Transcript: Side Hustle Ideas To Escape The Rat Race And Build Financial Freedom After Covid-19

Welcome to the Holistic Wealth podcast. I’m your host, Kesha Blair wife, mother of three, Author of Holistic Wealth and Founder of the Institute on Holistic Wealth. The show will showcase various experts in the key pillars of holistic wealth. Each week, we deliver the best information on how to become holistically, wealthy and live your best life.

Keisha Blair: Today we have a very special guest with us. We have Nick Loper, Nick is a best-selling author, award-winning podcaster, and he’s well-known for his amazing business and Nick is on a mission to help people build their own income streams. And amplify their earning power. Nick, welcome to the show.

Nick Loper: Thanks for having me. It’s great to have you here. And so I just want to start with, you know, giving the audience a sense of your journey up to this point. And I know, you started from a young age, right, with your side hustle and selling candy to your fellow boy Scouts at summer camp and doing that fun stuff. So I just wanted to give the audience a sense. Uh, you know, how you started and what that was like.

Nick Loper: Yeah. I feel very grateful to have been bitten by that entrepreneurial bug really early in life. Like always trying to figure out, okay, how can I make extra money? And really it came from, you know, mom and dad being like, well, if you want to buy that, you know, go figure out how to, how to earn yourself, money doesn’t grow on trees, kind of a thing. Which was really annoying of course at the time, but it was helpful over the long run. One of the experiences that really solidified it for me, it was like this painting internship in college, where it was one of these companies. In my case, it was called college works painting.

There’s a handful of companies that run similar operations, but they said, here’s your assigned territory. Your job is to go and paint as many houses as you can over the course of the summer. And of course they teach you how to estimate jobs and they set up accounts for you, the different paint vendors, and it was stressful, but also crazy rewarding experience to just have to go and knock on doors and try and build up this business and figure out how to get all these jobs done.

It was really, really cool at the end of the summer, the company posts this article on there, like, you know, it’s kind of pre-blog, but like on there, internal intranet type of thing. And it’s like, if you made it this far, we ruined your life. And you’re like, well, I’m clicking on this headline, you know? And it went on to explain, you’ve had this taste, you’ve had this taste of you’re working for yourself. I’m working for profits and not wages. And you’re probably not going to be able to climb the corporate ladder. You’re probably not going to want to. We worked for somebody else. And that was very much true for me.

So I did, I did work corporate after graduation, but pretty much from day one was looking for a way out of that. A way out in my case was not in-house painting. It was in online business, online marketing. It was a comparison shopping site or footwear. That was the original side hustle that they got me out of corporate.

And, you know, it’s amazing because so many people now with COVID-19 are even afraid of going back to the office once this all subsides. And so I’ve seen articles, I’ve seen various journalists, wanting to interview people about not wanting to go back into the office. And of course, there are people who just really want to become financially independent.

Keisha Blair: I talk about that a lot in my book, Holistic Wealth and in terms of even just becoming financially resilient. So Nick, can you tell us how you eventually transitioned out of the corporate world? Was there like a set target goal that you had to meet in terms of your income? To say to yourself, well, yeah, this is it. I think I can leave now? And what were you doing at that point to get income?

Nick Loper: Yeah, first of all, I love your Holistic Wealth brand. I think that’s just a perfect way to, because it’s like, yes, you can. I mean you can always earn more and there’s different ways to tackle it, but you have to take a holistic view of your personal finances. And for us that played into the ability and the decision to eventually quit that job because you had kept expenses kind of intentionally low in order to live. This extravagant lifestyle didn’t live up to our means. So for me, I wanted to see a track record of revenue, and this is the advice that I would recommend for other people. I wanted to see a track record of revenue from the side business that in my case was, not to the point where I had replaced my day job salary, but it was at least covering my monthly expenses. So it’s like, okay, if I had an extra 40, 50 hours a week to dedicate to this, I’m reasonably confident you could get to that salary level and beyond.

And the only reason I was able to do that was because I had a gap between income and expenses and you know, other people, you know, they’ll make 50 grand has been 49. Like there’s no margin in your life. And that makes it really difficult. So it’s like, well then for some people, those two numbers are one in the same. But if you can live below your means, it just has you afford yourself a lot more flexibility. If there are people thinking about transitioning out of the corporate world now, Or even just seeking to become financially independent. I think that’s just the bottom line. I think we just need to have that gap. We need to reduce our expenses so that we can achieve that.

