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Nick Loper: Side Hustles: Amplify Your Earning Power

My guest helps people earn money outside of their day job.

He's an author, online entrepreneur and host of the award-winning, Side Hustle Show Podcast, which features new part-time business ideas each week. As the chief side hustler at Side Hustle Nation, he loves deconstructing the tactics and strategies behind building extra income streams.

His name is Nick Loper.

If you ever wanted to generate some additional income, you are going to want to read because we're going to talk about side hustles, how to amplify your earning power. We're going to talk about how you can put your foot in the water, how you can dabble with different ideas for generating income and you are going to love the examples.

We also talk about the big three business models of side hustles, three different distinct ways you can generate income and it puts a frame around how business is conducted. We're also going to teach you the dark side of side hustling so that you can weigh the pros and the cons. We talk a little about investing and how to invest for cashflow.

This episode is guaranteed to help you put more money in your pocket.

Nick
I never expected to play out my first day of retirement, my first day of self-employment. This is summer 2008, so the economy is about to implode around us. I'm thinking like, “I’ve got it. I found my way out. This is going to be awesome.” What happened was Google decided to shut down my advertising account. I had a business at the time, it was called ShoesRUs.net. It was a footwear comparison shopping site. This is what I’ve been spending the last couple of years of nights and weekends, side hustling to build this up to a point where I felt comfortable and quitting the day job. When that day finally came, Google had three years where they could have done this but no, they chose this day instead to say, “Your site no longer meets our quality guidelines. You can't advertise with us anymore.” You go through the seven stages of anger, denial, acceptance and all this stuff, which are like, “What's going on here, Google?” What they said was, “The sole purpose of your site is to drive traffic to other sites. We don't like that.” Google, look in the mirror. The sole purpose of Google is to drive traffic to other sites.
It was this whole mess. It had been a stressful summer trying to figure out how to get the site back into their good graces. What ended up working was adding some sidebar content, adding more internal links to balance out the external links. The site was a comparison-shopping site, so a lot of the links on the page where here's where you can find the best deal on your next pair of shoes. That was, like Google said, the sole purpose of the site. We added a bunch of internal links like, “You don't want to shop more in this category. Do you want to shop more from this brand? You can do that here.” Ultimately, they came back and said, “It looks like we made an error. You're good to go.” Just like that, it was back in business. It was three months and expensive time in redeveloping a bunch of the pages, hiring contract developers to do that without the revenue coming in and wondering like, “Is this ever going to work? Did I make the biggest mistake ever quitting my job at such a tenuous time in the economy anyways?”
Dustin
I’ve got to ask before we go down the road of the side hustle that you did that made it full-time, you built this site. It sounds like maybe you had saved some money before you jumped ship. Was that more your mentality was to save, so you had some time to recover or are you a “burn the bridges” and jump into your entrepreneurship?
Nick
I wouldn’t say the bridges would burn my day job, but it would've been incredibly embarrassing to try and go back. I don't think they would have hired me back. I wasn't particularly good at the job, so it wasn't a sense of trying to do that. There was a saving buffer or emergency fund buffer that was in place. It wasn't like, “I'm down to my last dollar and I'm going to take this entrepreneurial leap.” That's incredibly risky. In fact, the narrative of entrepreneurship that you hear coming out of Silicon Valley is often that of a risky brand of entrepreneurship, “An entrepreneur is somebody who jumps off a cliff and figures out how to build their parachute on the way down.” That's incredibly scary sounding to me. That was not my experience with the shoe business. That's not been the experience of hundreds of guests on the Side Hustle Show. Start something small, start something low risk, build it up in your spare time until you have some revenue to justify taking that leap.
Dustin
It's quite funny because I came from that risky brand. Not to say I came out of Silicon Valley, but for me, the adage was burn the bridge, burn the ships, whatever you want to call it. Use your credit cards, use whatever’s there. Entering into this world of personal finance where people tend to be a lot more responsible, I find it fascinating. A lot of the narrative out of the people that you've interviewed in the personal finance space is like, “If you're going to do it, build a buffer. Do it smart.” Are there any outliers out there like me?
