REAL ESTATE

The BEST Side Hustles You Can Start in 2024 (Outside of Real Estate!)

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The best side hustles can put some extra cash in your pocket, help you leave your W2 job, or even launch you toward FIRE. If you’re looking to make money in ways other than real estate investing, you don’t want to miss this side hustle special!

Nick Loper, founder of Side Hustle Nation and host of The Side Hustle Show, has been building businesses since he was a teenager. From lucrative digital assets to service-based ventures, Nick has done it all, and today, he’s bringing some fresh ideas for you to try. As you’re about to learn, these fledgling businesses come in all shapes and sizes. Some take years to nurture before you reap any reward for effort, while others allow you to start earning immediately. In any case, you need to choose one you’re interested in and stick with it if you want to see results!

In this episode of the BiggerPockets Money podcast, Nick dives into some of his favorite side hustles—many of which you can start TODAY with little to no money and minimal time. You’ll learn whether it’s still possible to build a money-making blog in 2024, as well as how to make extra income by renting out assets like inflatables, hot tubs, and vending machines!

Mindy:
On today’s episode, we’re talking about creative income producing assets outside of real estate.

Amanda:
That’s right, Mindy. We’re talking to Nick Loper from Side Hustle Nation and how you can start thinking creatively about on and offline income generating side hustles with little or no money to start.

Mindy:
Hello, hello, hello and welcome to the BiggerPockets Money podcast. My name is Mindy Jensen and with me today is my fabulous co-host Amanda Wolf.

Amanda:
Hi Mindy, always good to be here. I’m excited to be talking all about side hustles today because we are here to make financial independence less scary and less just for somebody else to introduce you to every money story because we truly believe financial freedom is attainable for everyone, no matter where or when you’re starting.

Mindy:
Nick Loper from Side Hustle Nation. Welcome back to the BiggerPockets Money podcast. It is always good to talk to you and I’m so excited to have you today.

Nick:
Well, I am excited to be here, like we said 500 episodes ago or something. It’s great to be back.

Mindy:
Yeah, we need to get you on a little bit more frequently than every 500 episodes. Nick, here at BiggerPockets, we talk about real estate all the time, but you have brought us some interesting income producing assets besides real estate, and I would love to first define what you mean by asset. Yeah,

Nick:
Asset, something that you own or control that pays you every month, every quarter, every year, whatever increment that you want to look at it, but something that you own or control that spins off income,

Amanda:
And I feel like the word asset is thrown around a lot in the media, in social media, in the news. What is the difference for you from an asset and a liability? We count some things as assets, some things as liability, and how much time would you say that it takes to require a good asset, one that you would consider worthy?

Nick:
Yeah, you can look at it both ways. It takes money to make money side of the equation where I can go out and buy a piece of property, I can go out and buy a dividend paying stock and that would be an asset. Sure. It’s spinning off quarterly cashflow and then there’s the sweat equity side of things or the fixer upper type of side of things to bring it back to real estate where it’s like, okay, could I create a digital asset? Could I go out and acquire some non-traditional rental asset where I think we could talk about, but you can scale things up and the whole time piece of the equation is really what gets me excited about the side hustles. It’s like, yes, I’m trading for hours, trading hours for dollars at my day job. It’s like, how do I get outside of that?
If Warren Buffet says, you got to find a way to make money in your sleep or else you’re going to work until you die and you got to figure this out and think about income as a pie chart and everybody, most people start out with a hundred percent of the pie chart is active income. It’s trading time for money. It’s like, well, if I eventually want to stop working or have the option to stop working, I got to figure out the time leveraged or the passive piece of that pie and keep growing that over time.

Amanda:
Totally. And I think it’s like when you look at it, it’s like you either have time or you have money, so if you have money you can use it to buy other income producing assets, but if you don’t have a lot of money, that’s when you have time and you can put some of that sweat equity into it what you are stating. So I’m sure that you’re going to share lots of really great ideas on some of those people out there who maybe don’t have a lot of extra money to put into creating some income producing assets and who do have extra time to be able to build out those assets. So I would love to talk a little bit about some of those digital assets that you just mentioned.

Nick:
For me, the biggest digital asset has been a website presence that can earn traffic and page views and monetize with advertising and affiliate relationships. And eventually, I mean, once you have the attention, you can sell your own products and services, you got lots of options there, but digital asset could be that website asset. It could be a digital course that you create. It could be we’ve had people selling printable files and spreadsheet templates. It could be a print on demand, t-shirt design that you have made, create something once, sell it over and over again. That’s the type of business that I really like. It has that time leverage where it doesn’t feel like, okay, I’ve got to provide this service to a client and I’m getting paid in exchange for that time. It’s like, no, I want to create something once and have it go to work for me.

