The Ultimate Guide to Making Money with the Amazon

4 Reasons Why You Should Start a Blog in 2020

At a recent Christmas party, a friend asked me a series of rapid-fire questions about blogging.
“Do you think I should start a blog this year? Or have I missed the boat with blogging? If blogging is still relevant, how could it benefit me? I guess I’m trying to work out… why should I start a blog?”
My friend isn’t the only one asking these kinds of questions.
At the start of every year, a lot of people ponder whether a blog should be a part of their plans for the new year. And every January we see a spike in our Google Analytics where people are arriving from Google to articles such as ‘How to Start a Blog’ and ‘Is a Blog Right for You?
This is why we put together our most comprehensive resource on the topic of starting blogs – our free Ultimate Guide to Starting a Blog Course (which kicks off tomorrow).
Thousands of people have already taken this course and started blogs, both at the start of – and throughout – the previous 2 years we’ve run the course. But I know some people in my friend’s shoes who are still trying to work out if a blog is right for them, and what the benefit would be to start one.
As I consider the question of why someone should start a blog in 2020, I can’t help but return to the beginning of my own blogging journey in 2002.

Why I Started Blogging

My decision to start a blog came very quickly. Within 15 minutes of seeing my first blog, I wanted to have one.
When I talk at conferences about my start, I often talk about two things I found attractive in the first blogs I saw:
  1. They gave normal people a ‘voice’ to share their story, experience and ideas.
  2. They created community and a place for others to come and interact around the ideas, stories and experience of the blogger.
The other thing I loved about the idea of having a blog is it could be a place for me to express myself, think out loud and record different aspects of my life and what I was doing and learning. It also looked like fun.
Ultimately, I had a hunch that blogging could be good for me. I had no real vision of where it may lead. And I suspect that most bloggers back then started in a similar way.
Things have changed since 2002.
I still meet quite a few bloggers who start for similar reasons – wanting to express themselves, make connections and have fun. But many now come to blogging with more formed ideas of the benefits blogging might bring to them.
Blogging has evolved (and was already evolving before I started). The earliest blogs were usually hand-coded, as no ready-made blogging tools existed. Tools such as Blogger, MovableType, TypePad and WordPress followed, and today there’s an entire industry of blogging tools.
Similarly, the ways people use blogs has changed. When I started, many bloggers described their blogs as online diaries where different topics sat side by side quite comfortably in a myriad of different categories.
While this approach still exists today, more and more bloggers have narrowed their focus to ‘niche’ topic blogs, or write for certain demographics of readers.
Finally, we’ve seen an evolution in the benefits and outcomes people hope to achieve with their blogs. While self-expression is still why many people blog, others want to make a profit or use their blog to land other opportunities that will bring them financial rewards.
Which brings me to one of my friend’s main questions.
“Why should I start a blog?”

4 Reasons to Start a Blog in 2020

There’s no single answer to this question, and I don’t believe that every person should have a blog. But there are some really good reasons for starting a blog today, which I’d love to explore for those considering starting one.
Of course, this isn’t a definitive list. And keep in mind that many bloggers start for more than one of these reasons.

1. Self-Improvement and Personal Development

While blogging unexpectedly became the basis for my business and has opened up amazing opportunities for me to earn an income, one of the biggest benefits to getting into this space is the same reason I got into it.
Blogging has given me a place to express myself.
Something very powerful happens when you get into the habit of ordering and writing down your thoughts, ideas, stories and opinions.
People have been doing this for centuries in private diaries and journals. But to put some of these things into a public forum for others to interact with has been a very positive experience for me.
Having a place to express myself has given me many personal benefits. In researching and writing thousands of articles over the years I have:
This list could go on. But the bottom line is I’m much better as a person for having a blog.

2. Profit

It will come as no surprise to regular ProBlogger readers that one of the reasons I’m giving for starting a blog is it can be financially profitable.
I’m not saying every blog will be profitable. But many bloggers have grown income streams from their blogging, both directly and indirectly.
This isn’t the place to go into depth about how to make money blogging. (I’ve written many articles on the topic, and recommend reading my Make Money Blogging article as a starting point.) But I’m amazed at how blogs have provided an income for my little family over the years.
I blogged for 18 months without knowing you could make money from blogs. And then I started experimenting with Google’s AdSense and Amazon’s Associate’s program in 2004.
It started very slowly. Despite having a decent audience, my first month with AdSense brought in around A$60 (around US$45). My first month of Amazon’s Associate's program made even less – around A$7 or US$5.50. My first month of earnings wouldn’t even get me a coffee a day.
Still, it was a start. And as I slowly built my traffic and got better at using these programs, the income grew.
I don’t typically share my income. But to illustrate how it’s grown, here’s a little insight into these two income streams.
I hesitated about sharing these figures, because I don’t want to build false hope that anyone who starts a blog will reach this kind of income level. Not every blogger who sets out to make money blogging reaches a full-time level.
I should also point out this income is from 15+ years of blogging. It’s certainly not an overnight thing.
But it is possible to build significant income from blogging. And these are just two of my income streams (and by no means the biggest).
Since 2009 we’ve sold hundreds of thousands of eBooks, courses and Lightroom Presets on my main blog – Digital Photography School. And just as many sales of other people’s products as an affiliate.
I’m not the most profitable blogger around. But the fact I’ve achieved this level as a result of starting to monetize in the early days is quite amazing to me.
Further Reading: Can You REALLY Make Money Blogging? [7 Things I Know About Making Money from Blogging]
Of course, monetizing blogs through advertising, affiliate marketing and selling virtual products is just one way to make money from blogging. There are many more, such as using the profile a blog can bring to promote your existing business or to sell your own services as a freelancer, coach, speaker, etc.
Blogs allow you to:
And I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen bloggers use their blog’s profile to land more traditional employment. (In these cases, their blog became their resume.)
Note: I explore reasons why businesses should start blogging in this podcast.
The other aspect of growing profit from a blog is it can also become an asset you can potentially sell at some point.

3. Relationships

I mentioned earlier that one reason I wanted to start a blog is those first blogs I came across has a sense of community on them.
While the bloggers were using their blogs to amplify their own voices, those blogs were also a place for other people to find their voices too. A community was forming in the comments. Bloggers were linking to (and building relationships with) each other. And there was a lovely sense of inclusiveness between bloggers.
While blogging can sometimes get a little competitive these days, I still believe it’s a remarkably welcoming and open community in most cases and can open some wonderful opportunities for relationships.
As I look back over the past 18 years I’ve been blogging, many of the highlights have been about the people I’ve had the opportunity to meet and interact with.
Years of creating useful content, growing your brand, building an audience and establishing trust with that audience opens the door for many friendships, collaborations and other opportunities.
You never quite know where these relationships might lead you. Some may lead to financially rewarding opportunities. But more often than not it leads to lasting friendships, and a real sense of belonging in dynamic and supportive communities.

4. Giving Something Back

This is my final reason, but it’s by no means the least important. In fact, for me it’s probably the most meaningful.
One of the big benefits of blogging is the potential to make the world we live in a better place. And while not all blogs do this, many do in their own small way.
My blogs are about photography and blogging. They’re not topics that will make a major difference on a global scale. (I din’t see a Nobel Peace Prize in my future.) But I know that after publishing content every day for 15 years my blogs have made a difference to the lives of many.
A few years ago I shared a post here on ProBlogger about how a person came up to me recently at a conference and credited ProBlogger with saving their marriage. And others shared how they’d build significant businesses through coming across things we’d published.
Blogging can change your life as a blogger in many ways. But the experience is even more meaningful and rewarding when you realise it can be also used to inspire, educate, and give others a sense of belonging.
It also provides lots of opportunities to shine the light and lend your voice to other worthwhile causes. One of my own highlights from blogging came when I had opportunity to travel to Tanzania and see the work of an amazing organisation working with people with disabilities in that country.
Being able to use my blogs to give a voice to this worthy cause was an amazing opportunity.

Should you start a blog in 2020?

Unfortunately, I can’t answer that question for you. But I can say that, on a personal level, starting a blog was one of the most amazing things I’ve even done.
Blogging changed the trajectory of my life in many ways.
I hope this inspires you to join us in starting a blog in 2020. Reserve your spot in our new free Start a Blog course that kicks off tomorrow, Friday 10 January.
Or, if you’re still unsure of blogging, check out these two videos I filmed to answer some of my readers’ common questions:
  1. What is a Blog? And How Have They Changed?
  2. Why Should You Start a Blog?
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6 Home Businesses You Can Start With No Money

Recently, I received an email from an individual who was looking for an online business opportunity. This person had just moved to a rural area and was unable to make the long commute to their prior job. Another obstacle this person faced was the issue of needing money ASAP to pay for bills and daily living expenses. However, they still wanted the flexibility and perks of being their own boss.
While this might sound like a hopeless case, it’s not.
There are actually quite a few options for individuals who want to run their own business with little or no startup fees.

Home Businesses You Can Start With No Money

1. Digital Side Gigs

If the web were around when I was younger, I would have spent so much time trying out digital side gigs. Digital earning revolves around completing short tasks, like testing websites, watching videos, using smartphone apps, completing surveys, and so much more!
While you’re not going to get rich completing micro-tasks, it is an excellent way for you to get some cash flow coming in.
Here are some digital side gigs to check out:

Fancy Hands

Fancy Hands hires freelance virtual assistants to complete mini-tasks like online research, answering emails, booking travel, making appointments, data entry, and lots more. Tasks pay anywhere from $3.00 – $7.00 for newbies and go up from there. Payments are made every other Tuesday via Dwolla, and you can work any time of the day or night.

Fiverr

Fiverr is an online platform where you can sell mini freelance services like designing a logo, writing an advertisement, editing a photo or video, image creation, voice-overs, and so much more. With Fiverr, most gigs are priced at $5.00, which means you'll earn $4.00 after the platform takes their cut. While you may think this is a waste of time, some Fiverr freelancers have been known to rake in six-figures a year! If you're interested in Fiverr, check out the book, The Fiverr Master Class: The Fiverr Secrets Of Six Power Sellers.

InboxDollars

InboxDollars allows you can earn cash for surveys, reading emails, playing games, redeeming coupons, searching the web, and shopping online. Membership is free, and you’ll receive $5.00 for signing up. Payments are made via check. InboxDollars, which is part of CotterWeb Enterprises, Inc. has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Respondent

Respondent is a research institution that conducts focus group studies, surveys, and website testing for major brands and companies. Most studies take between 30 – 90 minutes, and the average payout is $60 – $140 per study. Respondent accepts users from all over the world and pays out via PayPal.

Swagbucks

Swagbucks is an online platform where you can earn points called SB, which can be redeemed for gift cards and coupons. You can easily earn SB points by watching videos, playing games, answering questions, shopping online, and even surfing the web using their toolbar. Refer your friends, and you’ll earn even more SB points. Your SB points can be traded in for gift cards from Amazon, Target, Starbucks, PayPal, and Walmart. Swagbucks also gives you a $5 bonus for signing up! Swagbucks, which is part of Prodege, LLC, has an A rating with the Better Business Bureau.
While digital side gigs may not seem like a lot of money initially, every little bit adds up! One entrepreneur I know, Lori Cheek, has been able to use side gigs to fund her dating app business. You can read about her success with side gigs here.

