Disclosure: My posts contain referral & affiliate links labeled with "(aff.)" to products and courses that reflect supporting side hustles. I serve as a "lead" and potentially make a commission when readers make informed decisions to purchase or sign up for a service using these special links. I am legally disclosing that I am an Amazon affiliate and a proud affiliate to products I make references to on Side of Hustle. With integrity and credibility on the line, it benefits no one to direct to crappy products. I am more than happy to field questions about products I endorse and how to best serve you.
Why an Income Report?
This is the first income report April 2017 as an bookkeeping effort and a reflection on the previous month. I'm excited to share the reflection part to keep myself accountable. Others may want to know these numbers if they're starting hustles themselves AND avoid the mistakes I made so smarter folks (that's all of you) don't replicate them.
This entry is also a bit longer as it'll introduce me as a person that'll walk with you through your own side hustle journeys and the little life hacks you learn striving towards financial independence!
My intent is to be as transparent as possible. It was highly discouraged to talk about salary in my last position in retail. HR cautioned (*ahem* hinted) to keep your mouth zipped because discussions can lead to possible resentment for your coworkers if you found out one of them was paid more than you in an equal role.
Sure this is true and reasonably justified if you're working harder AND smarter than someone else, but this secrecy also kept wages low. You underestimated how much you were worth. And worse, you were a dispensable cog (i.e. someone will do it cheaper) in retail if and when you did know. Asking you to throw a number also gave them a stronger hand if you brazenly negotiated. I realized all of this and my naivety. My general manager knew this (that's why he's paid the big bucks) and led a conversation that favored hiring me at the lowest acceptable-to-me rate. At that time of need, I took what I thought I could get.
Frugality lines up very well with my outlook on life and hence it lines up with hustling. I'm happy to pay for someone's worth and to save time and gain the insight I would have to learn on my own. This increases the quality of what I can deliver in my blog and I am happy to reward others for that hard work and effort.
- 1 Income Report April 2017 from blogging: $77.60!
- 2 Reflection of April 2017:
My last two stints at Best Buy were $12.36/hr part-time (starting at $12 seasonal because I was a double major and a minor and had retail experience). About a year and half later, $15/hr full-time. $15 was adjusted for a required relocation to the Bay Area and increased cost of living.
These are the numbers we'll be comparing with in future reflections. Just to give you a better perspective, this is below poverty level. I have a supportive boyfriend and families who are okay with me living at home, so more bills can be paid. I am thankful each day that they're allowing me to pursue this blog and hustle though, they don't quite understand how someone like me gave up access to medical care (after working so hard to get full time). That's right, at 27 that was a HUGE accomplishment. It was hard walking away a month in even though I enjoyed my new role.
To this I will say: it was incredibly foolish. I also know further down, I could be forced to walk away if my condition returns (there's an insanely high reoccurrence). It's easier to do it now (than struggle from a place of necessity) and have a game plan to hustle and set up passive income funnels. Don't worry, we'll get there. Most of all, I was dreading of sponging off of my peeps' kindness. There's only so much more before they drop you and tell you to get a real job.
After a medical scare in 2012, I am more risk and life tolerant. The one thing I did right in college was not have my parents on the hook with Plus loans (federal student loan dies with me if I go prematurely), so I believe time left is more valuable than money. I'm also gung-ho about paying debt off sooner rather than defaulting or reducing payments out of financial hardship. Debt has such a heavy place in many of our hearts. I previously made triple payments (employed) and double payments (unemployed). I went the latter route to give myself an emergency fund to set up this blog.
It takes a vulnerability to bare it because I don't show this side of me in every day conversation. I don't like sharing that without focusing how it afflicts you psychologically. I laugh half-heartedly when people say that I'm one in a [half] million. It's a cursed half-truth. The rarity in itself does mean I approach this topic with a courage talking about it with hopes that this will advance rare disease and cancer research.
This is all why I'm willing to share my past salary to move forth from the secret shame I felt for working for $12/hr. With time, we'll find out whether this is a street smart choice or an elaborate disaster. The thing about blogging is you don't go in to make money, but there are a lot of avenues to capitalize on once you are deemed likeable. Your marketability is based on how you reach people. As an introverted extrovert (or extroverted introvert), playing up my strengths is about the hardest thing for me.
