How I Gradually Increased My Income Streams to Make Over $5,000 a Month Online — Starting From Nothing

Do these income streams make my butt look big?

I remember sitting in the conference room listening to the SVP of Product Development ask my fellow employees and me for ideas regarding the new company app we were going to roll out.

  • "What should the interface look like?"
  • "Do we think the colors are engaging?"
  • "Do we have the testimonials from our BETA testers at hand?"
  • "How do we keep these managers using the app?"

All I could think about was how when I was hired, they told me the conference room we were sitting in used to be the vault in which they stored the gold that made the watches back when this building was a watch factory.

Now — it was a building converted into "hip" offices that offered catered lunches on Mondays and allowed you to dress more casual on Fridays.

I guess this was the attempt to make the employees more engaged and excited to show up to work — it did not affect me apparently — considering I wasn't engaged at all during this meeting…

That's when I knew life as an employee perhaps wasn't for me.

Of course to finally escape the rat race, I needed to be fired from that job.

But that's an entirely different story…

Once this firing happened, however, it started my journey of building, launching, and growing my online business as a content writer and developing multiple revenue streams.

I don't share this sob story to you in order to get any sympathy.

I share this story with you because I know there are millions of people that experience the same thing: disengaged work and the desire for a better and more fulfilling line of work.

I needed a catalyst to launch me into the entrepreneurial journey.

Perhaps you're the person right now — you're at your job, knowing that you were destined and can provide the world with more, you just don't know-how.

This article is intended to pave a starting to your path by laying out actionable, manageable, and scalable growth in developing your online entrepreneurial revenue streams.

This article is going to include both the actionable methods for developing the revenue streams (hard skills) as well as the individual qualities that should be nurtured (soft skills).

Let's get into it…

Building the foundation: how to build multiple income streams in 2021

In the book, "Rich Habits, Poor Habits" self-made million and co-author Michael Yardney explains how he helped hundreds of ordinary individuals become self-made millionaires by creating multiple streams of income. Here is the list of some of Yardney's top ti:

1. Save, save, save.

Save 10–20 percent of your net income every year.

2. Learn, learn, learn.

Develop new skills that you can eventually turn into a side business. Acquire knowledge that you can use to start up a side business or that can help you intelligently invest your money in assets that generate passive income.

3. Invest, invest, invest.

Invest part of your savings in a side business that will one day generate an additional stream of income.

4. Reinvest, reinvest, reinvest.

Once your side gigs begin generating cash flow, reinvest that cash flow to either grow the business or invest that cash flow in other side businesses or assets that generate passive income.

Now I think the two most important elements we can borrow from Yardney come from bullet points 3 and 4. If you notice, Yardney talks a lot about developing a side business as a means to developing wealth.

Now, it is commonly thought that building a side business requires a substantial undertaking. Most people believe you need:

  • A physical product or service
  • Capital to get started (personal capital, investment, or bank loan)
  • Hired team/employees
  • Office/shop

Generally speaking, those things cost a considerable amount of money to get going (even a few hundred bucks can be "considerable").

Building multiple income streams is a surefire way to building wealth.

When we don't have the inheritance or a high-paying job to help us with the initial investment, it can seem overwhelming to get started.

Let's look at the way I built my multiple income streams with $0 in initial investment.

Income stream one: content creation ($3,000-$6,000 a month)

We're not going to talk too much about this one because I'm sure you're all familiar with what I'm referring to.

It's pretty old news knowing there are content platforms out there that can pay you redistribution for your work.

Really, we can look to YouTube for catalyzing this model. YouTube redistributes a portion of their advertising revenue to its content creators (that's a distribution of $34 billion in 2019).

Depending on your content (video, audio, written, etc.) there is a platform out there that will redistribute earnings in exchange for your content.

For my own content — I generally make $3,000 to $6,000 depending on my output for the month.

Let's breakdown the hard and soft skills that are considered when looking at content creation as our revenue stream.

Hard skills

When it comes to hard skills (actionable strategy) we can look at a few things.

