Do it, Do the hustle!

side hustle

What is a side hustle?

At its core, it’s a way to make some extra income on the side of your regular job. Whether you work a 9 to 5 full-time job, are a student, full-time parent or caregiver or a retiree, a side hustle allows you to earn some extra income while following a passion in your spare time.

A side hustle isn’t intended to be your full-time business. For most people who start a side hustle, the goal is to have a little extra income without giving up their full-time paycheque or employee benefits.

Whether you are looking to earn some extra money toward paying off a debt, saving for a trip, or large ticket purchase, it’s important to keep in mind that a side hustle is not just a hobby. The goal is to make money.

So where do you start? If you already know what sort of side hustle you’d like to start, then you’ll want to decide on a domain name. The domain itself can be used for your side hustle email address, website, online store and more.

Of course .com is the classic, the go-to for domains but you do have other options including .shop, .store, .blog, .photos, .design and 100s more.

If you’re sure it’s .com and nothing but .com for you, we have a guide with advice on what to do if the domain name you want is already taken. Next will be to pick the web service that will best suit your side hustle. While there are, literally thousands (millions!) of side hustle options, we’ll focus on some popular types we see here at iwantmyname.

photographer

Photography and related services

Photography is one of the most popular side hustle types we see around here, whether it’s wedding photography, family or baby photos, pet photos or even commercial photography you can do very well with just a few hours a month devoted to it. The ability to set your own schedule and work around your daily responsibilities makes this a fantastic side hustle option for those with even basic skills with photography.

Photo related services are also an option if you’d rather not be the one behind the camera. If you have skills with photo editing software, you can set up a side hustle to edit and retouch photos for both professional and amateur photographers who don’t have the time or the skills themselves.

Other service ideas can include creating or editing photos for Instagram, Pinterest and other social media sites for bloggers and businesses, creating and setting up selfie booths with props for events, or selling your photos through stock photo sites. Using a service such as SmugMug you can even create gifts such as mugs, magnets, keychains and more using your own images.

Domain types (TLDs)that would work well for photographers include .pet, .family, .wedding, .photo, .photos, .photography, .pics, .pictures

Platforms for photo related side hustles include Zenfolio, Adobe Portfolio, 500px, SmugMug, and more, which can all be easily set up to work with your iwantmyname domain with just a few simple clicks.

potter using a pottery wheel

Online shops and ecommerce

A few years ago setting up a retail store would require you to invest thousands of dollars in inventory, rental of your retail space, fixtures and furnishings, signage and more before you could even open the door. Today you can create an online store for only a few dollars a month and without spending a lot of time.

Whether you’re selling something you make yourself or selling products made by others, the options are virtually endless, and your online shop can be making sales 24 hours a day while you work your day job, sleep, play with your kids, or watch the latest series on Netflix.

The most popular domain types we see for ecommerce sites are .shop, .store, .online but you can check our list of 100s of TLDs (domain types) here to see what will work best for your online store.

Platforms for ecommerce or online shops include Shopify, BigCommerce, and Big Cartel, but there are many other services you can set up quickly for your iwantmyname domain a few simple mouse clicks.

dog walker

Services as hustles

There are thousands of side hustle services you can provide so we’ll only list a few service types to get your ideas flowing…

Love animals? Some pet service ideas include pet sitting (in your home or in the pet owner’s house), dog walking, dog training, pet grooming and more. Live in or near a big urban area? Consider setting up a pet taxi service for pet owners to take their pets to groomers, vets, or the local dog park or even start a pooper scooper service offering to clean up yards for homes or businesses.

Other side hustle service ideas include creating wedding favours, event planning, house and office cleaning services, coaching, web design, teaching yoga, creating local tours, starting an errand service, bridal makeup, manicure and hairstyling services and blog post writing services.

Domain types that would work will for a service based side hustle include .cleaning, .coach, .consulting, .design, .dog, .events, .pet, .fun, .fitness, .tours, .training, .wedding, .yoga

Platforms that would work well for service based side hustles include Shopify, BigCommerce, and Big Cartel.

Blogs

The last type of side hustle we’ll look at in this post is blogs. While it does seem there are more blogs than there are stars in the skies, and most of them do not make any money, blogging can be a source of income if you put in the time and effort. Darren Rowse of Problogger.com has been helping bloggers to learn the ins and outs of blogging and making money for over a decade. Check out his Problogger podcast for interviews with bloggers who are making money from their blogs for inspiration.

Domain types that would work well for a blogging side hustle include .blog, .mom, .eco, and you can choose from 100s of other TLDs ( domain types) for the perfect domain name for your blog.

Services that make it easy to start blogging include Wordpress.com and WP Engine.


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We’ve just scratched the surface when it comes to side hustle ideas, but hopefully, we’ve given you some ideas.

Still not sure what sort of side hustle would work best for you? Check out Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days by Chris Guillebeau or his new book 100 Side Hustles: Unexpected Ideas for Making Extra Money Without Quitting Your Day Job (which is available as of June 4, 2019 but you can pre-order it now) for ideas. Chris Guillebeau also has a daily side hustle podcast over at sidehustleschool.com with nearly 900 (and counting) short episodes about side hustles.

More Regulation Of NZ Domain Space Uncalled For

dot nz logo

Recent misinformed commentary about restricting access to .NZ domain names reflects a deeply held suspicion in some quarters that foreign corporations and individuals are probably bad actors. Yet there is little evidence to suggest that there are widespread problems with foreign entities abusing our country code domain here in New Zealand.

Cyber criminals are not flocking to colonise .NZ . In fact a recent external review of the Domain Name Commission (DNC) indicated that the organisation was doing a good job of monitoring usage of the New Zealand domain space. But where fraud has been identified in the past, the DNC has been quick to act, as they rightly should do so.

Our neighbours in Australia have indeed chosen to operate a restricted country code domain, but that does not mean New Zealand should automatically follow suit. Only companies holding an Australian Business Number (ABN) or a local trademark may register a .AU domain with us at iwantmyname. There are over 3.1 million .AU registrations, with each domain owner having demonstrated a local presence.

But having tightly controlled access to a country code domain is no panacea. Restricting .NZ domain ownership to locally domiciled companies does not impede determined wrongdoers, unless the registration of company entities themselves is more robust. Recently tightened rules around “ultimate holding companies” in New Zealand are helpful, but do not always prevent fraudsters from disguising the shady origins of a company. In this “post-Christchurch” environment it is only natural to expect heightened fears around online security but user education is the most effective weapon in this battle, not restrictive rules around domain usage.

In our experience, transferring of domains and changing ownership details tends to become a lot more difficult in a restricted registry market. So additional administrative and compliance costs end up being unfairly imposed on registrars. Switching to tighter regulation would disadvantage existing registrants, the vast majority of whom are acting responsibly.

Calls to restrict the .NZ domain space are also based on a misguided view that domain names (and other assets) have some kind of sovereign status that must be defended at all costs. It is this same xenophobic viewpoint that saw foreign buyers of property recently excluded from the New Zealand market, even though they make up only a small percentage of investors. With .NZ already showing signs of negative growth, legislators should be cautious about ejecting foreign registrants from a marketplace that is working well on a technical level.

Google has too much power

google with a crown

The older I get, the more I recognize that everything is just a series of compromises, and the true sign that you’ve “made it” is when you earn the right to spend most of your day on your terms. As soon as I accepted that, life got a little less complicated. I now know where I am, and I generally know where I need to be.

I’m still young enough to be naive though, and my simple brain hasn’t fully come to terms with the fact that powerful, external forces exist that can impose their will like a natural disaster. You plan for them and hope not to be caught in their wake, but some things are entirely unavoidable.

Exhibit A: Google search algorithm changes.

organic search drop

Due to reasons, Google has become the de facto gateway to the internet, and is the greatest driver of traffic to most websites. And their algorithm is like a medieval king. It sits on the highest of thrones, single-handedly willing the internet to bend a knee.

But this king doesn’t issue proclamations. He delivers messages like:

This week, we released a broad core algorithm update, as we do several times per year. Our guidance about such updates remains as we’ve covered before. Please see these tweets for more about that:

Each day, Google usually releases one or more changes designed to improve our results. Some are focused around specific improvements. Some are broad changes. Last week, we released a broad core algorithm update. We do these routinely several times per year.

