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. 

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The Big 50 Foot Long Slide at Mission Hills Park in Pleasanton, California (Featuring the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport) by Nick Shell

As our family finished up our 2 week-long vacation road trip in northern California, we drove the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport from Walnut Grove to Pleasanton, where our kids got to enjoy the playgrounds at Mission Hills Park.

It was such a nice drive, as we saw the countless solar windmills for much of the way. There is so much beauty in the top half of the state of California, which often is not the region people tend to think of when they hear where my wife is from.

The kids also liked the fact that the entire roof of the Outlander was a giant window. It was almost like a ride at Disney, in a way.

The main attraction at the city park was the giant, 50 foot slide; the kind I remember from back in the 1980s when I was my son’s age. These days, it’s rare to see such a tall, metal slide like that.

(To put it into perspective, the standard length of a dry van trailer pulled by an 18 wheeler is 53 feet long.)

My son quickly learned the best way to go down the slide was to lay down, like it was a luge. The slide was up so high, we were up there with the trees!

Here’s a little video I made, in the moment:

To my amazement, my 2 year-old daughter even insisted she get to try out the slide. So I held her hand and walked alongside her as she slid down, quite slowly, with me moderating her speed.

Granted, the rest of the playground equipment was great, as well. There were actually two main playgrounds; one for older kids like my 7 and a half year-old son, including a climbing wall and ropes course.

For younger kids like my daughter, there was a separate playground across the park which was more appropriate for her age.

So if you happen to be driving anywhere near Pleasanton, California and have some adventurous children with restless energy, I definitely recommend you stopping by Mission Hills Park.

The big slide is so cool!

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

Family Reunion in Lodi, California 
Family Road Trip to Lost Worlds Adventures in Livermore, California
The Big 50 Foot Long Slide at Mission Hills Park in Pleasanton, California

Family Road Trip to Lost Worlds Adventures in Livermore, California (Featuring the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport) by Nick Shell

Sometimes as a parent, you end up having to settle for the back-up plan; or even the back-up plan of the back-up plan, but as long as you’re with the people you love, you just might have a great time anyway. You may even get more than you expected, in a good way!

That is exactly what happened last week while I was out in northern California with my family. My wife and I had planned a trip to the Santa Cruz boardwalk, where we had taken our son nearly 3 years ago.

But after learning from our experience the week before that our 2 year-old daughter was getting burned out on so much travel (after all, we had flown in from Tennessee), we decided to find a closer carnival destination; as Santa Cruz is nearly 2 and a half hours away from where we were staying with my mother-in-law in Walnut Grove.

It just so happened that there was a County Fair going on in Pleasanton, just about an hour and 20 minutes away; which would shave an hour or so off of our originally planned travel time.

That way, our kids could still get their fill of games and rides, like at the boardwalk in Santa Cruz. But after my wife bought the tickets to the County Fair on Groupon and we actually drove there, we learned that the fair didn’t actually open until Wednesday: We were there on Monday.

After getting a refund on our tickets online, my wife found a place called Lost Worlds Adventures. So we drove the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport just 6 miles down to the road to the neighboring town of Livermore.

Fate would have it, our family had just as much fun at Lost Worlds Adventures as we would have had at the Santa Cruz boardwalk, or the County Fair… if not more.

Not to mention, it was actually less expensive than both of those plans, as well!

Fortunately, the whole place was dinosaur themed. For a 7 and a year-old boy who’s currently very excited about seeing Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, that served as the perfect ambiance.

We started things off with a fun game of glow-in-the-dark miniature golf. I’m pretty sure our son won, though we weren’t keeping score.

Then we gave our son $20 to spend on games; in which points were earned to earn prizes at the end. I am amazed by how much we got for that amount of money.

Not only did our 2 year-old daughter enjoy playing the games for free on demo mode, as she didn’t know the difference anyway, she also got to help her brother roll the ball for the Milk Jug Toss and Skee-Ball.

However, our son had to explain to her, “Holly, you can’t just crawl up and drop the ball in…”

And speaking of our son Jack, he made out quite well as far as earning points for prizes. He stumbled upon a game called Big Bass Wheel Pro, where the concept was that the harder you pulled the lever down, the harder the wheel spun, and therefore the more points you earned.

But we realized pretty quickly that A) what value the spinner landed on was completely random, and B) the game seemed to just keep giving my son bonus spins for no reason. So in the likeness of pushing the button in the Swan station on the TV show LOST, my son and I starting taking turns pulling the lever, to keep the game going, and therefore, the points racking up.

