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What would you do if you suddenly lost your job or your business was no longer feasible? How would you make money to support yourself or your family? The idea of losing our main source of income can be overwhelming and stressful, but it happens to so many of us for a variety of reasons. And if you think you are in the safe zone, I hope that is true – but in reality we just never really know what might be down the road. Not knowing where your next paycheck is coming from is a pain I never want you to have to experience. Which is why I want to put a heavy focus on the importance of creating multiple income streams as a way to build security and take control of your finances.
I think having a diversified income is not only freeing, but it’s also biblical!
In this post and episode, I am walking you through how I decided to start creating multiple income streams for myself, and how you can do the same, including different options for passive income so that you can make money while you sleep! Let’s get into it!
Starting With Multiple Income Streams
When I was in high school I really had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, I just knew that I wanted to own my own business. I wanted to be my own boss and work for myself so that I would be able to be a stay at home mom one day.
That slowly manifested into my love for photography, in case you didn’t know that all started when I was 14 and got my first horse and started to make these fun little youtube videos with him.
Before I knew it, I was taking photos of my friends for their senior portraits and the rest is history. But at the same time, as high school was ending I was starting to give horseback riding lessons which eventually turned into me becoming a full time horse trainer – thanks to my old barn manager for pushing me into the idea and supporting me through it!
While I was going to school for photography, horse training was my full time job. I was staying super busy with it, and making really good money if I am being honest. For quite a while I leaned into horse training and didn’t do a whole lot with photography until a few years ago.
Between the two, I never had to actually go out and get a 9-5 job which I am super grateful for. I owe a lot of that to my parents as well.
The Benefits & Downsides
In that season of juggling multiple income streams, plus school, I started to notice how the businesses complimented each other.
When horse training would slow down, photography would pick up. And that balance was nothing I did intentionally, it just kinda worked out to my benefit.
But it was in the midst of all of that when I realized how helpful it was to be able to make money in two completely different ways. And that if one of my businesses were to fail, I had another one that I would be able to fall back on.
Time For Change
Everything was great for a while, but let me tell you, being in a season of full on hustle mode like I was, is really only easy when you are single. Because once I started dating and getting into relationships that required my attention more, it became harder for me to work two service based jobs like photography and horse training.
I was having to exchange my time for money, which if you think about it is probably how most jobs are. But I wanted to take everything a step further. If you are a serial entrepreneur, then you get it.
I wanted to be able to make money without having to give up so much time.
With service based industries, you are required to show up and be present otherwise it doesn’t work. And I found myself countless times feeling so exhausted because I would stretch myself so thin, and then have no time to spend on my relationships.
With wedding photography something I noticed was that if I was shooting 30 weddings a year during peak wedding season (AKA all the best months of the year) I was having to say “no” to so many things.
The Downside To Working So Much
I couldn’t plan things ahead of time. I couldn’t go to concerts with my friends on weekends, or go on date nights with my boyfriends. Every Saturday night I was booked. And it took a toll on my relationships.
There was one particular instance where there was this really amazing concert that I wanted to go to so bad and it was still like a year away and I was so excited about it, but I pulled up the dates and saw I was already all booked up.
Now I understand that this may come off as me being ungrateful, and I want to reassure that I am completely the opposite of that. Each and every wedding I have ever had the opportunity has been the best decision of my life and I have been blessed to work with the most amazing people.
I just learned that maybe I needed to make some adjustments to how I ran my businesses.
What I Did To Reduce My Workload
The first thing I did was scale way back on the number of weddings I took on each year. In the beginning I had goals of 25-30 per year, now I aim to photograph about 15 per year.
Now you may be thinking, but how did that affect your income? And my answer to that is that I raise my prices every year. So even though I cut my overall number in half, my income stayed the same and even went up.
Another plus to cutting my wedding number in half is that I am able to give my clients all the time and attention they deserve.
Before, when I was buried up to my eyeballs with work, my client experience was nothing special. I just did very basic things, but since making that number smaller, I don’t have to juggle as many clients which allows me to give a more one on one personal experience.
That’s my biggest priority above all else. Happy clients make me happy!
Getting Realistic About My Income Streams
For horse training, it was a whole different ball game because I could work with my project horses during the weekdays and I didn’t have people waiting on me. BUT my whole world kinda changed when I went up to Montana to train some colts and broke my leg.
All of a sudden, I was not able to ride or do much for a while during the healing process.
