Safe to say we all want to find ways to make extra money. We’d be crazy not to, right?!
Which is why I talk a lot about how to grow your business and make the right decisions so you’re profitable at the end of the day. We know that growing your business (no matter how small today) is the ultimate goal and can change your life.
I realize this post may seem a little out of place in a site focusing on marketing your shop; but the purpose of creating additional income outside of your shop is to provide breathing space for your business.
When we’re fearful of spending money, worried about pinching pennies, and making cautious moves because we don’t feel we have the funds or like we “deserve it” – it causes so much harm to our potential growth. And not just for our business, but emotionally too.
I share this because I recently met with a friend who went full-time with her business and she attributed one thing as the reason for 90% of her success:
…financial freedom to make choices.
Financial freedom to:
- only say yes to the projects she absolutely wanted to work on and was excited about
- more importantly, say no so she could take time off to be with her son
- charge what she was worth, even if that meant walking away from paid opportunities
- feel confident in her rates, knowing she wasn’t desperate for money this month
The simplicity of her answer really struck me and has left me thinking ever since, “How can I create financial space in my business?”
For you it might mean:
- saving up money as you build your business, so you can go full-time
- working on the projects you most enjoy
- having more free time to experiment with new creative ideas and creating ‘just to create’
- feeling confident with your pricing, knowing it’s okay if a customer passes because they can’t afford its value
So often I see small business owners say things like:
I’d love to invest in a better email system as I know it will help my business, but I need to earn a little more from my shop first.
This course would be so helpful in getting me to that next step, but I need to save up for it first.
While I wholeheartedly agree and want you to feel comfortable spending money on your business, when you read those statements it’s also obvious how self-limiting they are.
You know doing ‘xyz’ will grow or improve your business (and therefore, increase sales + profit); yet you’re not financially comfortable enough to make that first step (and therefore limiting or slowing down the process of reaching that next milestone).
I believe that’s what we call a hamster wheel my friends.
So let’s step off it.
I wanted to give you some simple ideas on how you can earn extra money to fund your creative business, take that online course (shameless plug), grow your traffic, plan a vacation, pay some bills, whatever your heart desires.
While there’s a lot of advice already out there on ways to make extra money, I created this short list with YOU in mind — they’re achievable, things you’ll actually do, and don’t add a ton of scheduled hours to your already busy day.
(I mean seriously, some lists suggest “start an Etsy shop” – like duuuude, if it were that easy, right?!.)
At the end of this post, I share a few practical suggestions of how I’d use this ‘extra money’ to invest back into my business, so you can continue to grow. I lay out 11 marketing or business investments I’d make in the first 3 months (for less than $50/month).
With that, let’s get started!
This post contains affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you if you sign up or purchase through my link. Thank you for your trust + support of The Shop Files! I only recommend what I use + love myself.
This is part 2 of 4 of the Make Mo’ Money Passive Income Series.
Part 1: Take the (free) Passive Income for Creative Shop Owners 3-day course
Part 2: How to Make Extra Money to Fund Your Creative Business
Part 3: How to Sell Printful Products on Etsy (aka how to sell physical products passively)
Part 4: Using Affiliate Marketing for Online Shops
5 WAYS I MADE ‘QUICK CASH’ TO INVEST IN MY BUSINESS, PLUS 5 MORE IDEAS TO TRY
**Update: In less than two months, I’ve created (earned or saved) an extra $504 using just 5 of the 10 below ideas. And I can invest that back into my business, guilt free!
Now $300 of that is not a recurring opportunity (it’s the new bank account bonus), but that’s still $500 of initial cash money for my business.
This allows me to make investments in new tools or programs that will help me gain momentum in other areas, which will create greater financial opportunities down the road. AND they were easy, dead simple ways to make extra money while running a business without a lot of extra work or stress.
1 | Become a smarter shopper with Ebates
IF YOU DO NOTHING ELSE – AT LEAST DO THIS.
The dream = getting paid to shop, amiright?
Ebates is so dead simple that if you’re not signed up yet, you will be in 5 seconds. With Ebates you earn cash back when you shop the stores you’re already buying from online.
That’s it. No gimmicky runaround.
No earning coupons or ‘unlocking’ special offers. It’s really as simple as it sounds. You can even still use coupon codes, promotional codes and discounts when you shop through them.
Create an account > start any shopping trip through ebates first (or download their really easy browser plug in) > shop as usual > earn cash back.
Plus, you’ll receive a $10 cash welcome bonus when you spend $25 online through Ebates, click here to sign up.
Do you shop at Kohl’s, Ulta, Loft, Walmart, Macy’s, Amazon, American Eagle, J.Crew AND THE LIST GOES ON…. then you need to sign up, like today!
I earned $19 in cash back my first month, plus the $10 bonus. Literally.getting.paid.to.shop.
