My Sources Of Alternative Income And How I Make Them Work For Me.

As I mentioned just the other day, a while back I stopped depending on only one source of income and started focusing on making money from multiple sources. While I still have a day job that I do for about 25 hours a week, I realized that depending on only my weekly paycheck could be a recipe for disaster, so I started thinking of other ways I could make money, and this is how I do it.

The second biggest source of income after my day job are my two blogs. It took a long time and a lot of work to get to this point, but now they bring in enough income that I could comfortably give up my day job and still be OK. The problem with blog income is that while it does usually stay consistent from month to month, you never know when it might disappear or start dropping. So while the money is good, it’s still not enough at this point for me to focus only on blogging to make money. If you are thinking of or have already started a blog but are looking for good tips on improving it, check out Blogthority, where a few friends and I write articles about, well, blogging :-).

In addition to my day job and running my blogs, I have also now learned enough about blogging to offer my services to other bloggers looking for SEO, content development, and ad sales/placement. I have 2 clients right now that pay me a percentage of their blog income each month in exchange for helping them get their blogs noticed by the search engines and by advertisers. I just started doing this recently, but it is starting to pay off and will be a nice source of long-term income as the blogs I help continue to grow.

While we are on the subject of the internet, I also started building websites for people/small businesses. I always dabbled in HTML and coding, but lately I have been working on my skills by taking a brush-up class on several subjects and have landed 2 website redesigns in the last month. This can be another source of long-term income, as people always need websites created and/ore redesigned, and while I may not have the best skills out there, there are some truly hideous sites out there. When we move to New Mexico, I should be able to find quite a few people looking to have sites built or fixed, as it is a much smaller pond and I will be a much bigger fish there!

Years ago I completed an 8 month training program for film and video editing. At the time, I really thought I wanted to be an editor…but that all changed as I realized I would have to sit in a dark room for 15 hours a day by myself! So while I have the skills, I figure why not market them to people looking for smaller projects to be edited and/or converted to DVD? I have the video equipment and the software on my Mac that enables me to convert any format of videos into digital files, and at that point I can edit them, create highlight reels, make DVD’s with chapters, etc.. You would not believe how many people have their home videos sitting around on VHS, wishing they could have them on DVD before the tape starts to disintegrate! Offering a decent rate for that kind of service can land you a good amount of work. Dub houses here in Los Angles can charge up to $100 for transferring 1 hour of videotape, which means I can charge a lot less and still make good money.

I am also pretty proficient in InDesign and Photoshop, and that has gotten me a few little jobs designing blog headers, web badges, business cards, flyers for events, etc. Again, even if there is only a few of these a month, it is extra income in addition to everything else I do, so it all adds up!

So let’s see – my day job, my blogs, blog optimization for others, video/film editing or DVD creation, website creation, and graphic arts work – add all these up and it makes for a pretty well-rounded “source” of income, wouldn’t you say? That being said, there are also other ways I try to supplement my income…

  • I take online surveys. Companies like American Consumer Opinion tend to send me a few each month, and I will take every dollar I can get!
  • I signed up for My Points. While it does not directly put money in my bank account, by reading a bunch of emails every month I get points to purchase gift cards to restaurants, retail stores, etc. The last amount of points I turned in was for a $75 gift card to our favorite resort out in Palm Springs, CA – not bad for reading some emails. Now I am saving up all my points for something bigger and I already have 15,000 points sitting in my account. My wife does it as well, so we effectively get double the amount of points, which means double the amount of gift cards! My Dollar Plan is another blogger who loves My Points.
  • If you are not using a rewards credit card, you are missing out on free money or airline tickets. We charge everything to our cash back card or our AA mileage card so we can earn free money or miles each month.

Basically, after getting laid off a few years ago, I started realizing that I cannot depend on one company and one paycheck in order to make my life secure. When I left my corporate job, some people in my family could not believe it – “What about job security?”…well, what about it? Who says my corporate job would be there long term? As an extreme example, Enron was probably thought to be indestructible too…and look what happened to them. I want to work on my terms and depend on myself to make my money – I no longer feel comfortable putting all my trust in a single employer. At this point, if my “day job” were to disappear, what would happen? Not too much, really. I would lose a source of income, but I have other sources of income and not having my day job would give me more time to focus on them to make the money back I lost! However, something to keep in mind – A lot of people think that alternative income means passive income, which is not always the case. And calling blogging “passive” income is a misnomer, as you still have to maintain it, comment, write articles, etc.. Just because it makes you money when you are not sitting at the computer does not mean it is passive by any means. Everything I do to make money is “active” – it’s just that at some times money comes in when I am not working directly on the project itself.

