Today we explore exactly how to make money online as an author, including some information on coaching and creating online courses.
Welcome to the side hustle series, where we explore ways to make money, delve into realistic numbers from real small businesses and meet the people who run their money with them! We’re getting deep into the money, the pros, cons and the things people generally don’t tell you, so you can go in informed and ready.
Rachel Richards is a 29-year-old from Colorado and is a finance coach, bestselling author, and former financial advisor over at Money Honey Rachel. She wrote her first book, “Money Honey”, in 2017, and her second book, “Passive Income, Aggressive Retirement”, in 2019. Her superpower is making money an easy-to-understand and fun topic to learn about.
She also retired herself off of her passive income sources, including her book, at just 27 years old. She’s here today to teach you how to duplicate her success and is so open about all her numbers, which we love!
How much time do you spend on your business weekly/monthly?
I am actively growing my business, so I spend about 15 hours per week working on my books, course, mastermind, networking, and content creation.
To sustain my book royalties, I only need to do about an hour per week of marketing activities.
How did you get into it?
All my family and friends came to me for financial advice, and I loved helping them. I also began to wonder, “Why aren’t they learning or reading books on their own?” And then I had an “AHA” moment: “Oh yeah! Personal finance is BORING! No wonder people don’t like to learn about it.” So I thought to myself, “How can I make this topic sassy, fun, and simple?” and that’s where the idea for Money Honey came from.
Did you need any specific education/ courses/ training? If so, what?
I opted to self-publish my book, Money Honey. A lot of writers are enamored with the idea of getting a traditional book deal. I used to be one of them! But after doing a lot of research and interviewing other, already successful, authors, I realized it was literally too good to be true.
Traditional publishers still expect the author to do 99% of the marketing and promotion. So if I was going to be responsible for all of that anyway, why give up most of my royalty? With a traditional deal, you earn a 10-15% royalty. If you self-publish on Amazon, you can earn up to 70%. That makes a huge difference in earnings potential. Plus, as a self-published author, you retain complete creative control over your book.
In short, no, I did not need specific education or training. I learned everything I could on my own, by reading books like “Published” by Chandler Bolt, and “You Must Write a Book” by Honoree Corder.
Anyone can become a self-published author.Rachel Richards
What is your favorite thing about your business?
Firstly, is that I get paid to do what I love: teach women about financial literacy. The best part though is the emails I get from readers. I get messages all the time thanking me and telling me that my book changed their lives. There is nothing more rewarding than that.
How do you monetize it? How much do you charge for your products/ services?
It’s difficult to make meaningful income as an author, whether you’re self-published or traditionally published. Most authors make their money by upselling other higher-priced products (like courses, consulting, coaching, etc.). My books have been unusual in that they’ve made good money and it’s stayed that way for a while.
In an average month, I make $4,000-$5,000 in profit from my book royalties. I have several passive income streams now, which has brought my income up to $15K/mo, and allowed me to retire at the age of 27. Another one of those income streams is the profits from my online course, “Get Your Financial $hit Together“. I make about $4,000 per month from that course.
How much do you make on an average month/ last year/ since beginning?
I made about $1,000 per month from Money Honey in my first year as an author. Now, I run a six-figure business, called Money Honey Rachel.
What is your best selling or most popular product or service?
My first book, Money Honey, is the cornerstone of my business. There are way too many dry, jargon-filled finance books, written by, well, old white guys. My unique voice and writing style has resonated with female millennials and Gen Z especially. I most often hear, “It’s like you’re sitting down and having coffee with a friend, and casually talking about money!”
My course sells out more quickly every time I run it. My thought in creating the course was to help people take action. Millions of people listen to podcasts and read books. But that doesn’t matter unless they are acting on that knowledge. So, I wanted to create an environment that would help people implement what they were learning. That would give them the support, accountability, and structure they need to succeed. I thought doing a hands-on course would achieve exactly that.
“Get Your Financial $hit Together” is structured as an 8-week online course, including training videos, my entire digital workbook, and access to my exclusive Facebook group. It’s my favorite thing I do!
The best thing to do when thinking through a product is knowing your unique value proposition. Why would someone buy your course or book over the thousands that are already out there? What problem are you solving for people? If you can’t articulate that, it will be really hard to sell your product.
What expenses does your business have?
I spend about $700 per month on two virtual assistants, $500 or so on online services such as Convertkit, Wix, Kajabi, Bookfunnel, Buffer, and so forth. I also spend money on ordering books and shipping them to other authors and influencers.
Normally my monthly expenses are around $1,500.
How did you set pricing structure/ set your business up? Are you an LLC/ Sole proprietorship/ other?
I am about to set up an S corporation for my business.
How did you get word out about your business/ find customers/ followers?
Initially, I added value to Facebook groups full of female millennials (my target audience). I was not selling anything at the time. If someone asked a finance question, I would hop on and say, “Hey, I’m a former financial advisor, here’s what I think…” and type out a really helpful and thorough response. After doing this enough, I became known as the “finance guru” in the group.
