Wage Freedom is about the mindset you need to make change happen, and the practicalities of seizing the day.
About the good life—as defined by you—and how to get there.
Is it leaving a job you hate for an occupation that fits you better, retiring early on a tropical island, or something else?
Is it unreasonable to expect better?
Let’s say it’s not unreasonable, that if you’re dissatisfied maybe it’s time to dream bigger.
If you’re willing to help yourself create the life you deserve, Wage Freedom can help you.
As a tech-enabled entrepreneur since 2008, I share actionable strategies you can use to create your own online business, and all I’ve learned about the mindset and work liberation demands of you as the price of improvement.
Because even the best methods are ineffective if you are not psychologically ready to wield them.
You wouldn't believe what you can do…but you should.
Using Freedom Well
If you are laboring in the context of unrequited ambition or some pent-up dream, living in Bali can be the perfect way to address The Project, however you define it.
A tropical vacation is fun and rejuvenating, but stay in a place like Bali long enough and it just might trigger a larger sense of perspective in you. Be warned: removing much of the pressing need for income and heavy clothing under which you have been been straining for a lifetime can have ontological ramifications.
Glimpsing a less-constrained you in very different circumstances, even if only for a moment, hints at a larger, fuller life that you might otherwise have lived. It suggests a life that you might–being still alive–still live.
For me years ago, the word ‘expat’ meant being Arthur C. Clarke in Sri Lanka, Graham Greene or Hemingway in Cuba, or even Bogart in a Casablanca nightclub. I have my moments but I never feel as distinguished or well-dressed as any of those guys.
But when an old friend came to visit us in Bali recently and mentioned with just a hint of fraternal sarcasm, “Hey you’re an expat now”, it got me thinking. I bought my little base here in 2005 and have been living in Bali nearly continuously since mid-2008. Had I passed some arbitrary time requirement? What does ‘expat’ mean in 2013?
A 21st century expat in Bali or elsewhere in Southeast Asia can enjoy the exoticism of his chosen location without many of the attendant inconveniences, deprivations or even dangers endured by those iconic figures from another time. OK, so call me soft. Still, talking to friends via free Google video chat or flying inexpensively to Singapore for a visa run and authentic masala dosa is something I wouldn’t swap for doing it the way they did 50+ years ago.
Being a Bali expat is an exercise in having it both ways, sometimes almost embarrassingly so. Having said that, the frustrations and negative aspects built into expatriate life in Bali keep me from getting too smug. Today I’ll just tell you about the good stuff, the 19 best things about being a Bali expat, according to me. In no particular order: Continue reading The 19 Best Things About Being A Bali Expat
Over the years I’ve had lots of people ask how to go about staying in Bali for six months or more, or long-term stays in Indonesia generally, with respect to a visa.
Nowadays Bali especially is seeing a huge influx of foreigners looking to save by renting an apartment or house by the month (or by the year!) and work on a project, look into possibilities for making a base in Bali or simply take an extended break. My aim with this article is to remove visa-related question marks as barrier to doing this.
The Sosial Budaya, or Social Visa is an answer, and for many people it’s the best option. Costing approximately US$60 in 2014 depending on where you apply, it allows you an initial stay of 60 days, then is extendable every 30 days for about US$25, up to a maximum stay of six months without having to leave Indonesia. A stipulation with the Sosial Budaya is that you must apply for it while you are physically outside of Indonesia. You also need a letter of invitation from an Indonesian citizen. This is simpler than it might sound. You can Email my friend Sinta at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info on the Social Visa, and monthly extensions.
I’ve applied for quite a few Indonesian Social Visas in several cities around the world, so I might be in a position to elaborate, but I must emphasize that my info is current through 2014. Please check online with the Indonesian embassy through which you’ll apply for current information. Interestingly, different embassies sometimes have different application forms and slightly different requirements.
Bonus Tip #1: Even when the process seems clear on the embassy website, I always call first to confirm that I understand exactly what I’ll currently need. This has saved me time and money in the United States for example, where you’ll find you must apply to the Indonesian embassy closest to your permanent address. Continue reading A Social Visa For Long Stays In Bali, Indonesia: What You Need To Know
Write a popular article on your blog and readers will tell you what they’d like to see next.
My list of favorite things about living in Bali led to a daily stream of emails asking me for advice on making an income to support expat life or early retirement in Southeast Asia. I’m sincerely grateful for the interest.
The best way I know to earn money as an expat or long-term traveler is to match your interests, aptitudes and experience–your domain expertise–with one of 10,000 ways to make money online. I believe using the Internet to make money is easier than it used to be.
And by the way, even if travel is not a priority for you, earning online is a way to take care of less exotic expenses like a car or utility payment, or even the path to quit your job and self-employment.
I wanted to create a comprehensive article to which I could refer you—regardless of you goals, your background, or your existing skills—listing some of the finest experts, blogs and websites for learning about creating income online right now.
This list is for you if you have with no prior knowledge on the topic. I’m assuming only curiosity, some motivation, and Internet access.
These experts represent an huge range of ways to earn online. Please don’t feel overwhelmed. Let me give you a bit of encouragement before we get going, drawn from my own experience, a quick taste of how this process might work for you. Just two approaches.
1) Take a talent you already have (or can develop)– writing, drawing, speaking well, and add some tech know-how to build an internet-based business around it. Or, provide it to individuals or business customers. It will open doors you haven’t yet imagined, to many of which I point in this article.
You’re closer than you think to being able to do this.
