When Jeff Nealâs wife told him she wanted to quit her job to stay at home with their kids, he had to think about how to make one income work. With over $21,000 in student loans, there wasnât much extra money lying around. Losing another income stream would be difficult.
But rather than give up hope, Neal did something no one expected. He launched a side business that helped bring in extra money: selling crickets online.
Yes, you heard that right. Crickets.
Now, Neal makes $600 a month selling bugs online at The Critter Depot, which helps him pay off his debt. Read on to learn more about this odd side hustle and how Neal has turned it into a steady income stream.
Searching for a Side Hustle
Neal graduated from Temple University and got a job as a project manager. While he made a good salary, he had student loan debt and a growing family. When his wife decided she wanted to stay home with the kids, Neal knew he had to make changes.
âMy wife wanted to stay home, so I had to take full responsibility as the sole provider,â he says.
Since his full-time job involves e-commerce, he focused his side-hustle search on online jobs. After doing extensive research, he decided to put all of his efforts on one specific niche.
The area that he identified was in the pet industry; reptile and exotic animal owners need live crickets to feed their pets, but getting them can be difficult â and expensive. So, Nealâs site caters to pet owners, selling crickets of various sizes in bulk.
But before you rush out and buy tanks and crickets to replicate Nealâs success, you should know his approach is even more interesting. He actually doesnât deal with the crickets at all. Instead, his business is a drop shipping company.
What Is Drop Shipping?
Drop shipping is a business model where the store doesn’t stock any of the items it sells. Instead, when a customer purchases a product, the drop shipper works with a manufacturer â or in this case, a cricket supplier â to fulfill the order. The drop shipper never comes into contact with the product, so wrangling crickets isnât part of Nealâs day.
âI donât know anything about raising crickets,â he admits. âThey have short life spans and unique nutritional and environmental needs. Itâs a lot of work that takes a lot of knowledge. When I set up my business, I found someone who breeds crickets. He takes care of them and ships them; I just handle the orders.â
For customers, drop shipping is a seamless process, whether itâs through Amazon or a private site. Most of the time, you donât know when youâre buying from a drop shipper. Once your order is placed, the drop shipper works with the supplier to place the order, and you receive the item like you normally would.
Drop shipping can be a mutually beneficial relationship between the seller and supplier. In Nealâs case, he has the marketing expertise and skills to build a successful website and business. That gets the cricket farmer more exposure and more orders than he would get on his own. Neal estimates that he generates about $3,000 in sales each month from The Critter Depot and his cut is $600.
Previously, Neal primarily sold crickets on Amazon. But meeting Amazonâs strict standards is hard when youâre shipping live insects. He ended up taking his sales to just his website, which requires more work for him each day to build traffic.
His new income stream allows him to take advantage of other opportunities, too. He recently purchased the site Jason Coupon King, which generates another $700 a month in revenue.
Balancing a Side Gig With Life & Work
While Nealâs side hustle is successful, he has to balance his work with his full-time job and his family. But thatâs why he says drop shipping is a great option. It gives him the flexibility he needs while still allowing him to earn extra money.
âI donât have a television, so when I come home from work, I just spend time playing with the kids and catching up with my wife,â says Neal. âOnce theyâre in bed, I work on optimizing my websites, contributing to forums and building links to my sites.â
Neal says he spends an hour or two a day after work on his side hustle and that his business is still growing. The extra income is substantial enough to help him pay off his student loans early and give his family more wiggle room in their monthly budget. (You can keep tabs on your own finances by viewing two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.)
Making Extra Money
While selling crickets might not be for you, Nealâs story is just another example of the many ways you can make money on the side. If youâre struggling to make ends meet, or need more income to pay down debt or boost your emergency fund, launching a side hustle can be the right approach.
Photo courtesy of Jeff NealÂ
The post Meet the Man Who Makes $600 a Month Selling Crickets appeared first on Credit.com.