Side income is the holy grail of personal finance. It’s the one answer to every personal finance issue in existence. Can’t afford a house? Side income. Not happy with life? Side income. Scratched and peed on by a cage full of Ebola infested house cats? Bet a side income would make it easier to deal with. So it’s kind of funny that no one tells you how to find your side income. In this article, I rectify that:
1. Have a Target Demographic
Who are you selling your service or product to?
Please don’t answer “Singaporeans”, or “businesses”.
That’s about as helpful as going for a health screening, and having the doctor tell you she’s “pretty certain you’ll die at some point.” It’s vague and completely useless. Specifics are necessary here. If you want to make that side income, your number one job is knowing who your customers are.
So if you’re selling Tupperware, your target market might be “housewives aged 35 and older”. If you’re selling MLM cleaning products, your target market might be “anyone with the intelligence of a mushroom”. It varies for every product or service
If you don’t know your target demographic, how will you even start? You need a general idea of who to call, where to frequent, and the overall level of demand.
2. Stop Obsessing Over Your Talents
Talent ans side-income aren’t always interrelated. Some of the most successful side businesses I’ve seen could be run by a trained chimp.
Here’s an example: Say you have a talent for “organizing events”. You can organize birthday parties so awesome, the riot squad has a team named after you. And also, you know how to log on to E-Bay.
Which of the two would earn you more money?
Let’s find out from Ms. Francine Seet:
“I used to work for a chalet, so I thought I could do entertainment. Organize parties and all. As it turns out, Singaporeans are not used to the idea of hiring someone to organize parties. I got good feedback, I did a great job, but the number of clients was so small.
In the end, I actually made more money by helping people E-Bay things. And not even to write descriptions or anything, just to put it up and send it. That’s all. So yeah, it’s not about what you’re good at; it’s about finding what people need.”
3. Keep Switching Till You’re There
A viable side income should make you at least $250 – $500 a month. And it should do so for at least three to four months in a row; anything else is a fluke.
Until you reach that point, keep changing your attempts at side income. Try anything for a month or two; if it has promise, build on it. Otherwise, junk it and switch to the next idea.
“But hold on, that sucks. I already spent the time building the Facebook page and spreading the word and…“
Yeah, it hurts. I know. Sometimes you might even incur expenses. But you know what sucks worse than that?
Pointlessly persisting in something that won’t make money. Let’s go back to my favourite whipping boy: MLM products. You pay for a “starter kit”, maybe $50 or $100. The idea is that, if you sell their stuff and attend their cult-like seminars, you’ll earn thousands. You’ll pay it back in no time.
You try it for one month, it doesn’t work. Then two months, three months…zero progress. You’d think most people would give up; but I know MLM zombies who fork out another $50 – $100 for a second kit. They’re like flies ramming themselves to death against a closed window. Instead of trying again, they should be trying something different.
I suggest you implement cost control or stop-loss measures. For example, agree to invest only $X in the attempt, or promise to stop if you aren’t making $X by a certain date.
4. Do Something That Saves People Time
The best way to earn side income is to save people time.
If you can save someone a few hours, they’re usually happy to pay you…regardless of how effortless or mindless the job is. In my early teens, for example, I used to earn an extra $320 a month by installing Windows.
I just sat in the store for three to five hours every weekend, and installed Windows on custom built PCs. Did it take effort? Yeah, if you count having to find the “enter” key and press it. Other than that, I was reading or playing video games.
But I got money anyway, because it saved the store owner time. He could close sales or build PCs while I dealt with it. And it was barely any sort of work.
A good place to start is with business associates: Call them and ask which part of their job is a total time waster. Odds are, they’d pay you to deal with it.
5. Find Out What EXACTLY People Pay For
Whenever you successfully earn money from something, find out what caused it. Don’t assume it was the entirety of the service.
For example, you may have been paid $500 to restore furniture. But if you ask the client, they might reveal the only thing they wanted was to fix the legs. They couldn’t give a rat’s behind about your efforts in picking out seat covers. Based on that, you’d know to narrow your service to repairs, not decorations.
Here’s an example from a tech support manager, who only wants to be known as Teo:
“I work with a company that does IT security. After speaking to so many clients, I realized that security wasn’t what they actually wanted.
They paid for security anyway, but what they really wanted was networking solutions. In fact many of the things they called us for for were things like putting a shared printer on the network. In the end I started offering such services as a side business.”
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