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Written By Colin Graves

side hustle incomeThis post may contain affiliate links, see full disclosure below.

In 2017, one of my goals for this blog is to include more content on side hustles. Whether through guest posts, or documenting my own side hustle journey, I want to show people that ANYONE can overcome the 9-5 mentality and not only increase their income, but crush their fears and open the door to endless opportunities.

I launched Mystery Money Man just over 4 months ago. In fact, prior to June 2016, things like WordPress, website themes, SEO, and blogging were completely foreign to me.

Six months later, and my blog is moving past 8000 visitors and 30,000 page views per month! It all seems a bit surreal. Those are just numbers however, they can change quickly and don’t mean a whole lot. More importantly, my blogging experience has transformed the way I think about almost everything, and has given me the confidence to pursue other passions with more determination and belief than I ever have. Best of all, I’ve been welcomed into an incredible community of readers and fellow bloggers alike.

Before I breakdown my side hustle income for December, let me explain that none of this has come easily. You don’t go from having zero knowledge to building a blog and a website by snapping your fingers. I literally spent hundreds of hours over the past 6 months researching, watching YouTube tutorials, reading established blogs and asking questions on forums, in order to get to where I am now.

In fact, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here writing this post tonight, if it weren’t for a two-week vacation in July, when I was able to devote HUGE chunks of time to push through the steepest learning curve. There were several 3 AM bedtimes, trust me! : )


Below is a summary of my income streams for the month of December. At the very bottom is a breakdown of the dollar amounts of each, including the zeros. 😉 There are a couple of important things to note:

First of all, the blogging income is just beginning to trickle in.  It’s certainly nothing to write home about at this point, and I’m very aware that the growth will be slow and steady. The important thing is that I’m developing a platform upon which to build multiple streams of income.

Secondly, my income won’t always be this high, and will fluctuate month-to-month. For example, I don’t plan to tackle a recording project every month (this was my primary side hustle income source for December). I do however plan to tackle other opportunities as the year progresses.


I have a recording studio in my home. It’s a pretty cool set up, complete with an isolation room. I built it a few years ago, but had only used the space (and the equipment) for my own songwriting and recording projects. On more than a couple of occasions, my wife has suggested that I take on projects producing other artists, as a way to make additional income. She knows how much I love working in the studio, and has always encouraged me to pursue my interests.

Yet I’d never taken the leap. Over the past few months however, something changed. After reading several blog posts from side hustle specialists like J.Money and Financial Panther, I realized that I had a prime income earning opportunity lying right under my nose. I know, I know, I should have listened to my wife a long time ago. What can I say, I’m a slow learner.

In November, I was chatting with a young singer/songwriter, who was looking for an opportunity to record some new songs he’d written.  I told him that I’d love to help out, and offered my services.  Long story short, a two minute conversation turned into a $1200 side hustle!

We’re about halfway through the recording, and (if you ask me 😉 ) it’s sounding great. For now, singer/songwriter projects are the perfect fit as the arrangements are fairly simple, which makes it possible to accommodate within my busy schedule.


I still receive songwriting royalties for a couple of tunes I wrote about 15 years ago. The cheques are tiny, but they arrive in the mail every couple of months, and so I’ve included them on this list. I have no idea where or how the songs are still generating income, but it’s a cheque in the mail, even if it’ll only buy me a coffee. 🙂


This income was nil for December. I should also note that when this income rolls in, it’s shared with my fellow band members. As of late, it’s been minimal. It was far more significant when we released our EP a couple of years ago.


I collect royalties for songs I’ve written that are streamed on Apple Music, Spotify, and about 25 other online music streaming sites. Like the iTunes numbers, these are minimal but resemble side hustle income, so I’ve included here. To be honest, streaming services pay artists almost nothing for the music they create, which is unfortunate. It requires tens of thousands of rotations to generate more than a few dollars on most sites.  The income here represents a few thousand plays for the month, across 14 countries.  The top three?  The U.S., Canada and Thailand…wait…Thailand?


I began displaying Google Ads on my site about 3 months ago. In that time, I’ve earned about $30, so not a whole lot. I love the concept of passive income however, and there is zero work involved. I do try to keep the ads to a minimum, so as not to detract from the reading experience. If this is not the case, please let me know!  At this point, it looks as though the Adsense income will cover some of my blog-related expenses over the course of the year, which is about all I can ask for.


In the income breakdown below, I’ve listed all of the brands with which I am currently involved. That being said, I have done almost nothing with affiliate promotion to this point. I do have a Recommended page on my blog, and plan to work with my affiliates more in the coming months, but for now it’s not my top priority.


