Episodes

Nick Loper 2

Nick Loper 2

Nick is an author, entrepreneur, and a lifelong student in the game of business. His latest role is as Chief Side Hustler at SideHustleNation.com, a growing community and resource for aspiring and part-time entrepreneurs.

Did you ever dream of launching and growing your business just before you leave your job? In this episode, I sat with Nick Loper, the guy known for helping others to make money in their spare time. He will tell you all about his secrets and how some of his customers increased their side-revenue by capitalizing on existing successful marketplaces like Udemy, eBay, Etsy…

TOPIC NICK COVERS

  • His secrets and how some of his customers increased their side revenue by capitalizing on existing successful marketplaces like Udemy, eBay, and Etsy
  • He is an author, entrepreneur, and a lifelong student in the game of business
  • Side Hustle is a growing community and resource for aspiring and part-time entrepreneurs
  • His role as a Chief Side Hustler at Side Hustle Nation
  • He runs a site called Re Craigslist, and he makes his full-time living
  • What are the essential ingredients in making a side hustle work
  • And a whole lot more

LINKS & RESOURCES

WATCH THE INTERVIEW

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Bronson: Welcome to another episode of Growth Hacker TV. I’m Bronson Taylor and today I have Nick Loper with us. Nick, thanks for coming on the program.

Nick: What’s happening, man? Thanks for having me.

Bronson: Absolutely. Look at you with your fancy microphone and everything. I love.

Nick: It. It’s like I’m a real life podcaster.

Bronson: I know, right? This is what happens when I interview a real podcaster. They make me feel bad about my setup because my setup is jacked up.

Nick: Well, this is a good point to bring up because this is a a probably a $70 mike now. It was probably 50 bucks when I bought it. And so the podcast literally was my $100 startup. You know, all the software, all the hardware was less than a hundred bucks. And it’s you know, I haven’t I haven’t upgraded the mike since then. I did add this little mike boom arm thing versus the little tripod thing that just sat on my desk. But, you know, that’s what the side hustle is all about. It’s starting lean and and going, making, making do with what you can. Absolutely.

Bronson: So you’ve already mentioned the phrase side hustle. And let me tell people, you are the guy behind Side Hustle Nation. It’s a podcast. It’s a blog. It’s almost a movement.

Nick: It’s it’s that’s very generous.

Bronson: And, you know, I think there is a movement around side hustle nowadays. But let’s start there. What is a side hustle? How do you define it?

Nick: So a side hustle is something that you’re doing outside of your day job to make extra money. And I think there there might be a movement around there. And whether that’s good or bad or indicative of our times or I think there is an element of it that’s proactive, which I would say is positive, like people are seeing what is possible, what’s out there, like, hey, I can take control over my own financial destiny and I could start this business on a low risk way on the side, and that’s awesome. And the other part of it is maybe less positive. I think that’s kind of the reactive side of it. That’s a response to the job market, job security. You know, a lot of employers switching people to contracts versus, you know, full time employment and, you know, there’s some flexibility and benefits that come along with that. But there’s some drawbacks, too. And so people are turning to to their entrepreneurial roots. Right. So I like to say, you know, if you zoom out 200 years like we’re all entrepreneurs, a lot of us were farmers, but, you know, we kind of had to make our own way. And then there was Industrial Revolution and we kind of traded that history of kind of being in charge of our own destiny in return for a 9 to 5 and a steady paycheck. And I think we’re seeing kind of a return to that self-reliance in a little bit. In a little way.

Bronson: Absolutely. So, you know, you mentioned there are some positive reasons to do it and there’s also some negative reasons that people are doing it. You know, they want the freedom. They want to escape, you know, the cubicle. But there’s also some freedom in terms of how they live their life. What do you think is better when somebody starts a side hustle because of positive reasons or they start it because of negative reasons and things are trying to get away from or avoid? Well, what’s the better motivation? Is there one?

