My 5 SEO Side Hustles, Which All Made Me a Minimum of $1,000 Each in 2018; Creating Passive Income

What is SEO? It’s search engine optimization. SEO is knowing how to cater to the free market of the Internet by publishing articles, links, videos, and social media messages, based on what people are already searching for. It’s behind-the-scenes marketing knowledge and skills that allow people like me to make money on the side by helping other people grow their brand name online; as well as my own.

I remember back in high school (my 20th high school reunion is coming up this summer!) when I was planning my proposed future career: I wasn’t that inspired by the thought of making money, but instead, just to be “happy”. But several years later, having entered the work force with thousands of dollars of debt from college loans, then getting married a few years later during the Financial Crisis of 2008, I think it sort of scarred me. Or at least it rewired my brain in regards to how I perceive finances:

Use your time, energy, and talents to control money before it controls you, by default.

That serves as my SEO Side Hustler backstory. It explains why one of my superpowers is the ability and the drive to be constantly making money on the side; no matter how great my actual full time job. I’m sure there’s some psychology in there, that having felt helpless and hopeless with finances in my late 20s and early 30s, I now feel the need to reverse my role with money and instead be in complete control of my finances. I have basically adopted my Italian grandfather’s mindset, as he lived through the Great Depression as a 1st generation Italian-American in an orphanage; and was one of the most financial conservative men I knew. 

What are my hobbies, besides hanging out with my wife and kids? The answer: My 5 side jobs. 

My brain interprets these SEO side hustles as (mandatory) fun. Last year, in addition to my well-paying full-time job in HR at a Fortune 500 company in Franklin, Tennessee (though my wife actually makes more than me at her full-time job), I made thousands of dollars on the side by basically goofing off on the Internet after my wife and kids fell asleep each night. Granted, I don’t get a lot of sleep myself, except on Saturday mornings when my wife gets up at 6:00 AM with kids and lets me sleep in around 8:00 AM! 

Here’s how I made thousands of dollars, on the side through passive income, in 2018 by utilizing my knowledge and skill set of SEO; and plan to make even more in 2019…

#1 My 1st YouTube Channel:

Named after myself, Nick Shell is a YouTube channel with over 6,200 subscribers. I serve as a mentor who helps young men find their own masculine identity and confidence, despite their perception that early male pattern baldness takes away their value as men.

Thanks to the ads that play before each video, I made nearly $3,000 in 2018 from this channel; see below. It also helps that for 3 months straight in 2018, I kept shaving my head, which made me a lot of money as I have since then been able to casually yet effectively sell the electric clippers I used to do it, through the use of Amazon links. (More on that in a minute.)

#2 My 2nd YouTube Channel:

Named after this blog itself, Family Friendly Daddy Blog currently has over 1,500 subscribers. I named it after my blog, as a way of extending my brand name online. On this 2nd YouTube channel, I mainly talk about DNA test results and cultural perceptions of society. Some of my most popular videos are where I feature vehicles that car companies send me because of my blog. (More on that in a minute.) I have learned that producing nearly 3 videos per day, on each channel, grows my audience more than producing fewer, yet higher quality videos.

Quantity over quality is my formula. Even though I have the skill set to make polished, edited videos with music and words that pop up on the screen, I’ve learned that I earn more revenue from the dozen videos I can make in the same amount of time it would take to make one high-quality video.

#3 My website, Family Friendly Daddy Blog:

Yep, you’re on it right now. I created this website over 9 years ago and have regularly maintained it with new posts. (If nothing else, I publish 2 new posts every Thursday: A letter to each of my children, which I have been doing since my wife announced her pregnancy for them both, accordingly.) That’s one of the reasons it has such strong SEO; making it very easy to find when people Google nearly anything. My blog is a dragnet for search terms.

The name of this blog itself, while it may sound a bit corny, was something I strategically created for the purpose of SEO. Therefore, on a daily basis, I have requests from 3rd parties requesting to be featured as a guest blogger on my site, to boost their own website’s SEO. For the right price, I say yes. From these fees alone, I cleared well over $1,000 in 2018.

