Start Your Side Hustle with Nick Loper – Side Hustle Nation
Today on the Mind For Life podcast, I’m so excited to have Nick Loper the owner of Side Hustle Nation.com and the host of one of the top-rated podcasts for aspiring entrepreneurs – the side hustle show.
He is an entrepreneur involved in a variety of projects and he started his site because he believes in the hustle.
He used to work full-time for a giant corporation, (you will hear more about that in our interview), but he built his online business by hustling nights and weekends until he was able to do it full time.
His goal is to help people who are wanting to start their own side hustle and on his site, he showcases his successes and failures, as well as the actionable lessons from dozens of fellow side hustle entrepreneurs.
His podcast provides loads of ideas and practical how-to’s for you to implement when starting your own side hustle.
In this episode, you’re going to hear about how Nick went from selling car parts for Ford to selling shoes online to side hustle podcaster, you’re going to hear why Nick’s interviews fuel his passion, and finally why the journey and the process in any side hustle is the most important aspect.
Resources and Places to Connect with Nick:
Top learning moments:
- What I learned from Nick is first of all the importance of perseverance. Nick said that he has tried multiple side hustles until he landed on the side hustle nation. He still experiments and has a desire to keep trying new things. The perseverance he showed through his side hustle journey is an inspiration to us all to not give up when something doesn’t work out the way we intend. It takes time and you don’t always achieve things overnight
- Along with this is his passion for learning. When I asked Nick what he was passionate about, he talked about his passion for learning new things from his guests. The quality of curiosity and a desire to learn is something we should all strive for in our own lives and Nick really exemplifies that
- Finally, is Nick’s definition of success – being able to control your calendar. We all have ideas of success that are given to us through commercials, media, movies, songs, etc. But it’s important for us to figure out our own definition of success and then pursue that. Nick’s definition is pretty cool and his journey has brought him to that destination. So I would encourage you to figure out the end first, so that you can make sure the steps on your journey are moving you in that direction.
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Jeff: First of all let me just welcome you to the program. It’s great to have you here and you’re a huge inspiration for me. Let me say that up front. I’ve listened to your program now for maybe five, six months, you know, and just have been really, really impressed by what you’re doing. So yeah tell me how you got started. What precipitated… were you doing some other type of online business and then you said hey I got to get into podcasting. Why did you decide to get into it? How did it all get started?
Nick: Yeah the original side hustle was a footwear comparison shopping site that earned commission from Zappos and Amazon and these other these other stores kind of like as a catalog aggregator type of site where you order specific model issues like here’s where you find the best deal. And then, so that was the original site. So you know three years of nights and weekends, I quit my job like made that my full-time thing. While I was running that business as the main focus started and probably a half dozen other projects. Most of those kind of flopped. But a couple a couple are still around. One of them that is still around is the side hustle nation blog in the side hustle show podcast and it kind of started after some soul searching and he kind of along the lines of like you know what do you want to be known for when somebody Googles you.
Like what do you what do you get excited about talking about and get this lower risk brand of entrepreneurship this side hustle you know method of getting started I think is more realistic for a lot of people than you know the traditional entrepreneurship stories coming out of Silicon Valley like you got to raise venture capital you’ve got to jump off the cliff and an entrepreneur is somebody who builds his parachute on the way down. Like all of that stuff you know is there are people who do it. But it’s like that’s not for me like I’m a little more risk-averse than that. And I think a lot of people are kind of like well that all sounds great but I’ve got rent to pay next month. I got a mortgage to pay next month. Like how do we kind of do this in a way that makes sense for my family?
Jeff: So you are working a side hustle selling shoes and then started another side hustle. In the side hustle nation. It’s very meta, right. You’ve had a traditional job then. Is that correct? While you were while you started the shoe business you worked a traditional job.
ick: Yeah. So when I was you know first building the shoe business I was working in corporate for Ford. And so by day, I was trying to sell more Ford parts through their dealer channel. Car business is a fascinating business but it never you know never really saw myself climbing the corporate ladder there and had kind of hoped and hoped and thought that maybe this shoe thing this very fledgling shoe thing at that time could be could be the escape path.
