Here’s everything I know about creating on the side in 5 simple ideas
- 20 books (100K+ readers; 8 Amazon Bestsellers; some failures)
- 12 courses (320K+ students; 7 Udemy Bestsellers; more failures)
All on the side while working a demanding full-time job (and not sacrificing family time)
1) Document, Don’t Create
Most people won’t read this entire post, so I’ll start with the philosophy (from Gary Vee) that will help you the most.
Instead of focusing on creating, focus on documenting what you already know.
I’ve published in multiple categories:
- Management: I just documented what I already knew about managing virtual & hybrid teams, and about leading people
- Travel: I just documented my weekend family trips to Rome, Paris, London, and most recently, Montreal
- Authorship: I just documented how I wrote, published, and marketed all my books
Document, don’t create.
2) Leverage Platforms
Selling on your own has its advantages (you own the customer data, you get much higher margins, you get lower platform risk, etc.)
However, if you’re working a full-time job, you probably won’t have a lot of time to market and promote your stuff.
I use two primary platforms:
Those are the biggest platforms in their spaces and publishing there gives me “location, location, location” advantages
Although both platforms take a higher margin cut (and they have several other disadvantages), they make up for it by marketing my books & courses on my behalf so that I can focus on creating.
3) Repurpose & Reuse
In addition to books and courses, I have:
- 2 blogs
- 1 Podcast
- Multiple social media accounts
There’s no way I could scale to all of that if I didn’t repurpose and reuse my content
- I wrote an ebook called “Write Your Book on the Side“
- It did well, so I repurposed it into a paperback copy and an audiobook
- I then created a free webinar based on the book
- That did well, so I repurposed it as a paid course
- Based on the many questions I got (book, webinar, and course), I started a podcast
- The first episodes of the podcast were me just reading the chapters of the book
- I then repurposed chapters from the book into blog posts and social media content (tweets, etc.)
- I then took even more questions and repurposed those into more books and more courses
Here’s another example:
See this post you’re reading now?
I wrote it directly on X ( just raw content from my thoughts on a Saturday afternoon).
I just took all this text and publish it as a blog post here.
Afterward, I’ll record my voice as I read it and then publish it as a podcast episode (I might add some additional comments as I record).
Do the hard work once, and then repurpose (and reuse).
4) Focus on Volume
The key to publishing on the side is volume.
Keep your bets small (see Daniel Vassallo’s philosophy here).
I don’t go all in on one book or one course, and I don’t take 2 years to publish.
But I also don’t sacrifice quality.
How do I balance the two (quantity vs. quality)?
I create short books and short courses
Short helps me (not a lot of time to create, edit, and publish)
And short helps my customers (not a lot of time for them to consume my material)
I also lower my bar for success by having a very simple objective.
I call it the “one stranger” goal.
If one stranger (i.e. a non-follower) buys my product and finds value in it, then I consider that a success.
Everything else is a bonus.
Focusing on volume makes me a bit more immune to failure (both mentally and financially).
5) Have Fun
I lied. This philosophy is probably more important than all the other four.
What I do is super fun for me. I genuinely enjoy the process of writing books, interviewing other authors on my podcast, and interacting with followers on social media.
If I was creating just for the sake of starting a side hustle, I would have quit 10 years ago.