2. Start a Blog

Obviously, I’m a huge advocate for starting your own monetized blog. However, it does become a bit tricky when you’re trying to do it for free. First, you have two options for getting started – you can either use the free WordPress option or Blogger, which is a commercial-free platform. Both have similar features regarding functionality and design, and both can be monetized, but only through their respective ad networks.
What this means is that you’re able to monetize your blog, but only by using WordAds or Blogger’s Adsense ads. WordPress does allow affiliate marketing on their free platform — as long as you comply with their terms. Using a free platform may limit your earning potential, but it gives you the initial foundation for building an audience. Once you have a little bit of money rolling in, you can easily transfer your blog over to the paid version of WordPress, where you will be able to monetize your blog any way you want.
And when you do, make sure to check out these posts on monetization:

3. Provide Child Care Services

As a teen, babysitting was my bread and butter. I would babysit my father’s co-worker’s children, the neighborhood kids, my siblings, as well as children from the church we attended. It was an easy way to make some money, and obviously, I didn’t spend any money on advertising my services. While most of my clients were from word of mouth referrals, I was also able to offer my childcare services on the local bulletin board at our church, and I told everyone I wanted to work.
You, too, can make good money by offering your services as a nanny, babysitter, or elderly caretaker. Gather up some positive referrals from friends and family members and then spread the word that you’re open for business. Places like Facebook, Craigslist, and local bulletin boards are great places to promote your business (plus, they're free)!
Always remember to personally connect with neighbors, friends, and family and let them know about your services. You can also check out third-party platforms like Care.com, SitterCity, Bambino, and Task Rabbit, where they connect caretakers with caregivers. If you are connected with a job on one of these platforms, they'll take a small percentage of the total transaction fee.

4. Freelance Writing

You don’t need to be an English major to be a freelance writer, in fact, this is an excellent way to make a living if you enjoy writing – and the more you write, the better you get.
While I’m not an advocate of selling yourself short or devaluing your worth, there is a time and a place for freelance job sites. These sites are job boards for freelancers and businesses; it is a place to connect, shop around, and, most importantly, get some money into your pocket. While many of these sites may offer smaller payouts, they are a great place to gain experience and build up your portfolio.
After you’ve been freelancing for a few months, you should have some good samples, testimonials, and experience that will give you the leverage to start going after better-paying clients. Remember to set up your digital footprint from the beginning; the majority of social media sites are free to join, as well as a basic blog from WordPress or Blogger.
For more information on setting up your freelance business, see Gina Horkey's, 30 Days, or Less to Freelance Writing Success.

5. FREE Internet Business Opportunities

While most direct sales and internet business opportunities have a small startup fee, there are a few that do not. Each company allows you to set up shop online for FREE. Then for each item that is sold through your shop, you'll earn a specified commission.
Looking for something different? Many direct sales companies offer a FREE starter kit if you meet certain milestones during your first 30 – 60 days. You can check out this master list for direct sales opportunities.

6. Sell Stuff Online

You can pretty much sell anything online nowadays, from outgrown children’s clothing to old books, CDs, DVDs, games, toys, printables, art, and so much more.
Here are just a few platforms where you can sell stuff for cash!

Gazelle

Gazelle allows you to sell your old electronics and make some easy cash. Simply find your gadget on their website, answer a few questions, and ship it off for free with their pre-paid envelopes. Payments are made via check, Amazon gift card, or PayPal. Gazelle has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Cash 4 Books

Cash 4 Books is an online business where you can sell new and used books. Grab your books and head to the website; here you’ll be able to enter each book’s ISBN, which is a 10 or 13 digit number that can be found on the back cover or inside the front cover of almost all books. Once you have entered each code, you’ll receive a quote for each book. Next, send your books in with a pre-paid shipping label. Once they receive your books, you’ll be paid either via check or PayPal.

thredUP

thredUP is a way you can sell your old clothing, shoes, and handbags online. Simply sign up for or a clean out pack online. Once you receive your clean-up-pack, fill it full of clothing, and send it back to thredUp with the pre-paid label and packing slip. Upon receiving your package, thredUp will appraise your clothing and issue a credit which can be withdrawn via PayPal or store credit. Any unsold clothing will be donated with a donation receipt will be issued.

Decluttr

Decluttr is an online platform where you can sell CDs, DVDs, and video games. Just enter the item's barcode on the site to get a quote. Decide which items you’d like to sell and send them in using a pre-paid shipping label. A few days after your items are received, payment will be made by either PayPal, direct deposit, or check.
There are also online selling platforms like eBay and OfferUp that take a small fee from your final sale.
While selling items might not seem like a business, some individuals turn it into one by buying items cheaply and then turn around and sell it for a higher price.
In fact, Tracy Smith earns $1,200 a month by reselling items on Amazon — you can check out her story here. Melissa Stephenson and her husband earn six figures a year flipping flea market finds on eBay — you can read their story here.

Conclusion

Remember, whatever business you decide to start, you must have a passion for what you are doing. Without enthusiasm and excitement, you’ll become bored and unmotivated, and ultimately it will fail. Don’t just follow the money; remember to follow your heart.
Do you know of a free business opportunity? Drop us a note below; we'd love to know about it!
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$3,500/month with a website about playing bar games.

Hey - Pat from StarterStory.com here with another interview.
Today's interview is with Patrick Hess of Bar Games 101, a brand that makes bar game resources
Some stats:

Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

My name is Patrick Hess and I am the creator of Bar Games 101, a website about a wide variety of games to play with your friends and family.
We feature articles about classic bar games like pool, darts, shuffleboard, and foosball, as well as many other games that are fun to play at home or while traveling, including board games, cards, and dice games, backyard games, and traditional tabletop games.
Our blog posts aim to explain how to play and get better at these games, mostly for beginners, while also helping our audience discover new games to check out and the best gear to use.
As our library of game-focused content expands, traffic is increasing as well, with over 200K monthly unique visitors and revenue over $4,000 for the month of August.
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What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

Back in 2016, I was researching some ideas for a new online side project with low start-up costs. The goal was actually pretty simple: to develop a website about a fun topic that could, eventually, earn some passive income and help pay the bills.
I have a legal background and currently, work as a business development executive within the industrial sector. Needless to say, I was looking for something on the lighter side.
Using one of my favorite SEO tools called Ahrefs as well as the basic Google keyword planner and Google trends, I started brainstorming some topics and doing keyword research. I wanted to find a niche that was broad and interesting (or at least that I had a bonafide interest in), but not overly competitive.
Here’s why:
I had recently played shuffleboard, one of my favorite games, in a bar. As this was already fresh in my mind, I started researching the subject matter and related topics like pool and darts. And I quickly realized there were several ‘long-tail’ keywords in these game categories with decent search volume and relatively low competition.
Based on the number of topics to write about and estimated traffic from solid blog posts that would hopefully rank well, it seemed like an authority website model about the overarching theme of “classic bar games” had strong potential.
Plus, I’ve always loved a good bar game.
I grew up with a pool table in the family room (my Dad was, and still is, an avid player). My brother and I played countless games of pool against each other and with our friends during our childhood. I also enjoyed many darts matches (even played in a few leagues) and games of foosball and shuffleboard in bars over the years.
And, most importantly, it sounded like a fun project to work on in my spare time. So I decided to run with it and build a website.

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

I started by focusing on my favorite classic bar games that I would enjoy writing about. Then I came up with a list of topics that covered different aspects of the pool, darts, shuffleboard, and foosball.
These were basically “how-to” guides that would teach a beginner how to play classic games like 8-ball, 9-ball and cutthroat pool; cricket and 01 darts; other dart games like around the world, killer and shanghai; the rules of knock-off shuffleboard; and a summary of tips on how to play and get better at foosball.
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Although I generally knew how to play these games, I still needed to do a lot of research to get the rules right, and then communicate this information and advice in a useful and digestible format. I also came up with a complete list of all the bar games I could think of, and then drafted an outline for a very long post on the subject.
Next, I found a Wordpress theme and design I liked and set up a self-hosted Wordpress blog with a simple category structure. Then it was just a matter of writing and publishing the first round of articles.
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At this point, I wasn’t even thinking about monetization for the website. I’ve learned from a couple of earlier (failed) projects not to get ahead of myself.
I just wanted to create something that could stand on its own as a useful online resource about classic bar games.
Then, if that resource started to get some traction, I would start thinking about how to monetize it.

Describe the process of launching the business.

The first step for this project was picking a domain name. I liked Bar Games 101 because it conveyed the original purpose of the website: to teach people how to play classic bar games. I already had a hosting account with Siteground, so I simply registered the domain with them and installed Wordpress.
Other than the domain registration and hosting costs, which were minimal, the only other upfront costs to launch this project was to hire a graphic designer for the logo and to find a premium Wordpress theme to build out the site.
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I sort of know my way around Photoshop, but my skills are very limited, so it was a huge help to find a talented graphic designer on Upwork. She created a great set of logos using the color scheme I wanted. For the theme, while I’ve used several premium Wordpress themes and frameworks in the past (including Genesis, Divi, etc.), this time I discovered GeneratePress. It’s lightweight, well-documented and supported, and easy to customize; perfect for my needs with this project.
Total costs to get the website up and running, including the graphic design, were about $200, plus all the time it took me to write the first round of articles and design the website. I quickly set-up a couple of social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest) and then hit publish on all the articles.
Admittedly, I did a very poor job of getting the word out for this site. In fact, I did virtually zero outreach: no link building, no advertising, no networking whatsoever. I just built the site and then hoped that it would start seeing some organic search traffic based on the quality of the articles, search volume, and overall interest in my chosen bar game topics and keywords. After working all day and with family responsibilities, plus some other projects I was working on, I just didn’t have the time or energy to promote the site. So, no big surprise here, it took quite some time to generate traffic to the site.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

Several months after publishing the first set of articles and creating a “resource” about classic bar games, the website eventually started seeing a couple hundred visitors per day. We even earned a little affiliate revenue from a post about finding the best electronic dartboard. But I was running out of topic ideas to write about within the original category structure, and traffic plateaued. Momentum was fading quickly.
Luckily, I revisited my original list of bar games and realized that there are way more games that the site could and should cover than just the standard mix of pool and darts.
The idea to expand the scope of games on the site might seem pretty obvious, but it took me a while to see the potential of appealing to a much broader audience.
From that point on, I started researching tons of new game ideas and outsourcing articles to a handpicked group of writers. Researching new games, assessing potential search volume/competition, and either writing or outsourcing articles on a regular basis have been a very effective strategy for increasing organic search traffic, and earning new and repeat visitors to the site.
For example, a few of the most popular articles on the site include long, in-depth posts about a unique mix of games, including the best 2 player card games, the best single player card games, how to play dominoes, axe throwing 101, the best dice games to play at the bar, how to play horseshoes, and how to find the best cornhole boards.
We also have several posts about new board games, as well as games like air hockey, skeeball, beer pong, flip cup, bar trivia, bocce, polish horseshoes, adult card games, backgammon, ring-toss games, different versions of monopoly, bachelor party games, and many more.
Discovering and learning about these new and traditional games is now a critical part of the job; not a bad gig!