Jeff: But you didn’t want to be known for shoes.
Nick: It wasn’t something that I cared about really. That was probably my own worst customer probably bought you know three pairs of shoes over the course of 10 years. But it was cool to build the systems and build and you know try and do the advertising tweaks and try to optimize different things like that part was really cool. It’s just the product that you know didn’t really care about and maybe at the beginning, I probably naively thought like this could be my thing like I could do this forever. You know it’s going to be my thing. And you know the business had a ton of ups and downs from you know getting the AdWords account unceremoniously shut down like on my first day of self-employment you know turning the keys to my company car and like I was like All right I’m going to be do this entrepreneurship thing. Google says no you’re not. Hold on. I was like wait, wait, wait. You know you go to your account. Yeah it was nuts they said you’re an affiliate site you know the sole purpose of your site is to drive traffic to other sites. And I said well the sole purpose of Google is to drive traffic to other sites like who you know who are you to judge you know. So you go through like you know anger and denial and all this stuff and make some changes to their website really just adding more internal links to balance the number of external links that are on the page that seemed to do the trick. And they came back three months later and they said it looks like we made an error. You’re good to go. And there was just like turn on a faucet again and the traffic was back. But you know that was that was the first of many kind of challenges. You know developer challenges there was an affiliate Nexus legal battle in California that kind of presented some challenges we actually had to go rent an apartment in Nevada for a little while to be able to continue to run this business. It just kind of played in the margin between the cost of traffic and what that traffic was worth in terms of commissions and was getting squeezed on both sides over the course of eight or nine years and he was very happy to have some other projects to kind of take its place.
Jeff: What is the passion that drives you now. It’s not shoes it’s not necessarily selling products. I don’t know. I mean you’ve got the book and some other things like that. You have courses that you sell. In other words?
Nick: I haven’t got a course right now. I did. It’s kind of like a 30 day side hustle challenge type of course a couple of years ago and maybe something like that again. I mean the three main revenue drivers right now are sponsorships on the podcast, affiliate offers on the Web site and then kind of my own random side hustles like the self-publishing stuff. The other affiliate sites that I still have some freelancing stuff a little bit of e-commerce. They’re all kind of fall under that side hustle umbrella. But you know what am I passionate about today? It’s like I’m learning new stuff every week you know through these conversations. And like that’s exciting to me I like when I can hang up a podcast interview being like I should totally do that or like I’ve got some homework to do from this call. Like that’s you know that’s exciting stuff because I know if I am thinking that other people are thinking that too. And I think that’s what it kind of keeps people coming back and listening to the show. Some of those are kind of the what keeps things going these days.
Jeff: You have if you’ve not listened to the side hustle show for our listeners I highly recommend you go and listen to that. At the end of every show you do your top takeaways. Now you have a ton of stuff man after 200 and what 247, 247 shows right you’ve had a ton of takeaways. Do you have the time to implement all those things and what maybe would you say have been some of the biggest things that you’ve implemented for yourself that you’ve learned on the program.
Nick: There has been a ton of stuff a couple examples that kind of come top of mind like one of the very early episodes to kind of put the show on the map. Was this conversation with an inarko fighter is his FIVERR screen name. And he famously or like his claim to fame is like he earned enough money on fiver to buy a house in his first year on the platform. And so fiverr is F I V E R R dotcom it’s the kind of known as the $5 marketplace and I’d used it at that time as a customer as a buyer. I got a graphic design and articles and other like you know website fixes and stuff but I never considered using it as a seller. Like what can you sell for five bucks four bucks after they take their cut? You know that’s going to be worth their while. So you walk through this whole process of you know your $5 thing has got to be you know a pre written, prerecorded, you know it’s a PDF file, a video file, you know something that takes you two seconds to deliver. And if somebody wants your time you could do that in the gig extra. Seems like the key to the keyword fiverr is like the marketplace of goods and services that start at $5. So at $5 we had him on a couple of years later. They now allow you to custom orders up to $10000. He said he made the first $10000 order.
Jeff: What did he do?
