My wife and I were approaching our wedding day when I got the news: I got laid off.
I had been pouring most of my energy into this job for the past 4 years — so much so that I neglected my own finances in the process. I took on credit card debt from going out at night all the time to “de-stress.” I often forgot about my student loan payments because I was drowning in work. Now I didn’t even have a job to continue paying back my debt.
This was my first job in corporate America, and I wanted to do it all “right.” But I did it at the expense of myself, which is never a good road to go down. I eventually found another job, but was soon laid off from that company too, just six months after the first job loss.
I never wanted to be on that road again, feeling like my work was for nothing. I also never wanted to rely on one income stream again. After securing another 9-to-5, I started diving deep into learning about financial independence online. I became fascinated by the different ways to build a life without being dependent on an employer.
Financial independence is when you have enough income to cover your living expenses without having to rely on a job. This money can come from income streams you build yourself. Some examples include income from investments, passive income streams like selling digital products, or creating a digital business like a blog.
I had side hustled before, but never thought I could do it sustainably in a way that would allow me to quit my job. It’s taken me a couple of years, but I’ve built up 11 income streams while at my day job that have allowed me to finally quit for good.
Here’s what each income stream is — and how much it makes me.
‘From Side Hustle to Second Salary’
This is the first article in “From Side Hustle to Second Salary”, a four-article series from featured contributor Daniella Flores. Subscribe to NextIdea, our newsletter on financial independence, and you’ll be the first to know when the next article drops.
No. 1: I Started Investing.
I had a 401(k) at my next job that had a generous match of 10%, but I didn’t understand much about how to use that to my advantage. I knew that my retirement was important, but I had no interest in trying to plan for something that I couldn’t touch until my 60s.
Then I read about the Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) movement, in which people aggressively save and invest so they can retire early. I learned about what funds to pick in my 401(k). I learned about IRAs and Roth IRAs. Then I learned about investing in exchange-traded funds (ETFs) using an online brokerage.
But I didn’t want to cut as much from my budget as some of these FIRE gurus were talking about, which was sometimes as much as 75% of their income going right into investments. This was so they could retire by a young age in a short amount of time, like 10 years. Instead, I came up with a plan to invest 20%-40% of my income in addition to other passive income streams I was building.
This would get me closer to my goal of becoming financially independent from an employer with a more hybrid approach. I wanted to quit corporate in the next five years.
No. 2: I Created a Blog & Monetized It with Ads.
I bought a domain with website hosting back in 2017 shortly after my first layoff experience. I was diving into the world of digital online businesses like blogging, YouTube, writing, digital marketing, and more. I wanted to learn more about blogging, but didn’t know what my blog would ever become.
Originally, I used the blog to write about different hobbies like crafting — until I honed in on the financial journey my wife and I were on. That later morphed into what the side hustle portion of the blog is today on my website, I Like to Dabble. Other topics on the blog include saving, investing, paying off debt, LGBTQ+ money topics, career tips, and more.
The very first way I ever made money from my blog was by placing ads on it from Google Adsense. I made a total of $5.05 my first month back in 2017. Today I make $2,000 a month on average from ads alone. This was my first passive income source I created that wasn’t investing.
This blog became the vehicle that fueled the creation of the majority of my other income streams.
Don’t stress yourself out thinking you have to monetize your passions or hobbies. Instead, think about what makes you curious and let that drive your next income stream.
No. 3: I Learned about Affiliate Marketing.
Affiliate marketing is when you promote third-party brands and products. You get paid a commission when someone purchases something with your affiliate link. This was the second income stream I focused on with my blog.
I focused on only a couple of affiliates starting out, which were tools and products I already used and loved. I would recommend the products within my blog content anyway, so why not get paid for it?
I don’t only use affiliate links within my blog content to add an additional income stream to the blog. I also add links to my free products, paid products, social media, and even recommend them to clients while disclosing I have an affiliate relationship. That disclosure is legally required.
I make between $1,000 – $2,000 a month from affiliate income.
No. 4: I Started Working with Brands on Sponsored Partnerships.
Sponsored partnerships are like affiliate partnerships in that you are partnering with a brand on a certain campaign. However, sponsored partnerships pay a flat fee per contract, whereas affiliate partnerships pay a commission on certain actions.
Sponsored partnerships are a great way to monetize any online business you do. I not only use them to monetize my blog, but also monetize my social media and email list.
I got paid as little as $50 per brand partnership when I started out. Now the most I’ve made from one partnership is $15,000.
No. 5: I Went Back to Freelancing.
Freelancing was a way of working that I first explored after my first job out of college. Back then it was freelance web development. This time, I turned to a different, more creative route: writing.
I wasn’t a very good writer when I started my blog, but I loved it. I started freelance writing as a way to help me get better at writing while also building relationships for my blog. It made me love writing even more.
