Apologies in advance for the kinda clickbaity title here… But in this case, it is based on reality!
I’ve talked plenty about various side hustles I’ve tried, or am continuing to try.
Some things I’d like to try in the next year are developing my own courses, starting a YouTube channel and getting a couple of Etsy shops up and running.
However, many things that I have tried online – have made me far less than I had ever hoped.
Often that’s not just been because of the opportunity but more down to me getting bored or being too focused on something else.
Ultimately, I do know that sticking to one or two projects can make all the difference, because when you’re spread to thinly, you often can’t progress fast enough in anything to maintain your interest and enthusiasm.
We all start a new project with motivation and excitement. But what happens when we don’t see the results we want?
Interest starts to wane and it becomes harder and harder to give it your time and energy.
For me personally, that really means that the projects I get involved in, I need to be passionate about and enjoy doing.
So, I’m sure it comes as no surprise that the ventures that have made me the most money to date, have also been things that I’ve enjoyed spending time doing.
So, what are they? Let’s find out………
No.1 – Entering Competitions/Sweepstakes:
In the UK, we call people that enter a lot of competitions, “Compers.” I’m not sure if there is a similar term elsewhere in the world.
My very first attempt at making any income online at all started over a decade ago, when my youngest son was still a baby.
I had a newborn and a two year old at home and we were struggling with money and keeping on top of debts, so I started looking online for things I could do.
I happened to come across an article about a woman who had won thousands of pounds worth of prizes and that was enough for me to give it a go.
I decided I would do 50 competitions per day for one month and see what happened. I joined a free competition forum, where competitions were posted every single day.
Originally, this was via a site called Loquax, but I recall the owner was unable to continue and I think it became simply run by members. I didn’t like the way it changed and I switched to the money saving expert website.
I recommend checking them out if you’re in the UK. They have a large amount of competitions and they also post all the Advent online competitions at Christmas, which are a lot of fun.
So, my first big prize came at around the four week mark, when I was told I’d won a designer bag worth around £450, ($626).
I ended up selling it on Ebay, for not much less than it would cost if I’d bought it. This may have been because it was also signed by the designer.
In any case, I couldn’t believe I’d won that much just from filling out some forms and better still – in the UK, prize wins are Tax free!
This win spurred me on and I ended up entering increasingly more and more competitions.
Over around a four year period I won every gadget you can think of – multiple game consoles, smartphones and Ipads.
I won various toys, shopping vouchers, food baskets, hotel stays, breaks away, SKY paid for a year, a large 3D TV and cash prizes.
One of my best wins every, was £5000 to spend on hotels around the world. ($6960).
I couldn’t tell you the precise value of all the prizes I won over the years I was comping – but it certainly would have exceeded $20,000.
Eventually, I cut down on entering competitions, as it seemed to get harder to win big. A lot more people were entering them and this grew and grew. I also burnt out somewhat… It can get really monotonous relentlessly filling out forms.
Also, I realised I needed to find a way to make money in the long term. I started to research ways to make money online and that’s what led me into no.2!
No.2 – Blogging/Niche Sites:
I was first introduced to creating Niche sites primarily at this online training platform and it’s also where I learnt everything about how to build a website, SEO, keyword research and niche research.
Basically, it was my first introduction to really building an online business and where I first started to make money online, beyond competitions/sweepstakes.
As someone who had no knowledge in these areas, I learnt really fast. I totally absorbed myself in all the training and worked my butt off trying to build websites for many months.
I was so amazed when I made my first affiliate sale on one of my sites after about four weeks. It was only about $2 – but it made me realise that it was possible.
I thought after the first sale, they’d all start rolling in but it was much more of a slow burner and very gradual.
Still after a couple of years, the traffic on one of my main blogs went crazy and got to a level where I could apply to Mediavine — this is an Ad network that requires you to have 25k sessions in one month to your website in order to get accepted, (it has since gone up to 50k sessions!).
It made a massive difference to my income at that time, as suddenly it meant I was making an additional several hundred dollars a month, just having Ads on my site and on top of any affiliate earnings.