Amanda:
And I think we all know that that possibility exists, right? But I feel like people sometimes get stuck on just starting. Do you have any advice on how to actually get started doing one of those things?

Nick:
So an example from the personal finance space, we talked to Emily McDermott on the Side Hustle Show and she created this Etsy shop and she was selling these through her own website as well, but this shop selling budgeting spreadsheets, templates, basically here’s your monthly financial dashboard that she created, made it look all pretty in Excel and in Google Doc or Google Sheets, and she’s like, well, I could sell this thing for 15 bucks or add on this extra bundle for $27. And it was like, shoot, these are customizable in the hands of the customers and they could fill this in, but it was like, dang, I love me some rows and columns. I got to get it on this side hustle. So it was really interesting to see what you could create and maybe you already have these assets as part of your day job or as part of your business that you’re running. We had an example from the $1,000 100 ways book, but he was selling originally the spreadsheet, rehab cost estimator template, and it was like, okay, I think this is what it’s going to cost to bring this new property up to rentable or resellable condition. And I think he eventually turned that into a software business on its own, but validated first through this. Anybody could create an Excel sheet based on this and then turn it into a more higher ticket SaaS product down the road. Okay,

Mindy:
I’m going to jump in here and say not everybody can create an Excel sheet, which is why these sell so well. If you have knowledge, you are leaps and bounds above somebody like me who doesn’t use it hardly ever. That

Nick:
Is shocking to me. Mindy, no,

Mindy:
Not a spreadsheet nerd. So many people in this community are, but that’s okay. Not everybody’s a spreadsheet nerd, but I like to use it when it’s been set up for me. This kind of thing would be perfect for me. Oh, I want to track my spending. If anybody ever checked out tracking my spending tracker, I didn’t set that up. My friend Mr. Waffles on Wednesday set that up for me because he does this all the time. That’s a really great example of using what you know, even though it might seem mundane. Oh, well, everybody knows Excel. No, everybody doesn’t know Excel. Not everybody knows how to do design. Not everybody knows how to do a lot of these things, which is why you can make so much money on these products because you’re doing it once. You’re spending a lot of time making it look beautiful, and then you sell it over and over again. You’ve already put your time into it, so you sell it once for $5, you just made $5 for however many hours it took you, but once you sell it like 500,000 times, you’ve made so much money for one product. Now bump that out a bunch of other products and you’ve got a real side hustle. You only spend the time when you’re designing it and then you put it out there for the world and say, I will sell it as many times as I can.

Nick:
The broader label that we could apply here would be selling your sawdust or selling your digital Sawdust where it’s like if there is a function that you’re already doing for your day job or for your business, what are the byproducts of doing that that other people might find value in? So we just had Liz Wilcox on the show, she’s this professional copywriter for hire, I’ll write your email sales emails and stuff like that. And what she turned around and started selling were these templates. If you write a weekly newsletter for your church, for your community organization, for your PTA for your website, you’re going to need these templates. It’s hard to open up that blank screen and the blinking cursor like, look, here’s the proven model that I’ve used for my past 10 years in business. You just fill in the blanks to make it relevant to your audience. And she started selling these for nine bucks a month and she had 4,000 members or something when we recorded it was nuts. And it was a cool example of just something that she was already creating, but just selling it to a slightly different audience. I thought it was really cool.

Amanda:
No, that is awesome. So I have a question then. As far as creating digital products, how many do you feel like you have to have or what type of a mix of products do you have to have in order for it to really be worth it? Do you have a big mix of them in your own shops or do you have to niche down or do you spread out or what’s the magic formula there?

Nick:
I imagine there’s going to be an 80 20 to all of this thing where 20% of the things that you create are going to account for 80% of the sales. The problem is you don’t know what those 20% are going to be until you create a bunch. And so Noah Kagan calls it like the rule of 100, put out a hundred YouTube videos, create a hundred products, write a hundred blog posts. You got to do the thing long enough to kind of get into the flow where instead, oh, I made five and none of them sold, and so I threw in the towel. It’s like, did you give it enough of a chance because had I given up after five episodes, nobody would be tuning in and it wouldn’t have turned into the life-changing experiment that it did. You got to give it a little bit of a chance there. And one thing that’s kind of been messing around with prompting chat GPT for product ideas, like, Hey, I run a business in the side hustle space, give me some digital product ideas on something that would be helpful to this audience. And it came back with a business planning template. It came back with a marketing plan template. It came back with some stuff. It was actually, dang, these actually are bad ideas. You kind of fill in the gaps for those and go see if there’s any demand.

