Thanks to the feedback from the community, I wanted to start a series based around starting a business or side business. I know a number of people who have been laid off during this economic crisis, and I am pretty sure that we haven’t seen the end of it. That being the case, I wanted to help in the only way that I know how.
For those that are new to Productive Catholic, part of my story is that my wife and I really wanted to be able to have a traditional Catholic family (i.e. one income so that my wife could bond with the children). Of course, living in California this was extremely difficult with my salary. I ended up trying to start my own side business. After a couple of months of failures and another year of barely making ends meet we were able to make it happen.
As of writing this, I still have a full-time job, but I also have a side business that is doing great – and I want to help you to do the same. If things really got bad with my full-time position, I know that I could fall back on my business if I really needed to. My hope is that with this post you’ll have enough ideas to choose from and will take the leap and get started so that you can have a bit of added security for your family or be able to generate income if you’ve been laid off.
Web design is not the same as web development. In fact, one facet of my side business is web development and I can barely draw stick figures. Design is all about the look and feel of a website or other product and is arguably the most important aspect of what you create. Website or not, the thing that you need to be able to do is make it all look great.
If you are great at design, why not build a business around it? There are a ton of businesses out there that need print material; there are also web developers out there that need someone to make their websites look good. Currently, I have a joint venture with a designer that designs my client’s websites and my staff makes them move and function. It’s a fantastic partnership and very profitable.
This is the other side of the aforementioned coin. If you can code, or if you can hire someone else to code, why not become a web developer. It can be for a local parish, business, or the entire archdiocese. Partner up with a great designer and you could have a pretty rockin’ side business.
Create mobile apps
As mobile technology starts to grow, more and more people are going to demand applications for mobile platforms that meet their needs. Creating a mobile app isn’t that difficult (unless you are doing the actual development). There are a number if individuals around the world that you can hire to create an app for you, and very inexpensively.
About 3 years ago, a friend of mine and I were doing a workout program called Crossfit. We needed some timers made and also wanted an effective way to keep track of our progress. We joined the Apple development program for about $100 at the time and had an app made for about $500. So $600 later we had an application that we could use to help us with our workouts, and that also made us about $1000 in revenue. In essence, we got paid $400 to make a mobile app that we needed anyway.
If you have an idea, you could easily hire someone in Eastern Europe to develop something for you for under $1000. If you do it right, you may even have a best seller on your hands and make a living off of your idea.
Create online apps
Just like with mobile applications, you can easily have an online service created for you. The beauty of an online application is that you can make create a membership model.
Matthew Warner, a Catholic Entrepreneur, created an online service called flockNote. The service lets parish groups and organizations communicate better than they ever have before. If a youth group member prefers to be texted whenever the group is doing something, they can set that up; if a member prefers a Facebook message, they can make that happen.
In the end, groups and parishes pay a fee to be on the service and Matt is able to make a profit while providing an awesome service that moves the Church forward. You can do the same.
Teach at a training/learning center
There are a number of privately owned training centers around the world. Their basic business model is that they provide training to organizations that will either help the organization’s personnel become better at a certain skill, or they train specifically for technical certifications. Often, these training centers only facilitate the learning environment, and that means that they rely heavily on outside help to do the actual training. That’s where you come in.
The best thing about providing workshops at training centers like this is that you can charge for the training and also offer strategic consulting and other services afterward. There are a lot of businesses that would rather hire someone who is an expert rather than try to learn everything themselves.
Create Catholic education material
If you don’t like the books/audio/video that are being used in your local Catholic school, why not make your own? It can be an entire curriculum or just one-off texts on specific topics. With services like MyPublisher.com, you could easily create your own hardcopy prototype to send to Churches and get them on board.
Jared Dees, The Religion Teacher, created an E-book that teaches Catholic catechists how to create an amazing lesson plan. His E-book is free, but your’s doesn’t have to be.
Be a Ghost Writer
There are a lot of Catholic writers out there, and I’ve always wondered why there aren’t to many of them that take up ghost writing. If you don’t know what a ghost writer is, they essentially write articles and books in another person’s voice. In fact, I am pretty certain that there are a lot of Catholic apologists that have their books written by someone else.
The beauty of a ghost writer is that they save a ton of time for the author. Unless they can type at 200 words per minute, many authors would rather dictate their thoughts than type them out. If you are a wordsmith then this would be right up your alley.
Offer translation services
This one is a bit of a no brainer. If you know another language, why not meet business owners at networking events and offer to be their official voice to the Middle East, Europe, or Asia? You could brand yourself as not only a translator, but someone who knows and understands the professional language of a certain niche (i.e. “The Voice of Restaurant Franchises In The Middle East”)!
Be a consultant
You know a lot more than you think, and if you were laid off there was a reason why your company hired you in the first place. Why not take those same talents that you used at the company and consult? With a little sales and marketing training, you could brand yourself as the premiere consultant in your nice.
Become a virtual assistant (and then outsource some of it)
If you are computer savvy and aren’t afraid to reach out to companies, then you might want to consider becoming a virtual assistant. A virtual assistant typically works from home supporting one or more companies with various tasks. For example, say that you are a fantastic construction project scheduler, there are construction companies out there that cannot afford in-house project schedules. It would be more cost-effective for them to outsource that task to an outside agency. That outside agency could be you.
Help people learn something
Why not get in touch with the recreation department of your city? Often, cities offer a ton of classes that range from computer learning, to swing dancing, to gymnastics. Are they short on teachers? Do you have a class that you’d like to pitch to them?
Just like with teaching at a training center, instructing a class for the city (or any other recreation organization) isn’t the only way to make money. Offer your students 1-on-1 coaching or even make a product that you can sell.
