Welcome to episode 68 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast! This week, Bjork chats with Nick Loper, founder of Side Hustle Nation, about making money with your projects on the side.
Last week Bjork interviewed Amy Raskelley from Super Healthy Kids about scaling her business by building a team. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.
How to Earn Income Off Your Side Hustle
The majority of bloggers aren’t doing it full time. In fact, many bloggers fit blogging in between their hectic schedules that can include a full-time job, kids, and hobbies.
However, the dream of earning an income from blogging still persists, but many wonder if it’s possible to do when it’s just a side gig.
Nick Loper, founder of Side Hustle Nation, says it’s totally possible. He has successfully run a number of side hustles that contributed to his monthly income, all while having a full-time job. He’s been so successful at it, in fact, that he created his own full time job just showing people how to create an income from their own side hustles, and today he’s here to give us some tips.
In this episode, Nick shares:
- What a side hustle really is
- What his first side hustle taught him
- Where Nick makes money from his website
- How you can make more money with your food website
- Why working for free is sometimes a good idea
- How people in all different industries have made successful side hustles
- Side Hustle Nation
- The Side Hustle Show
- The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson
- The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy
- Neil Patel, QuickSprout
- Bryan Harris, Videofruit
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].
Be sure to review us on iTunes!
If you’d like to jump to the comments section, click here.
Bjork Ostrom: Welcome to episode #68 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast. Hey there everybody. This is Bjork Ostrom. You are listening to the Food Blogger Pro podcast and today we’re chatting with Nick Loper of Side Hustle Nation. I have been a huge fan of the Side Hustle, both Nick’s site as well as the concept for a really long time, because I think that’s what it takes in order to truly transition what your hope and dream for a business or blog, or non-profit, whatever it is that you’re working on, into a full time thing. It takes a ton of side hustle. Nick is all about the side hustle, and he talks about different ideas that people are implementing in order to build a side hustle into a full time thing as well as people that are continuing with their full time job, but supplementing their income with different things on the side. He’s going to talk about three different ways, specifically that he has himself implemented the side hustle or has seen people implement the side hustle as they’ve been building their businesses.
I can’t wait to jump into this interview with Nick Loper from Side Hustle Nation, so without further ado, Nick, welcome to the podcast.
Nick Loper: Bjork, thanks for having me, man.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, it was fun to reflect here a little bit before we pressed the official record button, but we were on your podcast, it was two years ago now and it doesn’t feel like that. It’s crazy how time flies.
Nick Loper: Time flies. We met at an affiliate summit conference probably five years ago, four years ago. It was a really long time ago and it’s been awesome to watch you guys really take off since then. It’s been crazy.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s fun to think about that. I went with a friend who does affiliate program management for Target here in the Twin Cities. He’s like, “You want to come with?” I was like, “Sure.” It’s such a great example of what networking looks like because neither of us were intentionally passing out business cards, but we were just sitting at the same table and you were leading a discussion on affiliate marketing. I forget what the specific topic was, but then we connected. We chatted a little bit. You followed up via email, and here we are two and a half, three years later continuing the relationship.
Nick Loper: It’s kind of fun to go to these events and to keep going to these events and you see people, the same faces over and over again. Hey, if you’re still coming, you must be doing something right.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, right. Exactly. Fun to have you on the podcast here and for those that want to check it out, we’ll link to the podcast episode that we did with you. I will call myself out on this, but after Lindsey said, “Were you drinking a glass with ice in it?” I was like, “Oh no, it’s like podcast rookie mistake #1.” This is a two year apology, two year late. I apologize for drinking a glass with ice in it on a podcast, such a rookie move.
Nick Loper: I didn’t even notice. I’m much more of an audio snob now than I was then.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay, good. You said you have 150 episodes that you’ve done since then, so a lot of awesome content. I’d encourage people to check that out. Do you call it Side Hustle Podcast, or Side Hustle Nation Podcast?
Nick Loper: The Side Hustle Show.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay, got it. We will link to that as well. I think that would be a good place to start. Let’s talk a little bit about The Side Hustle. This is the brand that you’ve developed, both your blog and the podcast. Talk about what a side hustle is, for those that aren’t familiar.
Nick Loper: It’s just something you do outside of your day job to earn some money.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay, great. I think people can understand that. When I was looking through your about page, there’s this idea of the hustle being something positive or negative. Some people, when they hear hustle, they maybe think of like getting hustled, but the example that you’re using is hustling like working hard, and the idea being you’re working hard on the side.
Nick Loper: Yeah, it’s like control the controllables. You can’t really, a lot of times you don’t have a lot of say over what’s going on in the grander economy or even your own personal job security, but here’s something you can control and that’s how you spend your time and trying to figure out how to get the most results out of that. We’re all dealt the same 24 hours in a day.
Bjork Ostrom: For sure, and that’s one thing I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is time and how we’re using time. For those that are side hustling, I think a lot of the people in the Food Blogger Pro podcast audience would consider themselves side hustlers, do you have any advice right off the bat for those people in terms of success stories that you’ve seen. Are these people that are squeezing every last minute out of their day by cutting out TV and any other time like hanging out with family and friends, or what does it look like for people that are really good at side hustling?
