What would you do if you had an extra $1,000 a month in income? I bet it would be awesome right? Well, with a little creativity and some elbow grease it is a pretty realistic goal. Here is how we did it.

Late last year Jen and I were contemplating what we would do with an extra $1,000 a month. For us, the dream was to take some pretty epic trips, like the 3 day quick trip to Toronto we took last week to see Adele live in concert. We had a few ideas that included reviving our old Calgary Foodies blog, or starting a podcast, but the idea that stuck out served a dual purpose – it would fill a need we had in our business, and potentially create a pretty good little side income.

The idea was actually pretty simple. We were using a newsletter company to market to the clients in our mortgage business – and our clients hated it. We desperately needed to come up with a way to keep us top of mind that didn’t annoy our clients. It turned out people didn’t want a mortgage newsletter every month. Because boring. The Calgary Collection was born.

The concept was simple. Collaborate with a different local business every month to provide a cool offer to our clients, and the clients of others who were having the same newsletter issues we were. Here is how it worked.

  1. We started by finding a local photographer who was willing to donate seat time to our clients in exchange for us sending the offer and paying for the distribution. We have since partnered with restaurants, a gelato company, a cleaning company, a coffee shop, and a canvas print company.
  2. Then we set up a website on a really simple wordpress website. You can see how to set up your own in less than 20 minutes by reading my How to Start a Blog page. You can be up and running with a website in minutes and market virtually anything using this platform.
  3. Then we found a local printer who was able to take our list of contacts and the graphics provided by the printer and merge them into post cards that they would deliver to the post office on our behalf. All in, each piece cost about $0.77. The final product looked like this.
  4. Once we knew what the cost would look like we approached a handful of real estate agents and pitched the idea to them. Of the first 10 we approached nine signed up on the spot. We aren’t sure why the 10th wasn’t interested. His loss.
  5. We marked up the price to $1.95 per piece to make up for our time. Coincidentally, our price point was competitive, but also higher than the rest of the industry because we were offering a premium product.
  6. If a real estate agent had 100 people in their database it cost them $195 to market to their clients that month (a pretty good deal considering they were giving away a free family photo shoot.
  7. The first month we sent 1321 pieces. We had zero people unsubscribe. A ton of great feedback. We knew we had a winner. Here is how the income of our little side product grew as we added more real estate agents. We now manage mailings for 19 real estate agents and one other mortgage brokerage. You will notice our income for August is zero, that is because we took the month off.
Month Subscribers Income
January 1115 $1315.70
February 1176 $1387.68
March 2500 $2000.00
April 2543 $2050.74
May 2622 $2143.96
June 2580 $2094.40
July 2658 $2186.44
August  0  $0
September 2760 $2306.80

The best thing about our little side business is that everybody wins. The businesses we partner with get free advertising. The real estate agents get to send something a little bit more powerful than a newsletter. We spend about 10 hours a month, make a little bit of side money, and get to associate ourselves with great people.

Having a side business really is an easy and quick way to make a little extra money. You can do it to.