As with any update, some sites may note drops or gains. There’s nothing wrong with pages that may now perform less well. Instead, it’s that changes to our systems are benefiting pages that were previously under-rewarded

There’s no “fix” for pages that may perform less well other than to remain focused on building great content. Over time, it may be that your content may rise relative to other pages.

Great. That’s great. Things were business as usual, and we plebs were over here taking a long view of our product, making steady progress based on the typical set of compromises. With a small team, sometimes you focus on performance, then features, then whatever. But you’re working under a framework that the ground you’re standing on will remain somewhat level.

Then, boom! You notice an organic search drop… then another. You look to the king for answers, and the official word is “there’s no fix… just continue to live your best life.”

Super. Oh, and I forgot to mention that the noble king is also your competitor, and is a competitor on so many fronts that he’s everyone’s competitor. Your traffic goes down; his traffic goes up. Everything’s fine!

“They’re not really a competitor,” you say. “You’re just a blip on their radar” you reply to yourself. “They make all their money in search, and everything else is just meant to keep you in their ecosystem… it’s just business.”

Then the little brain troll whispers, “Maybe if you prioritized the right things from the start, the king would be rewarding you. This is your failure.” And the troll is right. Using Google’s web.dev tool (still in Beta, of course), our performance and accessibility had much room for improvement. I made the wrong compromises along the way. Simple as that.

Google Lighthouse old score

But then your ego pushes back. “What, so the king’s little passion projects get to sit behind the curtain and reap the rewards of seeing the algorithm in clear view while the rest of the internet is desperately looking for answers? That’s bullshit.’’ And it is bullshit. But the king is the king, and there’s nothing you can do other than write your local representative to break them up, or sillier yet, protest by not paying for their services (problem… they give most of their services away for free).

So the compromise forced on you is to temporarily divert everything to Google optimization. Maybe it’ll work. Who knows… we’re seeing positive results from our recent push, but the king is a fickle character.

Google Lighthouse new score

The one-salary experiment, ten years in

picture of a person experimenting with electricity

Five years ago, Lenz (one of our co-founders) wrote:

At iwantmyname everyone earns the same. This sounds strange to many and I get asked a lot of questions how this may work once we grow bigger and the honest answer is: “I don’t know, but so far it works” and I give that same answer since we started 5 years ago.

The underlying idea has two main roots. First, we really think that everyone is as important to the success of our team as anyone else in the team. We don’t believe in a hierarchy or in more important people. If we hire you, we think you are valuable and want you to be part of our team as a level peer, not an underlying that does the stuff no one else wants to do.

Soon after, it hit the Hacker News front page, and the top comment went as follows (from a person called fishtoaster):

That’s a cool experiment. It’s always neat to see people trying new, weird ways to run a company.

That said, I would predict the following:

  • As the company grows, they have trouble hiring specialists or more senior people, since they’re competing with other companies for those people, but without the flexibility to offer a comparable salary. They could solve this by paying their highest-paid person what they’re worth, and everyone else the same, but that could be prohibitively expensive.
  • The need will develop for people who, though valuable, are plentiful (e.g., a janitor, but fill in any role here that’s generally near the bottom of the pay scale). The decision will be “We’d really like a janitor, but not enough to pay $X”, where X is their everyone-salary (which has to be high enough to attract their most valuable people). As such, they’ll be hard-pressed to hire roles that aren’t really worth that much to them.
  • Of course, you can solve either of those by having more money than you know what to do with. So, if they’re wildly profitable, it’s a system that’ll keep working.

That’s just my prediction, though. I’d love to see a followup blog post in a few years describing how it went.

Well, fishtoaster… this one’s for you.

Market rate

One thing that happened over the last 5-10 years is that people’s idea of what “market rate” is for a remote developer job seems to be shifting to the market rate of San Francisco. And that’s a tough place to play if you A. don’t have beaucoup VC money, B. aren’t sitting on a pile of disposable cash.

For instance, according to PayScale, the average software developer in Wellington NZ makes NZ$64k. We pay more than that, but when you become a remote company, people start looking for the $134k USD salary people are making in the top 10% of SF (which seems a bit low to me, but I’ll take their word for it). In one beautiful locale we pay in the top 10%, and in the other, we’re pretty meh.

