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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Historic Day and More On Multiple Income Streams

First a little note:  This was originally intended on being published on April 19th.  Well, life interceded in my plans, and it's getting posted today.  Still, I want to publish the "preamble" of sorts.
In my opinion, today is the single most important day in American history.  On this day in 1775, "The shot heard 'round the world" was fired in Lexington, Massachusetts, and the American Revolution was on!   They made it official in July of the following year.
Tyrants should take note that the line in the sand that was crossed was over gun control.  The British were on their way to abscond with the the patriot's weapons in Concord.  The line was drawn in the first place over taxes, thievery, brutish behavior, and the destruction of the inalienable rights of the citizens. 
I'm just sayin'....

In the last post, I talked a bit about using ebay as an additional income stream.  Follow some rules, and you can have a nice chunk o' cashflow each year.

Today, I want to address royalties.  What exactly am I talking about?

Well, royalties are payments for something that you do once, and get paid when other people use or gain benefit from whatever it is that you produced.

A common item is royalties for actors and musicians.  Act in a movie or TV show, or write or record a song, and you get paid a little bit of money any time your work is seen or heard.

You've also got things like inventions.  Patent a better mousetrap, license the rights to your design, and you get paid for every mousetrap that is produced.

An insurance salesman gets a royalty commission each year when you re-up your policy.

Work once, get paid for a lifetime.

I recently read an article where they discussed how Don McLean gets paid over $300,000 a year for writing and recording "American Pie" in 1971!

So, you may be thinking, "Chief, holy crap!  I'm no song writer or inventor.  You're barking up the wrong tree on this one".

Maybe.  Maybe not.  If that's your attitude, go change the oil in the french fry cooker.

You've just got to come up with a better - or more efficient - mousetrap.

Technology today allows anyone with a laptop, some inexpensive software, a camera and a website to become a "media mogul".  If you can teach someone how to do something better, faster and cheaper, you might have a winner.

Lots of people have Youtube channels on a million different topics.  You can actually make some pretty scary money with a hot Youtube channel,   You can make upwards of $100,000 per year, but you need to put out 20 videos a week!

That sounds too much like work to me!

In that model, you're giving away your content, and getting paid by advertisers.  Think "broadcast TV".  You need constant fresh content to keep the viewers coming back for more.

What I'm talking about is spending some quality time developing quality content that people are willing to pay for once.  More along the lines of producing a great movie or printing a book, as opposed to a weekly sitcom.


So you've got to have a niche - your special skill or knowledge that can be taught to others - for a price.

You can get paid in two ways.  First, if you've got a site set up that includes a merchant processing account for payments (stupid easy these days), since you are the writer (who usually only gets the royalties from sales) AND the publisher, you get paid for both jobs.  But, as the publisher, you're also responsible for all advertising and operating expenses.

The second way is you can subscribe to services like Clickbank where other websites advertise your product, and they get a large chunk of the sales proceeds.  Since they're paying for the advertising and use of their site (and traffic count) they will many times be paid up to 75% of the sale, and you get the 25% royalty.  Not a bad gig - the folks that sign up to sell your stuff can reach millions of potential customers.

I'll be doing both on my next project.  I've been on the "get paid for having their product on your site" side of the equation, and it works very well.

OK, your product has got to fill one or more of these human needs and desires (obviously more is better):
  1. Save me time or effort (efficiency)
  2. Make or save me money (monetary gain)
  3. Make me safe and secure (safety)
  4. Make me cool or more desirable to others (vanity)
  5. Teach me a skill or craft (how-to)
  6. Explain something to me in detail (educate)
  7. Titillate me (vice)
Before you get started with your epic training or how-to video series or book, check out the marketplace.  Here's what you want to find:

1.  Is there competition?  I hope so - this is a good thing.  It is very rare that you're going to be the sole subject master on a product or idea that also has a market you can make a buck on.  For instance, you may want to teach people how to make beer.  There are lots of sites and experts on this topic - which indicates a healthy potential market.  The question is, what do you bring to the table that makes your technique different enough for people to pay for it?

2.  Is it legal?  While this type of subject usually has a disclaimer on the materials stating, "for educational purposes only", you may be leaving yourself open for some scratchin' and sniffin' by the authorities.  If you've got a way to save people taxes that is a wee bit iffy, you might be OK.  Teach them how to make an explosive device from household goods, and there WILL be a knock on your door!

3.  Is it ethical?  Obviously, that's a personal call.  I've stated before that products and services about safety, money and vice will always find a market.  Do you want to sell porn?  It makes tons of money, but I'd never even consider it.  Teach someone how to grow better marijuana?  Oh hell yes!  I don't smoke weed (I've tried it AND inhaled, and it absolutely sucks!) but I believe that morally, you have the right to put whatever you want in your own body.  I own me!  Others disagree.  Check your own moral compass.

4.  Along the lines of the competition question, is anyone else making money doing something similar to what you want to do?  Using our beer making example, if I do an online search for, "beer making videos", I get a butt-load of free info, and a smattering of paid sites.  I clicked a couple of them and I can see what they're selling and how they're pricing their items.  Are any of these sites doing exactly what you're doing?  Do you have a way to spin (market) YOUR offering to get people to buy YOUR product?