Nick
There are. The constraint breeds creativity in a lot of ways where it’s like, “It’s going to my head, I got to figure out how to make $1,000.” All of a sudden, that person is a little bit hungrier than the person who's like, “I don't love my day job, but it still pays the bills and I'd like to build something on the side.” That person may take years to get something off the ground just because they have a little higher level of comfort going into it.
Dustin
You mentioned it was three years of nights and weekends until you got comfortable before making that full-time switch. What did you have to get comfortable with? What was going through your head? Was it a confidence thing? Was it a purely financial savings buffer thing? What did you have to overcome?
Nick
It’s a combination of different factors. One, I was looking for a track record of revenue to at least cover my expenses. Maybe it wasn't to the point where it had fully replaced my day job. My income at that time, I was probably making around $50,000 a year. I could see with an extra 40, 50 hours a week how it could get there. I could already see if I spent the weekend pumping out a bunch of new ads for the new inventory that came in, I could see the benefit of that for the next two months on the site in terms of the commissions that I would receive. The other factor was the company had paid for a relocation. I was committed to staying at least twelve months. It was probably 17 or 18 before I finally quit. That was a factor as well. Having a little bit of confidence to say, “This isn't a blip on the radar.” This isn't a flash in the pan type of thing. I thought with the 2 or 3 years of history, it's going to be okay and Google humbly put me in my place otherwise right out of the gate.
Dustin
Why shoes? Are you a shoe guy?
Nick
I’m not a sneakerhead. It just happened to be a product. I had a little bit of experience from an internship in college for a physical product, a decent affiliate commission between 10% and 20% affiliate commission at that time. That translated to if you're selling $100 pair of shoes, you can make $10 or $20 on that. That gave enough margin to play with for driving paid traffic with ads.
Dustin
I'm always fascinated by people's journeys. I'm curious about what was going on in your head. There you are working. You find out you're not passionate about your job and you say, “I’ve got to do something about it.” What goes through your head? Do you go online and search on how to make extra money? Did you know that this whole affiliate world was a possibility? What was going on then?
Nick
I’m sure everyone googled how to make money online and gone down the internet rabbit hole. It was through that same internship where they've had put me in charge of the affiliate program in charge of some of their pay-per-click advertising. I had this inside look at what the affiliate business model where there's no inventory, there is very little overhead. You can refer traffic and sales and get paid a commission on those. That was the original business model for that footwear site. It's still the business model that I rely on for the bulk of the revenue through Side Hustle Nation and a couple of other sites that I'd run. It's a fantastic business model because if you can help people find what they're looking for, what's going to help them, then it's a natural fit to drop that link.
Dustin
This is going to be advanced very early, but I feel like the crew can hang here. I came across an article about how Google is going to disallow Chrome the ability to track affiliate links out there, special links that people put out, like yourself, on the shoe site. What's your take on this?
Nick
I hadn’t heard that. That’s news to me. That would be devastating to my business and to a ton of businesses out there. I imagine that the networks and the powers that be will come up with a workaround in time for that.
Dustin
That's how I feel too. I think as it comes out, you're going to see all sorts of posts, but they'll figure it out.
Nick
There are a lot of ways. This is how the internet runs. You have huge sites like The Wirecutter, which is owned by the New York Times. Everybody operates on this affiliate model. Imagine there's enough money at play in this economy that people will figure out how to get around that.
Dustin
I want to get into side hustles and what makes them popular. To give it some frame here, we have a lot of people that read this that are like yourself. They're working in a job. Maybe they don't like it. Maybe they do like it, but they want to go and control their own destiny. They've heard sometimes jump in with both feet, but I want to go your route because this is an area we have not explored. I want to get into side hustles and testing this out before someone goes out. What is a side hustle and why are they so popular?
Nick
I’m going to broadly define it as anything you're doing outside of your day job to make extra money. There is a more entrepreneurial connotation there rather than just taking a second job like bartending or delivering pizzas on the weekend. I would count those under the side hustle bucket, but there is this sense that there's going to be more upside potential here. Maybe eventually this is something that can replace my day job income. Maybe there's something here that eventually decouples my hours from the dollars that I earn. The reason they're so popular is a couple of different factors. There are people who are tackling this out of necessity. My biggest expenses have all gone up for many years in terms of housing, education, healthcare and real-time wages have not kept pace. There's this necessity factor of I need this to make ends meet.