Income Report April 2017 from blogging: $77.60!
- This is from 2 sales of Ultimate Bundles' Genius Blogger's Toolkit, so I'm happy there are at least two people out there that identified with my message and interested in potentially becoming bloggers themselves! [spacer height=”20px”]
- It's also MORE $77 more dollars I was expecting. I gotta say, it's tough earning that first dollar, but it also gave me a huge confidence booster to keep going.
What did I spend for hustling and potential future blog content in April 2017?
- Erin Cochren's 2016-2017 Vertical Lifeplanner @ $12.50+tax at Staples with 5x cashback and cashback portal.
I plan to do a write up on the different types of planners and side-by-side comparisons for those interested in physical planners. There's something about physically writing down something that it sinks in better than digital calendars. Connecting dexterity with your mind is powerful.
- Michael Hyatt The Full Focus Planner 1 year subscription @ $80/4 journals
In conjunction with Asana, I plan to use this to record my quarterly goals. The first one should be coming in June! Do note that the price above is an early bird price.
- 2 copies of Expert Secrets through John Lee Dumas of Entrepreneur on Fire.. mainly because I wanted both the Freedom and Mastery Journals ($39.95 apiece). Secretly I also like padding his numbers and getting more journals this way. Also I have a copy of Expert Secrets I'll be giving away soon! 2 x $7.95.
- Claire Pellatreau's Facebook Ads Course @ $297
To ramp up subscribers, I would like to know how to advertise and target the right people. My strongest platform is Facebook, so I figure this is the place I'll throw money at first. The secret is understanding you want to attract those that resonate with you (to grow with you). Those who don't care cost you money in addition to wasting both parties' time. That's what online marketers don't tell you. Systems like ConvertKit (which handles email delivery) have tiered pricing set up based on the number of subscribers 😉
- Jennifer Allwood's The Power of Facebook Live Webinar Course @ $77
Let me just say I fear facing cameras, so you might be wondering why I would even consider doing this. I eventually plan taking down my Boo (Mario ghost) avatar and replace the icon with an actual face. Boo represents my fear of cameras/direct eye contact and it pays homage to my sister.
- EBA Live Activate VIP Workshop and Conference @ $1147
I'm part of Elite Blog Academy and going through their course work to set up this monster. As an “early” member, I paid a discounted rate for the conference later on this year. I paid for the highest tier for the access to the masterminds/ organizers of the event. It's a hefty investment knowing that I could have just stopped at the course. I also did it mainly out of business and using it as an accountability measure. Plus dumping this much money means I got to get out my introverted shell AND network more.
- Airbnb in Venice for Blog to Biz Hive Live with Melyssa Griffin @ $72.
I love hostels and cheapER Airbnb setups because at the end of it, you're paying for shelter and bed for X-night. Dropping the luxuries (little bottles of soap and shampoo and room service) of artificial rooms away from home, you save money and meet likeminded others ok with little/no-frills. Usually they're younger (like myself) and have a lower privacy barrier. I don't always enjoy the bunk bed setup, but my luxury here is asking for the bottom bunk whenever possible.
After this month:
- I'll also start integrating my other hustles that I use to keep this blog afloat (ie. Swagbucks and gift card reselling numbers). That's technically income as well. Part of my hesitation of leaving those numbers out this month is not keeping better track of “profit”, so that's a spreadsheet thing. Note to self: Learn Excel. Stop putting this off out of fear. If you can program, you can Excel!
- Getting work and balance down. I'm excited that J has an earlier schedule, so there's a greater likelihood we'll be going back to the dog park now. We have the best dog park in our area. It gets delirious hot during the day at home. The park is in a beautiful area where there's a good cross breeze and where it's tolerable for two huskies in 80+ heat. 😉
- I'm also looking into sponsors to help subsidize some of the upcoming conference costs (travel, lodging and registration). I have a few potentially in mind. I made the mistake of not approaching them sooner.
What about the blog?
