Note (7/7/14): This interview was originally published on 2/24/14. This week, we’re going to feature some of my favorite interviews that were published when The Daily Interview was brand new, that many of you may have missed. As I’m busy packing and getting ready to move to a new home later this month, I’ve decided to take another week off from posting new interviews. Don’t worry though – we’ll be back with new interviews starting next Monday. In the mean time, enjoy this one! 🙂
You know those people who are such hard workers, that seemingly everything they touch “turns to gold”?
Sunil from The Extra Money Blog is one of those people.
Make no mistake – there were failures along the way. And 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.
(Spoiler alert: In this interview, he shares exactly how he was able to balance his professional career with his online passive income projects.)
I won’t spoil any more – you’ll have to read it for yourself.
Sunil, I’ve followed you for a long time at Extra Money Blog, and you’ve been one of the true success stories for making money online through various passive income sources. Tell us a bit about yourself, your journey, and your business.
What made you decide to leave behind the corporate world and pursue your journey as an internet entrepreneur? What are you most focused on today?
My professional background is in banking/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, did very well, continue to do so, but at a much lighter pace. The challenges I faced, because of 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 necessarily having to be at a particular place, time and working on a specific schedule.
I was looking not only for a remote possibility, but also something where I can work at my own pace without feeling the “burden” to produce on someone else’s terms.
Today, my online businesses include several (over 20) niche websites that generate income from ads, affiliate sales, private placement ads, lead generation, 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 offline businesses as well, looking for distressed operations with an eye for turning things around and eventually selling them off at a potential gain, or keeping them after significantly automating them and reap the benefits of mostly passive income with some time commitment/focus.
While I did leave the corporate world initially and for a brief period of time, I have since then rejoined given many of my side businesses have matured and started producing a meaningful and sustainable amount of passive cash flow. Thus, today, in addition to building on to my portfolio of information products, apps, and a handful of websites I am attempting to turn into authority type websites, I am mostly focused on the new corporate venture I decided to rejoin.
Most of everything I do outside my day job today 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 the start up I have joined because of 2 primary reasons:
1) Passive income, after attaining a certain level, frankly becomes boring, not as meaningful and contributes largely to complacency and stagnating personal and professional growth. After a while you crave the feeling to actively participate in something and see the results materialize to fruition. While starting a passive income stream can fulfill that need, a well oiled stream on auto pilot starts to recreate that urge/feeling again.
2) Human beings are social beings. While we can say all we can about digital conversations, Skype, periodically meeting at conferences, events, etc, it is just not nearly the same as the grass on the other side. Take it from someone who has been on both sides. The grass is always greener – a very true saying.
Thus I feel like having a leg each on both sides of the fence is really truly the only way to get an appreciation for that statement. I have heard the “arguments” from the other side, and frankly it all sounds like self rationalization and justification more than anything else.
Throughout your “online career,” what has been your greatest success (or successes) so far?
A lot of success I’ve experienced is the result of countless failures and incomplete/unfinished projects I have abandoned. Each of these has been a learning/growing experience. When you are a full time professional engaged in activities geared toward establishing passive income streams, a lot of the process is a rigorous learning, trial and error endeavor. Given that time is very much limited, 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 online/passive income endeavors.
Financially speaking, my most successful income producing asset has been a website in a very specialized financial niche. While traffic is not astronomical (to the tune of a few hundred a day), it is highly specialized, targeted and in an area where there are some significant dollars involved. This article gives a good idea of the niche, the site’s income streams, etc.
The income produced by the site alone is much more than what most would consider a full time income. (Note from The Daily Interview: In case you didn’t click though to his income report yet, the one site he references generated him $23,596.88 during last June alone. To read more about it, be sure to check out the income report.)
I want to clarify something very important here. I am not referring to the liberal use of the phrase “full time income” by most online marketers and bloggers. I have come to realize that many that throw this phrase around have a very “low” perspective on what a full time income is.
While the term is subjective and highly varies on many personal and individualized attributes, and thus I realize that this number is very different for everyone, equating it to a mere $30,000-40,000 USD is very disturbing for me (though as I mentioned I understand). So, for clarification purposes, when I throw the phrase “full time income” around, I mean at least $100,000 or more per year in income.
I know there was a time where you weren’t earning much online, and still had the burden of your full-time corporate job. There are so many people currently in this position (myself included), so I have to ask: How did you balance it all? Are there a couple tips you can share with us that allowed you to maintain productivity and continue pushing forward?
I’d start this off by sharing that focusing on one specific project at a time until complete is very important. Once you have done that, you can rinse and repeat the process without really having to learn anything else. You can however 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 get a strong hold of 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 like I save in my IRA, 401(k), SEP, investment accounts, etc., I also have a certain amount allocated toward my projects. This allows one to leverage help sooner.
Become a big productivity junkie. Use all the apps, programs, etc. Make batch processing your religion.
Finally, consume intelligent content. Read, 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 different ways to make money online: What’s been your favorite (and perhaps, most rewarding)? Why?
This is a very difficult question to answer. I have to maintain specific perspective. For example:
My favorite way to quickly making money online is by paying for ads and driving traffic to a sales page – either my own or an affiliate. It is rewarding because I immediately see results, and quite lucrative as well.
My favorite way to make relatively passive, sustainable income over a period of time (and have the opportunity to build it by a rinse and repeat process) is to create an ebook and/or an app and submitting it to platforms that serve as search engines where sales are rather automated.
For someone who is just starting out (i.e. they haven’t done anything yet) and wants to earn a living online, what advice would you offer? What do you wish someone told you about when you first started?
Determine your objectives, what you want, when you want it, how much, how do you want to achieve it, etc. 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 like Strengths Finder for example, and understand your strong points. Choose a project that focuses on these and try to blend it with your knowledge, skill set, expertise and take action.
Let’s take a step back and look more generally at balancing your online projects with everything else in your life: If you had to take your best advice and put it into one sentence or phrase, what would that be?
Clarity, focus, action and success through self realization. [Click here to tweet this]
What are your favorite online resources?
I don’t think I can vouch for one at this point. If anything I’d say Elance because I use it heavily for outsourcing
What shouldn’t I be doing?
1) DO NOT believe everything you see, hear, or read. A lot of it is exaggerated, wrong, blatantly false and deceiving.
2) DO NOT constantly compare yourself to others. Do so to get inspiration and ideas, but not to paralyze you. The reason for our constant complains and insecurities is due to the continuous comparisons we make between our behind the scenes to other people’s highlight reels.
Finally, where can people find you online?
I blog at Extra Money Blog, where I discuss ways to expedite wealth building by creating multiple streams of active and passive income on the side while maintaining a full time job. It’s meant for anyone interested in making more money in their spare time. I do have a free eBook I offer, which has been downloaded thousands of times. It walks a reader through how to establish a $1,000 a month passive income stream in less than 180 days.
Although I do not sell any products or specific services, I do offer consulting on a very selective basis – particularly to those who have a burning desire to get ahead in life and are just as serious about their success as I am.
Thanks Sunil! It was great learning all about your story, and how you found your way to success online.
What’d you think of Sunil’s story? Let me know in the comments. 🙂
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