Amanda:
That is genius. Work smarter, not harder for sure. GPT is changing the game on everything. I feel like that is super smart.

Mindy:
You can plug in a lot of different information to chat GPTI was able to use it a couple of times and I got some great ideas. I got some not going to do that ideas, but still in one big output I got like, Ooh, that’s awesome. That’s awesome. I’m probably not going to do that one. That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Yeah, play around with chat GPT after the break. Nick Loper will tell us about his favorite digital assets and the ways you can use your expertise to make money.

Amanda:
Welcome back to the BiggerPockets Money podcast.

Mindy:
Okay, let’s move on to royalties. Nick. How does someone earn royalties?

Nick:
You can earn royalties anytime a work or idea of yours is user purchased. So the most famous example is probably famous songs. Anytime a song is played on the radio or wherever or on Spotify, the artist and the record company, they’re getting a little slice of that. But for solo content creators, it could be a book that you have written. It could be a piece of music that you’ve created. It could be a picture of photography video that you’ve created. And on those fronts, very much a volume game. The people I thought I’ve talked to make it any sort of money in stock photography, it’s like, well, I had a portfolio of thousands and thousands of units in the same 80 20 rule applies, but it’s a viable path to go. An interesting way to go on the royalty front is licensing a physical product idea.
We’ve done a few episodes on this. You talked to with Steven Key’s, the founder of a company called Invent, right? And just helps modern day inventors get their products created. And I thought it was so interesting, it’s like not going through the manufacturing process, not going through the marketing process, not having to build this actual thing, but going and find a company that already creates something really similar and pitching them the idea. And so I was looking it up before this call. If you Google Hasbro submit ideas, they have a dedicated page on their website built for inventors to come and pitch them. The next thing is their way of crowdsourcing different ideas, and I think they’re paying a lower royalty at one point a half percent of sales I as their template contract there. But Steven says, Hey, four or 5%, maybe more average if you’re going out and doing this proactive outreach. But it was like, dang, okay, now you start thinking about all of the pains and problems in your life. Well, how can I make this product slightly better or more useful or just make a slight evolution to it, a slight pivot to it and have somebody else do the bulk of the work there. You’ve just become the idea person.

Amanda:
Yeah, I think that’s genius. And I’ll say also, I feel like when you hear royalties, you think of just music, you think of famous people and royalties with their music. So I first want to say is maybe if we take it a step back, what are royalties? And I know you just named a whole bunch of things that you can capitalize on getting royalties on, but what would you say are some of the easiest things to get royalties on and what exactly are royalties?

Nick:
So royalties, my understanding or my definition would be getting a portion of the sale or usage rights anytime your idea or product gets sold. So a personal example, I’ve got half a dozen books up for sale on Amazon on the topic of side hustles and productivity. And so every time that they sell, I get a little bit of a royalty from Amazon for these self-published books.

Mindy:
Nick, I’m glad you brought that up. I know you have at least one book on Amazon. How long did it take you to write that book roughly?

Nick:
The most recent one is called a thousand Dollars a hundred Ways. And the disclosure here, I thought this was going to be the easiest book in the world to write because I’m going to put the call out for stories to the Side Hustle Nation audience. Here’s a Google form. And the book is told kind of in parallel where it’s like everybody answers the same set of questions. How’d you come up? What’s your side hustle? How’d you come up with that idea? How’d you get your first customers? What’s working today to market the business? What mistakes did you make along the way? What would you do differently if you had to start over and maybe what’s the best piece of advice you ever received or something? And I was like, this is going to be fantastic, just copy and paste everybody’s answers. But some people gave you 150 words and some people gave you 1500 words.
It’s like, whoa, I am going to need a little bit more detail on this front, try and make it a little more consistent page to page. But it ended up being a ton of fun to put together. Just took way longer than I expected it to. And it was a really, really fun way to showcase all of the range of ideas from the community. We had a guy who was selling grilled cheese sandwiches all the way up to the guy who was renting out portable hot tubs to any sort of freelance writing and more traditional side hustles. That was a ton of fun. And in some of the earlier books, starting from that blank page is really intimidating, but I was kind of in a unique position where I was able to crowdsource or repurpose a lot of the stories from the podcast. It’s like, okay, this is the thesis or this is the story that I want to tell and this is how can I find examples from the show to back up that argument or back up that story so it didn’t feel like starting completely from scratch. And so maybe it felt like a tighter timeline than writing the Great American novel, if that makes sense.

