It has been an inexcusably long time since my last post, something I’ll attribute to a combination of a tad bit of laziness and also demanding client work. But, I shall not bore you with any of this. Right now, we are living in very interesting times.
On our doorstep, and in many unfortunate cases, inside homes, the pandemic has brought about both a health and economic crisis. We all face it together which, let’s hope, will bring all of us closer together as we tackle the weeks and months ahead.
There’s a chance that by the time I write my next post, assuming that happens one week from now, the pandemic will have doubled. The shock to the economy is already being more than disruptive. Some say it is in a coma. Schools are closed. Parents are staying home. Most businesses have asked people to work from home. Eventually, if not already, cash becomes strapped. And many people don’t have the luxury of safety nets. If they don’t get paid, they can’t pay mortgages and buy essential things. We all know this. My intention is not to write a downbeat post.
What I would like to do is to share with you one of the things I’ve been thinking about in recent weeks. And that is the importance of diversifying income streams in a way that accounts for the times ahead given today’s COVID19 reality. It could be mean finding a way to boost your monthly income by USD20, USD100, USD1000 or more. And however small, every penny counts. Some years ago, I created and sold a digital product that, while initially insignificant, went on to cover all my coffees for the month. Then coffees and phone bills. Then coffees, phone bills and more. You get my drift. Start small and grow.
Note, I’m mindful that some people will find the below difficult to adopt as there are jobs that cannot be done remotely and require people to be physically present. Therefore, they won’t have as much time at home behind the computer to work on side gigs. Some of these people could start small by putting in 10 or 15mins a day into a little project, devoting more time on weekends or during time off. Point is, you want to build something over time. Over a year, a little bit every day goes a long way.
And maybe a way to help is for those of us who stand to benefit and enjoy additional income streams going forward to give to those who don’t have those opportunities. That is to give help, food, money or otherwise. Let’s hope we will all give more going forward. This bloody virus doesn’t discriminate so neither should we!
Move – more – online
As more and more things move online, industries are disrupted and technology enables us to do things differently and more efficiently, new opportunities emerge. Many of those are created by savvy little entrepreneurs who come up with unique ways to supply a demand. Maybe even create one.
There’s no magic formula as I always like to say. And no set path. Each of us needs to figure out what works for us while of course making sure whatever it is we pursue is viable. With the understanding that we may fail or stumble along the way which is perfectly fine. Because, as we all know by now, the more we fail the better. And maybe we shouldn’t even use the word fail. Rather learn!
A few possible ideas worth considering:
Leverage off of what you know: maybe you spend your days working for a research company covering certain sectors or geographies. Or maybe your research is focused on a particular policy area. Well one of the things you could do, and please make sure there are no conflicts of interest with your job, is to use your skills to create a product or sell a service related to the experience you’ve gained. Let’s say, you’ve become knowledgeable on matters related to shipping or the environment or remote working. Write up an e-book that will share your knowledge and findings with others. Sell it online. Perhaps don’t make it too cerebral and theoretical but practical so more people will buy it. But maybe what is needed is a piece of work that is precisely cerebral and theoritical. Depends. Experiment. Think about your audience. Ask that audience what they’d want.
When I left the world of investment banking one of the ways I made money early on was to sell data / analysis on Middle Eastern businesses, investors and institutions. It wasn’t something I was doing as a banker but I had the skills from my previous job to put together such information. Most importantly, I knew there were businesses that wanted it. I went on to sell my products to some of the largest companies in the world. In my case I didn’t have to sell many as I priced the products in line with what those companies would do with them and how they’d benefit from them.
Importantly, you don’t have to work in banking or consulting or R&D or whatever to have a product in you. All of know at the very least know one thing very well. That knowledge can be priceless to the person who badly needs it. For instance, let’s say that you work in a coffee shop. You know everything about running the business. In fact, you’re a barista and coffee is like second-nature to you. Take your knowledge and share it with people. Write about what you’ve learned about the business. Share your confessions. That ebook could be very valuable to someone looking to become a barista, a person looking to open a coffee shop or someone who just likes coffee.
If it’s an e-book you want to write then in each case, you ought to carefully consider your target audience, create a good outline, get an editor do a nice cover, etc. Once you’re done and hit the publish button it’s out there for people to buy. You’ll of course need to market it but nowadays all entrepreneurs and writers have to do it. That is, unless you have a huge brand behind you. So say you publish the book and it makes you 20 bucks a month (let’s assume you sold 2 book @ 10 bucks a pop). That’s USD240 a year. Maybe after a few months sales will reach USD40 per month. Then you decide to write another e-book drawing in experience you learned after writing the first one. You keep going. And then maybe because of the knowledge and authority you’ve demonstrated someone who has read your book will reach out and ask you for your advice. That can be a 1-on-1 consulting session. Figure out an hourly and, boom, you’re a consultant as well.
In summary, creating things online is something we should all do.
But you don’t have to do this to make money right up front. Maybe you don’t feel comfortable doing so or would rather first test the online waters. So start a blog where you share the information you have freely with others. Do it for some time and build a following. Then, when it feels right to sell a product you’ll have an audience.
Create something completely unrelated to your job or studies: remember what I said earlier. There is no formula or set path. I once struck up a conversation with E.L. James (Fifty Shades of Grey) in Ealing (London) and asked her some questions about her newfound publishing success. She admitted that she was a bit lost. I mean she kind of knew why the books sold but she had absolutely no idea things would unfold the way they did and make her a multimillionaire when she first set out to write.
Maybe you’ve had an idea to publish a novella on killer onions – vegetables that become alive, grow in size and kill their victims by sitting on them and spraying toxic onion juice all over them. You know what, that may sound like a terrible idea to many people. But I assure you there are people out there, online, who’ll enjoy because they’ve got the same crazy taste and preferences as you. And as I always say, all you need a small number of genuine followers to make your tribe. And those very people will loyally purchase what you put out.
So you work in an art gallery where they sell only Iranian art. Or you do merchandising for a department store in Manila (Philippines). Or you work in a small theatre in Norwich (UK) where you work on theatre sets. Whatever you do think of it as a skill that someone else could benefit from. Trust me, the things that come easy to you can be like diamond for some others. In that respect, you can offer your services as a consultant. Build a small website and slap on your bio and experience. Then write to individuals or organisations that would benefit from your knowledge. You want to know who you’re targeting in advance so you can sell them your service and expertise. Basically you need to be able to voice to them why they would benefit using you. And then you start. Maybe it’s a 1-hour session for 50 bucks. It goes well and in a few weeks they want another session. Keep going and one day you can get them on a monthly retainer for a specific sum in exchange for x number of hours of consulting sessions. The world is your oyster.
Now is the time
As the Economist said, the COVID19 epidemic has brought millions of new patients online and many of them are likely to stay there.
The time is upon you to think about bringing in new income streams as we lock down for the foreseeable future.
In the meantime, I wish you and your family to stay safe and healthy.