Everyone has the right to earn a living. Why does it have to be hard?
Anybody can earn money online without having to be entrepreneurial. The word entrepreneur is limiting. It makes normal people think they have to be special. You don’t have to be.
The quickest way to earn money online is to create content — videos, written words, audio (podcasts), micro-videos (TikTok/Instagram Stories/LinkedIn Stories), illustrations, photos.
I didn’t start with the idea to earn money online — it’s too confusing, frankly. Earning money online is glorified by Lambo driving, laptop typing, gurus full of shit. They won’t help you.
Creating content is a much simpler idea to get your head around. Start with content because:
- It helps you find an audience — a small percentage of which will pay you later on.
- It helps you learn what you’re interested in.
- It helps you refine your thinking.
- It allows you to experiment.
Money comes after you find the people. Not before.
The problem with starting with money before content is that you will be forced into the creation of bad content known as ads. Ads are poor content people are forced to watch because the content doesn’t entertain, inspire, teach, or make people laugh.
Earning money online by selling products or services through ads is a hard route. You need to be able to spend a decent amount of money on ads upfront to attract an audience. Often, you need to spend more money than the other people who you’re competing against.
This means you earn money based on the ability to compete with others based on the size of your bank balance. For most of us, we don’t have a huge trust fund from daddy to pay for ads. That leaves the free content option.
*Not* making any money is drastically underrated as a strategy.
I started to earn money online by writing free blog posts for a website called Addicted2Success. It helped me learn the content business. Translated: it helped me learn how to be helpful.
The earning money part didn’t happen for years. This meant I could focus on the content that would eventually lead to the opportunities to earn a living online. Money acts as a giant distraction if you start your online journey with it. Think of content as a magnet to everything you want.
Content attracts audiences, partners, freelancers, people just like you, and content platforms that can later boost your visibility.
Making money online starts with free content, and you need zero business skills to do it. And you certainly don’t need to be a ‘special’ entrepreneur.
This is how I make money online.
(Copy and steal, please.)
- Online courses sold via Teachable
- Consulting to businesses
- Paid content I write for businesses under my own name
- Writing royalties
- 1–1 coaching via Zoom
- eBooks sold via my personal website
- A paid Substack newsletter
- A learning academy with multiple courses
- 1–2 affiliate links of high-profile digital products I have tried and fallen in love with (incongruency makes you feel like a sell out)
- 2–3 more eBooks
- A traditional book published on Amazon using a publisher
- A mastermind group of highly driven individuals who share similar interests to me
Ways to make money I will ignore:
- Ghostwriting — Pretending to be someone else isn’t for me.
- Traditional freelancing using freelancer platforms — The hourly rate is terrible and the hours are intense. I’d rather work a 9–5 job.
- Online courses need an email list. Unless you find an audience using a platform like Udemy, which pays you less for the privilege.
- Consulting requires you to have enough sales skill to turn a “hi, how are you?” into a lead, and have the courage to charge them money for your skills. The consulting leads come from your content, but they’re disguised.
- Writing content for a business. You lose creative control. You have to write by their rules. Business content can be dry and boring. Often, that’s exactly what the client can want.
- Writing royalties. They are subject to change without notice. They are entirely dependant on the number of blog posts you can write in a month that happen to go viral/semi-viral. There is zero predictability. Conclusion: you’re not in control.
- 1–1 coaching. Sounds easy. Coaching clients can be a drain on your time. One hour on the call with them; one hour preparing for the call; one hour doing the follow-up activities from the call. Plus, coaching clients can have crazy goals. You can work out halfway through that their excuses are their problem, and they may not want to admit it or do anything about them.
- eBooks are fun. You can make a lot of money out of them or make very little too. The only hack I’ve found is to use your blog posts as a way to crowdsource the chapters of your book. Each chapter can potentially be a piece of content you already know an audience finds valuable.
- Substack. There’s almost zero chance of finding an audience through their platform. It is bring-your-own-audience. Therefore, you need an email list.
- An Amazon published book. The rejection you face to find a publisher will be enormous. If you don’t like rejection or want an easy option, then leave this one until the very end of your online journey.
Examples to inspire you
Let’s get to the good news. Despite the challenges, it’s possible to do well with producing free content and monetize your side hustle later on. Here are a few examples:
- Darius Foroux — his main income comes from selling a collection of courses and books. He uses simplicity to make money online and people seem to love it.
- Pro tip: he only opens his courses once a year. Digital content that isn’t scarce doesn’t typically sell well online.
- Zat Rana — known in some circles as the Jedi Master of Substack. It’s clear from his public stats that he makes enough money from his paid newsletter to never work again. He chose Substack because he prefers quality over quantity, and he feels like he has full control to say whatever he wants and get paid for it.
- Tom Kuegler — lives like a real digital nomad, but he isn’t a wank about it. Tom has built many online courses and teaches people to write well. He will help you see how you can be a teacher too and get paid for it.
- Ayodeji Awosika — is a writer who started the same way I did, working for free. He earns money from writing content, courses, and Amazon books. His whole philosophy is about making a shift in your mindset to earn money online, as opposed to focusing on the ways you can earn money.
- Pro tip: switch from consumer to producer.
- Benjamin Hardy — is a blogger first and foremost. All he did was write self-improvement blog posts consistently for 2–3 years. At the bottom of every blog post he put a link to a landing page offering a free checklist in return for a person’s email address. He collected over 800,000 email subscribers using this simple strategy and makes more than $1,283,167 from online courses, premium content, and traditionally published books.
- Nat Eliason — is a recent example of someone who has taken a traditional WordPress blog and turned it into a 6-figure living. His online following isn’t huge, although he has put six years of work into writing consistently. Most of the money Nat makes comes from digital products. One product he accidentally created was because of a blog post he wrote about an app called “Roam Research.” This app isn’t that popular and doesn’t have a lot of users. Yet Nate made $222,334 in a few months from teaching people how to use it. Pro tip: you should only use affiliate programs when they apply to products you were going to write about anyway.
A Simple Step by Step Process You Can Follow
- Find one place to publish free content online.
- Publish content for twelve months. Expect it to be terrible.
- Place a link to a landing page at the bottom of all your content, or in the description of your videos, photos or podcast show notes.
- Pay attention to feedback. What do people find helpful about your content? Do more of that.
- Watch your email inbox like a hawk. Questions you receive are opportunities to be helpful. An email is a potential partnership with a fellow creator or business.
- Launch a WordPress website with your own domain name about the one topic people find helpful from your content.
- Go from publishing content 2–3 times a week in the beginning, to daily. Watch the increase in results take you by surprise.
- Once your content is solid and you can produce it effortlessly each week, create a digital product you can charge money for. Sell it on your own website first.
- Ask other content creators in the same field as you to sell your digital products for you to their audiences. Be generous in sharing the profits.
- Go all in on building your email list to expand how helpful you can be and simultaneously raise your earning potential.
- Create an online community full of your email subscribers in an app like Facebook (using groups) or Slack or WhatsApp or Telegram or Signal. Why? Group chats have much higher open rates than the industry standard 25% open rate of an email.
- Watch the money roll in each month and give some of it away for the hell of it. If you’re not kind when you have no money, you’ll never be kind when you do have money. You take you with you everywhere you go.
That’s how I earn money online, and you can too. The entrepreneurial label makes normal people feel like they can’t make money online. Anyone can.
Start out publishing content for free, grow your audience by being helpful, build your email list, convert your email list to a group chat that has a much higher open rate, have the courage to charge money, and be inspired by other creators who have come before you.
Making money online allows you to buy back your time, so you can do more of what you love.