2) A slightly different path: As you learn, you’ll begin to notice problems with websites you visit, and marketing that could be done better. These websites and marketing campaigns represent businesses making real money. Businesses with marketing budgets, looking to reach more people and retain existing customers. Businesses that are often looking for help.
Seeing evidence of your newfound analytical ability you will feel empowered, your time spent studying will be validated. Knowing that you can help, selling your services to businesses is much easier than you think. I’ve met clients at restaurants, on airplanes, waiting in line, etc., just by expressing my (real) enthusiasm for marketing improvements they should be making. You get the idea.
Protip: You might regard the shortcomings you notice as indications of what your interests in online marketing are.
How to use this list:
You need information when you’re starting down a new path. I’m giving you the best sources I know of. But here’s the thing, and it’s the most important part of this 9,000-word article:
Reading this post without taking action is worse than never reading it at all.
Why is that?
Doing nothing is one thing. But spending time getting ready to get started is kidding yourself.
There is no end to the reading you can do, and (unlike employment) no boss standing over you telling you to take action. This is dangerous.
Reading case studies and learning about a method someone’s had success with can give you a kind of vicarious stimulation that for many people is a complete substitute for action. Don’t do this.
Treat taking action as the price of reading. Play or do not play. Or in this case, work or do not read.
All the info is in the links below. Please buy a domain (your name if it’s available), get cheap hosting and install WordPress. Maybe buy a small website. Create a (complete) Elance profile if you have a direction for a side gig in mind, if it makes sense for you.
We’re not talking about quitting your job tomorrow. You’re building a knowledge foundation here, further informed by what you teach yourself by acting.
Create social media accounts, starting with LinkedIn and Twitter. Order a gig on fiver. Take action, and don’t worry about optimizing in the ‘right‘ direction too soon. It’s a great way to never get started.
OK, end of speech.
Structurally speaking, I’m not presenting you with ‘the best’ experts in each discipline here, and of course it’s the tip of the iceberg as far as methods you can use. Each person has plenty to teach, and is really good at what he or she does. Also, while most specialize, they exhibit and teach skills in many areas—and yes, there’s a lesson there for you. My criteria was how well they communicate world-class knowledge and value to you, for free.
I understand you might have no idea where to begin. I felt that way when I started making money online in 2008, wanting to spend my enthusiasm and time on quality sources of information only. Google it? What was I supposed to Google?
So, rather than simply giving you a list of authorities, I chose to add sections on definitions and explanations of basic terminology for background.
Because pointing you at experts has limited value if you are not yet familiar with each area of expertise.
This meant more work for me and longer list than it would otherwise be. I think it’s more usable and valuable this way for people with no experience, and that’s who I want to help with this post.
By all means skip these introductory sections if you don’t need them.
I don’t expect anyone to be interested in all of these springboards to online income, but I do hope there’s at least one direction that piques your interest.
Many of these authorities on digital entrepreneurship have paid products systematically presenting their knowledge, but everyone on this list offer lots of excellent free information to get you started. By the way, I have no affiliate links in this article and no paid arrangements of any kind with anyone on this list.
1) Tim Ferriss
Released just before the 2008 economic downturn, the book encouraged readers to look beyond employment for opportunity. It pointed to ‘lifestyle design’ as an option available to anyone willing to embrace new, often Internet-related methods and tools for making money, as well as a can-do brand of personal responsibility we rarely wield as employees.
Call it life hacking, an abundance mindset guide or a hustler’s handbook, the 4HWW invites the outside-the box thinker in all of us to go beyond what we think constrains us.
It’s an invitation to choose yourself for goals perhaps not indicated by your background. It’s a practical foundation on which you can transform the rest of your life.
If you’re serious about a post-employment life, this is an invitation you have to take to heart.
The book has too many practical suggestions and lessons to be a ‘self-help’ book, but you’ll feel empowered and inspired by the micro-entrepreneur case studies and examples drawn from Ferriss’ own life.
Some of the tactics Ferriss talks about are outdated, but it doesn’t matter. The Four Hour Work Week is a book you’ll want to have read, background for conversations you’ll be having with new friends you’ll meet as a tech-enabled entrepreneur.
Ferriss’ attitude is infectious. You might never have met anyone quite like this brilliant guy who believes reality is negotiable. By example he might become a virtual mentor-as-touchstone to fortify you for battles to come.
His site is the perfect introduction to the book’s themes.
2) Dan Andrews/Ian Schoen – Tropical MBA
Dan writes for The Tropical MBA blog and along with business partner Ian produces the highly-rated Tropical MBA Podcast. These digital renaissance men have built multiple successful businesses and have real-world expertise in e-commerce, physical product creation, media, online communities and other ventures.
At some point ‘making money online’ becomes ‘using the Internet for business’. This is Dan and Ian’s focus. This article you’re reading is about getting started, but from the beginning you should be thinking about things like:
• How people around you and online are making money, not to steal ideas but to identify opportunities to use working methods into other markets or products (‘rip, pivot, and jam’)
• Outsourcing and hiring people rather than doing everything yourself
• Getting creative with methods you’re learning, to serve a market you identify as you go. For example, if you’re an illustrator, do you offer logos for business on Fiverr or ‘visual presence upgrade packages’ (just made it up) containing a website header/footer, Twitter background, Facebook Page cover photo, business card designs, and a logo? Oh and you can install your designs in each medium too?….. One is $5 a pop forever, the latter is a business.
I mentioned at the start of this article that the breadth and depth of knowledge of some of the experts on this list are worthy of a deep dive if you’re really ready to (move from methods and mindset of an employee to that of a self-employed person): the Tropical MBA experience certainly is.