- The blog is my first priority. I've been holding back content, which is selfish because I was going wait to have an official “launch”. I have a few posts batched that need images and they will go up. Starting this week. A majority of them will pertain to Swagbucks, which is what I consider my first hustle. And then I'll go more into “hustling”. [spacer height=”20px”]
- Launch date is slated for August 15, 2017. It's the middle of the month and J's birthday. If I don't set a launch date now, it'll continue to be uncertain. I promised the posse from Melyssa's Griffin's Blog to Biz Hive Live and Ruth Soukup's Elite Blog Academy Live. [spacer height=”20px”]
- As a reformed perfectionist, it's so difficult to understand that you just gotta do it scared and it'll be okay imperfect. You can always go back in and fix a post, but you don't get back the time that Google can start indexing your site for SEO purposes assuming your site is any good. 😉 [spacer height=”20px”]
- The site looks all wonky. If I can't fix this myself during May, I'm going seek a designer. The former programmer nerd in me still wants to play with it more. It looks like spacing, inserting two proper nav bars and perhaps readable fonts. I want something slight more exciting than san serif and incorporate my love for easy to read scripting/ calligraphy fonts, but readability is going win out. [spacer height=”20px”]
- I'm looking into a static page with a “where to go” menu. WITH an image of myself. As someone who hates being in selfies.. this is going suck but I believe it'll be more relatable to my readers unless I reach Sia's playing field. However, having a static page means an extra step to get to the meaty content, so it's all about experience. [spacer height=”20px”]
- I hate intrusive ads that I can't click out of on desktop and mobile and Google's SEO is starting to penalize that (thank god!!), so no annoying popup ads. Promise! They don't pay enough as a starting blogger until you built up a sizable audience.. if you ever ever get one. I can't annoy the ones that are checking me out when I'm starting out. I value experience over trying to make an extra buck now. I fully believe my content can “market” itself… eventually. [spacer height=”20px”]
- After getting some content up, there's also going be email list building. An obstacle is not having my email box set up. Then it'll likely have a G suite backend. It's currently set up to forward to my personal account (and that's a total no-no!). [spacer height=”20px”]
- Tinkering with Pinterest and Facebook Ads are going be in coming months so I can build up a list. It's like learning social media ALL over again. Even further down the line, Instagram and Twitter. [spacer height=”20px”]
- I posted about the Ultimate Bundles's Homemaking Bundle a day into a 6 day promotion. This time around I did one quick plug on Facebook and Twitter, so I didn't expect to make any sales. I need an audience and an email list so it doesn't sound too salesy online. I also think when the next Homemaking Bundle comes around, I'll knock it out of the park. The low cost for a lot of value and the inspiration from others' personal stories and my experience with the current bundle will be a good reference.
What other expenses are going come up?
- Bookkeeping software. Self-employed means it's no longer “simple”. Turbotax even has an additional fee as an “upgrade”. I think it is worthwhile to look into a professional. [spacer height=”20px”]
- Hotel expenses aren't cheap. Mostly on points and/or Airbnb. [spacer height=”20px”]
- Upgrading Yoast SEO plugin.
The start up cost is “high” for this blog, but it is nowhere nearly as much what I paid in college expenses. It's scary dropping even more money when there's no guarantee of making it back.
10 years ago, I would have been thrilled to work for someone but is it such a terrible gamble to invest in yourself? Making a choice of income growth or access to company insurance (that hopefully covers pre-existing conditions) sucks. Money has never been a primal drive for me, but rather a means to get to the next level playing field. With the hand I was dealt with, debt and health eats up discretionary income I have left. It leaves me no money for savings or an emergency fund.
It was hard to walk away from Best Buy's Projects Team wanting a better life. I've been out of work for almost a year and spending more than I have in the last three years funding a dream. I am truly grateful that illness has awakened an entrepreneurial spirit I lacked in high school.
Courses that I am working on:
- FOCUSed – May 18-20, 2017.[spacer height=”20px”]Yep, this means I'll be “working” during my birthday.I truly hope to get something out of Focused. It's a smaller blogging conference of about 100 of established and newbie bloggers that I'll be brainpicking. [spacer height=”20px”]
- Scan Power – May 8-9, 2017.
