When I first started this blog in 2006, I had a little area at the top that I called my alternative income. I purposely created the vague term because I didn't know how to define this income. Some people would call it passive, but blogging is anything, but passive. At the time, I was lending money at Prosper, which was much more passive.
People LOVED this feature, but I took it away.
I can think of at least four reasons:
- It's hard to keep surpassing the previous month's totals. I felt like a failure if I didn't improve.
- Prosper had a big hiccup and it came out that almost everyone was losing money on the loans. It's since been fixed.
- When I started it, the money was additive to my software engineer salary. When I transitioned out of my 9-to-5 role, it wasn't alternative income... just income.
- I started following MLM Scams and I felt like I could contribute more to society by helping people understand why they should avoid them. I'm still interested in it, but it takes a ton of time and doesn't deliver much money. I compare to helping a friend move into a new apartment and he buys you beer and pizza. You don't do it for the beer and pizza, but at the same time you aren't going to reject it.
I'm bringing alternative income back. You can have your Justin Timberlake version of "sexy", but this is mine. (Yes, I'm a dork.)
Why am I bringing it back? I have a few reasons.
I've had great success with my dog sitting business in the last year. (I feel like less of a failure.)
For the past several months, I've been busy being the full-time day care for my son, but he's finally at camp and I can start moving forward with so many ideas that had to be placed on the back-burner. It's hard to increase your income when you have to put 80% of your focus on family care. Now I'm down to a healthier 50% of family care...
I think the idea of having something very specific to motivate me. For too many months, I've been thinking, let's just get by this month. A lot of that is the aforementioned life situation, but this gives me a goal/target to hit. If I'm not hitting it, I need to do something different like find the next dog-sitting home run.
So how is this going to work?
Take the Monthly Income Challenge (MIC)
Since I've been earning outside of a standard salary for a long time, I'm going to focus on increasing my income 5% each month. I'll be using June as my base and when July is over, I'll report back on how it grew (or didn't grow) as well as what worked and what didn't work. I know that at some point, I'm going to have to adjust this percentage. Growing your income at 5% each month would be equivalent to giving yourself an 80% raise. While I like a challenge that doesn't seem realistic.
I think I'm going to let things play out for a few months before I figure out the balance between a reasonable challenge and an impossibility.
I don't want to do this alone. I want you to create alternative income with me. If you don't have any alternative income, it doesn't make sense to try to earn 5% more. Instead try to start with a number that makes sense to you, maybe $100. Each month work on increasing it a little. I recommend aiming to grow it at least $100 a month.
If you need an idea on how to get started, I find that most businesses need a website. Yep, even my dog sitting business needs one.
What do you say? Are you going to step to the MIC (Monthly Income Challenge)?
My July 2016 MIC Plan
It's great to say that you are going to try to increase income. It's another thing to do it. Because June was focused on kid-care and vacation, the initial bar is low.
I'm going to simply focus on catching up on the opportunities in my inbox that were left behind. The July 4th holiday had a ton of travel which translated to a ton of dog sitting business. It's almost as if July should be a good bounce back month on its own. In short, I don't need to launch a new business and make money with it right away.
If there's extra time, I've got a couple of blog-related initiatives to start. These may not pay off for a few months, but longer-term goals are important too.
Bonus: Take the 1% Saving Challenge
While I was looking to see if anyone else came up with this idea, I came across Paula Pant's 1% Savings Challenge. It's the same concept except with the idea of saving 1% each month.
I'm not going to take this as I already cut expenses pretty close to the bone. For example, here are some of the hundreds of ways I save money. We're all different though and maybe that kind of challenge is more your speed.
Don't Stop at Income
I just tried to show with the savings example that increasing your income isn't everything. Here are two easy things you can do to put yourself in a much better financial position. The first will only take you about 5 minutes. The second may take an hour, but it may be the most important hour you spend in your life.
- Create an Emergency Fund - Digit.co squirrels small amounts of money from your checking checking account to its account. That automatically builds an emergency fund. You don't have to think about it and you'll never notice the small amount of money being moved. In five months, I've squirreled away $500. Digit is entirely free.
- Track Your Money - Over the years, I've gathered many financial accounts. Banks, brokerages, loans... I got multiple of them all. The best software for tracking everything is this FREE web application from Personal Capital. You can't get to your destination if you don't know where you are to start and how to measure progress along the way.
I'd grab this before the Personal Capital get wise and start charging for it.
This time in July feels like the unofficial start of the second half of the year. Let's make it a great one!
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