Nick: Well, I think both both motivations can work. Right? It’s like burn the ships or, you know, make something because you’re going to be more hungry. Right. Like if you need to make some money this month to pay for rent, like you’re going to be more hungry, motivated to make that happen. But on the flip side, you if you have a day job and you have kind of a silent partner in your employer to kind of bankroll your operations, you’re allowed to be more strategic. You’re allowed to do more speculative work. You’re allowed to think kind of longer term. And any I mean, for me, I would much rather be in that second position where it’s like, hey, look, you know, I have some time and I’m kind of using this these extra hours to exercise my creativity, you know, do something or scratch it all and scratch my own itch that my day job isn’t allowing versus coming at it from a standpoint of necessity.

Bronson: Yeah, I’ve heard that it’s generally good advice that when you’re starting a side hustle or trying to start a new career in the business, whatever, not to quit your job and then just go all in on the new thing, but to kind of get there slowly, you know, piece by piece, bit by bit and ease your way into it. So you still have the security of the the 401k and the salary until you realize there’s a real hustle and a real, you know, a bit of money to be made with the new thing. Do you agree with that or do you like to to burn the boats.

Nick: If there are definitely people who are like, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I got to get out of this cubicle. And, you know, they’re the people who are you know, I’m going to jump off the ledge in. I’ll figure out how to build my parachute on the way down. And that’s that’s not me. And that’s not the kind of entrepreneurship that I want to advocate with the side hustle stuff. It’s yeah, start something small, start something low risk, build it up as you have time, and then you can make the leap in kind of one of two scenarios. The first is after you’ve built this up to something sustainable where you’re seeing some revenue history that’s covering your expenses. The other scenario is like, okay, with an extra 40 or 50 hours a week, I’m really confident I can get there like I. I’ve got a little bit of runway in the bank and now I can kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel and now’s the time to make that move.

Bronson: Yeah. You know, earlier you mentioned the hundred dollar startup, you know, and you said your hundred dollars startup is your mike and that kind of stuff. Obviously, it’s a book by Chris Guilbeault. Is that is that a book you recommend to people in your podcast and your blog? His way of thinking about things?

Nick: Yeah, it’s one of my favorites. And it’s it’s one that’s come up a few times actually, from, from different guests and saying, hey, they were motivated after reading that combined with the four hour workweek is one I hear a lot. You try and start something, start something small and start something on the side. One actually one really cool story that came out of it recently was I connected with this woman through help. A reporter actually is doing research for my book. And, you know, I don’t know if you get the help a reporter emails like I probably delete nine of nine out of ten because it’s just I get three emails a day I can’t deal with this. But you happened to read this one and she said the same thing. She hadn’t read this one. And her business was like hosting urban hikes in San Francisco. And I was like, That’s a crazy that’s like an awesome side hustle. She used to work at Google and now she’s like, you know, has this or she works for like this copywriting agency. But this was her side hustle. And, you know, she said it was after World Domination Summit. It was after reading $100 startup where I started to do this. And, you know, she started, you know, really small and, you know, had some travel and deal site that you kind of got her her first customers and then she encouraged everybody to leave TripAdvisor reviews. And all of a sudden it kind of starts spinning. And then she’s like, outsource the hiking part of it to like people on her team. And now it’s like this passive income business and she’s got a whole book deal out of it. It was like kind of really cool to see the snowball of it.

Bronson: Absolutely. And I think that’s really the moment the magic happens is when you decide to do something right. You don’t have to decide to build a large business. You have to decide to do something. And that seed can grow into who knows what, right?

Nick: Yeah, absolutely. Another one of my favorite interviews on the show is Ryan Finley. He runs a site called Re Craigslist dot com and he makes his makes a full time living. Just buying and selling stuff on Craigslist, supports his family doing that. It’s been doing it for years. And he told me, look, the best opportunities aren’t visible until you’re already in motion. And at the time, I thought that was kind of like a, you know, a hippie thing to say. But, you know, over the past few years, I’ve really recognized that to be true because, you know, you may be working on a completely different project. And in the research for that, you notice something and that sets you off down a different path or you meet someone and that conversation sparks another idea. And it’s kind of like that action breeds action. And it’s really exciting to see where where that may take you.