Mindy:
So as an author myself, I have stared at that blank page and been like, I’m totally going to do this. And two hours later I’m like, well, I got my name down on the paper now. What else am I going to say? It can be a little bit daunting, but once you get over that hump and you print it or you don’t print it, you have eBooks, right? Nick? Am I correct?

Nick:
Yeah, eBooks, paperback copies, audiobooks.

Mindy:
Oh, okay. The $1,000, 100 Ways, is that only on ebook or is that printed copy as well? Yeah,

Nick:
You can get it printed on demand. It’s magical technology.

Mindy:
Okay. We used to do print on demand. That is a great way to kind of get over the hump of, oh, I don’t want an electronic book. I want an actual physical copy without having to stack up a bunch of physical copies and hope that somebody buys it. Print on demand is a really interesting, I

Nick:
Think there’s a couple on the shelf behind me. I try and order a few and then I leave them in the airport bookstores as I’m going on flights to make it look like it was actually stocked at the airport bookstore. I

Mindy:
Love it. I love it. I’m going to start doing that, Nick. Both Amanda and I make money in part from blogging, but our blogs have been around for a long time. Can new bloggers still make money?

Nick:
It’s definitely tougher than it once was, but you got to imagine another five years it’s going to be even tougher than it was today. It felt crowded in 2013 when I was getting started, so I don’t want to let that be your excuse. Now. What you’re trying to do in the eyes of Google is build up enough credibility and trust and authority that they say, okay, your website is going to be among our top 10 answers to the question, whatever somebody typed in. And the way you can do that is by writing consistently on that topic, by guesting on relevant podcasts, by getting mentioned in the press as an expert in your field. And so there’s ways you can go out and build that type of authority, but it’s not, it’s definitely not a get rich quick side hustle. It’s definitely a long game where you can build this up over time.
A couple models that we’ve seen do well recently would be going after very specific long tail type of keywords and stuff that maybe isn’t being reviewed on Amazon, so it could be this direct to consumer brand versus this direct to consumer brand like, Hey, we test these products. We’re a software company that’s not going to be reviewed on Amazon. It’s like if you can build authority in that topic. One of my websites was this virtual assistant review directory, basically Yelp for outsourcing companies. And so it would be this company versus this company is this virtual assistant service legit like, Hey, I tested it. Here’s my experience, here’s a video with the founder. If you can put your name and face out there front and center, I think that would be a big help because in an age when anybody can regurgitate AI content or whatever else has been written, having some first person experience, bringing some primary source material to the table that I think is really going to help stand out even if it doesn’t gain immediate traction, if you can chip away at it over time, I think that would be a big help.
And then the other model that we saw do really well recently was Travel Mexico solo.com. Shelly Marmer was the founder. She was on the podcast last summer doing like 50 grand a month mostly from affiliate relationships and it was targeting Mexico specific, sometimes city specific, what are the best activities in Cozumel or something. And she’s like, even when you’re just starting out going even deeper, what are the best activities in Cozumel with kids when it rains to do after dark? Just going even one step further down that target, it’s like even if maybe only 50 people search for this a month, but if you’re selling some tour group or something that you’re an affiliate for, it’s really high intent traffic that is likely to go buy the thing that you’re promoting.

Amanda:
So from what you’ve seen making money off of blogs that’s coming mostly through affiliate links and through advertising or what do you think is the easiest way for maybe new people who are going to be exploring the blog writing space?

Nick:
Yeah, affiliates would be tier one, no traffic requirements or thresholds. Tier two would be want to have enough traffic or page views to get into an ad network. That would be the second tier. And then the third tier is your own products and services where you could really Liz’s example of selling the $9 email marketing membership or if you could solve that painter problem for your readers. Obviously you have great margins on selling your own stuff.

Amanda:
And I was also going to ask, so when we’re talking websites and blogs, are we putting social media pages anywhere in there? Because obviously I feel like you could say that everything has too many people, there’s too many blogs, there’s too many social media pages, but it’s not impossible because we’re all unique individuals and we all uniquely share information. Right? So would you put social media pages in with that category or would you consider that a completely separate one?