That’s not including the free vehicles my family was loaned, complete with a free tank of gas, for our family vacations: Mitsubishi sponsored our trip to Sacramento, Mazda sponsored us for Lake Tahoe, and Chevy took care of us for Destin. Plus, I got sent on an all expense paid trip to Florida for the Grapefruit League Baseball Series, thanks to Toyota. Additionally, my kids also get some free toys this year and our family is regularly offered free tickets to events in Nashville, like Frozen on Ice. And all of this is simply because of this blog’s very healthy SEO.

#4 Handling SEO for a major university in the Nashville area:

I’ll keep the name and dollar amount confidential on this one, but I serve as the behind-the-scenes SEO independent contractor for a particular department. I handle their Twitter account, I’ve produced promotional videos for their YouTube channel, and I manage an ongoing blog series which features its employees in a more casual light, so that people in the department can learn more about one another; while increasing the university’s presence online. 

#5 Amazon Associates:

Anytime I place a link to Amazon for a product like this really cool Mama Bear t-shirt for moms, whether it’s in a description for one of my videos on either YouTube channel, or in one of my blog posts, I get a cut of the sale that is made. Even if the person doesn’t buy the actual product, as long as they buy something while they are browsing through other suggested items, I still get a cut of that sale. It’s Amazon’s way of thanking me for directing a new sale to them. In 2018, I made right over $1,000 from these links; even though I didn’t even start the program until February. See below.

I am a huge fan of the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. The book focuses on the importance of creating venues of passive income; making money while you sleep, which is especially what my YouTube videos and Amazon links do for me. The author explains that it’s not enough to become and remain debt-free or pay off mortgage your early, but also to start making side incomes (ideally passive ones) and then investing that money. He presents that formula as the way to graduate from the middle class. So far, it’s working for me. 

At this point, our family could move into one of those McMansion homes in the next neighborhood over; increasing our square footage by 50%. We could afford it, but we instead choose to keep our current lower overhead and send the extra income towards paying off our mortgage early, building our kids’ college fund, growing our retirement, and focusing on our financial investments through Charles Schwab. I could also pay cash for a brand-new vehicle, trading in my old 2004 Honda Element with 180,000 miles and a salvaged title; and still have thousands more in the bank and investments. But instead, there’s a sense of pride in knowing I’m living below my means; not simply within them. 

So while I don’t get much sleep at this stage in my life, I can at least known that I am constantly making money even when I do sleep.

I am Nick Shell- and I am the SEO Side Hustler. 

Plant-Based Millennial Family Checks Out Vegan-Friendly Restaurant Called “Squeeze In” in Truckee, California (Featuring the 2018 Mazda3), by Manly Vegan, Nick Shell

I didn’t choose the vegan life: The vegan life chose me.

Yes. I’m saying it: If I didn’t have to be a vegan, I wouldn’t be. Right about now, I would totally be downloading some greasy fried fish, dipping it in gobs of tartar sauce, and then washing it down with a Super Big Gulp size cup of sweet tea.

Amazingly, that is my fantasy non-vegan meal choice; not a big steak or a juicy burger with bacon and cheese.

If I ever returned to eating meat, eggs, and dairy, my thorns in the flesh would return as well: dyshidrotic eczema, constant sinusitis, and extreme allergies to animals.

But for over 5 years now, I’ve completely been cured of my ailments. For me, being a vegan is a choice of the head, not of the heart.

Either way, being a vegan has been part of my identity for over half a decade. Not to mention, I’ve also been a vegetarian for 6 and a half years and kosher (no pork or shellfish) for 9 and a half years.

My wife has been a vegetarian as long as I have, and both our our children have been their entire lives.

So naturally, road trips have to be a little bit more planned out for us; since we can’t just stop at the first exit we see. This month we took a road trip across northern California as we made our way to Lake Tahoe. Since I didn’t know about meal prep delivery at the time, my wife found a place called Squeeze In, which is located in the center of a nearby town called Truckee.