Nick Loper: There’s probably definitely people who do that, and kind of put their head down and have that ability to really burn the candle at both ends. Today’s episode that just released is about a former hairdresser who built this social media management business on the side and she in her words, “I was drowning in my day job and I made the decision that this was going to be a sprint. I worked my butt off for these clients. I didn’t sleep a lot for six months, but I could see the light at the end of the tunnel to get out.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Nick Loper: With two young kids at home, I don’t know if I could do that.
Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Nick Loper: That was her method of getting it done. I’m probably a little bit slower, a little bit more methodical because if you’re burning yourself out and if you don’t see that light at the end of the tunnel, that’s a recipe for disaster. You’re going to end up quitting. You do something that’s sustainable.
Bjork Ostrom: I think that’s such good advice and the piece that I think is important to focus on is what you said, is like for me, I know that I wouldn’t be able to do it like that. I think that’s such a commonality that I see with people that are successfully building something is, they really understand themselves. For instance, for me, I know that once 8:00, 9:00 rolls around, the work that I’m doing is about 15% of what it would be if I was starting at 8am or 9am working on something. I know that even though I might want to work all through the day and hustle from the time that the sun rises until the sun sets and beyond, I know that it’s not sustainable for me, so I think it’s really important to know yourself and to give yourself those parameters within your side hustle.
Nick Loper: Try to take advantage of your own seasons and your own energy. When I’m really jazzed up about a new project or new idea, it’s like that has to be go time. You never know how long that energy’s going to last. It’s like, I got to get all of the stuff down. That’s when I get upset with distractions and other stuff. I want to finish. That’s when I have no problem working late to get that stuff done because that’s when it’s fun.
Bjork Ostrom: Right, right. For sure. Your story is, eight years ago, nine years ago, was it eight years ago that you quit your corporate job? Can you take us back to that day and tell us a little bit about what was going on in your life and why you made that decision?
Nick Loper: It took a couple of beers to get up the nerve to the dinner with my boss. I was like, “Am I really going to do this?” My original side hustle was this footwear comparison shopping business. That’s what I was doing at the affiliate summit conference back in the day, and it would aggregate the catalogs from Zappos, from Amazon, from all these different retailers and I would earn commission on sales that came through the site. It becomes a full time job on its own and it was way more fun to work on than my day job because you could see the direct impact of your impact to the bottom line versus working on the bottom rung of a Fortune 50 company. If I show up today, if I don’t show up today, they’re going to be fine. Nothing’s going to happen. It was this fork in the road, this decision point.
At the same time, the economy’s tanking, the company’s tanking and they’re like, “We’re going to have to be laying people off.” Before you do that, I don’t see myself long here, long term anyways. Let me take one for the team. That was it. My visions of four hour work week and this romantic entrepreneurial lifestyle were very naïve at that point because on day one of self employment, day one of my retirement, I called it. The Google gods completely struck me down and said, “You can’t advertise with us anymore. Your account is poor quality.” I was like, “Dude, you had two years to tell me this. Why did you wait ’til I gave my notice, turned in the keys to my company car.”
Bjork Ostrom: This was literally the day after.
Nick Loper: Literally day one.
Bjork Ostrom: Oh no!
Nick Loper: I used to have hair at that point, now I’m completely bald. That was a very stressful summer. You go through the seven stages of anger and denial and all this stuff and we make all these changes to the website to kind of get back into the good graces. Of course, they won’t tell you specifically what they want to see. Okay, you have two years of account history or three years at that point. You’ve never had a problem before. You have thousands of happy customers coming through the site. What’s the matter here? They came back three months later and said, “Looks like we made an error. You’re good to go.”
Bjork Ostrom: Oh.
Nick Loper: I was like, “Are you kidding me, three months of just total stress.” That’s what the entrepreneurial life has been like since that, lots of ups and downs, but trying to figure out how to make it work. It’s like Matt Damon in the Martian, solve one problem at a time, then solve the next one, then solve the next one.
Bjork Ostrom: I think that’s refreshing for people to hear. I’ve never watched a TV show by myself ever. It’s always been Lindsey and I will have a show that we watch, and we sit down. When 8:00, or 9:00 strikes and I’m just like, “I just can’t do anything anymore.” We’ll watch some show.
Nick Loper: What are you guys watching now?
Bjork Ostrom: We just finished Stranger Things.
Nick Loper: We watched like five minutes of that and decided that was way too scary.
Bjork Ostrom: Oh, really?
Nick Loper: I can’t do it.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s not as scary as it seems. There’s parts of it, the initial part seems like a true horror movie when he’s running down that hallway, but it’s not that bad.
Nick Loper: I’m totally not into it.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. The only show that I’ve watched on my own, like just on my phone when Lindsey’s doing something. Maybe she’s cooking, or whatever is Silicon Valley. Have you watched Silicon Valley?
Nick Loper: I haven’t. Is it on YouTube, because we don’t have HBO?
Bjork Ostrom: No, I actually buy it in iTunes.
Nick Loper: Yeah, we’ve got a bunch of iTunes gift cards.
