It has been more than a month since I last started this challenge for myself. Time really does fly when you’re busy! In the Monopaulize challenge, I had set out to challenge myself to take action, and materialize what I’ve been wanting to do for about a year now; that is to generate alternate streams of passive income. In the beginning of July 2015, I created Monopaulize.com so that I could post daily updates on the challenge to help keep me accountable and on track. During the course of July (and some parts of August), I have provided a total of 35 updates (35 days) which documented what I did each and every one of those days, goals for the next day, lessons learnt, resources committed as well as challenges faced.
Before we dig in any deeper, here is a recap on the Monopaulize challenge and some background information.
Background – Why Monopaulize Challenge and What Is It?
The Monopaulize Challenge was an idea I came up with in late June 2015. By this time, I had already been in corporate America for a year and 3 months. Since June 2014, I came to realize how different a 9-5 job actually is when compared to what I thought it would be. My workday schedule would be something like this:
6:00 am – Get out of bed (most of the time, after snoozing my alarm for 2-3 times) and get ready for work.
6:45 am – Leave home so I can get to work by 8 am.
8:00 am – Work with an hour of lunch break
5:00 pm – Leave the office
6:30 pm – Reach home and unwind
7:00 pm – Prepare, have dinner and clean up
8:30 pm – Watch some TV/do some reading/surf the interwebs
11:00 pm – Go to bed
This would be my routine for most of the weekdays that I work. Needless to say, I quickly got bored and exhausted. Some might call it impatient, but deep down, I felt like I wasn’t making any progress in life. This was what triggered me to start looking for other things to do. One of the things that quickly came to mind was building websites as I do have some experience in it from the past. More importantly for me was the fact that online businesses can be ran from anywhere in the world, as long as I had a computer and an internet connection.
Long story short, I scoured any resource I could find about building a profitable business online and to my relief, found that I wasn’t the only one with the same mindset. Far from it actually; there were many other blogs and websites created by like-minded individuals. Reading other blogs and listening to tons of podcasts were both great in helping me shift my mindset, but at the end of the day, I took minimal action. And as we all know (or rather should know), ideas and thoughts remain ideas and thoughts until something is done to materialize them.
That being said, I did take action in July 2014, but was not held accountable for my actions. I was gung ho about working on my side project for one day, and halfhearted the next. For those of you who are familiar with math terms, I always tell people that my motivation level looks something like a sine wave….up, down, up down.
Fast forward to June 2015, after spending countless hours learning about online businesses, I decided that I needed to come up with something to challenge myself. Hence, the Monopaulize Challenge, a challenge where I monopolize (take control of) myself.
On the grand scheme of things, why am I doing this?
Short Term Goals
In the short term, 1 year timeline, my goal is to generate an income sufficient enough for me to pay for monthly travel expenses. It doesn’t have to be international travel, even a trip out of state for the weekend counts. I plan to do this at least once a month as I’ve always envisioned myself travelling around the world and would like to start pursuing this “interest” of mine.
What is the exact amount of income I look to generate from my online businesses? I don’t have a number, but I’d say $500/month would be a good start.
Long Term Goals
Before I get into the details, “long term” for me is at least a 5 year period (or longer). So, in the long run, what I’d really like to do is become geographically and financially independent. I think emphasis must be put on geographical independence as I really don’t see myself doing something from 9 to 5, in the same place, for 5 days a week.
Financial independence/freedom is important, but that can come after geographical independence. If you’re confused what each of these terms mean, geographical independence refers to the ability to work from anywhere else aside from just the office. Financial independence in my books means I don’t have to “work” to earn a paycheck, but rather, have multiple income streams that can replace and exceed my income. Most of these income streams should be passive on my end.
I think I’ll be much more satisfied once I’ve achieved both geographical and financial independence. I’ll be able to travel around the world, while still being able to put efforts into my online businesses, if needed. I can see myself living and working from different countries every 3 months or so. This seems really enticing to me!
If I had enjoyed my day job more, I probably wouldn’t have stated this, but I really feel “trapped” in terms of how I’m trading time for money. I certainly don’t want to wait until I retire to start getting more time to myself. Let’s make this clear though. I’m not saying that my perspective is correct and that everyone should aim to follow this model; rather, it’s just what I think fits my personality well. In fact, many people work in a 9-5 job for over 40 years and are still happy. The point is, everyone is different and there’s no right or wrong.
What is This Challenge?
Now onto the details of the challenge. The challenge was for me to build 3 niche sites from ground up, without outsourcing any type of work. In other words, I’ll be doing the keyword research to pick a niche for each site, produce all the content, pick and purchase a domain name for each site, host these sites and publish my self-written content on each site. On top of that, I was supposed to update this blog on a daily basis to keep track of the progress I make each day.
Doesn’t this all seem like so little work? WRONG. It’s actually quite a challenge, especially when I have a 9-5 job. In fact, I was only able to complete and launch 2 niche sites and let’s just say providing daily updates on this blog didn’t turn out as expected. Writing short daily updates was really challenging as I could barely find time to squeeze everything I needed to do in a day in 24 hours.
I’ll be breaking the results of this challenge down to several different sections: resources spent, lessons learned, what was challenging, opportunity costs and finally, the end products.