If your family is also plant-based like mine, then research no further. Squeeze In is where you’ll be dining next time you go to Tahoe.

I was so pleased with my veggie burger and elaborate salad. It’s such a cool environment, too.

And I really appreciated the bucket of toys the waitress brought to the table, to help occupy my tired and hungry kids as we waited for our food.

After our beautiful drive in the 2018 Mazda3 through the scenic mountains of northern California, the Squeeze In was quite the oasis for us.

I’m convinced that even if you aren’t forced to be a vegan like I am, you will still have a wonder meal and a great time at Squeeze In.

Thanks for checking our my blog; for I am the manly vegan. And you never know, maybe next time, I’ll be coming to your town.

Have you read all 3 of my blog posts featuring my family’s road trip to Lake Tahoe in the 2018 Mazda 3? Here’s a table of contents just to be sure. Click on the title of the blog post you would like to see:

Lake Tahoe Family Road Trip for Our 10th Wedding Anniversary 
Cabin Life in Truckee, California for Our 10th Wedding Anniversary 
Plant-Based Millennial Family Checks Out Vegan-Friendly Restaurant Called “Squeeze In” in Truckee, California

Cabin Life in Truckee, California for Our 10th Wedding Anniversary (Featuring the 2018 Mazda3) by Nick Shell

When you’re 37 years old, the definition of cool is to spend a few days in a totally rad cabin out in Truckee, California with your wife and 2 young kids; as part of your upcoming 10th wedding anniversary celebration.

So we left my mother-in-law’s house in Walnut Grove (elevation zero), stopped by It’s a Grind for some coffee and a Father’s Day mug, and drove the 2018 Mazda3 to Lake Tahoe (elevation 6,225).

Just about 25 minutes away from King’s Beach, our family got to experience my wife’s version of camping out in the wilderness. It’s funny because we happened to be there in the off season, so we were literally the only family staying there in the community. We had the entire mountainside all to our ourselves.

The cabin was perfect for our family. It was 3 stories tall, with the kitchen and living room taking up the middle floor.

I finally got to see Toy Story 3, as my kids’ default channel during dinner was Disney. It was touching, but still didn’t make me cry the way Inside Out or Coco did. (Oops, I wasn’t supposed to admit that!)

It didn’t take my wife and me long to agree how awesome it would be to actually live in a place like that. If only we could live in that cabin up in Lake Tahoe.

I suppose being on vacation is supposed to make you feel that way, though. It’s a glimpse of what an easier version of life would be like, where you didn’t have to work for a living and just got to take it easy, like modern Country music songs often talk about.

But this is part of the reason my wife and I work so hard, to provide adventures like this for our family to relax and enjoy.

This is some of my highlight reel; not my everyday life. But years from now, I won’t be thinking about all the hard work, I’ll be thinking about the good times like these… the cabin life.

Have you read all 3 of my blog posts featuring my family’s road trip to Lake Tahoe in the 2018 Mazda 3? Here’s a table of contents just to be sure. Click on the title of the blog post you would like to see:

Lake Tahoe Family Road Trip for Our 10th Wedding Anniversary 
Cabin Life in Truckee, California for Our 10th Wedding Anniversary 
Plant-Based Millennial Family Checks Out Vegan-Friendly Restaurant Called “Squeeze In” in Truckee, California

Lake Tahoe Family Road Trip for Our 10th Wedding Anniversary (Featuring the 2018 Mazda3) by Nick Shell

It’s somewhere between ambitious and foolish to travel from Tennessee to California for a 2 week long trip when you have 2 young kids. But since that’s exactly what we did, my wife and I decided to make the trip our official vacation to celebrate our upcoming 10th wedding anniversary on July 5th.

Going in to it, my wife and I knew it would be a mix of both challenging and rewarding, as parenting itself is in general. So we drove the 40 miles from our home in Spring Hill to the Nashville airport, then took a 5 hour flight to Sacramento, California (which included a layover in Las Vegas), then another 40 mile trip to my mother-in-law’s home in Walnut Grove; which would serve as a our base for the 2 weeks.

