What would an extra $1,000 per month mean to you and your family?
Maybe some could live off that amount, but for many it could mean a second income without a “real” job, spending more time with your kids, and maybe paying off some debt a little faster.
The problem is, you’re already strapped for time.
So today we’re going to look at how to make $1,000 a month on you own schedule.
Notice that I said “on your own schedule” – so this isn’t any magical formula requiring no effort. You’ll have to work for it, but you can work on your own terms and you’ll probably even enjoy the “work!”
I gave a couple of reasons why an extra $1,000 might be meaningful to you, but you may be wondering why we’ve focused on that number.
Why not $5,000?
Why not $10,000?
Certainly those numbers are attainable, but many people who have no experience doing a “side hustle” might think those numbers are impossible. If I’m sitting here making no side income at all, with no idea about how to start, do I really believe I can start making $10,000 per month?
So I didn’t want you reading this thinking “yeah, right” the entire time. I know many people have the ability to make $1,000 a month on the side, and once you are to that point the sky is truly the limit.
Let’s go over a few ideas that have worked, and are still working for real people to earn extra money. I’d like to think that each of these ideas are focused on people with a different set of interests:
1. Those who like to research/write with some computer savvy.
2. Those who like to work with their hands.
3. Those who like to bargain hunt and find deals.
I’m generalizing here, but please read on and see if which of these side gigs fits you best:
Start a Money-Making Blog
Did you just say “yeah, right!” in a sarcastic tone when you saw “Start a blog” as the first idea?
If you think that sounds ridiculous and impossible for you – please hear me out.
- Works well for people who like to write/research
- Can be done from anywhere, on your own time schedule
- Offers different ways to make money (we’ll focus on one)
- Once established, can earn a long term “passive” income without constant upkeep
- Very low start-up cost – low risk
- Doesn’t provide immediate results – new sites/blogs typically take a few months to rank well
- No “guarantees.” You could make well over $1,000 a month, or you may never get there
Perhaps you are reading this and are wondering the most fundamental of questions: How do even you make money from a blog?
The answer is that there are many different ways to make money from your own blog, but I’m going to outline what is probably the easiest – especially for a beginner.
Here’s the high level plan of how you can start a blog that earns $1,000 per month.
1. Start a blog on a niche/topic that you know about, or are willing to become an expert in. The blog could be focused around a hobby and monetized via amazon affiliates or focused on a specialized knowledge set and monetized via other affiliate programs (like in the example below). If you’re having trouble coming up with good ideas, check out our post on how to come up with profitable website ideas.
2. Find “long tail keywords” in that niche – things people are searching for, but don’t have really high competition in the top 10 results on Google.
3. Use Google Adsense ads to make money each time someone clicks on them.
While there are more details to it, at a high level this is a way that many people have started blogs with no experience and very little money to spend and wound up making quite a bit of money.[su_note]Need help? Click here to get a FREE 5 day video series showing you exactly how to setup and optimize your blog.[/su_note]
Let’s look deeper at each of 3 pieces to the puzzle:
Choosing a Topic
Finding a niche to start a blog in is hugely important, and some of the best ideas may be things that you are already an “expert” in and could teach others.
An amazing example of this is how Pat Flynn got his start online. He was studying for the LEED exam to help sharpen his skills with building environmentally friendly buildings. When traditional studying wasn’t cutting it, he created a blog to basically help himself take notes on what he was learning, sort it, and categorize it so he could get online and review all he was taking in.
As the story goes, he realized that other people were reading his blog and eventually it became a money-making resource for people preparing for the same exam. In 2014, the GreenExamAcademy site made just under $40,000 in revenue and consistently makes about $2,000 to $4,000 per month.
So start thinking about what things you could teach others – even if they are things you are still learning yourself.
Obviously you can start a blog that you aren’t personally an expert in, you’ll just need to be willing to learn about the topic or hire someone to do the writing who is an expert. For more on brainstorming niche ideas, check this out.
