The storefront is through ShapeWays and I use iFixit, to drive the traffic. It passively makes enough to cover my own coffee needs forever. I spend about 20 minutes per month fielding questions. This all happened because my grinder failed and I could not get parts.
It's not a great idea to grind or sand Cadmium plated items, because it kicks the Cd into a fine dust that you will inhale and will be absorbed into your system.
The kind of mercury you hear about that is incredibly toxic and can absorb through your skin are actually mercury salts (ethyl mercury, methyl mercury, etc.) and aren’t as likely to be found.
He was originally in the business of repairing these machines and then discovered he could no longer buy these parts from the OEMs so he learned CAD and CNC and injection molding and started making them a few years ago. He has a 3D printer for prototyping, but he needs to injection mold part of the final product because there is no filament in the particular material that he needs. His business has transitioned from repair to manufacturing and now he mostly sells replacement parts to other repair shops.
I don't want to disturb his business by talking about it in detail, but the point is that I think there are and will be many opportunities around repair parts that manufacturers are unwilling to provide because they'd rather be selling new machines. Aside from the environmental impact, that's fine since there are many people who won't go the repair route, and then there's a secondary market for those who will make parts and repair the machines.
There is a solution to so many problems here (creating usually unavailable parts for machines/devices/products) but the problem is knowing which parts are in demand and currently have no supplier.
A maker would need to have an interest or hobby in such a device & discover a need for the item for it to come into fruition. But just think of how many general 3D printed parts could be printed as solutions for so many products out there that are going unmade.
I was not commenting on the quality of the work. BTE, saying the Chinese quality must be automatically shite is a ridiculous idea.
I could see someday having a github project for replacement parts, each one iterating and getting better an better -- far beyond the original.
Could even be something silly, like a plastic fuse extractor tool that people will pay $50 for if it looks OEM.
A company does sell a replacement, which he paid a fortune for, which had garbage tolerances and we spent weeks modifying it until it fit more or less well enough.
I suspect if you spent time on "classic car" forums you'd find owners of very specific models of cars searching for things you could make and sell for any markup, and every owner would buy one.
 Its the silver part in this photo, which the alternator mounts to and must be precisely centered https://rennlist.com/forums/attachments/993-forum/1236047d15...
Even without that, I'm kind of surprised they sue. Are they patenting each part? Is there case law that covers this? Or is it just a case of bringing a suit to scare people I sto stopping? I wonder.
Edit: I actually looked into it a little more- it looks like the part is probably machined from casting given that there appear to be four stators which also locate the center mounting point. That's where the concentricity would be set; not by the casting, but by the machining of the center flange. So assuming that the fan's mounting points are within spec, I would say that your friend's part could just be chalked up to machining process that leaves something to be desired. This is actually a trickier part if machined from casting (without the appropriate tooling), but actually pretty simple (and wildly expensive) if machined from billet.
I used to order a lot of custom things from China. Took a lot of trial and error to find good suppliers. They only accept bank wire as payment, so they risk little other than repeat business if they choose to be sloppy.
I think from memory the inside of the circle (which was cast) was not perfectly round. From memory the original Porsche part was titanium, and this replacement was aluminum. But I might have that backwards.
What doesn't sit right with me is the fact that for a small run, the price of even an aluminum casting would absolutely motivate me to get it right the first time. At the level of volume that the guy would have to be operating at, I would be test-fitting every part to a car before sending it out the door.
I feel like the relative scarcity of air-cooled 911s coupled with the difficulty of machining the part correctly as a third party is why the part itself is so hard to come by. If a person were motivated, though, there is definitely another way to make a suitable replacement more cheaply and easily with a modified design. That's provided someone is okay with not having a completely factory 911.
Just take a quick look through your favourite forum for your car of choice and there's endless threads begging for some random old plastic part that can no longer be found.
Interior trim clips, centre console fascias, exterior body plugs (where tow hook goes, where roof racks go, etc), stereo surrounds, door handle surrounds, etc etc etc.