So with the 2,240 points my son earned (most of which were from the same game), he was able to get his very first Care Bear, along with a couple of planes and balls and squishy toys. In addition to a pig whose eyes popped out when it is squeezed and some stickers, my daughter was very proud of her poop emoji purse and matching plush poop emoji key chain.

Yep, that’s what she chose, so we didn’t turn her down.

Yes, sometimes life is about the back-up plan of a back-up plan. And great times were had by all!

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

Family Reunion in Lodi, California 
Family Road Trip to Lost Worlds Adventures in Livermore, California
The Big 50 Foot Long Slide at Mission Hills Park in Pleasanton, California

Family Reunion in Lodi, California (Featuring the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport) by Nick Shell

My wife is the 9th of 10 kids. That means that nearly 10 years ago when we got married, I instantly became an uncle to more nephews and nieces than I can count; even still today!

Every summer, we take a trip out to northern California where my wife is from, which ultimately leads to a family gathering or two.

This year, it was an all-out official family reunion; which happened to take place in a city made famous by a 1969 Creedence Clearwater Revival song, “Lodi”.

The town is just a 30 minute drive from where we were staying with my mother-in-law in Walnut Grove. This made our first outing in the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport we had for our 2nd week in California.

What was most interesting to me about the family reunion was how independent our 7 and a half year-old son was. I toted around our 2 year-old daughter most of the time, while keeping watch on our son, who was constantly migrating with his older teenage cousins.

In fact, at the end of our 2 week trip to California, I asked my son what his favorite part of the entire vacation was. His instant response: “Probably the park with all the family.”

I can appreciate that he enjoyed sort of tagging along with the older kids and that they totally engaged him the entire time.

Whereas I have one child who is still understandably in need of constant attention and direction, my other child is finding his identity in spending time with other people. This is a good challenge for him; I can clearly see this as part of his character development.

It was also great that one of my sister-in-law’s family was staying with us at my mother-in-law’s house. Therefore, it was almost like my wife and I had two free baby babysitters the whole time: a 15 year-old and a 19 year-old.

Whether it was the old bouncy house in my mother-in-law’s backyard, or the hot tub, or just playing with retro toys leftover from the 1980s, both of my kids had some awesome cousins to entertain them.

Needless to say, every summer vacation we have out in California is a family reunion; by default.

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

Family Reunion in Lodi, California 
Family Road Trip to Lost Worlds Adventures in Livermore, California
The Big 50 Foot Long Slide at Mission Hills Park in Pleasanton, California

Dear Holly: Your Uncle Jake’s Wedding at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

5 months.

Dear Holly: Your Uncle Jake’s Wedding at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse

Dear Holly,

After our family spent most of the week enjoying our vacation with attractions like the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and Legoland, the time had finally come for us to celebrate the actual reason we had flown out to San Diego to begin with…

Dear Holly: Your Uncle Jake’s Wedding at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

Your Uncle Jake and Aunt Stephanie’s wedding!

Dear Holly: Your Uncle Jake’s Wedding at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse

We didn’t have to drive the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander very far. In fact, the wedding venue, Tom Ham’s Lighthouse was so close, we could have just walked. But hey, we had a fancy ride so took advantage of it.

Dear Holly: Your Uncle Jake’s Wedding at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

I had very high expectations of what their wedding would be like, with good reason. Both Jake and Stephanie had been planning it intensively for many months.

Dear Holly: Your Uncle Jake’s Wedding at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

As I imagined, my expectations were valid. Their wedding made me think of a movie wedding: It was right there on the water. There was a string section providing the music. Jake and Stephanie even read vows to each other, which were both well thought out.

Dear Holly: Your Uncle Jake’s Wedding at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

It was classy, extravagant, and yet not over the top. It was the perfect wedding ceremony.

Of course Mommy made sure we were all properly dressed for the occasion. Your brother Jack and I enjoyed our bowties, and as for you, Mommy found such a beautiful dress for such a beautiful little girl.

As you sat in Mommy’s lap during the ceremony, you took it all in. You paid attention the whole time.

Dear Holly: Your Uncle Jake’s Wedding at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

However, I couldn’t tell you about the wedding if I didn’t mention how you made everyone in our section laugh during one of the most serious parts of the wedding.

The officiator was explaining, “The ring is a perfect circle. It is a symbol of…”

Pppffffftttt…ppfftt.

That was the sound that came from your bottom.

Dear Holly: Your Uncle Jake’s Wedding at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

What made it so particularly funny was that it was from a precious little baby girl in a lovely dress- a baby girl who was sincerely appreciating the wedding ceremony. You were completely oblivious to the hilarious interruption you had just made.

