Welcome to Part 3 of the Scalable Income Series, How to Make an Extra $1000 Per Month. If this is your first time here, head on back Parts 1 and 2 before reading on…
Part 1 – How to Make an Extra $100 Per Month
Part 2 – How to Make an Extra $500 Per Month
The purpose of this series is not to provide you with a list of ways to earn fast extra cash – sell your stuff on Craigslist, sign up for bank account bonuses, rent out the extra bedroom in your home, etc. – that’s a post for another day and another purpose.
The objective here is to offer you a more sustainable supplemental income solution. We’re not here to make any extra $1,000, but the first extra $1,000 in what will someday grow into far more.
Before we dig in, I also want to note that this series is based on my personal experience. These are proven tactics that I used to grow my first extra $100 month into a full-fledged income stream. As such, I’ll be focusing on the specific tactics I used in growing my business, but know that the lessons have broader implications across industries and I’ll do my best to incorporate those examples.
Finally, let’s take a brief look back at the basics we’ve already covered
Again, if you haven’t read parts one and two of the series, please go back now to read about these steps in their full detail. To take these foundational elements and grow them into an income stream that nets you an extra $1,000 per month I’m going to urge you to do something that may seem counter intuitive…
When we think about growth, we often think about volume – more customers = more income potential, so naturally, our tendency is to try to appeal to as many people as possible.
Unfortunately, this kind of general approach dilutes our ability to communicate effectively with our audience.
When you try to appeal to everybody, you don’t speak meaningfully to anybody.
Think about it from your experience as a consumer. If you were in the mood for sushi for example, would you go to your local sushi restaurant or your local diner? I’m guessing the sushi place, right?
Now I know you probably don’t want to eat sushi all day, every day, but when you do want it, you know the place to go.
Similarly, you want your business to be the place to go. And for that, you need to know what specific problem you’re solving for what specific kind of client or consumer.
You’ve already done some of this work by identifying your unique value add and refining it, but I’m going to challenge to get even more specific –
When I launched my business, I was writing about personal finance. I refined my value add by using a personal, authentic approach, driven by storytelling, but it was still too broad. I was offering a niche benefit, but not to a niche audience. It wasn’t until I targeted my work to reach a millennial audience that my income opportunities became abundant.
Instead of trying to reach more people, I had to niche down to reach the right people – and when I did, I was able to become a go to resource in my area of expertise.
When you get specific with your niche, you make it simple for people to understand exactly what you offer – making it easy for those in need of such an offer to find you. Not only that, they’ll likely pay a premium for your speciality and return repeatedly.
Think about it like going to the doctor. If you break your leg, you’re not going to make an appointment with the dermatologist. You may not even stick with the ER doctor on call, paying a premium to see your orthopedist who specializes in making sure your bone grows back just right. And if you’re an athlete, you might pay even more to see the orthopedist who specializes in sports injury rehabilitation.
This is the power of niching down in action.
The more you get specific and speak directly to the pain point of your ultra-targeted audience, the easier it is to sell your solution and the more you can charge for it.
So what is your niche? Or rather, what are your niches?
Identify both a niche benefit and a niche demographic.
For example, you may be a web designer that offers interactive, live video consults (niche benefit) for female entrepreneurs (niche audience).
Or you may be a wedding photographer who offers a 48-hour turn around on all proofs (niche benefit) for couples getting married in New York City (niche audience).
Or you may be a personal trainer who specializes in relieving back pain (niche benefit) for postmenopausal women (niche audience).
So again, what are your niches?
Once you’ve done the work of niching down, it will be easier to take the next step …
This is another critical element to growing your revenue that may seem counterintuitive, but is actually a powerful force in growing your earnings – developing meaningful, supportive relationships with others in your niche.
Now I’m going to concede that if you’re business is geographically limited, particularly to a minimally populated area, this may not be as applicable. However, generally speaking, and especially in online business, adapting a cooperative approach is going to serve you far better than misplaced competitive fear.