Depends on your pricing and margins. There's a huge number of parts that are available but ridiculously priced, often coming out an order of magnitude in excess of what seems reasonable.
Take for instance a kettle scale filter. OK you probably can't 3d print these, but for something so simple they're insanely priced - £5-£15 for a bit of plastic. A whole kettle with filter costs typically £15-£35. Dyson parts are even sillier.
There may be a far wider range of parts you could profit from than you may think. :)
This is def not viable from my view- at least not for parts that are this cheap already.
That's most of it left for promotion. Domestic appliances, large and small, regularly have small spare parts that attract 25 or 50% of the price of the entire item. Never used to.
That they're already doing well with small appliances in the niche of non-available parts says enough about pricing floor.
I've also considered creating some upgrades to the stock parts, but it's on my "some day I'll get around to it" list.
It's a neat business model: The person posts DIY repair videos on youtube, which drives traffic to his site. The strollers can easily cost $1000 new, and are often handed down / resold, so there is motivation to keep them running, and they have some weak spots which tend to break. The 3D printed replacement parts can be of superior quality to the original parts.
Want to team up on an a milk gallon jug attachment to pour cleanly?
I think sellers may be able to limit the materials to known working ones (each material has it's own requirements).
was it to save money? or for some unique design?
> is there any way to scan it from your phone and hear it?
It's not detailed enough for that, though you can tell the cadence and reliably guess at the number of words. If you know what we said, and only we do, then you can see it.
Parts are cheap, I listen to music or a podcast, I do all the “PITA” repairs (replacing wheel bearings, ball joints, tie rods, full brake service) that are really just labor in terms of professional repair cost, perform additional rust prevention, and for sale it goes when I feel a new grandma or grandpa would never give a hesitation to load it up with all their grandkids. They also see a very thorough interior cleaning, and a full exterior detail (including paint correction when required).
It has bought every very nice tool I could ever want, most are 20-30 hours of labor including acquisition, and I’m at the point where I have repeat customers (the put a 2nd alongside the first) and have direct referrals. Now the profit mostly goes towards putting a 2nd interesting car in the garage, and some towards moving up the ladder to try to earn more per vehicle.
Selling cars isn’t bad when you don’t have employees to pay, and it lets you sell really high quality stuff. I keep thinking of how much I couldn’t justify doing, and how much my product standards would suffer if I had to pay help.
I've considered making videos, but the reality at the moment is there's not yet the time to do it to my level of quality. At least not yet.
One of my favourite channels has much lower production values (not bad by any means though!), and is much more of a hacker. He buys something damaged, figures out how to somehow fix it up and does so. Often a bit of a bodge, lol. But the videos come out frequently and are fascinating. This channel is "B is for Build". 
Another channel I will recommend, more for the awe of seeing an absolute master craftsman - "Arthur Tussik". This fine Russian gentleman is almost certainly the most skilled panel beater on Youtube. His videos are bodywork restoration of mangled crash wrecks back to perfect in one short video. 
And finally a recommendation I'm sure any hacker will enjoy watching - "Bad Obsession Motorsport", and their "Project Binky" series. Rebuild of a classic Mini, with a twist, almost every part needs custom fabrication. Simply amazing. 
I'd love to see your shop or even just time lapses. I really enjoy watching cnc and hand builds on youtube. It's very helpful to watch these to see what's really involved in say pulling the front end off of a mini-cooper.
The videos would also be too long. Part of why ChrisFix is so well known is he has high-quality, edited, to-the-point content that packs everything into a concise high-quality video. I could not do that on Twitch without great expense, lots of advance planning, and helping hands.
They're 2 different things, eg there's a huge difference between say ChrisFX and a twitch stream for a mechanic, though they're both basically build logs at the end of the day.
