I encourage people to develop a “side hustle,” but they are not suitable for everyone, and many people get hustles that do more harm than good.
The proper function of a side hustle is not to earn a few extra dollars — it’s to grow your value proposition and train for a life of financial independence and entrepreneurship.
Many people get a side hustle that distracts rather than enhances their career. Driving Uber at night or hosting Airbnb guests every night is not going to enhance your career unless your dream is to be a chauffeur or enter the hospitality industry. Same with being a jack-of-all-trades who takes whatever job he comes across.
Is your side hustle causing you to sleepwalk through the workday or work on your gigs from the office? Are you spending more money on tools and supplies for each new gig that you bring in? Are you growing as a professional and building a sustainable, revenue stream with customers that come back to you, or are you doing random, one-off jobs, often for free? Are you giving up new projects at work, a promotion or a demanding new job for your side hustle? If so, it’s holding you back rather than helping you. You don’t need more spending money: you need to create opportunities for you to grow.
A good side hustle should help you to grow in your career or to explore a new one. You should come to the office excited to try out new ideas, not just tired from staying up all night working in an unrelated field. And if your idea is so great that you can’t perform your day job, don’t try to do both: quit and pursue it full time. You’ve saved up your reserve fund already, right?
Does that big red message look familiar? If your non-profit received a Google Ads Grant (if not, apply here), you may have noticed a major change in Google Ad Grants policy in 2018. Here is a summary of the new rules from Google, and here is a more comprehensive writeup. (Note: Neither list is perfectly accurate as these rules are not 100% enforced.) The bottom line with the 2018 rule changes is that you must have relevant, narrowly-targeted, high-performing ads with conversion tracking and relevant landing pages or your Google Grant account will be suspended. That’s the bad news. The good news is that Google removed the $2 bid limit, so you can bid more per click and compete for keywords that were previously off-limits. Below are some points for what I’ve learned for surviving and thriving with the new Google Ad Grant policy: The main success criteria for an Ad Grants account are:
High click-through rate – low (< 5%) CTR is the main reason accounts get suspended. If your account does not maintain a 5% rate for two months, you will get suspended. Loophole: AdWords Express accounts are exempt from this rule.
Low landing page bounce rate – visitors immediately navigating away from the ad page is another reason accounts get suspended.
A high percentage (75% is my goal) used of the monthly Grant budget.
Conversion tracking: clicks are a start, but you should also be tracking on-site conversions (i.e. leads and purchases). This is not just valuable to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns, but is now required by Google.
In the process of managing FEE’s $40,000/month account, we were suspended three times, and learned a lot about the new rules in the process. It is possible to maximize your spend, but the game is a lot harder, and you will have to put a lot more thought into the process. There are three strategies for being successful with a Grants account:
Well defined audiences: this includes both narrowly targeted search keywords, demographic filters, and retarding (if possible)
Relevant landing pages: landing pages should be specific to the search phrase and have enough information and call to action so that user can complete their search
Enough campaigns targeting high-volume keywords with > 5% CTR to maximize the Grants budget. For example: with an average cost of $2/click, hitting 100% of a $10,000 budget requires 5,000 clicks*5%CTR = 100,000 searches, or 50 ad sets with 2,000 searches each. These are hypothetical numbers, but 50 campaigns targeting 100K searches seems like a reasonable target to hit a $10K budget. Here is FEE for comparison: about 40 campaigns, 272,000 searches, 22,563 clicks, $28,000/month current spend. That is: 8.3% CTR, $1.23 per click, 1092 leads generated, or $25 per lead.
The three key build-out steps you should take to implement to an effective Grants campaign are:
Build customer personas: work with your team to build profiles of the demographics and interests, and potential search phrases
Research search phrases: use the Google Keyword Planner, Moz Pro and other tools to find the intersection of
high-volume search phrases
suitable landing pages on your site
low keyword difficulty
Build out Ad campaigns: using the keywords and landing pages previous identified, build out
The following practices will be needed on an ongoing monthly basis:
Review campaign performance, stop low-performing campaigns (important to prevent Grants account suspensions) and replace them with new ones. Campaigns may also experience fatigue for some phrases and require rotation.
Research and recommend new landing pages to take advantage of target keywords
Implement business goal tracking to optimize for lead generation and bounce rate/session duration in addition to click-through rates
Review and implement with Google Ads feedback (Google provides ongoing feedback and optimization suggestions) and resolve account suspensions.