By meaningfully connecting with and supporting others in your industry, you don’t miss out on gaining more for yourself, you generate more opportunity to be uplifted by your network.
The fact is, if you’ve done the work of niching down, there are going to be very few people who do exactly what you do anyway, so don’t let some false fear of competition keep you from building out your network.
In my case for example, personal finance was far too broad a niche for my business, but it’s proved a perfect sized niche for networking. I’ve developed relationships with retirement experts, tax experts, investment experts, couponing experts – and I get to be their millennial expert. We don’t compete with one another, we complement one another.
Even within my millennial finance niche I have incredibly meaningful relationships, because the fact is, we’re all good at different things.
Our demographic niche may be the same, but our benefit niches are different. I specialize in speaking and on camera work while my colleagues specialize in affiliate marketing, and others rock at coaching. And for the handful of total overlaps, there’s still benefit, because there’s no way we can all be available and appropriate for every opportunity. The fact is, we all have different experience, so when we’re not right for something, we can pass those opportunities along to our peers.
Now all of this is well and good, and as I write it, I’m admittedly basking in the glow of the wonderful personal and professional relationships I’ve developed over the last few years, but how do you actually go about building these connections?
Building a relationship with a fellow entrepreneur isn’t all that different from building a relationship with a customer – fulfill a need, add value.
I was able to connect with fellow writers by leaving comments on their websites and generating dialogue around their work. I shared and linked to their writing. I quoted them in pieces around the web to expose them to new audiences.
All of those things were fairly simple to provide, offered meaningful value and consistently, over time, facilitated meaningful relationships with people I wanted to connect with.
Even if you’re not a writer, engaging with a fellow business owner on social media, sharing their work or referring the right opportunities to them is a no-brainer value add.
While I strongly advise against the adoption of a strict quid pro quo mindset, if you keep putting meaningful value out there, it will inevitably come back around to help you grow your own offering and income.
Now I want to take a moment here to address the –
A meaningful network isn’t characterized by how many people have your business card lost somewhere in the shuffle of their paperwork. A meaningful network is comprised of meaningful relationships.
Many of my best professional relationships are deeply personal.
That’s not going to be true across the board of course, but connecting beyond the level of “what can you do for me?” is a must.
Get invested in people and their lives. Most of them are pretty awesome. And let’s be real, we all want to work with our friends – so make friends with the people you want to work with.
I know it’s an online world and we can all connect to everybody and everything in a matter of moments, but you can’t beat a face-to-face connection.
My income tripled in 2015 and I attribute a great deal of that to the fact that I live in New York City where I get to be face to face with fellow entrepreneurs, thought leaders and decision makers on a daily basis.
There’s no substitute for the quality of opportunity that’s enabled through physical presence and face time.
Not only have gatherings and events enabled deeper relationships with my fellow writers and entrepreneurs, they’ve also given me a chance to connect with the people who’ve gone on to become my highest paying clients.
Okay okay, I promise I’m gonna wrap it up here. This is a lot for one stage of the scalable income series, but earning $1,000 per month is no joke. So, final networking blunder – getting stuck in your niche.
When it comes to niching down our businesses, we have a tendency to aim too broad, but when it comes to networking and reaching out, we have a tendency to stay too narrow.
Remember, you want to become the go to provider of what you do. While your own niche offers plenty of opportunity for that, you stand to gain even more by connecting with entrepreneurs outside the limitations of your niche.
Now I don’t suggest straying too far, your aquatic aerobics class for seniors probably isn’t going to fly with pre-teens, but don’t make the mistake of limiting your networking efforts to one small segment of opportunity.
My primary niche may be personal finance, but I also work to consciously connect in the millennial space, the entrepreneurship space, the female space, the New York City space, the theater space, etc.
These are all niches that relate to my business and experience in one way or another, and in each I have a new opportunity to become a go-to resource.
The opposing courses of action of narrowing your niche while simultaneously expanding your network are what will bring your extra income game to the next level.
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This is where the ball really gets rolling and you start to build the momentum that will take you to $2,000 in additional income per month and beyond, but I’ll save that for next time…