On the other side, there's this proactive factor of this world didn't exist or it was much harder to attain a generation ago. There is this possibility people taking proactive control over their financial picture and saying, “I don't have to be in this monogamous relationship with my day job for my wellbeing. I have all these extra hours in the day that I can go out, make something happen, control what I can control.” That's what Side Hustle Nation comes from. It’s not necessarily about never sleeping and burning the candle at both ends, but it comes from an old baseball coach of mine. He's like, “You're going to have bad days in the field. You're going to have bad days at the plate, but hustle never slumps.” I took that and said, “Control what you can control.”
Dustin
You did a TEDx Talk. In that talk, you talked about Millennials being very entrepreneurial. You believe that to be the case. Do you think that has seeped into the rest of society?
Nick
It's partially out of necessity and partially at a choice. I don’t know if it's seeping into the rest of society, but it gives people the idea of what is possible. You see people posting on social media, which is largely the highlight reel of your life. You can say like, “This person is starting this thing. This person has started their own eCommerce store.” It gets the creative juices flowing in a way that maybe didn't happen before. I don't know if that crosses generations or not.
Dustin
I think so. The younger generation often leads the charge. Social media and then the middle part of society finally catches up to it. It's spot on. I can imagine what people are thinking, “Nick was an insider. He had that advertising background, so it made sense for him to go do this and Dustin was born a certain way.” Everyone comes up with like, “It can't be me. Here are the reasons why these guys are special.” I want to get into some of the side hustles that are available. On your site, there's a post close to 200 side hustles. I want you to share a little of what's even possible for people to start making some extra money.
Nick
One way to frame this will be to think of the big three business models. Every business on the planet is going to fall under one of these three. Those are selling a product, selling a service and selling an audience. If you look at Google and Facebook, you could consider them audience-based businesses. They monetize through ads mostly. We can dive into each of those. The product-based business is on a physical product level, probably the simplest to start. This is buy low, sell high. This is Walmart, this is Amazon. Every store in the history of stores. What inventory can you acquire and what can you sell it for and profit on this spread in between. The interesting angle here is those could be physical products. Those could be digital products. Those could be what I’ll call hybrid products.
This magical drop-ship print on-demand world where I can upload a t-shirt design and Amazon will print, ship it and fulfill that order for me. There is a ton of different directions that you can go but it might be helpful to frame which of those business models is appealing to you based on your current situation, your financial goals and what's your starting point. What skills and interests do you have starting out? The service-based side is another excellent place to start because you don't have to buy any inventory. You don't need to spend weeks or months or years building an audience. You don't have to build a product of your own. It can be one customer and I'm in business. I’ve done service businesses in the book editing world, in the virtual assistant recruiting world. Even going back to college, in the home services, house painting world. Going back even further, it could be babysitting or mowing lawns, but what problem can you solve for somebody and getting paid for that?
Dustin
The audience seems like it would take a long time for someone looking to make money rather quickly. Is that the case or are there some things that you know that can help us get to money quickly in that category?
Nick
Typically, it’s a longer road. There are a couple of advantages. One is flexibility. Once you have people paying attention to you, have some flexibility. You could sell them the advertising model, the affiliate model. You could sell them a product that they might need. You could sell them a service that they might need. You have a little bit more flexibility there. If you do the advertising affiliate model, you have quite a bit more scalability. Instead of you always being in a product business, you're limited by your inventory, your capital and your marketing. With the audience-based business, there's a much clearer path to decoupling the hours from dollars. It takes the same amount of time to produce a podcast, whether ten people listen or whether 10,000 people listen.
Dustin
What would you say then? Maybe the audience thing is not for me, it's maybe a little long. I do like the idea of one day. Where do you recommend people dabble, put their foot in the water and get started?
Nick
For me, it was a service business. It was that I was painting business that bit me with the entrepreneurial bug early on. The business wasn't without its share of drama. It's a bunch of nineteen-year-olds with paint sprayers. Everything that can go wrong does go wrong. That was my first taste of thinking like a CEO and trying to figure out how I am going to do the marketing, the hiring, the production and the customer service. It wasn't supposed to be me painting all the time. I painted more than I probably should have because I had a tendency to underbid jobs because I was afraid of getting work. There's a whole host of other issues there, but it was this idea of here's a service business, but it doesn't have to be me directly trading time for money.