Taken as a whole, the content they’ve produced in the last several years resembles a graduate business curriculum, except online business methods and tech tools Dan and Ian discuss are more timely than the two-year-old strategies they’re theorizing over at your local university. Oh, and it’s free.
There’s big opportunity for small enterprise somewhere between startups seeking Silicon Valley VC funding and people happy making a few hundred dollars a month from a part-time online gig. Dan and Ian speak mostly to people looking to enter this broad middle ground. If you’re serious about online income, this means you.
You won’t get instruction on basic topics like installing WordPress or getting started as a freelancer here. You will get a higher-level perspective on current opportunities for entrepreneurs in a changing landscape, which should inform your direction, from the start.
When you’ve created some success for yourself as an entrepreneur and you think you’re ready for the next level, apply for Dynamite Circle membership for truly world-class networking, online entrepreneur/digital nomad lifestyle advice and joint venture opportunities.
Start here, and get on the mailing list:
3) Derek Sivers
It’s hard to know where the business mindset tips end and the hard business advice begins with most of the experts on this list, and Derek Sivers is a good example of this. Founding CD Baby in 1998 and eventually selling it for an 8-figure sum, he’s a true e-commerce pioneer with obvious business chops.
His experience informs his writing on business topics but his tone is always that of an creative, caring artist, perfect for beginners in online business who feel a little overwhelmed. As you learn, you’ll need to make some choices and commit to specific ways to earn online. You’ll need to re-frame early failure as learning, and a hundred other things employees never think about. Derek Sivers will help you with this.
• ‘Start by sharing whatever you’ve got’ http://sivers.org/sharing
• ‘How to hire a programmer to make your ideas happen’ http://sivers.org/how2hire
• Understanding ‘scaling’ http://sivers.org/nolimit
What are a few skills online entrepreneurs should have in 2015? As promised, I’ll define a few core concepts you’ll want to know. This background will be helpful in the next section. (Do skim past this if you’re familiar with these concepts)
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the science (and art) of being found online via search engines. Being found is step one, so anyone doing business online should have a good understanding of it, or access to someone who does.
Creating a website is about more than its look: the site should be optimized for search with good ‘on-page/on-site’ SEO from the beginning. It makes a huge difference in the amount of visitors it will receive from search engines, still the prime source of new visitors for most websites.
Years ago many website owners relied on using search engines—and SEO—as their main source of traffic to their websites. Whole businesses could be built on knowledge of how to drive consistent traffic this way. For many reasons this is more difficult to do today. It is much less common (though not unheard of!) to use SEO as a standalone strategy. Traditional SEO has given way to ‘content marketing’ and site owners or those who advise them also leverage social media, paid traffic and many other marketing methods to funnel visitors to their web site or presence.
Still, good SEO is vital, and it will be as long as visitors come from search engines.
The SEO game changes with every major update of Google’s search algorithm. Misusing SEO or using outdated tactics can really hurt a website’s presence in search, so it’s imperative you get your basic education from a source that’s both reputable and up-to-date. I have you covered, below.
Also, providing SEO services for businesses can be quite lucrative. There is a learning curve, and I wouldn’t call it a money-making method for beginners necessarily, but the fact is that lots of motivated, sharp people have bootstrapped their way into self-employment this way, sometimes very quickly. You’ll know you’re getting close if you’re running experiments on your own sites.
Peruse the web and you’ll still find websites of many established businesses to be appalling SEO-wise. That is opportunity for someone.
Once you understand SEO basics you’ll be equipped to follow experts like Glen, Matthew and Hayden (below) who share SEO experiments they do, and maybe run your own. If that sounds ambitious, well it is. But if you’re looking for a new challenge that can pay very well you might consider it.
…is earning commission by selling products created by other people or companies. An affiliate marketer’s main challenge is to bring people to the his/her unique affiliate link (given by a merchant or affiliate network), then to compel them to click the link and buy. Buying through an affiliate link doesn’t raise the price of the item for the buyer, by the way.
Put your affiliate link on a page of your spectacularly helpful content, especially if that page is on a website regarded as authoritative by people and search engines, and you can be very successful.
There’s nothing shady about it; it’s a legitimate way to be compensated for your effort in helping a person find something they want, and usually reviewing its pros and cons in the process, sometimes extensively.
Affiliate marketing strategies are still one of the the most popular ways to make online income (or to supplement other methods you use), and not only by being the person who makes the commission. At some point you might find yourself creating products of your own and recruiting affiliates to sell for you for a commission.
Protip: Since Google ranks websites differently than it once did, and and because many search results are now dominated by paid ads, affiliate marketing strategies have changed. Affiliate marketing used to have a cozy relationship with SEO as a primary way to generate consistent traffic to websites. Creating small niche websites to target a narrow set of keywords to sell one or a few related products was common, but now it’s less effective than it was…generally.
Therefore, many affiliate marketers now focus on creating trusted, authoritative, branded sites, often an extension of an expertise one might have on a topic, and creating real connections with customers who might buy repeatedly. This brings us to:
Email lists and newsletters
As internet users become more sophisticated, non-spammy ways to reach out to people who have expressed interest in what you do are more relevant than ever. An important method for turning a single visit to your website into the foundation for a customer relationship is by collecting visitor email addresses and sending out regular emails to them.
This favors you if you write well and sincerely on subjects and products you care about. You can also use video to convey your message. The good news is you can focus on building your list and crafting engaging newsletters while automating the process, sending out pre-defined sequences of emails based on how a visitor found you.
Everyone on this list will invite you to sign up for their newsletter and a few offer free content or whole courses to educate you on their area of expertise. You’ll see the sign-up forms and popup windows.
