Welcome back to part 2 of the extra income series. If this is your first time here I strongly suggest you check out How to Make Your First Extra $100/Month before reading on.
This series is meant to serve as a motivational and practical guide for scaling your additional income endeavors – beyond what a typical part-time job or side hustle might net you.
Instead of thinking about how to make any extra $500 per month, we’re here to make your first extra $500 per month, with the intention of growing it into a revenue stream that will someday net you far more.
Now I know it’s tempting to want to skip ahead to the big revenue numbers, but remember that all five, six and seven figure businesses had to start at the beginning before scaling their way up.
While my own business revenue surpassed $9,000 this January, I hit my first extra $500 month just under two years ago in April 2014.
After making my first (scalable) extra $100, (which took several years of trial and error, including a failed personal training business and a sorry attempt at eBay), I finally began gaining traction in the blogging space.
Related Reading: How to Start a Blog That Will Change Your Life
To be honest, it was totally overwhelming.
Upon realizing I had succeeded in creating a scalable seedling of a business, I was overcome by all I had to do. In my case – blog design, social media marketing, search engine optimization and on and on and on.
In hindsight, I realize I could have grown to my first extra $500 month much faster with this one ingredient…
Even today, my to-do list far exceeds my own capacity. And when you’re working towards your first extra $500 month, chances are, you’re going to have a lot more to do than time allows – like your full-time job.
Instead of being devoured and distracted by all you “should” be doing, narrow your focus to your foundation. Remember, the goal here isn’t quick, extra money, it’s long-term, scalable growth. To set yourself up for that, you need a quality foundation.
[clickToTweet tweet=”The goal isn’t quick, extra money, it’s long-term, scalable growth. For that, you need a quality foundation.” quote=”The goal isn’t quick, extra money, it’s long-term, scalable growth. For that, you need a quality foundation.”]
Let’s look back at your first extra $100 per month. Before you can effectively build out from there, you’ll need to know what you’re building upon.
It’s answering these foundational questions that will enable you to better define your audience and refine your message while building a reputation for quality that enables you to grow.
In my case, I had successfully monetized my business by writing blog posts for other people. It wasn’t much, around $20 to $30 per post, but it allowed me to realize my value add – teaching financial concepts through storytelling and my unique voice/ point of view.
Once I knew there was a viable revenue stream there, I refined my approach by studying other people channeling a similar value add into income.
My writing soon transformed from anecdotal financial storytelling to almost journalistic-like personal finance coverage. I started incorporating stats and studies relevant to the stories I was telling, I used expert opinions and analysis to support my points of view, and I mastered a tone that I could regulate to suit editorial mediums from BuzzFeed to Forbes. This process of refining my value add from the foundational level is what enabled me to start charging a premium for my work and begin scaling my business sustainably.
Now I won’t deny that marketing strategy and efforts to build out my network were also critical in building my business, but in the initial stages of generating revenue, it was the habit of creating quality and building a foundation that could later be shared and expanded upon that was essential to my success.
Fellow writer and founder of unplannedfinance.com, Hannah Rounds, has a similar story of growing her initial revenue by refining her market and value add.
I realized that as a writer, my core strength is simplifying complex concepts. As a result, I stopped pitching articles to some of my favorite personal finance sites and I started pitching more towards investing, banking, and financial product platforms. These articles are not only easier for me to write, I earn higher rates for them.
Once I focused on the right clients, I quickly scaled from about $100 per month to around $600-$700 a month while only doubling the time I spent on writing.
As Hannah shares, reflecting on her specific value add and refining her target market enabled her to uncover the opportunities for greater, scalable extra income.
As a final example, I’d like to share the story of a company you’re probably very familiar with – Groupon.
Though you may know it as it exists today, a daily deal site, Groupon started as a social media platform designed to get groups of people together to solve problems. At that time it was called The Point, and despite the founders best efforts, the site was struggling to gain traction
In 2008, while assessing The Point’s progress, co-founder Eric Lefkofsky proposed an idea inspired by the actions of a group of users on the site. Though typically used to organize around a cause or idea to make the world a better place, this particular group was using the site to organize themselves. They were trying to round up people who all wanted to buy the same product to get a group discount.
Initially, the idea of creating a subset of the site to organize these kinds of group discounts didn’t fly, but a few months later, when the economy collapsed and value became top priority for consumers, the founders went ahead and launched the earliest incarnation of Groupon as we know it today. It has since grown into a multi-billion dollar company.
Now I know this might seem like a grand example. After all, we’re just trying to make an extra $500 per month here. But I love this story because it shows how critical understanding your value add is to building a successful business. The Point (and later Groupon) founders had the technology to get a group of people organized – that was their value add. But it wasn’t until they refined their value add to really target the market and their needs (recession stricken consumers looking for a deal), that the site saw the kind of explosive growth necessary to reach a billion dollar valuation.
So before you get caught up in your social media strategy or website optimization or anything else, I encourage you to look long and hard at your foundation. Optimize the value you created to earn your first extra $100 per month to earn your first extra $500 per month.
Quality is a differentiator with a long-term pay off. Tackle it now in this first phase of the business building game by refining your message, your value add and your audience.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Quality is a differentiator with a long-term pay off. ” quote=”Quality is a differentiator with a long-term pay off. “]
We’ll focus on some initial “building out” strategies as we scale from an extra $500 per month to an extra $1,000 per month.