Many companies out there discourage their employees from moonlighting. I can totally understand where they’re coming from. Salaries in SEM tend to be high and the company wants to get their money’s worth. Moreover, they want their employees getting the appropriate sleep and rest on their off-time so they can come in recharged. Also, there’s the big fear about employees actually working on their side business during company business hours. I’m here to not only argue the other side, but strongly encourage you to start your own business on the side. If you do it the right way, the ethical and mature way, it will only accelerate your corporate search engine marketing career. I personally run a small portfolio of websites and I cannot say enough about the business and SEO knowledge I’ve gained from my side web publishing business. I cannot say enough about my personal growth from this endeavor and its benefits in accelerating my corporate career!
Motivation For My Personal SEM Business: Passive Income
I’d like to start out with my own story. The corporate route has been awesome for me, better than I could have ever imagined. However, I know more than anyone that things can change. As a low risk kind of guy, financial stability means everything to me. How do you achieve financial stability and freedom? In the words of my favorite author and mentor, Robert Kiyosaki, it’s all about passive income. We’re in a unique space where SEM is the cornerstone of passive income. Build some great web properties and with minimal ongoing support you can keep receiving Google AdSense and affiliate commission checks month after month after month! This alone was my strategy. In addition to income from my job, why not build up a small base of passive income from web publishing? It seemed obvious to me…
I Gained A World of SEO Knowledge Too
As someone who didn’t have a ton of money to invest in my side business, I decided to go the SEO route, with a little bit of PPC. I was more interested in slow growth fueled by free traffic from search engines versus fast growth fueled by pay per click traffic and the potential cash flow (and risk) issues that come with it. I’ll definitely say, without a doubt, that my hourly salary from my side business has been very low (although ramping as expected). I now do have a base of passive income that without fail comes in month after month. I’m extremely proud of it and take great pride in cashing my AdSense checks every month. However, what I value more than this stream of passive income is the SEO knowledge that I’ve learned.
As you know, the name of the site is PPC Ian and not SEO Ian. I’m “the man” when it comes to PPC, period. I’m good at SEO too, but not the industry authority. My next goal is getting to the VP of marketing level. How do I accomplish this? I need to fully understand all of the marketing channels thoroughly. My game plan: I need to learn the other marketing channels on my spare time because there’s never enough time at work. A side web publishing business is one of the best ways to learn SEO during your free time, an awesome byproduct that I never intended from my little side business.
I Learned Email Marketing Too
In addition to SEO, I’ve recently picked up email marketing. Once you have a solid base of SEO visitors, why not add AWeber to your site and start building some email lists and sending newsletters? During my regular job, the extent of my email experience lies primarily in advertising on second-tier email search engine AdKnowledge. The beauty of my side business is it’s taken my email knowledge to the next level, allowing me to harvest email lists, craft newsletters, and learn new tricks to extract more value form my web properties while rewarding my visitors with the best experience ever.
I Even Learned PR
You’ve already got the point, but I really want to drive it home. I have had the great opportunity to write and publish press releases for my websites, leveraging PRWeb. This is something that I simply wouldn’t have time for during my regular job where I’m heavily focused on pay per click. Because of my side business, I’ve gained valuable skills in SEO, Email Marketing, and PR, making me a very well rounded marketer. All of these skills have directly translated into higher quality output during my regular job, better intuition and judgment, a strong ability to manage people, while positioning myself for the VP of marketing role one day. It worked out perfectly because I always kept the context that my corporate job is my first priority and that I need to schedule and balance my activities carefully.
Disclaimer: Please Don’t Lose Sight of Your Primary Job
Here’s the big risk: You love your side business so much that it takes away from your regular job. It can take away in several ways. First, you may find yourself staying up too late, compromising your sleep. Second, you may find yourself thinking (or even worrying) about your business during work hours. Third, you may find yourself losing interest in your regular job because you like your side business more. This is where maturity comes in. You need to be mature and stay focused on your corporate career. You need to have the perspective to understand where the majority of your money is coming from and allocate time and mind share appropriately. You need to do what is right. If you’re mature about things and able to balance these risks with the rewards, I highly recommend starting a small business on the side.
Who knows, one day your small business may become your exit strategy. You may get to the director or VP level and then decide it’s time to make it on your own. This is all great stuff. In the short run, be mature about things and leverage your knowledge to do an even better job at work. You owe it to your employer and yourself to do the best job possible. Also, please remember, not all employers allow side businesses. Be open with your boss about things. Come up with a strategy to make it work. Perhaps you can make it your hobby to launch a site or two on the side, but not a “side business”. It’s all about perspective and following the rules. The equity value of integrity and reputation will pay dividends your entire life!
Image of Moonlighting © iStockPhoto – HelleM
Eric | My 4-Hour Workweek says
Ian, as someone not in the PPC/SEM/SEO field, I’m extremely jealous of the knowledge you’ve accumulated through your job and side business. I’ve been tinkering with affiliate sites, PPC with CPA offers, and e-mail marketing, but I haven’t yet found anything REALLY successful. I’m not losing money, but I’m not making much either. I haven’t gotten through all your posts yet (most I’ve read so far discuss your career, which is great), so hopefully I’ll find a few gems that help me out. 🙂
Dino Vedo says
So I must ask, why not quit your salary job? I understand you learned a lot from it, but I’d think that you can use this knowledge and go solo. Ofcourse, thats assuming your making around 5 digits per month with your own sites right now, since I don’t really know anything about your income streams….
Anyways, to me personally, I’d hate to work for someone. Not only that, but waking up every morning and doing something for someone else when I know I can do it myself and make more money in doing so…
Profit Addiction says
Moonlighting can be difficult and catch you off guard sometimes. When I was going to school I was working extremely hard on my PPC campaigns and websites. I found myself only getting 3-5 hours of sleep sometimes because I would just lose track of time!
I’ve since realized it’s more about balance and using your time wisely.
Thanks for the question. What can I say, I love my job! 🙂 I couldn’t imagine leaving my job for quite a few reasons. I’ll highlight just a few of them. First and foremost, I’m a huge fan of people management. I manage an awesome team and thoroughly enjoy growing careers. Above and beyond the money, I love helping people. Second, I’m a big fan of investing. Staying in the corporate game gives me a great way to invest (via stock options) in private and public companies. Third, I love data and big budgets. The campaigns my team manages are infinitely complex and the budgets are unreal. That level of excitement cannot be replicated any other way. Fourth, I want to be a CMO or even CEO one day at a large public company. It’s my dream and I guess I’m just a corporate guy. Fifth, this career trajectory is fast-paced and it’s been truly amazing. I also have an entrepreneurial streak and enjoy leveraging it both in my corporate career but also in my spare time with this blog. In my opinion, PPC is a career like none other! That said, I do have all the respect in the world for those who choose the pure entrepreneurial route. It’s another great option.
All the best,
Thank you so much for the comment and kind words! I truly appreciate it. I have been extremely fortunate stumbling into this amazing career path. 🙂 I sincerely hope my blog helps and please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions.
All the best,
PS – I can’t wait to check out your blog. I’m a huge fan of passive income!
Profit Addiction says
Ian, your comment to Dino is definitely the minority from what I have been seeing. Most people (mainly affiliates) have the mindset that they want to do their own thing and have as much control as possible. I think you are one of the first I have read that actually enjoy the idea of having a salary based job as well.
Good for you!