Finally: landing page considerations:You must have relevant landing pages with clear mission-specific, non-commercial content. One way I did this is by creating “essential guides” for the topics in various campaigns. Another strategy which works great for both organic and paid traffic is to compile pillar pages. Do not expect to be successful by sending all your paid clicks to your homepage. Google states that “your homepage and frequently visited web pages may not be used for Destination goal types”
Is your account suspended? Once you’ve complied with all rules above, request reactivation here.
People are shocked when I tell them that prefer living in a one-bedroom, furniture-free apartment with my wife and two kids, even though I can pay cash for a McMansion or two in the ‘burbs. Why do most people need more space?
Consider my closet: When I decide what to wear to work in the morning, every shirt in my closet is a good option. I’ve gotten rid of anything that for whatever reason is not a viable choice. Most people have filled the majority of their closets with clothes that don’t fit, aren’t stylish, too old, etc. My shirts are dividend into dress, casual, and workout shirts, and I can choose any shirt from each section without a second thought.
By only keeping possessions that continue to add value to my life, I eliminate the physical, financial, and mental drag that comes along with keeping useless possessions. I apply this principle to every aspect of my life:
Toys: The toys that many parents choose for their kids reflect a fear of real life. Their toys represent, a safe, “nerfed” plastic version of adult responsibilities. Kids don’t need fake plastic houses, power tools, cooking appliances, cars, or phones because they don’t need to fake adult responsibilities: they can assume them one at a time. Our daughter got her first sharp knife and her kid-sized broom at three and helps out cleaning, preparing her lunch every day, makes her bed, etc. She acquires adult tools and responsibilities as she becomes physically and mentally able. When she becomes an adult, she will have been doing adult responsibilities and using adult tools for decades. Note: I’m not against toys, just toys which are “nerfed” versions of work that kids are capable of, or providing a plethora toys in an effort to isolate kids in a “play universe” which distracts them from assuming real responsibilities. For example: A doll or construction blocks are productive toys, fake plastic eating utensils are generally not.
Professional projects: Is this project a success story I want to tell about my career? Does this contribute to the goals I set for this quarter? My digital data: I fit my life on a single SSD by using visualization and de-duplication tools to see the entire of my digital life and delete what I no longer need.
Relationships: Do you add value to my life now? If not, why am I spending my time on you?
Furniture: We only keep furniture that improves our lives. Some of our furniture, like our floor-seating dining time, is custom-made to fit our needs. We have no chairs or couch in our home because we decided that our health would be better if we let our bodies do the job of holding us up.
Finances: I can tell you how much assets or debt I have in each account, and how all of my investments are distributed. I avoid unnecessary financial commitments, combine/rollover my investments, and use a single app to visualize my entire financial life over my lifetime.
Daily time: I jealously guard the commitment and habits I make each day. I use five tools to visualize my the locations I visit, the software I use, and the websites I visit.
Television: I don’t watch TV (though I spend too much time on YouTube), but if you do, track and re-evaluate whether you can be doing something more valuable or rewarding with the time you spent on specific shows.
Social media use: I use HabitLab and Apple’s ScreenTime to set limits on how much time I spend on social media sites/apps. Old hobbies: most people have a bunch of junk from abandoned hobbies in their closets. Sell it and focus on what you do now. Books: I sold or gave away all my books and put everything on my Kindle when we moved to China. I have never thought “I wished I kept that book.” Unfortunately, I keep getting new free books – what can I do with used books in Atlanta?
Emotions: We carry emotional baggage in the associations between places, people and situations, and the ingrained emotional reactions they have developed habits around. Separate your rational-evaluative self from your reactive-habitual self and consider whether your emotional responses are productive for the situation you are in.
Insecurities: Over a lifetime, we accumulate fears and insecurities about problems we used to face and inadequacies we used to hold about ourselves. Focus on the person you are becoming, not who you were in the past.
And that’s why a small apartment works for us. An extra room (at this time) would only add unwanted and unnecessary costs and obligations: the cost of higher rent, the cost to clean it, and especially the daily mental overhead of keeping the room neat and organized, etc. To keep up with an entire house is an enormous responsibility. To whatever extent is possible to me, I want to limit every aspect of my life to the things that continue to give me value and lead me to become the person I want to be – not things that reflect who I was in the past.