Did you know that Americans spent upward of $53 billion (yes, that is billion with a “B”) on services for their pets in 2012?
While food and vet care account for about two-thirds of the dollars spent, the remaining third (approximately $19 billion) was spent on alternative vet care (acupuncture, massage, etc.) grooming, boarding and pet-sitting services, and to a lesser degree, miscellaneous pet-related products and services.
Whoa doggie, that’s a lot of cash being spent on our four-legged friends!
Clearly there is plenty of opportunity here for people who want to turn their love of pets into a second-act career. If that sounds like you, I’ve put together a group of resources to help get you started exploring.
I sometimes joke that in my next life I’d love to come back as a chocolate shop owner. The pragmatic side of me knows the realities of making chocolates day-in and day-out would likely wear thin quickly (while I pack on the pounds equally quickly), but the dreamer part of me thinks it would be great fun to spend my days around homemade toffees, almond bark and chocolate dipped sea salt caramels – at least for a week or two.
This past weekend I got to indulge in one of my favorite weekend activities by visiting a crafts fair. I’m not quite sure why I enjoy crafts fairs so much, but there is something about the combination of being outdoors, munching on kettle-corn and seeing good old-fashioned entrepreneurship in action that I find hard to resist.
As I strolled among the booths, I found myself thinking that in many ways being a crafter is a perfect lifestyle career (although having to work the occasional weekend might be a deal-breaker for some). It allows you to be creative, work a flexible schedule, deduct travel expenses and meet interesting people. And thanks to sites like Etsy.com, it is now possible for people to sell their crafts while working from home as well.
The amount of income you can potentially earn from your crafts will depend upon a number of variables (skill level, demand for your products, pricing strategies, etc). But if you’re willing to take the time to learn the “business of the business” it is possible to turn your passion for crafts into real profits.
If this sounds like an income option you’d like to learn more about, here are nine resources to help you get started:
April is Autism Awareness month, and so this seems a fitting time to introduce you to a remarkable young man and the entrepreneurial business that he has inspired. Eytan Nisinzweig is a 25 year-old man with autism. Although he has limited social skills, he plays the piano better than many people, a skill that he was able to parlay into a part-time job hosting sing-alongs for local area schools.
In addition to his musical talents (and a passion for participating in the Special Olympics) Eytan is a gifted artist who draws with a simple but captivating style, that reflects a childlike wonder of the world. For a long time, his mother Susan, had thought about putting Eytan’s art work on t-shirts and on note cards but the idea never quite seemed to get off the ground.
One day, while admiring Eytan’s work yet again, she began to consider the possibility of pairing Eytan’s drawings with inspirational sayings that celebrate differences, encourage civility and promote respect for others. The more Susan mulled over the idea, the more excited she became.
Combining Eytan’s art with a meaningful message was the “aha” moment Susan had been waiting for, and once her vision came into focus, she sprung into action. As she so eloquently explains on Eytanart.com’s website:
“The thrill, or shiver was unmistakable and the ideas were so powerful that they didn’t disappear down the drain of the shower. I knew that this was one of those ideas that I had to make a reality. I knew that this one really mattered and was what I was meant to do.“
With focus, drive and determination, the pieces of the entrepreneurial puzzle quickly began to fall into place. Although Susan had no prior experience with the retail clothing business, she researched the worlds of shirt manufacturing, online sales and internet marketing. Talking to anyone who would listen, and adjusting plans as she learned, Susan quickly found a printer to produce the shirts, built a website and officially opened for business just a few short months ago.
The reaction to Eytan’s work has been overwhelmingly positive and orders have come in from around the globe. Adding to the joy over their entrepreneurial success, Eytan’s family is delighting in the satisfaction of being able to leverage the business as a vehicle to support meaningful causes and organizations; sales of Eytan’s work have already helped to provide over 12,000 nutritious meals to malnourished children overseas and his artwork has been displayed by organizations that support research for autism.
The future looks bright for this small home-based company that Eytan’s art helped to create. I hope you’ll help spread the word about Eytan’s remarkable story, by visiting the website at Eytanart.com.
"Make millions while you sleep!”
“I earned $300,000 my first year online and so can you!”
Sounds alluring, doesn't it? The internet is filled with sites promising "MILLIONS!!!!" to an audience eager to harness the potential for earning a living off the web. Of course, contrary to the hype, the "road to riches" (a.k.a., a reasonable income stream) requires hard work, perseverance and determination. But if you're willing to invest the time and energy, there are some proven and realistic ways to generate cash through your computer.
