Nick Loper is the founder of Side Hustle Nation. He started the site because he was starting side hustle businesses which grew into full time income. He actually started side hustles on the side of his main hustles, and then the side hustles became the main hustle.
Nick and I actually first got connected because I came across one of his current side hustles and I emailed him. Then we met in person in Boulder and have continued the friendship from there.
In this conversation we talk about:
- His background and his start working at Ford;
- How he got his first business going by using outsourced developers;
- Why side hustles aren’t necessarily websites;
- How to launch a side hustle in current days;
- What the fastest ways to get started are;
- Why you don’t have to have a lot of capital upfront to start;
- How to take your hustle to the next level, even full time;
- Why freelance -> agency -> product is a viable path (though it is hard);
- Hiring remote workers is hard;
- Strategies for giving a side hustle a chance to get off the ground.
John: Hello, everyone. Welcome back to what I like to call the Credo Show. My name is John Doherty and I’m the founder of getcredo.com where I help business connect with the best digital marketing agencies and consultants online. I do these videos from time to time to talk with the smartest people that I know. They’re doing interesting things out there online, and I like to learn form them and they’re all gracious enough to let me record them. So, today, I’m having a conversation with Nick Loper who is the founder of sidehustlenation.com. So Nick and I actually met in person…I don’t know, six weeks ago or something like that. He was in Boulder. He was out here in Colorado. He was up in Boulder and met out there a bunch of other people there that are working on either side hustles or full-time entrepreneurs.
And so I was up in Boulder and met up with Nick and had a conversation, and so, Nick, welcome to the Credo Show. I’m super happy to have you. As you said, your main hustle is the side hustle, so, why don’t you tell us a little bit about what you do and who you are?
Nick: You bet. Well, thanks for having me first and thanks for coming out to our little meet-up in Boulder a couple of months ago. That was awesome to meet in person, connect with all the Colorado area hustlers out there. So you kind of alluded to it, the main hustle is the side hustle. It’s sidehustlenation.com, kind of a community and resource for aspiring and part-time entrepreneurs, and even some who’ve made the leap and now they still stick around because they like the neighborhood or something.
It started as a side project for me from my original side hustle, which was a footwear comparison shopping site that turned into a full-time business. It made money from…earned commissions from Zappos and Amazon and these other stores, like, as a catalogue aggregator type of site. And started the Side Hustle stuff on the side of that, and, kind of, a year and a half kind of eclipsed and became the main time focus or the main focus of… It’s been a ton of fun. And you say, “Hey, I wanna talk to the smartest people I know.” Like, I wish I was half as smart now as I was when I was 16. I feel like trying to do all this business stuff has been very humbling and has made me realize there’s a lot that I don’t know and I’ve kinda had to figure out along the way.
John: Totally. So did you have a full-time job and then you started the footwear comparison site, or how did your path go into becoming a full-time entrepreneur talking about teaching other people how to start their own side hustle?
Nick: Yeah, so I was working corporate. I got graduated and then did what you’re supposed to do and got a real job. I was working for Ford, the car company, kind of at the bottom run of this, you know, fortune 50 company, and it was… The car business is a fascinating business, something I knew nothing about, but it wasn’t everyone that I really saw myself climbing the corporate ladder in and knew, you know, was kind of thinking, hoping that the shoe thing could be the escape path.
John: Got you. So, what was your job at Ford?
Nick: So, I was in the service and parts part of their organization, trying to sell more Ford parts through the dealer channel, which….you know, historically, Ford built crappy cars and had great market share, so the combination of those two things, like, the dealers made a great living doing warranty work on those cars. So, at the time that I was working there, their market share was diminishing, and that combined with the quality was greatly improving, so those two things combined to be like, “Well, crap. Now we’ve got all this service capacity and where are all the customers?” And so I said, “Well, you gotta get more aggressive on the retail side of the business.” And so they really got aggressive on some of the maintenance packages and just, like, you know, saying, “Hey, we can service your car even if you’re not in warranty or even if you don’t have something that’s broken, you know, we can help maintain it and make sure it doesn’t break.”
So, a very interesting time in the car business, but it’s just…I don’t know. What was different, what kinda contrasted that was, like, going home nights and weekends and working on the shoe thing and seeing, like, how if I hustled and made a bunch of ads, you know, I could see the benefit of that for, you know, weeks and months down the road, whereas if I worked harder at work, you know, I get paid the same. So it was a little bit of a disconnect.
