COVID-19 Killed My Day Job
With the event industry completely shut down for the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve found myself with a little extra time on my hands lately. I’ve been putting that time to use developing my various passive income projects from the safe social distance of my apartment.
One of my projects, Checkered Hat, has been putting on live events in the Seattle area for a couple of years now and we’re making the transition into a more technology-driven format. It could get complicated but, for now, it’s not. One of the first steps is to take the shows and live video stream them online.
In order to pull it off, I’ve had to buy some additional equipment. I’m a production gear hoarder and have dabbled a little into equipment rental, outfitting shows here and there with my own personal collection of mismatched, but serviceable, equipment. It’s always been a fly by the seat of your pants, at night, kinda gig. Consequently, I always just stole numbers off of other people’s invoices and copied them into mine when I needed to determine the rental price of an item.
How Much Should I Charge?
Nobody had ever taught me how to calculate a fair rental price for something. Everything was monkey-see-monkey-do. With this latest batch of purchases, it’s become clear that my collection of gear is, to put it in corporate-speak, creatively varied. Nobody has exactly this same collection of crap. I’m out of my cut-and-paste element. I could see no viable choice but to actually start figuring things out for myself.
Rule 34 Applies
I did what anyone with a smartphone would do. I Googled it. There had to be some sort of free online profit margin calculator for equipment rental. There are a ton of event rental companies offering everything from overhead projectors to ladder rental. It only made sense that they were using a profit margin formula of some sort. I just didn’t know what it was. Search as I may, I couldn’t find a financial calculator that could tell me the gross profit from renting a piece of gear or how much I was supposed to realistically rent it to someone for.
Eventually, buried deeply in a contractor’s forum that looked like it dated from the late 90’s I found the rant and subsequent flames I was looking for. It’s a by-product of Rule 34. Just about every common question has already been asked; answered poorly and debated ad nauseum by people who spend their days obsessing over whatever particular subject is being debated. If it exists, there’s been a flame war on a message board about it.
I did the painful part for you. I read all that crap. I came, I saw, and I built it into a spreadsheet. Once it was all working, my next thought was, “how do I apply this dynamically to all of my items?” Another no-brainer…
Some People Can’t Help Themselves
I took my spreadsheet and duplicated it in PHP code. I slapped that puppy into a quick one-page website on a subdomain and built a quick API. For a final touch, I added a couple of ads. It needs to create income somehow, and I’d been itching to put that Gaff Gun ad somewhere.
You may be wondering what this has to do with passive income. Let’s talk about that. The actual renting of gear is only partially passive. There’s still significant effort involved. I do production because of my passion for it as much as for the money, I wasn’t really thinking about that.
Turn Problems into Opportunities
This is the process I used to find my niche passive income opportunity. As I tackled my real-life problem, I was forced to look for solutions. Once a solution was discovered my thoughts turned to reduce the effort required to implement the idea. Implementing automation led to a whole different set of problems. Luckily, I’m a Swiss army knife, not a utility knife. I believe that the route to optimum value creation in this case was to apply my cross-industry skills in a creative way to the situation.
We all have strange combinations of things that we know. By identifying where these unique combinations of knowledge and skill reveal unique solutions, we identify opportunities to create value.
In order to create a production rental price and profit calculator, I needed to understand not only the niche of production equipment rental but also business bookkeeping, a little tax law, and some irritatingly convoluted math. To implement it, I needed to have some basic coding skills. To make a profit off of it required me to use SEO skills, keyword-focused writing, and marketing.
None of my skills are all that unique in and of themselves. The combination, however results in a viable passive income project. The project is valuable to a small-enough niche to have little competition while still having organic search traffic. The best part is that I needed to do most of the work anyway to accomplish my original goal of figuring out what a fair price to rent my event production equipment would be. Any income that comes from my production rental price and profit calculator will be truly passive.
The Finished Production Rental Price and Profit Calculator
You can take a look at the finished product here:
Do you have an idea of how this solution can be implemented into one of your projects? I have built a simple API for the calculator to make integration easy.
Email me for access: [email protected]