This experience humbled me A LOT. And made me realize that while I love horse training, I probably needed to make sure I had a source of income that wasn’t 100% reliant on being so physically demanding.
And let’s be totally honest here, I am a mega homebody. In previous episodes I mentioned that I don’t have a huge desire to travel all over the world (which makes having cattle ranching dreams a heck of a lot easier cause we will never go anywhere when that actually happens LOL) So finding something that allowed me to make money from home was crucial.
Multiple Income Streams Is Biblical
The Bible even teaches the importance of diversifying your income streams, like heck yeah it’s freaking biblical to have multiple income streams – how cool!
I actually first learned about this from Jordan Lee Dooley’s podcast and thought it was just the most life changing information.
Ecclesiastes 11:2 “invest in 7 ventures, Yes in 8, you never know what disaster may come upon the land”.
Basically what it is saying is that you should have multiple sources of income so that if one goes down, you are still able to get by and pay all of your bills.
Now I am NOT saying you need to go out right now and create 7 streams of revenue. Not at all. BUT I do want to just lay some emphasis on how important this is for your life. ALSO a fun fact in case you didn’t know: the average millionaire also has 7 streams of income.
I always find it so funny when there is something in life (such as business) that maybe feels so separate from anything the bible could say and then all of a sudden God whacks me in the face with a huge reality check. God is in everything, including business. He is the reason I am successful at all, and he’s the very best teacher.
Passive Income Ideas
So now, let’s get practical. What are some of the ways you can create passive income or diversify your income? Well, first let me define passive income in case you are not really sure what that means.
Passive income basically means making money while you sleep. It means you have an offer that is self fulfilling and runs automatically all day every day so you never have to do too much hands on work.
Here are a couple ideas for passive income:
You could create an online course teaching others in your industry what you do, or how to do it. If you are a photographer, this could be an online course teaching other photographers something like posing or editing.
If you are a horse trainer, you can teach methods to other horse trainers that have worked for you in the past.
If you are a boutique or a shop owner, you can create an online course that teaches other shop owners how to get where you are.
And before you even start to have the thoughts I know you are going to have, listen to me. You do not have to be making millions of dollars and have 50,000 followers to create and online course and teach. You just have to be 1 step ahead of someone else, and you have to actually have seen progress in the methods that you are teaching.
If teaching others in your industry doesn’t interest you, you could also make an online course for your current clients.
As a photographer, you could create a posing course that teaches individuals and couples how to pose for photos. This is something that could help them feel prepared for when they hire a professional photographer, but it would also be nice to know what looks the most flattering in everyday iPhone photos.
If you are a rancher, or in the agriculture industry you can create online courses that teach others how to get started in ranching, what they need to know about cows, farming, land, I mean seriously anything you are passionate and knowledgeable on.
OR let’s say you don’t even have a business. Maybe you are a stay at home mom or wife and don’t really need to work, but you want to start making some income to help support your family.
Think about the things people ask you the most and make a course on it. Do you feel like you have mastered the art of sleep training your baby? Make a course on teaching other moms to do the same. Or make a course on how to travel with toddlers, how to properly change a diaper, etc.
It may sound silly, or too simple to be a good idea but here’s the thing. Most people are too close to their genius to even realize what it is.
Meaning, just because something seems simple to you like changing a diaper, doesn’t mean that it’s easy for everyone or that everyone knows it. At one point in your life, you did not know how to change a diaper, so channel those feelings and thoughts and questions you had again, and put it all into a course to serve others.
Digital Shop / Selling Digital Products Online
Another way you can make passive income or add multiple income streams is through a digital shop or selling digital products online.
Now I say digital because that’s one of the easiest ways to make it passive income. If you sell tangible or physical goods like hats or T-shirts, that wouldn’t be passive because you would have to package the items up and ship them off. But that would be a good way to add a stream of income to your life or business if the passive part wasn’t crucial for you.
Your digital shop would essentially work like your online course would. People would click a button on your website or whatever your shop hosting platform is, they would purchase it and immediately receive it in an email, or a link or whatever it may be.
Examples of digital products could be templates, presets, calendars, stock photos, guides, workbooks, e-books, digital magazines, etc.
Think about what you use in your life right now that you have made, maybe it’s some kind of spreadsheet you made to track your finances. Turn it into a template and sell it. Or maybe you made a cool pricing guide that you could make into a template for others. You could make email templates, contract templates, you could sell any pretty photos you have taken as stock photos, etc.