John: Got you and got you. So you actually started the site… How long ago was it that you started that footwear comparison site?
Nick: So that launched in 2006, and so starting a year before that, I was kind of like in talks with the developers and, like, any software project took longer to build than they thought it would. And before that, I had kinda validated the idea with, like, direct link PPC ads for specific models of shoes. I don’t even know if this is, like, still allowed on AdWords, but that’s kind of how…
John: Definitely not.
Nick: …validated the business, you know, with a very, very low budget.
John: Okay. So you actually had a development team to build out the site for you?
Nick: Yeah, I met these guys on guru.com, which I think is still around..
John: Still around. Yep.
Nick: They got several bids back and one of the guys turned out to be, like, half an hour away from me in Northern Virginia, I was living at the time. So I went over to his apartment and we, like, hashed out this deal. I think once he found out it was just like me, just like the one 22-year-old dude, he was, like, “Oh, okay. You know, we can knock a little bit off this price and stuff.” And he turned out to be… Maybe he was the lead developer, but he was kinda like the U.S. based sales guy, and, you know, the rest of his team was back in India. And so I actually worked for that team for, you know, the entire life of the site, you know, over the next 10 years or 8 years.
John: Okay, okay. So that’s interesting. I’d love to talk about that a little bit more, because, you know, I speak with a lot of people that are working a full-time job and they wanna start their own thing. I mean, that was 2005, 2006, right? So that was 11, 12 years ago, but it sounds like you’re not technical, right? And even these days a lot of people are like, “Well, I wanna start a site, you know. I wanna start something but, you know, I either don’t have an idea or I’m not technical at all.” You know, these days, especially because you talk with a lot of people that are, you know, starting their own side hustle or, you know, starting a blog or something like that. Like, where do you counsel people? How do you tell people to get started? I know it’s a big question.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, the shoe business would be way cheaper to build today because you could build on existing software, existing platforms, instead of, like, trying to custom-code everything from scratch, so that would be a big leap forward. Like, “Hey, look. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Like, you could just lay this on top of a WiordPress platform. You could, you know, sit your database on the side of that instead of, like, you know, really starting from the ground up.” I mean, there’s lots of different business models that you can go after and we can kinda walk through some different kinda like, idea generating or side hustle frameworks, but I mean, if you wanna start, like, at the very low tier, I mean, a side hustle could be something as simple as, you know, flipping products on Ebay, like, doing the garage sale thing, doing the, you now, the thrift shopping thing or even flipping those items on Amazon. I just rerecorded an episode with a guest that I had on in 2014 who now has, like, a warehouse and a team and still half of the business is retail arbitrage, like going to Walmart and, like, scanning stuff. I was like, “That’s nuts.” They’re gonna do $4 million in sales this year.
Nick: Crazy stuff, you know, what… You know, basically from a buy low, sell high business model. Like, it’s the oldest business model in the books. So there’s stuff like that. There’s stuff like, you know, driving for Uber, hosting on Airbnb if you have a spare bedroom, hosting on rover.com, it’s like Airbnb but for dogs. I’ve met some people doing crazy well on sites like those. I really like those kinda peer-to-peer market places because they’ve already built the demand, whereas, like, if you wanted to start those business before, you know, red tape and hurdles and, like, if you wanted to market this, how would you do that? Check out an ad in the classified or something, but they’ve made that…you know, they’ve got the demand side covered and if you can basically put your buy button up for sale on these market places, it’s pretty powerful.
John: Right. I think that’s an important point that, you know, a side hustle…when I think of a side hustle as a, you know, digital marketer or whatever that, I think of a side hustle as being a website, right? It’s a blog, it’s a content site, it’s something like that. I know you have some of those as well actually came across you. I knew who you were by…came more across you with I discovered your virtual assistant’s website because I was looking to hire a virtual assistant and it was like, “Oh, it’s Nick Loper. I know who Nick Loper is.” And, you know, kinda went on down the rabbit hole from there, but a side hustle isn’t necessarily a website is what you’re saying.
Nick: Yeah, it doesn’t have to be. I think it can be a component of it, but if you have no interest in putting yourself out there online, you absolutely don’t have to.
