That $1 soon turned into $1,000 a month. They stopped laughing.
When I start a new side hustle I need to quickly know whether it’s likely to work out or not. I do this by trying to earn at least $1 from it. I know that if I can earn that small amount I’m almost certain to be able to earn more. It doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to be successful, but it’s a pointer in the right direction.
When I started my travel blog I added some affiliate links to Agoda, which is a hotel booking site. If anyone clicked one of the links and booked a room I’d get paid a small commission. If one person booked then it was a fair assumption that others would book as well. The more bookings I got, the more money I’d earn.
I still remember the first booking. Someone booked one night at a hostel in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I earned just over $1 for that booking. I was super-exciting because this was proof that I could make money from my travel blog. It was only $1, but I had a booking and made money.
I shared this with my friends and they laughed out loud. They joked that I’d have a fantastic time traveling with that extra $1 to spend. Maybe I could go 50–50 with someone and buy a coffee. Oh, how they laughed and joked.
I knew I was on to something even if they didn’t.
Most people have regular jobs with regular pay. If they start a new job that pays $48,000 a year they expect to get $4,000 at the end of every month. That’s how regular jobs with regular pay work. This leads them to think that running a business or side hustle should work in the same way. To them, my travel blog should pay a regular income from the first month. No ups or downs, but just a steady income like a day job.
But that’s not how it works. Things usually start slow and don’t pick up until later. Sometimes it takes a long time for things to grow, and this is when most give up. But it’s the time you should keep going.
Anyway, back to my blog. I continued traveling and updating the blog. The bookings grew slowly, as did my income. After around 9 months of running the blog, I was up to $100 a month. My friends still laughed.
But over the next 3 months, the bookings started to pick up quickly. It was peak travel season in Southeast Asia where I was at the time. My earnings leaped up to $1,000 a month.
Strangely, my friends didn’t feel much like laughing any longer.
At that point, my main travels came to an end. For the next two years, I traveled on and off and updated my blog less often. The earnings continued around the $1,000 mark for those years. It was a nice side income.
Just to give you an idea of how much you can make from hotel affiliate links, my best booking earned me $400. Yes, that’s right. $400 for one booking. Someone booked 14 nights at one of Singapore’s top hotels. The booking was for around $7,000. My cut was $400. Nice. If only all bookings made that much.
There was another time when I got a group booking of 10 rooms for a few days. I think a travel agent must have clicked a link on my site.
It was then that I decided I wanted to move on to other ventures so decided to sell the site. I sold it via Empire Flippers for $25,000. I great payday.
And it all started with that one booking at a cheap hostel in Chiang Mai, Thailand from which I made just $1.
If you’re starting a side hustle, aim for $1, to begin with. That will prove your concept. From there you can build it up. Don’t give up to soon. The rewards often come later.