A few months ago I started a new side project. I had finally finished some other tasks and decided my next priority would be a Udemy course. The process involved creating and organizing the content, designing the slides, recording the videos, launching the course and marketing it.
My goal: Do it all in one month.
During that time I learned the difference between successful side projects and ”side ideas” that never turn into anything: It really does come down to how you approach them.
Below are three of the biggest strategies I’ve learned from my side projects, my research, and talks with hundreds of people about the key to success. (Did I finish my project on time? Keep reading to find out.)
The first thing that helped me stay motivated was clarity. Why did I wanted and NEED to finish this side project? If I didn’t remember exactly why it was important, creating my course would continually be pushed to the bottom of the list.
Create a list of each reason you’re motivated to start your side project. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Don’t stop there, add as many reasons as you can to motivate yourself during the tough times. Write it down on paper and make several copies of your list. I’ve always found pen and paper much more effective than the computer.
Look at your list every morning, or at least every time you start working on the project. It will help get you fired up -- especially when you feel like procrastinating.
When I first started my business, one of my greatest motivators was a new car. I knew I needed enough money to replace my current car when I drove it into the ground (over 200k miles.) It might sound silly, but I really didn’t want to have to take the bus to business meetings!
I knew the car I wanted. I read about it on forums after work, perused reviews, looked for deals, and drove by the dealership on Sundays when no one was there. My business partner at the time had a similar goal, and we were constantly discussing it.
The same idea can be applied to becoming great at anything: Immerse yourself in it. Total immersion creates genuine excitement. When you stop engrossing yourself in what you’re passionate about, you’ll lose sight of why you’re doing it and lose momentum.
When you stop immersing yourself, you also become jaded. You’ll create reasons why you shouldn’t complete the project or why it’s probably wrong. You’ll start to rationalize that the people you are learning from got there in ways you never could.
Don’t lose focus! Here are a few ways to get totally immersed:
How many times have you caught yourself saying, “I just can’t find the time...”? Probably more than you can count. And you’re right -- no one can find enough time to do everything they want. The most effective people make time for things that are most important.
You won’t ever be able to find enough time, but you will be able to make it.
When I started this course in December, I gave myself a one month deadline. My business was steadily growing as the holidays approached. It was a terrible time to work on a new project, but the deadline motivated me to trim the fat in my schedule and focus on what was most important.
“Will this activity or effort make the highest possible contribution toward my goal?”
- Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
When I took a closer look at my calendar, I noticed there were many small detours (i.e. distractions) in my daily schedule. I was spending 10 to 30 minutes doing things that weren’t even on my to-do list. Upon closer inspection, I realized this was because I had way too many goals.
I decided to put everything but my business and creating the course on hold. While I didn’t finish within a month, I did finish shortly after and created this course months faster than previous ones.
One of my favorite blog posts from Seth Godin is just 10 simple words.
You don't need more time
...you just need to decide.
Sometimes you need to make a decision more than once. Sometimes you need to make the decision to keep going every day. What decisions do you need to make to make your side project a success?
If don't have a blog and are ready to start. The first step is a domain name and website. :)
If you are like me you've seen a lot of headlines online about making money blogging. Who doesn't want to make additional income doing something they enjoy that is time and location independent, right?
But is it for real? Yes. Very real.
What can you do with this extra money you are making on the side?
-Pay off student loans
-Pay off debt
-Save for a home
-Pay for a private school for the kids
-Buy a new car
The opportunities are endless.
Before we go any further I promised proof that I know what I am talking about so below is a screenshot from one of my Adsense accounts in regards to a site I recently launched. Below is the launch and 90 day earning summary for one site I launched last year that focused on food:
What would it feel like if you had an extra few hundred per month?
I'll tell you. It feels awesome.
We live in a great time in history. The internet can work for anyone.
If you get a blog setup and are willing to put in the time and effort, it can become some serious income. Many bloggers we work with make hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. (Here is another example from SuperMommyClub.com).
Here we go:
To setup a Blog you need a host (where the site lives) and a domain name. Setting up a blog nowadays is super easy and costs very little - especially with the host we use - BlueHost (To help I've put together a more thorough step by step walkthrough here: How to setup Wordpress Blog on Bluehost :) )
For Your Domain Name - Pick something easy and memorable. This doesn't have to be a premium one word dot com but it does have to give people an idea of what you are about when they look at it.
Plus, right now BlueHost has a ton of specials on setting up a website.
Hosting- There are a lot of hosts out there but I'm a big fan of BlueHost. They are super affordable (like $5.95/month) and have great support. A host is where you website and content will "live". It's where the actual files are located that people will access - articles to read, images,etc.
With Bluehost you are going to be able to install Wordpress ( a blogging platform) at no additional cost. The reason I recommend Wordpress is because it is so easy to learn and there is a lot of documentation online and on YouTube if you get stuck or need training. Plus you can find amazing themes already prebuilt for around $50 on ThemeForest.net instead of spending $2,500 to have someone build it from scratch.
(To help here is a technical link I put together to help you step by step the entire way: How to setup Wordpress on Bluehost :) )
Adsense can be a gold mine for bloggers because as soon as you get signed up and approved, is starts running advertisers. All you need is a gmail account, personal info and a bank account.
You can sign up here: www.google.com/adsense
The key for Adsense is placement. Remember a lot of people are browsing on their mobile phone and ads on the top or sidebar don't get shown. Make sure you put ads in the middle of your web page like this:
This is a free Google tool (you can signup here )and extremely powerful. It is how you will measure exactly how many people are going to your website. By using this tool you will know how many people are going to your blog, where they are coming from and what they are reading plus a ton more data. Use this to your advantage - if you know people are most interested in your blogs on home improvement, write more home improvement blogs, etc. The more you provide that your readers want the more they will read. Below is a screenshot from one of our sites that has over 1 million visitors per month.
Just a heads up, these tactics are for advanced users. Those who have setup their blog, have content and are ready to go.
A lot of websites and individuals write content (blogs, articles,etc.) and publish them but have no idea how to put them in front of people who will actually read them. They just go out online and get lost in web space. I've found a lot of success in finding a niche that you understand and can be an authority in - moms with toddlers, car enthusiasts, adults with ADD,etc. and use that as your starting platform.
The next step is to then find people that would most likely be interested in what you are writing. Social media is a perfect tool for finding potential readers. Here are some of my tips for the ones I use:
-Join Facebook groups who have individuals that would be interested in what you are writing about and share your articles there.
-Reach out to Facebook page owners with topics and followers that would be interested in what you are writing about and try to get them to share your content across their pages.
-Start a Facebook page and start running "like" ads to build up your followers. (Great info from AdEspresso here). We believe in this - we currently have 80 Facebook pages we run with over 8.5M fans! (Link to pages).
-Look for group boards you can join that have followers that you can pin your content too.
-Create a Pinterest profile and pin high quality content that will attract the type of people that would love to read your blog. We have over 200k followers for our site LifeAsMama.com that caters to moms and I currently have over 996k followers on my personal profile of people that are into the stuff I am.
What are you waiting for? Its your time.