It's not that I want to paint or I want to sing. I have to. ~ Tony Bennett
Opportunity Knocks: Creative Ways to Make a Living Without A Job
One Viable Way to "Unjob," Turn Your Interests into Income, and Still Get a Steady Flow of Income
Valerie and her rescue dog,
By Valerie Young
I'm all about finding ways to help people to "un-job." One obvious barrier to quitting the 9-to-5 grind to work on your own is the predictability that comes with a steady job.
Getting a regular paycheck is fabulous – that is if you love your job. But if your work is taking a toll on your health, your relationships, and your very soul, then that's a pretty high price to pay for predictability.
So what if there was a way to do something you really enjoy, be your own boss, and still get a predictable flow of income coming in at regular intervals?
Better yet, what if you actually were taking something you already know and care about – fly fishing or knitting or antique toys or selling on eBay - and were somehow able to create a business that brought in a relatively predictable amount of money every month. I'm not talking about a few dollars here and there. I mean anywhere from a several hundred to tens of thousands of dollars a month? Would you want to learn more?
Well, you may recall that around this same time last year I told you about membership programs – sometimes referred to as continuity or subscriber programs. Before I get into the incredible income potential that can come from running your own membership/continuity program, let's take the example of the online dating service Match.com. You may not think of this as a continuity program but I assure you their accountants do! Singles wishing to be listed or to contact singles listed on Match.com pay a monthly subscriber fee. Unless you cancel, your credit card is automatically billed every month.
Another example I've used before is Consumer Reports magazine. For $4.95 a month I get continued access to special reports and information not available on the free portion of their site. Unless I cancel, the subscription fee will automatically be billed to my credit card.
What makes a membership/subscriber/continuity program so popular comes down to this:
1) Recurring Monthly Income: In both examples, the businesses automatically bill the consumer's credit card every month, resulting in a steady and relatively predictable stream of recurring income.
2) Access: Members or subscribers sign on because they are getting some kind of ongoing benefit dependent on accessing the content. With online dating services, it's the ability to communicate with and potentially meet the love of your life. With Consumer Reports its' access to a regular stream of desirable information.
3) Convenience: The consumer can sign up once without the hassle of check writing or otherwise having to remember to renew. As the business owner, you skip the hassle of sending out invoices because the money is automatically deposited into your bank account. (Sweet!)
4) Affordability: Far fewer people would shell out hundreds of dollars all at once. But if payments are small, then recurring billing makes what's being offered more affordable to the consumer, resulting in increased sales for the business.
Okay, now that the model is starting to make sense, you're probably thinking, "I'm not a big organization, I'm just one person – how can I possibly run my own membership site?" That's the beauty of the Internet and membership site enabling technology. Today, there are thousands of very profitable membership/continuity programs that are one-or-two person operations.
And before you start moaning about how you don't have anything to offer that anyone would want to buy – I met a guy who is making five figures a month running a member site all about crocheting – and he doesn't even crochet!
That's just the thing – whether you decide to go the membership route or just want to find a way to change course…
Turning Your Interests into Income is a Lot Easier Than You Think
The reality is, you don't even have to have personal knowledge of or experience in a particular field or subject area to start any kind of business, including a member program. I'll prove it.
Last summer I had the pleasure of meeting a guy named Todd Brown. Todd is the founder of MassageBusinessUniversity.com, a member site for massage therapists who want to grow their practice.
Before starting this particular member site (he runs several), Todd was in the fitness field. Here is the thing – he is not a massage therapist. Instead, Todd relies on a team of "faculty" with expertise in growing a massage practice to create value-added content for his members. Todd's expertise lies in knowing how to find out what members want and making sure they get it.
What Todd and other successful entrepreneurs get is that competence isn't about knowing how to do everything perfectly. Competence isn't doing everything yourself. Competence does not mean needing to know 150% before you consider yourself remotely qualified to wear the label: "expert." Competence means knowing how to identify the resources it takes to get the job done.
All It Takes is A Little Creativity
Continuity programs always revolve around the delivery of some kind information, instruction, or even entertainment. However, the type of information, and even the delivery itself, can vary widely. For example, I'm a member of master Internet marketer Yanik Silver's "Underground Secret Society." For $87.63 a month, I receive a big red envelope stuffed with marketing tips and templates and a CD with a new before-and-after Web site critique. If you want to get a better idea of how Yanik structured his member program, go to ChangingCourse.com/recommends/secretsociety.
