You know those people who are such hard workers that seemingly everything they touch turns to gold?
Sunil from Extra Money Blog is one of those people.
Make no mistake — there were failures along the way. It wasn’t easy. But this is a guy who learns from his failures, pushes past them, and finds his way to success.
I happen to be a big fan of Sunil because we come from similar professional backgrounds (working for large, international public accounting firms), and he has found a way to generate a massive online income while still maintaining a “normal” professional career.
In this interview, he shares exactly how he was able to balance his professional career with his passive online income projects.
Sunil, you’ve been one of the true success stories for making money online through various passive income sources. What made you decide to leave behind the corporate world?
My professional background is in banking and private equity. I started in public accounting with a Big Four firm and transitioned into the financial sector after consummating a merger for the largest private equity firm in the world. My profession demands a significant amount of personal time and energy. Moreover, schedules can be rather unpredictable. There is also a good amount of travel.
I started investing in real estate from a passive income perspective and did very well — and I continue to do so but at a much lighter pace. The challenges I faced, during which several lucrative deals fell through, directly resulted from the demands placed on me by my employer. That said, I was looking for a way to establish passive income streams without having to be at a particular place or time.
Today, my online businesses include more than 20 niche websites that generate income from ads, affiliate sales, private placement ads, lead generation, and sales of info products I own (books, DVDs, etc). I also have an increasing portfolio of iPhone apps and audio books, as well as a small SEO firm focused on helping local businesses get more exposure online.
I have invested in a couple of offline businesses too, looking for distressed operations with an eye toward turning things around and eventually selling them off at a gain, or keeping them after automating them and reaping the benefits of mostly passive income with little time commitment.
While I did leave the corporate world briefly, I have since rejoined given that many of my side businesses have matured and started producing a meaningful, sustainable passive cash flow.
Most of everything I do outside my day job is heavily levered by resources, either full-time or part-time freelancers/developers. My involvement is mainly from a facilitation perspective. That said, I do consult companies and serious entrepreneurs from time to time, which also demands some my personal time.
Most of my personal physical and mental focus, however, has been on the startup I have joined because of two primary reasons:
- Passive income, after attaining a certain level, frankly becomes boring. It’s not as meaningful and contributes largely to complacency and stagnating personal and professional growth. After a while, you crave the feeling of actively participating in something and seeing the results. A well-oiled stream on auto pilot starts to re-create that feeling.
- Human beings are social beings.
Throughout your online career, what has been your greatest success?
A lot of success I’ve experienced is the result of countless failures and incomplete projects I have abandoned. Each of these has been a learning experience.
When you are a full-time professional trying to establish passive income streams, there is a lot of rigorous trial and error. Time is limited, so each of these instances carries a lot more weight and impact than it would if you had all the time to focus just on your passive income endeavors.
Financially speaking, my most successful asset has been a website in a specialized financial niche. Although traffic is not astronomical (a few hundred visitors a day), it is highly specialized, targeted, and in an area where there are some significant dollars involved. The income produced by the site alone (income report here) is much more than what most would consider a full-time income.
[Editor’s Note: In case you haven’t clicked through to Sunil’s income report yet, the site generated him $23,596.88 during a single month.]
There was a time when you weren’t earning much online, and you still had the burden of your full-time corporate job. There are so many people in this position (myself included), so I have to ask: How did you balance it all?
Focusing on one specific project at a time until it’s complete is important. Once you have done that, you can rinse and repeat the process without really having to learn anything else. You can then choose to learn something new and pursue diversification, which I am a big advocate of.
Another important factor is mental/emotional stability. Many who try their hand at this are mentally pressured to succeed. Truth is, from my perspective, life is by no means short. In fact, it’s the opposite. Life is very long, and there will always be opportunities.
So what if you don’t get it done today? Relax, refocus tomorrow, and make progress then.
As long as you keep plugging away and moving forward, good things will happen in business and life sooner or later.
- Focus on what you do best and outsource the rest. The sooner you begin outsourcing appropriately, the sooner your business will attain meaningful milestones.
- Many are conditioned to save x% for retirement. But what about putting away y% for income-producing assets? Just as I save in my IRA, 401(k), SEP, investment accounts, etc., I also have a certain amount allocated toward my projects.
- Become a big productivity junkie. Use all the apps, programs, etc. Make batch processing your religion.
- Finally, consume intelligent content. Read and listen to others who have been there and done that. Don’t limit yourself to a particular topic. Broaden your business savvy and consume content across the board that helps you grow.
You’ve experimented with a lot of ways to make money online: What has been your favorite — and, perhaps, most rewarding?
This is a difficult question to answer. I have to maintain specific perspective.
For example, my favorite way to quickly make money online is by paying for ads and driving traffic to a sales page — either my own or an affiliate’s. It is rewarding because I immediately see results, and it’s quite lucrative as well.
My favorite way to make relatively passive, sustainable income over time is to create an ebook or an app and submitting it to platforms that serve as search engines where sales are automated.
For someone who is just starting out and wants to earn a living online, what advice would you offer?
Determine your objectives, what you want, when you want it, how much, and how you want to achieve it first.
The more you learn about yourself and what you want, the easier it will be to get what you want. Most people chase the wrong things. This is true for life in general.
I suggest taking numerous assessments such as StrengthsFinder, for example, and understand your strong points. Choose a project that focuses on these and try to blend it with your knowledge, skill set, and expertise and then take action.
So, what shouldn’t I be doing?
- Don’t believe believe everything you see, hear, or read. A lot of it is exaggerated and blatantly false.
- Don’t constantly compare yourself to others. Do so to get inspiration and ideas, but not to paralyze you. The reason for our constant complaints and insecurities is the continuous comparisons we make between our behind-the-scenes to other people’s highlight reels.