The following is a guest post written by FMF of Free Money Finance, a blog devoted to helping readers grow their net worth. FMF posts daily on a wide range of money issues including making money in a variety of different ways. Some of his successful money making ideas include maximizing your greatest asset, getting the most from cash back credit cards and turning a hobby into an extra income. These and other ideas have helped FMF dramatically grow his income through the years.
I’ve faced a money making question a few times in my life and I’d like to get your thoughts on it. Here’s the question:
As we all try to grow our incomes, which is better, doing more of what we’re currently doing or trying something totally new?
Let me give you an example.
A few years ago, I had developed my writing hobby into a fairly nice income. I was writing for top-notch magazines and getting paid anywhere from 40 cents to $1.25 per word (just to note, they give you a word-count for each assignment — you can’t simply rattle on for 30 pages to make $100,000.) I was making a few thousand dollars a year for what really wasn’t much work, maybe 3-4 hours per article. Not to mention, my family and friends (and me too) loved seeing my name in print.
However, like with anything, there were downsides. Editors were becoming more and more demanding on extras for each article, there was more competition for each article I secured, and new publications took a lot of marketing, not to mention luck, to break into. I was confident that I could get some more business from my current publications as well as break into a couple more, but this would take some time and effort. So I asked myself whether it was worth it or not. Even more, was it even worth me writing for the same publications or should I do something different with my time?
Well, I guess it depends on what my alternatives were, right?
Here are some options I had for making money in my spare time:
- Focusing on my investments — I had them fairly under control, but I needed to spend some good hours really sorting through my strategy for dealing with some past bad decisions. I knew that getting things straightened out totally would net me a decent return.
- Consulting — I had a few people asking me to do some side work for them and help them out in their businesses. The per hour rates were equivalent to what I make at work if you include the benefits from my current job.
- Blogging — Back then, no one thought you could make any money blogging. But it was something I could do easily and I thought it had potential.
- Starting a new business — Or maybe even buying an existing business. I had a few ideas for this option, but I wasn’t sure of the time commitment (which I thought would likely be high).
Each of these, like my hobby income, had their own list of pros and cons — potential income, time commitment, “hassle factor”, and so on. But before I selected one I had to decide what was my best option — to keep doing more of what I had been doing or whether I should try something new.
Millions of Americans face similar decisions every day. For instance, many people who work hourly jobs are asked to work additional hours or maybe even overtime. Each time they say “yes” or “no” to these offers represents them making a decision on which is better — doing more of the same or trying something new. And for the rest of us who aren’t hourly, we still face the issue when we look at making extra income — should we try to make more doing what we do at our jobs every day (as a side business or maybe even spend more time at work in hopes of getting promoted/earning more) or do we focus on something else during our off-time?
How does this situation apply to you? Consider the following questions that following in the same line of thinking as described above:
- Is it better for you to stay in your current profession and progress in it or consider an alternative profession?
- If your current profession is acceptable, is it better to work on advancing in your current company (working extra hours and harder to get raises/promotions) or is it better to consider doing the same type of job at another company?
- Then again, maybe the best way to maximize your income is to simply do a good enough job to remain employed, then spend your extra time on outside income-producing projects.
- And which outside project(s) should you choose? Ones you’re familiar with or ones that are new/different?
- Ultimately, is it better for you to spend all your time on outside pursuits (such as your own business) versus any time on a job?
It’s certainly a lot to consider — and obviously money is not the only factor. But if you honestly think through all the options and their associated payouts, risks, time commitments, levels of personal fulfillment, and so on, you’ll be able to pick the option that makes you both the wealthiest and happiest.
For me, this latest decision came down to the following:
- I was tired of writing for mainstream publications.
- I was tired of dealing with editors demanding more work for less pay.
- I wanted to try something new.
- It wasn’t like I was making an extra $50,000 per year, so the risk of losing everything by trying something new was low.
- I had the feeling I could make some big money with one of the ideas.
In the end, I cut back on all but the easiest to maintain/work with publication (which still gave me 3-5 articles a year) and focused my remaining time on getting my investments on track. Once I completed this (it took me a couple months), I started blogging. So far, it’s turned out to be a great decision as:
- I can do much of it from work — with my employer’s blessing, they are the main sponsor of my blog
- I make a great income — While I now donate all the blogs proceeds to charity, that doesn’t mean I always will.
So, now the question is in your court. Which do you think is better: doing more of what you’re currently doing or trying something totally new?
Now I have to get back to deciding whether I should do more blogging or try something new. 😉
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