Bronson: Yeah, I really like that quote. Say it one more time for us.

Nick: Which one? Action breeds action or.

Bronson: I know the one before that. The until you’re in motion, you don’t see your abilities.

Nick: Yeah. What? He told me the best opportunities are invisible until you’re already in motion.

Bronson: The best opportunities aren’t visible to you already in motion. I love that because I’ve never heard it said so. Well, and I agree 100%. It’s it’s like in the arena fighting that you learn new moves now when you’re thinking about being in the arena, you know.

Nick: Yeah, I absolutely think, you know, starting small, my friend Julie uses the analogy of it’s like a game of chess. Entrepreneurship is like a game of chess, like your first your first moves don’t really matter. You know, you’re going to you’re going to push a pawn like one square forward or two squares forward. I don’t remember the chess rules.

Bronson: And people either play, you know, people who.

Nick: Play chess or like it absolutely matters. Like her argument. It’s like, look, you just try to get a reaction from your opponent to see what they’re going to do. Same thing in business. Try to get a reaction from your market. Hey, is there demand for this? And if not, well, you know, you can adjust course from there.

Bronson: Absolutely. So, you know, you had this podcast, you had this blog. You’re always seeing people in their side hustle, seeing the things that work and don’t work. So let me dig in to some of the the things that make a side hustle. Great. So what would you say are the essential ingredients in making a side hustle work? Are there any or is everyone’s recipes so different? There are no common ingredients.

Nick: Let me think on the common ingredients. So one of the, I guess, overarching ingredients or themes would be like it’s got to be something that you care about. Like that’s kind of a prerequisite because, hey, you’re already in my my audience’s case. Like you’re already working full time, you’re already have family obligations and you know, whatever else, the last thing you need is a second job that you hate, right? There’s got to be something that you least care about. I don’t. You don’t need it. It doesn’t need to be your undying passion, but at least something that you’re interested in keeping motivated kind of the the path that I often see is people getting started with with freelancing or with one on one coaching, whether that’s through an existing platform like Fiber or Upwork or whether that’s, you know, through content marketing channels like your blog or podcast and then transitioning that from, you know, doing that part time to doing that full time, you know, that’s kind of the. Next step in the ladder. You know where I see people taking that? Going from 1 to 1 to one to many, whether that’s with, you know, group programs or, you know, kind of paid membership groups or something like that. And then the next tier on the ladder is, you know, building some product or building some software, whether that’s, you know, on the high end that can really go, you know, one too many like this is the this is the done for you course that, you know, walks you through 18 different video modules or whatever or the software product can be sold on a monthly subscription basis. I think cost schedule is a really good example of that. With Garrett Moon and each each step of the way, you’re kind of removing more and more of your time from the process. You kind of you kind of leveling up in that way. Absolutely.

Bronson: The people’s first side hustle usually work. Or is the first one just so ill advised that it’s almost impossible for that first step into the side hustle world to actually work?