Bjork Ostrom: Anyways, one of the things I love about Silicon Valley is that the humor’s in the truth with any comedy, and you get to experience the extreme ups and downs of their entrepreneurial journey, and obviously a lot of it is slanted in a way to make it more humorous, but I think a lot of it is truth and I think it’s so important for us as entrepreneurs to be exposed to the dark side of whatever it is, whether it be through something like a funny TV show, or through you saying, “That’s what it’s been ever since I’ve started is these crazy ups and downs.” Or to hear me respond to you and say, “Yes, exactly. I feel the same way.” I think oftentimes what people do is, they tell stories about what’s going really well, or how good things feel, or they publish the side that they want to see as their best side and expose that, which makes sense.
We all want our best side to be exposed, but I think that’s such an important piece of it. You’ve stuck with it and you’ve done it now for eight or nine years, is that right?
Nick Loper: Yes, and kind of really the past couple of years, the confidence level has increased. There was a low point and pre-Side Hustle Nation, some soul searching. Am I going to have to dust off the old resume? This is kind of a scary thing, but thankfully I’ve hit on a couple of businesses and other successes since then that have been on the right trajectory.
Bjork Ostrom: Can you talk about that point in your life when you felt that, and what was it that you did in order to move into feeling more confident?
Nick Loper: When I quit my job, I thought the shoe business was going to be my thing for the foreseeable future. I had no reason to believe otherwise, because I was looking back at the track record and it was kind of like a turkey on the day before Thanksgiving. They keep feeding me. This is fantastic. You don’t know what’s coming.
Bjork Ostrom: They just keep bringing me food. This is so incredible.
Nick Loper: It’s amazing. Like any business, it had a finite life span. I was really grateful to be able to run that for really eight or nine, ten years, but ultimately that business played in the margin between the cost of the traffic and what that traffic was worth. That margin kept getting narrower and narrower. If you once, like my virtual assistant started earning more than me. A few months started going backwards, it’s like we were trying everything we could to turn this thing around, it just wasn’t happening and what else? Thankfully during that time, had been blogging and working on some other side projects, most of which had failed, but a couple were doing okay. I had a little bit of diversification and had built up this whole host of internet skills, something I never learned in school, but through the practice of blogging had learned how to work WordPress, and learned how to get different themes worked. This practice of writing content for the internet and for four years. Nobody ever read this stuff.
It was just a random personal blog, but for me it was really an important creative outlet, and formed a foundation of what turned into Side Hustle Nation during this soul searching period, like, what do I want to be known for? I’m really excited about the idea of part time entrepreneurship, of this lower risk brand of entrepreneurship, helping people earn money outside of a day job. I think it’s a really empowering thing and how can I build a brand around that, or build a platform around that? I honestly started foremost thinking of myself as a writer, but what’s happened is after starting the podcast almost as an experiment, as an afterthought, that’s what’s taken off. That’s where it’s given me an opportunity to play in a smaller sandbox and Google. iTunes is an order magnitude smaller in terms of competitiveness and people discovered the show on their own, through there or through word of mouth and it’s sort of taken on a life of its own.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, it’s fun to see. When I was doing some research for the show, it was fun to see this massive list of all these interviews you’ve done and a blog post you have where you talk about some things that you’ve learned from those people, and you can see all of these different people that you’ve worked with. It’s really cool and a huge accomplishment to have done that for so long, and to do it consistently. That’s the hard thing, to continue to do it consistently over a long period of time.
Nick Loper: Yes, that’s a Slight Edge habit. It’s something, like going to the gym. You go or you don’t go. You’re not going to get a six pack today, and you’re probably not going to die of a heart attack today, but you know, you have a habit of consistently doing it and I think that’s part of what’s made the show successful, is to put it out week in and week out for a little over three years now.
Bjork Ostrom: You called it The Slight Edge habit.
Nick Loper: Yeah, did you ever read The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson?
Bjork Ostrom: No, but I love that concept.
Nick Loper: I really like that one. Similarly, in context to The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay.
Nick Loper: It’s just tiny things that you do on a daily, weekly basis that seemingly have no positive or negative impact at the time that you’re doing them, but over time, they start to have compound interest.
Bjork Ostrom: Oh, that’s so awesome. I just added this to my reading list. We talk about a concept quite a bit that we call one percent infinity, and I think it’s exactly the same idea.
Nick Loper: Exactly.
Bjork Ostrom: You’re not trying to push a boulder a thousand feet, you’re just trying to get a tiny bit better today, but doing that forever. The incredible effect that that has over a long period of time, and it sounds like that’s essentially the thesis for The Slight Edge.
Nick Loper: You got it. You could rewrite the book, call it One percent infinity and package it up.
Bjork Ostrom: I think he has a Slight Edge on me with that concept. There’s 1100 reviews almost, and 90% 5 star. It looks like he pretty much has it covered there. It’s cool. I added that to my reading list and will include it in the show notes as well.
Nick Loper: Cool.
Bjork Ostrom: Let’s jump in here and talk about some of these ways that people can start their Side Hustle and potentially turn it into their full time thing, but if not, what are some ways just right off the bat that people can start to create an income from what they’re doing? We chatted about a few things before here and I’d love to focus on each one of those. To start, I’d love to talk about your website or your blog, Side Hustle Nation.
Nick Loper: Sure.
Bjork Ostrom: Can you talk a little bit about that blog, that website and what you did as kind of the first steps in order to start creating an income from that?