Dustin
I can imagine someone. Even if we're entrepreneurial, I think we get pretty comfortable, the thought of I want to make some extra money. I got this job that's paying me but I could probably go paint. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to paint. However, the thought of going and getting the gig, selling myself, knocking on doors, putting up flyers. That might make some people cringe that haven't experienced that before and having to sell themselves essentially. Is there an easy way to get some of these gigs? What's your advice to put yourself out there?
Nick
I remember sitting in my truck on this rainy March Seattle afternoon and trying to psych myself up to knock on that first door because that's where the business came from. It's direct to consumer, cold calling. Knock on the door, present yourself in person, “Can I come back this weekend and give you an estimate?” It took a while to get myself up for that. I would jog in between the houses because I thought I could cover more ground for one, and second, maybe it would look more exciting than somebody like trudging up the driveway with a clipboard. Maybe that was effective for marketing. Think of marketing as getting in front of your customers where they already are. For this, it was a no brainer because it's like, “I'm going to find them in their house. I can look physically at the house. Does it look like it hasn't been painted in ten years? This might be a hot lead. This could be a good candidate.”
The second thing that we did in the second year of the painting business was I set up a booth at the Seattle Home Show. How can we get in front of our target customers at scale? Thousands of people are walking past this booth. We generated $70,000 in business in just a couple of weekends at the home show. That was another example. We did an episode on a pet waste removal business where this woman started it as a side hustle. She got her initial customers from friends and family posting on Facebook like, “I'm going to start this thing.” She targeted a bunch of Facebook groups like local buy-sell groups or local interest groups like, “Pet waste removal starting at X dollars per week. Ping me if you're interested.”
This was a cool recurring service because as long as the dog and that house are together, you're probably going to want this. Once you get used to paying for it, it's like, “I can't believe I didn't do this earlier and let somebody else deal with this.” She had built up to 70 or 80 recurring weekly customers at $15 a week. It was like over $1,000 a week for doing this dead, simple chore that anybody can do. I thought that was cool. She got a banner. She posted it at the dog park. She said, “It’ll cost me $200 a year to advertise at the dog park.” She would take donuts and business cards into the veterinarian offices like, “Do you mind if I leave these donuts in business cards here?” Getting in front of your customers where they already are. I was impressed with what she was able to build in a low-tech, low overhead, low barrier to entry type of stuff.
Dustin
I want to make sure I got this. This essentially is a lady. I know that it's pet, I’ll make it real. I have a dog. She literally would come over and pick up all the wastes from the dog on a weekly basis?
Nick
She does it every week. She had set up one a square recurring billing every four weeks and she was off to the races. She was working at a hospital and ended up quitting her hospital job to focus on that full-time.
Dustin
I'm going to press you a little bit here. That one most certainly is unique. I'm curious because you interview a lot of people. You've got your site where you write about and you profile people. Are there any other unique ones or side hustles that said, “That's pretty interesting?” Anything else come to mind?
Nick
That’s a good example on the service side. On the product side, one that is fascinating to me because you shortcut the whole audience thing. A guy, Nate Dodson, he teaches a course on how to start a MicroGreens farming business. Something I'd never heard of. Nate had grown these himself, I guess in his garage or spare bedroom. He's like, “It's a beautiful business. They're super nutrient-dense. They grow in seven days. You don't even need to do it outside.” He was passionate about it. He started it himself and was making $1,000 a month selling this stuff at the farmer's market and to local restaurants. He then turned around and said, “Here's a unique skill that I have or something unique that I’ve learned myself. Maybe I could turn it around and teach that to other people.” He set up this whole course on how to do it, soup to nuts.
What's cool about Nate is he doesn't have a ton of blog content. He hasn't been producing a podcast for years. He doesn’t have a huge email list. What he was able to do was set up this micro webinar. Essentially a 10 to 15-minute video on YouTube, “Here's how to start a MicroGreens business.” It shows him in his garage planting and it time-lapses until a week later where he's got these full beds of different radish sprouts, greens, and stuff. That drives people back to his landing page where it's like, “If you want the next guide book on how to start this thing, put in your email.” The email funnel eventually drives people to his paid course. It's like $300 to $500 on how to do this thing.