The final income source I will summarize, I don’t consider to be a ‘side-hustle’. Mrs. Mystery Money, who stays at home with our three children, provides foster care respite for a couple of friends who are full time foster parents. This is not something that my wife does for the purpose of making money, in fact she would do it for free. The need for loving foster parents and homes is SO great, and while we are not able to be involved on a full time basis, we are blessed to be able to serve these children in this capacity. I’ve added it to my income list for the sole purpose of presenting our family’s additional income as accurately as possible.

Without further ado, here is a summary of the income categories and totals for December, 2016.


Recording Project:           $1200.00  (began as $1000, but project grew slightly at client request)
Songwriting Royalties:          $2.63
iTunes music sales:                  —–
Music Streaming Royalties
(Apple Music/Spotify etc.):   $3.86


Google Adsense Income:       $7.65

Affiliate Income:

BlueHost                             $65.00
Amazon Associates                  —-
PicMonkey                               —-
Booking dot com                     —-
Envato/Theme Forest             —-


Childcare Income:
(Mrs. Mystery Money):       $150.00

December Total:               $1429.14


I consider December 2016 to be my first official ‘side hustle’ month. As I continue into the New Year, my goals are to continue to grow the blog-related income, understanding that the process will be a slow one. I will look for new recording projects, but only if they are the right fit. I won’t simply chase the dollars.

I’ll continue to find inspiration from the ‘GenYMoneyMen‘ of the world (aka Bobby Hoyt), and seek out new ways of making extra cash.

Which brings me to my final point. Which is…what exactly IS the point of all of this? Everyone has their own motivation for earning side hustle income.

For me, it’s realizing that reducing my spending and boosting my savings rate are not the only paths to financial freedom. I’m grateful for my 9-5 career. But for too long I’ve limited my income earning potential to the barely-keeping-up-with-the-cost-of-living raises once per year, or the highly unpredictable performance bonuses.

There are countless ways to increase your income while doing things that you enjoy and/or have a talent for. Challenge yourself to think outside the box, and don’t dwell on your limitations!   Ask yourself, what is possible?  Oh, and for all you married guys out there….listen to your wives. 🙂


  1. Duuude the recording studio sounds awesome! Mr. Picky Pincher is a drummer and we’re modding out our bonus room this year to make a drum room. I’ll run the possibility of renting it out by him. 🙂 Our city doesn’t have many good spots for drummers to play.

    All in all it sounds like your side hustles are pretty shweet. I’m also trying to build passive blog income; it’s not easy!

  2. I enjoyed your post and your candidness, I can certainly relate.

    I have had a blog for years and never took it seriously (as a means to make money) until recently.

    It seems that everyone is always talking about how easy it is to make money online but no one really is open to expressing how slow, inconsistent and challenging it really is.

    That is not to say it can’t be done, but rather that we should be realistic. In either case thanks for sharing.

    • Hey William! I agree with you, and after reading your comment, I think one thing that I should have mentioned is that you gotta love doing it (blogging). The reason I’ve been able to stick with it is because I didn’t get into it for the money, it was because I love writing, personal finance etc. It’s easier to keep going when you’re doing something you enjoy!

  3. Awesome job with the side hustles man! The recording project is interesting for sure and definitely is something utilizing your unique skill set. And thanks for referring to me as a side hustle specialist! I never thought about it that way, haha.

  4. Nice work. It’s nice to be able to use your hobbies and skills to enhance your lifestyle. I am very intrigued to hear how you got so many readers in such a short time….

  5. Great side hustle income, MMM! 🙂 Though I’ve side hustled here and there, I’ve never taken it too seriously until the last couple of years. Like you, we’ve relied on the 9-5 salary for years, but have realized it’s not good to have all our eggs in one basket. Plus, you’re right, financial freedom can come earlier with the extra income. Thanks for sharing your numbers!

  6. NIce side hustle stories. I especially liked your comments on monetizing your blog as that’s something I am on my way of doing at Wealth Well Done. Right now, we’re just focused on creating absolutely page-turning content and building our audience, but once we really have our reputation for excellence established, I definitely want to find the way to monetize it. Thanks for planting some seeds in my mind.

    I don’t do alot of side hustles since my main income comes from being an independent sales rep for promotional branded clothing. So if I want more money, it’s just easier for me to go out and find a new client since I am 100% commission. Although, I do consider my love for goodwill and craigslist shopping my personal side hustle. I almost never pay full price for anything since I’ve worked hard for my money. If I can get a $100 item for $15, I save and invest that $85, and that’s my side hustle.

    • Thanks Bill, and you’re so right, monetization etc. can never trump quality content, that should always be #1. That’s one of the beauties of commission income, the more you put into it, the more you get out! Love your way of thinking, cheers! – MMM


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