How To Stay Motivated And Focused When Starting A Side Project To Make Income

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.)

Clarity Creates Better Priorities

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:

  • I am starting this project so that…
  • I will use the money to put towards…
  • If I don’t start this I am going to feel…
  • This project will help create…
  • In six months this project will look like…

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.

Immerse Yourself

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:

  • Find experts you respect the most in your field and follow them to learn everything you can.
  • Subscribe to blogs, YouTube channels, and podcasts so you always have something to read or listen to on your topic. If you have extra time between appointments or a long commute, turn on a podcast and make every minute count.
  • Find other people who share the same passions. You can connect in person at events through Meetup.com or online through Facebook groups and forums.
  • Document what you learn so you can track your progress. Journals, blogs and voice notes all work great.

Make the Time

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?

7 Key Steps To Start Blogging For Income

 

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You’ve taken the leap and started a blog to make a little extra income. You chose a template, added your bio, and now all you have to do start writing the content, right?

Not exactly.

Before you hit publish on your first post, some important planning needs to take place. If you want your blog to be a long term success it’s time to ask yourself the tough questions. Use this seven point checklist to plan the future of your blog and make the most of every article you publish.

(If you want to jump ahead and get started with your own blog, you can follow complete step by step instructions here: How To Setup A Blog In 10 Minutes Or Less )

1. Define clear goals.

One of the biggest mistakes bloggers make is not setting goals. Short and long-term objectives will help keep you motivated when you just don’t want to write.

What are you trying to accomplish? Do you want ad revenue, traffic, social shares or all of the above? Set realistic goals and a time frame in which you can achieve them, starting with one month, six month and one year goals. For example, if your goal is to increase traffic, aim for 50 or 100 visitors the first month. Then, set incremental increases for long-term goals.

2. Decide how much you’ll give in return.

Most people set goals for what they want to achieve, but never give a second thought to what they’re going to give. What are you willing to do to make an extra $100, $1,000 or $2,000 per month from your blog? Is it worth that extra hour of sleep in the morning? That hour of TV at night? Write out exactly what you plan to give to accomplish your goals.

For example, maybe your goal is to commit 1-2 hours every day to writing. Growing that writing muscle is extremely important for maintaining your blog.

Setting aside time for building relationships is another way to give. Spend 30 minutes each day commenting on five other blogs or building relationships through email outreach and social media. This is an easy and measurable way to be sure you’re staying on track.

3. Decide who you’re writing for.

One question you’ll undoubtedly be faced with early on is who are you really writing for — yourself or your audience?

We’ll talk about this more in the near future, but here’s an example of what this decision looks like: You enjoy posting recipes of dinner meals but see your audience clearly enjoys breakfast recipes more. Are you going to respond to what they want, and post more breakfast recipes, or continue posting dinner recipes?

This is really a question of whether your blog is a passion project or a money-making project. If your blog is a passion project, and you want to treat it like a journal, it doesn’t matter what readers want. BUT if you’re treating this as a side business, you have to be willing to listen to your audience.

4. Find your niche.

Once you know who you’re writing for and what you’re hoping to accomplish (I’m going to assume it’s for your audience and to make money), it’s time to decide on your niche.

There are hundreds of new blogs being created every single day. Competition is becoming much more difficult and so is your ability to stand out. When clients ask how how broad to go with their blog, I always tell them it’s better to be good at one thing then average at lots of things. An average blog is not going to get noticed and not going to build a loyal readership. Stick to one niche for now and you can always choose to go a different route later on.

Here are some examples of niches: DIY, recipes, gardening, hair and beauty, social media marketing, travel, etc. If you need more ideas, just check out the Pinterest categories list.

5. Scope out the scene.

To really understand a specific niche, researching the competition and finding where the holes are can be extremely helpful. Evaluating your competition gives insight on how you can stand out and gives you a dose of reality on what’s already out there.

WARNING: this step can turn into a huge time-waster! Set a timer for an hour and only give yourself that much time to do research.

Start with the sources of traffic to your blog. If you’re creating a blog around food or fashion, it will be Pinterest. If the blog is business-focused, it may be LinkedIn, etc. Search for your topic and see who your competitors will be. What are they writing about? What do people like about them? Dislike about them? The comments are a great place to find this information.

Next, use a tool like Buzzsumo to find what content does well in your niche. Just put your competitor’s URL into Buzzsumo and it will give you their most popular posts based on the number of shares.

6. Plan your content categories.

Now it’s time to plan your initial content. No specific posts yet, just the main topics you’ll be writing about. I call these content categories or “buckets” that each of your posts fall into. More than likely they’ll be in the category column of your blog.

Choose 3-5 categories to start with. On one of my blogs I started with marketing, social media, productivity and branding. From there, I added more categories over time.

7. Create a plan to keep yourself motivated.

Yes, it may sound crazy, but I promise it’s the only way to keep going. I’m sure you’ve started a project before and seen how much easier it is to continue with a group vs. working alone. Blogging is no different. Here are a few places you can start.

  • Use http://feedly.com/ to subscribe to blogging and writing blogs. They’ll help you continually improve your blogging and you can get active in the comments to build relationships. Fill your RSS feed with any blogs you enjoy reading that help you improve or inspire you. A great blog to start with is http://www.copyblogger.com/.
  • Join groups that are dedicated to blogging. You can search Facebook groups or just Google blogging groups. There are dozens of blogging communities, forums and groups that exist for the sole purpose of motivating other bloggers.
  • Grab your calendar and set time each day for blogging. If you don’t block the time now, it won’t happen. Make a commitment that you are going to take this seriously.

 

For more reading see: How To Setup A Blog In 10 Minutes Or Less

Featured image by Jeff Sheldon via Unsplash.