Through primarily that YouTube traffic, people type in this on YouTube like, “How to start a home greens.” When we recorded, $30,000, $40,000, $50,000 a month worth of course sales for this thing. That was an interesting one because it shortcuts the traditional like, “I'm going to blog for three years and build my audience and then I’ll come up with something to sell.” It's like, “No, you’ve got to reverse-engineered the whole thing.”
Dustin
I'm always fascinated by the different niches and the different things that people can get into in the world. I think you sit at that to see the people that aren't necessarily the trainers out there, the big names out there, but like Nate, he's quietly under the radar making $30,000 to $40,000 a month off of this little MicroGreens business. I think of the person that's very timid. I think of the shy person that are like, “I want to do this. I want to make some money, but maybe I'm not going to go knock on doors. I can't see myself doing that and being around people to get the business.” Do you recommend some of these apps that are out there? Thumbtack is something that I’ve used personally to get a handyman to come over. What's your take and are there other resources out there for people that maybe want to dabble, put their name out there and bid on some jobs? What's your thought here?
Nick
Thumbtack is a great one. Fiverr is a great one for online gigs. There's TaskRabbit locally. There's Uber Eats and all different things. They make it very easy to set up shop and it's the same thing as dropping up donuts and business cards at the veterinarian offices. It's going where the cash is already flowing, going where your customers already are. It's a very smart way to set up shop and test things out. The drawback, especially like an Uber Eats or an Instacart is you're going to be capped on how much you can earn. Realistically, there are only so many hours in the day. Since it's a relatively low skill thing, there's a ceiling on your hourly potential there. The thing with Thumbtack and some of these other marketplaces is that has some room for higher-level skills. Like you said, “I need a handyman skill. I need something specific.” Those can command better rates.
Dustin
You talk about the dark side of this. We've painted a great picture of what's possible and how people can go out and make money. You've mentioned before previously there's a dark side to this business. I'm dying to know what's the dark side to this.
Nick
There's this op-ed in the New York Times that talked about the con of the side hustle and they were like, “Stop glorifying wage slavery. Stop glorifying these second jobs.” It focused on that person who is driving for Uber to make ends meet. Stop glorifying the fact that people don't have enough money to make ends meet. That's not cool. What the article missed was the entire entrepreneurial upside of a side hustle. They had this very narrow definition of what it could be. Whereas like, “For all the people that I’ve talked to, this could be a potentially life-changing thing.” Even if your goal isn't to leave your job. Having an extra $1,000 a month, what would that mean to your bottom line? What would that mean to your personal happiness or mental safety net of we have this little financial buffer, things are going to be better?
That's the one thing that comes up when people talk about the con of the side hustle or the dark side to it. One thing personally in entrepreneurial life is the ability to shut down and the ability to say, “It's going to be there,” and the ability to deal with never being done. There's always more to do. On the positive side, I never have to worry about being bored again. That's cool. At the same time, it can be hard, at least for me to deal with that and be fully present in situations where I'm not working and trying to strike a balance. This business has become a big part of my identity. How do I turn it off or at least build boundaries around it?
Dustin
I can relate to that. In a previous business, that was the case for me. I'm human, even in this business, that is the case. I love the game. Sometimes it's very easy to let the ego get in. Knowing that is the other side of entrepreneurship. No one talks about that side of it, but what do you do to keep yourself present or keep yourself in check or from fully being consumed by this business?
Nick
Having kids has helped and I think you'll probably find the same thing. That helped build a boundary around work time, when they're in daycare and when they're asleep essentially. I stopped working Fridays after our son was born, which was helpful. There are some laws. Work expands to the time that you have. I was like, “What if I can condense that into four days a week?” That has been helpful to shut down and put it off until Monday and wanting to hang out and have extra family time. That was the whole point of the business or is for a lot of people. It's like, “I want to have more time with my family.” They don't find a balance between sacrificing that and cashing that in.
Dustin
Along those lines, for those that haven't made that transition and maybe some never will, that's okay too. For those that want to do side hustles, I imagine you've got to be better with your time. What do you tell people to do that are working 40, 50-hour week or more and looking to incorporate a side hustle which ultimately is going to require some time? What do you tell them to do?