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Currently, the website sees over 200,000 monthly visitors and gets well over 300,000 monthly views. From that traffic, the site now earns an average of $3500 per month based on advertising revenue from Mediavine and affiliate sales (primarily from Amazon Associates).
As you can see from the screenshot below, traffic really picked up in 2019 over the last few months (the spikes represent an uptick in weekend search volume due to the nature of the site) and is growing monthly.
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(Analytics for the last 30 days… July 14 - August 14, 2019)
I believe the increase in traffic is due to the fact that the site has aged a little and has earned more authority in Google, as well as my commitment to researching new games and publishing consistently.
Back in November of 2018, the site exceeded 25,000 monthly sessions. At that point, I applied to Mediavine, an ad management program that works with publishers in several different blog verticals. This brought in a whole new stream of passive revenue for the site. If you have a blog that gets decent traffic (at least 25K monthly sessions) and want to monetize with ads, I highly recommend applying to Mediavine. They are very supportive of their publishers and offer access to a large community of knowledgeable site builders and content creators.
I now reinvest some of the revenue back into the site for content creation and a couple of premium plugins. Currently, my total monthly expenses are around $350.
One of my goals over the next couple of months is to clean up the site and consolidate articles to focus on improving the overall quality and time spent on the site. I have also started to work on my conversion optimization rate (CRO . . . just learned that one) for the top affiliate posts.
In addition to optimizing existing posts, I also look forward to publishing new guides about a bunch of different games, including vintage board games, traditional pub games like “shut-the-box”, and ancient international games like Mancala.
Also, one of the best things about this website is hearing from actual game creators, as they are often looking for a place to write about and promote their ideas. And we have the perfect audience for them! It’s been great to feature some of these new games on the site, such as a new dice throwing game called DAGZ, a Kickstarter project called OTR, a fun cornhole-golf hybrid called Chippo, the creators of an axe-throwing company, and a new board game called Hobbes. I plan to feature more new game creations in the coming months.
Ultimately, I’d like to aggregate all of this content into a comprehensive e-book (i.e. “The Bar Games Bible”) with rules and instructions for modern and traditional bar games. And I think the next phase with this site may include also more video, but I have a lot to figure out before then.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

One thing I picked up in creating this website was that I spent way too much time trying to design and optimize for desktop visitors. The reality is that over 80% of my traffic comes from mobile visitors. This means that all design and formatting decisions should start with mobile as the primary viewport, rather than the other way around. Since I come from a certain B2B background where most content marketing still targets a desktop audience, this was an eye-opener for me.
Second, it’s really hard to find the “right” writers. But once you do, stick with them. Even if they cost a little more. I’ve learned that it’s worth it to pay more up front for a quality work product and have less editorial work on the back-end. There are a lot of talented writers out there, but many do not know how to write for the web, or at least how to write for your specific audience. It’s worth the time to communicate your goals thoroughly and try different writers out before finding the right match(es).
Along these same lines, the decision to start delegating work to others has allowed me to scale the site a little more than expected. I have a tendency to try to do everything myself, but it’s not an efficient or sustainable way to build an actual business. Which brings me to my next point.
It’s important to treat a project like this, however small it is and even if it’s a side project, as an actual business. Once I started tracking expenses, reinvesting towards outsourced content, and taking content strategy seriously, I started to see things improve and it kept me motivated.
As a bonus, this project has also validated my belief that the games we write about are still fun and relevant. Whether it’s the personal interaction, competition, or even mental stimulation, people are still interested in learning how to play ‘analog’ games. Despite all of the digital options, we have today, there’s nothing better than getting away from the phone or computer and playing a game of pool or round of darts with a few friends, or even a few rounds of rummy or Jenga with a family member.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

For website creation and content management, I use Wordpress as CMS and GeneratePress as the theme. I know there are some skeptics out there, but I love Wordpress and use it for several projects at work and in my spare time. And, if you’re looking for a really nice lightweight Wordpress theme for your next project, definitely check out GeneratePress.
I use Siteground for hosting and recently signed up with Cloudflare to boost speed and increase security on the site.
I also use WP Rocket for caching and site optimization, a plugin called AAWP (Amazon Affiliate Wordpress Plugin) to create and manage many of my affiliate links, and Yoast SEO to configure basic SEO settings in the Wordpress backend.
For SEO analytics, keyword research, site auditing, backlink monitoring, and much more, I use a tool called Ahrefs. It’s an amazingly powerful tool that, once harnessed, will give you tons of insights into potential keywords and optimization strategies. I use Ahrefs for several projects.
For finding freelancers and outsourcing content, I’ve used Upwork and Problogger. I’ve also had really good luck finding writers through platforms like WriterAccess and Express Writers.
I use Canva for image editing and Mailchimp for email campaigns (something I would like to focus on in the future, but up until now has not been a major part of my strategy).
One final tool I’ll mention is Wordable. This is a handy tool that allows you to export from Google Docs directly into the Wordpress editor. I’m still testing it out, but it is already proving to be a big time saver.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

Books
For marketing advice, I’ve read enjoyed a few of Seth Godin’s books. Currently, I’m reading “This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You See”.
For an inspirational biography, I would definitely recommend “Benjamin Franklin: An American Life”, by Walter Isaacson.
Other books that I found helpful were “The 7 Day Startup”, by Dan Norris, and “Virtual Freedom”, by Chris Ducker. The latter is a must if you are unsure about why or how to outsource some of your tasks.
Websites
The website that started it all for me was Copyblogger. That’s what got me interested in content marketing several years ago, and I applied those lessons to a number of projects in the B2B space. All still highly relevant today and useful for any type of web project.
Other blogs I read to learn about site building, affiliate marketing, SEO and entrepreneurship are RankXL, Authority Hacker, Niche Pursuits, Backlinko and the Ahrefs blog. I also like the blog at Orbit Media to learn more about website design and content marketing.
Podcasts
I really like the Money Lab podcast. The hosts provide very practical information for anyone trying to build a web based or content business. Plus they’re really funny.
I also enjoy listening to the NPR podcast How I Built This with Guy Raz for inspiration.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Not sure if this is helpful or particularly insightful, but these are some basic things I’ve learned through trying to create an online content-based side business.
The first piece of advice is to be patient. If you’re trying to build a content business like this one (on the side), unless you have some secret formula for instant success (which some claim to have), it will take some time to see results. Just build a solid foundation and plan out your long term strategy.
Then, be persistent. If the initial results are mediocre but you believe in your idea and have strong analytics to support your belief, don’t give up. Trust in your research and try to stay motivated to push through. This is where I failed numerous times. You get sidetracked or jaded, and then move on to something else before the project has had a chance to succeed.
You also need to be flexible. If you’re too rigid with your original plan, you might miss out on opportunities to expand or modify your original idea and move past that initial plateau.
Keep it fun. If you’re working on a side hustle, pick something that’s fun or that you’re truly interested in. This can make all the difference in pushing through the initial phase. If it’s something you enjoy working on, then you simply treat it has a fun hobby. Then, when it has some legs, you can treat it like a business.
My final tip is: do what works for you. What I mean by that is, if you’re as time-crunched as me, don’t try to apply everything you hear or read online to your business. If everyone says do link building and outreach, but you only have time to do some research and write articles, just start with that and get something built. If you try to do it all up front, it can be overwhelming and counterproductive.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

Always looking for writers who are interested in researching and writing about games. This would be a freelance opportunity that pays per article. Contact me if interested. If you have experience in graphic design, or even creating or editing videos, that would be a bonus. I also may need a VA in the near future to handle basic Wordpress updates and other admin tasks.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Liked this text interview? Check out the full interview with photos, tools, books, and other data.
For more interviews, check out starter_story - I post new stories there daily.
Interested in sharing your own story? Send me a PM
submitted by youngrichntasteless to EntrepreneurRideAlong [link] [comments]

$3,500/month with a website about playing bar games.

Hey - Pat from StarterStory.com here with another interview.
Today's interview is with Patrick Hess of Bar Games 101, a brand that makes bar game resources
Some stats:

Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

My name is Patrick Hess and I am the creator of Bar Games 101, a website about a wide variety of games to play with your friends and family.
We feature articles about classic bar games like pool, darts, shuffleboard, and foosball, as well as many other games that are fun to play at home or while traveling, including board games, cards, and dice games, backyard games, and traditional tabletop games.
Our blog posts aim to explain how to play and get better at these games, mostly for beginners, while also helping our audience discover new games to check out and the best gear to use.
As our library of game-focused content expands, traffic is increasing as well, with over 200K monthly unique visitors and revenue over $4,000 for the month of August.
image

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

Back in 2016, I was researching some ideas for a new online side project with low start-up costs. The goal was actually pretty simple: to develop a website about a fun topic that could, eventually, earn some passive income and help pay the bills.
I have a legal background and currently, work as a business development executive within the industrial sector. Needless to say, I was looking for something on the lighter side.
Using one of my favorite SEO tools called Ahrefs as well as the basic Google keyword planner and Google trends, I started brainstorming some topics and doing keyword research. I wanted to find a niche that was broad and interesting (or at least that I had a bonafide interest in), but not overly competitive.
Here’s why:
I had recently played shuffleboard, one of my favorite games, in a bar. As this was already fresh in my mind, I started researching the subject matter and related topics like pool and darts. And I quickly realized there were several ‘long-tail’ keywords in these game categories with decent search volume and relatively low competition.
Based on the number of topics to write about and estimated traffic from solid blog posts that would hopefully rank well, it seemed like an authority website model about the overarching theme of “classic bar games” had strong potential.
Plus, I’ve always loved a good bar game.
I grew up with a pool table in the family room (my Dad was, and still is, an avid player). My brother and I played countless games of pool against each other and with our friends during our childhood. I also enjoyed many darts matches (even played in a few leagues) and games of foosball and shuffleboard in bars over the years.
And, most importantly, it sounded like a fun project to work on in my spare time. So I decided to run with it and build a website.

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

I started by focusing on my favorite classic bar games that I would enjoy writing about. Then I came up with a list of topics that covered different aspects of the pool, darts, shuffleboard, and foosball.
These were basically “how-to” guides that would teach a beginner how to play classic games like 8-ball, 9-ball and cutthroat pool; cricket and 01 darts; other dart games like around the world, killer and shanghai; the rules of knock-off shuffleboard; and a summary of tips on how to play and get better at foosball.
image
image
image
Although I generally knew how to play these games, I still needed to do a lot of research to get the rules right, and then communicate this information and advice in a useful and digestible format. I also came up with a complete list of all the bar games I could think of, and then drafted an outline for a very long post on the subject.
Next, I found a Wordpress theme and design I liked and set up a self-hosted Wordpress blog with a simple category structure. Then it was just a matter of writing and publishing the first round of articles.
image
At this point, I wasn’t even thinking about monetization for the website. I’ve learned from a couple of earlier (failed) projects not to get ahead of myself.
I just wanted to create something that could stand on its own as a useful online resource about classic bar games.
Then, if that resource started to get some traction, I would start thinking about how to monetize it.

Describe the process of launching the business.

The first step for this project was picking a domain name. I liked Bar Games 101 because it conveyed the original purpose of the website: to teach people how to play classic bar games. I already had a hosting account with Siteground, so I simply registered the domain with them and installed Wordpress.
Other than the domain registration and hosting costs, which were minimal, the only other upfront costs to launch this project was to hire a graphic designer for the logo and to find a premium Wordpress theme to build out the site.
image
I sort of know my way around Photoshop, but my skills are very limited, so it was a huge help to find a talented graphic designer on Upwork. She created a great set of logos using the color scheme I wanted. For the theme, while I’ve used several premium Wordpress themes and frameworks in the past (including Genesis, Divi, etc.), this time I discovered GeneratePress. It’s lightweight, well-documented and supported, and easy to customize; perfect for my needs with this project.
Total costs to get the website up and running, including the graphic design, were about $200, plus all the time it took me to write the first round of articles and design the website. I quickly set-up a couple of social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest) and then hit publish on all the articles.
Admittedly, I did a very poor job of getting the word out for this site. In fact, I did virtually zero outreach: no link building, no advertising, no networking whatsoever. I just built the site and then hoped that it would start seeing some organic search traffic based on the quality of the articles, search volume, and overall interest in my chosen bar game topics and keywords. After working all day and with family responsibilities, plus some other projects I was working on, I just didn’t have the time or energy to promote the site. So, no big surprise here, it took quite some time to generate traffic to the site.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

Several months after publishing the first set of articles and creating a “resource” about classic bar games, the website eventually started seeing a couple hundred visitors per day. We even earned a little affiliate revenue from a post about finding the best electronic dartboard. But I was running out of topic ideas to write about within the original category structure, and traffic plateaued. Momentum was fading quickly.
Luckily, I revisited my original list of bar games and realized that there are way more games that the site could and should cover than just the standard mix of pool and darts.
The idea to expand the scope of games on the site might seem pretty obvious, but it took me a while to see the potential of appealing to a much broader audience.
From that point on, I started researching tons of new game ideas and outsourcing articles to a handpicked group of writers. Researching new games, assessing potential search volume/competition, and either writing or outsourcing articles on a regular basis have been a very effective strategy for increasing organic search traffic, and earning new and repeat visitors to the site.
For example, a few of the most popular articles on the site include long, in-depth posts about a unique mix of games, including the best 2 player card games, the best single player card games, how to play dominoes, axe throwing 101, the best dice games to play at the bar, how to play horseshoes, and how to find the best cornhole boards.
We also have several posts about new board games, as well as games like air hockey, skeeball, beer pong, flip cup, bar trivia, bocce, polish horseshoes, adult card games, backgammon, ring-toss games, different versions of monopoly, bachelor party games, and many more.
Discovering and learning about these new and traditional games is now a critical part of the job; not a bad gig!

