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How I Started A Side Business For Extra Income

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I’ve been working on blogs, Facebooking, Tweeting, Linking In, and YouTubing for almost 5 years now. I started writing for this blog in 2006 with a vision about turning a passion of mine, personal finance, into a blog where I could share my thoughts and experiences about personal finance. Four years later, personal finance is one of the hottest blogging communities on the web, and Money Crashers is poised to have its best year yet as a personal finance blog. I still make a nice little side income from writing for Money Crashers, but while I was learning about blogs and social networks, I developed a strong set of skills about how to market a business on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. I also started learning about the power of having an updated company blog and link building strategies to optimize search engine rankings for company websites, and that was the beginning of a career transition and the start of my side business.

The Transition

In September of 2008, I quit my job as a claims adjuster. This was a job that I held for three years out of college, and it was a good job for the time while my wife was getting through her master’s program as a physician assistant, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do long-term. We moved that same month to Orlando, Florida and I remained unemployed for 10 weeks. During that time, I blogged for money, I did odd jobs, and whatever I could find to make some extra money while my wife worked her butt off. Then in January, I started with a temp agency working at a financial services company doing the most menial computer work I’ve ever done. It was so repetitive and had NO meaning to me at all. It was a rough 4 months, but I got through it, and during that time, I crafted a resume with my past experience to brand myself as an internet marketer, and I found a green travel booking website willing to give me a chance. I had plenty of experience, but it was all experience doing freelance work and no employee work experience. I have been with them for over 7 months, and it has been great, because I am doing something that I am passionate about and I enjoy what I do on a daily basis.

The Dawn of Presence Media

During the time of my career transition, my buddy and I saw a huge need for small businesses to get involved with social media marketing. Big business has the money to have a great Facebook page, Twitter account, and create great video content on YouTube, but small business is in the dark. We knew that we wanted to start a side business doing consulting and management for small businesses, but instead of doing all of the things people think you should do to start a business, we did the opposite. We didn’t have a website, we didn’t have business cards, we didn’t have anything. We took a different approach. We said to ourselves, “we’re not going to call this a business until we have clients.” I thought it was a bad approach, but the more I thought about it, it made sense. You can form an LLC, print business cards, design a website, and look really pretty, but if you don’t have any clients, you aren’t making any money so you really aren’t doing business. Presence Media received its first client, a Chick-fil-A in La Habra, California at the end of August in 2009, and it was a great feeling to turn my career into freelance work for extra money.

More Clients

We have the website now, barely have business cards (still need some good ones), and we have 10 clients. It’s a diverse group of clients, but we’ve received them all from personal referrals and friend/family connections. Now in 2010, we need to focus on marketing so we can generate leads from people other than friends, family, and current clients. We are already making a decent side income. It definitely takes up about 25 to 30 hours of my time right now, but I love doing it, and the extra money is great.

You Can Do It Too

I didn’t write this to gloat, because we definitely aren’t big timers. We are doing good for getting our first client 4 months ago, but no one is asking to buy us out. I wrote about this to let you know that starting a side business to make extra income is achievable. Turning a passion, a hobby, or a certain skill you possess into a business can be done if you are persistent and relentless. It’s going to take long hours at night when your family is asleep. It’s going to take some sacrifice, but the reward is that it could turn into your full-time job someday. Then, you are your own boss, your income is limitless, and you create your schedule, not your boss. My advice is to do the opposite of what people tell you when it comes to starting a business. Get clients/customers first, then spend money on starting a business. If you want to make blankets, make prototypes first, get orders for them, then produce them. Follow that rule and you’ll avoid debt and have income before you have expenses.

How does that sound?

Erik Folgate
Erik and his wife, Lindzee, live in Orlando, Florida with a baby boy on the way. Erik works as an account manager for a marketing company, and considers counseling friends, family and the readers of Money Crashers his personal ministry to others. Erik became passionate about personal finance and helping others make wise financial decisions after racking up over $20k in credit card and student loan debt within the first two years of college.

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