From there, we embarked on another 2 and a half hour journey to Truckee; where we rented a cabin (which my next blog post will focus on) just 25 minutes from King’s Beach on Lake Tahoe. Just imagine what all that must have been like with a little girl who, despite being extremely adorable, has officially begun the Terrible Two’s.

Whatever you can imagine that part of it was like… you’re probably right.

But we survived! And not only that, we truly had an amazing time as a family.

One thing that definitely made things easier for us is that we got to a drive a Mazda3 during our first week of the trip. It was the perfect size for our family and our ridiculous amount of luggage we had to take, including a travel bed for our daughter.

Yeah, we lived it up though. My son decided he wanted to go out on a pedal boat on Lake Tahoe, so my wife and I took turns with him on on the water, while our daughter played in the sand.

My wife was born and raised in northern California. As for me, I was born and raised in the tail end of the Appalachian Mountains in Fort Payne, Alabama; but Lake Tahoe reminds me so much of where I grew up.

Lake Tahoe is truly an extension of our family’s identity. It was worth the trip and I am really looking forward to returning next year; especially since my daughter will be a bit more independent.

I’ve still got more to say about our family’s trip to Tahoe, so stay tuned for two more blog posts about that, with more fun pictures…

Have you read all 3 of my blog posts featuring my family’s road trip to Lake Tahoe in the 2018 Mazda 3? Here’s a table of contents just to be sure. Click on the title of the blog post you would like to see:

Lake Tahoe Family Road Trip for Our 10th Wedding Anniversary 
Cabin Life in Truckee, California for Our 10th Wedding Anniversary 
Plant-Based Millennial Family Checks Out Vegan-Friendly Restaurant Called “Squeeze In” in Truckee, California

My Road Trip with My Son to Ruby Falls in Chattanooga in the 2018 Mazda CX-5 (Featuring the Original New Theme Song I Wrote)

Despite me being a work-from-home dad, I am aware that it can still be a struggle to spend quality one-on-one time with my son; as I’m constantly also taking care of my nearly 2 year-old daughter when my son is around.

So I figured while I had access to the 2018 Mazda CX-5 for the week, I would devote an entire day of his Spring Break to just the two of us: father and son.

So we drove from one side of Lookout Mountain (Fort Payne, Alabama) to the other (Chattanooga, Tennessee) to go discover Ruby Falls; the tallest underground waterfall in America.

Despite growing up only an hour away from Ruby Falls, I had actually never been there myself. So it was a completely new experience for my son, as a 7 year-old; and for me, as a nearly 37 year-old.

I must say, Ruby Falls was so much more than I expected. I thought it was as simple as just getting into an elevator and immediately seeing a waterfall.

Instead, I’d say it’s more of an adventurous excursion.

The best way I can explain it is like this:

We rode an elevator many stories underground, inside of a mountain. That seems weird to say, but yes; Ruby Falls is in a mountain, underground.

One of the things I have documented quite well here on my blog over the years is how much my son and I love to go exploring on hikes.

So naturally, the long mysterious journey deep into the caverns was right up our alley.

Along the way, there were so many hidden treasures, beyond the actual waterfall at the midway point of the route.

I made this quick promo video for Ruby Falls, which provides a “one minute tour”, and includes a new original theme song I wrote for the attraction. You will love it:

Fortunately, thanks to the amazing and colorful lighting all along the way, I was able to take plenty of really cool pictures. I am grateful for this, as I’ve been taking pictures inside caves for a few decades now, and this is the first time the pictures actually look awesome!

In fact, it’s a guided tour; in groups of 50. The tour guides are well-versed on every little (and humongous) landmark leading up to Ruby Falls itself…

Once each group arrives in the room where Ruby Falls is, there’s a lights show to making the waterfall come to life even more. Needless to say, my son was in awe of this natural wonder in a mountain, underground.