Keisha Blair: So Nick, like we’re in the midst of a pandemic and so many people are out of jobs and others are just looking for a change in lifestyle, a change of pace, you know, like a real alignment of priority is, as you said, like a lot of people are thinking more about wealth in terms of a holistic perspective. Not necessarily just going, going, hustling, hustling more and giving up time and not spending time with others and family. And so what are some other ways that they can do that now that can really make a difference in terms of the income that they can start to bring in?

Nick Loper: So there’s a hundred different side hustle ideas. Oh, that’s an interesting one. Let’s do a podcast episode about that. Right? And it turns into decision fatigue in a way, “shiny object syndrome” in a way where it’s like, okay, there’s a million different options. So I definitely encourage you to take a look at all of these different laundry lists, like side hustle, is one place. Just to go, like, see what is out there, right. What could you do? And the hope is you’ve got eight or 10 different browser tabs open by the time you scroll through any of these lists. And you say, that sounds interesting. I want to learn more. I want to study that, but what you kind of have to ask yourself is like, okay, what does success look like on that chosen path?

If I could find somebody who has done this and in 2, 3, 5 years down the road, are they better off than I am now. Like, does this, what their day-to-day looks like, is that appealing to me? They find some people who will pursue these different businesses and it’s like, yeah, I can make some money quickly, but there’s no leverage necessarily where it’s like, okay, how do you eventually get out of laying the bricks?

If that’s something that you want to do? And if you, if you find something that you love doing, maybe it’s tutoring, maybe it’s working with kids like, okay, that’s great, totally fine. If you kind of want a little more leverage, you kind of have to bake that in almost from the beginning and one business model I’m kind of inspired by and excited about right now, It’s just local service-based businesses, kind of like these old school, blue collar based businesses. We’ve had folks on the show doing housecleaning, doing pet waste removal, doing mobile car detailing at a guy who was cleaning fish tanks, like at the doctors and dentist offices, almost stuff that you wouldn’t really think about, but where the entrenched competition is, you know, operating with maybe a website that looks like its 20 years old.

They don’t pick up the phones. There’s no live chat. There’s like all this call us for a quote type of stuff versus productized. Easy to do business with, for the millennial customer, especially in-home services where I don’t want to deal with this. Like I would just, I want to, I want to hit a button and the lawnmower guy comes up to my house.

I want to make it as easy as like Amazon prime. Right? And so for aspiring business owners I think it’s a huge opportunity because number one, the pie just keeps getting bigger. Like more and more people are specializing in niching, down and hiring out this stuff that they don’t want to do with themselves. So the pie keeps getting bigger. And the competition is in a lot of cases operating at a digital marketing disadvantage. So if you can bring, if you can become a better operator, a better marketer, a better administrator. I think there’s some interesting opportunity in that space. Like we talked to a couple recently in Dallas who had built this cleaning business, they told me they had booked thousands of cleaning jobs at this point.

And I was like, well, do you ever get tired of doing the cleaning? Well we went on three at the very beginning, we screwed up the bookings that we had to go through three ourselves, everything else they found contractors to do, or they found other professional cleaners to go do like, so you’re just kind of playing middleman in a way, you’re taking a fee off of this, of this job. That was one that I am, I am inspired by right now. It seems some people having some success. In a, in that type of space. That’s interesting because that, I think is the big question for everyone now, as they try to pivot to a side hustle is what can I do? That’s most convenient that I can just get into quickly start making money fast.

And I don’t have to think about necessarily building up a massive email list so I can start getting off income or start getting sponsors, things like that. So I think that kind of model, and I think we’ve seen it with larger companies too, where like Uber’s of the world where that kind of middleman platform can be scaled down to the individual, like a more accessible on a more accessible level.

Keisha Blair: So, is there anything else with regards to that type of side hustle make, like in terms of other ideas that you’re seeing out there that could work, uh, both offline and online, probably a little more challenging online to do you know, what would be called, like a drop servicing model where you’re kind of you’re the marketing front, and then you find contractors behind the scenes to go do the, to do the work, just because there’s, there’s more competition online, like it’s global competition instead of local competition.

On the online front, the, a couple of models that I’m probably most excited about right now are just YouTube based content. Whether that’s just documenting your story or answering questions, as you, as you discover them, as you kind of uncover them along your path. So there is a, a channel that I recently discovered called furnitureflippingteacher. Where it’s like this kindergarten teacher in the middle of the country and she’s super cute. And she just is like, here’s what I flipped this month. Here’s what I made. I’m putting all that towards my student debt. And, you know, in one of her recent videos, she’s like, “I made $1700 bucks flipping furniture, painting out in the garage and selling this on Facebook marketplace.