Grab your free $10 credit here.
MONEY EARNED: $34 ($24 earned in first two months plus $10 welcome bonus)
2 | Clean out your closet
Go all KonMari on your ass, rummage through your closet and ask yourself, “Does it spark joy?”
(Not sure what the heck I’m talking about? Check out this life-changing book.)
If it doesn’t “spark joy” – decide whether to toss, donate, or sell at a resale shop.
OPTION 1 | Local Resale Shops
I’ve earned several hundred dollars throughout the past years by dropping off clothes at different resale shops. Depending on the brand + clothing style, each shop will accept different items. I usually gave it 1-2 rounds of shops until whatever was remaining I’m forced to admit was better suited for donations. I usually got about $25-40 per shop.
OPTION 2 | Ebay / Poshmark
If you have the time to take some photos and write up quick product descriptions, you’ll earn the most by selling items yourself. I think this works best if the items are name brands people are more likely to be *searching* for; and I’ve had some decent success here.
OPTION 3 | ThredUp
Don’t have time to drive around to shops / take photos? Try ThredUp.
*Note*… it will pay out SIGNIFICANTLY less than selling on your own.
They send you a clean out kit, you fill it up with your gently used clothing – they handle the rest! They’ll assess each item, determine a price, and either decide to buy it on the spot or sell it on consignment. You can then take your payout as a credit to shop, donate to charity, or receive cash through PayPal. Seriously easy.
AND they have a kid’s section! Because while your kids are cute, growing like a weed and throwing money away is not.
Join ThredUp with my link and get $10 to shop.
I finally earned $21 from ThredUp… and seeing some of the items that sold I kinda wish I had tried to do it myself. Some items I got less than a dollar lol; so if you have a little bit of time, I’d recommend something like eBay/Poshmark/resale apps. You don’t have to be fancy with photography on eBay especially.
MONEY EARNED: $60 from local resale boutique
Update: We recently tried eBay and made $310 from selling some of my husband’s items. There aren’t as many re-sale options locally for men, but the market on eBay seems like a good spot!
3 | Open a new account with a bank that gives sign up bonuses
This is easily a favorite. While some banks have made the criteria a little more stringent than in the past (and it’s not exactly a recurring income idea), you can easily make $100-$300 just for moving some money around and opening a new account.
I mean, you need a separate business account anyway, why not earn money from it?
(Just be sure to read the fine print for requirements.)
Update: I’ve decided to go with PNC bank, they offer three different bonus tiers which will help you choose one where you can comfortably meet their criteria. Since I work a full-time job it was easy to meet the direct deposit requirements + make 10 purchases in 60 days to earn the $300 bonus. I mean 10 purchases?? That’s just a good Saturday 😉
MONEY EARNED: $300 bonus (paid out a few weeks after hitting criteria)
4 | Sign up for Ibotta
Couponing benefits without becoming a coupon-queen? Okay, I’m listening… Ibotta is new to me, but it’s an easy way to save some cash every time you go to an eligible store, primarily grocery stores but also has Target, JoAnn, Best Buy, H&M and more. It’s a free app on your phone to unlock savings + rebates on items you already purchase.
It’s essentially a rebate app, so you’ll earn anywhere from 50 cents to $5 off eligible items you buy. For example right now at Target, I can save $3 on beer (like you even have to ask Target?!)
They also recently added places like Amazon, Jet, and Overstock where you can unlock extra savings if you shop through that individual stores app.
If you want to grab the Ibotta app and start making money off your grocery receipts, click here to get started today. Plus, you’ll receive a $10 cash bonus when you scan your first item.
5 | Cut out convenience purchases
Seriously. Go cold turkey.
I was spending up to $1.50 a day at work on Diet Coke. Harmless, right?
Except that I could bring my own if I got my life together for less than $0.40 a can by buying the 12pk from a store. Small change, sure.
But it all adds up.
At over $1.00 a day x 20 work days = $20+ a month. Not awful, but I could instead put that towards growing my traffic on Pinterest.
My husband joined in too and bought this chiller so he could make his own iced coffee most days at home.
MONEY SAVED: $40+ in two months
6 | Walk dogs and/or pet sit
With the world of apps, even dog walking or sitting can be extremely easy to add to your day (you need a 30 minute walk for yourself anyway, right?). Especially if you live in a larger city, this can be an easy way to earn some extra cash, burn calories, and take a little ‘me time’ away from the computer.
We’ve used both Wag and Rover when we needed walks for the dogs we fostered and it’s both easy + fun! It’s like Uber for dog walking! Walkers decide when and if they want to accept a walk. Or some owners request an “on-going” weekly walk, so you can lock in one set time to get out and take a break.
For a 30 minute walk, you’ll earn $12 plus tip. Picking up just one walk a week in your neighborhood means an extra $50 a month to splurge on a new tool or try a paid ad.