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Currently, the website sees over 200,000 monthly visitors and gets well over 300,000 monthly views. From that traffic, the site now earns an average of $3500 per month based on advertising revenue from Mediavine and affiliate sales (primarily from Amazon Associates).
As you can see from the screenshot below, traffic really picked up in 2019 over the last few months (the spikes represent an uptick in weekend search volume due to the nature of the site) and is growing monthly.
image
image
(Analytics for the last 30 days… July 14 - August 14, 2019)
I believe the increase in traffic is due to the fact that the site has aged a little and has earned more authority in Google, as well as my commitment to researching new games and publishing consistently.
Back in November of 2018, the site exceeded 25,000 monthly sessions. At that point, I applied to Mediavine, an ad management program that works with publishers in several different blog verticals. This brought in a whole new stream of passive revenue for the site. If you have a blog that gets decent traffic (at least 25K monthly sessions) and want to monetize with ads, I highly recommend applying to Mediavine. They are very supportive of their publishers and offer access to a large community of knowledgeable site builders and content creators.
I now reinvest some of the revenue back into the site for content creation and a couple of premium plugins. Currently, my total monthly expenses are around $350.
One of my goals over the next couple of months is to clean up the site and consolidate articles to focus on improving the overall quality and time spent on the site. I have also started to work on my conversion optimization rate (CRO . . . just learned that one) for the top affiliate posts.
In addition to optimizing existing posts, I also look forward to publishing new guides about a bunch of different games, including vintage board games, traditional pub games like “shut-the-box”, and ancient international games like Mancala.
Also, one of the best things about this website is hearing from actual game creators, as they are often looking for a place to write about and promote their ideas. And we have the perfect audience for them! It’s been great to feature some of these new games on the site, such as a new dice throwing game called DAGZ, a Kickstarter project called OTR, a fun cornhole-golf hybrid called Chippo, the creators of an axe-throwing company, and a new board game called Hobbes. I plan to feature more new game creations in the coming months.
Ultimately, I’d like to aggregate all of this content into a comprehensive e-book (i.e. “The Bar Games Bible”) with rules and instructions for modern and traditional bar games. And I think the next phase with this site may include also more video, but I have a lot to figure out before then.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

One thing I picked up in creating this website was that I spent way too much time trying to design and optimize for desktop visitors. The reality is that over 80% of my traffic comes from mobile visitors. This means that all design and formatting decisions should start with mobile as the primary viewport, rather than the other way around. Since I come from a certain B2B background where most content marketing still targets a desktop audience, this was an eye-opener for me.
Second, it’s really hard to find the “right” writers. But once you do, stick with them. Even if they cost a little more. I’ve learned that it’s worth it to pay more up front for a quality work product and have less editorial work on the back-end. There are a lot of talented writers out there, but many do not know how to write for the web, or at least how to write for your specific audience. It’s worth the time to communicate your goals thoroughly and try different writers out before finding the right match(es).
Along these same lines, the decision to start delegating work to others has allowed me to scale the site a little more than expected. I have a tendency to try to do everything myself, but it’s not an efficient or sustainable way to build an actual business. Which brings me to my next point.
It’s important to treat a project like this, however small it is and even if it’s a side project, as an actual business. Once I started tracking expenses, reinvesting towards outsourced content, and taking content strategy seriously, I started to see things improve and it kept me motivated.
As a bonus, this project has also validated my belief that the games we write about are still fun and relevant. Whether it’s the personal interaction, competition, or even mental stimulation, people are still interested in learning how to play ‘analog’ games. Despite all of the digital options, we have today, there’s nothing better than getting away from the phone or computer and playing a game of pool or round of darts with a few friends, or even a few rounds of rummy or Jenga with a family member.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

For website creation and content management, I use Wordpress as CMS and GeneratePress as the theme. I know there are some skeptics out there, but I love Wordpress and use it for several projects at work and in my spare time. And, if you’re looking for a really nice lightweight Wordpress theme for your next project, definitely check out GeneratePress.
I use Siteground for hosting and recently signed up with Cloudflare to boost speed and increase security on the site.
I also use WP Rocket for caching and site optimization, a plugin called AAWP (Amazon Affiliate Wordpress Plugin) to create and manage many of my affiliate links, and Yoast SEO to configure basic SEO settings in the Wordpress backend.
For SEO analytics, keyword research, site auditing, backlink monitoring, and much more, I use a tool called Ahrefs. It’s an amazingly powerful tool that, once harnessed, will give you tons of insights into potential keywords and optimization strategies. I use Ahrefs for several projects.
For finding freelancers and outsourcing content, I’ve used Upwork and Problogger. I’ve also had really good luck finding writers through platforms like WriterAccess and Express Writers.
I use Canva for image editing and Mailchimp for email campaigns (something I would like to focus on in the future, but up until now has not been a major part of my strategy).
One final tool I’ll mention is Wordable. This is a handy tool that allows you to export from Google Docs directly into the Wordpress editor. I’m still testing it out, but it is already proving to be a big time saver.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

Books
For marketing advice, I’ve read enjoyed a few of Seth Godin’s books. Currently, I’m reading “This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You See”.
For an inspirational biography, I would definitely recommend “Benjamin Franklin: An American Life”, by Walter Isaacson.
Other books that I found helpful were “The 7 Day Startup”, by Dan Norris, and “Virtual Freedom”, by Chris Ducker. The latter is a must if you are unsure about why or how to outsource some of your tasks.
Websites
The website that started it all for me was Copyblogger. That’s what got me interested in content marketing several years ago, and I applied those lessons to a number of projects in the B2B space. All still highly relevant today and useful for any type of web project.
Other blogs I read to learn about site building, affiliate marketing, SEO and entrepreneurship are RankXL, Authority Hacker, Niche Pursuits, Backlinko and the Ahrefs blog. I also like the blog at Orbit Media to learn more about website design and content marketing.
Podcasts
I really like the Money Lab podcast. The hosts provide very practical information for anyone trying to build a web based or content business. Plus they’re really funny.
I also enjoy listening to the NPR podcast How I Built This with Guy Raz for inspiration.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Not sure if this is helpful or particularly insightful, but these are some basic things I’ve learned through trying to create an online content-based side business.
The first piece of advice is to be patient. If you’re trying to build a content business like this one (on the side), unless you have some secret formula for instant success (which some claim to have), it will take some time to see results. Just build a solid foundation and plan out your long term strategy.
Then, be persistent. If the initial results are mediocre but you believe in your idea and have strong analytics to support your belief, don’t give up. Trust in your research and try to stay motivated to push through. This is where I failed numerous times. You get sidetracked or jaded, and then move on to something else before the project has had a chance to succeed.
You also need to be flexible. If you’re too rigid with your original plan, you might miss out on opportunities to expand or modify your original idea and move past that initial plateau.
Keep it fun. If you’re working on a side hustle, pick something that’s fun or that you’re truly interested in. This can make all the difference in pushing through the initial phase. If it’s something you enjoy working on, then you simply treat it has a fun hobby. Then, when it has some legs, you can treat it like a business.
My final tip is: do what works for you. What I mean by that is, if you’re as time-crunched as me, don’t try to apply everything you hear or read online to your business. If everyone says do link building and outreach, but you only have time to do some research and write articles, just start with that and get something built. If you try to do it all up front, it can be overwhelming and counterproductive.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

Always looking for writers who are interested in researching and writing about games. This would be a freelance opportunity that pays per article. Contact me if interested. If you have experience in graphic design, or even creating or editing videos, that would be a bonus. I also may need a VA in the near future to handle basic Wordpress updates and other admin tasks.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Liked this text interview? Check out the full interview with photos, tools, books, and other data.
For more interviews, check out starter_story - I post new stories there daily.
Interested in sharing your own story? Send me a PM
submitted by youngrichntasteless to Business_Ideas [link] [comments]

$3,500/month with a website about playing bar games.

Hey - Pat from StarterStory.com here with another interview.
Today's interview is with Patrick Hess of Bar Games 101, a brand that makes bar game resources
Some stats:

Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

My name is Patrick Hess and I am the creator of Bar Games 101, a website about a wide variety of games to play with your friends and family.
We feature articles about classic bar games like pool, darts, shuffleboard, and foosball, as well as many other games that are fun to play at home or while traveling, including board games, cards, and dice games, backyard games, and traditional tabletop games.
Our blog posts aim to explain how to play and get better at these games, mostly for beginners, while also helping our audience discover new games to check out and the best gear to use.
As our library of game-focused content expands, traffic is increasing as well, with over 200K monthly unique visitors and revenue over $4,000 for the month of August.
image

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

Back in 2016, I was researching some ideas for a new online side project with low start-up costs. The goal was actually pretty simple: to develop a website about a fun topic that could, eventually, earn some passive income and help pay the bills.
I have a legal background and currently, work as a business development executive within the industrial sector. Needless to say, I was looking for something on the lighter side.
Using one of my favorite SEO tools called Ahrefs as well as the basic Google keyword planner and Google trends, I started brainstorming some topics and doing keyword research. I wanted to find a niche that was broad and interesting (or at least that I had a bonafide interest in), but not overly competitive.
Here’s why:
I had recently played shuffleboard, one of my favorite games, in a bar. As this was already fresh in my mind, I started researching the subject matter and related topics like pool and darts. And I quickly realized there were several ‘long-tail’ keywords in these game categories with decent search volume and relatively low competition.
Based on the number of topics to write about and estimated traffic from solid blog posts that would hopefully rank well, it seemed like an authority website model about the overarching theme of “classic bar games” had strong potential.
Plus, I’ve always loved a good bar game.
I grew up with a pool table in the family room (my Dad was, and still is, an avid player). My brother and I played countless games of pool against each other and with our friends during our childhood. I also enjoyed many darts matches (even played in a few leagues) and games of foosball and shuffleboard in bars over the years.
And, most importantly, it sounded like a fun project to work on in my spare time. So I decided to run with it and build a website.