  1. Amount of content produced (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.). For me, I aim to produce at least four 2–3k word articles a week.
  2. Amount of platforms you're syndicating your content. For me, I currently syndicate my content across three platforms and plan to venture into two more as we move into 2021.
  3. Selecting the content platform: What do you create? Video vs. audio vs. written

Soft Skills

When it comes to soft skills, it's a bit more intrinsic…

  1. Discipline: can you develop the discipline to produce content daily, bi-weekly, etc.?
  2. Overcome fear of rejection: When you put your creative work out into the ether you open yourself up to criticism. This is just part of it. Can you look beyond the criticism and develop thicker skin if your work is rejected or doesn't initially mesh with an audience?

Sometimes I'm not working directly on content and I'm focused more on other revenue stream development.

That's actually a good segue into our next revenue stream…

Income stream two: digital product sales ($1,000-$3,500 a month)

Source: Author CRM

This is a big one.

You might not think so at first glance, but let me explain.

Everyone keeps running in droves to the content platforms in order to make side hustle income. However, too many people are leaving 30–50% extra (anecdotal) in income generation on the table!

How is that?

Because they aren't further expanding on their income through the sale and marketing of digital products. We're going to look at these digital products through the lens of eLearning or,

"Online learning or electronic learning, is the acquisition of knowledge which takes place through electronic technologies and media."

That's because eLearning is an incredible opportunity when it comes to developing an additional revenue stream heading into 2021. Research notes the global eLearning market will reach $325 billion by 2025 with an annual growth rate of 15% from 2020 to 2026.

We've seen the expansion of online eLearning platforms like Masterclass, SkillShare, Udemy, and CreativeLive grow like wildfire.

Putting your content on those platforms, however, is an invitation to get lost in the shuffle.

Instead, what you can do it leverage the content you're already generating from the content platforms into the marketing and sale of your digital products.

How do you do this?

You leverage your content as the driving force for the future sale of your products.

If you take a look, any content creator (regardless of the platform) worth his or her salt generally has the ability for a viewer to opt into an email subscriber list.


Because that is where the extra 30–50% income is!

How do I create a digital product?

I'm glad you asked…

There are two different ways to actually make the product and two things we need to consider in the construction of it.

Let's uncover the considerations first. Whenever a content viewer reaches your article, video, podcast, etc. they are always asking themselves two questions:

  1. "What's in it for me?"
  2. "How does this help solve my problem?"

You might not think that at first — but it's true. We're all selfish.

You have to answer those questions before creating your product. You always have to be helping solve your customer's problem as well as provide them with an incentive for taking a chance on the product.

Once you have that figured out, we can look at the two ways of building the product:

  1. Ebook
  2. Digital course

Those are the two most popular products in the eLearning space. There are many ways to build these products so don't get discouraged with thinking you have to do it a certain way.

Let's take a look now at the hard and soft skills pertaining to this income stream…

Hard skills

When we consider this income stream there are a number of hard skills we can take into account:

  1. A/B testing: run tests as to what copy/landing pages/checkout pages/course and book titles/campaigns work better.
  2. Course and book development: Can you conjure enough fortitude and knowledge to build a course or write a book?
  3. Course and book design: People buy partly due to their impression of the product. Can you hire a designer on Fiverr to help you design your product?
  4. Email marketing: How often do you send out a sales email? What kinds of funnels have you created? Do you run promotions?

Soft skills

  1. Developing the courage to ask for money: This is a big one for people just starting out. Sales can feel gross and icky. However, you've put in years honing your experience and craft, you should be rewarded for this.
  2. Presentation style: How do you write/present? Are you like a robot and need to be very technical or do you present via narrative?

Income stream three: paid ghostwriting clients ($0-$2,000 a month)

Source: Author Account

This income stream is a bit more fluctuating. It's also something I used to put more emphasis on, however, for me it started to turn into something that resembled the story that started this whole article.

Depending on the client, I can at times start to feel a lack of engagement depending on the material I'm being commissioned to write.

