In 2017, after graduating from university, I started working as an engineer in an oil company. He was 23 years old and earning $98,500 a year.
At first, I thought I had my dream job. But after watching senior leaders work 60 hours a week with routine travel, I realized that wasn’t the lifestyle I wanted. My father passed away when I was three years old, so having family time was always very precious to me.
In 2018, I started experimenting with side activities. I set a goal of earning $3,450 a month (after taxes) from my activities to support my lifestyle. As soon as I made it, I decided to quit my full-time job.
Today I have achieved my goal of being my own boss, and more. I left my engineering job in February 2021 to work full time.
Last year, I made just over $189,000 from my seven income streams:
- YouTube (Google AdSense): $82,349
- Fulfilled by Amazon: $13,886
- Patreon (training): $33,114
- Fiverr (product research): $29,014
- Affiliate Marketing: $29,496
- Properties to rent: $1,272
- Taxable Dividends: $639
Now I work only 22 hours a week. I rest on Thursdays, Friday afternoons and weekends. Whether it’s playing golf with my grandfather, cooking family dinners, or starting new business projects in my community, I have plenty of time to invest in the people and things that matter most to me.
Here’s my best advice for turning your side job into your full-time job, all while working fewer hours:
1. Don’t be afraid of trial and error.
With my first side jobs, I tried to acquire rental properties, then started placing backseat ads for Ubers and renting my three-wheeled Polaris Slingshot motorcycle on Turo, an online car-sharing platform.
But none of those businesses were successful. It wasn’t until I started selling products on Amazon, using the Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA) service, that I started making real passive income.
All he had to do was find a generic product that was in demand and submit it to Amazon. My first product was $1,000 worth of headphones, then I moved on to iPhone cases and sports gear.
I raised over $25,000 in 2019 through my Amazon store. I wanted to share what I learned from my trials and errors with others, so I started a new project, which would later become my biggest source of income: starting my own YouTube channel.
2. Create a community around your experience.
I launched my YouTube channel, debt to dollars, in February 2020. I committed to posting at least two videos a week at first. Over the next eight months, I gained 14,000 subscribers and 871,000 channel views.
As my audience grew, I realized that I wanted to connect more with my subscribers and build a real community. So, in October 2020, I started tutoring students individually for $50 a month on how to make money selling products on Amazon.
I currently use patreona platform that provides business tools for content creators to run a subscription service, to host my training sessions.
In February 2021, I started my product research service on Fiverr, where customers paid me to find high-demand, low-competition products (fashion toys, pet supplies, or travel accessories) that they could sell on Amazon.
These community businesses helped me reach my desired income goal $3,450 per month.
3. Prioritize the approach to debt.
I was able to quit my full-time job when I was earning less than $4,000 a month because I had paid off all my debts except my house and car.
There are many methods you can use to pay off your debt, but I personally like the “debt snowball” method because it helps you see your progress.
Is that how it works:
- List all your debts from smallest to largest.
- Make the largest payment on your smallest debt and the minimum payment on the rest.
- Repeat until you pay off the smallest debt, then move on to the next smallest debt.
4. Establish the legal side of your business early on.
It is important to incorporate your business in your state for practical reasons, such as asset protection and tax advantages. But I also think there is a psychological benefit.
I attribute some of my past failures to treating my sideline activities as hobbies rather than businesses. Once I formed a Texas Limited Liability Company (LLC) in 2019, I took everything more seriously and professionally. It is not a coincidence that all my businesses failed until then.
An LLC has some of the best features of a corporation or partnership, two other business structures that are also used by businesses in the US. LLCs protect their owners from being held personally liable for the debts or liabilities of the business, such as a corporation
But just like a partnership, LLC income “passes through” the business and is taxed on the owner’s personal income, making tax filing simpler.
You can form your own LLC by filing a certificate of organization in your state, which typically costs between $50 and $300. Many states list filing information on their Secretary of State website.
5. Find a schedule that works for you and stick to it.
When I was working at my full-time job, I lacked the motivation to work on my side activities.
But once I put pen to paper and committed to a schedule, working on my business became part of my weekly routine. I chose to focus on my side activities every weekday evening after work and every Saturday morning.
I still stick to a weekly schedule. I work Monday through Wednesday and a half day on Friday. Each day I will work four to six hours, with each hour set aside for a specific task.
If you don’t set aside specific times to work on your side job, your business can get lost in daily priorities.
6. Set up systems that will save you time in the future.
I invest in business models that require the least amount of time possible. It’s the only way I can work 22 hours a week and still earn multiple streams of income. But remember that automating things and creating the most effective systems can take time at first.
Every month, I reflect on where I spend most of my work hours and look for ways to make those processes more efficient. For example, I used to spend four to eight hours a week editing videos.
I decided to outsource my video editing, but that also required some time up front to run the numbers to see where it fits into my budget and find a great editor to do the job. But now that I’ve spent time doing that, I spend those hours growing my business in other ways, or working less.
7. Identify what makes you different.
Marketing is more than just advertising your product or service; you are setting yourself apart from your competition by making your customer feel something. They will come back, or better yet, they will tell their friends about you.
When I started selling on Amazon in 2018, I used stock photos given to me by my supplier for my product listings. As expected, they were mixed with all the other products. And if someone bought, they got their product in a boring clear bag. There was nothing that made my customer experience special.
Once I learned the importance of providing something special, I began taking my own product photos and designing custom packaging. My sales skyrocketed.
No matter what your business is, decide what makes it memorable and invest in it.
Josh Ellwood is the founder of debt to dollars. follow him on Instagram Y Youtube.
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