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

I started by focusing on my favorite classic bar games that I would enjoy writing about. Then I came up with a list of topics that covered different aspects of the pool, darts, shuffleboard, and foosball.
These were basically “how-to” guides that would teach a beginner how to play classic games like 8-ball, 9-ball and cutthroat pool; cricket and 01 darts; other dart games like around the world, killer and shanghai; the rules of knock-off shuffleboard; and a summary of tips on how to play and get better at foosball.
image
image
image
Although I generally knew how to play these games, I still needed to do a lot of research to get the rules right, and then communicate this information and advice in a useful and digestible format. I also came up with a complete list of all the bar games I could think of, and then drafted an outline for a very long post on the subject.
Next, I found a Wordpress theme and design I liked and set up a self-hosted Wordpress blog with a simple category structure. Then it was just a matter of writing and publishing the first round of articles.
image
At this point, I wasn’t even thinking about monetization for the website. I’ve learned from a couple of earlier (failed) projects not to get ahead of myself.
I just wanted to create something that could stand on its own as a useful online resource about classic bar games.
Then, if that resource started to get some traction, I would start thinking about how to monetize it.

Describe the process of launching the business.

The first step for this project was picking a domain name. I liked Bar Games 101 because it conveyed the original purpose of the website: to teach people how to play classic bar games. I already had a hosting account with Siteground, so I simply registered the domain with them and installed Wordpress.
Other than the domain registration and hosting costs, which were minimal, the only other upfront costs to launch this project was to hire a graphic designer for the logo and to find a premium Wordpress theme to build out the site.
image
I sort of know my way around Photoshop, but my skills are very limited, so it was a huge help to find a talented graphic designer on Upwork. She created a great set of logos using the color scheme I wanted. For the theme, while I’ve used several premium Wordpress themes and frameworks in the past (including Genesis, Divi, etc.), this time I discovered GeneratePress. It’s lightweight, well-documented and supported, and easy to customize; perfect for my needs with this project.
Total costs to get the website up and running, including the graphic design, were about $200, plus all the time it took me to write the first round of articles and design the website. I quickly set-up a couple of social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest) and then hit publish on all the articles.
Admittedly, I did a very poor job of getting the word out for this site. In fact, I did virtually zero outreach: no link building, no advertising, no networking whatsoever. I just built the site and then hoped that it would start seeing some organic search traffic based on the quality of the articles, search volume, and overall interest in my chosen bar game topics and keywords. After working all day and with family responsibilities, plus some other projects I was working on, I just didn’t have the time or energy to promote the site. So, no big surprise here, it took quite some time to generate traffic to the site.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

Several months after publishing the first set of articles and creating a “resource” about classic bar games, the website eventually started seeing a couple hundred visitors per day. We even earned a little affiliate revenue from a post about finding the best electronic dartboard. But I was running out of topic ideas to write about within the original category structure, and traffic plateaued. Momentum was fading quickly.
Luckily, I revisited my original list of bar games and realized that there are way more games that the site could and should cover than just the standard mix of pool and darts.
The idea to expand the scope of games on the site might seem pretty obvious, but it took me a while to see the potential of appealing to a much broader audience.
From that point on, I started researching tons of new game ideas and outsourcing articles to a handpicked group of writers. Researching new games, assessing potential search volume/competition, and either writing or outsourcing articles on a regular basis have been a very effective strategy for increasing organic search traffic, and earning new and repeat visitors to the site.
For example, a few of the most popular articles on the site include long, in-depth posts about a unique mix of games, including the best 2 player card games, the best single player card games, how to play dominoes, axe throwing 101, the best dice games to play at the bar, how to play horseshoes, and how to find the best cornhole boards.
We also have several posts about new board games, as well as games like air hockey, skeeball, beer pong, flip cup, bar trivia, bocce, polish horseshoes, adult card games, backgammon, ring-toss games, different versions of monopoly, bachelor party games, and many more.
Discovering and learning about these new and traditional games is now a critical part of the job; not a bad gig!

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Currently, the website sees over 200,000 monthly visitors and gets well over 300,000 monthly views. From that traffic, the site now earns an average of $3500 per month based on advertising revenue from Mediavine and affiliate sales (primarily from Amazon Associates).
As you can see from the screenshot below, traffic really picked up in 2019 over the last few months (the spikes represent an uptick in weekend search volume due to the nature of the site) and is growing monthly.
image
image
(Analytics for the last 30 days… July 14 - August 14, 2019)
I believe the increase in traffic is due to the fact that the site has aged a little and has earned more authority in Google, as well as my commitment to researching new games and publishing consistently.
Back in November of 2018, the site exceeded 25,000 monthly sessions. At that point, I applied to Mediavine, an ad management program that works with publishers in several different blog verticals. This brought in a whole new stream of passive revenue for the site. If you have a blog that gets decent traffic (at least 25K monthly sessions) and want to monetize with ads, I highly recommend applying to Mediavine. They are very supportive of their publishers and offer access to a large community of knowledgeable site builders and content creators.
I now reinvest some of the revenue back into the site for content creation and a couple of premium plugins. Currently, my total monthly expenses are around $350.
One of my goals over the next couple of months is to clean up the site and consolidate articles to focus on improving the overall quality and time spent on the site. I have also started to work on my conversion optimization rate (CRO . . . just learned that one) for the top affiliate posts.
In addition to optimizing existing posts, I also look forward to publishing new guides about a bunch of different games, including vintage board games, traditional pub games like “shut-the-box”, and ancient international games like Mancala.
Also, one of the best things about this website is hearing from actual game creators, as they are often looking for a place to write about and promote their ideas. And we have the perfect audience for them! It’s been great to feature some of these new games on the site, such as a new dice throwing game called DAGZ, a Kickstarter project called OTR, a fun cornhole-golf hybrid called Chippo, the creators of an axe-throwing company, and a new board game called Hobbes. I plan to feature more new game creations in the coming months.
Ultimately, I’d like to aggregate all of this content into a comprehensive e-book (i.e. “The Bar Games Bible”) with rules and instructions for modern and traditional bar games. And I think the next phase with this site may include also more video, but I have a lot to figure out before then.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

One thing I picked up in creating this website was that I spent way too much time trying to design and optimize for desktop visitors. The reality is that over 80% of my traffic comes from mobile visitors. This means that all design and formatting decisions should start with mobile as the primary viewport, rather than the other way around. Since I come from a certain B2B background where most content marketing still targets a desktop audience, this was an eye-opener for me.
Second, it’s really hard to find the “right” writers. But once you do, stick with them. Even if they cost a little more. I’ve learned that it’s worth it to pay more up front for a quality work product and have less editorial work on the back-end. There are a lot of talented writers out there, but many do not know how to write for the web, or at least how to write for your specific audience. It’s worth the time to communicate your goals thoroughly and try different writers out before finding the right match(es).
Along these same lines, the decision to start delegating work to others has allowed me to scale the site a little more than expected. I have a tendency to try to do everything myself, but it’s not an efficient or sustainable way to build an actual business. Which brings me to my next point.
It’s important to treat a project like this, however small it is and even if it’s a side project, as an actual business. Once I started tracking expenses, reinvesting towards outsourced content, and taking content strategy seriously, I started to see things improve and it kept me motivated.
As a bonus, this project has also validated my belief that the games we write about are still fun and relevant. Whether it’s the personal interaction, competition, or even mental stimulation, people are still interested in learning how to play ‘analog’ games. Despite all of the digital options, we have today, there’s nothing better than getting away from the phone or computer and playing a game of pool or round of darts with a few friends, or even a few rounds of rummy or Jenga with a family member.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

For website creation and content management, I use Wordpress as CMS and GeneratePress as the theme. I know there are some skeptics out there, but I love Wordpress and use it for several projects at work and in my spare time. And, if you’re looking for a really nice lightweight Wordpress theme for your next project, definitely check out GeneratePress.
I use Siteground for hosting and recently signed up with Cloudflare to boost speed and increase security on the site.
I also use WP Rocket for caching and site optimization, a plugin called AAWP (Amazon Affiliate Wordpress Plugin) to create and manage many of my affiliate links, and Yoast SEO to configure basic SEO settings in the Wordpress backend.
For SEO analytics, keyword research, site auditing, backlink monitoring, and much more, I use a tool called Ahrefs. It’s an amazingly powerful tool that, once harnessed, will give you tons of insights into potential keywords and optimization strategies. I use Ahrefs for several projects.
For finding freelancers and outsourcing content, I’ve used Upwork and Problogger. I’ve also had really good luck finding writers through platforms like WriterAccess and Express Writers.
I use Canva for image editing and Mailchimp for email campaigns (something I would like to focus on in the future, but up until now has not been a major part of my strategy).
One final tool I’ll mention is Wordable. This is a handy tool that allows you to export from Google Docs directly into the Wordpress editor. I’m still testing it out, but it is already proving to be a big time saver.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

Books
For marketing advice, I’ve read enjoyed a few of Seth Godin’s books. Currently, I’m reading “This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You See”.
For an inspirational biography, I would definitely recommend “Benjamin Franklin: An American Life”, by Walter Isaacson.
Other books that I found helpful were “The 7 Day Startup”, by Dan Norris, and “Virtual Freedom”, by Chris Ducker. The latter is a must if you are unsure about why or how to outsource some of your tasks.
Websites
The website that started it all for me was Copyblogger. That’s what got me interested in content marketing several years ago, and I applied those lessons to a number of projects in the B2B space. All still highly relevant today and useful for any type of web project.
Other blogs I read to learn about site building, affiliate marketing, SEO and entrepreneurship are RankXL, Authority Hacker, Niche Pursuits, Backlinko and the Ahrefs blog. I also like the blog at Orbit Media to learn more about website design and content marketing.
Podcasts
I really like the Money Lab podcast. The hosts provide very practical information for anyone trying to build a web based or content business. Plus they’re really funny.
I also enjoy listening to the NPR podcast How I Built This with Guy Raz for inspiration.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Not sure if this is helpful or particularly insightful, but these are some basic things I’ve learned through trying to create an online content-based side business.
The first piece of advice is to be patient. If you’re trying to build a content business like this one (on the side), unless you have some secret formula for instant success (which some claim to have), it will take some time to see results. Just build a solid foundation and plan out your long term strategy.
Then, be persistent. If the initial results are mediocre but you believe in your idea and have strong analytics to support your belief, don’t give up. Trust in your research and try to stay motivated to push through. This is where I failed numerous times. You get sidetracked or jaded, and then move on to something else before the project has had a chance to succeed.
You also need to be flexible. If you’re too rigid with your original plan, you might miss out on opportunities to expand or modify your original idea and move past that initial plateau.
Keep it fun. If you’re working on a side hustle, pick something that’s fun or that you’re truly interested in. This can make all the difference in pushing through the initial phase. If it’s something you enjoy working on, then you simply treat it has a fun hobby. Then, when it has some legs, you can treat it like a business.
My final tip is: do what works for you. What I mean by that is, if you’re as time-crunched as me, don’t try to apply everything you hear or read online to your business. If everyone says do link building and outreach, but you only have time to do some research and write articles, just start with that and get something built. If you try to do it all up front, it can be overwhelming and counterproductive.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

Always looking for writers who are interested in researching and writing about games. This would be a freelance opportunity that pays per article. Contact me if interested. If you have experience in graphic design, or even creating or editing videos, that would be a bonus. I also may need a VA in the near future to handle basic Wordpress updates and other admin tasks.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Liked this text interview? Check out the full interview with photos, tools, books, and other data.
For more interviews, check out starter_story - I post new stories there daily.
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50 Ways to Make Extra Money

This is a long one but I think it's a great resource I wanted to share. I realize it's slightly different from the posts on this thread as all of those seem to focus on one specifically per post. But there's just a wealth of info here. I didn't take the time to add all the links from the original post but you can find the Original post with links here
  1. Sell Custom Goods on Etsy
Nowadays, you can sell just about anything on Etsy, a website designed to allow creators and designers to share their artwork with the world. If you have a talent, it can probably be showcased here. One great example involves etching , but you can also sell woodwork, clothing, graphics, books, and games.
What materials you’ll need:
Anything that can help you create your masterpiece. If you etch, you should find an affordable Cricut, as well as Glass Etching Adhesive. If you design clothing, you’ll need to look for fabric and sewing materials. When in doubt, you can usually find everything you need at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores or Michaels Craft Stores.