Nick: So his background was in PR in copywriting. OK so an example of one of his gigs was like I’ll send you the best you know the seven steps to a killer autoresponder sequence or something right. And so that’s the $5 thing. And then in the upsales like all right message number one for you to help write message number two for you. So that was kind of how. How he did it. And so the custom package was like you know the right sales page for the right customer is worth ten thousand or more it is worth a lot of money. You know that’s going to increase your conversion rate especially on a high dollar product. So it was kind of his background in the way to look at it is like you know what’s the what’s the entry point into your service offering you know what’s the you know what’s the quiet little thing. But I like to go back to the implementation question like so after that conversation I was like All right I’m going to try this out so I put a couple of books that I had up for sale on fiver and one of them actually ended up outselling Amazon for the same title book.
Jeff: Fiverr’s outsold what you were getting on Amazon.
Nick: Yeah. During these like you know first couple months of this trial I was like this is really interesting. So I was going around more with the platform and eventually, got brave and said I’ll turn on the screen recorder software. My feedback on your website. You know in terms of SEO usability and all this stuff and that I mean that gig was a ton of fun. And then in the extras was like I’ll go into more detail suggestions on marketing or whatever and end up doing hundreds of those things it was like that was a ton of fun maybe not the greatest hourly rate in the world but ended up being pretty decent with the upsells that were going on. So you know fiverr is an example kind of like one of these fun platforms that never really considered. But then you know this kind of podcast kind of showed me showed me the way and it had some fun doing that. The other example that comes to mind actually conversation from Joseph Hoag who runs a peer finance. And you know really a handful kind of like sites in the personal finance space. He is kind of like the SEO expert inside the FINCOM community the kind of like financial blogger community and what he said is like if you’re taking the time to create this post and you don’t expect it to rank if you don’t expect it to bring in either you know search traffic from Google or you know search or social traffic from Pinterest like why are you writing it like what’s the point of this. And that was kind of an eye-opening moment to me because you know he looked at every piece of content as its own kind of like individual asset like this is going to be from you know lead generation from you know affiliate revenue from advertising revenue from e-mail signups for it or whatever it is. And you know instead of looking at you know I came from blogging is like you know I started years and years ago like as a person you know it was kind of a cross between like a personal journal and like you know the type of blog that you see today. And you know that was kind of a real eye-opening conversation just kind of made me rethink the different types of content that I create like is this going to be a standalone asset. Is it strong enough to generate traffic on its own? Sometimes yes sometimes no.
Jeff: So now you go into everything that you do. I’m assuming with that mentality now do you write a blog along with the podcast now? Because I haven’t looked at that necessarily.
Nick: So I do create like the show notes for the site and then I’ve got a guy who is going to write the summaries of the episode and use those as a lead magnets for each episode.
Jeff: OK but as far as like just a blog that you will say the show notes or the content and you have it in the show notes as the written content then you’ve got the podcast as like another piece of content the audio that people can listen to you.
Nick: Those will be on the same page.
Nick: And then also there’s like the full written only component of the site which is just like straight blog posts like you know here’s 200 plus ways to make extra money here are you know 79 alternative investment platforms that you ought to check out for higher returns. As you know stuff like that is kind of the written side of the site.
Jeff: And those would all be now very specific very intentional about do you do that for the podcast then. Like are you very intentional about are these interviews going to generate traffic or are they going to accomplish the purpose of getting leads. Do you think about that or are you more concerned with is this going to be an interesting interview is this going to be a piece of information that my audience is going to want to know about or here to listen to
Nick: With this show I try and start with the with the hook or the or the topic. And so usually it’s like an interesting side hustle that you know somebody did something remarkable and like that’s worth talking about especially if it’s like applicable on a broader you know didn’t require some special skill like those episodes tend to do well or it’s a specific marketing tactic that they could be applied across a broad range. So the you know one recent example was what’s his name Ben Foley from I forget the name of a fully rich Life.com is you know talking about anxiety and like mindfulness and stuff like that but like you know started from zero and generated a ton of traffic from you know syndicating his content to medium dot com. And then specifically inside of that like specific publications inside a medium was like dude this is cool stuff like I never knew how any of this worked. And you know so it’s kind of like a specific traffic generating or specific kind of like marketing tactic to try and start with like what’s that hook what’s an angle. What are people going to learn from it and then trying to find who’s the best person to tell that story.
