SECOND INCOME & SIDE HUSTLE INCOME – Do you PAY Tax on Side Hustles and HOW MUCH?

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Sabrina and Garret

There’s never been a better time to build an online business around a topic you care about.

This week’s The Side Hustle Show guests are proof of that.

Garret Kruger and Sabrina Ricci are the husband and wife team behind IKnowDino.com, which started as a side hustle and is now the world’s #1 dinosaur podcast.

Not bad for a couple of non-paleontologists!

It wasn’t an overnight success. In fact, it took 6 years for the two of them to feel comfortable going full-time in the business.

But they’ve had a blast along the way — interviewing paleontologists, talking about dinosaurs, and building a passionate dino-loving community.

Tune in to The Side Hustle Show interview to hear:

  • how Garret and Sabrina grew their audience
  • the different ways they monetize their show
  • how you may be able to borrow some of the same tactics for your business

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Garret and Sabrina rediscovered their childhood love for dinosaurs while dating, and even had a dino-themed wedding.

“After the wedding, we didn’t want to stop talking about dinosaurs so we decided to start a podcast,” Sabrina told me.

Sabrina added that she could see that there were paleontology podcasts out there already, but none that were really focused on dinosaurs.

We’re in the “Golden age” of dinosaur discovery right now, Sabrina explained.

New dinosaurs are being discovered on a weekly basis, so she and Garret saw a gap and a need for a podcast that was going to cover these new discoveries.

Competitive Analysis / Idea Validation

Garret said that when they started their website back in 2012 and their podcast in 2015, they treated it as a hobby and thought it might generate a bit of side income at best.

Garret told me there were two main types of competing podcasts at the time:

  • Shows that were purely academic
  • Businesses selling dinosaur-related products that started a podcast for extra exposure

Neither of them was doing what Sabrina and Garret wanted to do. So, there really wasn’t much competition at the time.

The downside was that they could see those shows didn’t have any sponsors and they couldn’t see a clear route to monetizing their own podcast at that time.

Gaining Traction and Growing an Audience

A few techniques and marketing methods Sabrina and Garret have used to gain initial traction and grow their audience over the years are:

Timing the Release of the Show With the Jurassic World Movie

Sabrina told me they timed the release of their show around the release of the Jurassic World movie in 2015.

They released their first episode a few months before the movie came out. Sabrina said this is what helped them get featured on Apple Podcasts.

Front-Loaded Content

Sabrina told me they also front-loaded a lot of content and released two shows a week for the first eight weeks.

This helped them also get featured in the “New and Noteworthy” section of Apple Podcasts which was great for exposure.

Collaborations With Other Shows

Sabrina and Garret have always been open to appearing on other shows, as well as inviting other podcast hosts onto their show.

A lot of their listeners today tell them they found the I Know Dino podcast through listening to other shows, Sabrina told me.

How Long Before You Saw Some Traction?

Garret told me that he assumed they would see some growth through SEO early on as he had set up their website and podcast listing to capture search terms related to “dinosaur podcasts”.

In fact, at the time of writing this, when I search “dinosaur podcast” in Google, I can see I Know Dino is ranking #1.

However, the spikes in viewership really came when they were featured by Apple as a new and noteworthy show.

“I think we were getting roughly 50 downloads a day after a week or two,” Garret told me.

Shortly after, the show was featured by Apple again and after the spike settled they were getting a few hundred downloads a day.

Using Annual Listener Surveys to Improve The Show

Something Sabrina and Garret started doing as a way of collecting feedback to improve their show was to send out a listener survey once a year.

Garret said they’d give a shout-out on their show and share a link on their social media accounts to try and keep the responses within their audience.

He even has a question on the survey asking how often — or if at all — the person filling out the survey listens to the show.

This enables Garret to strike off anyone who says they aren’t listening to the show and take the feedback from regular listeners more seriously.

The feedback has been invaluable over the years in helping Sabrina and Garret improve the show.

In fact, it was the feedback from listeners that helped Sabrina and Garret realize they had an issue with the audio on their shows.

Banter is also something that’s come up over the years. Some listeners said there wasn’t enough banter, some have said it was too much.

Two years ago the feedback was that the banter was about right. Garret said he was happy to get that right after years of trying!

Starting a Patreon Campaign

Starting a Patreon campaign around 6-8 months into producing the show has been huge for Sabrina and Garret.

This was instrumental in validating that they were releasing a show people were interested in and more so willing to pay for.

“OK, we’re making content and people are paying us for it — from then on we didn’t consider stopping,” Garret told me.

Becoming a Patron is the main call to action Sabrina and Garret use during each of their shows.

Over the years they’ve removed lower tiers and added higher tiers as they’ve been able to offer more perks, and it’s become a reliable recurring source of income for them.

Patreon also provides a lot of integrations to help out creators. Garret said they make use of as many of these as they can to drive more signups.

The biggest one they use is the Discord server integration. New Patrons automatically get added to Sabrina and Garret’s Discord server, as long as they have a Discord account.

Once in Discord, Sabrina and Garret are able to better communicate with their Patrons.

They ask their members if they have questions for their guests, give them access to other features, and it helps bring them closer to some of their listeners.