[spacer height=”20px”]This is a conference that was part of a bonus for The Wholesale Formula. Chris Green, someone huge in the retail/online arbitrage space (aka reselling) hosted. His selection of speakers (Amazon powersellers) were so insightful, their successes are within the last five years. Chris was so down-to-earth and earnest to share his knowledge. I was the probably the quietest person in the room and he would routinely ask how I was feeling, gave AND signed one of his books. He also shrewdly observed my love of fancy pens (not one of those cheapy hotel pens). I'm sure it also attributed to me sitting directly in front of the stage.
Reflection of April 2017:
- End of March – April 12, 2017, I had what is called a Financial Review for American Express because of the “unusual spending” on a new account. This is something I'll talk about in a future post. I missed out on some selling opportunities until the suspension was lifted. I “passed” their investigation, but that also sours my relationship with them now that my credit limit was drastically reduced on two of my cards. I'm grateful they left my other cards alone, but Amex needs to rework this archaic process. It also means I'm going shift my spending to other companies. [spacer height=”20px”]
- I was also approved finally for Merch by Amazon. I'm an enthusiast for witty graphic shirts so I'm excited to be designing shirts with motivation quotes (or the like). This draws inspiration from WongFu Productions, my side hustling heroes. This is more just for fun than anything. This is also exciting because if I ever tire of my wardrobe (jeans or yoga pants/shirt), I can design another one! [spacer height=”20px”]
- I'm really happy to have met up with a middle school classmate that I haven't seen in almost 14years over the weekend. That'll give you a better idea that despite social media, somehow we still found a way to keep in touch.[spacer height=”20px”] Just before she moved, she requested that our school administration switch out our lockers so she's partially responsible for the handle of my main email address (yeah, the spammy looking one).. that's the locker combo we shared in high school.
We talked about the songs she recorded eons ago that I ripped and still have on my old computer. Side note: We're meeting up again in NYC so here comes Central Park! [spacer height=”20px”]
- I've been digging deeper into wholesale selling aside from gift card reselling, which has been fantastic. I don't have accounts set up as of yet, but I took away some inspiration from last weekend's The Wholesale Formula Live workshop. I will be getting more into it in the summer months and negotiating accounts in coming months. I don't expect to do it full time, but enough to sustain blogging and additionally pay off remaining debt and begin saving for retirement. The beauty about jumping in with retail experience is familiarity with volume, so the next thing is better positioning strategies for my potential clients. [spacer height=”20px”]
- Sleeping in the airport is not something I typically condone, but I've been doing it more lately because of cheaper flights and connections (and let's be real, save a little more money).[spacer height=”20px”]I opted to sleep in the Vegas airport with an early outbound early flight. I made my uncomfortable nest (2 chairs) to attempt sleep sitting up near two outlets! I tried curling up (that didn't work either). TSA security at 3am is painless. Went through and camped out in front of the lounge for another hour. [spacer height=”20px”]At 5am, I really wanted a shower (they have these at the airport!) and I saw these two men very distressed. I didn't think much of it, so I asked the clerk to clear them with my membership when they produced the wrong cards. It was too early in the morning to get turned away. I went and had my shower and breakfast.. and saw one of the gentlemen later who looked less weary than before.[spacer height=”20px”] Just before leaving, the clerk thanked me. I didn't understand why as she had the power to turn away people, but she explained that the two men came from a funeral of a loved one afflicted with pancreatic cancer. That hit especially close.
- Now it might be too early to announce this (no time like the present). I intend to donate 5% (2.5% each) of my gross income for the remainder of the year towards two causes: Pancreatic Cancer and Desmoid Tumor Research.[spacer height=”20px”]I also believe that to appreciate the gifts of opportunity, you help others. So far, I've raised $3.88! I'll update every month leading up to their respective walks the amounts and also include the retroactive amount (pre-April) as part of May's income report.
So where would you do to start blogging? Quick summary
- Research a domain hosting service. My immediate recommendation is Siteground.
- Decide on a niche, a specific area of focus, you want to talk about. This is crucial for monetization.
- Decide on a domain name and register it. Alternatively, you can do both on Siteground. I prefer not having the same beast own both domain or hosting in the event one or both goes south. I use NameCheap for easy registration and I then have Siteground do the transfer after choosing a domain. For the most affordable plans, it's worthwhile to choose a longer term to “lock in a rate”, but the shorter plans are lower risk.
Install WordPress and you are good to go! Here is a post on how to do this in greater detail!