(Or hey, if you need a break from your pup – use my Wag! code: KATE3717 and get $20 in credits for your first walk.)
7 | Refinance student loans with SoFi
Many of us are not only trying to figure out our careers, but paying off student loans too! Consider looking at how SoFi can help you save by refinancing your outstanding student loans.
If you choose to refinance and sign up through my link you’ll get a $100 welcome bonus.
8 | Earn passive income through your creative talents
If you were not already aware… you’re pretty damn talented. And I bet you could apply those to one (…or two) more income streams. Yes, really.
But since we don’t want to add a ton of extra hours to your busy day, we need to find ways to set it up to run on autopilot.
You can sell physical products on Etsy with Printful’s print + ship services (you just design the art, pick the items, set up in your shop, and they handle the rest). Learn how to set up here.
If that doesn’t meet your brand needs, there’s over 25 ideas in The Creative Shop Owners Guide to Passive Income challenge!
I’ve had students go through my Passive Income challenge (it’s free!) and in the first month get featured on Society6’s Instagram… sell over $2,500 in drop ship product… and more! What could you create?
[stnsvn-button-large url=”http://www.theshopfiles.com/passive-income-creative-shop-owners/” button_text=”Join the (free) Creatives Guide to Passive Income Challenge“]
- The two markets you can create passive income for
- 4 recommended programs for selling passive products
- Tips for creating scalable physical products
- 3 effective ways to promote your new products on autopilot
Here’s an example of two shops selling physical products (t-shirts, mugs, tote bags, etc) using Printful. While they design + market the products, everything from production to shipping is taken care of by Printful.
9 | Earn passive income through Affiliate Marketing
This really deserves it’s own post (which you can read here) as I want to gear the information specifically towards shop owners and how you can make this work for you. But to get started, we’ll go over the basics.
You may not have heard the term ‘affiliate marketing’ before, but it’s likely you’ve come across or even used it unknowingly – it’s similar to any “refer-a-friend program”. Affiliate marketing is when you have the opportunity to earn money by directing people to a product or service where you earn a small commission for referring them if a purchase is made.
It works by placing an affiliate link on your website, social media account, etc. and when people purchase a product through your link, you earn a small kickback (at no additional cost to your customers, yay!).
An affiliate is a person or business who promotes a product or service offered by other businesses. It’s pretty similar to how some companies offer a small bonus for referring a friend; just on a larger scale.
For businesses, it’s a form of advertising where they’re paying you for making referrals; and the best part for them is that they don’t pay you for the “advertising” unless a sale is made.
When I started this site, I knew I wanted affiliate marketing to play a role in my monetization strategy; but I wasn’t confident I was best communicating my value while sharing helpful services. I never would want to jeopardize trust in my audience, which was why participating in affiliate marketing correctly (being of value, only sharing resources you’d care about + that I trust) became such a huge focus. So I decided to take Michelle’s course, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. Michelle is the blogger behind Making Sense of Cents, a popular personal finance blog and she makes…. wait for it… over $50,000 a month in JUST affiliate sales. When you want to learn from the best, you learn from her.
Curious about what you could promote?
Well, did you know Etsy has an affiliate program?
Yep! You could be earning money by promoting other favorite products to your audience + you’ll be seen as a valuable resource to them (and earn goodwill from other shops).
For example, if you design wedding stationery, you might also create a fun wedding round up of your favorite wedding veil designers, ideas for bridesmaid gifts, or wedding favors.
You’ll be helping your fellow creatives in complementary industries gain exposure; which means they’ll be more than happy to share that blog post for you too – thereby increasing your exposure. Plus, you’ll earn a little extra cash on the side. Now that’s truly a win-win-WIN!
To sign up, join Awin (which is an affiliate network – free to join) and apply for the Etsy program!
Note from the publisher: Etsy sellers are eligible for the Affiliate Program but are not eligible to earn commission on sales from their own shops or from closely related shops. Closely related shops are shops in which an Etsy seller has a financial interest or that have a material connection, such as a shared bank account or credit card, with the seller’s own shop. This is a wonderful opportunity to earn commission from showcasing other Etsy shops and embracing and discussing the Etsy community at large.
You’ll earn 4% on all purchases made through your affiliate links! Try it out today… there’s no cost to you (or your customers or the sellers!). Click here to try Etsy’s affiliate program on Awin.
MONEY EARNED: $70 by sharing my favorite obsession, StationSeven Squarespace kits + WordPress themes (I’ve bought three of them over the years #aestheticgoals)
UPDATE: The Etsy program has been a huge surprise to me and I earned $80 in my first month.
10 | Sign up and Save with Amazon Prime
You know the phrase “it takes money to make money”, well let’s change it slightly to be “it takes money to save money”. Seriously.