And I made $3000 bucks from YouTube ads” or something, you from like revenue from the YouTube channel. I was like, oh, so you buy, you know, going through this little bit of extra effort where nobody’s paying you upfront to create these videos. But over time you start to have some pretty interesting leverage and you grow this audience and then you have all these options.

They kind of become open to you. Like in one of her recent videos, she’s shipping out t-shirts as her fans or asking for some swag, like, I love this, you know, if you were just, heads down and paintbrush in the garage and nobody would ever have boundaries and you could have made, she was making good money doing the furniture flipping, but you know, she opened up a whole new revenue stream doing it that way. So I do like the YouTube stuff. Especially over, you know, as a podcast, it’s kind of hard to be down on podcasting. And I still think there’s a huge market share left to conquest in podcasting. But YouTube has this search and discovery element that podcasting doesn’t. YouTube has this viral element that podcasting doesn’t where, you know, you can start to show up in the suggested videos or people who watch this.

Also watch this kind of a thing. It’s, it’s really interesting to see what people are doing it over there. And I, my eyes have been opened to YouTube as an answer engine, just from some of the old videos I did like years ago. How to create a folder in Gmail or something is one of the videos that I have, how to keep Dropbox from taking up all your local storage. And it was like, these were problems that I had figured out how to do it. You know, in most cases like 62nd screen recording video, not a lot of production quality going on. I’m not even on the screen for these, but I’m narrating them. And if they continue to rack up views, continue to rack up, you know, modest amounts of ad revenue.

But it’s like, I, it feels like the most passive income in the world, but like the YouTube angle, answering questions already asking you for help with what are the challenges, hurdles that you’ve overcome in your own life. And you kind of kind of start, start from there. And if you keep it somewhat broad in the early days, I think you have a platform that you can build on for years to come.

The other kind of online business model that is most exciting right now is just what people are doing with email newsletters. I think we saw that morning brew sold for like $75 million or something last fall. But it’s like for the really low overhead business, I like the curation model where you could say, okay, here’s a niche that I’m interested in. I am reading these articles anyways. So I connected with a gentleman. I think his newsletter was TLDR. Like the too long didn’t read newsletter. He’s like I’m reading all of these like tech crunch and you know, Silicon-valley type of newsletters or blogs and websites. Anyways, what if I like summarize those? And as a service sent those out to you in a free email newsletter, and now he’s got hundreds of thousands of subscribers they doing, he’s doing just fine with like ad revenue. But again, once you have people paying attention, you got options. You can sell product services, add affiliate staff, and it becomes a really powerful really time leveraged type of thing.

Keisha Blair: That’s amazing. And so, as you’re talking, I’m thinking about even some of the methods you mentioned a while ago, and I’m wondering how to build up that subscriber base fast. Like whether it’s YouTube or the email newsletters, once you want to start. You know, I’m thinking about the methods that people can use to really build that fast. I know you have a really solid email newsletter yourself in terms of the size of your email list. And I know YouTube can be challenging for some people to scale very fast. So I don’t know if you have ideas or suggestions on how people can really do that so they can, you know, try to start getting that income from those methods?

Nick Loper: Yeah. In most cases, especially with the email list, it’s going to start with your own personal network, like, you know, one-on-one outreach and this is what I did in the early days of the podcast to 101 email outreach. So hey, I’m starting this thing, even if you’re not the target audience for this, you know, you kind of plant the seed like, well, this is something. If I know anybody who is interested in, hopefully you get that first, that first recommendation. Oh, you have to go check out Nick’s show. He said he was doing something the same thing with the email list. I’m starting this thing. It’s about, you know I’m going to send out my three. Best tips for home gardeners every week or every, you know, whatever it is, whatever niche you choose and then trying to spider it out from there.

What really grew morning brew and the hustle was kind of in this internal referral program, where if they, Hey, you know, refer three readers, get some stickers, you know, refer 10 readers, join our free Facebook group, refer to 25 new subscribers and we’ll send you a t-shirt, everything, which I think is interesting. And actually, I think that’s built in, on some email platforms now, like Convertkit, which is really cool. I would actually just ask, through a subscriber survey. Like, what if I could incentivize you to share this content with your friends? Like what would be compelling? And so I go through the survey responses to see what people said there, because I think it is an interesting place. Like if you can rally the existing subscribers that you have to start the flywheel spinning.