Breakdown of Affiliate/ Referral Links for reference and convenience:
- Ultimate Bundles are elibrary bundles of courses, ebooks curated for a specific niche. I will be promoting a few during the year where I find value and relevant to this blog. The most recent two are Genius Blogger's Toolkit and Homemaking Bundle. There are also two available year-round that I have not covered: Conquer Your Clutter and Gut Health. Both of them are relevant to me. My goal for the room is to declutter and kick into minimalism overdrive. My gut was shot from surgery, so I'm huge on gut health and strengthening that core area.
- Erin Cochren's 2016-2017 18month Vertical LifePlanner (not an affiliate link). I would recommend if you're looking for a beautiful planner. Typically at full price it's pricy ($55) but if you can look past that it's a dated calendar with 7months of use left.. this is a fantastic way to try/trial out one of her planners. Use a Cashback site like: Swagbucks, Ebates, or TopCashback to save even more!
- Michael Hyatt's Full Focus Planner 15% off with this link! Each book accounts for approximately 90days of the year (or a quarter). The option is go with the subscription plan only because there's a more generous return policy if it doesn't work out for you. The flip side is the upfront cost.
- Expert Secrets (John Lee Dumas/ Entrepreneur On Fire's referral link) You can order the book yourself AND request a Mastery/Freedom Journal of choice.
- Claire Pellatreau's Absolute Facebook Ads (not an affiliate link). I locked in her $297 rate and she'll increase that cost with consideration of updates and refinement of her product for the next relaunch.
- Jennifer Allwood's The Power of Facebook Live Webinar (not an affiliate link)
- EBA Live (not an affiliate link) and EBA Course Program. EBA Live is a first time conference to supplement EBA 3.0. You don't need to already be in EBA to attend the live event. It could be a great strategy to attend the live event for 2 days and figure out whether it is the right thing to invest in the full 4.0 course (which will assuringly be a time suck and require dedication). The cost is more expensive for the conference than the course, but you'll get human interaction with about 500 likeminded peers.
- Merch By Amazon (not an affiliate link) So far it's t-shirts, but there's potential in expanding to different products. You get a commission every time someone buys your design. I can't wait to get started!
- WongFu Productions (not an affiliate link) WFP are fellow alums that started making videos in Revelle College/UCSD. They shot to Youtube fame with “Yellow Fever”. They've done a lot in the indie media by being Asian, relatable and creating content that pulls at your heartstrings. I identify well with their awkward collection, so my favorite two shirts are Awkward Turtle and Awkward Octopus (which looks a bit like the monsters in Pac Man).
- Swagbucks – Their sign-on bonus kinda suck to be honest, but if you're looking to get started.. there's bonus of $5 if you earn both 300sb AND spend $25 minimum on a MGCP+. Only spend if it makes sense to you, but I'm happy to field questions whether you sign up through me or not.
- Melyssa's Blog to Biz Course As of writing, this course isn't currently open for registration but I'll reference it when it does come back home. Unfortunately the link goes to her opt-in (which is fine too!) but it doesn't give you information about her flagship course. This is her income report for her last launch.
- Focused – started as a blogging conference, it'll be branching soon as a membership service as well. Stay tuned!
- Siteground & Namecheap. Out of paranoia really, I have a separate hosting and domain registration. Both sites have fantastic customer service, so you can technically go with one or both. They offer the same services, NameCheap's a bit more known for domain registration and Siteground is known for hosting. It's worth combining their strength.
- Airbnb – Chances are you are already also on Airbnb. If you're not, it's a worthy alternative to hotels. $40 in travel to start!
- Pancreatic and Desmoid Tumor Research/ Walks. Pan can is on 10/08 in San Diego and Desmoid Tumor is 9/23 – 9/24 in Philadelphia. I will be sharing my income, so you all will see my progress though I am truly gracious of anyone donating to either cause directly. Please reach out for more information. 🙂
Thank you for making it this far! Stay tuned for the Swagbucks series and then the “real” hustles begins! Swagbucks is near and dear to me and while the idea of making pennies isn't worthwhile to most people (I'm also a little past it) but hear me out, I'll break down their model for you and the ideas one takes from it are valuable for setting up future hustles.