Yanik's program is unique in that he also puts on a big annual event on Internet marketing. In addition to saving on the registration fee, Secret Society members enjoy such perks as reserved seating and an upgraded break area and the chance to network with other members at exclusive cocktail and dinner functions.
At the event I attended, there were at least 200 other Secret Society members. That means from just these 200 members alone Yanik is raking in over $17,500 A MONTH! And these members represent just a small fraction of overall members.
My own member program, the Fast Track Your Dream Program, is set up a little differently. For one, the whole point is to speed up the process of going from having a boss to being your own boss. So the first thing members get is a "Fast Track Kit" full of books and CDs on a range of topics from finding your calling to how to create a step-by-step exit strategy. Members who are really in a hurry can go to a password-protected site to download much of the material immediately.
Fast Track members also get access to a live "Turning Interests into Income" Teleclass every month, three online resource guides, and daily "inspirational nudges." And, to help fight the isolation that Barbara Sher famously cites as THE dream killer, there's also a members-only discussion forum.
If you want to "see" what a member site might look, like you can take a short video "tour" of the Fast Track Community here: ChangingCourse.com/fasttracktour-20.html
Learn From the Experts
You don't need to know how to set up and run a membership program – or any business for that matter. All you need to do is figure out who does and then learn from them.
Last summer I introduced you to Tim Kerber and Ryan Lee. Tim and Ryan have established themselves as "the" experts on how to set up and run a highly profitable membership business. Ryan's claim to fame is that he went from struggling to provide for his young family as a physical education teacher in the Bronx to earning over a million dollars a year running a dozen different membership sites on different aspects of fitness.
And Tim is the founder and president of a turnkey solution that handles all the technical aspects of a member program called MemberGate Solutions. Together Tim and Ryan run a very helpful program for membership site owners called MembershipSiteOwner.com, of which I am a member.
Last summer, Ryan and Tim created a Tele-training program which obviously hit a nerve because the program sold out in less than a week. Tim wrote to tell me that they're going to open the program again sometime in the next few weeks. But before they do, they've put together a short video to give people a better idea of what it's all about. You'll see in the video some actual revenue figures from folks who went through the training last summer. The numbers range from $4,500 to a month to a whopping $193,000 a month!
These numbers are impressive. But don't forget that starting a member site, or any reputable on- or off-line business, takes time and effort. And a member program certainly offers no fast, easy road to riches. But because of the recurring income that membership programs provide, if you are willing to put in the time and effort, it is entirely possible that by this time next year you could be earning enough from your member site to quit your job, or at the very least go part-time.
Learn more about how easy it is to start a membership site and to make it profitable by signing up to watch the first of a series of short videos from Tim and Ryan now:
There are lots of ways to turn what you know into income. If you've already been thinking about writing a how-to book, designing and leading workshops, teaching Teleclasses or otherwise profiting from what you already know, you may want to consider adding a member program to the financial mix. No matter which path you choose, it all comes down to just taking that first small step!
P.S. Oh, and one other benefit to you as an entrepreneur is if you ever decide to sell your business, having a continuity program makes your business more desirable because prospective buyers can more easily project future sales.
Add Your Two Cents
Want to comment on this article? Click here to hop over to the Changing Course Blog!
About the Author
"Profiting From Your Passions" expert Valerie Young abandoned her corporate cubicle to become the Dreamer in Residence at ChangingCourse.com offering resources to help you discover your life mission and live it. Her career change tips have been cited in Kiplinger's, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today Weekend, Woman's Day, and elsewhere and on-line at MSN, CareerBuilder, and iVillage.com. An expert on the Impostor Syndrome, Valerie has spoken on the topic of How to Feel as Bright and Capable as Everyone Seems to Think You Are to such diverse organizations as Daimler Chrysler, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Harvard, and American Women in Radio and Television.
To read more articles about how to work at what you love without a job go to ChangingCourse.com/articles
If you only do what you know you can do- you never do very much. ~ Tom Krause
Previously Sold Out "Bootcamp" on How to Start and Run Create a Business With Recurring Monthly Income About to Re-Open
"The best thing about a membership program is that in exchange for providing helpful information or resources to people who share your interests, you get a continuous flow of revenue. If 500 eager members sign up at just $15 a month, that's $7,500 a month – every month."
Imagine turning your passion for embroidery, jazz guitar, massage, wrestling, even sky diving into a stead income stream that could replace your salary? These are real examples of actual Internet-based membership programs that are generating four, five, and even six figures a month in recurring income.
