“Start now” was the best advice I got back in 2020 when I contemplated trying my hand at online content creation.
Because it really is that simple. Just start.
Nobody expects you to be perfect from the get-go, nobody ever is. You’ll learn along the way, improve, and share your journey.
That’s exactly how I went from 0 to my first $20K+ year within 2 years.
I’ve set my goal for 2023: Making $50,000 alongside my full-time job and family duties as a father of 5.
#1 Boring steadiness
Content creation rules are dead-simple.
You will beat most of the competition by simply outlasting them. From one of my favorite Twitter people, I learned a fitting quote:
That’s the secret. Boring steadiness. Show up every day for long enough and people can’t miss you.
Why is this important for making money?
In short: for building an audience.
No matter the online profession, you probably need an audience to make money from it. Writing on Medium, selling digital products, filming YouTube videos, or creating courses, it’s all audience-based.
And to build that audience, you must show up and give people something every day.
That’s step 1. I’m on a good way in that regard for 2023. I’ll keep going with the recent strategy:
- 2–3 Medium stories per week (or more)
- 20–30 tweets per week
- new digital products every 2–3 months
You can create a paid product, throw it onto Gumroad and market it to your audience. I did. It didn’t work. No sales, no money.
The better way to go is this:
- Create a free product. Nothing too complicated. Make it a simple guide, a short eBook (a few pages), a one-page Notion template, or something like this. Collect email addresses for free access.
- Market this to your audience. Send tweets, write blog posts, share it in a newsletter issue, in a video, or whatever you like.
- Create a paid product that’s related to the first free one, ideally building and expanding on it.
- Market this paid product to the email list you built with the free product.
This process is more or less a funnel strategy.
People who got the free product are more likely to buy the paid one.
I do this in various forms in my newsletters, blog posts, and social media posts. This is generally what all big content creators do. You’ll find a free product or service from most of them, which will eventually lead to a paid product or service afterward.
#3 The power of partnerships
Content creation is a social game. Or it should be.
Everything has been done in some form already. Well, almost. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done again, differently, better, or just repeatedly.
However, this does mean that you can also build partnerships with creators instead of creating from scratch all the time.
In essence, I’m talking about landing partnership deals or sponsors, applying for affiliate programs, and referring people to platforms or creators.
I do this in three forms:
- Medium’s referral program: In 2 years, I’ve landed 60+ referrals.
- Affiliate marketing: Since I write and talk about tools & platforms a lot, comparing and sharing them, it makes sense to be affiliated with the ones I love to use myself. That’s what I do. I promote my favorite platforms or services.
- Sponsors or ads: I haven’t been doing this so far. But it’s one of my goals for 2023 to increase revenue. I will promote things I love, for example, Eve Arnold’s brand-new Medium course “The Medium Blueprint*”. Learn how to make 4 figures per month on Medium from the best. Tim Denning called Eve one of the top 8 writers on Medium right now. She knows her stuff!
About newsletters & sponsors
Medium to large newsletters sell ad spaces inside their issues for a set price. That’s a great way to earn a little for an otherwise free service.
It can explode too. Justin Welsh has one of the largest newsletters I know. He sells his ad space for $2000 apiece. Two spots per weekly issue. And it’s booked out for 6 months right now. That’s $4000 every week for two short paragraphs inside his newsletter.
Obviously, Justin is a special case. His newsletter has 85K+ subscribers. But even smallish creators can start incorporating sponsors for a small amount. Think $25–40 for starters as a newsletter with around 1000 subscribers. And you go up when you grow. My newsletter has hit 780 subscribers recently.
The other way is paid newsletters or issues with recurring revenue. The goal of many creators. I have not pushed my paid newsletter at all so far, yet still attracted 4 paid subscribers in about 8 months with 780+ subscribers in total.
#4 Leverage tweet threads & AI
Most people underestimate the power of Twitter & threads.
Threads are the perfect basis for Medium stories or blog posts. The thread acts as the draft outline. You insert more text for each tweet of the thread and end up with a blog post, perfect to share on Medium.
Even better, you can look at the thread analytics to find the best-performing threads. Those will likely be high-value blog posts. And you can eventually link the blog posts under the thread.
That’s not all.
AI tools like ChatGPT and Notion AI can help a ton with turning short-form threads into long-form blog posts. Let AI help you expand on ideas, lengthen paragraphs, add bullet lists, and more with a few clicks.
I have turned a few threads into Medium stories in a matter of minutes with the help of Notion AI.
(By the way, if you need more tool recommendations, you can get my free Creators’ Toolbox here.)
With those AI-created videos, you can generate multiple short clips for TikTok, Reels, or YouTube Shorts.
The bottom line
2023 is going to be an important year for me.
I set my four-step plan to make $50,000 on the side, building on previous successes. The plan includes consistent content creation, using funnels to market paid products, leveraging partnerships and affiliate programs, and utilizing tweet threads & AI tools for re-purposing work and saving time.
At the end of 2023, I’ll re-evaluate the process to answer one simple question: Is it time to quit my full-time job now?