John: Interesting. So let’s actually dig a bit into those, you know, different models and different, like, processes for, you know, launching a side hustle. It seems like a lot of people start doing something on the side because they wanna make a little bit of extra cash or, you know, or something like that, but, you know, what are the best ways these days…obviously back in like… You know, you can flip products, you can walk dogs, you can do those sorts of things. But, you know, what are some of the most common ones that you see people launching these days? And then also, do you think that…I guess a follow-on question from that would be, do you think that most people start a side hustle…or do you see most people starting a side hustle in order to have that turn into a full-time thing or is there actually like a big group of people out there that just wanna make an extra, you know, $500 bucks walking dogs a couple of nights, you know, a week in their spare time?
Nick: Yeah, I was actually surprised by that. I figured most everybody would be like me, like trying to be their own boss and, like, you know, find an escape path from corporate America, but a lot of people are like, “Hey, I love my job. I just wanna make a couple of extra hundred bucks to, you know, put towards my vacation fund, to help put toward my kids’ college fund, to be able to go out with my friends. Like, whatever it is. To be able to afford a nicer car.” Like, you know, there’s a ton of different motivations in some even outside of kinda the money realm of, you know, building skills and exercising, like, the creative side of your brain, whatever is, like, not getting satisfied at your day job.
But, okay. So going back to the kind of the frameworks of different, you know, side hustle business models. So, kinda like a sharing economy, you know, tier one, you know, the Ubers, the Airbnbs of the world. You know, tier two, kind of like this product-flipping, you know, buy low sell high, and even you could go buy low sell high on steroids, which is really popular in kinda like the Amazon FBA world, which is fulfillment by Amazon. They said, “Hey, we’ve built this world class logistics network and look, we’ll open up our doors to your inventory, you know, for a fee.” And it’s similar. It’s like, hey, the demand is already there and if you can find a product that hits, you probably won’t be able to keep it in stock. So it seems that people build really, you know, generational wealth-changing businesses in a very short period of time on the back of the Amazon platform. So it’s kinda the logical next step for a lot of people. Even if you’re starting in the clearance isle at Walmart, eventually, you tend to go the private label or maybe you use that to kind of build up your seed capital to go the private label round, begin importing stuff.
Haven’t done that yet, maybe I’m not hungry enough for it, but it’s definitely a compelling one. The next two business models, maybe the first tier of that would be just kind of like the freelancing and consulting model, with very low startup costs. I mean, you could start with zero and just basically say, “I’m in business today and, you know, I go out and find a client.” For me, that was a book editing business I ran for a little while. I said, I kinda use what I’ll call like the intersection model of generating business ideas. So you have a piece of paper with three columns. Column one is, you know, kind of your résumé of skills, like what are you good at. And so in that column, I had, you know, a bunch of random stuff, but I said, “Like, hey I was an A student in English. Like, I feel like I can read and write pretty decently.” And that’s probably not even a sentence, so… I really can’t speak but I can do better on paper. I’m better on paper. Column two is kind of like your interests and hobbies like, outside of work, and so, like, I’m kind of a business book nerd, kind of like a long time reader, like, used to work at the library. And so I kind of had that, kind of, in column two. And then column three is your network, your connections. Like, who do you know? And, equally importantly, like, who do they know? Like, who…you know, your network’s network is a way to think about it. And at that time, had written a couple of books myself and so I was kind of, you know, I had a little bit of, not really a reputation, but, you know, I was a member of these different, like, writer communities or self-publishing communities. And so that so that was kind of the intersection model. And then to niche it down and say, “Look, I don’t wanna read your vampire romance, but if you have non-fiction, if you have, you know, a business book, like, I’d love to read that. I could be your editor for that.”
So that was kind of one example in the freelancing front. You see people doing, you know, web development and graphic design, and everything under the sun. So, that’s probably one of the faster ways to get started.
John: Totally, totally, yeah. And I think that’s why I know from in, like, the digital marketing world that I come from, that’s one way that a lot of people start. And I say a lot of people start their agency or something like that because they started freelancing when they were working, you know, for a business and then that work started to take off and then all of a sudden, they’re able to quit their job and, you know, go full-time, or they just have, you know, a couple of clients on the side. And I think one interesting model that I’ve heard of from some friends is that they’ll bring on, like, a client and they’re basically bartering, right? Like, I have a friend that he manages his tattoo artist’s website, so uploading new photos of tattoos and that sort of thing, and in return, he gets tattooed for free because that’s something that matters to him, right?
