6-Month Side Hustle: Building a Content-Based Business Step-by-Step (Part 1)

Over the past six years, I’ve spent the majority of my time doing three things:

  1. Building EDMProd
  2. Reading books
  3. Producing music

It’s been a wild ride (even though I know it doesn’t sound wild at all), especially with EDMProd. I’m extremely fortunate and blessed to be in this position, and wouldn’t trade it for the world.

But 18 months ago, something happened…

I got itchy feet.

I felt like doing something new.

It’s not like I hadn’t felt this before, but this time it was more intense.

How not to start a side-hustle

I started writing down ideas. Usually on a weekly basis.

This escalated into taking action on the ideas. I’d buy a domain name, plan a few things, maybe design a basic website… and then quit.

This cycle of impulsivity continued for the next 12 months. I’d wake up on a Saturday morning feeling optimistic and positive about starting something new. At lunchtime I’d decide not to pursue the idea.

3 principles for staying committed

Clearly, I have a problem with impulsivity and commitment.

If I’m going to work on a side project (of any kind), I need to eliminate this trait that keeps holding me back.

The reason why previous attempts at this have failed is because I never planned them, never told anyone, and had no skin in the game. It was too easy to quit.

I also don’t have a tremendous amount of motivation to build a side project. I already run a successful business and enjoy my work. I’m not trying to escape the 9-5. If I was, maybe I’d be more committed.

So, to follow through on this project, I’ve decided to follow three principles:

  • Stay the course, no matter what. I’ve committed to work on this project for at least 6 months, regardless of the outcome. This is really the only goal: to do the work. I don’t care how much money this makes (if any), or how it promotes my personal brand. Success, for me, is staying the course.
  • Public accountability. I’m detailing my progress here. Before I started this project, I asked if people would be interested in following along. This wasn’t for validation, but rather to let people know that I was doing something so I wouldn’t back out.
  • Skin in the game. In the past, I’ve purchased several $15 domain names for potential side projects that I wanted to start. $15 is not really skin in the game. For this project, I’ve already invested $2,000 in a brand name. It’s forced me to have skin in the game. Spending that kind of money on something that has no immediate return does hurt a little.

Why am I doing this?

Three reasons:

  1. I want to challenge myself.
  2. I’m extremely interested in smart personal development and human performance. I plan to build the side project in this niche. I believe many of the big ideas in the personal development world are fundamentally flawed (which I’ll explain in more detail in another post).
  3. The risk to benefit ratio is asymmetrical, and I like asymmetrical rewards. If this works out well, it’s potentially another income stream. But if it doesn’t go anywhere, the only loss is my time and the 2k that I spent on a domain name—except the time I spend is not a 100% loss due to acquiring skills/learning. Low risk, potentially high reward.

The project

Objective: Build a content-centric brand/blog in the personal development niche. Monetize if possible.

I knew that if I over-thought the planning process and tried to find the best niche and business idea possible, I’d give up.

So I decided on the niche and idea before even working on a basic plan.

Is that smart? No.

But again: the goal isn’t to make money from this, it’s simply to commit for 6 months and see where things go. Doing it this way increases stickability.

As you can see below, I kept things simple. Here’s the basic plan all on one page.

You probably can’t read my handwriting, so I’ve typed it underneath.

Problem(s):

  • People have ambition and drive to improve, but fail to see lasting results and transformation. For example: most people who start a diet fail to stick to it, and even if they do, often end up relapsing and putting on more weight.
  • Most personal development content provides a nice dopamine hit and makes the reader feel good, but ultimately doesn’t cause any change.
  • People fail because they don’t have a foundational/systematic approach to personal development.

There are some good alternatives out there.

  • Websites like Mindvalley (which doesn’t appeal to everyone).
  • High performance coaching which is generally reserved for athletes, entrepreneurs, and people who can afford it.
  • Books, YouTube, podcasts. Some of these are great. Others aren’t. Single-idea books usually aren’t that helpful.

Solution(s):

  • In-depth, foundational and systematic personal development content that makes sense and encourages adherence. Content/coaching platform.
  • Maybe: partnership courses focused on specific areas, designed for ultimate adherence and program completion.

UVP: The smart approach to becoming a high-performing individual and staying that way (as you can see in the image above, this sucks, and I need to work on it).

High-level concept: Mindvalley, but more systematic and science-backed.

My unfair advantage:

  • Ability to synthesize information and pump out great content quickly
  • Marketing/brand
  • (eEentually) comparative marketing, if I can show that my approach works better than others. I don’t like comparative marketing, but it’s possible to do it in a non-sleazy way.

Target market:

  • 20-35 year old males
  • Feel “bored” and “stagnant”
  • The thinking type—likes reading
  • Student or working (60k+/year)

Marketing channels:

  • Blog (will most likely focus on this)
  • Social/brand-building
  • YouTube
  • Podcast (maybe)

Potential revenue streams (long term)

  • Coaching
  • Partnerships
  • Hybrid courses (coaching + content)

How I’m going to structure this project

As this is a side hustle, I’m not going to work on it full-time. I have other responsibilities that are more important.

I’m officially starting this project on Monday, September 9, 2019.

Instead of working 2 hours per day on this, or dedicating one day per week, I’m taking a hybrid approach: 1 full day per week + 90 minutes on other days. Sundays off.

I won’t be able to stick to this exact schedule every week, so my goal is 15 hours per week. It’s enough to make decent progress.

This 15 hours per week does include writing about what I’m doing on this blog: I’ll probably use Saturdays for that and post an update once per week.

What’s next?

This week marks the beginning of the project.

It’s tempting to start with the easy, enjoyable work like designing a fancy website. But every time I’ve started like that, I’ve given up.

So I’m going to start by writing content. I want to have at least 5 extremely well-written guides before I even put together the website. It will take me some time to get these finished, so that’s my core focus for the next 3-4 weeks.

Will keep you updated here.

Stats:

Hours worked: 2.5

Money spent: $2,195

Money received: $0

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