Nick Loper: I should say for full disclosure, my hourly rate from blogging for the first two years was so far below minimum wage, it would be illegal.
Bjork Ostrom: We did a calculation once, and for average time that we spent on it and a month that we earned, and it was like $2.16. It was such a small amount.
Nick Loper: It has to be a labor of love starting out, because the dollar, it’s just not going to be there. The way the site made money initially was just through affiliate links. I bought my domain at GoDaddy or whatever, or I interviewed this person. Here’s a link to their book on Amazon. I only make 4% on a $2.99 book. Where the money started to be a little more real is, I started hosting a private MasterMind group. It was probably eight or nine months into the site, so had at that point an audience or a subscriber base of maybe 700 people. This idea actually came from a guest of mine. He was like, “Hey, you could get paid to host a Master Mind group.” I’m like, “I’ll give that a shot.” Send an email out. “Hey, this is the format I’m thinking of.” I actually had six or seven applications, which that was the limit of what I could have in the group. For the last couple of years, that’s one way the site made money.
The real driver has been, I do some one on one stuff. I’m trying to transition away from that as well. The real driver has been on the affiliate relationships, but on a larger scale. I’m not an expert in every area of business, but I can bring people in who are and like I said, this afternoon as an example. I’m doing a webinar or a free training with this guy who is a beast on the live training with the Amazon FBA business, how to private label products, do all this stuff. We did it last year and the comments from him, “If you Google Earth over Dubai, you’ll see where my head just exploded.” It was awesome and it’s so fun.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, with that what you’re doing is you’re partnering with somebody who’s an authority on a certain subject, hosting a webinar or something along those lines and then you’re doing that as an affiliate. If somebody ends up purchasing whatever it is that they offer on the webinar or when they follow up via email, because you brought those people to the table, then you’re able to earn commission on the product. It’s not your product, but you’re an affiliate for it?
Nick Loper: Yes, absolutely.
Bjork Ostrom: What does that look like? Are you doing that on a weekly basis with different people and different authorities? Are you doing that once a month, or does it depend on the season?
Nick Loper: Very infrequently. Maybe three times a year, just because it’s got to be something that I’m excited about, I want to learn about myself. I think the audience would be interested in it, and I have a level. I’m sure you do too. I get these pitches all day every day. Not right now, or it’s not a good fit right now. Very infrequently try and lead with value and not with sales pitches all the time.
Bjork Ostrom: Right.
Nick Loper: There’s a couple of other ways that the site has made money this year. One, both were affiliate plays. One was, I complied a giant list of online courses, Udemy courses that actually people had bought the previous year through my links and it was 134 of the best Udemy courses for Side Hustlers, freelancers, and entrepreneurs and it was a blatant affiliate play. It was just a long list of affiliate links and images to the courses. People were thanking me in the comments because they had this New Year’s special where everything was on super discount and even surprisingly. I reached out to every instructor. “Hey, I put you in this list, if you want to share?” Some of them sent a link to all of their students promoting my affiliate thing. That’s I guess a blogging hack. The more people you can link to, the more people you have an immediate excuse to reach out to once you get published.
Bjork Ostrom: Right.
Nick Loper: That one did really well. I think that post made like $7,000, by far one of the most profitable posts I ever did.
Bjork Ostrom: Can you talk, for those that aren’t familiar what Udemy is and how the Udemy affiliate program works.
Nick Loper: Yeah, absolutely. Udemy is like a peer to peer education platform. You create your own course. I’ve created a course on how to work with virtual assistants. I created a course on how to launch your book on Amazon. You can find topics on pretty much everything under the sun, so picked out 100 different ones that people were doing, or you could do the same thing in your niche. Here are the best cooking courses, and follow that same strategy. Their affiliate program, because it’s a digital product, they end up paying 40–50% commission. It’s a really lucrative set up on that. That’s through LinkShare.
Bjork Ostrom: I know that, is it Udemy that recently changed their pricing structure? Was this before or after that?
Nick Loper: This was before their pricing changes. In April, they lowered their prices, system wide and tried to reduce their reliance on discounts and just this week, they raised the pricing again.
Bjork Ostrom: Interesting, gone back on that a little bit.
Nick Loper: Yeah, it’s like any start up. They’re pivoting and they’re learning what’s working, what’s not.
Bjork Ostrom: Interesting, okay. I just wanted to explain that real quick for those that weren’t familiar, but we could rewind and go back. You were continuing to talk about ways that with the affiliate plays that you have, and Udemy was one of those.
Nick Loper: Yeah, that one was a good one. The other one that has done really well was participating in the bundle sale where how bundle sales work is, a bunch of people in the niche will essentially donate their product, their digital product to this bucket of goods and it will throw on a deeply discounted price on a thing. This one, I think was a $97 and the total sticker price of everything in there was over $3,000. It was a no brainer deal and this is like the ultimate start up bundle, they called it. That one did really well, and you get credit for every sale that you drive, or you get affiliate credit and because again, it was all digital, they were paying like 60% on that. They could afford to pay quite a bit, then the organizers of the sale, like if you want to be at the center, if you want to be the coordinator of it, you can make a commission on that without having to create anything other than, I’m going to compile this digital bucket of assets.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Nick Loper: Kind of interesting way to be a front of the bundle sale thing.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s interesting. We were involved with one of those. I think it was through the same company, and the ultimate startup bundle was recently, wasn’t it? Did that happen within the past month?