So when fishtoaster says,

The decision will be “We’d really like a janitor, but not enough to pay $X”, where X is their everyone-salary (which has to be high enough to attract their most valuable people).

… I feel that. It’s a legitimate concern. Basically, we’re playing a game where the success of the company hinges on our ability to hire good developers, but we can’t offer top SF rates without shrinking our staff because our operating costs would be too high due to our flat structure. Fortunately for us, we’re competing not only on salary, but freedom, and that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

For as much as we hear about greed and people doing anything for money, the truth is that the world is large and full of people with different motivations. We’ve had people in emerging economies mention top-10% SF rates, but we’ve also had people in the more expensive parts of EU work for less because of the lifestyle we can somewhat uniquely offer. For example, I could probably make more in a management role elsewhere, but at iwantmyname, I get to pick my kids up from school every day without fail. To me, that’s worth a whole lot, but to someone else, it might mean very little. We’re all motivated by very different things.

I’m sure certain individuals are paid somewhat below market value while others are paid handsomely for their role. This can hurt when hiring employees in the former category. The flat hierarchy, general job benefits, and culture need to make up for the market pay-cut.

(Random quotes are from a team poll I did about our one-salary structure. You’ll see them sprinkled throughout.)

For us, everything has mostly worked out — we offer a certain amount, have had little trouble filling job openings, and our turnover is low (and to my knowledge, no one who has ever left did it primarily because of our pay structure). That said, I do feel the pressure of getting us closer to SF-senior-dev competitive wages because recruitment will inevitably get harder if the pay gap becomes too wide. We’ll never be able to pay the top-end salary of a Fortune 500 company under our current structure unless we stumble our way into a mind-blowing new market segment, but we can pull ourselves closer without making non-dev positions unreasonably expensive.

To be able to hire and retain good staff, the amount also needs to be focused on the high end of what’s needed to be competitive. What may be a good salary for support or marketing or whatever elsewhere may be quite low for good development talent, for example, and people are rarely, or only to a very limited degree, willing to accept a pay cut because they like a company’s culture or the projects they’ll be doing, etc.

Motivation and turnover

Turnover is a tricky thing to talk about because it feels like weakness, but it’s impossible to avoid when running a business. And it’s important to know that all companies are working from a different baseline. In a previous life, I worked at an ad agency that somewhat purposefully churned through recent college grads to maximize staff ROI (turns out, cheap labor being client-billed for ~$150/hr is a good way for owners to get rich). That world is different than this world though — clients came and went, onboarding was basically instant because each project was from scratch, and the work was more about immediate impact than retaining institutional knowledge. Turnover there was like watching the seasons change. So it went.

In a small tech shop like iwantmyname though, institutional knowledge is everything because nearly nothing is built from the ground up. And onboarding is relatively painful because we don’t have people we can just dedicate to training. Turnover sucks, so we do our best to avoid it. And I think we’ve done a pretty good job. Here’s what our “stats” look like:

  • 20 total employees
  • all but four are still involved with the company
  • all four that left were developers

As I said before, overall retention is good… much better than at any job I’ve had in the past. But while the sample size is small, there is a relationship between market rate and turnover. While we have 100% retention for non-developers, our typical dev window is roughly three years (again, small sample size… compounded by the fact that iwantmyname basically didn’t do any hiring for the first five years).

Here’s the thing though. Even in Silicon Valley, where salaries are extremely high across the board and employees are showered in benefits, tech retention is low. I don’t think income is the primary motivator here (although I’m sure it helps with recruiting).

My general theory is that people are motivated by two things in life: pain avoidance and happiness. No matter what you do, you’re always trying to find the thing that brings the most happiness with the least amount of pain. Some people find higher peak happiness through suffering, and some people are hedonists who work to experience minimal pain, but both are operating under the same framework.

So what we’re looking at here is a dev vs non-dev marketplace of employees. Every individual is different, but most people find happiness at work through money and perks (remote work, working on stuff you like, freedom to make decisions, etc.). The tangle is that in this market, non-devs tend to experience pain while looking for jobs, while even mediocre devs routinely get contacted by recruiters offering ++ salaries and signing bonuses. There’s no friction for a developer, and without friction, there’s no pain. So as soon as things lose their shine, stats show that developers tend to move on. And it’s understandable — why stagnate when there are endless opportunities to do new and interesting things?