  1. Create Custom Book Bags
Let’s zero-in on a specific creation, for just a moment. You’re in college, right? You need to make money, but you don’t know where to start. Why not utilize the people around you? Designing custom book bags is a fantastic (and cheap) way to earn cash. All you need is a creative eye, and enough time to bring your ideas to life.
What materials you’ll need:
If you want to make quality book bags, you’ll need a sewing machine (which can be found on Amazon in the Arts, Crafts & Sewing section), as well as some canvas fabric and thread. Again, you’ll find many of your necessities at local craft stores.
  1. Fix Broken Phones
You know how heartbreaking a broken phone can be. Why not get into the business of fixing them yourself? You’ll be hailed as a hero on campus, and you’ll make plenty of extra cash from the ongoing stream of business.
What materials you’ll need:
First of all, you’ll need to read this article about fixing iPhones. There’s more than enough information there to get you started. Secondly, you’ll need to buy a Pro Tech Toolkit, a 54 Bit Driver Kit, and a Magnifier Table Lamp. And, finally, you’ll want to invest some time into learning the craft by practicing with friends and family.
  1. Design T-Shirts
This idea involves entrepreneurial talent and a decent level of design skill. You can help promote causes, design t-shirts for local bands and student groups, and showcase your favorite memes. College students are always looking for ways to express themselves. Why not help them along?
What materials you’ll need:
Obviously, you won’t be able to make these t-shirts in your dorm room. You’ll need to outsource that work to another company, like Teespring or Zazzle. It’s up to you to design the shirt, place the order, and make the delivery. You can also develop stickers for student groups by utilizing Sticker Mule. Market yourself with business cards from websites like Vistaprint.
  1. Become a Content Writer
Hundreds of websites need content for their pages, and you can be the one to supply it. With a little bit of research and a working computer, you can write thousands of words a week and get paid handsomely for it (depending on your client).
What materials you’ll need:
To get started, you’ll need an account on a freelance website like Upwork. Then, you should take a Udemy course on generating website content, just to get familiar with the tone and quality that’s going to be expected of you. Other than that, starting a career in professional writing is fairly inexpensive and material-free.
  1. Refurbish Furniture
Have you ever seen an old piece of furniture that you thought you could improve? With a little bit of elbow grease, you can turn someone else’s trash into your treasure. And you don’t necessarily need to dig through garage sales to find a subject. Using websites like Craigslist, you can easily locate unused items and refurbish them. It’s almost like flipping a house.
What materials you’ll need:
It’s impossible to tell exactly what you’ll need, since there are so many different styles of furniture, and even more ways in which they can be altered. But it’s a pretty safe bet that you’ll need basic tools (a hammer, nails, a screwdriver, etc.), paint or varnish, and an electric sander. You can find most of these things at The Home Depot or Lowe’s. You’ll also need a large workspace, such as a garage or a backyard.
  1. Walk Dogs
You probably thought about walking dogs as a teenager but, now, you have the ability to take it to the next level. Pet owners are far more likely to trust their dogs with an adult than a preteen, and that gives you an edge. If you market yourself correctly, you can turn dog walking into a full-time, under-the-table job.
What materials you’ll need:
Marketing is the most important part of this equation. You’ll need a website, which you can create through WordPress or Weebly. You’ll also need business cards and flyers (again, Vistaprint is a great resource), as well as a travel water dish and a few toys.
  1. Start a Babysitting Service
Again, parents are far more likely to trust their children with an adult. Not only
that, but an adult with a certification in CPR. You can start a babysitting service for next to nothing and, if you enjoy spending time with kids, you won’t be anywhere near as miserable as you would be working in an office. Also, tax-free work. Can we even argue with that?
What materials you’ll need:
Start out by making a profile on popular babysitting websites, such as Care or Sitter City. You’ll also want to create a professional website, business cards, and flyers. Finally, you can choose to bring toys or entertainment supplies for the kids, but many parents supply those for you.
  1. Become an Airbnb Host
Did you know that you can rent out your home, or a portion of your home, through Airbnb? That’s right – you can make money on empty space alone. You don’t even need an entire house or a room to rent. Believe it or not, there are plenty of couchsurfers that take advantage of Airbnb on a regular basis.
What materials you’ll need:
First, you need to make a profile. Take tasteful pictures of the space you’re going to offer and come up with a colorful description. The area should be well-decorated and cleared of any personal items. When the guest arrives, you’ll need to provide basic amenities (toilet paper, towels, blankets, lighting, etc.) and enough food for breakfast.
  1. Review and Test Games
It might sound too good to be true – but you can actually get paid to test video games. Check out an awesome tutorial here for more information. You should keep in mind that this method of making money will feel more like an official job, with a regular paycheck coming from a specific company. You can find positions on websites like Indeed, and there’s a ton of information online. Time has a useful article on the subject, as does Business Insider and Game Testers.
What materials you’ll need:
Becoming a game tester and reviewer doesn’t involve a lot of monetary investment. But you’ll need a decent resume, a list of experience, and a website (if you really want to make an impression).
  1. Tutor Students
If there’s a subject that you know quite well, but notice other students struggle with, consider becoming a tutor. You can do this at the college level, as well as the high school and grade school levels. If you plan on becoming an educator, this is an especially rewarding experience.
What materials you’ll need:
Other than the usual marketing tools (resume, flyers, business cards, etc.), you’ll need to take advantage of flashcard applications such as Quizlet. You’ll also need basic school supplies, such as a calculator, a notebook, pencils, graphing paper, and a computer.
  1. Manage Social Media Accounts
Far too many businesses want a strong social media presence, but don’t have the knowledge or the drive to make it happen. In order to satisfy their needs, many companies turn to college students to handle their social media accounts. Don’t believe us? It’s actually more common than you think.
What materials you’ll need:
Statistics are the name of the game, in this business. You’ll need an account on Buffer to help analyze the amount of traffic your social media pages receive. You should also invest your time in an Upwork account, as many businesses hire through that platform. Other monetary investments could include business cards and a professional website.
  1. Make and Sell Custom Jewelry
If you’ve got a knack for creating your own jewelry, turn it into something more than a hobby. College students love unique, thoughtful pieces that aren’t generic or common. Take advantage of the environment surrounding you. Or, you could sell your work at flea markets and local events.
What materials you’ll need:
Other than renting out space for a booth at festivals or events, you’ll need to invest in basic materials. You can use a range of different items to make jewelry, so it all depends on your preferences. As we said earlier, Michaels and JoAnn Fabrics are fantastic for affordable, in-style craft supplies. If you plan on shipping your work to customers, you’ll also need boxes and labels for shipping purposes.
  1. Clean Houses
Another one of those preteen
jobs, turned professional. Make flyers and offer to clean houses for a fair price. The bigger the house, the more you make. You can also offer to clean dorm rooms for your friends and classmates. Imagine what college students would pay to have someone else take care of their dishes or dirty laundry!
What materials you’ll need:
You’ll need cleaning supplies, such as all-purpose cleaner, window cleaner, dish soap, rags, wood cleaner, and air fresheners. You don’t necessarily need to bring your own vacuum, mop, or broom. Most households will provide those things for you. You might also find that making an account on Angie’s List is a useful way to generate clients.
  1. Become an Uber or Lyft Driver
If you feel comfortable driving strangers in your car, this might be a viable option for you. Not only do you get to meet interesting people, but you get to make money in the process. Both Uber and Lyft pay their part-time drivers up to $35/hour, and you don’t have to worry about awkwardly asking for tips.
What materials you’ll need:
First of all, you’ll need to be twenty-one. That’s the biggest requirement. After that, you’ll need to obtain a four-door car with at least five seatbelts
that’s less than twelve-years-old. You can check out more information on that here. When it comes to upfront costs, you’ll need pack plenty of water bottles for your guests. You’ll also need a decent navigation application (we highly recommend Waze, which is free). Want to learn more? Uber has an awesome and complete guide here.
  1. Knit or Crochet Beanies and Hats
College students love homemade clothing. You can develop a total monopoly in this niche by knitting or crocheting stylish beanies and hats. And, when you’re starting out, you can even have your friends wear your creations as free marketing sources.
What materials you’ll need:
Luckily, knitting and crocheting doesn’t involve expensive sewing machines and equipment. You’ll need a set of patterns, a box of yarn, a basic set of supplies, and a decent needle set. After that, your business should fund itself. As usual, we recommend Michael’s and JoAnn Fabrics for your crafting needs. But you can probably find a few local shops, as well.
  1. Sell Custom Cutting Boards
If you’ve ever been interested in woodwork, this might be the perfect job for you. Cutting boards are unique and fun to make, and college students never think to buy them until they see them. They’re also fairly affordable to build, in comparison to other wood-related crafts. You’ll need your own space for this job, though, so this particular moneymaker might be best for a commuter student. A dorm room just isn’t going to cut it.
What materials you’ll need:
Aside from a workshop area, you’ll need an electric sander, stencils, and a wood burning tool. Michaels has a fair inventory when it comes to woodwork, but you’ll also want to check out The Home Depot and Lowe’s for heavier equipment.
Cutting boards aren’t your thing? Sell coasters to the sororities. I heard house moms hate water stains…
  1. Make Leather Cuffs
Leather cuffs offer a unique style that only college students seem to understand. If you love crafting but also live on-campus, this low-stress method of earning some extra cash could work for you. Rather than making a series of jewelry options, you’ll be able to focus on one, specific item. If you’re not sure where to start, you can check out an interesting tutorial video here.
What materials you’ll need:
You’ll need, of course, leather. You’ll also need a leather burning tool, adhesive snaps, and a leather cutter. If you need start-up materials, Artbeads is an online platform that has an entire section set aside just for leather jewelry supplies.
If cuffs are too big for you, trendy wrap bracelets never go out of style.
  1. Create Surprise Balls
If you’ve never heard of surprise balls before, you’re probably going to fall in love with this money making venture. Made of brightly colored paper, surprise balls are full of streamers and prizes such as puzzles, rings, jokes, whistles, and stickers. These unique gifts are perfect for birthday parties and large events. If you have the right connections, this fun business can take off pretty quickly.
What materials you’ll need:
First, you’ll need to read a few tutorials on how to make surprise balls. We’ve found that Not Martha and Honestly WTF are quality resources. Most websites agree that you’ll need multiple colors of fine crepe paper, confetti, ribbon, glitter, glue, and an assortment of candy or toys. If you’re located near a party store, this is going to become your hotspot for supplies.
  1. Develop a Digital eCourse
Far more complicated than crafting surprise balls, making a digital eCourse involves patience, dedication, recording, scriptwriting, and research. While you don’t necessarily need to purchase supplies right away, you might spend two or three months crafting a quality product. If you’re not sure how to get started, Teach Good Stuff, Freelance to Freedom, and Problogger offer instructions on eCourse creation.
What materials you’ll need:
Once you’ve written and established what you want to teach in your eCourse, you’re going to need to record your content. That’s going to involve a high-quality webcam (we suggest Logitech) and a microphone (we suggest the Snowball). Once you’ve finished, you’ll need to publish your work. Learning Revolution has some great information about that portion of production.
  1. Work for Fancy Hands
Fancy Hands provides US-based assistants for the self-employed, large company executives, and other business owners who need help managing their time and responsibilities efficiently. If you work well with organization, phone calls, appointment-setting, and other secretarial duties, this is a straightforward telecommunication position that can work for you. You can find more information here.
What materials you’ll need:
The materials you’ll need will depend entirely on the client you’re working with. You’ll need a smartphone, for sure, to help with prompt communication (we suggest an iPhone, but you can also use an Android). You’ll also need a laptop or desktop computer that can easily connect to a WiFi hotspot. Employers may have you download different applications or purchase additional materials, depending on the work they have you doing.
  1. Use TaskRabbit
Do you enjoy running errands? TaskRabbit will connect you to households in your local area that need assistance with grocery shopping, medication pickup, cooking, cleaning, and more. The only downside? TaskRabbit is currently available in nineteen cities, including New York, Portland, London, LA, Houston, and Phoenix. If you aren’t located in any of these cities or suburbs, you’ll be limited to virtual tasks (which are typically very similar to Fancy Hands jobs).
What materials you’ll need:
You won’t need much to get started with TaskRabbit, other than a full tank of gas and a professional outfit. Any costs you incur for shopping will be reimbursed by the household, and you’ll be paid an hourly wage that you set when you create a profile. Check out more here.
  1. Help Other People Move
If you have a large car or a truck, this is an easy way to make money. You can also offer labor, rather than transportation, if you don’t own a moving-friendly vehicle. Moving companies are, generally speaking, overpriced. If a household can hire an outside company or individual to help them move without paying an arm and a leg, they will. You can be that person.
What materials you’ll need:
Obviously, you’ll need to market yourself with business cards, flyers, and a website. You’ll also need heavy-duty gloves and moving blankets (if you own the vehicle being used). You should also plan on using a fair amount of gas between trips.
  1. Try Fiverr Jobs
Similar to Upwork (which we introduced earlier), Fiverr connects freelancers in various categories (such as Graphics & Design, Digital Marketing, Writing & Translation, Video & Animation, and Music & Audio) to employers who need work completed. If you’re successful in any of these niches, you should consider making an account and getting started immediately.
What materials you’ll need:
Fortunately, you won’t need anything but a service to offer and an idea. Fiverr has no basis of commitment, no memberships, and no hidden fees. You’re able to keep 80% of each transaction you complete. However, you should keep in mind that Fiverr sets base fees for their workers. For example, if you market yourself in the Writing & Translation niche, you won’t be able to charge more than $5 per job, unless you add extra services for the client to purchase (which can add up to $25 per job).
  1. Sell Used Items Online
This can go above and beyond selling old items that once belonged to you. You can also collect items from your friends and family members, recycling centers, or classmates who might consider trashing them instead of reselling them. Read a great success story here.
What materials you’ll need:
Other than shipping supplies, you’ll need a first “wave” of items to sell. From there, you can grow your collection through marketing and communication. Amazon and eBay are both online platforms specifically utilized for the sale of new or used items. It would be in your best interest to sell through one of them, since they’re both wildly popular with consumers.
  1. Become a Personal Shopper
If you love to shop, this job is perfect for you. Despite the stereotypical personal shopper positions, you won’t necessarily be shopping for the clothes of rich, old ladies. Personal shopping has really taken a turn in the past decade. Read more about it here and here.
Entrepreneur also has a wonderful article about starting a personal shopping business.
What materials you’ll need:
Other than a full tank of gas and a measuring tape, you won’t really incur any costs when you start this business. You may choose to spend money on a professional website, business cards, or flyers. But you can also place an advertisement on Craigslist for free. Since personal shoppers can only handle a limited number of clients, it won’t take long for you to get comfortable in your work.
  1. Be a YouTube Video Blogger
If you have something to say the world, start saying it. Because, eventually, you can be handsomely paid for it. While you won’t start out making money, you’ll be able to reap the benefits of advertising once your channel reaches a certain number of subscribers. Google will directly pay you a portion of their income from ads placed on your videos. How do you think YouTube stars survive without day jobs?
What materials you’ll need:
Like eCourse production, you’ll need a webcam (again, we suggest Logitech) and a microphone (another quality option is the Yeti). The rest of your starting materials depend on what you want to do in your videos, and how you want to market yourself. This is a far less professional platform than, say, Facebook. The most important thing is that your video is interesting and creative, not expensive.
  1. Try Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is a performance-based form of marketing, in which a business will reward you for each visitor or customer brought to their website because of your personal marketing efforts. For example, YouTube stars that receive money from advertisements placed on their videos are actually taking part in an affiliate marketing program.
What materials you’ll need:
Once employed by a business, you can start marketing to your followers through a social media scheduler and advertisements. You should be smart and creative about your efforts, because affiliate marketing is hard work. While there aren’t any upfront costs to get started, you’ll need to spend quite a bit of time pushing the product before you see any payoff.
  1. Blog!
In the same way that you can get paid for advertisements on YouTube, you can get paid for placing advertisements on your personal blog (assuming your traffic statistics meet Google requirements). This isn’t going to happen overnight, so you’ll need to spend several months (or even years) building your brand, story, and website. The more you post, the faster your blog will grow in followers.
What materials you’ll need:
First of all, you’ll need a website. This can be created through WordPress or Weebly (which we discussed earlier), or you can utilize Squarespace. The most important part of the process will be purchasing your own URL, which is vital to making a quality blog or website. The more popular your blog, the more return you’ll get for your investment.
  1. Create a Niche Marketing Website
So, how do you make money from a website without waiting months or years for your traffic to be high enough? You create a niche marketing website. This is basically a website that utilizes SEO keywords to place your link at the top of the Google search page. Even though your website won’t actually offer or sell any products, it’ll be visited so often that Google will pay you hundreds of dollars each month to place advertisements on your page.
What materials you’ll need:
Other than starting your website, which can be done through a horde of different resources, you’ll need to spend hours each week creating useful content for your page. Choose a smart and thoughtful set of keywords that have proven popular through Google and incorporate them six or seven times in each article you produce. Within five or six months, your website will earn you a decent amount of traffic and income.
  1. Flip Websites
Before we talk about flipping websites, you need to check out Flippa, the most popular place on the internet for doing so. You’ll learn quite a bit just by checking out their page. Flipping websites
involves buying and selling domains for a profit. Basically, your job is to purchase the website of a company that wasn’t so great to begin with. Start an AdWords or AdSense campaign, upping the value of the site, and then sell it for far more than you bought it.
What materials you’ll need:
First, we suggest reading this tutorial on how to flip websites. Then, you’ll need to pool together enough money to make your initial purchases. Similar to flipping houses, you need to be smart about your decisions. Some websites are beyond help. Others have potential. It’s up to you to pinpoint the difference between the two.
  1. Become a Window Cleaner
If you like cleaning, but aren’t prepared to take on an entire house, consider cleaning windows. Most homeowners hate cleaning windows because it involves going outside and thoroughly washing each pane. On homes with many different windows, this can be a challenge. You can really make a market for yourself in this business, with recurring customers and references.
What materials you’ll need:
According to Great Day Improvements, the best window cleaning solution involves a spray bottle filled with fifty-percent distilled vinegar (white) and fifty-percent tap water. In addition to your spray, you’ll need a backpack, a ladder, a series of rags or squeegees, and other necessary cleaning supplies. To market yourself, make flyers and business cards to pass out throughout your neighborhood.
  1. Be an Independent Make-Up Artist
Have you been doing your own make-up since you were thirteen? Do your friends struggle to get the same professional results? Do you know the best products to purchase for a reasonable price? This is probably the job for you. You can make money by doing make-up for classmates, friends, and family. References come quickly when you do a quality job, and you’ll make a name for yourself right away.
What materials you’ll need:
This is going to be a bit more expensive to start up than several of the other business ideas presented in this article. Why? Because quality make-up isn’t cheap. For many individuals, that’s why hiring an independent make-up artist for special occasions is more affordable than purchasing their own supplies. And, for independent make-up artists, that’s why it makes sense to purchase supplies for many different individuals. Read a great article about how to get started here.
  1. Style Hair
Do you have a knack for hair styling? Trusting someone else with their hair, especially for special occasions, is a hard thing for most people to do. You’ll need to be patient, understanding, and smart about how you decide to work. You also need to be willing to work with the design ideas that your clients have. If you can manage all of that, this is a great start-up business that could, potentially, pay the bills.
What materials you’ll need:
Hair styling is, typically, a very expensive business to start. You’ll need a set of curling irons, flat irons, styling products (hairspray, conditioner, shampoo, etc.), scissors, and an area where you can work. The amount of money you need to invest depends entirely upon where you want to style hair (at the homes of your clients or in your own space) and whether you want to offer haircuts or simply styles for special occasions. Read more here and here.
  1. Write YouTube Product Reviews
Yes, you can get paid to write YouTube product reviews. But, how? First, you need to make a Fiverr account and offer reviews for $5 each. Then, you’ll create a video of your honest review and post it to your channel. The more of a following you create, the more businesses will pay for your reviews.
What materials you’ll need:
You’ll need a webcam and microphone (we’ve already suggested Logitech and the Snowball), and a place to record. A huge bonus of this job? Free products. However, you need to make sure that businesses are aware of your intention to create an honest review. Your channel won’t be credible if you only offer positive reviews.
  1. Start Your Own Delivery Service
Have you ever wondered why fast food chains don’t offer delivery for their products? Most people assume that, since orders are so cheap, it wouldn’t be worthwhile. But, imagine making an independent service that delivers any fast food orders (Wendy’s, Arby’s, McDonalds, Taco Bell, etc.) for $5 each. Customers will reimburse you for their food, plus $5 for your time and gas. In fact, here’s the story of a millionaire CEO who did this same this in college.
What materials you’ll need:
You’ll need a car and a full tank of gas. You’ll also need Venmo, so you can accept payment from your customers. We also suggest a website, business cards, and flyers.
  1. Create a Bootcamp at a Nearby Park
If you love to run, jump, climb, and jog, you can actually make money by forming an outdoor bootcamp in a local park. By running your own workouts, you can help adults and teenagers get in shape. You’ll also feel better about yourself, in the process!
What materials you’ll need:
You’ll need basic workout equipment, such as cones, weights, tires, jump ropes, hula-hoops, or anything else you might use to create an obstacle course. Read more information on how to get started here.
  1. Design Graphics
Bloggers love graphics, but they hate creating them. Therefore, they sometimes turn to an outside party to design something for them. If you enjoy working with graphics and have a creative eye for marketing, this is the job for you.
What materials you’ll need:
In order to make quality graphics, you’ll need to download Adobe Illustrator. This is usually fairly expensive, but the student edition is just $19.99 a month and includes a handful of other applications. You can also use a sketch application on a Mac computer, which is cheaper and usually has the same effect. We also suggest Graphic River credits, which will save time with pre-made vector graphs.
  1. Start a Party Supply Delivery Service
Students haven’t created this service yet, and we’re really not sure why. Imagine being at a party. You run out of chips. The last thing you want to do is run to the store for chips, so you call a party supply delivery service and pay them a small fee to bring the chips for you. Yes, you can actually make this service available on your campus by marketing yourself, filling up your gas tank, and running around town.
What materials you’ll need:
You’ll need gas, which we mentioned above. You’ll also need to create a Venmo account, where you can professionally accept payment for the service you’ve provided. Keep in mind, you’ll need to make sure that you aren’t delivering anything that has an age limit (for legal reasons). Unfortunately, this means you can’t purchase beer or cigarettes.
  1. Paint Menu Boards
Menu boards are what customers see when they first walk into a business. The point of a menu board is to draw passerby into the store or restaurant by making a good first impression. Fortunately, this works quite well when the board is thoughtfully and tastefully designed. Unfortunately, this works quite poorly when the menu board isn’t professional in presentation. You can design these boards for local businesses, and offer your painting services as an incentive to bring in customers.
What materials you’ll need:
First of all, you’ll need to market yourself online. You’ll need to get in touch with local businesses and reach a fair wage for your work. You’ll also need a slew of paints, chalk colors, stencils, and other design aids to help you get the job done. Check out some great ideas here. You can also view the work of local San Diego artist Art by Autumn for inspiration.