But I suppose no tourist attraction would be complete without a proper visit to the gift shop, where my son was very proud of the items he purchased.

And there was one more surprise after we left the gift shop: We got to go on top of the roof and take a look over Chattanooga. My son thought that was really cool too.

So, mission accomplished! I wanted a special day with my son so we could spend quality time together, in a way that compliments our identity. Ruby Falls was the right choice!

And if this all sounds like fun to you, I have a feeling it will be if you take your family to Ruby Falls too!

My Family’s Road Trip to Rock City in Chattanooga in the 2018 Mazda CX-5 (Featuring the Original New Theme Song I Wrote)

Last week for Spring Break, we were presented with a 2018 Mazda CX-5 to enjoy for the week. One of the things we decided to do with it was to take a little family road trip over the mountains and through the woods to Rock City in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

In case you’ve ever driven anywhere in the Southeast, you’ll know that when it comes to winning the award for “Seemingly Omnipresent Billboard Signs”, the only competition to Rock City, is Alexander Shunnarah.

In other words, Rock City billboards, with their famous red birdhouses and “See Rock City” slogan, are a familiar concept; even for people who have never actually been to Rock City.

I grew up just an hour away in Fort Payne, Alabama, on the other side of Lookout Mountain; so I had been there a time or two as a child. Back in 2007 when my wife and I were dating (we’ve been married a decade as of this July), I took her there on a date. But this marked for the first time that we’ve taken either of our children to Rock City.

It was a family adventure for sure!

And now for anyone reading this today who has never been, I will provide some glimpses of what it’s like for a fun family like mine (and yours too, of course!) to see Rock City.

I even took it upon myself to write an original theme song and produce a 1 minute walk-through video promo for Rock City, as well. Here it is:

One of the things Rock City is known for is its Swing-A-Long Bridge, which when I was my son’s age 30 years ago, sort of terrified me. Not my son, though.

He just strolled along like it was nothing; just casually looking down (way) below.

The bridge leads up to the main look-out point, where you can find another famous attraction at Rock City: The “See Seven States” Stone; where you can… you guessed it: See seven states!

Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Our family just happened to visit Rock City on the day before Easter, so we lucked out and my kids got to meet the Easter Bunny. I think my daughter might have been afraid of a giant rabbit under normal conditions, but her big brother had his arm around her and that made everything okay.

I felt that our kids were the perfect ages to visit Rock City. Our son is 7, and loved leading our family through all the winding trails of towering rock walls.

Our daughter turns 2 in a few weeks and was mesmerized by what surely seemed to her as a magical enchanted land.

Not to mention, it’s fun for the parents too. I loved being outside, breathing in fresh air and being able to move along such beautiful natural scenery, now that winter is over.

So if you’re planning on driving through Tennessee anytime this year, it would be a shame not to swing by Rock City and take the family on a quaint adventure hidden up at the edge of Lookout Mountain.

And as you’ve already noticed, Rock City is basically a constant tour of photo ops. I know that normally, we don’t take near enough photos of our family of four.

But on our visit to Rock City, we couldn’t help but keep taking family selfies and asking fellow visitors to take our picture. Of course, they were happy to help, as I instantly returned the favor each time.

Before our adventure could come to an end, though, we had to stop by the gift shop. My son had been wanting a bald eagle stuffed animal for quite a while now, and he was so proud to find the perfect one.

My daughter instantly spotted a singing bird stuffed animal and immediately grabbed it and held it tightly as to say to us parents: “This is what I’m getting.”

She was right.

From there, I punched in “Whole Foods” on the GPS in the Mazda CX-5 and we made our way down the mountain for lunch. My grandmother met us there and she got to hear all about our adventure.

And as for the way back to the house, neither of our kids lasted 15 minutes before they were fast asleep.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my review of Rock City today. If you’re considering taking your family there, I highly recommend it!

