Graham Cochrane: 3 Steps To Starting A Side Business When You’re Crazy Busy

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Graham Cochrane is a YouTuber and Business Coach who helps people build passive income style businesses. Download his free 30 Day No Hustle Business Plan and go from zero audience to income in just 4 weeks.

Hey, friend - Nancy here! I just wanted to introduce my friend Graham and explain why I’m excited to have him as a guest on my blog. Graham is my business coach, and he is full of wisdom. He has spoken so much life over me and has really given me some helpful tools for success in my business, especially when it comes to online education. I call him my “tiny business coach in my inbox” - ha! Not only does he coach me one on one, but his newsletter is really helpful on a weekly basis. He always has such quality things to say! He’s married to the amazing Shay of Social Squares, and they have two precious little girls. So when he had the idea to guest post here, I was thrilled! I hope you enjoy “3 Steps to creating a side Business when you’re Crazy Busy.” It’s good stuff.


What would an extra $500 to $1,000 a month do for your world?

For most of us, that is game changing money.

You could pay off debt faster, save for your kids’ college, give more to your church, or even replace a car with cash within a year!

Or maybe you’ve got all those financial goals covered but you’d just love to LIVE a bit more in the here and now. Maybe take a much needed vacation or have money for a regular date night (babysitters ain’t cheap these days!)

Whatever the reason - having a side business that could generate extra income like that might be a dream for you.

But for many of us it remains only that, a dream.

That’s because in order to have a business that makes $500, $1000, or even $4000 a month requires time - and that is unfortunately in short supply for the majority of us!

Work, school, kids, marriage, church, friends, community, exercise, eating, sleeping - it all takes time!

Minimum Effective Dose

So how in the world does a normal, crazy busy person ACTUALLY get that awesome income producing side business going?!

Three words: Minimum Effective Dose.

Since we don’t have time to do “all the things” we only want to do the minimum that is required to get results.

Nothing more. Nothing less.

Just like with exercise, you can work out everyday and get great results. But if you are strategic you can workout just two times a week for only 20 minutes and get 80% of the results!

There is a minimum effective dose for exercise - and there is for business as well.

And as someone who helps people turn their knowledge, skills, and experience into online businesses I’ve discovered a simple 3 step process to starting a business from nothing and turning it into a dependable income stream.

And the best part? You can do this in just 30 minutes a day!

Step 1 - Find the intersection of passion and value

A lot of business advice floating around on Instagram memes tells you to just do what you love and the money will come.

Unfortunately, the money won’t come.

Here’s the dirty little secret - no one gets paid just to do what they love, what they love has to offer immense value to other people!

That’s what business is ultimately all about: adding value to people or serving them.

But that doesn’t mean we won’t START with what you love and are good at.

In fact, your first step is to brainstorm a list of things you like to do, topics you have massive interest in, and skills/talents that you are really good at.

Some good questions to ask to help you create this list are:

  • What comes easy to me?

  • What do people say that I’m good at?

  • What have I helped people do in the past?

  • If I had a Saturday afternoon completely free, what would I spend hours reading (or listening to podcasts) about?

Now brainstorm which of those passions, skills, and knowledge would actually be valuable to other people.

And what people specifically would find them valuable?

This requires research.

But don’t let the word “research” scare you.

I hated research projects in school. This is something totally different and more fun.

In fact, you already do this every day: Talk to people :-)

Start with social media, your family, and friends.

Simply ask two questions relating to each topic you’re considering:

  1. What is your biggest hope or dream related to ____ ?

  2. What is your current biggest frustration related to ____ ?

The “blank” in those questions is whichever topic or niche or interest you decided was potentially valuable to other people.

Clearly we don’t know yet if it is valuable to people or what about it might be valuable. We are guessing and then trying to back those guesses up with data (i.e. what people really say and think).

This process can take a while. So be patient, make it a game, and treat it like important work.

Spend the next few weeks (or months if need be) researching your topic ideas until you find the one that seems to garner the most engagement with people.

Again, spend 30 minutes a day on this. No more. No less.

Once you’ve narrowed down your topic of choice you can safely move on to Step 2.

Step 2 - Become a content creator

Want to know one of the most powerful truths of business?

Without an audience nothing is possible. With an audience, ANYTHING is possible.

It really is that simple. No matter how good of a product or service you have is, it matters little if you don’t have anyone to sell it to.

You need a captive audience to check out what you might have to offer (more on that in a second).

The good news is that audience building (i.e. getting people’s attention) is easier than ever before!

Thanks to the Internet and social media this is literally the best time in the history of the world to build a business.

So what’s the secret to building an audience? Simple - create content that they want to consume!

Content can be blog posts, podcasts, videos, or even social media posts. They can be information, entertainment, or even “behind the scenes” of your life.

Tens of thousands of businesses are literally built on all of those types of content so create the kind of content you feel most comfortable with.