Twitch is definitely more the low overhead mass content version of content. Similar to the Howard Stern Show, or Car Talk, as opposed to The Grand Tour. Thousands of hours of contents as opposed to hundreds, or 10s.
I was just pointing out there's a market for the mass quantity content.
It's actually one of the things I DONT like about the produced car rebuild shows, they often edit out stuff just to make it entertaining to everyone, where I'm wanting to watch just to see the whole thing and the techniques. Much more like slow tv. I'm totally happy to skip through parts I don't care about.
It quickly adds up to an insane amount of effort. (Which is why he's got the best auto repair tutorials in human history!)
chrisfix makes nice videos, kingofrandom, dan rohas; for french car/bike chops: '103 mob stories' and 'Garage, Bangers and Rock'n Roll'
matthias wandel and others for woodworking
AvE OldTony for mech/metal
Tons of electrical engineering
And the OG of youtube diagnostics, Scanner Danner
This only scratches the surface of good diagnostics channels on YouTube, but they along with S.M.A. are my favorites.
1. Where do you find buyers? I'd be concerned about inventory either piling up or taking too long to sell at a price that even breaks even when you are spending time/money on fixing.
2. Do you feel your value-add is more on the sales side as a broker or is it in the repairs? I know people who just flip cars and do extremely minimal "freshing up" and are also profitable/successful.
3. How do you keep up with the increasingly locked down and opaque ECUs and other systems? More and more diagnostics require factory wizardry these days.
4. You implied that you do paint and body work. Where/how did you learn and become proficient? Most auto repairs are pretty much "follow the steps" work anyone can learn from YouTube, but body work is artistry.
5. Do you worry about liability? I'm OK fixing my own car since if I screw up it's my ass on the line. I'd be less confident in sending the car off to grandma, even if I knew what I was doing.
2. Repairs and preventative maintenance. We average ~4 feet of snow a year, so tie rod ends, wheel bearings, control arms, bushes, flex pipes, exhaust hangers, etc. suffer since no one really maintains a steel car properly. The reality is when even a Honda or Toyota dealer is $125/hour and a Lexus or Acura dealer is $175/hour, people don't replace $18/ea bushings -- but when things rattle or feel loose, they sell the vehicle like it's going to explode.
These aren't difficult repairs, they just require lifting the vehicle (I have a Bendpak Quick Jack) and doing it. People also don't properly clean their undercarriage, and rustproof. I do. Very easy, very inexpensive. Though when many people treat cars as disposable, it lets a lot of nice stuff come onto the market for the well-inclined.
3. Not an issue unless you're in Porsches on up with encrypted ECUs, and even then, that prevents MODIFYING them, not reading diagnostics. Regardless, this has been a problem 0 times since I've started many years ago. OBD-II is a wonderful thing, and there's no weird shenanigans coming from Honda/Toyota at all.
4. I only do paint correction, as in "level a clearcoat" to a mirror finish, and only for vehicles that merit it (let's ignore that any car sub-$150K new comes with some level of orange peel). I do not buy any vehicle that needs a respray, ever. It can be DIY'd very well, but the amount of labor is prohibitive. Not enough money made for the time spent.
5. I've an umbrella policy, mostly because I have one for my primary business, in the odd event I ever were sued. In general, vehicles are sold as-is. Zero concern here.
I imagine with the cars you're working with rust isn't an issue, but could be needed for minor damage. Are you passing on those cars completely or leaving those as is?
I sorely miss being able to regularly work on and drive cars, but job and salary necessitates being in New York City for a long while. I have a long term project sitting and waiting for me 1000 miles from here. Will involve taking everything off the car, fixing rust, repainting and rebuilding everything. Someday...
In my state, Oregon, for example, the DMV has agents watching craigslist, facebook, autotrader, etc. who go test drive private party cars under cover and ask the question, "So, why are you selling?" where answering that question incorrectly (along the lines of, "oh I bought it to fix up and make a few bucks") will net you a several thousand dollar fine.
