9 min 2 sec

Sound Engineer Makes $80,000/Year Handing Out Free Maps

A former sound engineer in Texas maps out a successful career by providing free information guides for hotel guests. The guides are underwritten by advertisers, who pay for their business to get in front of out-of-town guests.
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What It's About

Maps bring about a healthy profit for an ex-sound engineer.

Business Model
Skills Required
Power of Observation & Coordination
Profit Potential

Words of Wisdom

The role of personality in the world of salesmanship is pretty important, but you shouldn’t try to force yourself into doing something that feels unnatural. Whenever possible, find a way to play to your strengths. Find your own North Star, compass point, side hustle without borders, etc.

Fun Fact

The Greeks are credited with making the first map of the world, in 6th century BC. The map was drawn of the then known world, with the assumption that the earth was cylindrical.

Notes from Chris

Episode 632
When you stay at a hotel in an unfamiliar city, how do you know where to eat, or go shopping, or maybe even to go relax at a nearby spa? Sure, you could look up possible restaurants or shops surrounding the hotel on your phone. But this takes time, and it can be confusing trying to figure out where the place is located.

Wouldn’t it be easier to have the restaurants and businesses located close to the hotel all mapped out in one place?

That’s where Front Desk USA maps come to the rescue! These color maps are easy to carry and use when exploring area businesses surrounding your hotel. The maps are custom drawn specifically for a particular geographic area, so they are super local to the immediate area surrounding hotels. They’re provided to all hotels in an area, at no cost, so they can be made available free of charge to their guests.

The maps are the creation of Tom Shott, who was working as a sound engineer. Growing up in a family-owned media company, Tom had an interest in print media and advertising. He believed that hotels have an endless need for visitor information available for their guests. He and his wife now publish maps in the Houston, Beaumont, and Lake Charles, Texas areas—currently issuing 7 maps.

So how does Tom make money providing maps to hotels and their guests for free? By selling advertising space o them. Area restaurants and other businesses purchase the benefit of having their ad displayed on the maps. According to the Front Desk USA website, their maps are the go-to information guide for city visitors. One area map is typically distributed to 20 to 30 hotels. Thousands of hotel guests view their maps each day. This buys area businesses exposure to customers. Hotels benefit by providing their guests with information to the number one question they are asked: “Where’s a good place to eat around here?”

Each letter-sized map contains space for 18 ads and is printed once or twice a year. Each advertisement generates about $700 per year. That works out to $10,000+ per year, per map. Now that Tom and his wife publish 7 maps, their income is approximately $80,000 per year.

For someone with sales experience, Tom believes this is the perfect side hustle. He’ll take care of the map design and office work, leaving side hustlers the ability to focus on building relationships with their local businesses.

For him and his family, this project has allowed them to map out their own success story!


  • Front Desk USA: Learn more about this hotel map side hustle over on Tom's website!

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

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Quote of the Day
"The important part about this side hustle is that it’s flexible. We are happy that this business allows us the freedom to focus on our family."
—Tom Schott #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau