How to Overwork Yourself and Earn an Extra $1,500 Every Month

Ryan Ong



So you want to earn $1,500+ in side-income. Good news: the following method is tried and tested. Most of the people who follow this system will make $1,500+ on the side. Sometimes, they even manage to keep the panic attacks down to four a week. So if you absolutely must turbocharge your earnings, at any price, then give this a shot:


Explicit Warning

Before we even go into this, I want to make three things clear:

  • This Will Disrupt Your Lifestyle – Will it interfere with your piano practice? Will it cost you time with your significant other? Does it mean you’ll start defining “3 am” as “an early night”? Yes. Yes it will do all that, and it will swallow your social life like a free steak in a homeless shelter. Get ready.
  • This May Not Be Sustainable – Most people who do this are not able to keep it up, not for more than a year. So do it to accumulate cash for a specific goal, but don’t count on it as perpetual income.
  • It Will Not Happen By Tomorrow – This method takes months to get off the ground. You are not going to be able to go home, read this, and bang out a viable business plan by 10pm.


Step 1: Poke Around to Get Some Ideas

Time Required: Around 2 Hours

Trawl your Facebook, your Twitter, and neighbourhood community centres. Write down the most common needs / complaints / requests, etc. that you come across. Once you’re ready, go back and brainstorm possible income-generators.

Typical examples:

  • Administrative work
  • Cleaning work (don’t be too proud to consider it)
  • Courier services
  • Photoshop tasks

Don’t worry about what your individual talents are, or about finding something linked to your career. The trick to side-income is to focus strictly on money (the acquiring of). Just do what people are immediately willing to pay you for.


cartoon of a sleepless person
“I’ll be a one-man phone chat service for insomniacs. What could possibly go wrong with that?”


Now write down as many ideas as you can for making money, based on the common needs you saw. These are your business ideas. Then go to step 2.


Step 2: Make a List of Prospective Clients

Time Required: Approx. Two Weeks

Write down a list of 50 prospective clients.

Holy crap, FIFTY,” you exclaim. “Fifty is a lot of people. Fifty is more than the problems my company’s tech support can solve in a whole year, over at ****tel.”

Take it easy. You have more options than you think.

Get out your phone, and check the contacts list. Then check your Facebook friends, Pinterest followers, WoW Guild, etc. Write all their names down.

Then talk to your mum, dad, siblings, etc. and write down the names of their friends too. I don’t care if you only know them as “that couple mum buys goreng pisang from“, or if they’re relatives so distant your only common ancestor is Adam.


cab driver
“Sorry, the seat belt’s a bit broken. By the way, have I mentioned I sell insurance part-time?”


Write them down, along with their contact details. It’s not annoying to do, if you pretend you’re some kind of undercover hitman.

If you lack anyone’s contact details, fill in those details as “to-be-determined” (TBD). Once you reach 50 people, ask around until you fill in all the TBD details.


Step 3: Work Out Your Fee and Goal

Time Required: A Couple of Minutes

Record how many hours you can spend on building your side-income. That will tell you how much you need to charge per hour, in order to meet your target of $1,500+.  Speaking of hours, I do hope you’re ready to sacrifice Saturday, Sunday, or both.

You could aim for less money, but there’s a good reason you want $1,500+. This amount is just right for :

  • Making most major loan repayments
  • Making enough to cover meals for a family
  • Investing in something substantial (e.g. one lot of shares)

If your fees will not reach $1,500 a month, reconsider the idea. It probably isn’t worth the time and effort.

Finally, work out how much money you want to accumulate before you quit. Remember, chances are high that you can’t sustain both the side-income and your main job forever.


Blood pressure
Elegant solution: For any client, my fee per hour will be equal to my blood pressure reading.


Step 4: Find the First Paying Customer

Time Required: Highly Variable, Often a Month

This is going to be a pain. But you’ll have to sit down, and call everyone on your list of prospective clients. Tell them your business idea, and ask if they (1) need it, (2) will pay you, or (3) know someone who will pay you for it.

While you’re at it, take notes. How many people said they needed your service (whether or not they bought)? How many people said it was a good idea? How many used negative descriptors, like “no one needs this”, “not worth the fee”, or “HAHAhahaha”?

Check these opinions against your list of 50 prospects. You may have something viable, if at least seven of the 50 say they need the service, or will consider paying you.

Otherwise, pick another idea on the list and start again.

Keep going until you get your first paying customer.


Step 5: Get Feedback from the First Customer

Time Required: A Few Minutes

The first paying customer is the most important. Remember to find out the following from him/her:

  • Would she pay you for the same service again?
  • Is your fee too high?
  • How could you improve your service?

Most importantly, always ask the customer to refer you to someone else. You’ll find that, if one person’s willing to pay you for something, others in that person’s social circle will probably do the same.

For example, if someone pays you to convert musical scores to guitar tabs, chances are she has other musician friends who also will.

Based on feedback from the first customer, fine tune your offering. This should help find the subsequent customer, and so forth.


People talking
“Everything about your service is great. Just make the payment optional.”


Step 6: Social Media and Marketing

Time Required: About a Month to Set Up, then Around 7 Hours a Week to Maintain

You only start worrying about a website, YouTube channel, Google adwords etc. after you’ve acquired your first paying customers. Three to five paying customers is a good sign to get started.

Why is this so far down the list? Easy:

Until you’re fairly sure you’ll be paid for something, it’s a waste of time and money to set all that crap up. Remember that, every time an idea doesn’t work, you’ll be moving down the list to try another one. Wait till you’ve found an idea that isn’t a dud, before you start marketing.

For more on cheap, effective ways to market yourself, follow us on Facebook.


Step 7: Steadily Raise Income While Working to Death

By the time you’re at this step, you clearly have a viable side-business.

But you still won’t be rolling the dough, not yet. Depending on your service, it can take anywhere from weeks to half a year before you’re consistently making $1,500+. You’ll also see expenses rising as you get more customers: You may be traveling more, buying more materials, spending more on your site, etc.

Above all, you’ll realize you’re doing an insane amount of work. You should fully expect to pull all-nighters once or twice a week, to catch up with things from the office. You’re also going to miss those after-work activities, like visits to the gym, a late night movie, etc.


Piles of work
But I need another side-project. Then I might actually die and get some rest.


Just remember: when you hit your goal, or when your career starts to suffer, stop.

I realize that almost every step described here is painful and inconvenient. If you thought it wouldn’t be, you must not have read the title too well. But if you get off your chair and follow the steps, I assure you, this will work. It’s just a question of how much of it you can take.


Have you ever taken on a side-project and worked yourself to near-death? Share your experience here! We will try and sympathise.

Image Credits:
bark,, tallkev, quinn.anya, m.brochh, Alan Cleaver

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Ryan Ong

I was a freelance writer for over a decade, and covered topics from music to super-contagious foot diseases. I took this job because I believe financial news should be accessible and fun to read. Also, because the assignments don't involve shouting teenagers and debilitating plagues.