From a management perspective, all I can do is optimize the things I can control to reduce pain. Here are the three things I focus on:

  1. Freedom. The worst part of being in a traditional office is seeing how fast your calendar gets booked. Endless meetings, pointless team-building activities, random reporting reminders to make middle managers happy. Some of it is useful, but I do my very best to clear up people’s schedules so they can maximize their time not working. To me, the ideal workplace is one that lets me enjoy my own life… not one that tries to merge with it.
  2. Dysfunction. People tend to not like dysfunction, and dysfunction is really just a symptom of not understanding priorities. Yes, some people are just lazy, but if you can solve laziness, the best thing a manager can do is to be extraordinarily clear about the work ahead. Generally, if you can get smart people to work towards the same goals while avoiding institutional confusion, they’ll achieve great things.
  3. Fairness. The other thing people tend to not like is the feeling that their peers aren’t holding up their end of the bargain. And it’s especially bad when the person telling the team what to do isn’t doing anything themselves. The best way to make this a non-issue is to get dirty from the top-down. No one is above the rest — not even managers.

One-salary makes everyone feel they are an equal part of the team. Whether they’re in support, dev, or product areas, all have an equal voice. That equality helps avoid the “that’s above my pay grade, let someone else deal with it” attitude.

(A completely flat structure) negates the need for traditional performance reviews and salary negotiation, which are very difficult for some people and do not favour those who have not been raised/trained/educated to advocate and negotiate hard for themselves. (And can be actively penalized for it, in the cases of some demographics.)

Is there a better way?

When I talk about our flat salary, I often come at it from the angle of focusing on what alternatives would buy us. Barring a cash infusion, we have X dollars that can be allocated however we want. Right now we know precisely how much each position costs (because we all cost the same), but if we moved off our flat structure, what would that look like?

My best guess is that developer rates would go up, support rates would go down, and everyone else would be roughly the same. But it’s not like rates would change proportionally. At best it’s a wash, with support rates going down exactly the same as developer rates are going up, but that’s silly. SF rates for senior devs would cost far more than the savings we’d make on the support side, and the talent drain in support would make for a far inferior product. Plus, our support staff does a lot more than their direct tasks — they’re worth every penny they get paid.

In reality, our flat-salary has probably allowed the company to grow faster than it would’ve under a traditional structure. I don’t think that was the intention going in, but it’s essentially put a movable ceiling on rates that have increased exponentially since we started around the 2008 recession. Our salaries are tied to profit, and while they’ve gone up over time, they just don’t compare to the whims of a company tied to an out-of-control market or VC-infused debt.

To me (and to be clear, I’m part of the flat salary with no ownership stake), it’s a fair deal because everything was on the table from day one. Everyone makes X, there’s no excessive Apple-esque cash hoard that’s being syphoned to investors instead of the staff, and we’re free to leave at any time.

With that said, if we were to change, here are three models that seem acceptable (all have pros and cons):

  1. From an employee standpoint, the Basecamp model is a good way to maximize the retention and recruitment of “senior” talent while mostly keeping out the ugly popularity contests that come with salary negotiations. My understanding based on my recollection of the book It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work is that hey pay an upper-tier salary per position based (I think) on SF rates. They also use a junior/senior tier, which allows them to recruit raw talent without worrying about fair workloads (it’s be hard to justify paying the same salary to two devs who have vastly different levels of experience, but there’s also a lot of “grunt work” that needs to be done that might drive a senior person away).
  2. This one was floated by someone in the internal survey: ”A possible solution to retaining talent longer term (who may start looking to move on for financial reasons) is to add a ‘years with the company’ accelerator. Putting the fiscal focus on retaining experience and talent seems more logical to me than hiring a ‘rockstar’ candidate and offering them double their colleague’s salary so they can shoot through some work and leave in a year or two.’’ I generally like this, but it would probably have to be capped at some amount to avoid paying people too far above market rates. While retention is important, I don’t know if it’d make business sense to, say, pay someone triple what a comparable replacement would cost. And you don’t want to be in the position of laying off a tenured staffer because you mistakenly started paying them too much.
  3. I’m not sure how the accounting would work, but if we kept the salary the same and tied it to a quarterly bonus structure based on company profits, it could create a more direct link between short-term productivity and income. (That’s not really a fundamental change though… more like a nudge.)