  1. Be a Secret Shopper
Also known as “mystery shoppers”, secret shoppers are hired by outside companies to determine how good (or poor) the service is in specific restaurants, grocery stores, and retail stores. Not only will you get to visit new places, but you’ll get to report your findings and get paid for it. Be wary, however. Many “outside companies” are scams. You need to make sure you’re working through a reputable service. Read more here.
What materials you’ll need:
Secret shoppers don’t need much money to get started. You’ll need a full tank of gas, a notebook, and a pen to keep track of your reports. That’s about it.
  1. Sew Dorm Décor
College dorm rooms have a tendency to look boring, undecorated, and unloved. You can change that by designing quality dorm décor that helps students feel at home on campus. Start by creating designs for your own dorm. Then, as your visitors see what you’ve done, ask them to refer you to their friends and classmates.
What materials you’ll need:
You’ll need a set of trendy fabric (check out some awesome samples here), a quality sewing machine, and some amazing design ideas.
  1. Sell Class Notes
There are many things that aren’t “okay” in college. Writing other students’ papers, doing homework for your friends, cheating on tests, and copying answers are all “wrong” acts. However, there’s nothing inherently wrong with sharing class notes. Everyone misses class sometimes. It helps them to know what’s going on while they’re gone. So, why not sell your class notes for a reasonable price?
What materials you’ll need:
You’ll need to store your notes on a computer, making them easier to read. You’ll also need to create online flashcards (again, Quizlet is great for this) for your customers to use. Once someone “buys” your notes, give them access to a locked Google Document and send them the URL to the Quizlet page.
  1. Buy Storage Units
Have you ever seen Storage Wars? In the popular television show, bidders try to purchase abandoned storage units. Then, they attempt to flip the contents for cash. Most of the time, bidders were successful in earning their money back and maintaining some kind of profit. If you have the time and energy, this start-up business is fun, interesting, and has the potential for huge payoffs.
What materials you’ll need:
You’ll need a full tank of gas to attend auctions. You’ll also need start-up money with which to bid. Other than that, you may need to rent a trailer to move the contents of a unit to another location. And, of course, you’ll need a location to store or sell your findings.
  1. Become a Campus Brand Ambassador
Brands are constantly looking for ways to break into the millennial market. If you have great communication skills and a large social circle, this could be right up your alley. Many of these positions are performance based, offering commission and bonuses. With a little willingness to talk to strangers and a charming smile, you could be making friends and money at the same time. Check for listings on popular intern sites such as InternMatch, Internships.com and InternQueen.
What materials you’ll need:
Not much is needed to be a brand ambassador, and if there is, usually the company will supply these to you. A clean shirt is recommended and see if the company can provide some swag to make your job easier.
  1. Start Landscaping and Lawn Mowing
On hot summer days, homeowners don’t want to go outside and mow their own lawn. They would much rather pay a teenage boy twenty dollars to do it for them. But you aren’t a teenage boy. You’re old enough to make sure the work is done correctly, and that gives you an edge. You can also do extensive landscaping – something that teenagers rarely offer.
What materials you’ll need:
As always, you’ll need to market yourself with a website, business cards, and flyers. You’ll also need gardening supplies (Lowe’s is a fantastic resource for this equipment), shears, and (potentially) a lawn mower. Many homes, though, will provide a mower for you.
  1. Shovel Snow
Even more than they don’t want to venture into the heat, homeowners don’t want to venture into the cold. And, while long grass doesn’t stop cars from going down the driveway, snowstorms do. This means that, in the winter, you can make plenty of money by shoveling snow for your neighbors, friends, and family. Since the season is long and weather is unpredictable, some months will be heavy and other months will be light.
What materials you’ll need:
All you need to make a quality snow-shoveling business are a few decent shovels, a handful of business cards, and a single-page website explaining what you offer.
  1. Wash Cars
Some car washes aren’t as quality as car-owners would hope. There’s nothing like washing a car by hand, but that isn’t really offered anymore. Or, is it? By starting your own car washing business, you offer a service that most people can use. Without having to leave their home, car owners can have a clean car that hasn’t been unnecessarily damaged. You can also offer interior cleaning, for an extra cost.
What materials you’ll need:
Just as you’ll need when you clean homes, washing cars will require basic cleaning supplies (soap, sponges, buckets, etc.). You’ll also need an interior vacuum, towels, access to a hose, and weather that doesn’t get in the way of your job.
  1. Review Applications and Resumes
You live on a college campus. The students around you are desperately filling out applications and creating resumes. Whether or not these applications and resumes paint the best picture of the individual, however, is a different story. If you’re interested in PR, or you just enjoy helping other people with their resumes, this could be a great position for you. And you can make a ton of money from the right clients. People are willing to pay if it means they’ll get hired.
What materials you’ll need:
Writing and editing jobs really don’t cost much in the way of start-up fees. However, you will need profiles on websites such as Fiverr and Upwork, and you’ll need to keep those profiles as up-to-date as possible. We suggest making several resume examples, and writing a few blog posts or articles about what companies are looking for in a potential employee.
  1. Offer Editing Services
Again, you can access the world of writing and translation through Upwork or Fiverr, both of which will allow you to offer editing services for a set price. On Upwork, you apply for jobs that are specifically posted. On Fiverr, clients will contact you based on your promotional post. Be specific; what do you enjoy editing? What experience do you have?
What materials you’ll need:
Once again, writing itself doesn’t cost additional start-up money. You just need a computer, a WiFi connection, and a stable place to work. We also suggest a printer and a red pen for serious editing jobs, such as college essays or novels.
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HOW TO BE A SUCCESSFUL BLOGGER ON INSTAGRAM