Here's a video of someone failing to get pricing in advance for a medical procedure and an article about how many simple tasks need licences.
The fact that a lot of areas only have 1 broadband provider blows my mind.
As for paint matching, I don't. If I car needs any significant paint work, I'm not interested in buying it. It's also a sign that when I get underneath a car, I'm going to find other issues which are going to be an immediate no sale (as in welding required).
Even at normal, non-insurance repair rates (as in, full price), an independent mechanic charges around twice as much per hour than a body shop does for your average paint work (high end a very different story) -- I can get much more $/hour for my labor doing repairs than I ever will doing anything more than leveling a clear coat.
Though I've worked on a ton of stuff, the above is where there's A) enough people owning the above who still think all vehicles explode when their odometer hits 100K B) have inexpensive and easy repairs for simple things that are rotting or are wearing out and C) plenty of people who know better and when they test drive a 10-year old one that feels as good and looks as good as new, won't even negotiate your asking price.
I've entertained the idea of selling BMW M cars, Audi S/RS and Merc AMGs, but the reality is there's far more labor involved, far more to usually fix, higher acquisition costs, less demand, and buyers who are completely insufferable. I've sold several, but in retrospect it wasn't ever worth the time and effort.
If you want to get into performance, I'd go gentle: Ford have sports lines of their usual mix (ST/RS in Europe), as do many other makes.
Also a small hatchback with a big engine is a lot more fun per dollar than a Merc...
That's interesting, when I used to have a shop and flip cars on the side, honda civics and euro cars were the most profitable. Civics because you can fix them up, lower them and throw on a set of wheels and you're good to go are super easy to turn over. Euro cars are easy to pick up at steep discounts when they're older and need repairs, and the parts are actually not bad and once you get the hang of it, they're not too bad to work on.
Of course you'd want to also have accounts with parts stores otherwise you're losing too much on those costs.
However this was 5 years ago so the small crossover suv craze wasn't what it is today.
That certainly matches what I've seen happen with my friend's cars: Toyotas just keep going and are cheap to fix, Euro cars have something bust earlier in their lifetime and usually outrageously costly to repair.
I am from NZ and as a country we keep driving second hand cars until they are uneconomic to fix, and maybe half of the cars imported from overseas are second hand Japanese cars. We don't have a lot of American cars but my own limited experience with them is that they are as unreliable and costly as the European cars.
You can find some individual models within other brands that are reliable, however if you are buying a car that is 5 to 10 years old, you can't yet know if the model you are getting is a good one, so buying by brand actually makes sense. Quote from article about maintenance costs: "Toyota completely avoids the the most expensive models list" which helps averages (although I think they used median costs in that article).
You also get a very different kind of buyer (skews faaaar younger) that honestly, is just insufferable to deal with. There’s more profit per unit, but not more profit an hour, and too much dealing with awful personalities.
What if they end up selling it for more than it is estimated to be worth in something like blue book?
Is that considered profit?
(I have several companies in this space)
Unless the laws in their state are solely based on volume, they are almost certainly acting as a dealer, which requires a dealer license and a bunch more legal requirements. In most states once someone buys a car with the intention of reselling it rather than using it, they automatically become a dealer.
Though in my state, in excess of 5 vehicles per year they start to care, and prefer you hold a surety bond -- which as of a few months ago, I do for an amount well in excess of the transaction price of the vehicles I typically sell. I also now have a dealer plate, which never goes on anything because some buyers would get weird if they saw one.
I conduct a form of ethnography, embedding myself in the lives of consumers the way Margaret Mead did among Samoans. I interviews my subjects and the people around them, itemizing the contents of their home (photographing and videotaping), and accompany them as they progress through their day. Then I sift the resulting information for weeks, even months, looking for connections and telltale behaviors.
The service is used mostly by founders for small businesses and startups. I takes questions about sales figures and product lines and reconfigures them into questions about worlds, the context in which people unthinkingly live their everyday lives. The idea is that examining the beliefs and unconscious biases that people have will eventually yield profitable insights for these businesses.