These items would generally be smaller priced items than an online course, but depending on what it is maybe not. Some people sell website templates for over $1000. Let your imagination run wild, and think about what you could offer someone that serves them well. If 50 people bought a $20 product, that’s a quick $1000 in your pocket!
If after listening to this, you are on board for either an online course or a digital shop to create multiple income streams for yourself, I don’t want to leave you hanging on what you should do next. So first of all, make a brain dump page where you just spill out all of your ideas and thoughts regarding the course or product you want to create.
Who is it for? How does it serve them? What is the end result they will get? How much will you charge for it? And what are you going to include with it?
Once you have that general idea, it’s time to start creating!
For online courses there is a bit more work that goes into this.
You have to take the time in the beginning to really pour your all into it. But the good news is, once it’s done, it can live on for life.
Do not overthink the tech too much on this. You can literally create a Facebook group for free and add units to it to host your online course. But if you want to get a little more advanced then platforms like Kajabi, Teachable, or Podia are also great to host online courses.
Affiliate Marketing As An Income Stream
Finally one of the last passive income streams I want to mention is affiliate marketing. And can I be honest for a second? I LOVE affiliate marketing.
If you don’t know what this is, basically it is when you are working alongside a company or brand to promote THEIR products or services and when someone signs up to buy it, you get paid a commission.
This is different than a general ad, because with an ad you are typically getting paid a 1 time fee for that one particular post. But with affiliate marketing, you can really make as much or as little as you want solely by promoting the products you love.
A Few Things To Know About Affiliate Marketing
You should be in love with whatever you are promoting to your audience. Because if you only do it to make the commission, in time that will show. You also don’t want to be constantly selling to your audience either because that will get old and removes the trust factor.
If you have been around for a while you have likely heard me talk about a few particular brands over and over. Those being Honeybook, Flodesk, and Goli.
Honeybook is the client management software I use and it’s freaking amazing. It is how I send all of my contracts to my clients, keep track of to do lists, get paid and more. I kinda hate to do this but also no shame in my game… you can get a discount on HoneyBook by going to SarahElrod.com/Honeybook
Same goes for Flodesk, my email marketing platform. I swear by this, and I know that it would benefit you too, so I talk about it.
What I love so much about affiliate marketing is it really benefits everyone. If you were to use my link or code, I would make a small commission, and you would get a discount! It’s a win win!
Other Ways To Add Multiple Income Streams
Okay so now that we talked about passive income ideas, I want to talk about a few other ways to diversify your income and add multiple income streams that are not necessarily passive, but they do not require a ton of work to set up. And you can start on them today if you wanted to!
First, you could join an MLM company. I know that sometimes there is a weird thought process behind MLM’s and some people are super against them, but if you are not, and you want to start something that doesn’t require a bunch of back end work on your part (like actually creating the products) then this might be for you!
You should treat working for an MLM company kinda like affiliate marketing. Because well, it pretty much is. You are offering people a product and if they sign up through you then you get a commission.
I think MLM’s can be a really good side hustle, but only if you really do believe in the products you are selling. I have seen too many people bounce from one to another and they completely lost my trust because it doesn’t feel like they actually care about what they sell, they just want to make some dollar bills.
My suggestion would be to try some products first before becoming a consultant. Because if you don’t actually believe they are life changing, then you are not going to sell them very well.
Coaching & Workshops
Another way to add multiple income streams to your business is to offer one on one coaching.
Similar to an online course you are really just teaching someone in your industry how to do what you do, except this is live and more face to face
One on one coaching would usually be a higher price point than an online course because like I said earlier, you are having to trade your time for money and that’s worth something. Vs in an online course they can be learning from you without you actually being present.
You could also do this same concept but in a group setting like an online workshop or an in person workshop. Teach certain topics but instead of one on one you are live teaching multiple people all at the same time.
No matter what you end up doing, should you choose to do any of the things we talked about today, make sure you do not bite off more than you can chew. It can be easy to get excited and want to do all the things, but remember to stick to just one until you are really solid and consistent at it before adding on more.
We want to be experts at one thing because branching out too much.
I'm Sarah Elrod
I'm a Cowgirl turned serial entrepreneur.
I'm a horse trainer, western wedding photographer, business coach and ranch wife.
I help women in the western industry grow thriving businesses from rural America.
When I am not strategizing new marketing tactics, you will find me riding my horses, cuddling my cattle dog, or kissing my hot husband.
There is also a good chance I am buying way too many outfits from western boutiques.
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