Nick
I’ve been 100% guilty of this and sometimes even still am. What I’ve tried to start doing is instead of pulling out the familiar excuse of I didn't have enough time, being more honest with myself and with others and saying I prioritized something else. By definition, we always make time for what is truly important to us. We always make time for what we prioritize. If that's our day job, our kids, our health, it’s totally fine. Nobody is ever going to fault you for that. If you're going to prioritize watching five hours of TV a week, maybe that is on the chopping block. Could you negotiate working from home one day a week to save on commute time? Could you use your commute more effectively? Listen to podcasts or listen to audiobooks that are going to further your journey. Everybody's dealt the same 24 hours in the day. You have to be honest with yourself and say, “How come some people are having truly outside results? Are they that different? Are they that superpower? What are they doing differently?” I’d probably argue that it comes down to how well they are prioritizing that time.
Dustin
Do you get some pushback on that from people?
Nick
Everybody has the same 24 hours in a day, but I’ve got five kids. I'm pretty sure my 24 hours looks a little different than your 24 hours. I love the honesty and there's truth to that. That was your choice. What's important to you?
Dustin
I love the insight you bring to this because it's very easy to enter the side hustle conversation and trade time for dollars. You're bigger than that. You’re about building these income streams and controlling them. If you are doing some of these gigs, how do you control it when you're at the Beck and call if you're using one of those apps for projects to come in? Sometimes people do need certain things to help with. How do you add more stability and security to these income streams over time?
Nick
A couple of examples come to mind. First was a woman who was selling copywriting services on Fiverr and she had niched down to say, “If you need copywriting for your crowdfunding campaign, I am your go-to person.” She did well with it and she told me, “Whenever I was swamped, I just raise my rates. The next time I get swamped at that new rate, I raise my rates again.” It was stair-stepped up that way. My wife has done the same thing in her photography business that she runs with a friend of hers. It's like, “We start out at a low rate to build our portfolio,” and then inch it up every year and see if you get client pushback or you end up in their case working way less and making the same amount of money.
That's one way to do it. The other story that comes to mind here is Matt Bochnak, who runs a service called Chicagoland Motorcycle Repair and HowToMotorcycleRepair.com. He started out straight hours for dollars. An ad on Craigslist is how he got his first customers. “I’ll repair your bike. I'm a mechanical engineer by day. I know my way around the shop. I’ll take care of your bike. You don't have to pay these crazy labor rates at the shop.” That was his original business, turning wrenches, fixing people's bikes. His stroke of genius I believe was setting up a camera and filming himself doing the repairs. His pie at the beginning, like most people, is trading time for money. Over time, he started this YouTube channel and he's making money on YouTube ads.
He started putting full engine rebuild tutorial videos up for sale online. He started selling those as digital products through his YouTube channel. He's developed contracts with insurance companies for sponsored content. “Would you be our liaison into the motorcycle world?” He started selling affiliate links through his shop demo videos like, “Here's the product that I'm using. Here's the tool that I'm using.” He's got a Buy Matt a Beer! page on his site. He's developed all of these more time leveraged income streams, but it started out as a straight-up service business. I'm inspired by Matt’s story and this attitude of allocating a little bit of time speculatively upfront saying like, “I don't know where this is going to go, but if I don't do it, it's never going to happen.” Anybody can carve out that time and try and grow that little sliver of the pie that starting out is maybe it's a dividend stock that you buy. Maybe it's interest on some savings account, that little sliver of passive income to try and grow that section of the pie over time.
Dustin
It's like you're playing the cashflow game, get your money in it, but you're also playing a wealth-building game. You’re saving for the future, you're building towards the greater cause. We've covered quite a lot of ground and I believe we've done a great job exposing people to different opportunities. If you had to give people a step by step. Let's say someone's excited. They're like, “I love these ideas.” Maybe some people like the pet removal service, maybe not so much, but let's say I'm in. Where do you now tell people to start? If you could give them a step by step, what would that be?