Nick Loper: Yeah, the starting of the month.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, we know some of the people that were involved with that. Before that, they did one on photography, so Lindsey has a photography book that she included in the bundle and there’s so many different angles that you can do it from. You could organize a bundle, kind of like you said. Was that what you were talking about, or were you saying individually you could promote the bundle?
Nick Loper: Right, so I promoted this one because one of my books was in that, but if you don’t have that product or book yet, to be a part of this thing, take the initiative and be proactive, and organize the bundle for your own niche.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it, yeah, exactly. Like you said, you could organize that bundle and I think that’s so interesting to think about where you bring in a bunch of people and you create this product. You’re maybe just taking a percentage of it and then distributing the percentages out to other people that are involved with the bundle. It’s such an interesting example of economies of scale because you’re able to reach a bunch of people and you’re able to gather a bunch of digital products that would, if you added up their individual price would be really expensive and then reduce their price, and those two things combined together result in something pretty interesting. I was going to say, we did that with a photography bundle and it was really effective because we have all these people that are interested in photography. We’re able to say, for $90, you get access to all of these different things which legitimately would cost $2,000, then you get affiliate commission from anybody that purchases it.
Nick Loper: Yeah, it’s kind of a win win all around.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure. It’s such a cool solution to an interesting problem. Any other ways that you wanted to focus in and talk about for Side Hustle for the Side Hustle Nation website, your blog where you’re able to create income from that? Do you feel like that kind of encapsulates most of it?
Nick Loper: I will say that the back of really all of the revenue is really hard to sell through a blog post. The bulk of the earnings, it really has paralleled the growth of the email list. That’s been kind of the number one focus of the site, the number one goal of the site. Put awesome content out there in written form, and in audio form, but be thinking, “How can I? What’s the content upgrade? What’s the bonus offer to get somebody on my email list? What am I going to send them afterwards?” You have this auto responder sequence set up, that goes on for a few months, like some of my best liked content, and the weekly newsletter that goes out. Here’s what’s going on this week. That’s been the biggest growth driver for me. A lot of the probably 2/3 of that email list growth actually comes from the podcast. We’re starting to put together in a few episodes after our conversation. We started to do this. If you want the Cliff notes to this episode, you want the highlight reel of this episode. You don’t have to listen to the whole thing, that’s fine. I’ll give you the PDF download of the summary or the highlight points of what we’ve talked about.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s been an effective thing?
Nick Loper: It’s been hugely effective, yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Interesting, that’s one of the things I’ve thought about with podcasts in general is the ability, how do you turn that into something long term? Maybe somebody comes, they listen to one episode and right now, for us at least, it requires them subscribing. It’s cool to hear how you’re doing that and probably something that we should be doing in some way.
Nick Loper: Yeah. If you have any questions, we can talk offline.
Bjork Ostrom: For sure, cool. Great, so I think that’s a good review for your blog and your website about how you’re able to create an income from that. I’d love to shift here a little bit and talk about something that’s maybe a little bit less common for people to do, but is a really great way for people to have a side hustle or to contribute to their income if they’re just getting started with their business. That’s this idea of peer to peer platforms. You had mentioned a couple of examples before we pressed record. It was so fun to hear those and something that people don’t normally think about. Can you talk about what a peer to peer platform is, then maybe talk through some stories or examples of ways that people could be doing that?
Nick Loper: Absolutely. I am really excited for the Renaissance of peer to peer commerce. It’s been about 200 years, all commerce was peer to peer, then the big companies came in and kind of displaced that. What we’re seeing is a return to that in a way. Of course, there are big companies that are facilitating that like Amazon, like eBay that are forming the nexus point, or the connection point between people. That’s totally fine. They’re going to take the cut performing for that marketplace. As an entrepreneur, it’s really hard to build a two sided marketplace without a bunch of crowd funding. You’ve got to have critical mass and buyers and sellers, where specifically on the food side, the chef side, I think there’s some really interesting things are that you can do. One person I talked to recently is an amateur chef in Washington D.C., and she hosts dinners at her place on a platform called EatWith, EatWith.com.
Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Nick Loper: Charges $60 a plate to host these dinner parties. She says, “I have a capacity of 12 people around my table and I can fit another 8 people at the bar if it’s a really busy night. That’s like $1,000 a night potentially.
Bjork Ostrom: She’s doing this in her home, or this is at a place where she rents. What does that look like?
Nick Loper: She’s doing this out of her home.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay, cool. She’s using EatWith as the peer to peer platform to find these people?
Nick Loper: Yeah, EatWith is one of them. There’s another one called Feastly. There’s another one called BonAppetour. There’’s one called VizEat. It’s kind of like in the early days where they’re all vying for attention and market share on the demand side. How do I get eyeballs and visitors to come here? This is a unique dining experience. She said, “I’ve had people on first dates. I’ve had people from out of town, but a lot of times, it’s local people who want a different experience than going to a restaurant.” I think that’s a really interesting one.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool, I just looked here on Minneapolis and there’s an event happening tonight which is sold out. Monique is doing a rooftop grilled flat bread pizza night.