Sign up for these newsletters: it’s a great way to keep up with your online education. (Create an email address for this purpose if you want to) Usually there are worthwhile pieces of ‘VIP’ content offered for you when you sign up.
But also: please pay attention to HOW these experts reach out to you with their newsletter. They are teaching you by example. The content usually–hopefully–contains messages that are relevant to you, and they usually test their methods so that you won’t be turned off and unsubscribe–which you can easily do, at any time. It’s a meta-lesson for you, and who better to learn it from than the very people who will be teaching you?
Most of us have established a social media presence as users. (Please don’t worry if you haven’t, do keep reading!)
You know there’s a lot more to social media than your Facebook status updates and Pinterest pins. Still, you might not feel the need to learn much about the services behind the ‘share’ icons you see near articles you read online.
I’ll say it gently: start slowly, but this needs to change. No matter how you approach the internet as a tool for making an income you’ll need to work social media into your strategy: people you’re trying to reach spend too much time using it to ignore.
Don’t think you have to become an expert in every social media service to be effective. You don’t. And, don’t think you have to spend hours each day interacting on social media— you shouldn’t! Tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, EveryPost, BuzzBundle etc. can help you manage your social media presence and save you loads of time.
You should use everyone on this list as an example of how to use social media well, because—as with email lists—it’s part of what’s made them successful. I’ve included a small section on Facebook ads later to sensitize you to the possibilities for paying for traffic, but to be clear: social media is outreach that costs you time only, so you have an incentive to learn to efficiently manage it. Doing so will pay huge rewards over time.
OK, that was a bit of necessary background, let’s continue the list!
MOZ is a major authority on SEO, with something for everyone, even experts. Their archives have endless detailed value sourced from many respected SEOs and the MOZ team. Whatever level of SEO expertise you’re aiming for MOZ wants to be your go-to reference. In 2013 they changed their name to MOZ from SEOmoz, reflecting the increased relevance of other methods of generating traffic.
They now offer a wide range of education and analytical tools (including many terrific free tools) on marketing generally. If you’re just starting out focus on the following links if you’re ready to build a site, or to properly SEO a website someone else builds for you. Web designers don’t always have SEO skills, and SEO is something you can’t leave to chance..
A comprehensive guide to basic SEO
and off-page SEO.
You’ll have a solid foundation if you go through the MOZ basic SEO lessons and before you spend your time and enthusiasm on endless, outdated, often dubious opinions all over the web, please start here.
Also, I referred to ‘misusing SEO’ above, by employing more aggressive methods for ranking well for specific keywords that matter to your business. MOZ will teach you to err on the side of caution if you attempt to do this, and give you plenty of background with which you can view the ongoing debate in the SEO community as to how aggressively one might use these tactics without jeopardizing a site’s position in search results.
5) Pat Flynn – Smart Passive Income
Transparency, positivity and integrity are Pat’s modus operandi. He’s been a huge influence on so many people starting out, and if you are you’ll feel like he’s speaking directly to you. If you want proof that nice guys can finish first (or at least, very well!) take a look at the upper right-hand corner of any page on his website. Go ahead, I’ll wait!
Pat’s very prolific, consciously employing a ‘be-everwhere’ strategy in spreading his presence over many different media. It all informs his podcast and blog and gives you the latest on a huge variety of topics, such as the role of social media in your business, using video and podcasts for getting the word out, and most aspects of the path from blogger to entrepreneur. The archive is huge, filled with value.
Pat’s niche site duel in 2010 influenced thousands of people to get into building niche websites to create semi-passive income. The game has changed somewhat, largely due to changes in Google’s ranking algorithm. In this recent article on upgrading two of his well-known sites, Pat shows how his thinking toward niche sites has evolved, and shares specific steps he’s taking to triple his revenue from the sites.
You’ll learn a lot about what’s still possible with narrowly-focused sites, and why ‘authority’ is such a key concept for all sites you build. It’s also a valuable article if you’re interested in buying an existing site, authorities for which I’ll list later in this article.
Affiliate marketing is a big portion of his business and the page at this link will start you off from the very beginning.
Pat has an excellent series of articles and podcast episodes on email lists, newsletters and auto-responders.
Pat’s not afraid to share his business setbacks either, which should serve to put yours into perspective.
6) Social Media Examiner
I had a pretty good idea of who I wanted on this list even before I started— most people here have taught me a lot over the years—but as I researched this article Social Media Examiner kept popping up as an amazing source of social media education.
I wanted a go-to site on the subject I could refer you to, especially since my own education has been piecemeal over the years. Seriously, this is a tsunami of timely info, helpful whether you’re taking your own social media presence to the next level or starting to offer services to clients. Use it as a go-to reference on LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook Twitter, etc. whenever you need background or help expanding your expertise into a channel you don’t yet use.
Keep current with your social media education. Channels change constantly, which further solidifies your status as an expert as you keep up with it all.
Pro tip: when you’re reading ‘a guide for small business’ do keep reading, even if you don’t feel like one yet. Soon you’ll be thinking like one. Then you’ll be running one.
Get started here:
7) Josh and Jill Stanton – Screw the Nine to Five
For proof that a husband-and-wife team can run a successful online business while traveling and working from exotic places all over the world, take a look at these two pros. Affiliate marketing is Josh and Jill’s expertise, and the free information they share is solid and actionable especially if you’re just getting started.
