The key to building wealth is simple. It's just not easy.
Wealth and money are the results of creating value in the world and capturing a piece of that value for yourself. Starting a business that provides value is one practical and common way to do it. Building a following, on social media, and giving companies access to that following is another way.
One of the most reliable and effective, but least talked about because it's boring, ways is by saving your money and investing it. You create value by lending those savings to companies (by buying stock) and essentially recapture the added value when you sell the stock.
For most folks, $400 is a lot of money to find in a budget.
While you probably haven't squeezed every last drop from your expenses, let's look at the income side of the equation.
I can find a way to make an extra $400 a month.
Surveys are a great way to turn idle time into money. There are a ton of survey sites out there and it's hard to separate the good ones from the bad but we've had success with these:
You can't get paid to donate regular whole blood but you can get paid to donate plasma, which is the clear liquid component of your blood. You're paid because the process is far more involved than regular blood – they draw the blood, separate the plasma, and reintroduce the blood back into your system.
The process takes about an hour (2 hours the first time) and the pay and how often you can donate will vary by state. Some centers claim you can earn up to $300 a month, but our purposes we'll assume you do it 2-3 times a month and earn about $100 a month from this.
If you have a computer and a microphone, you can earn $10 for every 20-minute “test” you complete on UserTesting. Companies are always interested in seeing how people use their websites.
They hire companies like UserTesting, one of the biggest and most reputable, to get users onto the site and provide feedback. The test isn't testing you, it's testing the website!
On a test, you'll be asked to complete a series of tasks on a website and talking out loud throughout the process to give the company a better understanding of how their visitors see the page. You may be asked to go to Home Depot's website and search for a product, explaining whether the interface is easy to navigate or if it's confusing. There is no fee to join.
Do ten of these a month, which will take a little over 3 hours, and you can pocket an extra $100.
We're now halfway to earning $400 extra a month.
Complete Market Research
Market research is the corporate term for surveys — there are a lot of survey groups out there and it's often hard (here are some obvious red flags) to separate the good ones from the bad.
Taking surveys will not put a lot of money in your pocket but it does offer one advantage – the “per unit” work is very small. Rather than going to a clinic to donate plasma for an hour, you can fill out a survey in 5-10 minutes. In fact, you could fill out a survey while you donate plasma!
Here are the five I feel offer the most earning potential:
- Ipsos i-Say – Ipsos periodically partners with Reuters for political polls.
- Vindale Research
- Opinion Outpost
(if you are super ambitious, there are dozens you can sign up for – I list them all on this page)
If you joined a few of the prominent sites, I'd estimate you could earn $50 – $100 a month doing surveys.
Become a Virtual Assistant
A business owner has to juggle many responsibilities and when they start earning more, it's often helpful to bring on help. Many small business owners, especially bloggers, don't have the income to hire someone full time but they would love to bring someone on for a few hours each week to take over some of their work.
One of my other businesses is $5 Meal Plan and we have a few virtual assistants that help us with various tasks, from design work to customer service. It works well for us because we don't have a need for a full-time customer service representative and he gets to work at his own pace, out of his own home (or anywhere), and set his own hours.
Virtual assistants can earn anywhere from $20-$50 an hour to start depending on their level of expertise. For example, someone sorting emails won't earn as much as someone who does work in Adobe Photoshop.
You can do some google research on how to become a VA but I have several recommendations if you want to go in this direction:
- Join a Facebook Group for VAs — Join a few of them actually, some are better than others, and network with other VAs who seem to have their things in order. Quit the groups that are bad to cut down on the noise.
- Leverage high value skills – If you have expertise in an area, be sure to take advantage and look for roles that use it. Social media is especially valuable these days as a lot of it can be labor intensive but not easily and quickly taught.
- Reach out to bloggers you already read and follow – So many of my blogger friends have hired their own readers as VAs. It makes perfect sense because the VA understands the community, the work the blogger is doing, usually likes the mission, and can get up to speed quickly.
- Don't be discouraged if it takes time to find work – Reaching out to bloggers is great, since you can work with someone you are familiar with, but if you run into difficulty you can turn to freelance work boards that can connect you with business owners actively looking for help.
If you take on freelance work, you can earn yourself more than enough to get you over the $400 a month level required to build a million dollar nest egg.
If the prospect of freelance work doesn't excite you, you can always build your own blog. It's a much longer time frame for a return but you are building a business and an asset that, hopefully, can create value for others.