As long as you make good on your promise to consistently deliver quality content, as a member program owner you'll receive a steady flow of revenue in the form of member fees… fees that are automatically billed to member's credit cards on a monthly basis. And when you love a topic, finding great information and resources to share with your members is a lot easier than you think!
Anyone with a passion for a topic and a desire to inform and help others can start a membership program - especially when you have people to show you how. Meet Tim Kerber, CEO of MemberGate Solutions, Inc and MembershipSiteOwner.com and Ryan Lee, a former physical education teacher who now earns seven figures from 48 subscription Web sites in various aspects of the fitness field.
Tim and Ryan are gearing up to once again offer their Membership Site Bootcamp Tele-Training on how to start and run a highly profitable member program. Their last training session sold out in less than a week.
From what I understand, the program will not officially open for a couple of weeks. As a first step, Tim and Ryan have put together a short video on how membership programs work, including some eye-opening monthly revenue figures from past participants.
Check out the video now and be sure to sign up for the follow-up case studies:
Whether your passion is salsa, gardening, photography, or wrestling, there are a myriad of ways to turn what you already know into your livelihood. If you are drawn to the idea of a more regular, predictable income stream that has the potential to be extremely profitable, I encourage you to sign up for the video case studies.
P.S. I've watched a lot of people make insane amounts of money using the membership model. The only difference between them and you and they didn't let a lack of experience or self-confidence hold them back. Instead they took action. As Jim Roan said, "Indecision is the thief of opportunity. You cannot change your destination overnight but you can change your direction overnight." The key is simply to begin.
Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow." ~ Mary Anne Radmacher
You are the embodiment of the information you choose to accept and act upon. To change your circumstances, you need to change your thinking and subsequent actions.
~ Adlin Sinclair
Guest ArticleStarting A Business:
What To Do When You Don't Know What To Do Next
By Maria Simone
In the course of building your business, issues may come up where you may not actually be sure of what next steps to take or even what questions to ask. I help entrepreneurs with business development and small business funding support and coaching and these are the very questions I hear from clients during our first meeting. I'd like to shed some light on these issues and especially to let you know that you're not alone. When you have clarity in all of these areas, you will naturally become more attractive to potential investors and those who may want to support you or do business with you.
1. You have several options of what direction to take your business but just can't decide?
If you ever find yourself faced with a decision you can't quite seem to make or take action on, the best thing to do is nothing. This is the time to slow down and: a) observe how you are feeling about the choices you think you need to make - your heart could be slowing you down for a reason and all the signs should be there if you pay attention; b) you should absolutely seek out the advice of qualified people who have had specific experience with your situation. You don't want to make decisions without qualified information and neither should you ever feel pressured about making just any decision. Time is irrelevant here - making a decision that doesn't support you could "cost" you more time in the long run.
2. Having trouble making sense of or communicating all your ideas?
Start the business planning process as soon as possible to help keep you on track. Moving forward in your business with just a bunch of ideas swirling around in your head is not the same as having them committed to paper. Organizing your thoughts in a structured fashion gives you instant clarity, your ideas start coming to life, people now have a better understanding of how to support you, and the resources you'll need can start showing up. It will also allow you to play out different scenarios. Your plan will be constantly evolving and growing as you move forward so there will never really be a finished document nor will it ever be perfect. However, just starting the process can sometimes help you get unstuck. I recommend using an existing software program that walks you through some of the steps by asking a series of questions. I have my favorites but no matter what program you use, make sure you personalize it to your circumstances and industry.
3. You may have limited operating capital initially and you feel pressured to invest in resources and services that should help you grow your business. So what resources should you invest your money in?
That all depends on exactly what stage you're at in the "sequencing" of your business. If you buy or commit to resources before you're ready for them, it may just take you down a dead end if you're really not prepared to work with them: a) If you are working on your business plan, you should be gathering information about sales, marketing, PR, etc. You should not necessarily be investing in these services at this stage; b) If you are just starting out and about to raise investor money, only invest in those resources that will absolutely bring you capital; c) don't invest or get committed to product manufacturing before you've developed your infrastructure or understand your markets; d) don't engage in activities that will create a demand for products and services you haven't developed yet unless you are just about ready to launch.