Keisha Blair: Those are great ideas for sure. And it’s so amazing with everyone home now. I think it provides that opportunity. And so Nick, just to get into like your own personal sources of passive income and what’s working for you personally now, is it possible for you to tell us? What are your major sources of income in terms of where that revenue comes from? And if that has changed any at all during this pandemic where there was one big change?

Nick Loper: So the three revenue streams for me have historically been at least for the last several years, advertising on the podcast, like sponsorships on the podcast, affiliate income through the blog, through the website, through the email list. And then the third leg of the stool would be side-hustle experiments. And that would be, you know, self- publishing that would be selling a courses. I’ve dabbled a little bit with eBay and Amazon back in the day, I did a lot of freelancing back in the day. I did freelance, like book editing and freelance recruiting back in the day. And then I had another affiliate site that I ran and that was the big change was in October, ended up selling off that site to focus more on the Side hustle nation, blog, and podcast.

Keisha Blair: If you had to zero in on, you know, one or two, I mean, the podcasting is also like this field that everyone’s trying to get in on right now in terms of trying to reach a larger audience and with everyone at home. And then it’s so versatile in terms of the content types that it can be really easily repurposed. Is podcasting for you, one of the major ones? And do you have any advice in terms of that as a revenue stream?

Nick Loper: It was a long slow game. And in many ways, it’s, it’s a little bit tougher today. There’s, more listeners than ever before to be sure, but there’s also more money in the space. And by that, I mean, big media players, right? In 2013, when I started, there was as much of an NPR, New York times, ESPN presence in the podcasting space that they have now. And so that’s not to say you can’t compete. It’s probably not going to be able to compete with the production quality, but if a team that has, you know, a staff of 14, boosts an hour-long show, but you are able to compete on content and say, I’m going to be the best resource for this given niche and a guest.

And recently someone who had a laundromat podcast and he was like, Nick, it’s going surprisingly well, And I was like, well, why do you say surprisingly? And he’s like, because it’s a laundromat podcast. I’m like, let’s be honest. I was like, okay, fair enough, but he’s interviewing laundromat business owners and kind of build a little bit of a following in that space. And if you’re super niche down, it may not take this huge audience. Like you can find other ways to monetize. That’s traditional a sponsorship model.

Keisha Blair: So, Nick, I know you did the free personal financial identity quiz that I created and I’ve had, I’ve been having a lot of fun asking guests to share their thoughts on their results with the audience, because we’ve been learning a lot and it’s been so insightful, especially coming from entrepreneurs like yourself. So I just wanted to ask you to share your results with us and any thoughts that you have. On the results, just in terms of how you’ve scaled your business, how it’s impacted your entrepreneurial journey, your money philosophy, even your relationships, you know, at home, because we’ve spoken a lot about that as well with guests, because it covers such a wide gambit of this full personal financial identity thing. It’s so great for couples. It’s great for looking at it with negotiation, conflict management. So there’s a lot wrapped up in it. Can you share your results with us?

Keisha Blair: Yeah. I should have my wife take the quiz to see what her results would be. That would be good. If I know it was a lot of fun. I scored a Minimalist, which were, you know, between. Some of the different answers. Like it could’ve gone either way, but Minimalist, I think is pretty accurate description of how things operate, how things run, because it kind of falls into that whole, you know, keeping things lean, trying to take a holistic view, at everything and saying, well, yeah, you could probably get more revenue if you chase this thing, or if you hired this person, but is that really how you want to spend your time? Is that really what you want to do? I don’t know. So I, I kind of liked that quiz.

Keisha Blair: Okay. No, for sure. And so do you think your wife would be a minimalist too? I’m just wondering if, kind of you share the same philosophy and you can see how it’s impacted, like your money and purchasing decisions as a couple. We’re pretty much on the same page there. I mean, I know your other choices were like Risk-Taker, which definitely would not be her. What were the other options?

Keisha Blair: Yeah. So there’s the Risk-Taker. There’s the Anxious-Spender, Investor. And there’s the Maximalist. Those are the three others in addition to the Minimalist.

Nick Loper: Yeah. There’s a lot of anxiety related to making the wrong purchase decision. And that goes for both of us. Like I am the person who always thinks the market is about to tank. It’s like, well, I don’t, you know, it’s, it seems so high right now. And it’s like, well, I’ve been saying that for almost 10 years. Like, you know, I had waited on the sidelines the whole time, we would have lost out on a tripling of the SMP or something during that time, pretty much on the same page. But one thing that was helpful for us was discovering the, you know, the FIRE movement and, stuff maybe 2013-ish, which is I guess in a traditional sense. Well, you know, if you could save 25 times your annual expenses, you’re, you’re set for life mathematically speaking and are 96% of back-tested scenarios and who knows what the future holds of course, but for us that we’re, and I can see for some people, like that’s kind of daunting and depressing and saying like, well, we’re never going to get there.