Nick: Well, I think there are ways that you can make it work. And I think there’s ways that you can lessen the sting of the failures or the failures really are inevitable. I mean, the side Hustle Nation, the whole project started as a side project for me when I was running my my other biz, my original side hustle was this like footwear comparison shopping site. And over the ten years that I had that business, I started, you know, a dozen different projects, and almost all of those kind of ended up in the garbage heap of the Internet. Like they never you never really did anything. And luckily, one of the ones that that stuck around was this was the side hustle brand. To your point about like is your first are you are you like destined to fail, right? Or or do you look at it? It’s like, you know, each know gets me closer to it. Yes. And there’s all sorts of different, you know, sales mentalities. Like every failure gets me closer to that success. I don’t know. I think there I think failing still sucks no matter how you frame it. But trying to position it as an experiment might lessen that sting a little bit where it’s like, Yeah, I’m going to give this a shot. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, great, and especially if you’re still the person who has that day job, has that paycheck coming in, you have a little more flexibility, a little bit more affordability to to be able to do that. Where you where I think the opportunity or the strategy comes in to to maybe reduce your risk of failure is starting, you know, stupidly small, you know? Mm hmm. True. Because if you don’t have any cost, that’s not really, you know, what did you lose? You lost, you know, some of your time. One of the methods that I’ll advocate for is I’ll call it the Buy Button strategy, which is basically to take advantage of all the preexisting marketplaces that are out there. The ones we talk a lot about on the show are Amazon and eBay and Craigslist and Udemy and even iTunes in the case of podcasts. With the gal who was leading the hikes, you know, she took advantage of the TripAdvisor platform. But basically it’s like the key to go where the cash is already flowing. Like there’s already this huge audience of buyer that some other company has already built and they make it really easy for you to stick your buy button up on their platform. Airbnb is a perfect example of that too. I imagine 1520 years ago, like if you wanted to rent out the spare bedroom in your house, like you probably be limited to a sign in the front yard or an ad in the newspaper or something like classifieds. But now they’ve built this this huge marketplace with demand, and it’s pretty easy to get started on those.

Bronson: Yeah, you know, so let’s try to help people here because, you know, obviously the more you do, the more you learn and there’s a better chance of success, the longer you’re at it. What are some of the pitfalls that you see people make early on that if you could just tell them, hey, don’t do this, it’s not going to end well, what are what’s what’s the things that help them fell less early on with their side hustle.

Nick: You there are tons of these right. So like in basketball, investing a ton of money in a website, you know, convincing yourself that you need a logo and business cards and all this collateral. To be convincing yourself, you need to like register a business or an LLC and like spending all this time and money doing that where if that the, the exception to that would be like if that gives you the confidence to go out and get a customer by all means. Like, you know, if you need to check that off your mental checklist first, like, okay, go ahead. But I think your time is probably better spent like validating your idea, going out and seeing if somebody wants to pay you for, you know, product X, Y, Z. Like I met somebody at a, an, an affiliate conference, you know, probably ten years ago, a long time ago. And they were like, well, my, you know, I don’t have a my site isn’t up yet, but it’s almost it’s almost done. And it kind of struck me as weird because it’s like, well, your website has never really done. It’s kind of a m evolving thing. It’s like a living, breathing thing. And I thought that was a weird way to frame it. So doing that, you know, putting all your eggs in one basket before you have any kind of validation. What else is kind of common? Common failures? Um, I mean, we talked a little bit about it, but it’s like dumping too much money into something before you have to have proof of concept. So in the, in the shoe business example that I was running for years, so I started out with direct text link ads on Google, which and I would link them up using my affiliate link to specific products to be like, Hey, if you’re searching for this specific model of shoe, I think this store has the best deal, you know, text out affiliate like a budget of $1 a day because I was still in college and that’s how it got started like in in good to great Jim call talks about you know firing bullets before cannonballs or great by choice I can’t remember which one and so those little text ads were the bullets. And then, you know, once they had some proof of concept, some validation, people were actually clicking the links and buying them and they were profitable. That’s when I plunked down and invested in getting, you know, hiring a developer, you know, building this whole database and going out the website. And that was like, okay, now that I’ve, you know, calibrated this going to be the cannonball.

Bronson: Yeah, it’s almost like the bullets before cannonball is very much Eric Reece. Build, measure, learn don’t totally have all this unnecessary waste in development or anything else. Really know what’s going to work to some degree before you double down on it. It just seems so logical. And yet you’re right. We overlook it all the time. We want to invest way too much money, way too much time. We want to throw cannonballs on day one instead of really, you know, build, measure and learning. So what would you say in all the stories you heard of side hustles? Give me some of the ones that are either exciting or memorable or super weird. Like what are some of the side hustles you’ve come across that just, you know, they you think about them.