Nick:
It would definitely be a piece of the pie. If you’re going to go the social media content creator slash influencer route, I think it still makes a lot of sense to have your own home-based website that you own and control, but going out it’s marketing 1 0 1, it’s trying to find, well, how can I connect with my people in their natural habitat? Where are they already congregating and hanging out and so I’ve got to go to YouTube or I’ve got to go to Pinterest or I’ve got to go to TikTok to go out and hopefully create something that resonates with the goal of driving them back to the website, to the email list to engage deeper with me and to hopefully do business with me.

Mindy:
On that same vein, what is your opinion of platforms like Substack over maybe running your own site?

Nick:
Yeah, so substack, send Fox Beehive like these plug and play newsletter type platforms that make it really easy to get started if that’s what gets you off the sideline, that’s fantastic. I still think that you ought to have your own website and domain ultimately, but if getting over those technical hurdles is really challenging for you, by all means get into the practice of creating the content and you can do it. You get started for free. So it’s like put in the reps, see if it’s something that you enjoy doing, and then you can invest in having the site built and I think you’ll end up putting on your marketing hat and figuring out, okay, how am I going to go out and find readers or subscribers to this newsletter? How am I going to systemize the production of this such that it feels that it feels good, that it doesn’t take up all my time and it still is rewarding and fulfilling to do? And then as that grows, hopefully start to build a little bit more a business and a foundation around it. I

Mindy:
Like that you said get in the habit of creating the content. And again, earlier you said the same thing, consistently posting and that’s really what’s going to do it for you is being consistent and liking what you do. I mean, when you don’t like what you have done, it shows it shines way through and when it feels like an obligation to write this blog post or send out this newsletter, it’s not fun, it’s not informative. It’s kind of sometimes got an edge to it filled with resentment. So absolutely. I love that. Not everybody is going to love having a blog. I’ve had a blog for 11 years, I got started when you did Nick in 2013, and sometimes it’s a chore and sometimes it’s a delight and you can always tell which blog episodes were a chore,

Nick:
But it comes through on the podcast too. You wouldn’t be doing this for 500 episodes if you didn’t enjoy doing it. I think there’s something to that where you, to compete today, you almost got to be obsessed, and I’m obsessed with the idea of talking about side hustles. It just never gets old. That was a legit word. Am I going to run out of people to talk to if I commit to doing this every Thursday? It’s like, no, the number of inbound far exceeds the capacity to create more episodes and it’s just to be able to compete in that space. The days of trying to throw up an anonymous website and just hire outsource writers, I think that has probably sailed. That is going the way of chat GPT AI content. But if you can bring some personal experience and obsession, I’ll give you the example of travel rewards, like points and miles. I like that stuff. If somebody wants to give me a free flight just for using a credit card, I’ll take that all day long, but I’m never going to compete with the points guy with these other entities that live and breathe it all day long and they’re flying in the $25,000 private suite tickets to Dubai and stuff. It sounds cool, but I’m not going to go through the trouble of figuring out how to optimize that stuff. So I’ll stay in my lane and figure out where my curiosity and obsession lead. Yeah,

Mindy:
I like the O word obsession. You do have to be very invested in the content that you’re putting out, otherwise it is going to show through that you’re not invested and you’re not going to be able to compete with the other people in your space who are more obsessed, more invested, more excited about it.

Nick:
The tricky caveat there, I want to pause with that. It’s like, well, what am I passionate about? What am I obsessed with? It’s a lot of times you find it comes from getting started and doing the work and putting in those reps. Had no passion for podcasting in 2013, had no idea what I was doing, but it’s like you kind of by doing it, you become upset. What’s the be so good they can’t ignore you the same. And Dan Pink I think makes the same argument, no on the path to mastery or there’s something about the pursuit, the progress. You may not be there yet, but you could see yourself getting better every week. I think there’s something to that. Harry Duran ever crossed paths at a podcast movement or something. He’s like bright yellow shirt podcast junkies. Oh

Mindy:
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Nick:
So Harry starts this show called The Vertical Farming Podcast. Harry is not a farmer. Harry has worked in corporate finance or corporate marketing, he has no business doing this, but read about it in a book and he’s like, I am curious about this given the way of the world, I want to learn more about vertical farming. So given his background in podcasting, starts the Vertical Farming podcast and starts interviewing founders and CEOs and other high level people in the vertical farming world. And he had made, I talked to him like three years into this little side project to his, he made an average of $700 per episode despite having a really, really niche small audience because it was so niche like, Hey, if you want to talk to vertical farming people, where else are you going to go? This is the place. And it was just fascinating. Look, I don’t have the authority expertise in this space, but it’s going to rub off over time. But just by virtue of having these recorded calls with other people who do, I thought that was so cool.

