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‘4 businesses you can start for $99 or less’

In 2014, I graduated from college with a tidal wave of rejections from medical school. Searching for a new career path, I spent the next few years earning money however I could – modeling, tutoring, and even working as a real estate agent.

But in 2018, I started posting personal finance videos on YouTube. It wasn’t a lucrative side hustle until the pandemic hit in 2020, when one topic struck a chord: recovery and relief efforts, and what they meant for people’s wallets.

When my videos went viral, I signed up for YouTube Adsense to further monetize my channel. That’s when my passive income journey began. In 2021, I made $1.5 million in revenue.

And this year, I made an average of $114,000 per month in passive income from my videos, online courses, and social media posts.

Here are four businesses you can start today for $99 or less:

1. Affiliate Marketing

Cost to start: $0

Affiliate marketing is earning a commission for promoting a brand’s products or services by sharing them on your blog, social media platform, or website. You get paid every time someone clicks on the link or makes a purchase.

Since content creation is free, this type of business is very accessible. The real challenge is creating targeted content that reaches the right audience.

Let’s say you start a lifestyle blog. You can use the Google Trends tool to collect data on what people are searching for in this category. You may find, for example, that there has been an increase in the number of people searching Google for “best hair brands”.

In this case, you might consider writing a blog or creating a YouTube video in which you test and review different hair products.

To find affiliate deals, I use management platforms like Impact Radius, Partnerstack, and Share-A-Sale. There are three things I look for in a partnership:

  1. It is with a reputable company that offers quality products or services. You want to promote products that you are proud of and minimize the likelihood that customers will return them.
  2. Products have high conversion rates. This means that many people who see the product end up buying it.
  3. The agreement offers a “cookie window” of 30 days or more. Cookies track how a user came to click on a product link. Cookies remain embedded in a user’s browser for a specific amount of time. If a customer who first clicked on a product through you purchases it in the cookie window, you are awarded and paid for it.

2. YouTube Adsense

Cost to start: $0

More than half of Adsense revenue goes to the creator, and many of my old videos are still generating passive income.

But you need to build an audience before you can sign up; your channel needs at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours in the past year.

I started my channel because I had a passion for personal finance. When you have an innate passion, you’ll be so invested in your niche that you’ll understand how to create great content.

You’ll also know what consumers are looking for because you’ve already read or watched everything on your favorite topic. That’s gold, especially when you back up your market research with tools like Google Trends.

My final piece of advice is to upload videos consistently. I currently post three to four times a week. But when I started growing my channel, I posted almost every day.

3. Digital Products

Cost to start: $99 on Kajabi

The first step is to identify what you can teach. It could be writing if you have marketing and publishing skills, productivity if you have a background in organizational psychology, or management if you have leadership experience.

Then I recommend using a platform like Kajabi or Teachable to host your course. My classes are currently hosted on Kajabi, 6-Figure YouTube Academy and Personal Brand Masterclass.

To create them, I sketched out everything I wanted to teach about Notion, an online workspace organization tool. Then I filmed each lesson in my apartment using a tripod and a camera.

My courses are separated into different modules, with worksheets and PDFs, so I created them after I created the videos. Then I edited and uploaded my videos to Kajabi, which also lets you create marketing campaigns.

I created landing pages that told visitors what they would get if they purchased my courses and then collected their email addresses. I also set up automated email campaigns that reminded people to sign up.

4. Rent a room

Cost to start: Varies depending on your situation

In 2019 my sister and I bought a two bedroom condo in Los Angeles. I lived in one bedroom and rented the second for $3,000 a month for two years.

Getting a roommate means you’ll have to give up privacy, but it was worth it for me as it helped me pay off my mortgage.

Zillow lets you host free rental apps on its website and will perform background checks for you.

If you don’t want to rent out your home for a long time, you can advertise on a short-term rental platform like Airbnb. This way, people can only book your spot on weekends or when you’re away.

Charlie Chang is a content creator and serial entrepreneur whose mission is to educate people about personal finance and business. He is a graduate of UCLA and founder of StartupWise. Follow Charlie on instagram and Youtube.

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