Here is my story about how a law student made money at law school.
I found that the number one barrier to earning more was “no time.”
How did Liz, one of my former students, make $50,000 as a side hustle while she was a law student? Part-time work? A new baby?
She’ll show you how today. This write-up is part of Women’s Money Week 2012.
Liz, take it away!
Over $50k was my side hustle last year. You might be wondering what the side of? Full-time attendance at a top law school, part-time work during the school year, and starting a family. My son was born in November. How did I manage to find the energy and time to do this?
My earnings as a blogger, freelance writer, and website optimization consultant range from $20/hr up to $250/hr. Before incorporating these principles, my hourly average was $26. These principles allowed me to double my hourly rate to $53/hr.
This is how I combined many IWT techniques into my 3-step method to make $50k, on top of my already busy schedule.
Step 1 – Take the time to prepare
Instead of ” getting started”, I set up triggers and establish accountability to prepare for success.
Set up Triggers
BJ Fogg, a Stanford professor, identified three key elements for behavioral change in his favorite IWT interview. These are motivation, ability, and triggers. A trigger is a reminder to take action now. A trigger could be a reminder to do something now, such as placing a vitamin bottle next to your bed. Triggers are key to my success. To make more money in a shorter time I created triggers that allow me to stay focused.
These are my top three triggers
Keep a prewritten to-do list next to your computer. Each night, before I go to bed, I create a list that lists everything I have to do the next day. The list is kept open by my computer so that it’s what I see when I wake up each morning. This allows me to instantly start working on the tasks listed and not get distracted.
Open My Computer and On – I used to have to wait for my computer to turn on every morning. While I waited, I would check my email on my phone and get distracted by the priority tasks for that day. As a trigger, I now leave my computer on to get to work.
Disable “Bad Triggers – Triggers tell you what to do. It’s important to get rid of triggers that cause you to begin the wrong task. As a nightly ritual, I now remove any items from my workspace that could trigger me to begin working on the wrong task.
Accountability can be a motivator. Accountability can make you more efficient and save you time. I have established mechanisms to make sure I am held responsible before I begin a project.
These are my top tips for establishing accountability from the beginning of a project.
I Work with Other People — I hired an independent contractor to help me on the largest project that I am currently working on and gave her a stake. Because I don’t want that person to fail, working with someone motivates me.
I Set Deadlines – I set deadlines for any project that I am involved in. However, this is not always sufficient to drive me. I tell anyone I work for when the project will be completed even if they don’t give me an end date. I am held responsible for telling someone else the deadline.
I have to pay for services – I am one of those people who must go to a gym even though I can do it at home. Why? Because I know that I am paying. This is also true for work. A monthly newsletter was something I wanted to create for one of my websites. Before I could plan the newsletter, I signed up for a monthly subscription. The fact that I had to pay for the subscription made me more accountable for starting the newsletter.
Step 2 – Balance certainty with risk
Balancing riskier projects with certain projects is my second strategy to make more money in a shorter time. You can also allocate your investments between more risky investments and safer investments depending on your risk tolerance and needs. However, it is important to balance your time between income-generating projects and risky ones. You can earn more money by balancing your time between certain risky projects.
Before I explain why let’s clarify what I mean when I say certain and risky.
Certain projects are ones where you know that you will make money and how much. Freelancing and consulting projects are examples of “certain.” You know you’ll make $50 per piece of content you write, and that it will take you less than two hours to complete, so this is certain.
You should be cautious about taking on risky projects. These could make you more money, and you might earn more with them. But you never know if you will earn any. Or when. Blogging, building apps, or starting a business are all risks. Risky work can be done even if you are working for nothing to get clients. These projects can be risky.
Bottom line: A project can guarantee that you will make a certain amount of money to do a particular task. But a risky project cannot guarantee that.
Why take on both certain and risky projects?
You should not take on projects that aren’t certain. You can only make more money if you take on more risk. The potential reward is greater if you take on more risk.
One reason I recommend taking on risky projects alongside certain projects is that they could turn into specific projects with enough time. If you volunteer to do a side job or intern for a potential employer, they will most likely hire you, provided you have done a good job. Once they were impressed with my abilities, they hired me for a paid job. A blog I started led to a $250/hour consulting job with a Fortune 100 firm. Although the blog was risky because it required me to create it without knowing what I would make, it eventually paid off.
Calculate the Right Certainty/Risk Balance for You
These questions will help you determine how much time to allocate between risky and safe projects.
How much money do I need?
What time do you need to obtain that money?
What is my tolerance for risk?
My goal for last year was to make $150 per day as a side income, 2) by year’s end, and 3) with minimum risk.
My time was accordingly allocated. I made sure to work on projects that would generate income, increasing my number by up to 80%. Every day, I made every effort to earn $150 each day. This took only half an hour for some consulting gigs. Other freelance projects required more than two hours of work. Some of my writing gigs required me to work for 5 hours or more to reach this goal. However, I was able to achieve the results I desired by focusing my time on sure projects.
I have shifted to more risky projects this year. Instead of allocating time in a way that makes me a certain dollar per day, I now allocate 75% of my time to risky projects. While I am aware that I can scale up consulting gigs that will make me money if necessary, I still love the excitement of trying new things and the potential for a big payoff. These are the things that make work enjoyable for me.
Always Have Some Confidence
It is important to have some certainty inside projects. In addition to the financial security that certainty provides, certain projects can help you overcome fear and build confidence when things don’t go as well. Nothing can build confidence like a phone conversation where you helped someone solve their business problems and also made a side income. You can gain the confidence and skills to take on more risky projects if you are successful with certain projects.
Step 3 – Protect Your Productive Time
Even though I have side income projects and am prepared, last year wouldn’t have been as successful if I hadn’t learned how to preserve my time. Although it sounds obvious, it is amazing how many small tasks can eat up our most productive hours.
Your Productive Space and Time
I had to first know when I was most productive before I could use my productive time efficiently. Ramit’s writings on testing helped me to identify and maximize my productivity. Start with Test Your Assumptions, Testing your Assumptions, and How a Beggar uses data to optimize donations. These methods can be used to determine when you can accomplish the most.
Do not let anyone steal your productive time
Once you have figured out your most productive time, you should protect it and not plan anything. Seriously, during your productive time don’t schedule:
Coffee with friends
You should not be concentrating on anything other than the tasks you are committed to.
I am a morning person. Between 6 and 11 a.m., I do the best work. After rescheduling the classes and exercises that took up most of my morning, I found that I could use that time to concentrate more efficiently and get the tasks done quickly. Writing an article took me about 1-2 hours in the afternoon. It takes me half the time to complete an article in the morning.
Spend your time productively on tasks that will require you to be the most focused and make the most money.
“What happens if I have a 9-5 job?”
Decide how you will divide your time if you have a job. Ask yourself these questions:
Are you more productive at your job than you make money?
If you have completed your entire day job, can you still leave?
Can you change your work schedule if the answers to both questions are “no”?
Next, determine how much time you want to allocate based on the answers. If, for example, your most productive hour is between 7 am and 1 pm, and you make more money if you get more done at work, then ask your boss to change your schedule so that you start work at 7 am.
You can test your productivity hours by testing your work schedule to see if you have a flexible workflow or schedule. To get the best results in the shortest time, adjust the variables you can control.
“How can I earn more money in less time?”
These 3 steps will help you get started if you are looking to make more money in a shorter time frame. For the next week, try to implement at least one step from this system. Once you have completed the first week, assess and decide how to incorporate this step into your long-term plan.
Leave a comment with the steps you’re going to take this week. Also, tell us how you plan to do it. Please be specific.
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