Amanda:
No, I love it. I think that you have to become so obsessed with it that you’re okay with not making any money at first, and you’ll realize very quickly if it’s something that you do have an obsession over, I think, because it can take a little while to build that up. Right. We’re going on a quick break. When we’re back, Nick Loper will reveal to us the common factors that lead to side hustle success stories.

Mindy:
Welcome back to the show. So

Amanda:
Now I want to ask you, can you tell a little bit more about some of your favorites in the non-digital asset arena?

Nick:
So one of the really interesting ones that came up in the last year was Lenny Tim in la. He’s renting out mobility scooters. I want to say the website is la mobility scooter rentals.com. Very, very specific if somebody is searching that thing, who’s likely to show up. And what was even more interesting was he put the website up years before ever buying his first scooter and he’d start to rank it in Google and start to get a few more inquiries. And he’d always say, oh, sorry, we’re booked up for those dates, or sorry, we don’t have inventory available or something. Until he started to get this critical mass of like, okay, this is legit. There’s enough people who really want this thing. So he goes and finds a scooter for 500 bucks used on Facebook marketplace and says, okay, we have availability for these dates, delivers it to the hotel, forget what he’s charging, 50 bucks a day, 70 bucks a day or something for travelers coming in from out of town, didn’t want to pack this thing on the airplane, big bulky item makes a lot of sense.
Hey, we’ll deliver it to your hotel. And it’s like, shoot, after 10 days of renting this thing out, I’ve broken even on my initial upfront investment and the rest is gravy. And you had a fleet of five or seven of these things at this point. I thought that was really, really interesting. We had another guy doing similar with portable hot tubs of all things started pre Covid, really blew up during the pandemic when everybody’s trapped at home looking for an activity for the kids. Sure, you want to bring a hot tub over it? Set that up in the backyard. Fantastic. But same thing. Buy the thing once and you could rent it out. I dunno, his rental rate was two or 300 bucks a week and just after a certain point, it’s all gravy, it’s all paid for and it’s all in the profit. Those types of examples. Really, really interesting and inspiring. And it’s like the photo booth business, the party rental business, the inflatable rental business. It is all kind of under that same umbrella of these non-traditional assets where I was kind of trained to think, oh, a rental business is you buy a three bedroom, two bath house and a nice neighborhood and you’re happy to get 1% of the purchase price for your rent and that’s a rental business. No, no, no. There’s these other assets that have a much quicker break even window

Amanda:
And I love that. And you’re also at that point, you are making sure that there’s actual interest in the thing, right? Some demand in your area. So I think that’s so genius before he even invested any money into it, made sure that that existed. I think that’s awesome. So I was going to say, are there any downsides to this that the listeners should watch out for when it comes to renting out equipment and things like this?

Nick:
Well, it’s still a physical product business, and especially if it’s a big bulky item, you got to figure out the delivery logistics of how am I going to fit this in my car? How am I get this to the customer? And so it’s leveraged. It is not direct hours for dollars, but there’s still a time component to doing the deliveries and doing the pickups and stuff like that. So you got to make sure you have a flexible schedule or build some guardrails around that, what time you’re going to be able to do that. And then you’re going to want to have your product liability insurance if somebody falls off this scooter or breaks, do you have a replacement? How’s that going to work? Just to protect yourself from that stuff.

Mindy:
Let’s talk about vending machines. Vending machines seemed to be really, really hot a few years ago, and some people did really, really well. In fact, on episode 458 of the BiggerPockets Money podcast, we spoke with Ryan and really dove deep into vending machines and how he was making money. Are you still seeing success with vending machines? I know some people did really well and some people didn’t.

Nick:
Yeah, vending machines are, I think they’re still having a moment. I don’t know if that ship has sailed. It’s a really interesting space because it’s such a simple, everybody can understand this business, buy low, sell high, lather, rinse, repeat. I get my drinks and candy bars at Costco or wherever and resell ’em at a two three x markup here. Okay, on a per unit basis, the margins look great, but real estate, it comes down to location, location, location. We had a guest on recently who had I think 10 or 15 different vending machines. And his criteria was, look, I’m looking for a residential building with at least a hundred units, or I’m looking for a workplace with at least a hundred employees are coming through on a daily basis because if you don’t have that foot traffic, then you’re sitting making payments on this machine. He recommended getting a new machine and just financing it and paying for it with the proceeds from the sales. But if it’s not having that foot traffic or that sales volume, it’s like I got to go find another place. But in that sense, it’s low risk. It’s like, well, if this location sucks, I can pack it up and try something else you, you’re not necessarily married to that location.

