Side Hustles update 2017

Side Hustles update 2017

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now however have struggled to find the time or energy to do so. Looking back on my post history, I was somewhat shocked to see that I haven’t actually written anything other than the monthly income/expenses for almost 9 months! What the hell have I been doing over all that time?

Back in November/ December 2015 time I spoke about attending the FIRE Escape meetup and having a long chat with some of the inspirational people there about the steps they were taking towards FI. Pretty much since I started becoming interested in the idea of not working till 67 (who wouldnt be interested in that?!) my main focus was on cutting costs. While a good start, the truth is that this is never going to get you to FI any time soon and certainly not at a decent standard of living. Instead I was told I needed to switch more focus on increasing income sources and trying to diversify them.

For a huge majority of the population, their entire income is on a single employment contract. You’ve got some protection from sickness and redundancy however ultimately that protection is only temporary and pretty much out of your control. By working on additional income sources you not only increase your wealth quicker.. you de-risk from having such a reliance on just one source.

So I took on the mission! It’s pretty much a year since I started hitting my 3 main additional sources hard (Matched Betting, Kindle Publishing and Affiliate Marketing), a good time for an assessment.

Matched Betting

By far my most active and profitable side hustle. I’ve loved Matched Betting and it has loved me back I’m not ashamed to say. The earnings have far surpassed my initial expectations however the journey has not been without complication.

Anyone who tells you that Matched Betting is an easy path to riches is lying to you. It takes alot of concentration and meticulous record keeping. If you want to be earning into the 4 figures it also takes alot of time. I’ve no problem with any of these, I’m used to working on computers all day with spreadsheets and am happy to give up my wasted time watching TV each evening to something more profitable.

I started back in November 2015 and initially surprised myself by making a very respectable £500 per month average. I thought this was awesome as I immediately achieved the sort of “you could be making THIS much” adverts from all the matched betting sites. Speaking to others about it, I soon discovered that a minority of people were seriously scaling things up. Trying to get actual figures out of people is always difficult but I know some were making in the region of £2-£5k reliably every month. Damn I had some work to do!

I’ve no doubt that Matched Betting is getting harder, the offers more complicated and the bookies smarter to our tactics. Because of this I was to hit it has hard and fast as possible until the whole system potentially grinds to a halt. In Feburary 2016 I started helping a friend out with his betting. I’d work out all the bets, track everything and supply & move all the money around. I paid him a small % of the profits for what was essentially minimal work/risk on his part. As a result my monthly betting profits shot up. So I found more people to help and the income continued to rise. With each new person the admin overhead increased and record keeping becomes essential, however it allows you to be far pickier with which offers to attempt and which to just ignore as not worth the time investment.

By halfway through the year I was averaging a good £2k each month and have maintained this since then. Occasionally I’ll be blessed with some good fortune which has seen some months finished at £3-£4k profit. I’ve found that if I have a good start to the month through an early casino win, I’ll take a bit more risk with which offers I’ll attempt and this then tends to compound.

On the flip side though it can be difficult keeping emotions in check. When I have a big casino win I’m over the moon and will go out to treat the financee to a meal or a bottle of her much loved prosecco. However when I bust out of several offers in a row it can make me feel down and out of energy. I’ve read on some matched betting forums of people becoming depressed or even resorting to actual gambling trying to chase their losses. I’m nowhere near that mindset but it’s easy to see how someone could fall into the vicious circle.

Total profit from Matched Betting passed the £30k mark last month and shows no sign of slowing yet. I’m already up £1.5k in the first couple of weeks for this month and have taken the entire week off of work for next month’s Cheltenham Festival.

 

Kindle Publishing

I’d been hearing the odd whisper about Kindle Publishing for a couple of years prior to 2016. I had a rough idea of what it involved but wasnt sure if the demand was there for it to be a sustainable source of income. At the FIRE escape I got talking to Huw about his rapidly growing Kindle publishing empire and was immediately impressed with his passion and commitment towards it. He mentioned that he was going to try coaching a few people and I signed up on the dotted line to be in the first batch.

Wow, I had no idea just how long and difficult Kindle Publishing could be. Unlike Matched Betting, you’ve no certainty that what you publish will be a hit or a total flop and so have to put alot of faith (and money) towards proper research and marketing.