Jeff: What’s your vision for your online business going forward? Where do you see the side hustle nation in five years and what like if you could draw up your dream of what you’d like to be what you’d like to be doing five years from now what you like your business to look like? What would that be?
Nick: Yeah that’s kind of crazy to think about because the stuff I was doing five years ago would be you know unrecognizable stuff do today would be unrecognizable to like the you know five years ago. So it’s hard to project five years into the future honestly if we looked a lot like you know those today I think that would be cool. But I know that it won’t. It’s just you know this stuff evolves so quickly. In a perfect world. You know I would probably work fewer hours. Maybe that’s not even true. I love the work that I do. It’s just I feel kind of like this constant not overwhelm, but just like you never fully done like the to do. There’s always more stuff that you want to do. And so maybe being smarter about prioritization and have some better systems and a team in place to kind of really focus on the stuff that’s like in your wheelhouse. Always be doing that versus other more tedious stuff and there’s always room for improvement on that so maybe that’s kind of like they’re you know five years is a long time to wait to implement that. I hope we get some of that get the ball rolling on that in the next in the next few months here.
Jeff: What do you say is your biggest struggle? What’s the biggest challenge for you outside of saying oh I need to find more time and get the things done. What’s been the biggest challenge through the whole process?
Nick: With the time thing is a constant struggle and I’ve been trying to be more honest with myself and so saying I don’t have enough time trying to say the more truthful – I prioritize something else. Sometimes you know it can make my wife mad. Why didn’t you do that. I prioritize. It’s like well then doing the dishes or whatever the afternoon I the other thing that struggle may be one of the early struggles was you know not really understanding that the podcast is content marketing. You know on the podcast and in really the blog too is unlikely to be a business in itself but it can kind of help feed the business. You know what’s the underlying you know monetization model. And when I first started I didn’t have any. So it took 14 15 months to kind of figure out that you know the podcast is content marketing and you know once that happened that was like flipping a switch. So what that specifically looked like was you know creating these episodes specific lead magnets these episodes specific opt in offers which was just like a highlight it was just like a summary of the show like here. You know the most important stuff that we talked about here was this person’s Top Tips. And at that time. So you 14, 15 months into the show 60 something episodes into the show had built an audience of maybe a thousand subscribers e-mail subscribers at that time which I was happy with. You know. You know a thousand people who raised their hands they we want to hear from you know within three months of doing that it was 3000 within six months it was 6000 It was just get really kind of like the start of the inflection point for the show for the brand. So I had to figure that out a little bit earlier so I was kind of a struggle early on. Lately it’s just trying to keep up with the keep up with the content. I don’t know it’s just like every … Another Thursday has come and I had to come up with something to talk. So trying to batch process a little bit better and now that we’ve kind of pre-sold a lot of the ad spots and really kind of batch record and you know really trying to line these up you know months in advance hopefully where you know can take a little breather from you know the constant like Oh crap what’s next Thursday going to be about.
Jeff: Right. So it’s interesting it’s very interesting to talk to you and just kind of explore your journey. Who would you say was your best interview on the show? I mean I don’t know if you can pick one. Who was your best one and what was the reason why do you think they were the best one?
Nick: Oh my gosh you make me take favorites here with me.
Jeff: It’s just kind of like when you ask someone what’s their favorite movie you know nobody can ever give one so I’ll give you like you know two or three maybe.
Nick: I mean they’re all good. They’re all good in their own in their own way.
Jeff: Let me at maybe how about this one. From whom did you learn the most about yourself?