Amanda:
And I feel like now at least I’ve seen it’s not just like butter fingers in a vending machine, there’s AirPods, Kylie Cosmetics, there’s some really nice stuff that I’ve been seeing in vending machines and I’ve always been so curious what type of ROI these people are getting because to your point, it’s all about location. I mean, there’s nothing worse than realizing you left your AirPods at home and being like, oh, well I’ll pay a premium. I’m not about to go sit on this five hour flight with no headphones. So I think that’s a really interesting evolution of the vending machine too. Yeah,

Nick:
I want to put one in at our community pool and sell swim diapers and goggles and spin drifts for all the moms and dads. It makes, the pool has been there for 30 years. I don’t know why they haven’t done this yet. So I got to talk to the HOA and figure out what’s going on

Amanda:
Here. Go do it. Let us know how that works out. That sounds genius. And then I have another question. So how can somebody prepare before getting started in the vending machine business, how do you find the good location? How do you know what types of things to put in there? Is there some type of a magic checklist?

Nick:
I dunno if there’s a magic checklist, but I would recommend similar to Lenny in the scooter rental business, how do I validate the demand? In this case, you can probably get as far as having a signed contract with the location before you’ve bought any inventory, before you’ve even gone out and bought the machine. So it’s like how do you find the property manager or the general manager at a location that appears to check this criteria box and say, okay, what’s it going to take to get into this building? And what was interesting is I asked Mike Hoffman, this is the guy that we did the vending machine episode with, and you probably had the same advice on your vending machine episode was if this building has been around for 20 years, literally no one brought this up to them. Why don’t we have a vending machine?
And he’s like, well, what happens more often is the machine that is there is outdated, it’s broken down. The company that’s servicing it is you isn’t really keeping up. And so it’s out of stock. It’s not been a great experience for them. He said more often you’re going to be replacing that type of scenario than coming in completely clean unless it’s a newer build. What was really interesting, he’s like, don’t lead with the V word, don’t lead with vending, lead with amenities. Would you like to provide, I’d like to talk to you about providing modern amenities for your residents. I was like, oh, that’s interesting. He was also getting into these unstaffed mini market type of things where you just kind of scan your product on the way out and it’s got security cameras to make sure you’re not shoplifting and stuff. That was really kind of interesting because I’ve seen those at the airport where it’s like, I guess this is just on the honor system and there’s enough social stigma to, nobody’s going to just walk away with the stuff. So a slightly different take on it. Nick,

Mindy:
I’m curious about your experience doing this for so long. Are there any factors that are common between people who are exceptionally successful in their side hustles?

Nick:
I mean, the biggest thing is just getting off the sidelines and trying. Everybody’s like, well, what’s the perfect side hustle? The best one that you could do is the one that you take action on. And a couple of things that have stood out. One is that bias toward action. And even if the business model that you end up on isn’t necessarily the one that you start, it’s like, I dunno, I had a phrase for it, but I lost it. And the second thing is just figuring it out as you go, how to just, you don’t need to know steps two through 10, but just step one enough to get started and more guests have started with a service business than anything else. So we’re kind of talking about what are these time leveraged business models? How do I generate passive income? More guests start with an hours for dollar, like a freelancing business, a consulting business, an agency business, then not necessarily about them doing the work. Maybe I can play matchmaker and go find somebody to deliver this skill and keep the clients happy on that front. But people start with that model, then eventually graduate or scale into something else. So I thought that was interesting too, rather than chasing some elusive passive income where, I dunno, in most passive income businesses, you’re working for less than minimum wage for a while before it scales up to the point where it’s actually paying off.

Mindy:
That is really an interesting point that you make, Nick. A lot of this is not going to be get rich quick. You want to start something, I love this. The best side hustle is the one that you take action on. Absolutely Start with something that you’re going to take action on. If you have this idea and you’re like, Ooh, I don’t know if I’m actually going to do that, then don’t try it. Go for something and you’re like, wow, that sounds really, really interesting. I’d like to learn more about that. The vertical farming thing, I’d like to learn more about that. I guess you don’t have to be a subject matter expert in order to produce content on the subject. You just find subject matter experts and have them share. I love that idea.