If someone asked a question, other people would tag me and say, “Rachel Richards is your girl!” I was establishing trust and credibility. When I finally started writing the book, everyone in these groups was really excited and couldn’t wait to buy it. They became sort of an informal launch team.
Growing your following is really about adding value to others without asking for anything in return. Add value first, sell later.Rachel Richards
What is a behind-the-scenes task that takes more time than people would think?
Creating and scheduling social media content. I have to time block several hours every other week to get this task done, which is part of the reason I’m going to hire this out. It takes way too much time! Also, emails are my nemesis.
What is your favorite tool/ product/ service that has made your business easier? Have you outsourced any of the work?
I just started using PipeDrive, so take this with a grain of salt, but so far I’m really pleased with it. It’s a CRM and I think it will help me keep track of people and conversations. I also use Trello for organizing and keeping track of projects with my virtual assistant. Also, Convertkit is my favorite thing ever. So intuitive and easy to use.
What is one thing you think you do really well in your side hustle?
Since I’m a finance person, I’m very frugal. I think I did a great job on focusing on creating revenue FIRST, before spending any money.
Some people think you need to pay for business, and a professional logo, and a fancy website before you do anything. But that means you’re starting out hundreds or even thousands of dollars in the hole.
I’ve always prioritized earning revenue first and foremost, and then spending money to scale my business after that.Rachel Richards
A great question to ask yourself for every dollar you spend is, “How much revenue is this dollar generating?” If it’s not generating revenue, then why are you spending it?
What is one regret or thing you’d do differently?
Oh gosh, I’ve made countless mistakes.
- I made the mistake of designing my own cover for Money Honey initially. It looked unprofessional and dated.
- I also tried to do all of my own interior formatting – something that took me 20+ hours – when I could have outsourced that for a few hundred bucks.
- Using Mailchimp and their URLs rather than buying my own domain, and when it came time to grow my email list, I had no control over those Mailchimp links – which was a big problem.
It turns out – being TOO frugal can be a flaw. That’s a lesson I continue to learn. I was too short-sighted in the beginning and wasn’t thinking big enough. Think big. Think long-term. And set your business up the right way in the beginning, so that it can scale easily later.
What are your plans to scale your business/ grow it? Long-term plans (1, 3, 5 years out?)
I’m going to launch a real estate investing course in 2022 because my platform has been begging me for it! They want to learn how I grew my RE portfolio to 38 units in two years.
I’m also using webinars a lot more to sell out my course. Also, TikTok is my jam. I’m @moneyhoneyrachel on TikTok (and Instagram), and it’s growing like crazy. That’s the key to making my books going even more viral.
I eventually will write a third book, and I dream of writing a fiction book one day.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs/ side hustlers?
Becoming an author is the most vulnerable and scary thing I’ve ever done. When I first started writing Money Honey, the words poured out of me. It was so exciting! Four months in, however, my mind did a complete 180. By then, I was telling myself things like, “Who do you think you are, Rachel, to write a book about finance? You’re a young woman. No one will listen to you. Your writing is horrible. This will be an embarrassment.”
Clearly, I was being super nice to myself, right? But I was so overcome with self-doubt that I quit writing. I had no intention of picking the book up again. I finally sat down with a good friend and “confessed” to her about my book. She looked at me like I was crazy – in a good way. “Rachel, you have to finish this! You’re really onto something here.” Thank goodness for her reassurance and encouragement. I picked it back up that very same day.
At the end of the day, I told myself, “If I can just help one person, that’s all I want to do.” And that’s the only reason I went through with publishing it. And now it’s gone on to sell tens of thousands of copies, impact people all over the world, and earn almost 1,000 reviews on Amazon.
We didn’t have a name for it then, but we do now: imposter syndrome. Writing a book and putting it out there for the world to judge is tremendously scary. There is nothing more vulnerable than that. Every author I know has gone through this total self-doubt. You just have to push through and find that one friend who will encourage you to follow through on your dreams.
I have 7 income streams:
- Rental properties: $8,000+/mo in profit
- Book royalties: $4,000+/mo in profit
- Online course: $4,000+/mo in profit
- Women on F.I.R.E. Mastermind
- Real estate syndications
- Fundrise 7
- Print-on-demand T-shirt business
Where can people find you?
- Money Honies Facebook Group
- Check out Rachel’s books, Money Honey and Passive Income, Aggressive Retirement
Learn how Rachel scaled from 0-38 doors in just 3 years on a normal income!
A side-hustle revolving around taking control of your finances, Rachel is a gal after my own heart! A big thank you to Rachel for sharing her side-hustle journey so far. Be sure to check out her books and the links above.
Do you have a cool or unique side business or hustle? Are you willing to talk about the rundown, warts and all? I’d love to hear from you and potentially feature your business here! Drop me a line at [email protected] with the subject line “Side hustle series.” Hope I hear from you!