One of the first steps towards true independence is figuring out how you’re going to support habits like drinking coffee, having a safe place to sleep, and binge watching Netflix. The most sustainable way I’ve found to maintain those habits is making money.
(Sure, I could find a Sugar Mamma. That would be fun, but that means I would still have to depend on someone else for stability. It lacks long-term viability.)
With a quick search on Google you can find more articles on making money than you could possibly read in a lifetime, and 99.9% of them are scam bait. That’s why I wanted to share the 3 ways I’ve made money over the years. What’s cool is, no matter what you choose to do to make a living, chances are good it’ll be some variation on one of these things.
Each has its own benefits & drawbacks, so I wanted to share these with you so you can start thinking about how to implement one of these strategies in your own life.
1) Negotiate A Higher Salary
You don’t say!
I know it might sound too obvious , but it’s something not everyone thinks about doing. Most folks think raises are something that are automatically factored into their job (and that might be the case with you), but if you want a substantial bump in pay you’re going to have to ask for it.
Asking for a raise is part art, part science, and all gumption. Here are some things to think about.
- You know what you need to get a raise: demonstrate to the company how you’ve saved them money, and how you’ve made them money. That makes it easy to justify why you’ve earned (not “deserve”) your raise.
- If you don’t know what you need to do to get a raise, you can ask the one person who holds the secret to that: your boss. They’re hoping you’re making their lives easier, so ask them what that would be & how much that would be worth to them.
- Salaries tend to stick with you, and move up from there. If you can negotiate a good situation from the get-go, there’s more time for it to continue growing. The earlier you start, the bigger the payoff will be over time.
- All this sudden skill set development & self improvement might be seen as a red flag by your company that you’re preparing to move somewhere else.
- You’re at the mercy of the profits of the company. If the budget is already tight, then where are they going to find your raise?
- Your industry might suck. There are some jobs that, no matter how good you are at them, they’re never going to pay more. Look into your industry, and you’ll find what the low, median, and high salaries are for your area. Might be that you’ve picked a field that has limited opportunity for massive pay potential. Either move, change fields, or accept your fate.
This is the main way I’ve made money over the years. It’s a fantastic way to pay the bills, and it essentially means you’ve learned how to find people who will pay you for your skills. Don’t have skills someone will pay you for? Get some!
No matter what you wind up doing, there are really only 3 pay structures that freelancers use:
- By the hour
- By the project
Each dynamic has its unique challenges and benefits, and if you’re interested in exploring that in more detail, I might write more about that. But, for now, let’s look at the general points of freelancing.
- Suuuuuuuper easy to get started. In most cases you won’t need to get certified; just start telling people what you do, and they pay you to do it!
- Pricing is pretty easy as each market has found its level. Let’s look at the college entertainer market, for example. Comedians typically get paid $X, magicians get paid $Y, and speakers get paid $Z. There’s variation within each category, but it’s easy to find where you fit.
- Can be something you do on the side in addition to your normal job as a test drive instead of keeping your freelancing idea as only a daydream.
- Finding clients can be challenging. There’s nothing worse than making the leap to start freelancing, and then waiting for orders to come rolling in. The feast or famine dynamic of freelance work can destroy your sanity.
- While your market makes it easy to figure out how much to charge, it also makes it difficult to charge more than that. If you want to make significantly more money, you’re going to have to do something drastically different.
- You’ll find there’s a lot more to freelancing than simply doing the skill you’re getting paid to do. You’re really running a complete business by yourself, and taking on all the responsibilities that that entails. You need to make sure clients pay you, that you pay your own bills on time, schedule client meetings, etc. You might find yourself wishing to go back to your 9-5 job much more quickly than you ever thought possible.
3) Create A Product or Service
The first two ways of making money are what I call “trading time for money.” Due to the laws of physics you’ll never get more time, so there’s an upper limit to how much you can get paid. Not so with selling a product or service.
This is one of the only ways you can uncouple your money making potential from how you spend your time. People who create lasting financial & personal freedom usually do it this way. They create something of value that can be found, bought, and delivered without them having to personally deliver it.
The internet has been around a long time, but its true potential to deliver value in this way is just starting to be understood in a major way. But, as with all things, there are good & bad parts to it.
- You can make money while you sleep. You can make money while you go parasailing. You can make money while you pet sloths in the Amazon rain forest. The internet is always awake & always ready to take customers’ money for your product.
- You can sell 10,000 of whatever in the same time as you can sell 1. That’s what we like to call epic scaleability.
- You can constantly tweak your system to maximize returns with analytics that have virtually no barrier to entry. Capabilities that would have cost corporations millions of dollars 40 years ago can be yours with a couple clicks and pasting a snippet of code into your website.
- A lot of customers have been burned by garbage products. Let’s face it, most stuff online is a get-rich-quick scheme with a new coat of paint. That means you’re going to have to work extra hard to show why you’re one of the good guys.
- There are a lot of moving parts, and it’s easy to get paralyzed with an avalanche of options. Plus, you’re going to need to figure out if this piece fits with that piece, and plays wells with that other piece.
- You could work on a product for 6 months, a year, or more only to launch with zero interest. I’ve done that, and it made me feel like a loser. After doing it the wrong way enough times, I’ve figured out how not to do it. I show my clients how to avoid this trap, but if you don’t know how a successful proces works, you could waste a lot of time, energy, money, & effort.
No Need to Reinvent the Wheel
Sure, you could find the next big thing, and bring something to market that the world has never seen before, but I’m a big believer in getting the most out of the least effort. That means sometimes the tried and true methods can be your best bet when trying to find the easiest way to make extra money.
There are thousands, and thousands, and thousands of examples of businesses that fit one of these models. To me, that says they’re a surefire win. You could sink all your hopes and dreams on a completely original approach (like trying to invent the next Google), but that’s such a rare thing the odds are not in your favor.
For example, that’s why startups that you can describe as “The Uber for X” rarely last long. Better stick to what works, and let someone else take the risk of innovation.
For you, think about what you’ve been wanting to try, and figure out which of the 3 approaches to money making it fits into best. This will dictated by a combination of things like your skills, obligations, goals, current financial situation, etc.
This is a great way to take an infinite number of possibilities and sift them down to workable solutions. Use this framework to filter your schemes, and you’ll find success than forging ahead without thinking!