But how you create content is critical.

The two keys to content creation are value and consistency.  

Always ask yourself, “Would my audience find this valuable?” and then commit to a consistent rhythm of content output.

This doesn’t mean you have to create new content every day. Shoot for once a week at minimum.

Again - time is short, so don’t get caught up in making the most PERFECT piece of content.

If you have 30 minutes a day, then use that to work on your weekly blog post, video, or podcast episode. Remember - 30 minutes a day, 6 days a week is 3 hours.

That’s plenty of time to create one piece of valuable content.

But I’ll be upfront with you - this method takes time.

This truly is a LONG game but there are two huge benefits to being a content creator:

  1. You can build an audience of loyal fans who love everything you do

  2. You build credibility in the marketplace.

When I started The Recording Revolution in 2009, no one knew who I was.

Now that I have hundreds of thousands of readers, viewers, and subscribers I have a lot of credibility in the industry, which has opened many doors.

You might even get job offers as a result of your blog or channel! All because good content creates credibility for you.

But just being a content creator doesn’t mean you’ll make money. There’s one final step to turn what could be viewed as a hobby into an actual business.

Step 3 - Monetize Your Audience

Finally let’s start talking about making money!

Most business coaching or training starts here, at step 3. They want to tell you all the ways to make money in your business.

And I get why - because it’s the part most people want to know about! It’s exciting, sexy, and motivating!

But none of these monetization models will help you if you don’t have an audience, and you can’t build an audience unless you provide value.

Hence why you must do steps 1 and 2 before getting to step 3.

Now I want to share with you six monetization models you can follow for your businesses. They all work and they all have their strengths.

Once you have an audience the two easiest ways to monetize are through advertising and affiliate marketing.


Ads can be as simple as flipping the “monetization switch” on your YouTube channel or running Google adsense banners on your blog.

Or you could reach out to a brand you love and make them the sponsor of your podcast (assuming you have a sizeable relevant audience).

Affiliate marketing is pretty easy too. If you talk about certain products or recommend books, you can use Amazon affiliate links to get paid anytime someone clicks on that link and buys the recommended product.

No work involved, just add the links to your content where relevant.

The downside to both of these models though  is that you won’t make a lot of money until you have a TON of web traffic and a big audience.


Another successful model is a crowdfunding platform like Patreon.

Patreon is like Kickstarter or GoFundMe but on a monthly, ongoing basis.

Content creators can have their fans pledge to give them $1, $5, or any amount per video or per month as a form of ongoing support.

In exchange content creators usually give their patrons exclusive content, shoutouts on videos, or access via live Q&As.

One of my friends Peter Hollens (a singer and YouTube cover artist) makes the majority of his living from Pateron.

If you make cool content and people love it, they can easily support you and you can get paid to keep doing what you’re doing.

Consulting & Service Based

Two classic monetization models are offering a service or consulting.

If you have a loyal audience, then you can charge a premium to offer them a direct service or consulting - for two reasons:

  1. they already know, trust, and like you

  2. you’ve proven to them that you can help them.

I’m a great example of this.

When I launched to start teaching people how to make money online and grow their businesses I immediately started getting requests for one-on-one coaching.

And I don’t formally offer coaching!

But people started learning from me, saw my credibility, and wanted more help.

The Holy Grail - Products

Now the sixth and final model is the holy grail of monetization (and my personal favorite): products.

This is because with a product you no longer trade your time for money.

There’s a limit to how many clients you can take and how much you can charge, but there’s no limit to how much product you can sell.

Products could be physical or digital, expensive or affordable. Just as long as they are what your audience finds valuable.

I personally make my living doing a combination of all 6 of these monetization models!

Launch Your Online Business In 30 Days. No Hustle Required.

Now if that seems like a lot, don’t get overwhelmed.

At its core, there are only three things you need to start your business:

  1. Find out what people find valuable

  2. Create free content to build an audience

  3. Monetize that audience

And you know what? If you’re strategic you could get this business off the ground and start earning money  in just 30 days!

No joke.

I’ve put together a simple guide called my 30 Day No-Hustle Business Plan that maps out exactly how to pull this off - even if you’re short on time.

In this action packed PDF guide you’ll discover:

  • A 4 week step-by-step plan to launch your own online business without the #hustle (even if you're crazy busy)

  • Detailed checklists that tell you exactly what simple (and free) tools to use

  • A proven framework for making your first $500 to your first $500,000 (once you build the system you can easily scale up!)

In this easy to read PDF guide you’ll discover a 4 Week Plan to go from no audience to making money– even if you have no clue what your product or service could be!

And don’t worry – you won’t be overloaded with a bunch of knowledge and no idea how to implement it.

In this training I give you simple checklists with action steps that you can take immediately!

You truly can create a dependable income stream on the side, in your actual busy life, and have fun doing it.

I’m living proof of it!