4. You have a great idea but not really sure what it looks like as a business.
Very often, people have great ideas and start focusing on one way they think it should be launched. This could be in the form of a retail store, an online experience, a book, a game, a service, etc. If you find that you're focusing on one "expression" that could take much longer or cost more than it seems worth it, start opening yourself up to other ways your idea can get out there. Look for the lowest hanging fruit - what is the fastest, most cost effective way you can get your idea out to the most people and bring you the most profit in the shortest period of times (if that's your goal). For instance a retail chain of stores is a huge undertaking. If your goal is to help one million people access your resources in the shortest timeframe, then what about taking the service aspect of your business and launching it as a national service company with primarily an online presence and do away with all the real estate and operational costs? You could serve a bigger slice of the population in half the time and a fraction of the cost by using a franchise model. If you can remain open to exploring new opportunities, they will show up for you.
5. How far should you go to prove out your concept?
This could be something brand new for you and you haven't fully allocated resources to the project but want to make sure you have a market for your goods and services. Initially do things that do not require a big investment or ongoing maintenance (storage issues, insurance, license fees, etc). For instance take surveys, conduct market research, acquire trend reports, "dry test" and then "beta test" with a prototype, get validation from experts, and build a mailing list of people who would be interested in your product down the road. These are just a few. I recommend doing small manufacturing runs with a product to test in a certain regional area but don't try to "launch" nationally before you have all the necessary resources in place.
6. Are you having resistance to moving forward with your business? Wondering if it will ever get done or if you're the person to do it? Do feelings of fear, isolation, and overwhelm seem to permeate your thoughts?
Stop for a bit and be still as this isn't a cue for you to work harder. It means you need to do some internal work on you, not your business. There are plenty of great programs and people I frequently recommend that can support you here. Feelings of not feeling good enough are old tapes that should be eliminated. Issues around money, success, or receiving support shouldn't rule your life. If you're doing anything business related you're not passionate about which will require a huge investment of time, it's not worth doing. This is all about you not about business. Every successful entrepreneur takes the time to do breakthrough internal work on themselves. Best quote I heard recently "Making my first million was easy - but it took me 37 years to allow myself to do it." So get your heart in alignment with your head, know you deserve it and that you're not alone... and then get out of your way.
7. You have limited financial resources and lots of deadlines you've imposed on yourself - should you just keep plodding along and do as much as you can on your own to get it done and make your deadlines?
First, when you're building a business, I recommend not using TIME as a milestone if possible because it puts too much undue pressure on yourself and oftentimes you won't be able to commit to the deadline because of all the other variables involved. "In six months I will have raised $1 million" or "in 3 months I will be signing a lease so I better have the resources in place by then". How do you know? You're better off using financial milestones if you're raising capital - like, for instance, "when I raise my first million, then I can do xyz" - or something other than time. Shifting your thinking like this will give you new perspective, alleviate stress and allow you to focus on getting the necessary resources to hire the people you need to get the jobs done. You can try to do it all yourself without the necessary resources just to meet your self-imposed deadline but it begs the question, "why do that to yourself?"
8. You feel unable to proceed because you have no money?
It's not the money that you need - it's determination, passion and having the right people around you. If you ever get stuck on this one, check in to see which one it is. Having the right people around you will always attract money, so take the time to build a support team and let them open doors for you. Your determination will always lead you to the next step if you're paying attention - it could be money or another resource that's even better. If you don't have passion for what you're doing, you may want to check in to see if this is what you really want. Always, and only, do what you love.
About the Author
Maria Simone is a speaker, mentor, author as well as a very unique and conscious business development and marketing expert who has launched several companies and has raised millions of dollars in funding. She helps inventors, start-ups, holistic practitioners and service providers attract experts, customers, resources and capital. Subscribe to her free how-to business building e-zine atPassion2Prosperity.com
For my part, I know nothing with certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.
~ Vincent van Gogh
Upcoming Workshops and Teleclasses
Turning Your Interests into Income:
The Opportunity Hour Teleclass With
"Opportunity Analyst" Valerie Young
There really is no shortage of creative ways to get paid to do work you truly love. The problem is most people don't know how to profit from their passions.
Viable and fascinating business ideas are literally all around you. You just need to know where to look!
Listen in as serial "Opportunity Analyst" Valerie Young delves into her vast Opportunity Files to reveal some fascinating ways that regular people – just like you – have turned their interests into income!
You don't even need a lot of money. All it takes is a little creative thinking, which is a good thing because Real Success Without a Real Job author Ernie Zelinski calls creative thinking "the poor man's wealth." Ernie was spot on when he said, "There is nothing quite as exhilarating as coming up with a brilliant idea, putting it to good use, and eventually being rewarded handsomely for my efforts by the marketplace."