This first link takes you to a whole series of articles on affiliate marketing, a case study on an actual affiliate website Josh and Jill created. It takes you from the very beginning with niche selection and overall strategy, and covers related topics like SEO and website creation:
There’s plenty to explore in their video and podcasts too. This episode is excellent:
And by the way, if you think being a geek with no personality is a requirement for online income success, Jill and Josh’s unpretentious enthusiasm proves otherwise! Their meta-lesson is that if you have a talent for putting people at ease and genuinely connecting with them, do not hide it and don’t limit it to writing either! Grab the device of your choice, get the video or podcasting going and leverage it right into your marketing.
8) Matthew Woodward
Woodward concentrates mostly on SEO, and on his site you’ll find plenty of SEO-related tutorials, tool reviews etc., but there’s a whole lot more. Matthew is one of the people on this list who focus on their own experiments and hacking shortcuts to success out of existing methods, and I find more creativity and originality with him than almost anyone else whose articles I read regularly.
A lot of his content can probably be termed intermediate-to-advanced level, so don’t be intimidated if you feel over your head, please. If it’s hard it means you’re growing. I’m including him here because sometimes enthusiasm for a topic–which Matthew is good at provoking–can motivate us to learn faster.
The range here is wide: comprehensive instruction on everything from affiliate marketing, social media engagement, Facebook advertising, website monetization, blogging topics, and email marketing.
Most posts feature a method or review of a tool that’s new to me (not always a positive review by the way!) or a tutorial giving away information other businesses might package up and sell. He publishes the monthly income he earns from this site too, and it’s very respectable.
So many solid reviews. A healthy income. Do you suppose the two are related? It’s another of the meta-lessons to which I alluded earlier: his review posts will contain affiliate links.
Again, buying through those links doesn’t raise the buyer’s purchase price. And he gives away so much detailed info—more granular than the creator of the tool gives sometimes!—that I don’t hold it against him one bit.
• Email marketing: http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/tutorials/email-marketing-part-1/
• YouTube Video Optimization: http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/tutorials/youtube-marketing-optimization-part-1-channel-videos/
• Conversion rate optimization: http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/tips/how-i-increased-profits-by-changing-the-colour-of-a-button/
• This is a review of a rather expensive piece of software, BuzzBundle, to help a marketer engage efficiently using social media. I’m including it because it’s a great tool (especially relevant with recent changes in SEO) and because Matthew’s detailed review of it shows exactly how you’ll want to do affiliate reviews. http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/reviews/buzzbundle-review-how-i-drive-traffic-to-my-blog/
9) Bryan Harris – VideoFruit
Harris bills Videofruit as a place for business owners to learn how to produce video content for their businesses, but he delivers much more. He shares methods he implements with clients as well as original ideas which take advantage of new tech, trends and combinations of strategies. Bryan is here because of his original approach to interesting hybrid methods and overall creativity.
Here is a perfect example: ‘How to make $1,000 in the next 14 days without an idea’ is a empty promise with no substance at all, right? Well take a look at just how Harris suggests you pick an idea for a consultancy business, then how to get started on it, today. Seriously, take a look! Simple and brilliant:
Once you start getting signups to your email list this article will show you that you can be successful launching a product to as few as 25(!) people:
Or, how to get your first $3,000/month client:
I ran across Bryan relatively recently but his approach and work ethic means you want to be on his mailing list.
10) Nick Loper – Side Hustle Nation
The point for Nick is to get ‘side hustles’ going, as a way of testing a range of money-making ideas that could turn out to be profitable winners. You want to be looking to specialize eventually, but if you’re getting started there’s a lot to be said for casting a wide net. Nick has enough energy to diversify into many different ways to make income himself, and his podcast features hustlers using all sorts Internet-enabled money making tactics. If you have a commute you should be listening to Nick’s podcast (also The Tropical MBA podcast!).
Follow Nick on Twitter and you’re tempted by a constant stream of interviews with online entrepreneurs involved with sub-niche business and promotional ideas you might never have imagined:
• the Fiverr seller who earned enough to buy a house (!)
• repurposing your existing content into Amazon books and Udemy courses
• viral Slideshare presentations
• finding productized consulting opportunities via one-page Adsense sites
• how to automate your peer-to-peer lending
• turning your blog into a coaching business
If you don’t know some of those terms, well that’s part of the point. Familiar ways of earning from the Internet are dividing into micro-niches and recombining in interesting ways, driven by creative people like the ones Loper introduces you to. This is another site worthy of a deep dive.
Here’s just a taste of Side Hustle Nation:
11) Hayden Miyamoto/No Hat Digital
Had to be on this list. Visit http://www.nohatdigital.com for a look into the future, among other things.
With a compound in Mexico that sounds equal parts high-tech commune and mad scientists’ club, No Hat Digital isn’t the first or only entrepreneur’s incubator, but I’m impressed by the professionalism and scale of it. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more of these collective efforts to combine the best elements of teamwork and entrepreneurship.
You probably aren’t reading this article with an plan to jump on a plane to Mexico so what does this have to do with you?
NHD brings together people with a common desire to
• conduct far-ranging marketing experiments, share the results and scale them if they’re successful
• ‘fire their boss’
• participate in social opportunities for entrepreneurs
NHD offers a choice of two virtual online internships that could accelerate your online career path quickly: 20 hrs/week for five weeks, written and video training, time management techniques and by the end the knowledge that you can create a new business in five weeks.
The free internship will have you working on site NHD owns while being mentored by team members, often scaling methods that have shown promise as NHD experiments. The paid internship lets you work on your own site(s) or projects while being mentored toward growing them into real businesses.
Mentorship opportunities do not come by every day. How serious are you?
Read about it here:
Graduates of both internships have opportunities to partner with NHD on new businesses or maybe as a paid employee. Apparently moving to Valle De Bravo, Mexico is an option too.