So what’s even the point of trying, but for us, it was like, it gave a, a clearly defined target for, well, okay, well, here’s what we spend. And here’s what we need to get to. And because we had been living this, you know, holistic, well, we’re reasonably Minimalist lifestyle and below our means, it didn’t seem like this was an impossible mountain to climb. I was like, oh, okay. That seems like within striking distance. I will keep doing what we’re doing and keep making intelligent decisions. Like we can, we can get there. And I think that was really empowering. And I think that helped. Perhaps curb some, uh, some impulse spending as well. I was like, well, you know, let’s stack it up toward this early retirement option and this financial independence option.

Keisha Blair: Yeah, no, for sure. I mean, I completely agree with that. So would you say that that’s for the, both of you that you’re currently early retired and you’re just basically going along and focusing on your side-hustle and basically living with the lifestyle that you want?

Keisha Blair: If we keep the. Expenses where they’re at and, and our kids, you know, they’re almost in kindergarten. So like we’ll lose a little bit of daycare expense coming up. You never know what the future holds in terms of medical expenses. So there is some, and especially the earlier you retire, the more long-term risk you have, you know, losing relevant skills in the workplace or so you can go and. Learn the skills that you need to, if you do need to get back into the workforce, I’m grateful to be in a position where work is optional and you can kind of take on projects that, that are still fun.

In fairness, she still works full time. She’s a mechanical engineer because like, you know, I, I kinda like this gig and kind of figuring out what that next chapter might look like. Yeah, no, and that’s fair. And that’s one thing I think about the fire movement that I think is great for people to understand is that.

You can go back to work and work can be leisure. In some cases, work can be this source of ultimate fulfillment. There’s nothing wrong. With, even if you’re financially independent with keeping your day job, I mean, it’s something that many people do and it’s something that’s perfectly acceptable, but sometimes, you know, in the fire, in the fire movement, like even, you know, in some circles, there’s the perception of what you’re not early retired and literally just cruising along and not doing work, then you’re really not early retired. Yeah. I mean, you still need something meaningful to put your days toward that. It gives you some sense of progress and purpose.

Keisha Blair: Absolutely. So, Nick, it was amazing having you on the show. Could you just tell people where to find you? Sure. So side hustle, is the best place to find me.

If you’re looking for side hustle ideas, of course, that LinkedIn, we mentioned side hustle nation back home slash ideas is a great place to start. The most active social channel for me is the side hustle nation Facebook group. But if you search. Titus donation on Facebook. You’ll find it. Or if you hit site us on, it’ll redirect you over there.

Keisha Blair: Okay, perfect. So once again, Nick, thank you so much for sharing those nuggets of wisdom with us. It was great having you on the show today.

Keisha Blair: Thank you for joining us this week on Holistic Wealth with Keisha Blair. Make sure to visit our website where you can subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify or via Rs so you will never miss a show. While you’re at it, if you found value in this show, we’d appreciate a rating on iTunes or if you simply tell a friend about the show that would help us out too. Are you a member of the Institute on Holistic Wealth? If not, what are you waiting for? Go to Institute on Holistic Wealth/memberships to choose your membership plan and join as a member. You get so many perks, free worksheets, advice coaching, and a member’s workshop to design an intentionally designed life. Do you need to figure out your life purpose? Take the Build Your Life Purpose Portfolio online self-paced course. Are you struggling with all your money decisions? Take the free financial identities quiz and then take the personal financial identities course. Did you recently suffer a breakup job loss or experience the death of a loved one? Take the Holistic Healing online course. Do you need an overall plan to achieve holistic wealth? We will help you figure out your Holistic Wealth Blueprint and of course if you want to start making money by helping others achieve Holistic Wealth, become a Certified Holistic Wealth Consultant. Regardless of what career you’ve got, the Institute will show you how to increase your income and walk in your purpose. The sooner you join the sooner you start to achieve a more holistically wealthy lifestyle and you’re going to want to stay for a very long time so go to Institute on Holistic Wealth/memberships to join. If you haven’t read the book yet pick up a copy of the award-winning best-selling book Holistic Wealth: 32 life lessons to help you find purpose prosperity and happiness