Horses are an expensive hobby (read The Real Cost of Owning a Horse to see how much I spend on my horses each month). No matter what percentage of my budget my horses use, I am happy I have them. They keep me sane, they keep me active, and most important, they keep me grounded in reality. I spent 16 years in Montana where wages were low and cost of living was high, so I became an expert at finding ways outside of my regular job to fund my horse habit. These three side hustles are the most lucrative ways I boost my income.
Start a Blog
From 2010 until 2013, I owned a horse blanket repair business. Nine years ago, I knew a lot less about e-commerce. A friend and fellow business owner mentioned to me that I should start a blog. My response back then was, “Why?” I needed to focus on activities that made my business money. What I did not realize back then was that blogs DO make money.
So, how does a blog fund your horse habit? I make money with my blog three ways.
First, by boosting my Google rankings. This is the most important and least mentioned perk of having a blog. Google gives priority to regularly updated websites. So, the more you blog, the faster your website moves up the Google rankings until you have that coveted first-page position. If you have a business, a blog is ESSENTIAL. I blog because I love to write, but I also blog because I want people to find High Plains Arena, visit my facility, and choose me for their horse boarding or their next event. More money in my business equals more money for my horses (especially since they are a tax-deductible business expense!)
Second, with advertising. I use minimal ads on my website because I hate when good content gets lost behind excessive ads. I only use trusted sources (Google AdSense and Pepperjam) so that my website visitors can always safely click the ads without fear of viruses or pornography.
Third, through affiliate marketing. Before I started blogging, I had never heard of affiliate marketing, but it has become a great source of income for me. I earn a small commission any time someone clicks a link on my website and makes a purchase. Those small commissions really add up, and sometimes I even make money in my sleep. Unlike many other bloggers, I ONLY promote products that I have used or quality products made by small businesses that I trust (because when small businesses grow, we all win). Money is nice, but I don’t want to promote junky products. That’s why I use my own photography on my blog, most of the time, with my horse, my dog, or me using the product.
I mastered making money with affiliate marketing through the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing online course. I HIGHLY recommend it for anyone who wants to learn how to make money from their blog. You can learn more or sign up here.
I use Weebly for my website and my blog. I have used Weebly and WordPress (which is what most bloggers promote), and Weebly is WAY easier and has REAL CUSTOMER SERVICE. Like, live people I can talk to by phone or online chat. The platform has worked perfectly for me and gives me more time to focus on my horses versus stumbling through tech issues with WordPress. You can learn more about Weebly here.
Build Sales Funnels
If you sell a product or a service, you need a sales funnel.
Until this past fall when I took Russell Brunson’s One Funnel Away Challenge, I had NO idea what a sales funnel was. Turns out, my business needs one desperately. Remember the giveaway I did right before Christmas? That was a sales funnel! More giveaways are coming in 2019 along with my new signature program (stay tuned for details!) and they will all take you through a sales funnel.
If you do not have a product or service of your own, you can promote other people’s products with affiliate marketing and run your customers through your sales funnels. Then you don’t have to worry about importing product from overseas or finding a place to store it, hoping you sell it all. Many companies, especially small businesses, are willing to dropship to your customers. They win, you win, and your customer gets an AMAZING product.
I use Clickfunnels for my sales funnels and I highly recommend them. Again, like Weebly, they have great customer service. Clickfunnels is based in Boise and so nice to work with. You can learn more about them here.
Want to know more about sales funnels? Russell Brunson literally wrote the book (actually multiple books) about sales funnels. He can explain it far better than I can. If you want to know more about mastering sales funnels, I recommend reading:
Dot Com Secrets (get it here)
Expert Secrets (get it here)
Funnel Hacker Cookbook (get it here)
Marketing Secrets Black Book (get it here)
These are physical books you can hold in your hand and Russell gives them away for FREE when you use my links above.
Money Saved is Money Earned
I am frugal, so I love a good deal. When I lived in Montana, I did most of my shopping online since decent stores were two hours away. I discovered Ebates four years ago and it has given me real cash back for the items I was going to buy anyway – even my horse-related items. I love getting real money back. I used to forget to go to Ebates first and click through to the online store I wanted to shop at, so I added the Firefox browser extension, and Ebates reminds me any time I go to a website that I can earn cash back. All I have to do is click “Activate.” You can learn more about Ebates and sign up here.
The other app that gives me real cash back is Ibotta. I started using Ibotta sometime around 2012 and, while I have to be conscious of buying items with rebates, it does give me a fair amount of cash back when I remember to do so. All I have to do is scroll through the available rebates, select what I bought, and take a picture of my receipt. I try to look at which items have rebates before I go to the store, because I will select the brand with the rebate every time. You can learn more about Ibotta and sign up here.
After you have been shopping, do you ever read your receipt? If not, you are missing out on more savings. Most retailers have some sort of offer on their receipts if you perform a small action like filling out a survey. My local grocery store is a Fry’s (Kroger), and by filling out their survey and entering my receipt number, I earn 50 bonus fuel points. When I reach 100 points, I get $0.10 off per gallon of gas. I earn one point for every dollar I spend in the store, so combined with the extra points I earn for filling out the survey, I often save $0.40 to $0.50 per gallon every time I fill my pickup.
Having my horses is priceless but having extra money to fund my horse habit alleviates the financial strain from having more mouths to feed. Ecommerce is constantly growing and evolving, and new ways to make money online and in the physical world open every day, so opportunities are endless for equestrians who need to make extra money. The only limitation is yourself.
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Welcome! I've been a freelance writer since 2002 and have numerous horse-related articles published in print and online publications. I have a Bachelor of Science degree from Rocky Mountain College with a major in Equestrian Studies and a minor in Business Management. My current business ventures include High Plains Arena and real estate investing.