In doing this challenge, I made sure I put an effort to track the amount of resources – time and money – I spend.
Since I did everything from keyword research to writing and publishing the content myself, my expenses were negligible. I had thought about outsourcing all my content for a single site, however, I didn’t feel ready in spending money to outsource some tasks. Not yet at least.
So my only expenses include domain names, hosting (which I’ve already paid for in the past), LongTail Pro and that’s about it. LongTail Pro is a software I decided to purchase to significantly reduce the amount of time I spend on keyword research. If you’re curious to learn more about why I got LongTail Pro, I’ll be publishing a post on this soon. Stay tuned!
In every single daily update on this blog, I noted down how much time I spent to complete certain specific tasks. For example researching and writing a 1,000 word article usually takes me about 2 hours. In total, I documented spending 135 hours on this challenge, and that’s just the “base” for 2 niche sites as well as updating this blog. Now, that’s a lot of time spent, averaging out to 3.8 hours per day. Moving forward, I’ll need to be smarter in how I get tasks completed, more specifically finding out if I should be outsourcing some work as well as weighing in on the pros and cons.
The dashboard below provides a quick overview of how these hours were spent…as expected, a big portion of that goes into producing content.
Hopefully I’ll be able to move faster as I get more familiarized with different things needed to be done in order to launch a blog.
One thing I try to think about is opportunity costs. For those of you not familiar, this simply means the trade-offs for choosing something over another. While I did learn a ton during this challenge, I also sacrificed many other opportunities to do other things – especially true on Friday nights, when I decide to work on my websites. It’s impossible for me to quantify these costs, but I’m just throwing this idea out there as something you can think about the next time you decide to do something big.
What I’ve Accomplished
Now, onto the crucial part, what have I actually accomplished? I guess it’ll make more sense to list it down based on the two niche sites I launched.
Niche Site #1 (NS1)
- 23,766 words of content
- One infographic
- Main keyword currently ranked #58 in Google!
Niche Site #2 (NS2)
- 15,213 words of content
- One infographic
- One main keyword currently ranked #48 in Google!
This pretty much sums up what I’ve been working from July 1st – August 4th. Doesn’t seem like a whole lot, but I can assure you that it is definitely plenty of work! And something I almost forgot, just in case you’re interested in how much content I wrote for this blog:
- 35 short blog posts
- 10,766 words of content
What I Learnt
Spending 135 hours in a month working on this challenge approximates to having about 3/4 of a full time job…..on top of really having a full time job. SEO strategies, content writing, blog setups, plugins, and sticking to a task until it’s done were merely a few lessons I’ve learnt through this experience. As a whole, there were 3 big lessons I learnt.
This one is big for me as I usually experience paralysis by analysis and end up doing little to nothing. Setting up daily goals really helped me to perform the necessary tasks in order to achieve these goals.
Taking action is not as simple as it sounds like for me. It requires tremendous amount of self-convincing, motivation, discipline, commitment and energy. Making the decision to stay committed and to take actions to achieve your goals is certainly not a switch you can flip easily; I believe it takes quite some time to prepare yourself mentally.
Another quick note is to remember to just take action if you feel really stuck. Why? If you find yourself being stuck on making a decision for a long time, chances are that both choices are equally just as good. Just pick one and stick with it!
Make the Most Out of Your Time
This sounds really cliche, but take a moment to appreciate and realize the time you’ve got on your hands. One of the things you’ll start realizing when you’re swarmed with work is just how important time is. Having daily goals in July made me really think about how I was going to spend everyday. If I knew ahead of time that I’ll be out for the weekend, I made sure I worked extra hard the days prior to that weekend to ensure I’m right on track with my goals. Also, work tends to fill up the amount of time that you have, so be sure to set time limits on doing specific tasks! For example, during this challenge, I set DAILY goals for myself to complete certain specific tasks. It doesn’t have to be daily time limits, it could be weekly or even bi-weekly goals.
Having a Support System
During times when I’m doubting why I’m doing all this, it’s nice to have a “support system,” or in other words, other like-minded people to talk to. I’ve reached out to three very supportive individuals and have gotten really positive feedback from them. The feeling of knowing that others have done what I’m trying to accomplish and that I’m not alone is really encouraging. Of course, make sure you have a “belief system” set up so that you have a clear vision of what you’re trying to accomplish. For me, this is a set of 3 questions I ask myself whenever I feel like giving up. As long as I keep “passing” the test for these 3 questions, I’ll know that I should keep pushing forward.
What was Challenging
Getting Support from Others
Meeting Daily Goals Even When I Have the Time
NS1 and NS2
- Continue adding content till it has about 30 articles.
- Schedule articles such that each website is updated at least once every fortnight.
- Build a following and promote the sites.
- Provide regular updates – at least monthly updates to track my progress.
- Reach out to more like-minded people.
- Continue listening to interesting podcasts to gain more knowledge.
- Figure out a smarter, more efficient way to get tasks done.
- Maintain a better/healthier work-life balance.
All for now! It has been a fun, rewarding and a huge learning experience thus far! I hope you enjoyed reading about my journey so far and if you have anything you’d like to share with me, feel free to drop me a comment or use the contact form on the site! Also, as always, I’d love to hear from you; so feel free to drop me a line anytime!
You can also connect with me via Twitter!