So if you are looking for alternative sources of income, take stock of what you are good at and what you could offer other people. Are you good with kids? Try teaching or tutoring after school. Are you a good artist? Build a website selling your services to companies looking for graphic design work. Start taking classes in something you are interested in that could make you money. Your day job might even have a program in place to pay for outside classes that they think would benefit the company…take advantage of them! Really, the opportunities are endless and it is up to you to make it happen. Patrick from Cash Money Life has a great article about how your greatest asset is possibly your ability to create income and I tend to agree. If you are comfortable depending on only your boss to put money in your pocket, then this post probably is not for you. But if you want to create your own income, it’s going to take a lot of work and investigation to see what you can do to make money. In the end, though, it will be worth it to control your own financial life!

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Comments (60)

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  1. Mrs. Micah says:

    I don’t know if it’ll bring any income, but I’m starting to dabble in CSS and the like. I’m working on my first WordPress theme. ๐Ÿ™‚ We’ll see if that goes anywhere…it nothing else, I could put up a site with some free themes.

  2. david says:

    Exactly – it’s all about little things adding up to real money. Congrats Mrs. Micah on your first theme, cannot wait to see it!

  3. And here I thought that your day job was the film editing/design thing…

    I think you have a lot more job security now. If you can lose 25 hours a week of work and say that not much would change, I would think you should get paid more :-).

  4. Patrick says:

    Great article, David. I’ve started working on alternative income as well, and it is amazing how much it can grow when you begin to get creatiev with it. I am nowhere near making it a full-time job, but if I were laid off, I know it would provide at least some side income to help cover me until I could find another full-time source of income. Who knows? Maybe one day my alternative income streams will outpace my day job! (it will take awhile though!) ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. being laid off and unemployed for a few months really gave me the same kind of jolt.

    great post.

  6. Evan says:

    I am signing up for those surveys and you can get a referel – what is your email associated with the account?

  7. Jesse says:

    Just a thought David: considering you are a good writer, would it maybe be a better use of your time doing something like submitting content to the associated content instead of doing surveys?

  8. david says:

    Jesse, I used to…but I did a bunch of them and made a total of $3.86 – not really worth my time to give them my articles that I could use on my own site to make real money. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Surveys give me a few extra bucks a month for a few minutes of work a month, it’s not much time.

  9. Cynthia says:

    Thank you. I found this post very thought provoking. I have always assumed I didn’t have any other options besides a regular 9-5 job. Now I’m trying to think of ways to use some of my talents to generate side income. I’ve always seen side income on other blogs listed as only ad revenue or surveys. I haven’t seen someone use their talents and interests in such great ways to generate side (and eventually all) income.

  10. You’re doing great at diversifying. I really need to get working on it… especially since it’s a goal of mine for 2008. I had no idea you had so many diverse talents!

  11. david says:

    Glad to help Cynthia, hope it jumpstarts your thinking!

    I try Madison, I try!

  12. What software and hardware do you use to do the video conversion on your Mac? How much of an investment?

  13. Brip Blap says:

    Great article. You’re saying something that OUGHT to be common sense for all of us. As with so many things in life, it’s great to read people theorizing about it but it’s infinitely better to read about someone who’s actually doing it.

    Just go ahead and call yourself a problogger. C’mon, you know you want to!


  14. david says:

    PT – I use a Mac Pro, Final Cut Pro for editing, a Canopus converter to convert the format, along with a ton of other little programs for cleaning the video, compressing, etc. Just the computer, FCP (which I bought years ago and just spent another $200 to upgrade to the latest edition) and the converter box probably run about $4,000 or so.

    Thanks Steve…Maybe I will start doing that! ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Kathy says:

    This article has truly helped me. My blog is new, but I love writing. I wondered if it could ever make any money at all. So your information gave me the help I needed. There is never a time that you don’t need extra income.