Nick Loper: That sounds good.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s $46 per person. It’s like, “Oh, wow. That’s so cool.” You can see how quickly that can be something that can help you offset what would be your full time job income if you’re making the leap. Let’s say you’re maybe earning a little bit from your blog, but not enough to fully transition, but you know that you want to transition. What a cool way to continue to do what you’re doing, but also to help supplement some of that income.
Nick Loper: As a food blog, you probably have a leg up on 90% of the rest of the population, because you already have the recipes, you already have the beautiful pictures of the food. Why not put it on here and see what happens?
Bjork Ostrom: Right, it’s still working for somebody, but it’s work that you own in a different way.
Nick Loper: It’s work that you own, that you care about and very little start up cost. You’re not going to host the event, unless people pay you and show up.
Bjork Ostrom: We’ll link up to those in the show notes for people that want to check those out. Other examples of peer to peer platforms that people could be using as they’re looking to build up their side hustle income?
Nick Loper: There’s another one called MiumMium, and it’s kind of a Uber for personal chefs where you could go on there and set up your profile and people will book you to come to their house to cook for their dinner party or something like that. There might be another one. I’m trying to figure out what that one is. There’s definitely one that I found. Another option that might be interesting and telling to people is hosting local food tours or food events. I met, actually connected through helper reporter a couple of weeks ago for a book project I’m working on. I’m with this gal in San Francisco who hosts urban hikes and she’s like, “I was a transplant to the city. I fell in love with hiking the stairways and hills of San Francisco and I read the Hundred Dollar Startup by Chris Gilbo. How could I make this into a business?” Very low start up cost, just put up a website and she kind of ran this deal on Zozi.com which won’t probably be relevant to the food thing, but it was focused on outdoor stuff.
“That got me my first 200 customers. I took pictures of everybody when they were on the hikes, sent them the pictures afterwards. Had a great time, thank you so much for joining me. It would really help me out if you could leave me a Trip Advisor review.” Then, all of a sudden started getting Trip Advisor reviews, exposure on their audience of whatever it is, 35 million monthly visitors. Things really started to take off. What I didn’t realize, I thought you had to be a big official tour bus company or a fancy hotel to have a presence on Trip Advisor, but it has a peer to peer element as well. She was able to tap into that existing marketplace of buyers and there are all sorts. People are after these unique experiences. I don’t want to go down to the fisherman’s wharf and look at this. You could take me off the beaten path a little bit, especially for foodie cities like San Francisco.
There’s probably half a dozen food tours. There’s probably, you could go on a food tour of just Vietnamese places in the Castro, or something.
Bjork Ostrom: Right, right, right. It’s fun to think about because we have a story that kind of connects to that. We were in Charleston and we did a walking tour and Lindsey posted about this on her blog, but it was such a great experience and it was very similar where we found them. I don’t know if it was Trip Advisor, but it was something like that. It had a bunch of really positive reviews and it was just individual who would go around and do a walking tour of Charleston, was really knowledgeable and you’d pay beforehand and then people would show up and then he would walk around Charleston with you and just show you and talk about the city. It’s just a great example of somebody who’s skilled at something and in this case, it was somebody who was really into history and also was a really good talker, which is important, then he’s built up this little business through this kind of peer to peer environment that is available to people. Fun to hear about the different food examples as well.
Nick Loper: When we were in Vietnam, we ended up taking a motor bike food tour, which was terrifying for the first five minutes, then awesome. Oh my gosh, we’re really doing this. They put you on the back of this little scooter and you’re weaving through the streets of Saigon and it was $60–65. That would feed you for a week in Vietnam. They were making a pretty good margin on us because of the novelty of it, and we were confident that we’re not going to get sick because they’re taking tourists to these places, and it was a once in a lifetime kind of thing. You can set up something in your city to show off your favorite spots if there’s something there.
Bjork Ostrom: I was reading one of your posts about the dog sitting. What is that app called, or that platform?
Nick Loper: There’s a couple. The two biggest ones are Rover.com and DogVacay.com.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, I was like, in another life, maybe that’s something that we could do. We got a dog last year and we’ve slowly started to realize we’re crazy dog people. Yeah. It’s a good example of another peer to peer platform. It’s like, “Hey, if you are trying to bridge that gap, you could literally put up an account on Rover then dog sit.” Which is so funny, but it’s awesome.
Nick Loper: Somebody sent me a note and said, “Hey, I’m going to make 10–15 grand this year from dog sitting.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s like the cost of rent.
Nick Loper: Yeah, this was 5 years ago, 10 years ago, these platforms didn’t exist, wouldn’t have been legitimized, but now people are on here looking for dog sitting services. Might as well put your buy button up there and see what happens. We’ve already got one dog.
Bjork Ostrom: Why not two? Can’t be that big of a deal.
Nick Loper: It would be hard, I think we could do it.
Bjork Ostrom: Great, we talked a little bit about blogging to begin with and specifically Side Hustle Nation, how you’re able to create an income from that and some examples. I think people in general kind of think that way, then we shifted into this peer to peer platform conversation where I’m guessing that most people that listen to this, that doesn’t come up as a potential way to bridge that gap between their normal job and starting to build out some income kind of as a side hustle or a way to replace that income. Then the third thing I wanted to focus on which I think is another really important area is this idea of freelancing and consulting. You mentioned this as a really important one to bring up before we started recording here. Let’s dive into that a little bit and talk about what that could look like.