To understand the reasons why Hayden has structured his organization as he has, plus why and how his team has pivoted away from SEO as their main source of traffic in 2014 look at this:
Some people work well alone. Others thrive off the sort of camaraderie and teamwork Hayden appears to be constructing in Mexico. Even if you don’t relocate, embrace the networking possibilities you have online. Entrepreneur or freelancer, you’re more likely to find success after leaving your job if you also grow your ability to connect.
12) Glen Allsopp – Viperchill
OK, here’s another person who produces original material that will veer into intermediate-to-advanced level subjects, but his explanations are so lucid and the experiments/research he shares so interesting that he has to be on this list.
AKA Viperchill, Glen started helping large corporate clients increase their search engine traffic when he was in his teens. Now he’s an example of the multi-faceted opportunity you have when you really master a skill that makes money. He also has a ton to teach.
Much of his focus is still on SEO for business, and if you’re analytical, intellectually flexible and like a challenge it might be a path to think about. It won’t be right for everyone, and there’s a learning curve, but if your interest is sparked by Glen’s attitude and the SEO analysis he shares, helping business clients with SEO might be a goal for you.
Remember what I said at the beginning, about marketing problems of business websites being easier to spot as you learn more?
At the same time, many SEO tactics from a few years ago are no longer effective, and lots of people who offered SEO services to businesses using these tactics are no longer around, or offer other services in addition to SEO. Also, SEO is just complicated enough that the prospect of learning current methods well is a barrier to entry for many.
This all means opportunity for you, if you’re competent enough to help clients. Combining SEO knowledge with content marketing ability and social media engagement techniques means you have a very solid foundation for internet marketing, for your own services or products or for those of clients.
We’re not talking about just getting by. If you can sell, or merely excited at the thought of helping businesses fix gaping problems in their marketing of which they might be unaware, you can make much more money than your current boss. And his boss.
It will take more than a couple of weeks, but let me be clear: internalize lessons from people like Glen Allsopp and that is the road you’re heading down.
Balance the foundational SEO knowledge you got from MOZ with Glen’s recently updated article below, and if you really understand it all you’ll know more than many people who sell SEO services. Even if you don’t aim for SEO clients this knowledge will be worth a lot for your own sites! Note that some tactics in this article would be considered controversial by some, but Glen has labeled them as such.
Facebook ads PPC (pay per click) study. You’ll understand a whole lot about paid traffic from this single post. Reads like a detective novel, plenty of data, plenty of return on his investment too, and so well-explained:
Here’s an excellent step-by-step video series that outlines in great detail how affiliate marketing, blogging, email lists and auto responder series should all work together for you no matter what type of business you’re building.
When I get well-written emails from people of obvious intelligence asking for suggestions on how to leave low-wage jobs, I feel their frustration.
There should be a way to participate in today’s economy using higher capacities you spent years developing in school.
I sincerely believe there is, regardless of your skill. It’s a big part of what I’m expressing in this article and throughout WageFreedom.com.
Ironically, a million businesses would pay these Wage Freedom readers— often quite well— to employ the same skill they use to passionately articulate their money and job problems to me!
Marketing has become even more dependent on writing, as illustrated by three new-ish ways businesses reach potential customers and retain existing ones. See Carol Tice below.
13) Carol Tice – Make a Living Writing
I mentioned supercharging skills you already have with tech and marketing know-how to totally change the way your ability is valued.
Please start with this article on the benefits of working on retainer, because it also concisely introduces content marketing, social media account management and e-newsletters/email marketing:
Businesses which don’t use all three of these today risk getting ignored by their customers, and some are as likely to have a person on staff who can competently handle these tasks as they are to have an in-house plumber.
Here’s the thing: As with SEO years ago, marketing departments already knows they need to be doing these things (and by the way for many small businesses this ‘department’ is an owner juggling a dozen balls). They know they aren’t up to speed with the latest marketing methods, and might not be able to invest the time to learn them.
Clients need to be able to trust you, and trust that you can deliver. So learn what you must to deliver. Then get the word out with strategies drawn from Make A Living Writing and Copyblogger (below). Your focus might be on one of these skills, or all three. Tell them what their problems are–everything they know they aren’t doing– and how you’d solve these problems. You might find it’s an easier sell than you think.
Maybe you’re more comfortable trying for freelance jobs at first. That’s great—as you gain confidence look at freelancing as a way to sell clients on your services on retainer. Dig deep into Carol’s site. If you write well and you know it you will feel empowered. Please take that feeling and act.
There is gold in these two articles, for example:
To fortify yourself to get moving you can start here:
14) James Altucher
Writing books used to be what ‘being a writer’ usually meant. Today it’s just one of many ways to use writing ability for online income. But if you’re good—or especially prolific!—you’re going to love Altucher.
Well, every writer has to love James. It’s mandatory. Here’s one big thing he’ll teach you: forget finding a publisher who will allow you to ‘become a writer’. You are a writer if you write, and now you can choose yourself to take the next step of publishing professionally, yourself. You can also market your work better than publishing houses will tend to do for you (unless you sell a lot of books) by directly engaging your audience. Please start here!
‘The distinction now is no longer between “traditional publishing” versus “self-publishing.” The distinction now is between professional versus unprofessional publishing.’
I’ll resist superlatives with James, if I can. A brilliant iconoclast (couldn’t do it) and polymath, Altucher might become a virtual mentor-by-example for you as you redefine your career, and not just as a writer.
