My first exposure to Nick Loper was via his book The Side Hustle Path: 10 Proven ways to Make Money Outside Of Your Day Job. It’s a short book, and, by the way- it’s free on amazon.
I really loved The Side Hustle Path, because it got me motivated, and gave me some ideas which allowed me to think outside of the box. I didn’t write a review on it, but I felt it was definitely a good book. After reading it, I discovered The Side Hustle Show, Nick’s podcast. To say I binged on listening to it would be an understatement. I commute a lot for my day job, and while idling in the midst of rush hour traffic, I was listening. Nick would wrangle in these people with amazing stories, and spend the entire show just talking to them about how they did it, what worked and what didn’t, and more. I loved it!
On one of his podcasts (I forget which episode, unfortunately) – he referenced Buy Buttons, his latest book. I was really intrigued by the way Nick explained it. He basically said: ‘There’s all these existing marketplaces where people are going to spend money – why not place your buy button there and start selling today?
Um, yeah, makes sense to me.
So I read Buy Buttons. Then I reached out to Nick with some questions I had, which I’ve included below with my thoughts on his book. This is a bit of a new format for me, so I’ve highlighted sections where Nick’s feedback is, so it doesn’t get too confusing for you.
First, Nick Gets It.
I’m not a visionary, but I feel I have a pretty good grasp on things I need to do in order to earn more money in my side hustles. I might have to research a bit, but I’ll get to where I’m going. One thing that Nick makes very apparent in Buy Buttons, is that he understands the high level picture of side hustles, and I would say he’s almost taken it to an art-form.
In one part of the book, Nick discusses ‘Societal Disruption’, specifically as it relates to companies like Uber severely impacting the taxi industry. I wondered just how much companies like Amazon would further disrupt things. I asked Nick: will we ever live in a world where Amazon Go (think shopping store, without the staff) replaces brick and mortar stores entirely?
I think we’ll see other stores adapt some of the tech but I don’t see brick and mortar dying. For as much as we shop on Amazon, I feel like I’m still at Target at least once a week. But the checkout process is slow and annoying, so I’d be all about them licensing an Amazon Go-like system!” – Nick Loper
I like Nick’s optimistic view here, although I do wonder if behemoths like Target can withstand the onslaught of modern tech companies that seem to be everywhere, like Amazon. The licensing aspect is really compelling, and honestly – if you have some coding and prototyping skills, that might be a project to get to work on…just hurry, because Amazon has a head start!
Either way, the point is, he’s thinking out of the box which is a lesson for all of us to learn and apply if we want to truly increase our income.
Priorities and Excuses
In the first chapter, Nick begins by calling out the problems: debt, market instability, and a society where playing Angry Birds or binge watching House of Cards (note to self: finish Season 2 ASAP) is more important than building financial independence for yourself and your family.
And then he hits you in the gut, by arming you with ideas that focus on the top three challenges that Nick encountered when talking to potential side hustlers: lack of time, lack of money, and lack of ideas.
So many ideas.
Naturally, Nick promises to provide ideas that address those challenges, and he doesn’t disappoint. Nick comes up with side hustles that I would have never come up with if you locked me in a room and told me I had a year to come up with ideas. Just to give one example: Peer-to-peer car rental services. Everyone defaults to Uber (I’m guilty of it) as a way to make some cash on the side, but Nick gives an example of a guy who is making $1,500+/month with this hustle which is surprisingly not very time intensive.
Buy Button Trends?
After reading this book, I was left with one thought: there’s some great ideas in here, but, I can’t do them all. Where do I focus? In my post How to Think of a Business Idea That Doesn’t Suck, I specifically discuss industry trends, and provide some ideas on how to spot them. Knowing that this is the kind of stuff I think about, I had a loaded question for Nick that I wouldn’t blame him for declining to answer. Thankfully, he didn’t:
You have a large network of connections in the side hustle and entrepreneur world. What trends are you seeing with respect to Buy Button-focused hustles, if any?
Even though all the most popular “buy button” platforms are crowded with sellers, the companies are doing everything they can to innovate and grow the demand side of their business too. They’re trying to grow the pie for everyone.
As far as trends, the people I see having the most success are the ones who really study the best practices, recognize each platform is its own mini search engine and create their listings accordingly, and go the extra mile to set their profiles up for success. On Udemy for example, that meant “seeding” my course with a bunch of “beta” students to get enrollments and reviews before the public launch. I actually did the same thing with the Buy Buttons book on Amazon — a dedicated “launch team” got advance copies and by Day 1 of my marketing efforts I already had 20+ reviews.” – Nick Loper
I want to re-emphasize one point Nick made in his response: study the best practices. Photos are everything on Etsy. Your book cover is a big deal on Amazon. While some things are universal, such as the importance of reviews, each platform has its areas of focus and best practices that are unique to it. We all know 5 star reviews will benefit you on every platform on the planet, but what if you neglected to do the “must dos” for your buy button platform? The result is that you won’t be optimizing your revenue, which means you’ll either have to spend more time to make up for that revenue, or take on another side hustle to increase your income.
Once you have your potential customers attention, it’s your job to make sure that you keep it. Don’t give them a reason to leave because you missed the basic stuff unique to that platform.
Diversification & Try, Try, Try
I’m not sure if Nick was going for this when he wrote Buy Buttons, but I feel a big takeway from his book was: diversify. There’s so many platforms out there, that it would almost be foolish to rely on one alone. If you sell a book, for example, don’t limit to just Amazon – sell it on iTunes, and Smashwords too. By splitting up your product over multiple marketplaces, you’ll insulate yourself to a degree should one platform experiences issues, or disappear entirely.
Another takeaway from Buy Buttons for me, was to just keep trying. Nick has so many stories in this book of side hustlers/entrepreneurs/solopreneurs – who just busted their ass to make things happen. There’s a good chance you’ll fail at some point, but seriously: who cares?
Does anyone remember the game-winning shot that Lebron James missed? Nobody cares, because he’s freaking Lebron James and he’s won championships.
Does anyone remember that Henry Ford’s first company was a miserable failure and lost millions?
You get the point. Fail fast, and move onto the next iteration, or a new idea, and chalk it up to experience. Most importantly: don’t let it get you down.
Buy Buttons is definitely a worthwhile read if you’re interested in making more money. I think possibly my favorite thing about Nick’s book (and his show) – is it focuses on building income. There’s a crowded marketplace out there of people discussing how to live frugally, cut debt in half, and generally spend less. That stuff is important, and very valid, but I like to address the other end of the spectrum which is harder, but offers greater rewards: the side hustle. Nick does exactly that in Buy Buttons. You can find it here on Amazon.
If, for some reason, you decide not to check out Buy Buttons, you’d seriously be doing yourself a disservice by not checking out Nick’s podcast, The Side Hustle Show. I’ll be honest, before I got hooked on his podcast, I’d regularly tell those who recommended podcasts: “I’m not into podcasts.” I’m still not, but there is one which I will make an exception for.
And I’m sure you know which one it is.
At the end of (almost) every episode of Nick’s show, he asks his guest what their number one tip is. Considering how much of Nick I heard on my morning commute, I felt like I’d be missing a huge opportunity to not ask Nick the same thing, so I did. Here’s Nick’s Number One Tip for readers of Buy Buttons in 2017, to close the review for today:
Remember your WHY. Why is earning extra money important to you? What does that afford you? This stuff isn’t easy so it’s important to have a strong underlying motivation to keep you going through the hard times.” – Nick Loper