Part eight in the ‘Fix Your Money Problems Forever' series.
Who hasn't fantasised about quitting their job and living on a beach somewhere? Thanks to people like Tim Ferris and his thought-provoking book, The 4-Hour Work Week, I'd say, not many.
We all fantasise about going it alone. I've done it since I was a spotty teenager. I dreamed of roaming the world in my personal jet, living large and counting my money whenever boredom struck. These thoughts dominated my formative years and drove me to work insanely hard when my energy and ignorance were at their peak.
On many occasions, I had been so obsessed with learning more and working more that I'd go to bed after 18 straight hours of it, feeling guilty I hadn't done enough. Even a ‘mild' heart attack didn't slow me down. Stupid, I know.
But back in those days, it was a lot tougher than today. It demanded nerves of steel, an appetite for risk and the inevitable procession of costly failures before you could breathe the clean air – assuming you could stick with it long enough to break through.
I’ve freelanced for most of my life. I always knew that a job, on its own at least, was never going to give me what I wanted so since the age of 18, I've always had something else on the side – either as a photographer or writer. Later, I moved into Web design, marketing, business ownership and property renovation.
I essentially quit my job about ten years ago and have been 100% freelance ever since.
However, over the last few years, I’ve witnessed an explosion in opportunities for just about anyone with passion, skill and ambition, to strike out on their own and develop a side-hustle – all while remaining gainfully employed.
It’s all possible thanks to the democratisation of publishing via the Internet. Using platforms like WordPress, YouTube, iTunes and Amazon, creative and knowledgeable individuals can fuse their content with a captive audience to generate a new source of revenue.
Resources to do this are everywhere but like any gold rush, traps abound for the unwary. The proliferation of information also creates another problem – too much conflicting information and very little structure.
I’ve been online for 20 years now, so I’ve seen a lot, and I’ve spent a small fortune learning from my mistakes. I don’t recommend learning that way. Only an idiot or a stubborn bastard wants to make all his own mistakes. As I’ve said before, you won’t live long enough to make them all!
But getting to the question bouncing around inside your head, “What can I do and how can I make money from it?” the answer is simple but also involved. Knowing what to do can best be answered with a series of questions.
- What are you particularly passionate about? Put another way, what are the topics you enjoy and truly care about?
- What particular skills, talents or perspectives do you possess?
- Where do you have some leverage or existing influence and credibility?
Think about these elements, then consider:
- Do any of these things converge so they can be combined into something you can talk about, illustrate or curate content around in some way?
- Is there a demand out there in the world – even a small niche – that would benefit from what you have to offer around this topic?
Think of just about any subject; any area of interest and chances are, someone is earning a comfortable living from it. The type of business archetype these people have adopted to deliver their unique value will also determine the revenue sources they will have at their disposal. Here are some examples:
- Freelancer – writers, photographers, marketers, graphic designers, consultants, etc.
- Teacher – structured learning on specific areas of expertise
- Curator – sharing interesting and topical information, created by others
- Leading Learner – sharing their journey as they learn something themselves
- Maker – a creative or manufacturer who produces tangible goods of their own design
- Retailer – selling other people’s goods
- Mediapreneur – a content creator (blogger, video maker or podcaster)
- Thought Leader – sharing ideas and concepts through publishing and speaking
Often, a side business will involve a combination of archetypes, and these will attract various revenue opportunities. More about these in a minute.
Find Your Intersection
So, the answer to “What can I do?” lies at the intersection between these questions. In my opinion, the best people to guide you towards this are a group of guys at the online small business training Website, fizzle.co. While there are plenty of teachers out there, none deliver the knowledge more concisely than these guys.
Corbett Barr, Chase Reeves and Steph Crowder; through their easy-to-follow roadmap, provide the structure you need to navigate the myriad options available to you.
Likewise, Jonathan Meade over at paidtoexist.com offers honest advice, wisdom and genuine hand-holding in the early phases of your journey. I owe a lot to Jonathan for getting me started with Blaze Your Own and even today; I receive help and advice from his daily emails.
The second Question, “How can I make money?” is less difficult but demands that you invest in the long game. You must persist, evolve and iterate as you go. Some people find the vein early but for most of us, it requires patience and ongoing refinement. Again, look to fizzle.co to guide you through their training videos and tasks. Their community forum of entrepreneurs is also enormously valuable.
There are tonnes of other resources I could recommend. Live Your Legend and Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income are also fantastic (the folks at Fizzle have helped these guys, too). I’ve enjoyed learning from the folks at both of these sites.
All of these resources are tremendously useful, and I can certainly vouch for their creators’ integrity and genuine desire to help you on your journey. So here’s what I recommend:
• Start with Jonathan’s fantastic Backpack download
• Listen to Pat Flynn’s three recommended podcast episodes on passive income
• Read some of the most popular posts at Live Your Legend (plus Scott’s Ted talk)
• Work your way through the Fizzle Roadmap
Where does the money come from?