The next time you’re afraid to leap, let Altucher entertain you with a few (dozen) things that didn’t work out in his life, and how with the right attitude those things led to successes. As James says: choose yourself.
15) Copyblogger – Brian Clark
I’ve mentioned the emphasis on ‘content marketing’ in writing today. It refers to the longer, well-written, researched articles in high demand nowadays, and many other tactics like eNewsletters, social media, Slideshare presentations, video, etc. etc. Many writers who used to churn out low-quality content for businesses looking to be found via SEO don’t do content marketing well. If you can create quality, you have even more of an advantage than you used to.
The game has changed, the bar for writing is higher now, and sites like Copyblogger (and Carol Tice’s site above) will help you participate in the new landscape. I’ve recommended the content marketing career pivot to professional writers in academia and freelance journalists.
• Big-picture look at what’s working: http://www.slideshare.net/CMI/b2b-small-business-content-marketing-2014-benchmarks-budgets-and-trends-north-america
• Content marketing lessons drawn from comedy writing: http://www.copyblogger.com/agile-content-marketing
Writing for money is attractive for many reasons:
• a low barrier to entry
• few attendant expenses
• rather easy-to-learn tech tools/methods
• maybe most of all: an increasing number of ways to use your talent
You don’t have to be a great writer to succeed in making money online per se, but remember: creating written content is a foundational part of sales, branding strategy, and presence. Persuasive copywriting and long-form sales pages can be especially lucrative. Even if you outsource, it still behooves you understand how to use writing to connect with people.
Earning Online with Art Talent
In high school did you spend more time drawing portraits or whole universes in your notebook than you did focusing on the lessons? If you can make original artwork —even if you eventually ‘got serious’ and stopped drawing, illustrating, painting or sketching — you have the basis for an online income stream.
There’s huge opportunity: too often young people might not be encouraged to regard artistic skills as commercially viable, even though both the need and ways to use talent has increased in the Internet age.
Just look at the websites and apps you visit, the logos, illustrations and caricatures businesses use to give their presence a professional flair. Combine your talent with software for illustrators and artists like Adobe Illustrator, Corel Painter and many others, and you have entered the digital realm.
Am I arguing against formal education in art, design or illustration? Absolutely not. But as with many opportunities on this list I AM arguing against the idea that a lack of formal training is a showstopper, assuming you’re motivated.
Of course, if you do have formal training but haven’t approached your talent as a way to extricate yourself from something else you do for money, please reconsider! There are so many ways to market yourself today which don’t require huge amounts of time, money or technical know-how. New platforms exist to streamline the process so you can focus on making your art.
16) Sarah Steenland
For a perfect example of just how many ways you can help businesses express their purpose and engage better with customers visually, please take a look at the ’social marketing cartoonist’ page from Sarah’s website:
Sarah offers her talent in 20+ ways to clients. If you are a visual artist how many of these methods could you use to help business owners who need to add personality to their presence? Sarah doesn’t teach (yet) how to make a living from art as far as I know, but take a good look at her presence and how she markets herself. Her example is as instructive as a formal course.
Even if you’re currently unfamiliar with the software tools it takes to produce work for the digital realm, isn’t it worth a try? There are many free ways to learn software tools, and many of them offer free trials. Whatever your artistic style, I’ll bet there are potential clients out there waiting to discover you. Help them.
And also, Sarah is another example of someone who’s changed professions to follow a better path while raising two kids, and is working during an epic trip with her family through Asia on their sailboat!
17) Yamile Yemoonyah
If your dreams of making a living from your art seem no match for your own internal obstacles and doubts, Yamile Yemoonyah understands you. She reminds you that your creativity isn’t something that has to be constrained for you to be successful in the art business. On the contrary, it can also infuse the business you start, and as an artist it should. Please start here:
You feel the authenticity and sense it’s an inner battle she herself has won, or is winning as a working artist. Sign up for her free marketing challenge and free monthly hangouts to start to bridge the gap between your creativity and a world that really is waiting to be inspired by your art.
The thing I appreciate about Yamile is that she addresses a barrier which I’m sure holds back many creative people, and shows a way through: commercial success for you as an artist can be about simply adding some marketing knowledge to your talent. You don’t have to somehow beat back your artistic side in the hope that an inner businessperson will present itself.
18) Cory Huff – The Abundant Artist
If you’re overwhelmed at the thought of creating your online presence as an artist, please take a look at this spectacular 2-hr free recorded webinar Huff produced on how best to construct a artist’s website:
You might think selling art means you’ll have to dream up marketing processes and invent a website design and social media presence out of thin air. All this extraneous education and work would be enough to discourage anyone from getting started!
But it doesn’t have to be that difficult.
Huff’s webinar is about accelerating the process by not reinventing the wheel. Huff shows exactly how to glean lessons from working artist websites as well as niche- and marketing research using SEO and Facebook Graph Search. Sound over your head? Please watch. It is practical, detailed instruction and by the end you’ll have enough to get you started. There is a long Q & A session at the end involving the webinar attendees.
Huff talking you through the process during the video could be the spark that compels you to getting started online as an artist, and I sincerely hope it does!
The blog section of Huff’s site http://theabundantartist.com/blog/ complements this webinar well. There’s plenty of nuts-and-bolts instruction on enhancing your platform and using social media channels like Pinterest, Instagram and Google Hangouts to get your art seen and to sell it.
Chances are you’re pretty comfortable navigating Facebook as a user, but you may never have thought much about ads you see. If you know what you’re doing Facebook ads can be an economical, effective way to target potential customers and funnel them to your website, or sell to your email list.