Nick Loper: With blogging, it’s kind of a speculative game. I’m going to put this time in and hopefully get paid back for it later. It has to be that labor of love. If you’re in the position, “I hate my job. I got to get out tomorrow, or I’ve got to make rent next month.” That’s when I really don’t think blogging is a good fit. Instead, you’ve got to figure out a way to sell your services to say, what do I have of value to offer some company? What problem can I solve for another business, and that’s essentially what freelancing consulting is. I definitely recommend going after business clients rather than individual people, or targeting other bloggers like a lot of people do.
Bjork Ostrom: Why do you say that?
Nick Loper: Because they have money to spend, or they’re used to investing in the growth of their business and they see it as an investment rather than an expense.
Bjork Ostrom: A lot of times, what’s interesting about businesses versus individuals is that with individuals, I think that you feel the money you’re spending in a different way versus a business which maybe you have a budget and in some cases you need to spend it, otherwise you won’t have that same budget in the year to come. I think the emotions of spending potentially are also different with business versus personal.
Nick Loper: Yeah, because it’s not their cash. It’s the bosses’ cash.
Bjork Ostrom: Right, right, right. What does that look like in terms of, how do people find businesses to work with as opposed to reaching out to individuals? I think most natural ideas, like, “Oh, my friend needs this, so I’ll help them. Maybe their friend needs this.” It’s a little bit harder to break into business spaces.
Nick Loper: I think that’s a great way to start. If people are asking you for help in your peer group, that’s a fantastic sign that people see you as an expert on this topic. I met a gentleman this week who’s like a Microsoft Access programmer, database whiz and how actually he kind of ended up connecting with clients kind of a round about way. He set up a tutoring profile on another peer to peer platform called Wyzant and, “Hey, I’ll tutor you in Microsoft Access.” It’s such a niche thing that not many people are offering it, and he ended up getting students on this platform, which most do not turn out to be students. Most of them turned out to be companies who were Googling around for database help and ended up finding his profile on this Wyzant platform. Once they had hired him and pay his rate through the platform, they’d uncover. The scope of work is really beyond what we could classify as tutoring, but I have this consulting business on the side. I’d be happy to help you. He said, “I’m probably going to do 10 grand in consulting this year through connections made on this platform.” That was an interesting, round about way to connect with companies.
If you have skills on the website, which you probably do as a blogger, you know what I’ve seen people do? Actually, this came from Neil Patel. He’s like, “When I was trying to get tech crunch and these other big blogs as SEO clients, I would go to their site, analyze everything they were doing wrong, tell them, send them an email, tell them what they were doing wrong. Then, p.s., if you need help fixing this, I’m happy to do it free of charge on the condition that you write about me or share your results. If I help you out, promote me. That was kind of his foot in the door that ended up landing all sorts of clients. It was his willingness to do free work that opened the door to all of these bigger corporate contracts.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s interesting. I’ve heard that as a theme for so many people that talk about this idea of doing free work to begin with. I think a lot of times, people are hesitant about doing free work, because it’s like, get paid what you’re worth. I think that’s true, especially as you advance in your career, but I think people are so used to being inundated with being pitched stuff. “Hey, you should hire me to do this, or pay me to do this. You should sign up for a service.” The idea of reaching out to somebody and saying, “Here’s something that I’ve done for you already. There’s value in it. I’m not asking for anything in return, and/or, I’d love to continue working with you, and here’s what that would look like next steps.
Nick Loper: I think Brian Harris is really excellent at that and starting his video info graphic business or whatever he was working on before Videofruit, where he said, “Hey, I’ll reach out to HubSpot. It might have even been QuickSprout or whatever Patel’s business. Hey, I noticed this was one of your popular posts. I turned that into a video for you, free of charge, my gift to you as a fan. If that’s something you’re interested in though, let me know. I’m happy to talk about it.” They’re like, “Oh my gosh. This is awesome. How much do you want to do this for all of our posts.”
Bjork Ostrom: You’re not having to convince people of the quality of your work. You’re giving that to them and then saying, “Hey, if you’re interested, there’s more that I can do in this realm? Do you have other thoughts about this? This would be something we could maybe brainstorm together. For people, say they have experience with a food blog, what would that look like, or maybe it would just be websites in general, but our niche is food. What freelancing or consulting? Can we think through some potential ideas of what that might look like?
Nick Loper: One of them, as a writer, writing content, one of the side hustles that I was doing for a time was freelance book editing and the way I got my first client was actually on Fiverr. I said, “I will proofread your non-fiction book. I tried to niche it down a little bit. I don’t want to read vampire romance. I said, ”I’ll proofread your non-fiction book for $5.“ Then it was like 500 orders for $5. Those books were bigger than 500 words, so I was like, ”You could order extras based on the length of the book“ and actually ended up getting my first four figure Fiverr gig from that offering. I actually read some interesting stories on that. The challenge was, I’m not the fastest reader. I think I did a good job editing the books, but I’m not the fastest reader. It’s something that I’ve never done professionally before. Before I had any ratings and reviews, some people were taking a chance on me and then the feedback came back. ”Okay, this guy’s legit.” The drawback was, this largely is individuals often publishing their first book.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s not businesses, like you had said before.