I worked with Huw on my first book which began taking alot longer than anticipated. The first writer I sourced looked like he was going to be awesome, I loved his writing style and he seemed so excited to be involved with the project. We setup the contract and milestones for publishing and I left him to get on with it. Concern started to grow after the first week when he has missed his first deadline and wasn’t responding to messages. A week later he cancelled the contract citing that the work was ‘not as described’ in the automated form. Still no response to any of my messages.

My 2nd writer was ok but nowhere near as good as the first. She produced the content requested however alot of the grammar and sentence structure stood out as being from a non-native speaker. I had to spend alot of time re-wording large parts of the initial content for it to be smooth flowing for english speakers. I still needed content for another part of the book so sourced a 3rd writer who was very efficient and produced the content perfectly.

With the book complete it was time to move on to the cover. Here again I struggled to get the quality I was looking for and, to be honest, was slightly disappointed with the final result however by now had been working on this book for almost 3 months so decided to just go with it. I did a bit of advertising (although probably not enough) and released the book for sale.

So how did it do? Well… it done alright I suppose. I picked up some good sales on the first day before it went down to a trickle and continued at this rate for a number of weeks before eventually settling on 1 or 2 sales a week. I think I managed to recover my costs but certainly nothing to write home about. Huw assured me that this was normal and that until you build up a decent readership you should expect most to not return stellar amounts.

About the time I was gearing up to start on my 2nd book I stumbled across a forum post talking about a potential loophole in Amazon’s KDP system. People were exploiting this loophole to be paid anything from £10+ per book per person! Obviously as with all loopholes it wasn’t going to last long, especially as more and more people piled into it. My Matched Betting was starting to take up alot more of my time (and producing good returns) so I decided to hammer the loophole as hard as possible while it was still open and regardless of any repercussions from Amazon.

I went into a new niche which allowed me to produce content extremely cheaply and then modify it to wack up the KDP payout per reader. My Kindle income jumped from single digits to hundreds in the first months and then even into the thousands at the peak. As with all good things it did’nt last long, Amazon pulled the plug and earnings plummetted again but not before that final last £3k payout hit my bank.

By this point I’d has enough of Kindle and Amazon constantly changing their terms & conditions so decided to cease working on any new books and instead just leave what I had published ticking over producing a hundred quid or so each month without any extra work. I’ve no doubt that Kindle publishing can be a sustainable source of income, and I’m hoping Huw’s upcoming course can re-kindle my interest in it enough to give it another proper bash. Altogether I think I made about £6k from Kindle Publishing over the year.

 

Affiliate Marketing

This is quite hard to admit as someone who has been blogging for a couple of years now and gets thousands of readers each month but I suck at affiliate marketing. To be honest I was happy receiving my first (and only) £60 payout from Google Adsense.

I’d been Matched Betting for awhile when it was suggested featured in a Q & A session about this new income stream. Matched Betting was becoming more prevalent within the UK personal finance scene and although I wasn’t one of the first to start doing it, I was hitting it alot harder than most others. While I struggle to put words onto paper, I find it much easier to answer spoken questions and present or explain concepts through speech. The interviews were received far better than I expected and I was eventually talked into setting up a dedicated blog all about Matched Betting.

Matched Betting Guy was born and I’ve been amazed to see the traffic grow to that site despite being so new. Already it’s getting nearly 3x the amount of traffic that this site does and has an email list over twice the size.

One of the great things about the site was that people started immediately asking me questions on what strategies I was using and which sites I recommended. I’d been using 1 site recommended to me by a friend when I first started however it wasnt very newbie friendly and the guides were lacking the hand-holding people brand new to online gambling would require. So I did some research and joined the Profit Accumulator affiliate scheme as they seemed to have the best content and support available for people starting out. This partnership has been a great success averaging a steady few hundred additional income each month.

Inspired by this, I reached out to a couple of other sites to see if I could join their affiliate scheme. Unfortunately this didn’t go much to plan when the main betting exchange I used decided that my site did not have enough traffic to be worthy of their affiliate scheme. Apparently they wouldn’t be interested in the 0 work it would take them just to issue me a computer generated affiliate number and feed them traffic which would put tens of thousands of pounds through their exchange every month. Odd.