When you blog for yourself, you usually write in one voice. When you start writing for several different blogs and websites, your range of voice becomes an addictive art. Plus, I got to see the behind-the-scenes of how big-name publications run things. This was huge for the stage I was in with my blog.
Freelance writing is one of my favorite ways to make money. I write on many of the same topics I do on my blog while getting to write stories I wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity of writing. I started out making $50 per article and currently make anywhere from $300-$1,000 per article.
No. 6: I Designed Digital Products.
Digital products are my favorite semi-passive income stream. I say “semi-passive” because they still require marketing, customer service, and administrative business tasks. These are actions that you’ll have to do to keep that income stream coming in unless you decide to outsource them. I do outsource some things, but not everything.
Some of the digital products I’ve created include printable workbooks, social media templates, guides, and eBooks. I use tools like Canva Pro, Etsy, and Shopify to sell most of my digital products.
I currently make between $500-$1,000 a month from digital products.
No. 7: I Created Courses, Workshops, & Webinars.
Another form of digital products I sell are courses, workshops, and webinars. The differences are that they are much more intensive than a digital workbook, and they are only available during certain times of the year.
I love teaching virtually, so I can go deeper into topics with my audience while helping them meet their goals. There is something magical about watching people create more income streams for themselves. These income streams can help them leave a toxic situation with a partner or job, add more experience to their resume, and save and invest to achieve their goals. Goals like financial independence, location independence, and/or time independence. I get to watch them design their ideal way of working, and I am honored that they choose me to work with.
I teach on a variety of topics including how to launch your side hustle, pivoting to remote work, Pinterest management, and blogging. I make anywhere between $2,000-$10,000 per cohort.
No. 8: I Tried Consulting.
When I got more established within my niche, I started consulting for other bloggers. I’m known for my Pinterest success in the blogosphere, which caused other bloggers to start reaching out for help. I combined this with my past web development experience to also consult on technical issues people were having with their blogs.
I only open up this service every couple of months, and my email list gets first dibs. Each session is $200 or more depending on the scope of the consultation.
No. 9: I Added Coaching to My Services.
When I started doing workshops, I would get an influx of requests for 1-on-1 side hustle coaching. This led to me offering coaching services on a per-package basis or via booking individual time slots with me.
This is for folks who love accountability and having support as they go through the steps to reach a specific goal. Do you think someone won’t pay just for having an accountability buddy? Trust me, they will — and they do. It also added another accessible way for people to learn from me.
Each session is $200, and I use tools like Calendly and Teachable to automate scheduling and coaching resources.
No. 10: I Learned How Social Media Can Pay.
A new income stream I’ve come across in my digital side hustle venture is Instagram Reels. This actually became available on my profile a couple of months ago when I reached 10,000 followers. My reels got lots of eyeballs on my profile and ballooned my followers to over 85,000 in a matter of months.
I earn, on average, $500 a month from Instagram Reels.
No. 11: I Became a Virtual Speaker During the Pandemic.
I used to be terrified of public speaking, but now I actually get paid to be a virtual speaker. Through putting myself out there on platforms like TikTok and dealing with the demand of “going live”, I’ve learned how to be more comfortable on camera. This helped me put myself out there more with creating courses and workshops, too.
I’ve done virtual speaking gigs for internal events at companies, virtual summits, and online communities. Some of the companies you might’ve seen me speak at are Out in Tech, Dave Banking, and The Plutus Foundation.
I have yet to do a speaking gig in person, but still make anywhere from $250 to $2,500 per virtual speaking appearance.
From 9-to-5 to Multiple Income Streams
That same blog that opened up my eyes to multiple income streams is now a full-fledged digital business and two-time award-winning blog that helps thousands of others every month do the same. I Like to Dabble has been featured on The New York Times, Investopedia, MSN, CNBC, Business Insider, and more. If you want to start dabbling with multiple income streams, start with my free side hustle quiz.
I’m not going to say that, if it weren’t for those series of layoffs,I wouldn’t be here today, doing what I’m doing. I won’t give the layoffs that win. Instead, I’ll give myself the win for committing to learning about making money online in a creative and sustainable way that made sense for me.
Over the course of the last five years, my goals for financial independence morphed and changed. I moved 2,100 miles across the country with my wife to a higher cost of living area to live in a more LGBTQ+ friendly state. I even got a promotion at my job while maintaining my different income streams. I decided to quit that job this summer to take on my digital side hustles full-time, knowing I had passive income streams to fall back on.
I am no longer held back by the narratives I played in my head about my career and needing my tech job to be successful. I was getting my mental health back, my time back, and most importantly, I was getting myself back. Now I have this chance to grow beyond my expectations.
For the first time in my life, I chose myself over a job. And I’m happier than ever.