“Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success.” – C.S. Lewis
Let’s talk about failure. Not yours… but mine.
More specifically, I’m going to share my three worst ever side income ideas. Why they failed. And what I learned from the experience.
You see… I don’t see these as failures. I believe there’s no such thing as failing. Since every time you “fail” you also learn.
(Side note: I didn’t always think like this. But after repeatedly stumbling in my quest to work from home, I eventually learned to accept failure as part of the journey).
The Perfect Side Income Idea
Before I get into my “failures”, let’s define what success means for you. Success looks different for everyone.
For some, it’s how much money they earn, how big their house is, or how many cars they own.
For others, success is about winning. Publishing a #1 bestselling book, having the most social media followers, or being awarded a prestigious prize.
For me, the perfect side income idea meets two criteria:
- It’s something I’m passionate about. This is essential. If this didn’t matter to me, I’d simply return to the corporate world.
- I make money doing it. At least as much as I earned in my nine-to-five job.
What does success look like for you? There’s no right or wrong answer here. It’s okay if you want to be famous or earn a million dollars.
What is wrong is ignoring what you really want. After all, if you don’t know what you want, you can’t set meaningful goals and achieve your dreams.
Okay, now we have my success criteria defined, here’re my three biggest side income failures…
Side Income Idea #1: Niche Website
My first foray into the online world was a website dedicated to children’s books. I love reading and figured I could easily create content.
A niche website is where you write articles around a specific topic and attract lots of Google traffic. You usually monetize your site with affiliate links. For example, by linking to Amazon products. Each time someone clicks on your affiliate link and buys something, you receive a commission.
If you want to learn more about niche sites, I recommend Spencer Hawe’s website Niche Pursuits.
My niche site attracted lots of traffic. My posts were appearing high on Google’s web pages for the names of popular children’s books. People were even clicking on my links and buying stuff.
Yet the site made very little money. Books are low ticket items – especially when you’re only making a tiny commission on each book sale. Also, I quickly got bored writing book reviews.
In short, my niche website failed to meet both of my success criteria. It didn’t make much money and I wasn’t passionate about the work.
Side Income Idea #2: Kids Consignment Sale
One of my biggest commitments was my consignment sale. I held events where local moms could buy and sell their gently used kids’ items.
Each event took hours of my time to run. Plus, I invested 10K just to get my business up and running.
The work was satisfying. I loved helping local parents and received lots of positive feedback. However, what little profit I earned from each event didn’t come close to minimum wage. Let alone match my previous corporate job.
This project met my first success criteria but failed the second. I loved what I was doing but it wasn’t profitable.
Side Income Idea #3: Online Consulting
After my consignment sale experience, I helped small businesses with their online marketing.
This paid well. Selling a service is the fastest way to earn money from home. In my case, I offered website reviews and helped business owners set up their email marketing.
I attracted a decent number of clients. But I grew to hate online marketing. Sales just isn’t my thing. No matter how many books I read and courses I took. I still disliked selling.
Helping others sell online wasn’t fulfilling work for me.
Online consulting met my financial needs but wasn’t something I enjoyed doing. This was yet another “failure” (though it was nice to finally earn some real income!)
There’s No Such Thing As Failure
You’d think after all this failure, I’d give up. But I wasn’t ready to accept defeat. Instead, I learned to appreciate the journey and look for the positive.
I realized that each of these experiences taught me something valuable.
I learned what I love doing – reading, writing, learning, connecting one-on-one, creating systems.
And what I have zero talent for – selling, large group activities, making videos, anything repetitive.
On top of that, I gained some useful skills. Including how to:
- Create a website
- Build an email list
- Write online content
- Market online
- Create digital products
- Use dozens of new software tools
- Organize events
And I even had some fun doing it all!
So, there you have it. My three biggest side income failures. Yet each one served a purpose. Together these activities brought me to where I am today. Making money doing what I love.
How about you – do you have any failed side income ideas? When you look back, are you thankful for what they taught you?
Sometimes, you need to try something and see where it leads. There’s a reason for everything you do. Even when you “fail” you can look for the lessons learned.
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