So with the understanding that there are no get rick quick secrets here, let’s take a closer look at nine formats for creating online income:
1. E-Books: Creating e-books and special reports that customers download directly to their computers is a great first step for any aspiring e-infopreneur. Digital downloads are easy to create because all you need is an idea, the ability to turn a document into a PDF file and a service like e-junkie.com to sell the document on the internet. As opposed to producing a “real” book which requires an upfront investment for printing and production, the costs associated with digital downloads are relatively minimal. Of course, identifying a profitable topic and learning the “how-to” of producing and marketing your products for success takes both time and elbow-grease, but there are a number of books, websites and other services available on the web to help you learn.
Shameless plug: If you're interested in seeing how this works, check out my e-products, The Layoff Survival Guide and The Back-to-Work-Toolkit: A Guide for Comeback Moms.
2. Audio Products (CD or MP3 files): Many people prefer learning by listening (as opposed to reading), so consider supplementing your e-book offerings with an audio option. You can sell the audio as a MP3 podcast or as an audio that is accessible online. Alternatively, you can offer a CD, or a packaged set of CDs, for people who prefer a more traditional product. It is relatively easy to create an audio by recording a class,speech or an interview with an expert on a chosen topic. I use Audioacrobat as my audio provider and have found them to be very responsive and easy to use (even for a technophobe like me!).
3. Video Tutorials and Webinars: The internet is a wonderful vehicle for teaching people about all sorts of subjects, from How to Build a Blog to Job Search Techniques to Spanish 101. Technology has now made it possible for even the most technically challenged among us to create impressive multi-media classes and seminars that can be downloaded by a worldwide audience 24/7. The perceived value of classes or workshops is higher than that of printed reports, so creating your own classes can prove to be a very lucrative enterprise.
4. Print Versions of Digital Products: Despite the convenience of e-products, some people prefer learning the old fashioned way with books and cd’s that they can hold, feel and touch. Thanks to the emergence of print-as-you-go fulfillment services like Lulu.com, you can now offer a line of “real” tangible products, without having the headaches associated with the traditional print and distribution model of years past.
5. Affiliate Advertising: If you have a blog that you want to monetize, consider integrating affiliate advertising into your site. One of the simplest ways to obtain advertising is through one of the affiliate advertising network services on the web, such as Clickbank or Commision Junction. Unlike traditional print advertising, affiliate advertising is a performance based system, meaning that you won’t earn money until your readers actually click on your links and then purchase the product. After the purchase is made, you earn a percentage of the sale. I caution you not to count on this to pay your mortgage (at least not initially); you'll need significant traffic to your site before you can generate serious money through affiliate advertising.
6. Sell on eBay: Believe it or not, there are people who make a full-time income selling their wares on eBay. Whether you want to profit from your burgeoning collection of cookie jars or need an online storefront to sell your vintage clothing, eBay might be the solution for you. To learn more about how to sell on eBay, here is a link to their "getting started" page.
7. Teach Online: If you enjoy teaching, but want to be able to practice your trade from the comfort of home, consider teaching through an online school. To learn more about opportunities for teaching online, consult one of the "how-to" books available on this topic at Amazon.com or read some of the helpful articles on this topic at The Chronicle of Higher Education.
8. Create/Sell Products Online: Looking for a way to earn cash from your creative talents? Take advantage of the print-on-demand services offered through vendors like CafePress.com where your creative designs and photos can be transformed into novelty products (mugs, greeting cards, hats, etc.) that are offered for sale online; without having to deal with the hassles of upfront production costs, inventory risks and fulfillment requirements. Alternatively, if you want to sell your crafts or jewelry online, you can set-up a storefront through a site like Etsy.com which aggregates the wares of thousands of craftspeople into a single well-traveled online shopping mall.
9. Provide content or writing services to a third-party publisher: If you’re interested in writing online, but don’t want the headaches associated with running a blog or website, consider working as a freelance writer, copy editor or proofreader for a third-party website. Two excellent resources to help you find freelance writing opportunities are Ratracerebellion.com and Mediabistro.com.
Bonus Tip: Having been done this road myself, I know that learning the "how-to" of creating informational products is a pain. One of the best resources I've found for learning about this subject are the classes and products offered by Rebecca Morgan through her site Making Money in Your Jammies. I personally took her class before choosing to be an affiliate for her and found her offerings extremely valuable.