So far, I've done market entry for a few Chinese companies into Japanese market, helped indie game design company launch a successful game, a boutique lingerie shop launch a new summer line, street musicians, and a few cafes and bars.
I do this on the side with hopes to go full time into it soon.
With that being said, you might get a handful of, "no, absolutely not that's creepy" responses to the request, but if you ask enough people someone will say yes and be excited about it.
Do not be discouraged by the no’s. Starting with friends and network is an option.
It also helps if you have a code of conduct/governance documentation for them to read and understand how their data is gathered and used.
I usually send a copy of all data to my subjects with a thank you letter and how it helped (with a gift card).
It also helps to build a network, for starters I partner-up with many prominent content producers on YouTube and Twitter and pay them a small fee for introductions.
I also pay the people I study on the field (but not always, some are happy to help once they understand what it's for). A lot say no, but you only need a few yes. It's about drawing insights from a small set of data.
Studying consumers on their own isn’t enough to be successful. I look at all the data I can regarding technology, marginal practices, client and industry data, and speak to many experts with knowledge on the topic. I analyze the assumptions underlying what I observe happening and identify the gaps (e.g. between the client’s assumptions about their customers and what I observe in the real world, or between the industry’s assumptions about the future and consumers’ marginal practices).
Analyzing these gaps helps me see white spaces that have impact in the market, which allows me to advise my clients on where the market is likely to be years out and ensure that my recommendations are actionable. Since these are new perspectives they often make it actionable. Execution is something they handle and all of my clients have seen a change. Most are repeat customers.
That success gave me wings for a while. Word of mouth referring helped and I only took on clients who were recommended to me (i.e. they were aware of it)
Sometimes I meet business owners and founders at meetups or for lunch and we organically start talking about what we do (with no intention to sell). I always try to make the other person curious and then feed their curiosity. Also, I do an initial consultation for free.
The motivation is not money and my rates are pretty compelling (low) for the ROI I promise. Not every small business takes the opportunity but some did.
It sounds like this is a form of consulting where would-be founders outsource the idea-gen / problem discovery work to you.
How does the problem statement from the client manifest -- is it usually something like "I want you to determine if there's a market for X", or "I want you to explore this demographic of people," or something else?
I do provide remote services to a few startups in california but their audience is usually online and has ties to Japan.
I'm happy to listen to you. You can fill this form  out and I'll react out to you by the end of the week.
My base of operations is in Tokyo right now and there's a lot of demand for these services once people hear about it. Often people approach it for curiosity and then I work my leads to turn them into clients.
Not all companies were forward thinking but they have a common traits: empathy, more concerned on providing value to their customers, and emphasize long-term problem solving over quick fixes.
I use psychographics to define customer values, opinions, and life-style.
For ethnography I don't have any recommendations. I've read books largely to complement my thinking, phenomenology and existentialism. Here's what I've read (notable ones):
Being and Time – Martin Heidegger
The Principle of Reason – Martin Heidegger
Phenomenology of Perception – Maurice Merleau-Ponty
New Reflections on the Revolution of Our Time – Ernesto Laclau
Introduction to Metaphysics – Martin Heidegger
The Basic Problems of Phenomenology (Studies in Phenomenology & Existential Philosophy) – Martin Heidegger
History of Western Philosophy – Bertrand Russell
I manage my time quite well, I get eight hours of sleep everyday and the rest I try to be productive. I have a wife who understands what I'm trying to do and helps me out. Needless to say I work on weekends and holidays and gave up all hobbies.
It's not easy but it's a choice. This has helped me build habits and a discipline. I am mindful and try not to bite off more than I can chew i.e. understand my limits.
My side project has also changed the way I think about engineering problems and solutions. Since I work on the growth team its complementary rather than diverging.
