If you went 50/50 on something instead of just 100% on one thing, how could that change your life?
This may be a weird statement coming from a person who is self-employed, but my goal for 2017 is to transform my income stream. My goal is that by the end of the year, at least 50% of it will come from self-generated projects or products. This means that at least half of the income I earn this year needs to come from projects or products that I have generated, not from client work.
You see, since I started this journey as a self-employed person, I have made my income doing work for other people. Whether designing websites for businesses or photographing weddings, I am doing work that I was hired to do by someone else who had a need. I may own my own business, but I am working for others.
There is nothing wrong with doing work for other people. Our country runs on the trade of services for dollars. Ultimately, I want to get to the place where the majority of my income is generated from products and services I have created. I have spent the last 19 years of my life pouring my energy into the projects of others. I would moonlight occasionally on my own projects and have had some success with a few of them, but they always ended up on the backburner because client work paid faster.
So how do I plan to transform my income stream this year? Glad you asked.
I have a couple of projects that I will be working on a lot this year in an attempt to tip the scale toward self-generated income. A couple of these projects are still in the conceptual stage and I am not ready to share much about them. The other projects are already live and I will pour into them even more this year.
The first project is Ditch Auto. Four years ago, I filmed a course to help people get out of auto mode on their cameras so they could unlock the true potential of their cameras which are found in manual mode. Pro photographers use manual mode to properly expose and capture the image they see rather than the image the camera sees. I filmed this course in a day and did not anticipate it growing into a thriving photography community. Today, over 125,000 people have taken the course and we have a pretty active Facebook Group as well. Starting the beginning of this year, we launched a weekly photography challenge, which kicked off strong and is growing larger each week.
My plans for Ditch Auto this year include the modernization of the original course, creating additional courses, and growing the community to help people grow as photographers whether they want to be in business as a photographer, or enjoy it as a hobby.
The second project is State of Tech: In 2007 I started a blog where I reviewed iPhone Apps. Over the years that turned into a podcast that diversified into a variety of different mobile technologies. The last 10 years in the mobile tech space has taught me that many people still do not understand the technology they are walking around with each day. State of Tech has a small, but growing online community on Youtube and I intend to grow that following through the production of valuable content. State of Tech will also expand into a variety of educational courses geared toward helping people better understand and use their smart devices. I believe that Ditch Auto has more promise as far as generating an income goes, but there is a huge gap in educating people on mobile technology.
Project #3 is not a product that is going to help me meet or exceed my goal as mentioned above, but it will eventually contribute to my bottom line.
As I mentioned before, I have spent the majority of my adult life doing creative work for others. During that time, there are many tools and services I have become a professional in using. A few years ago, I started to work towards shifting the income stream of my company Hill Media Group. For years I was doing project-based work for a fixed fee. Once the project ended, I was paid and I had to find a new project. I still do a lot of project-based work, but about 25% of Hill Media Group’s income comes from ongoing work we do for our clients.
I realized that we are really good at handling tasks for our clients. When our clients deliver a clear task to us, we often can turn it around for them in a short period of time. The relationship we have with our clients that retain our services on a monthly basis makes it easy for us to prioritize their tasks and get them done.
Project #3 will be a new company that specializes in handling a variety of digital tasks for small businesses and organizations. I am partnering with a long-term employee and friend of mine to launch this. I am really excited about the concept and have already begun developing the infrastructure needed to manage this new startup company.
Growth through actual products, not affiliate marketing.
It’s not that hard to create a ton of average content and link to products to generate income. Nobody will make much money doing that. If you want to generate income from affiliate marketing you have to create fantastic content and a lot of it. While there is nothing wrong with generating revenue from affiliates, I prefer to generate content to market my own products.
I have had some limited success in affiliate marketing. When the Hoverboard was new and exciting, I filmed a review of my Hoverboard for State of Tech and the Amazon Affiliate link generated between $1,800-$2,500 for several months until Amazon removed all of them from their inventory. What I learned from that experience was that your affiliate income stream is only as good as the product. Technology changes quickly, and fads move even faster than technology does. It takes a lot of effort to stay ahead of the curve to assure you always growing.
Why do I need my income to be self-generated?
I’ll say it again: There is nothing wrong with doing work for other people. The products and products I want to create will be consumed or used by other people, but there is a difference. The effort I am putting into my projects and products are generated from ideas and inspirations that I had. I saw a need and created something. These projects and products will be for others to consume, but they will be something that I saw from conception to delivery. If it succeeds, it will be because I saw the problem and executed on a solution. If it fails, it will be a lesson in which I can not direct a complaint at anyone but myself. I need that kind of challenge in my life. It will be an exercise in generating more control over my destiny by executing on my own ideas instead of focusing on others. It sounds like a selfish move, but it’s really not. I will do more good this way.
For years I have also had a desire to share my financials publically. I used to be held down by debt and seemed to always be carrying a balance somewhere. Whether it was car payments or credit card debt, I had it, and somehow justified it. These days I try to keep my family as close to debt free as possible. Though it is not always possible (yet), we are closer than ever. I plan to share some of my financial information as it pertains to achieving the goal mentioned above. Stay tuned for more information on that.
Shortly after turning 30 and having a few kids, I made this list of things I wanted to achieve over the next few decades. I called it my challenge list and I have not done a very good job of working on achieving those challenges. Now I could give myself the benefit of the doubt and blame it on being a busy business owner, husband, and father, but I’m not going to do that. The whole idea behind this list was that I would attempt to achieve some of these things while maintaining the life I am living. No excuses. So in 2017, I am going to start crossing off some of the challenges from the list. I encourage you to check back often and if I seem to be slacking, please call me out on social media.
My main goal for 2017 is to slide the revenue scale away from client-based work to my own projects and products. If you could slide the scale away from 100% and closer to 50/50, what would that look like, and how would it change your life? I’m not just talking about income, but anything. Perhaps you want to change your diet or travel more. How can you slide the scale toward doing that more?
If you could, take a moment to think about that. If you have a thought or an idea, share it in the comment section below! I would love to hear your thoughts.
Thanks for sticking around to the end of this post. If you want to follow along as I work toward my goal, make sure to follow me on social media. You can find the links on this page.