Finally, you must make your product difficult to copy - as in "burning another copy" and giving it to your friends.  While it is impossible to stop all copying, you can make it much more difficult.

With printed material, you have two options:

Hardcover book
Kindle e-book

If you expect to make any kind of money, you can't do it with a PDF formatted book.  Yes, it's the easiest to make, and also the easiest to copy.  I can buy one copy, and send an email to a thousand of my closest friends with it as an attachment.

Hardcover books make producing copies much more difficult and expensive.  Kindle and similar readers have copy protect safeguards that I've yet to find a way around (and I've tried!).

Publishing books on Amazon is very easy, you just have to work to make sure the formatting is done well.  There are tons of helpful sites that can walk you through how to do this.

With video material, you also have two options:

Subscription Online videos

With DVDs, you must ensure the Copy Protection has been added to the disc to thwart copying.  Obviously, it can still be copied - by shooting a video from the video showing on the TV set - but the quality is crappy, and it's a pain in the butt.

With the online videos, you set up a password protected site, and disable the "copy" function.  Again, people can get around that by sharing passwords, or doing copies of the screen like with DVDs,  All you can do is to make it more difficult for them.


My final thoughts on this subject will be on marketing.  Through a lot of trial, error and mis-spent money, I've got somewhat of a clue as to what works and what doesn't.  I'll share those thoughts in the next post.

Now go on!  Get crankin' on that next idea that will slay the world!

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Copyright 2016 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Multiple Streams Of Income

Been hip deep in a mess o' mess, but it's done.  I'll write an article sometime in the future about the pluses and minuses of business partners.  I had two of them.  Thank God I had a good one I love working with, and we're going to move our precious metals business forward.  Again.

Speaking of money, I've written often about the concept of multiple streams of income.  You must always assume one or more of your income streams will go dry (like getting fired or laid off from your job).  The monthly bills don't give a damn about that.  They still want to get paid.

My household currently has 4 income streams.  One of them could independently pay for all of our monthly bills.  The second one would come close by itself.  It would be tight, but we'd make it.  The other two are in their infancy, but each has the ability in the future to cover our bills.

And that's the idea:  Every income stream pays ALL of your bills.  The beauty of this is, if some of them are churning money that you don't need to spend, you roll it back into other investments to provide yet another stream of income.

A couple of ideas for ya....

Ebay.  People bitch and moan about the fees between them and Paypal, but if you look closely, where else could you get a national audience to sell your stuff for such a low cost?

Here's a tip:  To save yourself some tax dollars, DO NOT set up your site as a business site.  If you do, you WILL get lower seller fees (usually) but you'll also get an IRS 1099 form at the end of the year.  Pay up, bitches!

If you set it up as a personal site, AND you don't sell more than 200 items totaling $20,000 a year (verify this for yourself first on the ebay and Paypal sites), you don't get the 1099 (for now).

Tax free cashflow, boys and girls.

Ebay/Paypal will nick you for about 13% of your sales in their various fees, and obviously, since you're not a business, you can't have any business expenses, including the Cost of Goods sold.  You're selling your personal stuff.  So, you need to make sure you're selling items with sufficient profit margin to make the math work for you.

Lastly, with regards to the 1099 rules, the $20,000 is a hard and fast number.  Cross over it, and you're 1099'd.  You have a bit more flexibility on the item count.  The 200 is for the number of sales/auctions that are completed.

For instance, if you're selling knives, sell them in a bundle of 6 knives (1 sale), not one at a time (6 sales).  You'll also save a butt-load on shipping as well by bundling your sale items.

If you're new to selling on ebay, start slowly.  The payments from your first few sales are held in a "pending" status for a couple of weeks while ebay monitors your performance.

And make sure there is a market for what you're thinking of selling!  Again, let's say you want to sell hunting knives.  Enter "hunting knives" into the search box at the top of the page.  You'll get a listing of everything on ebay that meets that criteria.  Don't get happy just yet on the riches you'll be making.

Click the "Advanced" link at the top of the page.  You'll be taken to a page with a bunch of check boxes.  Check the one that says, "Sold Listings" and hit the search button.

You'll now get a listing of hunting knives that actually sold, and what they sold for.  That's all that matters.  People can ask a million dollars for a knife, but if buyers will only pay 10 bucks, that's your market price.  Check out the ones that are similar to the style you're going to sell.  If the math works, get at it.

Do the successful sellers charge for shipping or not?  What are the key words and page styles used by the sellers with lots of positive feedback scores?  Copy the successful stores - businesses and private alike.  Don't reinvent the wheel.

If the math doesn't work, find something else to sell.

One last thing about ebay:  If a dispute occurs over an item, their default position is to side with the buyer.  As a seller, you need to make sure your description and pictures accurately depict the items being sold.  If not, the buyer can weasel out of the deal, and in certain circumstances, you can be forced to refund their cost to ship it back to you!

Seriously, don't sugar coat the condition of the items you're selling.  It'll bite you in the butt.

Tomorrow, I've got a post lined up on a new income stream I'm working on:  Royalties.  Yeah, they're not just for movie and TV stars any more!

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Copyright 2016 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.