I was extremely hesitant to approach any of the bookies directly as I’m not sure they’d be too keen to take the kind of traffic I’d be sending them.. especially as I myself had been banned from many of their own sites for making too much money! Fortunately I found a company which acts as an affiliate middle-man, allowing me to route traffic through then, thus hiding the initial source and allowing me to benefit from their affiliate schemes. It’s early days for this however the MBG ‘Free Bets’ page list is growing and it’s another source of income with very little upkeep required.

I suppose next on the affiliate marketing business plan would be to try and monetise the site’s visitors & mailing list however I’m not sure how.. or even if I’d want to do that. I hate selling to people and would only do so for a product I genuinely believed to be of value to people. Links to bookie’s free bets are an obvious sale however do I think I could offer enough valuable content to be able to sell, say, my own matched betting guides & courses? It’s something to consider for the future after the Cheltenham Festival, Wedding & Honeymoon.

 

 

10 thoughts on “Side Hustles update 2017

  1. So you’re doing casino offers etc in multiple people’s names? Don’t you have to deposit/withdraw winnings to their accounts though? :f

    How many are you doing this for though? People in my sharbing group only seem to make about £50-100 per week or longer from casino offers

    • There’s so many casino offers I wouldnt have enough time to be doing them all on my own accounts.. let alone many others!

      I help others with their sports bets. Yes, everything needs to go back to their accounts which is why they open a new seperate bank account for this so everything is ring fenced (and mine, minus their %). Obviously they could raid the account and steal all my money in there but it’s only people I know & trust in real life.. plus theyd then has a short term boost while sacrificing the potentially years of 0-work money I’m sending them each month.

      I keep detailed spreadsheets so know exactly how much is in everyone’s ringfenced accounts. They transfer me the money in there when asked.

      • How does that work from a tax reporting point of view? Looking to try MB (and have been meaning to for some time) so far from the point of helping others but from memory winnings are tax free to the gambler, is it income to you though?

        Thanks for all the info on both of your sites.

        • Winnings from gambling is tax free in the UK as an individual, correct. You need to pay tax on income earned through gambling if you are an ‘operator’, ie: like a bookie itself. No-one seems to be able to give a clear answer about tax on gambling earnings where you’re helping others though, I’ve tried asking HMRC but it’s like getting blood from a stone.

          I have registered for self assessment and declare earnings from kindle & affiliates as additional taxable income.

          • If it’s your money being gambled then should still be tax free but can see it being an interestimg conversation.

  2. Great post, really good detail on what you’ve been up to. Exactly what everyone was waiting to read I feel! :)

    I’ll take a look at your free bets page, I like the sound of that and may have to nick the idea for my blog :)
    – I thought the same as you that it wouldn’t work initially as don’t want bookies knowing the real source of the click, but didn’t realise there are services out there to obfuscate that (presuming they take a cut of the affiliate income?!)

    Cheers!

  3. Hi Guy

    Great update, just to show how much can be achieved if you put the time and effort into it – well done. Look forward to seeing how your kindle publishing explodes after you’ve taken Huw’s course!

    • Thanks Weenie.

      I’m not so sure about an explosion though.. if only because I wont be putting as much focus on it as Huw does. The past year has shown how quickly Amazon will change their terms and that its so easy for them to just cut off accounts without any explanation or appeal. I’ve no doubt that there’s money to be made from Kindle but I don’t think it’s something I’d work on full time for fear of it being cut off at any moment.

  4. Excellent update Guy, and an honest assessment, I think, of the whats, whys and wherefores of some popular “side hustles”. I fell away from Matched Betting for the reasons you outline – too much time and effort (and quite a bit of stress). Kindle Publishing I never really got started with, and still suspect that writing porn is probably the quickest win in this area – does anyone care about the grammar, syntax and whether they’re reading quality stuff (or care that it was probably written in the Philippines?) As for Affiliate Marketing, that seems too much like work – although, as you know, I eventually went back to work from a retired lifestyle! It’s good to keep learning though, and posts like this one keep the process going.

    • Thank you Jim. As I said; I’d been meaning to write that post for awhile now as I’ve been going on all 3 side hustles for over a year so think I’ve got a pretty good view of the realities of each. I completely understand why you decided against both betting and publishing. Both look fantastic from the figures people put up about their earnings however those figures never show the time and effort required to reach that point.

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