Nowadays it still only earns a little every month, but that's mostly owing to a rise in expenses (e.g., I pay the contributors more). But profit is secondary for me, my primary motive is to have an excuse to research and write this stuff, and for intelligent people to consume it.
I suppose without ads there isn't a lot of high-monetization opportunities.
Thanks a lot for creating and maintaining the site. If you ever need any help with the design and front-end development of your site, let me know - I'd love to volunteer some time to the site that I love so much.
Thanks so much for all the damn interesting knowledge!!
The quality there never lets me down. Thanks for it!
Thank you for keeping it going. It’s great story telling.
Why the curated section though? I think it distracts to have links to articles from NYTime or Wired on the side.
At first we worked our cabooses off to publish new original content several times per month. This proved unsustainable, partially because we were becoming more ambitious with our work, but especially owing to stressors that had arisen in my personal life, and I burned out.
I spent a year-long hiatus putting things right, and when we resumed our writing, it was with the understanding that we were switching to a marathon-not-a-sprint publication schedule. The curated column arose to fill in the gaps between our in-house writings. Nowadays many readers specifically visit us for the links, so we feel duty-bound to persist.
Thank you for doing this. Your site is a treasure.
I'm an avid saxophone player and am taking evening classes in theory, so I made this to solve a problem that I myself had. Nothing else like it on the market!
Every part of this notebook is automatically generated with a bunch of python scripts: the cover design, the interior, the line placement, the margins. The program basically spits out a PDF which I can then send to print shops (which is the hardest part of the whole thing!)
The product is good, people like it, and the hardest part for me right now is sales - trying to get stores to carry it, or get traffic to the site to drive sales! If you know anyone who might be interested...
edit: Okay I've opportunistically created a coupon code THANKSHN for 10% off.
- combination of staff paper and college-ruled lines
- perforated to easily tear out pages
- three-hole punched
- decent quality paper, binding, cover material
You'll find that there's surprisingly nothing like it on Amazon! My inspiration was those cheap Mead spiral notebooks - incredibly functional.
Also need to figure out how to ship to Europe more cheaply, since right now I'm sending everything from my little apartment in Brooklyn!
and it appears they have at least some info for some other european countries :-)
disclaimer: not affiliated with them, though i did some work for them a few years ago
Can you expand on what you mean by this? Seems like straightforward design(s) that you can just keep printing over and over..
BTW those digital sheets are pricey, so I wrote some scripts to generate PDF for my kindle, the output looked quite neat. I used LaTeX, Lilypond and perl to comb out unsupported stave notation from songs I ripped from public sources.
I feel like the hardest part to get into would be finding a way to keep costs and shipping times down without maintaining a large floating inventory. Have you found that is a problem at all?
- Finding a shop which produces at acceptable quality
- Finding the balance between order volume and cost
If you're not fussy about physical characteristics (eg, rounded corners) then I'd prototype at the local office max - pretty affordable and fast.
If you email me I can maybe give some more details! Maybe I should start a business doing print shop consulting...
If you're not fussy about some of the notebook features (eg, the specific kind of binding, or rounded corners) then you can do custom books at your local UPS Store, office max, etc. You'd save money and time by prototyping that way, wish I'd done more of that.
Couldn’t you just make it in Adobe InDesign?
Cool item, btw. I used to play saxophone years back.
I make lots of jellies once the berries in the garden are ripe; I bought a house in a rural area a few years ago and it came with loads of berries. Might as well put them to use.
It is all done manually (in part because it is meant to be a diversion from my engineering job) - red- and blackcurrant and gooseberries mostly. Last year the harvest was some 1200 4oz glasses of jelly - some 1150 more than my family consumes. Sells by word of mouth.
Also, as my mother is quite into weaving tapestry and it was hard to find the exact hues she wanted for her yarns, I started dyeing for her, using traditional colouring. Turned out there was a (veee-eeery small!) market for that kind of thing, and I now make small batches for some 30-35 weavers. Again, fully manual as the idea is to do something completely different from my full-time job.