Also important in choosing a niche is the ability to monetize. You can put Google Adsense on almost any site, but ideally there should be products and services that are targeted towards your niche. You want to have advertisers that are willing to pay Google for the chance to get their ad in front of your audience.
Finding Long Tail Keywords
After figuring out a topic and launching your blog/website, then it comes time to add content. (Click here if you need help starting the site – I’ll show you exactly how I do it.)
When adding blog posts, you want to write about things that your audience wants to read about (obviously), but you also want to focus most of your time and attention on topics and keywords that don’t have a ton of competition.
This is where low competition, long tail keywords come into play.
Here’s a quick example.
Let’s say your site is all about teaching people to become a grilling expert. Your little blog may never rank on the first page of Google when someone searches “grills.” It is way too competitive – so don’t worry about it.
Instead, focus on finding keywords that are searched far less often, but also have much less competition focusing on them. Maybe “BBQ Menu Ideas” is one…
You could write a blog post full of ideas and recipes for hosting a big grill out without spending a lot of money.
Since there aren’t many high quality pages out there that focus specifically on “Budget Friendly Grill Out Ideas” – you have a much better chance of ranking near the top of Google, and getting traffic to that page.
Start finding keyword ideas by taking a 10 day free trial of Long Tail Pro. During those 10 days, we’ll send you emails to help you find the best keywords for your blog.
Making Money Through Ads
The final step is how you can get to making $1,000 per month (or more) from your blog.
Google Adsense is an advertising program where companies pay Google to place their ads across the internet. As a blog or website owner, you can choose to put up Google Adsense code on your site – which basically says “hey Google, put some of your ads here.”
By doing that, Google will pay you a portion of what they make whenever someone clicks on the ad. Click here to read an in-depth post about monetizing with Google Adsense.
It’s actually pretty simple to get up and running.
The most difficult part of getting to $1,000 a month from a website is getting the traffic.
There are so many tools out there that make starting a website and putting up ads nearly foolproof. In fact, in our free video “Launch Series” that I mentioned earlier, I show a WordPress plugin you can use called “Quick Adsense” which will put your ads across your blog automatically with just a few clicks.
It’s hard to give a ratio to say once you reach X amount of visitors per month, you’ll be making $1,000. There are just so many variables at play. However, you should approach this as a long term play – not something to “get rich quick.” Ideally, you are building an asset that will continue to earn you somewhat passive income well into the future.
Need Some Inspiration?
I love the story of Claire Smith. She was a dentist who didn’t really love the job and started writing online. Eventually, she built a bunch of different websites/blogs based solely on the concept of focusing on very low competition search phrases. Today she makes over $10,000 per month following a very similar strategy to what we’ve outlined.
“Flipping” Appliances on Craigslist
If blogging isn’t for you, this idea might be a better fit. Particularly if you like working with your hands and have a little “Mr Fix It” in you. Using Craigslist to find broken appliances (or other items), fix them, and then re-sell them is another way to make additional money on the side.
If you live in a fairly large metro area, you could make some level of income by picking up items people give away for free, clean them up and resell them. I know because I’ve done it a number of times.
However, to get to $1,000 per month, it’s helpful to settle on some kind of item so you can have a bit of a system in place.
Ryan has made a full-time living by flipping appliances on Craigslist for years. In his Life Hacker interview he said “On average I make between $75-$200 per appliance that I sell. I buy the highest quality appliances I can find at the lowest prices. I then bring them home, clean them inside and out, fix any broken parts, touch up the paint, and repost them at less than the market rate.”
Ryan has scaled this business to some degree – becoming more and more efficient as he goes and making a full-time income. Best of all, he’s able to do this on the side and work as little or as often as he’d like.