I like to write about what fulfills me and makes an impact on my audience

Maybe that makes me a diva.

Oh well.

What's interesting about this income stream is that it can happen as a byproduct of the first income stream.

I'm not lying to you when I say I've had all of my freelance clients come to me — I've never sought out freelance work.

I've gotten my work via word of mouth and Linkedin.

It's not something I'm always too fulfilled by and engaged with — however, I don't want that to stray you if it's a goal of yours.

Hard skills

  1. Meeting deadlines: Paying clients want their content and they want it by a specific time.
  2. Revision process: Paying clients like their work to be crisp. You may have to go through editing and revision processes deemed by the client.
  3. Invoicing: This is something that comes with the territory. You're going to need to follow up and get paid for your hard work.

Soft skills

  1. Interpersonal relationships: Clients like their work done a certain way. A lot of the correspondence happens via email, you're going to have to work on communication with clients with every job.

[Future] income stream four: membership program (Goal: $1,000 a month by June)

Credit: Author Convertkit Metrics

This is a planned goal for my business heading into 2021 and should be a goal for you as well if you're still reading.

Membership sites are the ticket to forecastable and sustainable monthly income. Why? because you are banking (no pun intended) on the member being around for a string of months and you can forecast growth or reduction better than one-off sales (like income stream two).

Online membership sites have been around for quite some time. Really, Netflix and Amazon Prime are probably the most successful models we can look at.

However, for small online business owners like you and me, we can turn to people like Zulie Rane for inspiration. She uses Patreon for her membership site.

I plan to go on a different route. Please use her incredible content as a foundational model for your own endeavors, however.

I plan on going the Substack route. Substack is an email marketing platform that allows your subscribers to opt-in for a paid newsletter. Substack notes their average conversion rates from your list tend to range from 5–10%.

Now there isn't too much I can provide anecdotally here seeing as it's a part of my annual goals heading forward. However, we can still predict some hard and soft skills that will be considered.

You will see in the above image my Convertkit account. This is how I produce the vast majority of my sales from revenue stream two. Now, I won't disclose how many subscribers I have to you. This is because I don't want to discourage you. My list contains several thousand subscribers.

But this shouldn't be your goal at first.

Your goal, if you haven't built your list yet — is to get one subscriber.

If you have one, then your goal is to get two.

And so on.

It isn't to get 10,000 straight from the get.

Hard skills

  1. Email marketing: similar to income stream two, you're going to need to develop your email marketing skills. This includes product pitches, newsletters, email list growth, etc.

Soft skills

  1. Value creation: If you're creating a membership site/platform, you're going to have to continuously provide valuable content to your audience. This is different than the product — once the product is made, it can offer value (of course still needing updates). The membership is like Netflix in the sense you'll need to keep adding original content, education, etc.

What did we learn together?

Feeling unmotivated in our job and current situation can feel like an endless loop of misery and despair.

However, if we take the right steps, we can work towards something better.

It isn't going to happen overnight, but when we break down the strategy into its individual parts, we can see what type of goals and tasks we need to accomplish in order to make the entire thing happen.

In this article, we've taken a look at four income streams.

  1. Content creation
  2. Digital product sales
  3. Freelancing
  4. [Future] membership site creation

We've also looked at the skills that need to be developed to build those revenue streams:

  • Hard skills: actual and tangible skills and strategies required to build the income stream
  • Soft skills: Internal skills that need to be nurtured and developed to help the income stream thrive.

This is possible.

At this point as well, you might be asking yourself,

"Jon, why did you put $5,000 in the title when your math from each income stream notes a figure higher than that?"

The reason I did that is simple.

If I were to put a figure bigger a number of assumptions would go through your mind:

  1. It's unattainable (if it's such a high number)
  2. I'm full of shit
  3. I only got there because I got "lucky" or something

You may still have those assumptions even with a smaller like $5,000.

The reason I chose that lower figure is because it is more attainable and still life-changing at the same time.

The whole goal should be manageable, attainable, and scalable creation & growth of your income streams.

Not a pipe dream.

Ready to Make More?

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