Nick
The first step is coming up with your why. Why do you want to do this? This is your motivational factors of why is this important to you? I’ll give an example of myself, my personal fitness and stuff. It's easy on January 1st to say, “My goal is to get a six-pack.” Every year, it doesn't happen because it's not that important to me. Life is fine without it. I’ve lived this long, it doesn't matter to me. You're going to want it. What is the end goal? What does that afford you? That's the motivation and you have to think of a destination. In a perfect world, what does that look like? You can project out 1, 3, 5 years. What does success look like? That can help you reverse engineer the path to get there. Maybe that's coming up with a side hustle idea that you think three years down the road has the likelihood of getting you to your goals. Maybe it is a little bit time leveraged or maybe it's not upfront, but maybe you see a path to get there and then it's a matter of executing on that daily habit of seeing results. Sometimes it's similar to going to the gym and working on that six-pack. Day-to-day, you could skip it or you could go and you're probably not going to see any difference. The compound effect of making that effort day in and day out, that's when you start to see the compound returns of making that effort.
Dustin
Speaking of returns, I know one of the ideas here is to make some extra income. For some, it's to maybe transform it into a full-time gig. At some point, you got to be wise and be thinking, “How can I take this money and make it work for me?” I know you're into investing as well. Where do you like to invest that extra income out of the business or personally?
Nick
One benefit to being self-employed or owning your own company is the ability to defer quite a bit of your income through self-employed 401(k) plans. I'm able to do that, max out my personal contribution and do a company match up to 25% of compensation up to a max of $50,000 a year. That's a cool way to defer income, set some stuff aside from retirement. Just because you're self-employed doesn't mean you have to forego the traditional company-sponsored 401(k) route. The other part of the plan that I’ve been excited about. Something that's helped me get off the sidelines and into the market because I'm always the person who thinks, “We're way overdue for a recession. Everything's going to come crashing down.” I'm that type of investor. What's helped me get off the sidelines was investing for cashflow. I don't care if the stock goes up or down. I'm buying it for the dividend.
There's an article as a guest post on Side Hustle Nation that was the starting point of this for me where he's like, “You can look at these dividend aristocrats. These are companies that have paid a dividend for decades. Every year they tend to increase that dividend company and their name brands like Target, Chevron, Coca-Cola, AT&T, companies like that.” It's very likely if they've paid for decades to continue paying this dividend. Investing for cashflow has helped me get off the sidelines. This is not the most tax-efficient strategy, but it is something that’s exciting to me, watching those numbers grow out like, “This is truly passive income. That's cool.” The third leg of the stool is a Robo-advisor account through betterment where it's set on auto-deposit, which is helpful for me to set it and forget it and not worry about market ups and downs and money goes in every month. I trust that the super-smart computer algorithms are balancing and rebalancing and optimizing that portfolio for me.
Dustin
I like that. I can appreciate that because I think a lot of people reading and I know we do have our investors out there that just eat, breathe, and sleep investing. I know we have people out there were like, “I like the thought of investing and I don't want to make it my full-time day job. I want to do this other thing, but I want to put my money to work.” I think that's a very balanced approach that you have there. What are you working on over at Side Hustle Nation? What are you most excited about? What's coming for you in the future?
Nick
I'm excited about leaning into some of the Google SEO wins from 2019. I feel like I’ve finally developed a relatively reliable process for landing articles on the first page of Google. I’m trying to ramp up the production of those and that looks like hiring more and better freelance writers. I’m trying to hire a content manager to help me build out an editorial calendar for the first time ever and hopefully accelerate some of that content production process.
Dustin
I look forward to seeing the growth, staying connected and seeing what's going on over there. For those of you reading that wants to continue the conversation, I want to encourage you to check out what Nick's up to over at SideHustleNation.com. If you enjoyed this conversation, I want you to check out SideHustleNation.com/ideas. You can go there and get some incredible information to help you get a jumpstart. You don't even have to opt-in. Nick, is there any other social media or any other ways for people that want to continue the conversation with you?
Nick
We have a thriving community of fellow side hustlers at SideHustleNation.com/fb. That will redirect you over to the Side Hustle Nation Facebook group, which is a 15,000, 18,000 members strong. A very supportive community of people who are walking the same path.
Dustin
I want to acknowledge you for what you're up to in the world. It's incredibly powerful to introduce what you're introducing to people and this idea that there are other ways of generating income. There is this whole other path of entrepreneurship that carries pluses in it. It has some negatives too and you've got to pick what's right for you. The fact that you're exposing people to these ideas, encouraging them to try it out, that's big and that's why we have you here. I wanted to thank you for that and for being on Get WealthFit.
Nick
It’s been a blast. Thanks for having me.

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