Once you have your blog up and running, now it’s time for some action. If you need help creating your blog, I recommend using Problogger
Content – Pictures matter. Your first top 12 images make the first impression. Find an aesthetic theme you like. I used to have bright colors theme and now I have found a theme what truly represents my personality. I recently talked about how I edit my pictures (on IG). I use vsco app or Lightroom software to edit my pictures. I mostly use C’s and M6 sometimes. If you use your phone as a camera, do less editing, IG does take down the quality a bit. Also, if you are serious about blogging, invest in a camera. I use Cannon 6D. Find your niche – This is the key factor. How do you connect with your followers? Why should they follow you instead of others? What do you offer to them which they can’t get anywhere else? These are questions we need to ask ourselves. Don’t worry if the topics you love are already talked or written about by others. You are using your voice and sharing your perspective to connect with others. Some influencers share their DIY projects or blogging resources. Build your tribe – This is hard work which requires a lot of time. Reply to comments and emails. Reach out to other influencers and brands you like on IG and/or other social media platforms. Leave comments on their page regularly. This can only lead to good things. One of the things I am still working on is to reply to comments on my blog and reach out to other blogs. This can take a lot of time, but if you do just little bit every day. It will add up and give amazing results. Make a real connection – There are a lot of support groups of bloggers on IG and Telegram app. I recommend utilizing them initially when you are starting out (you will learn a lot through them). Personally, I left most of them a while ago. As much as I believe in the goodness of the support of those groups. It can take a toll on you. Building a connection with few bloggers is far more important to me. These connections will eventually lead to real friendships. Only do what you can, don’t beat yourself up. Instead make a real connection with people who inspire you. I am inspired daily by some of the amazing influencers I follow, they motivate and inspire me to do better each day. Stay consistent – Make sure to create a schedule for post and stick to it. You have to set expectations for the readers, by keeping them engaged. They will be looking forward to your post on IG and/or your blog. I post daily on my social platforms and weekly or bi-weekly on blog. Use hashtags to gain right exposure on Instagram (see my earlier post here on how to use hashtags). I take break on the weekends. Statistically social media’s efficiency drops on the weekends because people are out doing things. I make use of the weekends by working on my blog post or photo shoots and spending time with my family. Not everyone is going to like your work (and, that’s Ok!) – Congratulations, you are on the internet. I had recently seen comments where people just didn’t like my work. It did hurt at first but then it made sense. I don’t like some brands so I stick to what connects with me. People stick to what they find attractive, so not everyone is going to fall in love with your work. That’s why you need to find your tribe. One thing we need to remember is success doesn’t come over night or in few weeks. We need to continue slow and steady and build our brand through the years. Only hard work pays off. Sign up with programs – Now that you have some following and engagement, it’s time to make some money. Most of the programs are free to you, these companies tend to take little percentage as commission. I recommend keeping an excel sheet and bookmarking all these sites and ensuring to visit them daily to see any new proposals. Here are few I personally use: Linkshare ShoppingLinks Hashtagpaid Social Native Socialix Famebit Amazon affiliate program BlogMeetsBrand Influenster Preen.me Rewardstyle (Invite only or you can have fellow @likeitknow blogger refer you) Is your Resume Ready? – Brands want to know why they should hire you? What benefits do they get by collaborating with you. Your blog page views count, I currently get around average of 500 views daily on my blog. I encourage you to create your media kit once you have a good following and engagement. You can create this on word document and save as PDF file. You can download my template from the bottom of this page. This template should include: Bio (with a picture) Blog page views monthly Social platform following Social platform average impressions per post Rates Previous work and sales Invest at the right time – Now that you have good amount of content (at least 6 scrolls of IG page). You also have some good amount of following already. Some of you might have noticed IG engagement has dropped dramatically. See the thing is, Instagram creates their revenue through ads hence they created Business profiles. They want brands, and business including influencers to invest in their ads in order to reach the masses. They have changed their algorithm so it only reaches specific users. Your post is not seen by all of your followers any longer which I know doesn’t feel so great, only 20% of your followers actually see your post. One way to reach followers is to advertise on Instagram when you think the time is right. Before your start the advertisement, learn how to target market on an ad prior to placing one, you don’t want to waste your money. All social platforms mostly have this option. Last but not least, Ask questions – I recommend joining Instagram groups on FB. They are extremely helpful, it’s a real community of bloggers who are sharing almost everything. I have two favorite ones, one is Instagram Posse and Blog and Biz BFF . Ask questions to other bloggers, things now a day change faster than ever. To keep up with everything you need to know, make sure you engaged in conversations.
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ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income [Rowse, Darren, Garrett, Chris] on Amazon.com. *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income Amazon Affiliate Program is the best way to Monetize your Blog to Make money online. Even when the blog is absolutely new, still it can make few sales with affiliate links. I’m using Amazon Affiliate links in my Ease Bedding Dot Com Blog and Make around $1000 monthly with Amazon associate Program. Amazon Affiliate program, or better known as Amazon Associates program, is the affiliate program offered by the Internet retail giant. The program is open to anyone with a website. A good example of a success story is Darren Rowse of ProBlogger, who managed to make over $500,000 with the Amazon affiliate program. Of course, it took him a Over the last few weeks I’ve been experimenting with doing some Live Streaming on Periscope (follow me there at @ProBlogger). Making Money as an Amazon Affiliate. In this Periscope replay I’m talking about making money as an Amazon Affiliate. I reveal a couple of techniques that have helped me to make over half a million dollars from the You can pick web links, widgets, automated advertisements, and so on. You simply pick the items your visitors will want buying from Amazon or include products that belong to your blog. Shareasale Affiliate Program Problogger Affiliate Program . ShareASale for 6+ years.

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