Nick: That’s a good question. So we kind of like my interview with Noah Kagan was kind of a weird one. We never really like officially started the, we never really officially started the show within 30 within 30 seconds of the call connecting. He was like hey why don’t you have the recorder. You know sometimes the best stuff you know kind of comes in this like you know getting to know you chat. And so I like kind of tacking that on to the end of the show and it was him like interviewing me in a lot of ways that you see kind of an interesting like you know off the cuff conversation where I never really expected it to you know to publish it. But that was an interesting one. Really one of the ones that I you know implemented and have you know really seen some powerful results from was with Rosemarie Groaner from the Busy budgeter. Yeah that episode 1:42 where she kind of walks through like her strategy for just driving a ton of traffic from Pinterest which was something I knew nothing about. And so she was like super you know super tactical like step by step by step. And at that point you know she hadn’t been on a ton of podcasts. So it’s kind of fun to you know expose that story kind of like break you know break the news in a lot of ways. So I think those are kind of fun but some of the ones that I like are the ones that took you know two or three tries to get a good recording out of you know we’ll be halfway through and be like time out. You know this. I’m sorry. You know this isn’t doing it for me. Like what. It’s a style that’s very like what’s narrow down the focus sometimes. We’re trying to cover you know six years’ worth of timeline. An example of that was the bread baking sourdough bread lady from Udemy. She is making a pretty healthy full time living you know teaching people how to bake sourdough bread on line. And I you know I remember what was the first recording was OK but it was the second one we came back we focused on the Facebook group and it is be a lot tighter. There there’s another one we did on kind of like an off line web in our strategy. Joshua Lysic who was like you had a really cool tactic of like I want to serve small businesses in my local community. How can I get in front of them? Well if I reach out to attorneys and accountants, CPA firms like in my community like they already have on their client role like the exact people that I’m trying to target. So what if I host like this little lunchtime power hour workshop on you know the seven deadly sins of you know your web site or something like that. And there’s not even a sales pitch just like you know him presenting himself as the expert on this thing and people meanwhile like taking notes like crazy and they can’t rush up fast enough afterwards like dude we’ve got to have a call you know. Or you know our Web site is horrible compared to what you’re laying out. And so I would really like that one. But you know where we started it was like you know what’s your freelance journey. So was there you know when we narrowed it down like that that’s kind of the fun part. It’s like trying to come up with that that hook that single lesson tactic take away that people can really, really learn from.
Jeff: Pretty interesting. Pretty interesting What would you say you’ve learned most about yourself through podcasting and through your side hustle journey what s what have you learned about you.
Nick: Through it all like that. I’m not that good. I’m not that smart. Like that’s kind of been the recurring theme really over the last 15 years so I was really blessed in school to have some good teachers that said you know set me up for success. And so being like a good like a great student in school like this is easy. You teach me what I need to know. I aced the test. You know that we move on in in real life like where this hit me was in college. I had a painting business I was part of like one of these college painting internships thing. And you know and so they are in the companies like web site they have like the leaderboard like how much should be sold how much should be produced
Jeff: You go and pitch it to the homeowner. You didn’t actually do the painting or did you.
Nick: You were I wasn’t supposed to but ended up doing a lot of painting. You know it’s like you’re supposed to hire people for that you know but I kind of would like underbid these jobs to like make you know afraid of like not getting enough work and so I spent a lot of time panicked. But what was kind of eye opening there was like my buddy who was also doing this you know would call me up at 10 in the morning and be like do you want to go wakeboarding and you’re like dude I’m painting and it was like How are you like how does this work. And so he was way better at this than me because he had delegated this to his team like he had did the project appropriately and he’d hired people who could get it done without him being there. And meantime I was like All right let’s hustle let’s you know we can finish up this one wall and get around to this. As you know it was really an eye opening thing. And you know I was I was you know probably a 50th percentile but not like 90 percentile in terms of you know success in the painting business. So it was eye opening same thing. Like in all of this stuff like the blogging world the podcasting world it’s like trying to strive to get better every week. And a lot of that comes from you know borrowing the knowledge from my guests.
Jeff: It’s funny you say that because I would venture to bet most people consider you an expert you know just simply from what you’ve done with the side hustle show most people will look at you and go oh man if I can only get there you see what I’m saying.
Nick: Well go listen to the first 50 episodes. Well don’t go listen don’t because they’re embarrassing.
