of success.
4. Identify a niche that a) can pay and b) is more than willing to pay (this is important)
5. Not sure about something? Google it. Seriously. For the other 10% of questions zoom to the source. Not sure about how much to charge a cafe for cakes? Then contact someone who does it and ask if you can get advice on that point. You may have to ask a few people before you get an answer but you will get one. Or walk into a cafe in a part of town you don’t want to sell to and ask them what you need to know! That way you get info without looking like a beginner. You’ll always find a way to figure it out.
6. Check people actually want what you have to offer. Do this by going up to the people who you would like to buy your offer, and telling them you are doing it and seeing their response. If they say ‘meh’ then ask them why. It might be you can reposition it to describe it better.
(For more on finding + choosing people who want to buy what you have to offer check out the 8 Day Series).
7. Get clear what problem you are solving. A tutor does not sell an hour of tutoring, they sell peace of mind to the parent who can stop worrying they are not doing enough for their child. They solve the problem of thinking “did I do enough”? Knowing this, you can also know that anything you can say that inspires confidence will impact on the rate you get clients “well Sally didn’t do that well in her last exams, but we now have a tutor from blah blah who blah blah and we’re confident that will change.” That’s the stuff you’re selling.
8. Got nothing? Get decent at something by doing it for free until people rave about you. If you’ve been messing around with that camera and just thinking about getting paid then offer to cover the events youwant to get paid for… but do it for free. Build up, get good, and you’ll have something to offer.
9. Don’t assume you need to learn a completely new skill from scratch. Your time is better spent learning how to make that money than learning a new skill and getting good at it and THEN hoping someone will pay. Even if you think “if only I had X skill I could make money on the side” I guarantee someone else is reading this article who has that skill and thinks they can’t make money from it – but that they could do something if they had YOUR skills.
10. Don’t tell me you have no time. No one is forcing you to do this. If you know that an extra however much money will have a real impact on your life – and your options – you can, and will, make the time.
Try it. Now. If it doesn’t work, come back here, figure out why not and tweak it (or launch something else) until it does.
Meet up with that person who might actually have something more useful to say to you than “oh that sucks”.
Take that chance.
Look outside the box.
Find the reason why not the reason why not.
And don’t think this is a list of cliches – it’s a list of damn instructions. Do them.
They might just change your life.
Got other ideas for money on the side? Done it yourself? Leave your comments below!