If you buy a lot of things from Amazon, consider signing up for Amazon Prime. The benefits are seriously worth it. I fought my husband on it for a long time and now we use it for evvverything.
My favorite feature is their Subscribe + Save program, where you guessed it – you save by buying in bulk on repeat! Set up recurring purchases for those regular household items (like toilet paper, paper towels, dish soap, dog food.) You know, basic things you hate buying at the store anyway.
As a quick example, anyone else buy those Neutrogena face wipes? They’re like $5-7 for the 25ct at a Walgreens/CVS; yet with Amazon you can buy them for $19 for a SIX PACK. Dirt cheap.
Plus, the seriously fast + free shipping is a total game changer.
I get it, seems odd to suggest spending $99 on a yearly membership to save money. But we did a full cost comparison before signing up (I hated the idea of spending money on a membership because apparently I’m frugal AF. see also: cheap); and we’ve more than made up the difference with the savings on shipping, overall pricing, and their Subscribe + Save items.
There’s a 30 day trial if you’re not ready to commit quite yet! Try it here.
(ps. if you sign up for the trial, it will charge your credit card. I totally panicked when I did it, but the first 30 days are free — so if you decide to cancel within that time frame, they refund the full amount. And you can always cancel at anytime.)
Not only that, but with a Prime membership you get access to thousands of videos to stream, unlimited reading to a selection of ebooks, music, magazines… and more! Get your free Amazon Prime 30-Day Trial
Those are a few of my favorite ways to make extra money. Sure, sometimes $20 here and $32 there sounds small, but it all adds up.
Let’s look at what that could mean for your business.
How I’d invest in my business with an extra $50/month:
MONTH 1: Spend $33-$43
Recurring Purchases: ($24-$34)
- Invest in Tailwind to grow my Pinterest account (to drive crazy traffic back to your site) – $15/month (although I’d probably opt to buy the annual plan. Saves you $60 over the course of a year)
- Upgrade your email system so you can send more emails and focus on growing your list – free or $10/month for up to 2,500 subscribers
- Join Iconosquare so you can really see your Instagram analytics and understand where to focus in order to grow – $9/month
One Time Purchase: ($9)
- Increase traffic to your shop with this 20-page Pinterest workbook for a ridiculously low price – can save 70% and get it for just $9 today
MONTH 2: Spend $39-49
Recurring Purchases: ($24-$34)
- Keep memberships to Tailwind, MailerLite, and Iconosquare = $24-$34 (depending on email list size)
One Time Purchase: ($15)
- Continue to work on Instagram strategy and figure out how to get found on Instagram with the right hashtags – $15 (because I’m giving myself – AND YOU – the discount code “InvestYoSelf” for 50% off, woot woot)
MONTH 3: Spend $24-34
Recurring Purchases: ($24-$34)
- Keep memberships to Tailwind, MailerLite, and Iconosquare = $24-$34 (depending on email list size)
One Time Purchase: None
Put remaining $16-$26 away each month to save for future marketing or business investments.
Business Marketing or Investment ideas:
- Learn 21 strategies from a pro to grow your blog traffic – $79
- Save up to take a course on how to take amazing photos, with just your iPhone! – $97 or $197
- Put together an amazing giveaway to thank your customers! – your choice on giveaway item + free month trial with Gleam
- Work with an Instagram strategist for custom hashtags or a feed makeover audit (<< #shameless)
- Upgrade equipment
- Get an iPhone holder for clearer pictures and hands-free shots – usually around $30
… What would you do?
If you enjoyed this post, please share with a friend or on Pinterest!
Lots of great ideas! Thank you. I keep hearing about Awin and will have to check them out soon.
yes, definitely check it out! They have a lot of great partners and I find their interface easier to use than some other affiliate mgmt sites
Kate! This is SOOOO good! I linked it to my post about ways to benefit from affiliate marketing here: http://www.hazelhaven.com/blog/affiliate-marketing-benefits
gah I’m an asss, how am I just replying to this!
Thanks for the love friend! I die over that gif you chose… that show is so flippin funny!
Thanks Kate for the helpful guide. I’ve been been this catch-22 of making more money to find my business for a while. I have a question: Is Printful similar to Society6, RedBubble? I can design and make illustration but I don’t know anything about sewing. If I understand it correctly, I don’t have to know how to sew to sell my designs on Printful, since the company will take care of the actual production?
Yes, they’re all fairly similar ideas. Society6 & RedBubble give you a little less control of how the items are sold/presented. With Printful, you can basically take that item and sell it directly from your website / Etsy shop, etc. so it’s a more seamless brand experience.
But correct, you don’t need to know how to produce the product – but your design needs to meet whatever standards/requirements each product has in order for that company to produce. But in most cases, it’s taking a graphic design you created, and printing onto a garment/fabric/mug/etc.