Unfortunately, for various reasons, including a Google algorithm update and some technical issues on my site, I lost a significant amount of my traffic in quite a short space of time not long after being accepted and this was not regained.
Partly because I was totally deflated and lost all motivation for a while.
Since what had been working for me took a nose dive, I was close to quitting altogether for sometime.
Overall, I had made thousands of dollars as a combo of affiliate marketing and paid advertising, but the income which had seemingly been on the up & up…. had declined significantly at that stage.
However, some of this all coincided with my third opportunity and the focus on my main website started to shift on to something else.
I’d heard about self publishing on amazon for a long time and had already started selling T-shirts with Merch by Amazon.
I had sold some T-shirts, but it had been a hard slog to get to the $100 month point selling shirts and I was quite frustrated by the whole process at the time.
I had half heartedly thrown up some of my Merch designs on to notebook covers that I uploaded to the kindle direct publishing platform, with little expectation that they would sell.
I forgot all about it for some weeks and was shocked to find out I’d made a few sales when I decided to check my sales dashboard one day.
Immediately, I could see there was an opportunity and I decided to shift all my focus to that and see what happened.
No.3 – Low Content Self Publishing With Amazon:
Low & No Content Publishing involves selling things like activity books, journals, planners, log books and notebooks online.
These are not physical products you have to store. You upload your book as a PDF file to Amazon, along with your cover and you can then sell it on the Amazon store.
Still unsure what low content publishing is? This post can help.
It actually took me a really long while to actually get my first book up because it was all completely out of my comfort zone and I didn’t really know how to get started.
So, after possibly almost a year of thinking about it – I decided to spend a week just figuring everything out and publish some books, using some of my Merch Designs on notebooks.
I figured that was a simple way to get started, although I really didn’t expect to start making sales as soon as I did.
I uploaded around six notebooks and then I pretty much just forgot about it!
About a month later or so, I decided to check into Amazon and see if I’d sold anything, (fully expecting not to have).
I was completely shocked to discover that I’d made a few sales.
That was enough for me and by October 2019, I decided to dedicate my time to creating books more seriously.
I created a lot of books in quite a short space of time, most of them were notebooks in the first few weeks or so.
But then I decided to concentrate more on low-content, rather than just lined notebooks. This is because I had read that it was more profitable.
I started seeing immediate results. By November, I made over $200 and by December 2019, I made nearly $1000.
The year following was 2020 and quite a roller-coaster ride. Yet, I still managed to grow my KDP business pretty significantly.
UPDATE DECEMBER 2021: I have now made over $90,000 in royalties in just over two years!!
As you can see, I actually joined KDP in October 2015 – But did not start low content until 2019 and started taking that seriously in October 2019, when I decided to make it my primary focus.
There was quite a wave going on in 2020 income wise, but towards the end of 2020, things really started to take off, (as I update this in 2021 – my overall income also increased).
Typically July and August are the quietest months – with the last four months of the year typically being the highest months. So, you just have to prepare for that and realise that every month will not be identical.
Keep Going And You Will Get There!
I have been on such a journey since I first started to look for ways to boost our family income over a decade ago. There were many things that worked out and…… there are many things that didn’t!
I think I found everything most frustrating in the beginning because I wanted it to all happen RIGHT NOW at that point and didn’t realise that sometimes things take time to fall into place.
I feel that the reason self-publishing clicked for me more quickly than other things – is because of the experience I already had online to date.
For example; I improved by design skills by creating t-shirt designs for Merch by Amazon and learning CANVA for the last five years.
I already knew about niche and keyword research from blogging/affiliate marketing and the training I took over here and I had the confidence and knowledge to recognise a good opportunity and take action.
This came from spending years looking at online opportunities, as well as researching and writing blog posts for Rags To Niches.
So, the greatest advice I can give anyone who is looking to build a business online is to educate yourself and learn as much as you possibly can.
Learn new skills and just keep learning. Because ultimately, it will be your experience and knowledge that will lead to your success in the end.
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