Anyways, fishtoaster, here we are — getting by with a system that’s held up strong for ten years. We don’t have “more money than we know what to do with” (YET!!!), but I think everyone would agree that iwantmyname sits in the successful column of small businesses. And to me, that’s a win in the one-salary column.

I’ll make a note on my calendar to update this in 2024.

Information about the Tictail shutdown

Back in November, Canadian e-commerce company Shopify acquired the popular Swedish-based e-commerce platform Tictail.

It was business as usual for a while, however, Shopify did notify Tictail’s customer base that it would be shutting down the service, and that date is coming up fast on March 31st.

Tictail customers will have received specific details directly, but since we’ve heard from a few customers of ours about updating their DNS settings, we’re posting a bit more information as well.

Conveniently, our Marketplace has a one-click setup for Shopify if you are a Tictail customer who is switching over.

When you are ready to switch over, if you login to your iwantmyname account, just go to this page to begin the install process, which will add the Shopify DNS records and replace the Tictail ones in your dashboard.

The new settings will need a couple of hours or so to propagate, and then you’ll be able to login to your Shopify account to add your domain name and finish any remaining setup there.

If you are not planning to switch to Shopify and aren’t sure how to switch to the new platform you want to use, or have other questions, just get in touch. We’re happy to help get things set up.

Information concerning Brexit and UK holders of .EU domains

Brexit Logo

If you seriously don’t know what Brexit is by now, HOW WE ENVY YOU! You can, in all probability, go about your day (or life) and read no further.

For those who do, and specifically for our UK customers who are the intended the audience of this post, we empathize greatly with your pain and confusion. While clarity is hard to come by in this uncertain process, we’re sharing the following information, which we hope is of use.

Once the UK officially leaves the EU, EURid – the registry for .EU domains – has stated that UK residents will not have the same entitlements to the use of this TLD as before. The requirement is that the .EU extension is for use of residents and companies with a presence in member states of the European Economic Area (EEA).

The best place to look for updates is EURid’s website, they have set up this Brexit page for updates:

https://eurid.eu/en/register-a-eu-domain/brexit-notice/

However, on the 22nd of March they posted this updated…

Brexit Notice: Due to ongoing uncertainties over the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union, EURid has placed on hold any plan regarding domain names registered to individuals and undertakings located in the United Kingdom and Gibraltar. Those plans were set out in European Commission’s notice to .eu stakeholders, published on 28 March 2018. As soon as we receive official updates from the European Commission on how to proceed, we will amend the plans on this web page and communicate with affected stakeholders as appropriate, and as instructed by the Commission. We thank you for your patience.

This is not entirely useful, but we can gather from their previous announcements on this page that once the UK does officially leave the EU, there will be a 2-month period where UK registrants of .EU domains can make arrangements to ensure they are in compliance with the .EU regulations.

Based on this, we do feel that it is sensible to offer the following advice:

1) If your company has a legal presence in the EU 27 or EEA Member State, we would advise that you update your .EU domains’ contact details to reflect this. Please do this for all of the domain contacts.

2) For those that do not have this option, our upstream Registrar partner for .EU has a trustee service that allows for registration and use of .EU domains without residing in an EEA country. In short, by activating this service, the registrant contact details for the domain will change to that of the trustee and you are allowing the trustee to act on your behalf. You still own your domain and management of the domain continues to be facilitated through your account with us. You can read more information on the .EU trustee agreement here:

https://account.hexonet.net/trusteetac/eu/en.pdf.

Note: This service can only be activated once the UK has officially left the EU and we will provide more information on how to do this at a later stage.

3) It may be a good idea to have a contingency plan for primary or business critical services that rely on a .EU domain. Consider moving to another domain that doesn’t use the .EU extension. This could be an existing or new .CO.UK or .UK domain, or really any other that you wish to use. You can then set up your .EU domain(s) to forward to the other domain or email address, or keep your current setup. Your reliance/risk on .EU domains would be somewhat reduced. 

Now let’s strap ourselves back in to the Brexit roller coaster, hold on tight and wait to see where it goes.