Amanda:
And I think also, especially if people are picking up this as their side hustle, I’m assuming they’re also working a full-time job. So it should be something that you’re not miserable at. It should be something that you don’t totally hate, something that brings a little bit of joy to your life as well as some extra dollars in your pocket. So I think finding something that at least is interesting to you that you could do every single day, I think is a really, really great place to start too. So I’ve loved all of this

Nick:
Advice. Yeah, the last thing is you need is a second job that you come to dread doing. It’s got to be interesting. It’s got to spark some curiosity and excitement. I

Mindy:
Love that. Well Nick, we have said Side Hustle Nation a ton on this episode, but where can people find out more about

Nick:
You? Well, thanks so much for having me back. It’s always a blast to geek out on this stuff. Side hustle nation.com. Like Mindy said, that’s the home base. We’d love to have you tune into the Side Hustle Show. We’re over 600 episodes, case studies on been there, done that, how I built This side, hustles from the ground up in a lot of cases. If you’re not sure where to start on that archive, you can go to Hustle Show and just answer a few short multiple choice questions and then the little engine will build you a personalized playlist of the episodes I think will be most impactful for you based on those answers. So that’s hustle show.

Mindy:
Nick, thank you so much for your time today. It’s always a delight to talk to you and we will talk to you again soon.

Nick:
All right, cheers. Thanks.

Mindy:
Okay, Amanda, that was Nick Loper and that was super fun. And as Nick was talking, I was thinking to myself, doesn’t Amanda have a side hustle?

Amanda:
Mindy? I do have a side hustle. I have a full-time job and a side hustle, and I am one of those people who have just been side hustle in my whole life, I would say. And mine started out as really just a passion project, which I love how he talked about that. Find something that you are obsessed with, something that you’re really passionate about. And that’s exactly how mine started. I started just by wanting to share information on something that I thought was really important and something that was really close to my heart. Financial literacy. I think it’s really important for everybody to become financially literate because nobody cares as much about your money as you do. So it started off as that, and then I found that a whole bunch of people out there were really feeling a little lost when it came to money, and so it kind of snowballed into this much larger side hustle, which is, I like to say now it is my second to full-time job. So yeah, I’ve just been doing side hustles though my whole life.

Mindy:
I was thinking back while you were sharing that, I’m like, when was the last time I didn’t have a second job? I was a stay-at-home mom with two girls and kids are not a job, but they took up every minute of my time, so I didn’t have any jobs. But other than that, I think I have always had more than one job waitressing. And then also, I was a graphic designer, actually, I was a graphic designer and I waitress on the side. Waitressing is actually a really prevalent part of my side hustling because it’s so easy to do and is it a side hustle? Is it a second job? I’m not sure the exact definition of that, but I know that I have always been doing something else on the side outside of my original job. And I think it comes back to the way I grew up. I didn’t have a lot of money and I wanted to, so what do you do when you don’t have a lot of money? You work and that’s how you get money.

Amanda:
Another really cool thing I think about side hustles is that it allows you to explore things that you might not explore in your full-time job. So how you just mentioned waitressing was a super fun job for you. I mean, you learn so many skill sets from selling customer service, dealing with difficult people, and I actually drove for Lyft at one point. I opened a gym in the morning before work. I’m just like you, Mindy, where I’ve never only had one job. And I think that you learn so many different things about what you like doing and what you don’t like doing. Plus networking with lots of people. So I think side hustles can be really, really cool to not just get some extra money in your pocket, but to learn a little bit more about yourself and when done right, really help catapult your wealth and catapult you into that next phase of your life so that you don’t have to do a side hustle forever.

Mindy:
Yeah, I love that. All right, Amanda, should we get out of here?

Amanda:
Yeah, let’s do

Mindy:
It. That wraps up this episode of the BiggerPockets Money Podcast. I am Mindy Jensen, and of course she is Amanda Wolf from the She Wolfe of Wall Street. We are saying Bye-Bye, butterfly.

Scott:
If you enjoyed today’s episode, please give us a five star review on Spotify or Apple. And if you’re looking for even more money content, feel free to visit our YouTube channel at youtube.com/biggerpockets money.

Mindy:
BiggerPockets money was created by Mindy Jensen and Scott Trench, produced by Kaylin Bennett, editing by Exodus Media Copywriting by Nate Weinraub. Lastly, a big thank you to the BiggerPockets team for making this show possible.

 

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Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.



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