Jeff: Yeah. Yeah. Well then that’s the other maybe that’s the other side of the coin is there’s often this you know kind of like a fantasy that oh look at what he’s done. And I can get there next week. Nobody looks at the years of time you put in the episodes and the struggle and walking through and learning right the challenges and stuff that have got you there along the way everyone just thinks oh I should be able to get there next week.
Nick: Yeah it’s this long. I don’t know at least for me it’s been kind of long term process and it’s been it’s been fun. Like it’s been a cool challenge but it definitely hasn’t happened overnight. If I can go back like probably you know figure out how to grow it a little bit faster. But it’s getting in your 10000 hours.
Jeff: If you could go back and start again what would you do different.
Nick: Do the lead magnets differently from the start. Like I said you know recognize that the show’s content marketing. I would probably do ad reads from the very beginning like sponsors. Not that I’ve had a ton of pushback from you know having sponsors on the show but I think it makes yourself makes the show sound more legit. Do these guys got sponsors on Episode 1. You know you must have a big audience. So I think there is a perception to play down down that path if you think you’re eventually going to go down that road. Well one of the biggest I guess growth, you know the biggest spikes that I’ve seen have been from guesting on other shows. So being more aggressive about that kind of outreach early on you probably accelerate it too. And I know there is probably an element of practice and humility to what it’s like I don’t know I very rarely would pitch myself to be on somebody else’s show because it’s like if they want to invite me on I’ll say yes but like I don’t want to be like I to talk. And these are the best pictures that I get like here’s the hook you know here are the three things that you know the audience is going to learn from it. And you know I could probably still do a better job about being proactive about that stuff.
Jeff: Do you do that now or no you just take with people I mean you’re obviously doing more shows now right. But are you actively pursuing that or now you’re at a point where people are actively seeking you out.
Nick: Yeah I’ve only pitched a couple. I haven’t, I haven’t been as aggressive about that as I probably should be.
Jeff: Well one of the things that we talk about is very big interest to me is success. And what do you think about success particularly what is your definition of success for you and have you reached it. And when will you reach it. Do you think you will ever reach it?
Nick: Well I think a success as you know having control over your own calendar. And so in that sense like I have I’ve reached that like I can you know block out the time that I want to to do the work that I want to do. And you know take time off for the family that and then I need to I want to. So in that sense you know that’s you know that’s a successful career that I that I’ve built here. The downside is it still takes a lot of time to run. And even though it’s work that I enjoy like there’s still a lot of hours they go into it the the way that you can kind of massage this even if you’re you know still working for somebody else is to say OK if success is control over my own calendar you know what hours during the day do I have control over. And if you kind of audit your time you might find you might say well I don’t have any hours or I’d have half an hour or maybe in the evening that I you know watch Netflix or something like if you if you write it down like where are 24 hours actually going. I think you might find that you have more than more than you think that you actually have control over. And so I think that can be a core mindset shift say hey if success is control over my own calendar I actually already have control over 16 hours a day or you know eight hours a day if I’m going to chalk up some to sleeping and eating and all this other and maybe commuting or whatever else you might find that you’re more than more than you think. And if you can say OK I’m going to prioritize my health fitness I’m going to prioritize my site also projects and prioritize my family. Like what can you get under in those times. And if you make it a habit try and you know be proactive be consistent about blocking and off you might be surprised what you get done after the course of a month.
Jeff: Well I don’t want to take your time out too much. You’ve been so so generous. It’s been great great talking to you. If you would just give our listeners a little taste of where they can hear about and show you where they can connect with you on line. And then we will be done. I appreciate you being here.
Nick: You bet. So the side hustle show will show of course love. Yeah. You tune into that available on iTunes or find podcasts are sold apparently not Spotify yet but working on that. And then if you hit side hustle nation dot com slash ideas kind of in that idea hunting phase hopefully this laundry list of Part-Time business ideas will get the creative juices flowing. No opt in required there. And I would love to have you reach out let me know that you that you like the show.
Jeff: Excellent. Thanks so much Nick appreciate you being on man.
Nick: Thanks for having me.
Jeff: You’re welcome