So, you know, it’s not for everyone, right? But, you know, he also has a good day job and has some other, like, paying, you know, side clients, and, you know, he’s like, “You know what? I wanna get more tattoos and I don’t wanna, you know, pay $5,000 dollars for a full-sleeve tattoo, right? How can I basically work it out with my artist to wear, you know, he’ll tattoo me in order for me, like, you know, managing his website for him and taking care of his hosting and all that stuff.”
Nick: Yeah, that makes sense.
John: Yeah, yeah. So, one thing I find interesting about yours is like, you and a lot of other…you know, some other people talk about this as well. Like, Ramit Sethi talks about it in, you know, his, like, Earn 1k program and that sort of thing where, you know, talking about, like, what are the skills that you have and also what are the areas that you already have credibility in, right? So, like, you already written a couple of books, you kind of understood the different business models so you could say, “Okay, you know, I don’t wanna read vampire fiction, I wanna read business books.” And then you actually had the connections in that world. How long did it take you to get started doing that?
Nick: I mean, from, you know, idea to first customer, it was like probably less than a week.
Nick: And I ended up getting clients for that business on Fiverr where I said, “You know, I’ll proofread your book or I’ll edit your book for five bucks.” And then what that was like, that will get you…
John: That’s a terrible hourly rate.
Nick: That will get you 500 words, so that way it ended up being some pretty high-level or pretty high priced gigs because it was like, well, you just need to be a hundred of these or however long your book is. Ended setting up a relationship with a friend of mine who runs like a self-publishing training program, kind of like, get in his list of preferred vendors, got some clients that way and then through the connection and, you know, the word of mouth that kinda started to spread. Because that’s what everyone says like, “Oh, how do you get clients? Word of mouth.” It’s like, you gotta have somebody first before the word of mouth can start to spread. But I’ve been really…I was really surprised by that because I’ve seen that in my business. I’ve seen that in my wife’s business. She’s a mechanical engineer by day, but her side hustle is as a photographer, a wedding photographer and family photography, and that’s kinda been the cool thing about that business is, you know, they started off on Craigslist, and you know me, marketing major Nick, was like, “Who’s looking for wedding photographers on Craigslist. That’s a horrible idea.” And within like a week, they were like booked out their entire summer, at a really low price to be fair, but like to build that portfolio. It’s like, “Hey, you’re taking a risk. We don’t have any wedding pictures, you know, so you’re taking a risk on us.” And, you know, they’ve probably 20xed their original pricing since then. And that was really cool to see both from that marketing channel like, going where the buyers already are. You know, there’s already a lot of eyeballs on this Craigslist site, and, you know, from the pricing power. And then just form like, the empowerment standpoint of I’m worth more than, you know, what it says on my paycheck, worth more than what it says on my business card. It’s kinda been cool to watch those entrepreneurial gears turning on her side.
John: Totally. So I think that’s interesting in that talking about going where people already are, right? You don’t necessarily have to go and generate your own audience to start off with, right? And show that, like, “I’m a professional and I can do SEO on your website, or I can shoot your wedding, or something like that.” But there are actually these platforms. So if you’re just getting started, you don’t need to go and learn, like, SEO and email marketing and all these different things, you can actually go and, like, pretty cheap, right? Put up an ad on Craigslist or, you know, join Rover for free or something like that, and start kinda building up that business. And along the way, you kinda learn some of these skills around pricing, and managing your time, and getting repeat customers, and that sort of thing.
Nick: Yeah, yeah, for sure.
John: And so how do you take that and take it to the next level, right? I mean, you said that there are a lot of people that just wanna make, you know, an extra $300 dollars a month so they can go out to, you know, a nice dinner with their friends a couple of times a month. But what about the people that do wanna take it further. Like, where do you often see people go next?
Nick: Sure. So the common path, call it the hustler’s path, is like this, you know, part-time freelancing. Eventually that replaces their day-job income, then, “Hey, I’m a full-time freelancer.” And then comes this kinda moment of realization, “Well, I’m still trading hours for dollars. Like, I built myself another job.” Right? And so then the next transition is kind of like the agency mode,l where it’s like if I’ve enough margin built in.
John: Which most of us do that by the way.