Needless to say, anyone within a 15 foot radius of you couldn’t help but laugh, or at least pretend not to.

Dear Holly: Your Uncle Jake’s Wedding at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

But fortunately, the wedding went on, and now you officially have a beautiful new aunt.

The wedding couldn’t have gone any better. It was a like a dream.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Your Uncle Jake’s Wedding at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse

Dear Holly: I Have Cuddlebugs for Kids (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

5 months.

Dear Holly: I Have Cuddlebugs for Kids (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

Dear Holly,

We had just left the San Diego Zoo Safari Park when Grandma (Mommy’s Mommy) decided that after a morning in the California sun, frozen yogurt sounded like a good idea.

So we used the GPS on the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander to find a glorious place called The Golden Spoon, a franchise which has apparently been in existence since 1983.

Dear Holly: Everyone Loves to Hold You (San Diego Vacation in a 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander) Dear Holly: Everyone Loves to Hold You (San Diego Vacation in a 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

I’ve learned that “pay by the ounce” frozen yogurt shops are indeed safe for me as a vegan, because they always have a sorbet option and fruit selections for my toppings.

We all were very pleased with our choices and it turned out that Grandma had made a good call in suggested we go out for frozen yogurt.

Dear Holly: I Have Cuddlebugs for Kids (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

Your brother Jack wanted to eat outside so I took him out to the patio while you, Mommy, and Grandma remained on the sofa inside.

After Jack and I finished our treats, Jack wanted to come see what you were up to.

Fortunately, I took several pictures of what happened next, on both my phone and camera. It made me so proud and gracious as the dad of such precious children.

Dear Holly: I Have Cuddlebugs for Kids (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

I captured the moment, as your brother hugged you and held you close. The look on your face clearly revealed how fascinated you are by him. You are truly amazed by your brother. And similarly, he loves to engage you in being cuddled up together.

It’s official: I have cuddlebugs for kids.

And this isn’t something that only happens occasionally. Instead, he does this daily with you.

Dear Holly: I Have Cuddlebugs for Kids (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

But in that paramount moment, I felt required to send out an Instagram pretty much immediately, sharing, “Whole lot of love.”

It could have simply been a fun trip for frozen yogurt, but fortunately, I saw a heart-warming moment that I will never forget.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: I Have Cuddlebugs for Kids (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

Dear Jack: Our Trip to Legoland (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

5 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack: Our Trip to Legoland (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

Dear Jack,

Mommy and I couldn’t take our Kindergartner son to San Diego without taking him to Legoland, could we?

l2 l3 l4 l5 l6 l7

Grandma helped us out by staying in our hotel room with your baby sister, while Mommy and I spent half the day with you, at what had to be for you the boy equivalent of Disney Land.

Seriously, I could see that it was a nearly 6 year-old boy’s dream come true. Undeniably, Mommy and I loved it too!

We started out by going a ride that took us through the Lego versions of popular traditional fairy tales. It’s so cool to see everything made out of Legos.

Dear Jack: Our Trip to Legoland (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander) l9
l10

I didn’t realize there would be so many rides there, but that’s mainly what we did. We went on a roller coaster, a train ride, a boat ride, a laser tag ride, and a Lego version of the tea cup ride at Disney Land.

Dear Jack: Our Trip to Legoland (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander) l12 l13 l14

Mommy and I also let you play a carnival game, as you always love try to win a prize. Granted, we only let you play the games where “everyone wins a prize.” You were very proud of the dragon you won.

You were mesmerized by the miniature version of the world. They even had a Lego layout of all the Star Wars movie.

Dear Jack: Our Trip to Legoland (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander) l18 l19 l20 l21

I loved the giant Chewbacca, as well.

We finished up our visit to Legoland with the build-a-boat exhibit. You and I built a Lego boat, then got to race it down the chute alongside other kids’ Lego boats.

Dear Jack: Our Trip to Legoland (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander) l23

I am confident that our trip to Legoland will be something you never forget.

Dear Holly: Everyone Loves to Hold You (San Diego Vacation in a 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander) Dear Holly: Everyone Loves to Hold You (San Diego Vacation in a 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

Mommy let you buy a $4 Pixel set to work on during the drive back to our hotel. It was funny because Mommy and I sat up front together, while you worked intensively in your own work station in the 3rd row seat in the very back of the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander we drove.

Dear Jack: Our Trip to Legoland (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

Needless to say, you finished the Lego set by the time we made it back to your sister and Grandma.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Our Trip to Legoland (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)