Be an SEO expert (if you understand SEO)
I am very cautious with this one because there are so many “SEO Experts” out there, but I’ll touch on it anyway…
Are you a good Internet marketer that understands SEO, conversion tracking, and other online related topics? If so, maybe you should offer your services to local businesses. I’ve known a couple of people who have done this simply by asking the shop owners of stores that they visit on a regular basis. You could charge them on a monthly basis, a one-time fee, or a percentage based on leads that you generate.
Contract out with your previous employer
If you were laid off by your previous employer, keep in touch with them and check in to see if they need contracted work. Most people don’t realize that big part of the expense of employees are benefits, workman’s compensation, and other expenses that you don’t see directly. A lot of organizations would jump at the chance of hiring someone on contract, especially if they know that they do great work. The best part about it is that you can use them as a testimonial for your business – can you say good PR?
Be a 100% commission sales rep
Because of my networking, I was able to land a pretty awesome job developing restaurant franchises around the world (I’m even in the process of creating a podcast for it). I get a commission from all of the sales that I make, but I don’t get paid a base salary. Although that doesn’t sound that appealing, it’s a win-win situation for the company I sell for and for me. Basically, they don’t have to pay me a dime unless I actually make a sale. If I make a sale then that means that they get more money.
Why not do the same for other companies? There are a ton of businesses out there that would kill to have a sales rep like that! Even if you’ve never sold anything in your life, give it a try to see how it goes.
Use a special talent that can be done quickly and offer it on Fiverr.com
Fiverr.com is an amazing site. Essentially everyone on Fiverr will do something for $5. Why not think of something that takes around a minute to do and that only you know how to do? For example, there are folks on there that will do video or audio impersonating a well-known celebrity. If you can do a 30 minute audio and bust out 1 audio a minute then you have the potential to make almost $300 an hour. Not too bad, huh?
Start a blog (Self Hosted WordPress please)
This is a no brainer. Everyone who is going to do any business at all needs to have a blog. My suggestion if you don’t already have one is to buy hosting (I recommend Bluehost – this is an affiliate link that helps support the site), install WordPress on your domain, and start creating amazing content around a particular niche.
If you do it right, you could start selling just about anything on the site, you could advertise, or you can teach people how to do certain things and use affiliate links to generate income. I’ll be talking more about this in the future. The point right now is that you need to get started on this today!
Create tutorials about something you know and make digital products
This follows on after creating a blog. Once you get the hang of WordPress, there are very inexpensive screencasting tools out there that allow you to make tutorials. You could easily create comprehensive tutorials that teach people how to create or do something and sell those tutorials.
For example, Cliff Ravenscraft offer at the Podcast Answer Man has created a ton of audio and video products that he sells on his site using E-Junkie. There’s no shipping, no inventory, and he doesn’t need to be awake when he sells them – it all happens automatically.
I do the same with my E-book at You Can Work Less and with the premium membership tutorials on this site. It’s not too difficult and well worth the effort.
Make a niche product
Going even deeper into what we were just talking about, you can easily create a digital product for a very tight niche. For example, I know a guy that has created training and mechanical videos for flat track motorcycle racing. It’s an extremely tight niche but he makes a good living off of those videos because of avid fans.
Maybe you are a professional M-16 tournament shooter – create videos showing the top 10 mistakes novices make when learning how to shoot M-16s. Maybe you are a Yorkshire Terrier lover – create an e-book showing 30 sweaters and scarfs you can knit for a Terrier. Perhaps you love the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead – create a 10 part audio series that explains the Old Testament relation to that story. There are thousands of small niches, find yours and create something!
Provide social media monitoring/brand monitoring services
Catholics are starting to jump on the social media train (finally), and one thing that a lot of small companies need is to be aware of what’s being said about them. For a monthly fee, you could offer companies a social media monitoring service, and depending on the tier that they buy, that monitoring could include things like finding opportunities to sell or create new products or services, security monitoring, or brand monitoring. You could also be a spy and gather intelligence on their competition.
Write your own books and sell them
Almost every devout Catholic that I know wants to be an apologist (I know that I do). Well, you no longer need to wait to be anointed by God to write a book on apologetics – or anything for that matter. Thanks to Amazon and other services, you can professionally publish your book and also have it distributed electronically and physically.
Devin Rose wrote the book If Protestantism Is True and wanted to get it published by a few traditional Catholic publishing companies. All but 1 turned him down, and that company wanted to change the concept of the entire book. Well, rather than give up, Devin figured out how to publish his own book and thanks to his blog and community he developed, the book became a hit.
In fact, he just signed a contract with Catholic Answers to re-publish the book under their name. All this came about by just doing what he felt called to do and using the resources he had at hand to do it. How amazing is that? You can do it too!
There are hundreds of more ideas for Catholic Businesses and ways to generate side income, but I wanted give you only a few in hopes that it sparks action. If you’ve been laid off, are at risk of being laid off, or are perfectly content with your job, you need to take action and build something that’s going to bring in income. With the recent events that have occurred, we’ve seen that there is really no such thing as job security. The only way to make your family’s livelihood more secure is to create multiple sources of income.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not just about making money for yourself, think about what you could do for your local parish or ministry. The potential is there to create new revenue streams that you can funnel straight to the ministry. In fact, one of the reasons why I cam creating a premium section is to fund a new ministry in which I help folks at my local parish that have been laid off to learn how to run a business and give the funds necessary to get started.
Whatever your situation is, you need to be good stewards of your money and talents. Learning how to run your own business is ALWAYS a smart investment and will help you, your family, and others to grow spiritually and emotionally. You need to start now, and thanks to modern technology you have no more excuses not to start.