Current Patreon Membership Levels

The current membership levels and perks that Sabrina and Garret offer are:

  • $4/mo – Access to extended interviews, Discord server access, the ability to request a “dinosaur of the day”, and a Patreon-only content feed.
  • $8/mo – All of the perks in the $4/mo plan plus a shout-out on air.
  • $10/mo – All of the perks in the $8/mo plan plus ad-free shows.
  • $20/mo – All of the perks in the $10/mo plan plus free copies of all their ebooks.
  • $100/mo – All of the perks in the $10/mo plan plus an exclusive annual gift.

The current annual gift for the $100/mo membership is a metal print of Sabrina’s dinosaur art, so that’s pretty cool!

Garret told me that people generally “pick the middle one” when it comes to pricing. By default, Patreon shows the $4, $8, and $10 tiers with $8 in the middle, so most of their Patrons choose the $8.

You can see the I know Dino Patreon page here.

Building an Email List

Sabrina and Garret also have an email list that they use to bring people into their ecosystem.

They give a shout-out on their show for people to pop over to their site to sign up. When someone visits their site, a pop-up appears with an offer for a mini audiobook if someone opts in.

When new subscribers sign up, they’re sent a few informational welcome emails.

Subscribers also get sent the show notes for each episode of the show, and after some time will be invited to their private Discord server.

Different Revenue Streams

Sabrina and Garret have monetized their podcast in several ways beyond Patreon, including:

“Our first sponsor was about a year into it,” Sabrina told me.

Sabrina and Garret went on a dinosaur road trip visiting a bunch of museums and interviewing museum workers.

A friend of theirs suggested they approach the museums and ask if they would sponsor their show, telling Sabrina and Garret that museums have marketing budgets.

So, that’s what they did.

After building up some rapport with museums through visiting and interviewing various staff members, Sabrina said they’d ask them if they’d like to sponsor their show.

One museum said yes right away. Garret said this wouldn’t have been possible without putting in the “face time” and visiting these museums in person.

If you have a podcast and are looking for sponsors, Sabrina recommends checking out Podcorn.

Popcorn is a marketplace that connects brands with podcasters and they’ve used it to find additional sponsors.

A couple of others I know about are Gumball.fm, and AdvertiseCast.

Programmatic Ads

Garret said they’re using Art19 to host their podcast and have set up programmatic ads through Art19.

All Garret has to do is mark the places in his episodes where he’s willing to run ads, and Art19 will fill the spaces with ads where applicable.

Book Sales

Sabrina has a background in publishing and has authored a number of dino-related books.

All of their books are available to purchase from their website, Amazon, and some other places online.

Donations

Garret said that people were reaching out to him saying they wanted to make a donation or pay them a recurring amount different to what they’re offering on Patreon.

So, he set up a Stripe integration on their website where people can pay any amount at any time.

Merch

Sabrina explained that they work with an art design company that produces logos and artworks, and she then syndicates the art across various merch items.

Some of their merch items include:

  • Various items of apparel for kids and adults
  • Face masks
  • Wall art
  • Mugs
  • Phone cases and stickers

Sabrina and Garret also ran a fan competition for about a month. They invited members of their community to send in their own artwork.

They had about 22 designs submitted, and members of their community voted on which designs they wanted to see added to their line of merch.

The winners had their designs added to the store.

Sabrina and Garret are using Teepublic as their print-on-demand provider. The best part for the winners of the competition is that Teepublic also sends them royalties every time one of their items is sold.

Website and YouTube Ads

Sabrina and Garret have Google display ads on their website and also make some money from ad revenue through their YouTube channel.

Most of their YouTube videos are their podcast episodes with static images. They do also add some other dino-related videos and do live streams from time to time.

Going Full-Time With the Business

Garret left his full-time job to work on I Know Dino full-time a few years ago, and Sabrina followed about a year ago.

“I would say we’re still not fully comfortable,” Garret told me.

Garret said his stress level is directly related to how many sponsors they have queued up.

Without good sponsors, there are still times when things are tight. But Sabrina and Garret are fully committed to working on the business full-time and it’s still growing.

What’s Next?

Sabrina said they got some good feedback in their last annual listener survey asking them to revisit some of the more basic dinosaur topics.

She’s excited to create some of this content. It’s been a while since she’s worked on that kind of evergreen content.

Knowing more about SEO and how to create content now, both Sabrina and Garret think they can do a better job revisiting some of the questions and topics they covered a few years ago.

They’ve also released a podcasting course which you can find at CompletePodcastingCourse.com.

Here Sabrina and Garret share everything they’ve learned along the way on their own podcasting journey and some other tips for new podcasters.

Sabrina’s #1 Tip for Side Hustle Nation

Be consistent.”

Garret’s #1 Tip for Side Hustle Nation

Pick a topic you’re passionate about.”

Links and Resources from this Episode

  • IKnowDino.com
  • I Know Dino YouTube Channel
  • I Know Dino Patreon Page
  • Podcorn
  • Gumball.fm
  • AdvertiseCast
  • Art19
  • Teepublic
  • CompletePodcastingCourse.com

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