It helps being an engineer, too - I've found (much to my surprise) that keeping detailed notes to ensure repeatable results is quite rare in both pastimes.
I thought everybody kept log books! :)
I'm about to hit publish on a photo coffee-table book from my three years around Africa, and I'll write an Africa guide book and The Road Chose Me Vol 2 in the next 12-18 months.
* The Road Chose Me Volume 1: Two years and 40,000 miles from Alaksa to Argentina (https://amzn.to/2vfCYvn)
Stories and lessons from two years driving my Jeep Wrangler down the Pan-American Highway
* Work Less to Live Your Dreams: A practical guide to saving money and living your dreams
An eBook about how exactly I can afford to take years off work to do what I want and live my dreams.
* West Africa Myths, Misconceptions and Misnomers (https://amzn.to/2veyQMt)
After driving the length of the continent, I collected a bunch of information that is extremely helpful to anyone else thinking of doing similar. The vast majority of the Western Worlds "knowledge" of West Africa is so out of date it's useless. My book is from info I learned during my drip from mid 2016 to late 2017, so it's relevant
Would love to help in any way we can on your next book (I'm the founder of Reedsy, https://reedsy.com)
Do you work on the road or take off years at a time?
Are you armed, or do you just avoid central conflict areas?
I take it no family? (hence the 'solo' bit) or are they undersganding?
For the first one (AK->Argentina) I just took time off and lived off my savings account. For around Africa I wrote my first book and I write for multiple magazines while on the road.
> Are you armed, or do you just avoid central conflict areas?
Crossing an international border with a firearm will result in instant jail time in virtually every country on the planet. No, it would be impossible to bring a firearm. You might be surprsed to know I have never heard a single gunshot in three years around the continent, and Ethiopia was the only country I ever saw regular people with firearms. In every other country it's only the police/military, who are extremely professional.
> I take it no family? (hence the 'solo' bit) or are they undersganding?
No kids or wife. I did have a girlfriend with me for some of the Africa Expedition - living in the Jeep proved too much for our relationship.
If you do have a family, don't let that stop you, I've met plenty of people on the road with families, ie. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sc61AxCQQR4
I've asked you a few questions on Instagram and you've always taken the time to answer my questions. I appreciated it.
I also have enjoyed following your journey, from one world traveler to another.
For my published books I want ultimate control over the layout, so I write them in LaTeX to get the pdf to go to the printer. To get it into an eBook I use pandoc to convert them. I wrote a script that does it for me, and massages the resulting ePub until it's exactly what I want.
My published books is about 70,000 words. Writing it didn't actually take very long (a few hundred hours I guess), but then I probably spent at least that much time again editing and revising multiple draft rounds.
I also found that you could use the same CAD program that I learned to design PCB's to draw outlines to cut out on the laser CNC machine at the local maker space. I ended up finding a niche on ebay building open air computer cases. Because of the economics of shipping large items from overseas and the low cost of the materials I was using I was able to under cut the imports on price by like 60% and still make a nice amount of money on a $/ hour basis.
In hind sight the best way to find these kinds of opportunities is not to be looking for them. You really just need to get a really deep understanding of a hobby or industry or market that interests you in some way and once you have that then these sorts of things kind of pop out of the woodwork.
> I taught myself circuit board design and found a niche market that I designed a few products for that sold like gangbusters with zero marketing for a few years until the market cooled off and low cost knock offs started entering the market.
Can you elaborate a bit? Did you teach yourself literal circuit board design (but already had a background in electronics/hardware)? Or did you start from scratch and learn how to design an electronic circuit?
What was the niche (broadly?)
> In hind sight the best way to find these kinds of opportunities is not to be looking for them. You really just need to get a really deep understanding of a hobby or industry or market that interests you in some way and once you have that then these sorts of things kind of pop out of the woodwork.