A “Work Date”with My Wife at ENAR 2018 in Atlanta (Featuring the 2018 Mazda CX-5)

Last week during Spring Break, our family opted not to go somewhere slightly exotic, like Destin, Florida; as usual. Instead, I dropped my wife off at the Nashville International Airport for her flight to Atlanta, then I drove our kids to my parents’ house, in Fort Payne, Alabama; where I grew up.

My wife went to work immediately, as she was there to help represent Vanderbilt University’s Biostatistics Graduate Program in at the ENAR 2018 Spring Meeting. (In case you happen to be out of the loop, ENAR stands for Eastern North American Region of International Biometric Society.)

I spent the first day of Spring Break at Ruby Falls with our son (more on that in the near future, so stay tuned…). But the very next morning, I left early for Atlanta; in the 2018 Mazda CX-5.

This SUV was the perfect size for my 3 hour scenic drive down Lookout Mountain into the Rome, Georgia; and eventually Atlanta. I appreciated not only the great gas mileage it got (25 city, 31 highway), but also how well it handled all those sneaky curves on my route.

As a stay-at-home dad who works from home as a Social Media Specialist and Influencer, I haven’t commuted to an office since last October. So I do admit, it was nice being able go back and forth between The Beatles and Tom Petty for a few hours. There’s a part of me that misses that 2 hour round trip everyday to work, where I could sort of just think about my life as I listened to good music.

Thanks to the trusty GPS, I had arrived at lunch time at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Atlanta. My wife met me right away at front doors, where I introduced her to our new ride for the week, and from there we drove just about 5 miles away to our favorite vegan restaurant in Atlanta: Cafe Sunflower in Buckhead.

Our lunch every bit as magnificent as we expected; so much so, that we went back again the next day for lunch! Though my wife is an amazing plant-based chef, I love being able to take her somewhere nice where she not only doesn’t have to cook, but a place that is also as committed to our lifestyle as we are. (My wife has been a vegetarian and I have been a vegan, for well over 5 years now.)

Afterwards, we headed back to ENAR 2018, where I took photographs of Vanderbilt’s booth; as I will be writing an article for Vanderbilt’s website to promote their presence at the event. I was proud to see my video series on display on the monitor, as one of my many roles working as a freelance Social Media Specialist is to create promotional videos for companies.

Over the course the past few weeks, I had interviewed several current students and professors from Vanderbilt’s Biostastics Graduate Program, then made a series of short promo videos. Not only were these playing on a loop during the whole event, but I will eventually upload them to a YouTube channel that I will be creating and managing for the department.

I also also very proud to see my wife there in her role, as well; serving as a beautiful model and spokesperson for prospective students. More importantly though, she had helped coordinate the booth for the department, including all the logistics in getting it there, along with other Vanderbilt employees.

After a hard day’s work, we took advantage of a special attraction there at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta: They have a restaurant called Polaris, on top of the hotel. You have to take a special, exclusive, elevator there. And the over the course of an hour, the entire restaurant spins; so you get to see a 360 degree view of Atlanta. We will definitely go there again!

The next day after ENAR came to an end, we headed back to Cafe Sunflower for lunch again, then took a different route back to my parents’ house in Alabama. Our adventures were far from over, as we would be taking a family trip to Rock City the next morning.

I was very grateful to be able to have a “work date” with my wife. Sometimes, or maybe I should say usually, it requires some creativity in being able to plan fun dates when both parents work and have young children.

Perhaps at some point, our lives will be a little less crazy. As for now, we are truly making the most of what we have!

To check out the entire trilogy of blog posts about the cool trips my family took in the 2018 Mazda CX-5, just click the related link below:

A “Work Date”with My Wife at ENAR 2018 in Atlanta (Featuring the 2018 Mazda CX-5)

My Family’s Road Trip to Rock City in Chattanooga in the 2018 Mazda CX-5 (Featuring the Original New Theme Song I Wrote)

My Road Trip with My Son to Ruby Falls in Chattanooga in the 2018 Mazda CX-5 (Featuring the Original New Theme Song I Wrote)