- Even if you aren’t mechanically inclined, skills can be easily learned
- Constant supply and demand – especially in larger cities
- Can start for very little – many people give away broken appliances for free on Craigslist
- Earn money very quickly – can start today, fix tonight, sell tomorrow
- You’ll need a vehicle or trailer that can fit appliances like washers and dryers
- Need space to store/fix appliances as you get them
Why it Works:
I’ve done some Craigslist flipping of my own, but never with appliances. Certainly you don’t have to flip appliances (particularly washers and dryers) to make money, but they do make sense for a few different reasons.
- People always need them, and are often happy to buy used
- The repairs are often straightforward, but most people don’t feel like messing with them
- By refurbishing, you are adding true value to the product as opposed to just finding a deal and reselling it “as is”
As Ryan puts it on his blog, “Thankfully we are a funny people here in this country. You see, one household will get rid of their perfectly working white appliances to upgrade to stainless steel, and another will upgrade from stainless steel to black. Then another will go from black to “white ice” and then switch to “slate.” Meanwhile a family across town is upgrading from beige to white, and some poor college students are upgrading from the laundromat to anything that runs. I’m more than happy to help facilitate this rather bizarre phenomenon.”
How to Make it Happen
Obviously you don’t have to do it the exact same way that Ryan does it, but it doesn’t hurt to take pointers from a guy who has made a full-time living by flipping appliances for several years.
Ideally, you live in an area with a decent amount of residents. Ryan suggests having at least 10,000 people in your town if you expect to do this full-time, but for someone looking to make just $1,000 per month as a side business, you can make that happen in just about any size town.
The next step is to open up Craigslist and start looking through listings – particularly the “free” section and people who have very low priced appliances that aren’t working right.
For most repairs, you’ll find free tutorials online via Youtube and other outlets. Since you are focused on finding free or very cheap units to start with, you can afford to have a bit of a learning curve as you diagnose and fix common issues with the appliance.
Once you’ve done the repair, make your listing stand out on Craigslist by doing 3 things:
- Thoroughly clean and touch-up the appliance as needed to make it look its best.
- Take excellent pictures that are well lit, and show everything.
- Offer free delivery and charge a higher price.
The last piece of advice is a brilliant technique from Ryan that allows you to charge a higher price, and let’s you replenish inventory. So many people don’t have a truck or the physical ability to go pick up a washer or dryer and take it into their basement. They’d gladly pay more if you were offering this service.
In addition, you can stipulate that free delivery is included when they give you their old appliance. So if someone is buying a refurbished dryer from you, they probably have a broken dryer in their basement. Take that off their hands and you’ve got another appliance to fix and sell. This is an excellent way to keep the business coming and make a steady side income.
If you’re serious about learning the business, check out Appliance School where you’ll learn tips on buying, selling, and repairing appliances.
“Arbitrage” Selling on Amazon
The third and final idea for bringing in an extra $1,000 per month is by selling products on Amazon. There are a couple different approaches to this, but the one I’ll discuss is commonly called “arbitrage.”
The idea is that you find new products in your local stores that are on clearance, or generally can be purchased for a below retail price and then resold on Amazon at retail price – earning you a profit with the difference between the two.
- Start immediately
- Can do it from almost anywhere
- Very low risk/cost to try it out
- Fun if you like shopping and finding deals
- Can grow into other opportunities and earn full-time income
- Can be time consuming to find good deals
- Prices fluctuate on products, so risk of losing money is possible.
- Not everything sells fast – could take awhile to make return on investment
Why it Works:
Amazon is the king of online retailers. What you may not know is that besides selling many of their own items, over 1/3 of the items sold are sold by third party sellers. Like most other sites, if you sell through them you pay commissions and fees to them for handling all the logistics.
Since Amazon does so much business and has an amazingly loyal customer base, you can take advantage of that by also selling products where a massive audience is already coming to shop.
“Arbitrage” is simply finding inefficiency in the market and taking advantage. For instance, just because a certain toy isn’t selling well at Target near your house doesn’t mean that people a couple of states away wouldn’t pay full retail price for it. If you can get the toy at 50% off where it isn’t selling well and then offer it to the world at regular price, you can make a nice chunk on that transaction.
How to Make it Happen
Selling on Amazon is low risk and is something that almost anyone can do. We won’t be covering the basics of getting an account setup, you can go to Amazon for that.
Once you have a seller account, it’s then about finding deals that you can sell for a profit. You can go to any store to find these deals, such as Big Lots, Target, Sam’s Club, Costco, etc.
The most efficient way to know what you should buy is to use an app designed for this purpose. One I’ve used personally is called Profit Bandit which allows you to scan the barcode of a product and immediately see what it’s selling for on Amazon, how many people are selling it, and give you an estimated profit based on the price you are going to pay at the store. Here’s what it looks like:
If the item has a decent sales rank and the numbers indicate that you can make money, go for it! If it is a real winner, don’t be afraid to buy a bunch of those items at the store and maximize your profits.
Once you’ve made purchases, the next step is to send them into Amazon.
Amazon allows sellers to sell “FBA” which stands for “fulfilled by Amazon.” Basically, you ship your items into an Amazon warehouse and then when they sell, Amazon will ship them to the customer and handle any returns or customer service issues.
You don’t have to sell FBA, but it is definitely the way to go for a couple of reasons.
1. You can sell more product. As I mentioned, you can buy good deals in bulk and just ship them all at one time to Amazon. Then, as they sell over the course of the next few days, weeks, or months – you don’t have to take any trips to the post office or box anything up. Amazon handles all that for you. Also, you can avoid clutter in your house while waiting for items to sell!
2. You can charge higher prices. People will pay a premium for products that are shipped by Amazon as opposed to a third party seller they don’t know or trust. In fact, many people pay Amazon $99 to be a Prime member and receive free 2-day shipping. Those Prime customers will receive this benefit when they buy your products as well, assuming you use the FBA service.
When you’ve not done it personally, the first hurdle is believing that this process works. I’ve seen it personally time and time again. I would have products selling FBA and competing with someone selling for $79 plus $10 for shipping from Billy Bob’s store (shipped by Billy Bob) and I would be priced at $99 or even $109 with free shipping from Amazon and still selling products.
FBA is more profitable and has far fewer headaches. All your work is on the front end; finding deals.
What Can I Sell?
You can sell nearly anything – toys, food, home goods, tools, electronics, and more. Here is one idea that might get your wheels turning:
Selling regional products.
One thing that may do well on Amazon is products that are only available in select parts of the country, including your local area. One example is a grocery chain like Trader Joe’s. They have a bunch of interesting grocery products and a very loyal customer base.
If you look on Amazon, you’ll find that people will often pay a premium for Trader Joe’s products like shampoo, snacks, etc.
If someone really wants it and they don’t live anywhere near a Trader Joe’s, there aren’t a lot of other options. Amazon is kind of the “default” online retailer for many people, so often if a consumer wants something – they’ll check Amazon first.
In my case I live in Cincinnati, OH, which is famous for Skyline Chili and Montgomery Inn Barbecue Sauce (among other culinary delicacies). These products are sold in local stores, but many areas of the country don’t carry them. This generally means you’ll have more limited competition when selling on Amazon, but still have a market of people who like the product, but don’t really have another convenient way of getting it where they live.
Perhaps the regional product model can work for you?
– Nick Loper at Side Hustle Nation recently did this for the first time and shares his experiences here. Really helpful information if you are brand new.
– Fulltime FBA – Site full of advice and information to help make a full-time living doing FBA arbitrage.
– Sell your own product. A little more involved to start, but listen to how Chris Guthrie has done well by creating his own products and selling them on Amazon.
We’ve talked about 3, but there are tons of ways you can make extra income. The key is to find something that works for you and focus on it. Naturally, you’ll become better at it, and like many of the examples we’ve mentioned – you’ll have the potential to go way beyond $1,000 and turn your side project into a full-time income.
Have something that is working for you? Feel free to share in the comments below.