1000% agree. The single best way to find an idea is to be seriously and deeply involved in a hobby/area of interest. There are so many ideas out there screaming you in the face.
The niche was building adapters for old server power supplies so you can re-purpose them for use as general purpose 12 Volt power supplies. It was a thing in the RC community for a while to charge batteries but it got really big in the 2014 - 2017 time frame due to the Bitcoin mining industry needing low cost high wattage PSUs.
I had two part time money making side projects. I was a part time fitness instructor and had some rental real estate.
Teaching fitness classes was fun, I made a lot of friends, and it gave me a release valve from working at a computer all day. Real estate was a headache.
Around 2008 -2011, a few things happened. The real estate market crashed and I did a few “strategic defaults”, I realized I could make a lot more by getting better at software engineering and job hopping, and I got married and gained a wife and two (step) children.
I gave up all of my side projects, concentrated on my career, started building a network of recruiters, former coworkers, and former managers and doubled my income over the next 8 years (not bragging, I still make about the average of principal engineer/architect/team lead in my area).
Even looking over the next two to five years, I should be able to increase my income by 50% (working for local companies) to well over 100% (if I can get into Amazon) as some type of cloud consultant, “digital transformation consultant”, or “Architect”. The only thing stopping me now is the travel requirements. I want to wait until my youngest completes high school.
But, that means I can’t juggle my job, family commitments, working out, filling in some technical gaps and a side job/business.
So no side business.
So instead of in two years being able to command 50% to 100% more as a cloud consultant/architect, I would still only be able to make what I’m making now. I will be spending a lot of time building instead of sharpening my axe.
Even worse, I risk being further behind technically in two or three years and not even being able to find a job in development in the then hot technology.
It’s like the difference between deciding to go to work right out of high school and postponing starting your career and going to college.
I don't have a side-hustle yet, but I'm working on one. As you pointed out, there's an opportunity cost to a side-business. I'm working on a scheme to monetize a hobby; make money off something I'd be doing anyway. I'm just over 10 years into my career, recently married with a teenage step-child. My family-time or my "down-time" is very precious to me. During our wedding, we got some beautiful wedding save-the-dates off Etsy. They were water-color paintings. But then we needed additional stationary: invitations, menus, seating charts, table signs, a gobo (wtf is a gobo??), etc.... I ended up using photoshop to make all of the other stationary and graphics myself based off the initial Etsy save-the-dates (it was important to me that the fonts & colors matched on everything). My wife loves to paint water-colors, and I'm into photography & graphic-design. I'm working on a side hustle to do wedding invites and similar stationary on Etsy based off her paintings and my photography & graphic-design skills. These are (mostly) activities we'll do anyway. So... make some stationary templates once, throw them up on Etsy, and if people buy them GREAT, if not then no loss.
I'm guessing you are helping companies move to Azure or Amazon?
Coming from a development background, with some Devops experience, I want to take companies to the next step - actually taking advantage of what cloud providers offer and interface with the developers and Devops.
As far as “digital transformation consultants”, some recruiting companies offer both staff augmentation services where they hire contractors temporarily on a W2 basis to work for clients and offer complete project management. Companies pay them to actually build a project and/or build up a software development department.
The consultants work for the recruiting agency permanently. A team is built up under them consisting of temporary workers either locally, “rural sourced” by hiring developers in lower cost of living areas domestically, or outsourced.
I don’t like the politics and red tape of large companies and have avoided them for most of my career. Being a consultant I hope gives me the best of both worlds. The total comp that only a large company can offer and the ability to just work on projects without worrying about the politics.
If I were to work for Amazon instead of one of their partners, I wouldn’t have to move - just travel a lot.
Right now, I work as a developer at a small company and the de facto “AWS guy” but I am also filling in some non AWS technology gaps.
The next time they will probably offer this deal is Thanksgiving week. They have courses and hands on training for a AWS, Azure, GCP, Linux, Kubernetes, Docker, etc.