Side hustle is a popular phrase and can mean different things to different people. People mostly think about side hustles to make money because they either need to supplement their income or they want to quit the traditional employment and start something on their own.
To be a side hustler you would need to have entrepreneurial tendencies and spirit. You need to be willing to try things, to not be afraid of failure. While side hustles are not for everybody, many people can benefit from having an open mind and trying out new things.
This interview is with a veteran side hustler Nick Loper. He is someone who has tried many things, quit his traditional employment a while back and is teaching others through his blog and podcast. Read the interview and share it with others.
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Nick, introduce yourself and tell us who you are and what you do
I’m a husband and father, a life-long learner, and just a guy who’s super excited to have been able to be self-employed for the last 10+ years. My main project these days is in helping other people make extra money and start businesses of their own, through a blog and podcast at SideHustleNation.com.
What does “side hustle” mean to you?
Broadly speaking, a side hustle is anything you do to earn extra income, outside of traditional employment. But the term has a more entrepreneurial connotation than just delivering pizzas on the weekend. There’s a sense that side hustle could become something bigger.
When did you make the decision to leave the 9-5 and how did you come to that decision?
I went full time into my business in the summer of 2008. (At that time I was running a comparison shopping site for footwear.) The timing to make a big shift is never perfect, but I had a solid track record of revenue going back at least 6-12 months of covering my expenses. I reasoned with an extra 40+ hours to dedicate to the business, I could easily get it to the point where it matched or exceeded my day job salary. Still, it was tough to get up the nerve to really quit!
What prompted you to start your own Podcast?
Peer pressure! I’d been blogging on a personal domain for a few years, but no one ever read it. I knew I needed to “niche down” if I ever wanted anyone to pay attention. The “personal branding” experts I was following at the time (people like Pat Flynn) were singing the praises of podcasting and video … and I definitely didn’t want to do video!
Listen to my legal Q&A interview episode on The Side Hustle Show with Nick Loper.
So I watched Pat’s video tutorial series on how to set up a podcast, ordered the microphone, and set up my first interviews. They’re a little awkward to go back and listen to now, but a big part of any business is simply getting in the reps. Every expert was once a beginner!
Many content creators and bloggers are interested in starting a podcast, but the process of how to start one is intimidating. Are there any resources or courses that you recommend?
Pat has updated this guide several times over the years and it’s still a great place to start.
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What do you attribute your success to?
A willingness to try stuff out, not knowing if it’s going to work. Followed by doing the work with persistence.
That, and a supportive family and spouse. I remember when I was considering doing this house painting “internship” in college and my girlfriend (now my wife) put it this way: “So what if it sucks? It’s 3 months of your life.” That stuck with me then and sticks with me now — failure isn’t life-threatening.
Do you think a side hustle can become a full-time occupation for most people to support a family with?
Absolutely, and actually having that goal in mind can be really helpful in starting out. There are tons of side hustle ideas out there, but you’ll want to narrow your focus to those that have the right amount of revenue potential and ability to scale.
How do you determine if something is going to be a profitable side hustle or not? Do you have a process for this?
The best way is to try and shortcut the “money milestone” as fast as you can. Thinking of a service and not if anybody will pay for it? Don’t build a website or print business cards. Instead, go sell it to your target customers. If no one will pull out their wallet, it’s probably time to go back to the drawing board.
You can also use competition as a guide. If there are other people or companies offering a similar service, that’s actually a good thing because it means there are customers. I’ve fallen into the trap before trying to come up with a never-before-seen business idea and even had a few, but they were all too heavy for liftoff.
How many sushi restaurants are in your town? Or dry cleaners? It doesn’t necessarily take a super innovative business idea to be profitable.
What is one thing that you would do differently if you started your side hustle journey knowing what you do now?
In hindsight, I probably would have tried to scale my shoe business faster. I didn’t really realize it, but the business had a finite lifespan when I naively thought it might be a multi-decade career for me. But I could have done a better job of capitalizing while it was working.
I see parallels to my work today. I know Side Hustle Nation won’t last forever, but I can do a better job of reinvesting now to reach more people and help more people today.
What’s your main source of income? Is it your website, podcast, email list, advertisements, etc.?
The two biggest income streams for me right now are sponsorships on the podcast and affiliate offers on the Side Hustle Nation blog. But there’s a “long tail” of other side hustle experiments and investments that definitely add up.
If you want to learn how to do affiliate marketing or improve on what you already know, then check out Tracie’s Affiliate Marketing Roadmap course here (affiliate).
What advice do you have for people out there who are just venturing into this entrepreneurial/side hustle world?
It’s all just an experiment. Think like a scientist and give yourself permission to test things out. If they work, great! If they don’t, that’s OK too. Take what you learned and apply it to the next experiment.
Nick Loper knows a thing or two about side hustles, finding creative ways to earn money and creating profitable ventures. At the heart of his advice experimenting seems to be a big deal.
There is no magic formula that you can calculate and guarantee success for yourself. It’s all about being willing to test things out, learn from your mistakes and even failures. As Nick said, failure is not life-threatening.
So go out there and find your passion. Whether you want to do something on the side to supplement your income, or you want to turn your side hustle into your full-time occupation, you can do it as long as you’re willing to bad with the good.
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