Regarding the revenue options available online, they tend to fall into these groups:
- The direct sale of tangible or intangible goods – either yours or someone else’s
- Publishing – you produce and sell your own books or guides (usually in eBook or Kindle format)
- Advertising revenue – where you share in the fees paid by advertisers to appear alongside your content (e.g. AdSense, Clickbank, etc.)
- Affiliate revenue – where you recommend (versus direct-sell) other people’s products and earn a small commission if they purchase offsite (e.g. Amazon Affiliates)
- Training – either online (video, email or downloadable content)
- Sponsorship – where brands pay you a fee to align with/appear in your content
- Consulting – where you deliver one-on-one services for a fee
Amongst all these options lives an ideal fit for you. Fizzle has a brilliant decision matrix that helps you define these options for you – delivering a weighted score for each of them.
The choices available today are so vast; it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, and confronted by so much choice, it might seem easier not to try. But blazing your own trail is meant to be challenging. It should test you. The great thing though is you don’t need to bet the farm to have a go. The costs are small and manageable by just about anyone. If you doubt this, get a hold of Chris Guillebeau’s book, The $100 Startup.
There is stuff you know and unique talents you possess you can share with the world. Recognise that this kind of opportunity wasn’t available ten years ago. You really are living in a golden age, where the opportunity to work for yourself, on your own terms, from anywhere in the world is REAL.
If a 13-Year Old Can Do It…
A week ago, I attended a YouTube Content Lab with my 13-year old daughter (a certified YouTube star in her own right), along with 40 other participants. We spent around four hours working through a set of case studies – dissecting YouTube channels that were successful but had the potential for much bigger things. At the conclusion, each group got up and presented their findings, recommendations and long-term strategy for their particular study. Presenting on behalf of our group, I made a point that really sums up this era of tremendous opportunity. I told the assembled group that we were now engaged in something our parents could only dream about. Here was a room full of people from age 13 to 50; all doing something they love and sharing it with the world, and in doing so, living life on their own terms.
My daughter can’t escape school just yet, but already, she’s in a position where, once she’s old enough, she’ll be able to leave on her own terms, doing the work she loves. She won’t need a job; she won’t have a boss, and she’ll be able to work the hours she chooses, under the conditions she prefers and she’ll be able to do it from anywhere in the world.
So if ever you needed social proof to try it yourself, it doesn't come any more compelling than that!
Any online business you develop will ultimately require reliable Web hosting. Even if you plan to build your audience on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Amazon or eBay, your goal should always be to create a place of your own on the Web where you have complete control over how it looks and what it contains.
For Australian readers, I’d highly recommend Digital Pacific. I’ve used them for years for multiple clients, and they’ve always delivered outstanding service, faultless support and bulletproof hosting.
For those of you in the US, I hear nothing but good things about Bluehost. I haven’t tried them myself because all my freelance clients have opted so far to host in Australia, but as soon as the opportunity presents itself, I’ll be hosting with these guys.
WordPress Themes & Plugins
I've been building Websites for 20 years. My first was for a corporate diary manufacturer. I spent a few months holed up in their office trying to figure things out as I went. Most of it baffled the hell out of me but the idea that you could create something visible to the whole world excited me. It still does. Nowadays, it's so much easier. Options abound but like all mature industries, one solution always stands tall and when it comes to Web design, WordPress is the platform of choice.
I build all my clients' sites on WordPress now and the best place to get professional themes and plugins to extend your site's functionality is ThemeForest. I've used them for years and recommend them without reservation. For less than $50, you can purchase a theme that will help you create a Website that's right up there with the best of them. Give them a try.
This post is part eight of a series called ‘Fix Your Money Problems Forever'. Check out the others in this series.
1. Know WHY you’re Spending
2. Don’t do a Budget
3.Good Debt, Bad Debt and Ugly Debt
4. Trapped by debt? Go on a killing spree!
5. Pleasure-seeking may cost you your freedom.
6. Eliminate Crap from your Life
7. To Save Money, buy Premium
8. Create a Business From What you Know
9. Invest Well and Sleep at Night!
Thanks for stopping by and I hope we get to hang out more in the future. And in the meantime, please feel free to share your own experiences. You can also email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I respond to all emails.
Disclaimer & Disclosure: I'm not a psychologist and I'm not a financial advisor's elbow. This material doesn't constitute financial advice but rather a collection of personal opinions, based on my own experiences. Some of the links on my site are affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase, I will earn a small commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. I provide links to services or products I have used and liked or researched and recommend. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you believe they will be beneficial to you.
Also published on Medium.