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“I only work 3.5 days a week”

In 2017, after graduating from university, I started working as an engineer in an oil company. I was 23 and making $98,500 a year.

At first, I thought I had my dream job. But after seeing top executives working 60-hour weeks with routine travel, I realized that wasn’t the lifestyle I wanted. My father passed away when I was three years old, so having time with family has always been very precious to me.

Josh works fewer than four days a week and spends much of his free time with his family.

Photo: Danny Mizicko for CNBC Make It

In 2018, I started experimenting with side hustles. I set a goal to earn $3,450 per month (after taxes) from my hustles to support my lifestyle. As soon as I got there, I decided to quit my full-time job.

Today I achieved my goal of being my own boss, and more. I left my job as an engineer in February 2021 to work on my side full time.

Last year, I made $189,000 from my seven sources of income:

  1. YouTube (Google AdSense): $82,349
  2. Fulfilled by Amazon: $13,886
  3. Patreon (coach): $33,114
  4. Fiverr (product search): $29,014
  5. Affiliate Marketing: $29,496
  6. Rental property: $1,272
  7. Taxable dividends: $639

Now I only work 22 hours a week. I take off on Thursdays, Friday afternoons and weekends. Whether it’s golfing with my grandfather, cooking family dinners, or starting new business ventures in my community, I have plenty of time to invest in the people and things that interest me. hold most dear.

Here’s my top tip for turning your side hustle into a full-time job, while working fewer hours:

1. Don’t be afraid of trial and error.

With my first scrambles, I tried to acquire rental properties, then I started placing ads on the back of Ubers and renting my three-wheeled Polaris Slingshot motorcycle on Turo, a car-sharing company. on line.

None of these ventures succeeded. I didn’t make a lot of money, even though I spent a lot of time on it.

It wasn’t until I started selling products on Amazon, using the Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA) service, that I started making real passive income.

All I had to do was find a generic product that was in demand and ship it to Amazon. My first product was headphones worth $1,000, then I moved on to iPhone cases and sports equipment.

I made over $25,000 in 2019 from my Amazon store. I wanted to share with others what I had learned from my trial and error, so I started a new project, which would later become my biggest source of income: starting my own YouTube channel.

2. Build a community around your expertise.

I started my YouTube channel, Debt To Dollars, in February 2020. I’m committed to posting at least two videos a week initially. Over the next eight months, I gained 14,000 subscribers and 871,000 views on the channel.

Josh’s most lucrative income stream in 2021 was his YouTube account, where he earned nearly $83,000 from ads.

Danny Mizicko for CNBC Make It

As I grew my audience, I realized I wanted to connect more with my followers and build a real community. So, in October 2020, I started mentoring students one-on-one for $50 a month on how to make money selling products on Amazon.

I currently use Patreon, a platform that provides business tools for content creators to run a subscription service, to host my coaching sessions.

In February 2021, I launched my product finder service on Fiverr, where customers pay me to find high-demand, low-competition products—trendy toys, pet supplies, or travel accessories—that they might sell on Amazon.

These community businesses have helped me achieve my long-awaited income goal of $3,450 per month.

3. Give priority to the fight against debt.

I was able to quit my full-time job when I was making less than $4,000 a month because I had paid off all my debts except for my house and my car.

There are many methods you can use to pay off your debts, but I personally like the “Debt Snowball” method because it helps you see your progress.

Here’s how it works:

  1. List all of your debts, from smallest to largest.
  2. Make the largest payment on your smallest debt and the minimum payment on the rest.
  3. Repeat until you pay off the smallest debt, then continue with your next smallest debt.

4. Set up the legal side of your business early.

Incorporating your business into your state is important for practical reasons, such as asset protection and tax advantages. But I also believe there is a psychological benefit.

I attribute some of my past failures to treating my side activities as hobbies rather than businesses. Once I formed a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in Texas in 2019, I took everything more seriously and professionally. It’s no coincidence that all my businesses have failed so far.

An LLC has some of the best features of a corporation or partnership, two other business structures also used by corporations in the United States. LLCs protect their owners from being held personally liable for debts or liability of the business, such as a corporation. But like a partnership, LLC income “flows” through the business and is taxed on the owner’s personal income, which simplifies tax filing.

You can start your own LLC by filing for a certificate of organization in your state, which normally costs between $50 and $300. Many states list filing information on their secretary of state’s website.

5. Find a schedule that works for you and stick to it.

When I was working full time, I lacked the motivation to work on my odd jobs.

But once I put pen to paper and committed to a schedule, working on my business became part of my weekly routine. I chose to focus on my hustle side every weeknight after work and every Saturday morning.

I always stick to a weekly schedule. I work Monday to Wednesday and half a day on Friday. Each day I will work four to six hours, with each hour reserved for working on a specific task.

One of the benefits of setting your own schedule is being able to play golf with your grandfather on Thursday mornings.

Photo: Danny Mizicko for CNBC Make It

If you don’t set aside specific hours to work on your side hustle, your business can get lost in day-to-day priorities.

6. Put systems in place that will save you time in the future.

I invest in business models that require as little time as possible. It’s the only way for me to work 22 hours a week and still generate multiple sources of income. But remember that automating things and creating the most efficient systems can take time in the beginning.

Each month, I reflect on where I spent most of my working hours and find ways to make those processes more efficient. For example, I spent four to eight hours a week editing videos.

I decided to outsource my video editing, but it also took me some time to crunch the numbers to see where it fit my budget and find a great editor to do the job. But now that I’ve already made time for it, I spend those hours growing my business in other ways or working less.

7. Identify what makes you different.

Marketing is not just about advertising your product or service; it’s about standing out from your competitors by making your customer feel something. They will come back or, even better, tell their friends about you.

When I started selling on Amazon in 2018, I used stock photos my supplier gave me for my product listings. Unsurprisingly, they mixed with all the other products. And if someone purchased, they received their product in a transparent, boring bag. There was nothing that made my customer experience special.

Once I understood the importance of providing something special, I started taking my own product photos and designing custom packaging. My sales have gone up.

No matter your business, differentiate your product or service by differentiating yourself from your competition. Decide what makes you memorable and invest in it.

Josh Elwood is the founder of Dollar debt. Follow him on instagram and Youtube.

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