  16. Minimum Wage says:

    I’ve had this idea for an online portal for neighborhood businesses, where every business could have its own page(s).

    But I don’t have the skill to build a real website, and I’m wondering is any of those “website builder” programs would be adequate for the job.

  17. David says:

    Why don’t you give them a shot MW?

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  25. Excellent post! I have concentrated so much on my blog’s content, I forget there is also a income/business side to it. A lot of good insights here!

    Best Wishes,

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  31. Great article! I do think though that you are not very diversified since every source of income for you is only technology related. What happens if everyone knows how to do SEO or webdesign?
    You might want to think about investments as well. I am thinking dividends and/or interest income could be a nice cushion.

  32. David says:

    I do invest, thanks though.

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  36. jsmith6664 says:

    Good for you…

    Screw the rest of us.

  37. david says:

    Well with that attitude jsmith, I wouldn’t expect you to be very successful in coming up with alternative sources of income. Sorry if I offended you by trying to encourage people to reach out beyond their day job and explore other ways to make money!

  38. That’s a very inspiring article my two dollars. Passive income is the thing that will set you free from a 9-5 job. The thing that is really appealing about passive income is the ability to get geographical independence for your income. Even if you go and travel abroad, the stream of income keeps on flowing into your bank account!

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  45. asterix says:

    Well I am looking to start a blog site and was wondering if there are any programs out there to start one..also regarding web site development, are there applications/programs that can be configured to make it yours

  46. david says:

    Try wordpress.org, thats what everyone uses.

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  48. Hey David,

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    Nice to see something so honest for a change.

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  51. Jennifer says:

    Great article! I also have several sources of alternative income including writing for Associated Content, blogging, selling handcrafted pendants on Etsy, babysitting at a local church nursery, selling stuff on Ebay, and earning interest from high yield savings accounts. (I like selling on Etsy the best!)

    Thanks for sharing what works for you!

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  53. Chris says:

    I’m also an alternative income seeker. I struggled with freelance writing for a while and blogging for money but found that it was a very difficult market to break.

    A few months ago I started making money by going to yard sales and reselling the stuff I bought there on eBay, and it’s gotten to the point where it’s pretty lucrative. Not many people do it, either. I now blog about it on my website (link in my name). It’s a great way to make money compared to a regular job, though I don’t know how much I would be making if I went full time, hardcore. (I currently pull in roughly $500/week working weekends for the sales and errant weekdays for listing and fulfillment).

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  55. I am also working on building up alternative sources of income, because I have had so much trouble finding a regular job and because it is more flexible than working full-time (I am a college student, so I need a flexible schedule).

    I’ve been reading a lot about affiliate marketing, which has been somewhat successful for me. Also, I have been designing websites for people on the cheap and building up my portfolio so I can charge for the big bucks once I get out of school.

  56. David Wilson says:

    Thanks for the post, great information. People forget that making small changes can make a huge difference in their overall financial status.

  57. Noah Walston says:

    been visiting ur site around a few days. absolutely love your posts. by the way i will be doing a study about this issue. do you happen to know any websites or perhaps online forums where I can get more info? thanks a lot.

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  59. I very much agree with you, David, one must have multiple streams of income or means of survival. I do think that the internet and mobile marketing/advertising is here to stay for a while and working hard at it, I’m sure we can make a good income from that.

    I’m in a different position a bit, as I live in Spain. Many money making opportunities are not open to non-US residents and also, although I’m a webdesigner, I can’t offer myself as such as I live too far away from civilization with a mobile internet connection that is really low due to being surrounded by mountains.

    Fair enough, that is the situation and so I thought, yes, blogging is a good steam of income, and the only other thing is writing articles for clients and I have already built up a niche for myself and orders for writing blog posts are coming in. The other thing I’m doing is writing for a couple of Q & R sites answering questions. And I can do that at my pace.

    We also moved to a little homestead where we grow our own food and can go foraging if we want to. Peace of mind – food and shelter is taken care of!

    Well, thanks for sharing your ideas and if we all share our ideas then I’m sure we can make ends meet in economically “strange” times!

  60. Wilson Courtney says:

    That’s good idea to have some additional job to earn extra money such as blogging, the most common job right now. I love to earn extra income too. Could you give some more tips to be a good blogger?