Nick Loper: There was a ceiling for how much I could charge. As I started to get word of mouth referrals, and stuff, they reached the ceiling. I was talking with some other freelance editors as well. They were like, “Oh, I make way more when I proofread corporate annual reports, court reporter transcriptions.” They’re trying to find these little niches where there’s a little bit more money and a budget for it or a tremendous- As a new author, I can attest to this to, as a Kindle author. You don’t know. You don’t know if this thing’s going to sell. You don’t know if you’re going to make your money back. It’s hard to invest that money up front.
Bjork Ostrom: For sure. One of the things that I think, and I see people starting to get into this a little bit. One of the skills that people quickly develop in this niche is photography and potentially video as well. We’ve seen people that have used that to partner with local restaurants or maybe it’s a business that has a certain product like a coffee shop or maybe it’s a certain type of food that they sell in stores. They need product photography or videos, so they work with them in a freelancer consulting capacity to create that content. I think that’s a great example of using the skills and in some ways developing those further to help your own blog while also supplementing the income that you’re making from that as a side hustle.
Nick Loper: That’s a great way to earn money off of the camera equipment you already bought and you legitimately use. New camera equipment is a tax write off. It’s actually my wife’s side hustle of choice. She’s an engineer by day, but her and her partner have a wedding photography business that they started on Craigslist, like another example of a peer to peer platform. I was like, “this is the dumbest idea I ever heard. Who’s looking for a wedding photographer on Craigslist?” Sure enough, they got a dozen inquiries on the first couple of days of having this ad up. I was like, “What do I know about marketing?”
Bjork Ostrom: that’s awesome. I feel like that’s the story. What I appreciate about the stories that you told is that there’s always people willing to do a little bit of extra work, and think creatively about how they can start their thing. There’s the combination of the hustle, but then it also comes along with intentional processing and creative problem solving. How do I get people aware of this? The person that gave the tours, they started with the deal and then transitioned that deal into photographs, then reached out manually. It’s not scalable, but she reached out manually and said, “Hey, can you leave a review on Trip Advisor, which is a little bit more.”
Nick Loper: How can I leverage this?
Bjork Ostrom: For sure, which I think is great. I think all of these are really important for people to review and to think about and to be aware of. I appreciate you sharing those stories and insights. As kind of a last question, I’m curious to know because you’ve been at this for a while. If you had to go back, and let’s say you hopped in the car heading back from your last day at work and it was you driving you back home, what would the conversation be that you had with yourself, the advice that you give yourself as you’re starting this journey?
Nick Loper: It’s not life-threatening. You’re going to live through this. Like I said, at that point, it was the entrepreneurial honeymoon phase.
Bjork Ostrom: Uh-huh.
Nick Loper: There wasn’t anything bad that had happened. Maybe being able to prepare myself for that a little bit better would have made things, not any more fun, but being able to zoom out, take the bigger picture, the long term view. You still have food on the table, you have a roof over your head. It’s going to be fine.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s going to be okay. Lindsey and I talk about that sometimes when we feel like we’re in a rut. We zoom back and it’s like, “It’s going to be okay.” Deep breath, deep breath.
Nick Loper: Yeah, for sure. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like it when you get so far into it, but I think what you said the idea of taking a step back and literally thinking about taking a step back, or multiple steps back from the work that you’re doing and saying, “Let’s put this in perspective. It’s going to be okay. Everything’s going to be all right.” I think that’s really good advice and important for us to hear whether at the beginning or anywhere along the journey.
Bjork Ostrom: Like a website crashes, I had website trouble this week. I was super frustrated. I can’t eat or think, or do anything else until it’s resolved. It’s a website. It’s not the end of the world.
Nick Loper: It’s going to be okay.
Bjork Ostrom: For sure, that’s great. Nick, you had mentioned a few different places throughout this. We chatted about some of the places where you are. Can you do one quick review of where people can find you and follow along with what you’re doing?
Nick Loper: You bet. Home base for me is sidehustlenation.com. If you hit sidehustlenation.com/ideas, you have kind of a laundry list of different ideas that hopefully you get creative juices on how to get started, might get some job free income. Depending on when this airs, the new book is called Buy Buttons. You can learn more at buybuttonsbook.com.
Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. We’ll be sure to link that up in the show notes, so even if people are listening a few months down the line, they’ll be able to pick that up. Nick, thanks so much for coming on the podcast. I really appreciate it.
Nick Loper: You bet man, thanks for having me.
Bjork Ostrom: Thank you. That’s a rap for episode #68. Another big thank you to Nick Loper from Side Hustle Nation for coming on the podcast and sharing different ideas that people can be implementing to up their side hustle game. We mentioned a lot of different resources in this podcast, so if you want to check out what those are, you can go to foodbloggerpro.com/sixtyeight and that will redirect you to the show notes for this episode where you can get links to all the different things that we referred to. Thanks so much for tuning in. I say it every once in a while and I really truly mean it. Wherever you are, I appreciate you checking out this podcast. It means so much to us and we wouldn’t do it and couldn’t do it without you, so thanks for tuning it. We will see you exactly 7 days from now. Until then, make it a great week.