What’s up, y’all!
Stumbled across this old interview I did a few years ago for SideGigStartup.com on how I became an entrepreneur/blogger full-time, and thought it had a lot of good financial and career nuggets in it that you might like. It’s also a great overview of my story in general for those new to the site, and it’s even in bite-sized A.D.D. chunks too! Only the best for my people! Haha…
Hope it helps :)
PS: For the audio version, check out episode #1 of our new podcast – M.O.N.E.Y. – which goes over a lot of it too… As well as the fascinating background on my beautiful counterpart, Paula Pant.
You have two blogs (Budgets are Sexy and Rockstar Finance) as well as consulting. Do all these provide enough income to replace a job, or do you have other businesses?
Yes, they provide enough income to replace “a” job, but not always “my” job all depending on what’s going on in my life ;) Like, right now as my wife is not working
and we’re about to have baby #2 (woo!) (since born!). So due to this I also manage a handful of other projects as well here and there on the side for extra money. All mainly online stuff.
How do you balance all your businesses?
I hustle my a$$ off and sleep only when everything’s done for the day. Which could be 11pm one day, and 3am the next. But it all comes down to prioritizing and constantly working towards my end goals. And it doesn’t hurt when it’s all FUN stuff too :) It’s amazing how many hours you can put in when you’re working on stuff you love!
(I no longer stay up super late with my Ben Franklin 5 am schedule (today marks 6 months already!) but the part about not ending the day until the necessary stuff’s done still remains very much true)
Why did you start a side business in the first place? Why choose a side business, instead of quitting your job first?
I actually had no intention of starting any type of business whatsoever. I was tired of wasting time on YouTube and MySpace (remember that?), so thought I’d just try out blogging for a while and see how it goes. And as luck would have it, there was money and opportunity to be made :) So here we are
5 8 years later!
As for quitting a job first, there’s no way I’d ever advise that. Unless you had tons of money saved up AND something worth trading your time for. Most “businesses” fail early on, so I always advise to build and grow it on your spare time, and then once it’s successful (aka it *makes money*), start making the game plan to leave your 9-5. For me it was supposed to match 100% of my income before I left and went on my own, but as fate would have it I got laid off and jumped in feet first at around 80% of my old salary. Not perfect, but it did give me the push to finally give self-employment a try.
How did you organize your schedule when you were working full time so you had enough time for your side business?
I worked on my lunch hours, on my down time, during parts of the work day I probably *shouldn’t* have been working, haha, and then as soon as I got home until I went down for bed. At least that’s how it turned out after the first couple of years of blogging. I started with one hour a day, then moved to two, then three, and eventually 7-8 a night (on TOP of my 8 hours of work each day) when I knew what I finally wanted to do – go on my own.
That’s really what it all comes down to at the end of the day – how bad you want it. If all you want to do is work and build your business, then you gotta do whatever it takes to get to that point. Which means a lot of hard work and sacrificing. But again – “hard work” with a business you love vs hard work with one you don’t are totally different beasts. Doing stuff you love makes it a lot easier to see the light at the end of the tunnel :)
How did you keep your side business private from your boss and coworkers?
I kept everything as anonymous online as possible, and I didn’t tell a soul. And most of the times I did stuff/made notes/etc through my Gmail account or on my iPhone which wasn’t as trackable as it would be on a computer that the higher-aboves monitor. This is probably way different than other side businesses out there which has nothing to do with a computer, but for me that’s how I ran with everything. Having a business online makes your life incredibly easy!
Do you think part time entrepreneurs should be open with their employers about their side business?
I think it all depends on what type of job you have, and how good your relationships are with your bosses/colleagues. But more times than not I’d highly suggest not mixing the two just in case anything funky starts happening with either of your two “jobs.” It’s similar to your sex or political life – some things should be kept to yourself!
How did you create a plan to save enough money to quit your job?
As a money guy at heart, it was pretty easy – I just figured out a) How much I needed in my savings account to cover me for a good 6 months (the time where I agreed to get a new job if all went to $**), and then b) how much I needed stashed away to have a stress-free sleep every night. Luckily they both coincided and were the same amount: $50,000.
Now as you may recall, I got fired before I was 100% ready to jump in, but fortunately I had already reached about $40,000 in savings so I was pretty confident that it was time to push GO and rock it. I’ve left other jobs in the past to pursue dreams with no money saved up, and let me tell you – it makes a DRASTIC difference.
How did you determine your quit date?
By the amount of money I wanted to have saved up: $50,000. But I should also note that I needed my business to be generating most of my normal salary in terms of money too. So it was really a combination of both those which made me comfortable to go self-employed. Having one or the other is still nice, but for me – a conservative money guy – I needed both. But at the end of the day I got fired anyways, so…. :)
How long did it take for your side business to make enough income for you to consider quitting your job?
About 2-3 years. Once I realized there was money in blogging, I started working harder and faster which helped to speed up the process. It really was a matter of falling into something that I thought was only going to be a hobby, but turned into a money-producing business. But what better way than that?!
What advice would you give someone who wants to earn side income, but doesn’t know where to start?
Start by making a list first of all the stuff you LOVE to do – no matter what it is (I once had “drink beer” “meet girls” “travel” on mine – which helped me to work for the airlines so that I can drink beer and meet girls, haha…), and then make a list of the stuff you’re GOOD at it. Anything that crosses over from those two lists are good starting points of building businesses around.
Working on stuff you love AND you’re good at is a pretty good mash up. Rarely do I know anyone who starts a business *just* for the money, but in either case the whole world is really open to look into. And I suggest starting with our side hustle series :)
What do you consider to be the quickest way to generate income?
Asking someone right now on any social media platform if they’d pay you for X. Have a product idea? Try selling it first and THEN making it if anyone buys. Have something you want to offer up as a service? Tell people you’re offering it right NOW and see if anyone bites!
I did this when I wanted to start consulting and started getting results (good and bad) within seconds. I can’t remember the term for this strategy, but there’s no point in spending the time and energy building something out if no one wants it. So by reversing the “rules” and offering it out there as if it was already built can make for good proof of concept right away. But of course then be prepared to hustle the second someone takes you up on it!
Moral of the story? Carve out a little time every day to work on stuff you love as you never know what can come of it. And if you’re fortunate, it might just change your life.
PS: Some of my favorite tools:
|Personal Capital (FREE) -- If you’re looking for a robust financial tracker, Personal Capital is the way to go! They’re like Mint, but on steroids and have much better tools for investment and net worth tracking. // Full review|
|Digit (FREE) -- A super easy (and automated) way to save. Every day Digit analyzes your income and expenses and will push money aside for you any time it sees extra sitting there. I've saved over $4,000 myself using them so far! // Full review|
|Acorns -- Having trouble finding money to invest? Check out Acorns – they round up all your transactions to the nearest $1.00 and drops the difference into an investment portfolio for you. Easy way to start investing! // Full review|