Nick: Yeah. So we talked about the Craigslist guy. I love that story. We talked about the, you know, urban hikes. I love that story. One of the other ones that kind of sticks out in my mind is this guy actually not too far from you. He’s kind of in central Florida. He calls himself the flea market flipper, where it’s just the age old business model of buy low, sell high. Right. So every weekend he’s out at the flea market trying to find, in his word, the odd items and seeing if there is a mismatch between, you know, what it is locally and what he thinks he can get it for or get for it online. So we gave the example of selling like finding a prosthetic leg for 30 or 40 bucks and flipping it on eBay for a thousand or like some weird, you know, exercise bike that was use like in physical therapy offices for a few hundred bucks and turn around and selling it for two grand. And, you know, that’s something that anybody can do. Like if you have a smartphone, you kind of have an eye for picking this stuff out. You could do that. One of the very early episodes of The Side Hustle show, one of the episodes that I think kind of put the show on the map was this gentleman whose claim to fame was earning enough money on Fiverr to buy a house after his first year on the platform. And I was like, Hold on. So I’ve used Fiverr as a buyer at this point for, you know, past couple of years, like never, never even given a second thought to selling on it. Like, what could you possibly sell for $5 that would be worthwhile. And so he came on like similar to, you know, a lot of these other platforms. Like it’s all about that leveling up. And so as you make more sales, you can add, you know, different and larger upsells. You made a point to say, look, it’s the marketplace of goods and services where everything starts at $5, starts out is the key. And so the way he had it set up was, you know, all the $5 things were, you know, pre-written PDF files, audio files, video, you know, some asset that he’d already created that he could fire off in, you know, 2 seconds. And if you wanted his direct time, you you could pay for that in the upsells or in the extras. And I thought he had it set up in a pretty smart way. I think one of his he had a PR background and kind of a copywriting background. So it was like, I’ll send you the seven steps to a killer autoresponder sequence or something, you know, would be the $5 thing. And then, you know, in the upsells, like, I’ll write message number one for you. All right, message number two for you and Fiverr, because they take a cut of every sale, they’ve kind of stepped up their game as well as kind of encouraging and incentivizing people to to make bigger sales. So now you can do them. You can quote custom packages up to ten grand on five or now. And it’s just, you know, they’re they’re happy to run it through their platform and take a and take a cut.

Bronson: Yeah, absolutely. Well, Nick, this has been awesome kind of hearing about the ins and outs of side hustles, some of the memorable ones, some of the things to not do and just all of those things. So these are two questions I end every interview with. So first, what are you doing as soon as this interview is over, whether it’s awesome or super boring, what is it?

Nick: I’m finishing editing next week’s show.

Bronson: Awesome. And then last question. What’s the best advice you have for any startup that’s trying to grow?

Nick: I don’t know. It depends. I mean, it depends on the startup. So let me let.

Bronson: Me let me ask a virgin for you. What’s the best advice you have for anyone that’s trying to grow a side hustle? They have a muscle. It’s working. They want to grow it.

Nick: Okay. So look at the 8020, right? Like you probably have you have some clients at this point. That’s fantastic. You know, some revenue is coming in. Do your analysis of, you know, what is the 20% of effort that’s leading to 80% of the results? So when I did this last year, I kind of ran a survey kind of to the same effect. I found out that the podcast channel was far more effective for me than the blog channel. Right? So what I did in response to that was like, well, I can just safely cut back my writing time every month because they look, it’s really time consuming to put together a big post and if only, you know, a thousand people are going to read it versus I can put that same effort into producing a show where 10,000 people are going to listen to it. Like it’s a no brainer. So you kind of can double down on what’s working in that way and do the same thing in this new business where it’s like, okay, we have, you know, 4000 ads and, you know, 100 and something different brands to maintain it all the time. You know, maybe the top 30% of those are really what’s driving the majority of sales yet everything else is what’s time consuming to maintain. So how can we get smarter about that?

Bronson: I that’s great advice to end on. Nick, thank you so much for coming on growth equity.

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