Nick: Yeah, I’ve got enough margin built into this thing, like, I can hire other people to do the work. And as long as you’ve kind of positioned it as, like, you’re selling a deliverable, your’e selling a result and not, like, I’m selling, you know, my unique…”Like, it’s gotta be Nick’s expertise.” You know, that’s, I think, really doable. And then, you know, the holy grail of all this is like, once you have kind of like this agency and client experience, it’s like, now you’re building products. And it can go a couple of different ways. You can build the products that your client needs. Like, you kinda go low-tier. Like, Garret Moon from CoSchedule, you know, walked this path. He was, you know, freelance web development, okay, then, you know, was doing that full-time on his own, then started to build the agency and then built out this piece of software because he saw that a lot of clients needed, you know, needed some co-schedules, like an editorial calendar that sits inside a WordPress and does like automated social media and stuff. And so he was, like, kind of walked that path. Russ Perry from Design Pickle is another example. Actually even a better example because he was like, “I sucked at design.” You know, it was never about him doing the work. You know, it was, like, always about, you know, playing connector between clients and contractors to fulfill the design work. And so, you know, crazy growth and a really cool recurring-revenue business where it’s like…you know, the pricing will probably change, but I think it’s like $3.79 a month for unlimited graphic design and, you know, was never in the position of selling his own skill. And nowaday, have kind of started to sell their, you know, custom-coded, not even a CRM, but just kinda like their ticketing system and to say, “Hey, if you have a creative agency, like, you know, we processed 800 design requests today. Like, this thing is built for scale. You might like to use it as well.” So he’s kinda gone from, you know, freelance, to agency, to product.
John: Gotcha. Gotcha. And so, yeah, that’s interesting, because they… I do like that path in, you know, solving your own problem, right? And solving the problems of your customers, and if your customers have it then, you know, other people’s customers will have it. But I’ve also seen where some people will take…you know, they’ve built out a tool internally, you know, to solve their problem and then they basically spin it out as like a completely separate business, right? Like Trello was that for example. They built out…my wife works for Trello, but Trello was built inside Fog Creek software, right? And it was like their own way of managing their projects. Then they gradually opened it up and they were like, “Wow, people are really interested in this.” And, of course, last year, or beginning of 2017, they sold for, you know, on half a billion dollars. So, I mean, that’s obviously like a big example, but, yeah, it’s.. What are the challenges you’ve seen in people moving from, you know, agency-side to products? There’s a very different mindset and a very different way of growing something.
Nick: It is. And I don’t know if I have good examples of that, of people making that leap. I don’t know. It’s similar to kinda like the Amazon model, you know, going back to the FBA thing, where we built out this world-class logistics network because that’s what our customers wanted. They wanted their stuff faster and they said, “Well, we have this excess capacity. What if we crowd sourced our inventory?” Same thing with AWS. Like, you know, we needed this infrastructure ourself and now it’s turned into a crazy… What if we opened the doors to somebody else? I think, you know, those tools that you build, that you develop internally, like, are a good example of that because you kind of have validated the use case for it and, you know, maybe less so you’re kind of worried about market validation. It’s still a tough leap to make to go out and, like, sell something like that.
Another one kind of in the freelancing space was…actually she was at the Boulder meetup, Deanna [SP] McIntyre. She’s got a portfolio of Airbnb properties, and, you know, a lot of people kinda started asking her questions. Well, how do you manage your cleaners. Like, how do you manage the check-in and check-out and stuff like that. And so she built up kinda this side side business as a property manager for other vacation rental owners. And, you know, so it’s not necessarily productized. Well, it is in the sense that she’s kind of delegated most of that work. So it’s, you know, an interesting way to do it even just on the service side.
John: Yeah, interesting. And that’s something I wanted to get into as well because as you mentioned earlier, you know, sometimes you have a full-time job and then you start getting freelance clients and then that income eclipses your day job and so you quit your day job and then your realize you just built yourself another job, right? But you still have a job. So, Deanna’s example is interesting because she, you know, has her full time thing of managing, you know, Airbnb properties and that sort of thing, but then she’s basically built out another side hustle of, you know, managing all those people, right? Do you see a lot of people, like, that, you know, start their own company or start doing a side hustle then go full-time with it and then they basically start other side hustles on the side because they’re bored with it or something like that? I don’t know. I’ve done that. Maybe I just get bored easily, but…
Nick: Yeah, it’s like a serial thing of, you know, constantly moving on to the next project. I mean, that’s how the whole Side Hustle Nation started. Kind of, you know, what else am I gonna do? Like, this is pretty well-systemized at this point. Plus, at the point, I was like, “Oh, I don’t see myself doing this forever, you know, what’s the next thing?”