So join a community of dreamers and dream doers for an exhilarating hour of creative thinking, opportunity angling, and possibility-provoking fun! The rewards could be enormous!
P.S. Got an opportunity file of your own? Share a favorite creative business idea at the Opportunity Hour and you could win a free "Advice from the Dream Team" CD
Thursday, June 19, 2008
| Morning Session |
10:00-11:00 a.m. Eastern Time
Free for Fast Track Members*
$19.00 for Non Members**
Click Here to Register
7:00-8:00 p.m. Eastern Time
Free for Fast Track Members*
$19.00 for Non Members**
Click Here to Register
*This series is free to current members of the Fast Track Your Dream Community. **100 percent of Non-Members registration fees go to the non-profit micro-grant organization TrickleUp.org
The Ultimate Travel Writer's Workshop
Over Three Power-Packed Days, you'll...
Learn the secrets of writing travel articles you can sell from a group of the best editors and writers in the business...
Discover little-known techniques travel writers use to land concert tickets... meals... vacations... and more... without paying a dime...
Walk away with a short publishable article in hand... and the contact information for editors we know who are happy to work with you, even if you've never sold a story before…
See for yourself how you can have the time, adventure, and freedom you're looking for as a freelance travel writer…
The Ultimate Travel Writer's Workshop
San Francisco, CA
July 24 – 26, 2008
Go here ChangingCourse.com/recommends/travelconf and for more details about this event, or contact Terry Frank toll-free at (866)415-1425 or local at (202)370-6459 from 8:00am-5:00pm Eastern Standard Time.
Get Paid to Travel
Right now, you could be enjoying a week at a tiny hotel on a small Caribbean island, relaxing on a fine stretch of white sand, listening to the palms rustle overhead... for FREE. In fact, you could be getting paid to do it.
If you've always dreamed of far-flung travels... on someone else's dime... then this is your opportunity to make it happen.
Join Freelance Travel Writer Steenie Harvey and Jen Stevens, writer and contributing editor for International Living and author of the Ultimate Travel Writer's Program, as they show you how you can get started - and reveal to you real-world strategies to access this lifestyle - for less than $20.
Friday, June 20
8:00 p.m. Eastern Time
Click Here to Learn More
Click Here to Register
Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.
~ Andre Gide
The View From theOther Side
"I grew up in a family where, just because you're a girl, doesn't mean to say you can't do it. I really had to go against the grain a bit to get things done. But that never bothered me."
~ Helen Thayer, now 70, became the first woman to walk alone to the magnetic North Pole in 1988 and later became the first, along with her husband, to walk across the length of the 1,500-mile Gobi desert. National Geographic named her one of the "Great Explorers of the 20th Century." She has used her expeditions to teach more than a million students through her not-for-profit organization, Adventure Classroom
Resources for a Change
This week I'm featuring several interesting events happening over the summer. While some may not represent an obvious interest, be sure to read the whole description as there are some unique opportunities within...
American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD.org) is a nonprofit organization that promotes floral design as a career. The2008 AIFD National Symposium, "Collaboration... Floral Education," is being held in Chicago from July 3-7. They are also seeking volunteers to help with all aspects of the floral workroom. So if you have an interest in Stage Design or floral arrangements, be sure to check out this event! (AIFD.org/2008symposium.htm)
National Storytelling Conference (StoryNet.org) brings together National Storytelling Network members and individuals who are interested in the art and application of storytelling. Their mission is "Bringing together and nurturing individuals and organizations that use the power of storytelling in all its forms." The conference is being held August 7-10 in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
PodCamp Boston (PodCampBoston.org) promises to help you learn, share, and grow your new media skills.480 people gathering to share their ideas, lessons learned and earned, cutting edge developments, and stories. From blogging to podcasting to Twitter to virtual worlds and more, whether you're a veteran of new media or just getting started, PodCamp Boston has something to expand your learning. The conference will e held at the Joseph Martin Conference Center at Harvard Medical School in Boston onJuly 19-20.
Healer's Program by Tom Monte (TomMonte.com)is a unique opportunity to help you transform the obstacles that prevent you from manifesting your true nature and your special abilities and talents. It is designed to help you heal your body, mind, and relationships. And, in turn, help you do the same for others. The program begins this September in Monroe, New York.
Note: Changing Course does not accept paid advertisements from any of the resources listed here. This list is provided to expand your thinking about just how many interesting ways there are to make a living without a job!