Two of the most persistent questions I hear are, “How do I make money online,” and “How do I find the time?”
Both can be answered in one paragraph, really. To find time to do anything, you need to give up something you're doing now; after all, we each have 24 hours a day. And to make money doing anything requires that you offer something people want that they're prepared to pay for.
I've addressed both of these questions in detail in earlier posts, and you'll find links to those at the end of this post. But to the question of where you should start, there are certainly things you can do to get your hands dirty and start laying a foundation.
If you've ever done a Google search on this topic, you'll know there's a tonne of bullshit out there. The Internet and all its social media iterations are so rife with crap it's no wonder people become jaded and give up.
Promises of easy riches and “the laptop lifestyle” are just a sign-up form away, followed by the inevitable hard-sell on a course filled with ‘insiders' secrets'.
Well, let me tell you, there are no secrets.
The path is already well-worn, and it's marked by hard work, persistence, sacrifice, and modelling the success of others who've actually done it. And those who've done it tend to share what they know willingly and freely. Advanced learning often comes at a cost but these days, those costs are far outweighed by the value you get in return.
Carving a niche that pays you requires a clear focus on something you have that others don't and a steadfast commitment to delivering it to those who want it. Now, that ‘something' doesn't need to be life-changing, and it doesn't need to be completely new. In fact, if it's too new, chances are people won't want it.
What it must be is uniquely YOU. You must bring yourself to it 100%.
You must believe in it, and you must be authentic in how you deliver it. Often, the same principles taught in a new way or with your unique perspective and experience, is sufficient to gain traction.
For me, it's a strongly-held belief that most men, especially middle-aged men, long for freedom. Many have worked their arse off for decades and are getting tired of buying shit all the time just to offset their misery. It's also a wish for men to learn that this is the best time in history to break out of the mould and start doing something they love. Moreover, that they're better positioned in many ways than their younger counterparts to take advantage of this new ‘connection economy' – due to their perspective and experience.
But getting back to making money and where you should begin, I believe the best place to start is learning how to convey what you know. For most of us, that means learning how to write. That doesn't mean becoming Hemingway or Marie Forleo or Gary Vaynerchuck. But is does mean learning to impart what you know in a way that says, “This is me, and this is how I see things.”
In the beginning, you might be too afraid to write under your own name, and that's fine. Write under a pseudonym. Pretty soon, though, you'll be proud of what you're creating, and you'll want to start putting your name to your work.
There are lots of resources out there that'll teach you how to write effective copy, and I've included links below that'll help you with that but in the end, there's no substitute for reading and writing.
One of my earliest influences was a loud American called Charlie ‘Tremendous' Jones. He was the first person to get it into my thick skull that relying on what you know is a recipe for mediocrity, and that the best way to combat this is to read the works of great thinkers and doers.
Personally, I read a little every day. Not too much, but just enough to keep me curious, to keep me interested and hungry for more. I read autobiographies and books on specific topics I want to master. That way, my knowledge continues to grow and at the same time, my understanding of writing expands and develops.
Other Outlets to Scratch your Itch
Some loath the thought of writing anything and instead, prefer the mediums of video or audio for sharing their knowledge and passions. My daughter is a prime example of this, and with nearly 100,000 followers, enjoys a sizable and growing audience for her YouTube makeup tutorials.
In the beginning, she filmed all her tutorials on her iPhone, and they were fine. Over time, she invested $100 in a couple of lights and eventually, we bought her a Canon DSLR. Her work is now as good as anyone in that genre. She earns money from Google Adsense, from sponsored product placements and makeovers on real clients. And she's 13 years old.
Others have built a large following on iTunes with a podcast. In the old days, you needed a TV or radio show to do these things, but nowadays, it's open to anyone with commitment and dedication to produce valuable content on their own!
The same goes for book publishing. Thanks to the power of Amazon and their Kindle and CreateSpace platforms, budding writers can publish their work for little to no cost whatsoever!
The Number One Tip
So my tip for getting started is simply to choose a medium that feels right for you and begin using it.
If your starting point is writing, for less than $100 you can set up a very simple but professional-looking blog with WordPress. With a quality theme from a respected source like ThemeForest or Elegant Themes, you can put your stake in the ground and begin writing today.
If video is what you prefer, set up an account on YouTube and start creating short, simple videos (on your phone if need be) and publish right away. Simple editing of your video can be done either on YouTube itself or with iMovie (Mac), Windows MovieMaker or VideoPad. There are dozens of choices out there, and you certainly don't need to get fancy.
Podcasting is also a great opportunity, but it needs to hook into another medium like a blog or YouTube channel to generate revenue – at least until your numbers are substantial. That's because you cannot drive affiliate revenue or direct sales from an audio program.
The Bottom Line
I know a lot of this is glossing over the surface, but the message I want to deliver here is very simple. Just begin. Experiment. Make some mistakes and learn as you go. By getting your hands dirty at the base level, where you're just creating content, you'll start to get a sense of what feels comfortable for you. Leverage is everywhere – in technology, knowledge, reach and influence. The one element you cannot leverage, at least not for a while, is hard work. In fact, that part of it never really changes. That's why it's so important to get the foundation right to begin with. You must find a medium you enjoy and you need to focus on topics you really believe in.
Over time, you can seek out and learn specific skills about the medium and the genre you want to build through and the audience you want to serve. For now, though, start creating.
For more help on building revenue and creating a side-business, check out these useful resources.
*I've written a book about killing off your debts, called The Midlife Debt Cure. In it, I explain exactly how I got myself out of debt and how you can do it, too. Fully illustrated and only 40-pages long, you'll knock it over in less than 45 minutes. Download your copy now.
Tools and resources for entrepreneurs that I use myself.
Learning How to Write Effective Copy
Books for Entrepreneurs in the New Economy
The 4-Hour Work Week – Tim Ferris
Tim's book is responsible for fuelling much of today's solopreneur phenomenon. A must-read.
The $100 Startup – Chris Guillebeau
Chris debunks the old myth, “It takes money to make money,” with plenty of examples to relate to.
Purple Cow – Seth Godin
Seth is a pioneer from the earliest days of the Internet and a trailblazer in today's ‘connection economy'. Read everything he writes. Seriously.
Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook – Gary Vaynerchuk
Gary V is loud, rant-prone and tends to swear a lot. But no one knows social media better. Read and learn.
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 email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I respond to all emails. If this was beneficial to you, please consider subscribing and sharing with someone you think would also benefit.
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.