One example. So I met this guy Jacques Hopkins. He runs a site called Pianoin21days.com where he’ll teach you how to play modern pop songs on the piano in 21 days. Awesome site. When we talked, he’d sold like $20,000 worth of his, like, piano course, you know, last month. I was, like, dude. So quit his engineering job to do that full-time and now on the side from that, I think it was like the onlinecourseguy.com or something like…because other kind of like creative…you know, I have this skill. I’ll teach how to do something entrepreneurial types or like, kept asking him questions. So a lot of it kinda probably stems from audience questions, and he’s like, “Well, there’s clearly a demand for this.” And even like the, you know, super overused example of, like, the only people making money blogging are the people talking about making money blogging. It’s like I talked to Michelle from makingsenseofcents.com, a huge personal finance site, and she was like, a lot of people were, like, legitimately asking, like, “Dude, I wanna start a blog like you. How do I do it?” And she’s like, “Well, I can write up, you know, here’s everything I did to start the blog, right?” Bluehost, ka-ching, you know, is doing crazy with it.
John: Yeah, yeah, interesting. Yeah, and I love how that often works, right? You start one thing and once you start one thing, it kinda gets addictive, and the hardest part is getting started, right? And so, like, once you learn how to start something and get over the fear of, you know, shipping it, putting it out to the world. You probably gonna have some failures as you go, right? But then once you find one that works, then you can, you know, you can make a second one work and a third one work. And as you said, it’s kinda building up that capital.
Nick: Like, the VA site is a good example. So one of the other projects I started on the side from the shoe business, actually before even Side Hustle Nation was this virtual assistant review directory, virtualassistantassistant.com, kinda stemmed out of my own, like, frustration in trying to vet these overseas companies, “Like, are these guys legit? Like, are they gonna steal my idea? Like, I’m giving them access to my AdWords account. Like, is that the dumbest idea ever?” And, you know, just kinda build, you know, built that really slowly over time and collected a ton of different user reviews and write-ups on all these different companies. But it’s actually turned into a pretty cool side project at this point, and just, you know, kinda stemmed from scratching your own itch a little bit and then a lot of other people were like, “What do you…” It turns out a lot of people were like, “Dude, where do you find, you know, remote workers? How does this all work?”
John: Yeah, totally, totally. And then maybe some of that comes from, like, I know I read “The 4-Hour Workweek” probably a decade ago now, almost a decade ago now. It’s like in 2008, and Tim, in that talks about hiring virtual assistants and, you know, mentioned some that he’s kinda had to go back and then they’re, like, inundated and the quality is going down, right? But like, a lot of people kind of have that, you know, I even still have that, you know, what’s the stuff that I’m doing that I can pay someone $5, $7 an hour to do when my hourly is…my time is worth way more than that. But that’s interesting that, like, even though, you know, you run your main hustle as a side hustle, right, Side Hustle Nation, you still have some other side hustles that… Do those actually take time, like, for you to run? Are you actively, like, doing things on them? Or do they just kind of like, you know, tick and make you the passive income that everyone talks about? Right? We dream of passive income, but it sounds like it’s actually a reality for some people.
Nick: Yeah, I still work on the other stuff. I feel like I’ve been slacking on kind of the experiments and, like, doing the freelancing stuff and doing the other, like, affiliate side stuff. But I still, I mean, I have time blocked out on the calendar every week to work on them.
John: Gotcha. Yeah. So let’s maybe end with that. If someone, you know, is wanting to… Like, what are some of your, I mean, tricks, strategies for, you know, if you have a full-time job and you wanna get something else off the ground, like, how do you carve out that time? Like, what are some things that you’ve done or that you’ve seen other people do that has helped them, you know, work on it consistently over time in order to give it a chance to get off the ground and, you know, actually turn in to something more?
Nick: So the first thing, we’ll probably be doing like the time audit exercise, which doesn’t have to be as painful as it sounds. You might actually find… So, at least for me, like, I find I’m more productive, like, while I’m doing one of these, you know, one or two-week, like, time tracking exercises. Like, I just use, usually just Excel, but you can use a tool like Toggl, T-O-G-G-L, a glorified stopwatch, basically. Hey, this is what I’m working on, start, stop. The other one was atimelogger.com. It’s like a little phone app that was recommended to me.
So a couple of things, I think you’ll find you’re more productive, like, in the moment because you’re, like, you’re on the clock and it kinda gamifies it in a way. And the second thing is after that week, after that two weeks is you kind of have this log of, like, legitimately, like, “Where are my 24 hours going?” And you might find, like, “Why am I doing that?” Or, “Is that worth it to me?” Or, “That’s something that could be delegated.” Or, you know, you kinda walk through that elimination, automation, delegation framework with that stuff. And I’m about due to kinda go through another round of that because I feel like kind of at the ceiling and need to do some better systemization and processization for some of the stuff going forward.
John: Gotcha. Gotcha. One thing I hear people talk about, is there are some people talk about, like, Chase Jarvis talks about the, you have your 9:00 to 5:00 and then there’s also the 5:00 to 9:00, right? Like, either in the morning or in the evening. If you have a family, maybe it’s 7:00 to 11:00 or, you know, 9:00 to 1:00. But, you know, if it’s something that you really care about, then actually blocking all that time and saying, like, “This is the time in which I’m gonna work on this, you know, this thing.” Because you actually do have to have, you know, a focus to get it off the ground as opposed to, you know, “I’ll just work on it when I actually have time.”
Nick: This has been kind of a challenge because I was always like, “If I only have 15 minutes, if I only have half an hour, like, what am I really gonna get done?” And then we had a son born. He’s gonna turn two in January. When he was first born, like, all of a sudden, I became like a zombie. For one, not sleeping, but when it was time to work, 15 minutes, you know, half an hour was like, “Holy crap, I can get a ton done during this time.” Because I was like the… What’s the guy’s law? Where it’s like, you know, work expands, the time, you know, allowed. I found that totally to be true. And even if it’s only 15 minutes a day, half hour a day, like, you’d be surprised what that adds up to over the course of a month.
Like, if you can keep that consistent practice. Actually, this was something my brother shared with me. He came to the Side Hustle meetup in Seattle when I was home and, you know, he kinda brought out this whole, like, habit tracker, like, spreadsheet that he printed out. And so every day, he was like, you know, do my pushups, do my meditation, and then work five minutes on my website. Whether that was writing, whether that was, like, optimizing it, whatever it was. And he’s like, he’s working some crazy hours, but he’s like, “Look, all I had to do to be able to mark that box was five minutes. And once I got going, I found, you know, 15, 20 minutes, whatever it is.”
But like five minutes was the minimum to, like, X the box. And, you know, at the end of the month, it’s like, “Well, I actually made some meaningful progress on that.” So, it could be slower when you don’t have as much time to dedicate to it, but I think you’ll find, you know, through the time tracking exercise that you probably have more hours than you think. And then if you consider success as being, you know, in charge of your own calendar, like, carving out just a small piece of that and saying, “Okay, if that’s what I ultimately want, like, I’m gonna, you know, prioritize this during this time.” Like, blocking it off and making it happen.
John: Totally. Totally. The way I’ve done it is take, you know, just like you said, I do it as like, a…in a Google spreadsheet and basically do Monday through Friday and mark off from, like, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. because that’s normally, like, the hours that I work and do 30 minutes increments in there, and put everything that I’ve worked on. And then, you know, at the end of the week, do like a pivot table or whatever and I can see, like, “Okay, I spent, you know, X amount of time doing this and X amount of time doing this and, oh, man, I actually wasted, like, eight hours in there just, like, being unfocused. Right? Like, Why was I unfocused? Right? What could I have actually used that for?”
You know, I needed a break from something else. So, yeah, that’s awesome. Well, Nick, thanks for hanging out. This has been cool. So, can you just tell the listeners where the best place is to find you if they wanna learn more about Side Hustle Nation? What’s the best first step for them to take so they can get started too?
Nick: You bet. sidehustlenation.com/ideas is probably good a place as any to start. It’s a constantly updated laundry list of part-time business ideas, hopefully, get the gears turning. No opt-in required over there. And, of course, we would love to have you tune in to the Side Hustle Show podcast.
John: Awesome. Well, Nick, thanks for your time. I appreciate it. And we’ll be seeing you out on the internet. Maybe I’ll stumble across some of your more side hustles.
Nick: You bet. We’ll catch up soon.
John: All right.