Happy Halloween! Hope everyone has a great time – have fun and be safe! Be sure to check out my guest post at Young Adult Money today, too, on how you can not only eat healthier but also save money on your grocery bill while you’re at it.
Earlier this year, I started listening to NPR in the mornings as I drove into work. The morning news was just what I needed to get my day started, and the fact that there weren’t the usual radio commercials made it that much more appealing.
Of course, if you are a regular listener of NPR, you’ll immediately know why there are none of the usual radio commercials. As public radio, a huge portion of the funding for the organization and its programs comes from viewers – or listeners – like you. Since I had only begun tuning in earlier this year, I had yet to sit through one of their two-week-long pledge drives. Until this month, that is.
If you’ve never been exposed to an NPR pledge drive, just imagine someone is incessantly pleading with you, cajoling you, guilting you into giving money because you glanced in the direction of their pet project. An NPR pledge drive is two solid weeks of various people attempting to convince you that becoming a sustaining member by giving $50 per month for a year (or a one-time contribution of $600!) is well worth the privilege you have of tuning into their station for 10 minutes on weekday mornings. Of course, they’re also quick to remind you that you could always give double that, or become a member of their super secret circle by donating your limbs or first-born children.
I know, I know – NPR would not exist if it were not for donations and contributions from the people that listen to it. And I do think the money they collect is put to good use; I’d much rather listen to their news programs for information about what’s happening in the world than flip to CNN or Fox News. It still makes for an annoying two weeks’ worth of commuting to work.
But it works. I was amazed at how many pledges they consistently received every single hour of every single day for an entire two weeks. And this got me thinking: is there a lesson to be learned here? I concluded there are indeed things NPR’s pledge drive could teach those of us pursuing a side hustle or side gig for the additional income.
You’ll never get anywhere if you don’t make the first move. If you want an opportunity to earn more money, it may be as simple as asking. NPR spends two weeks on the air periodically asking listeners to make a pledge. They don’t sit back, fingers crossed, and hope someone will one day wake up and say, “you know what? I think I’ll contribute a little something to NPR today.” The proactively ask their audience for donations. This doesn’t mean you approach a person or a business with your hand held out, of course – it means that you have to take the initiative to make the first contact. Reach out to those who may need the services you’re offering. If that source doesn’t have a need for your work, they may know someone who will hire you. But you’ll never know unless you ask.
Clearly Express Yourself
During the pledge drive, NPR often gives hard, concise numbers for everything: how much certain types of memberships cost, or how much they need in donations in the next hour. They also explain to listeners why they need the funds they are requesting. Donations fund programs on the air, reporter’s expenses, and events at the station, just to name a few. Most people are more willing to pledge when they know exactly what they’re donating to and why – and most prospective clients will be more willing to pay for your work if you’re concise and clear, too. Clearly express what it is you do and why you’re the best candidate to get their business. Cut the fluff and tell them what matters.
Anyone could learn a thing or two about not letting up on getting a mission accomplished from NPR during a pledge drive. Every fifteen minutes or so, they have an update on how they’re doing for the hour, how many more pledges they need to meet their goals, and they have a new spiel on why listeners like you should be contributing to keep the programs you love alive. They don’t give up – and neither should you. Starting a side hustle or trying to get a freelance career off the ground takes a lot of time and dedication; there’s a lot of work involved up front before you ever see a payout. Don’t let that discourage you. Keep at it and be persistent.
Every time I tuned in to NPR during those two weeks, I heard the folks on the air talking about the station’s goals. They were specific, well-defined, and it was easy to measure whether or not they were ultimately achieved. If you’re seeking to increase your monthly income, you need to do the same thing. Set clear goals for yourself and fully understand what it is you’re working toward, and how you’ll measure if you’ve been successful or not. Being able to judge where you’re at or how far you’ve come is a helpful tool; if you’re not meeting the goals you want, you’ll be able to reevaluate and determine if you need to take a different approach to get there.
When I realized that I could learn a thing or two from NPR during their pledge drive, I stopped being so annoyed that they were interrupting my morning commute. Instead, I starting paying closer attention to what they did, and how I could make those tactics work for me. If you’re looking to start a side gig in order to increase your income, taking a look at successful operations like NPR isn’t a bad way to learn some fundamentals about putting yourself out there and making it known you have a good or service you’d like to exchange for a bit of cash.
Have you learned anything about improving your hustle or picked up some tips on how to increase income from an unexpected source?