They offer detailed targeting options and are surprisingly easy to set up. Facebook has more than a billion users worldwide and it most certainly wants to help you target them, no matter who you’re tying to reach. Chances are that a user base so large will have plenty of people interested in what you have to offer.
Another thing to consider: focusing on getting good at a relatively narrow area of expertise like Facebook ads is one way to gain competence and a learn a sell-able skill relatively quickly.
Remember, Facebook is only one source of visitors you can pay to reach. Google Adwords is another, but some people think Adwords targeting is more complex, and in some applications less effective than Facebook ads. (Please see the Glen Allsopp article above for a single datapoint regarding Facebook ads vs Google Adwords)
At any rate, whether you try a few low-budget experiments or not, I’m including this section because I think it’s important to understand the role paid traffic can play in bringing attention to a website or to your presence, and perhaps nudge you to get involved, inexpensively.
19) Amy Porterfield
Amy also has good info on things like advanced targeting strategies, writing good copy for FB ads and peripheral but vital subjects like outsourcing. Her podcasts feature value-laden interviews with heavy hitters in Internet marketing and social media. Also, Facebook makes frequent changes to its advertising platform, and she (along with Rick below) is a go-to authority for explaining how the latest changes impact how you use it.
20) Rick Mulready
I learned a lot from Rick when I wanted to learn how to run Facebook ads for Teespring campaigns (a story I’ll tell sometime) in a hurry. Super-clear instruction, and he’s very good at conveying best practices far beyond the generic help Facebook supplies you.
If you’re intrigued by the idea of immediately–today–getting targeted traffic to your website but afraid you’ll be over your head with targeting options and have problems controlling your spending, go here for access to Rick’s terrific free webinar on getting started with Facebook ads for as little as $10/day:
Buying and Selling Websites
A guide to making money online in 2015 is incomplete if it doesn’t tell you where you can learn to get started buying websites. The process is analogous to buying real estate fixer-uppers or well-cared-for old cars whose value can be increased with knowledge and elbow grease. (A market certainly exists for apps but I’ll focus on websites here in the interest of brevity and because I have two excellent resources for learning about the website market to point you to)
Even though people spend a lot of time today in mobile apps and walled-off sites like Facebook, websites are still used as income streams or standalone businesses. Affiliate marketing, selling advertising, community/email list building, lead generation, digital or physical product sales and software sales are a few ways to make money with websites in 2015. Buy the site and you can buy the income stream too (make sure you are, in fact, buying it).
Good news: you might be surprised how little money it takes to purchase a site and immediately start earning, and learning about everything from traffic generation and promotion to website monetization, optimizing conversions to building an email list, etc.
Is a site making $30/month worth buying? What if it only cost you $250 and very little further effort? What if putting some work into it turned it into a site making $100/month, or more? What if you had a lot of these sites? Even more valuable in the long run might be the varied lessons you learn as you manage it.
Buy and refurbish it wisely and your site might become an income generator whose return on investment (ROI) makes it well worth you original purchase price. Or, sell it and repeat the process. After creating a process for buying and refurbishing websites, many people have built large portfolios of web properties for both income and equity growth.
21) Pro Guide To Buying Websites by Flippa: Learn as you Earn
It’s outstanding, a few years old but not dated. It is all covered here: determining if a site suits your needs, site selection criteria, ways to gather data independently and analyze a website, dealing with sellers, how website sales transactions work.
Flippa has been a popular place to buy and sell websites and domain names online for many years, and that popularity means you’ll have to work to sift for quality sites once you finish the guide. Flippa’s notification system can email you when sites match a filter you create. There are third-party tools to help you search even faster.
For sheer range of offerings Flippa is very good, but don’t limit your search for sites to buy there. You’ll be rewarded for digging through search results, Ebay and many, many other places online and and offline for neglected websites with potential, and reaching out to site owners.
22) Empire Flippers
If you’re smart enough to know you don’t know enough yet, but do have funds to invest, look here. Site owners Justin and Joe act as full-service brokers for both buyers and sellers and have an excellent reputation built on transparency and helpfulness. (For example, currently they include site migration to your hosting as part of their service) Using Empire Flippers does not replace your own due diligence, but you’ll be provided many of the relevant metrics a smart buyer needs to take into account before you purchase.
There might be less room for negotiation on purchase price for the sort of premium sites listed at Empire Flippers, but having confidence in the site(s) you buy is worth it for many people. Also, prices for premium sites will tend to be higher no matter where you look.
Bonus: Here are a links to info from a couple of entrepreneurs with lots of real-world experience both buying and selling sites:
What you should do now:
Pat Flynn has a piece of great advice for writing blog posts: he talks about giving your reader ‘quick wins’: small, actionable tips that take a few minutes to convey.
I went completely against that idea in this post, and I’ll tell you why.
I aimed wide in terms of subject matter in the hope that more people would find at least one direction which interests them.
I don’t expect anyone to be drawn toward every discipline and expert I mention here, or even to read this entire article necessarily. If you find one blog post or person in this article that sets you on a better path then I’ve succeeded.
I chose each link carefully. I want you to find a spark.
Because I believe that, assuming you are willing to take action, there’s an idea out there— a person with critical bit of info you need right now— which can liberate you if you’re stuck.
I really do.
So, dig to find a direction that suits you. But also, please don’t read for weeks without taking any action. Education is ongoing for all internet entrepreneurs. It never ends. Do not wait to ‘become an expert’ to start. Being an expert is inextricably linked with experience.
Look, making money online is that rare human endeavor in which it’s not scarcity that holds us back. We can’t blame failure on a lack of knowledge, lack of money, or even competition.
The threat is never actually getting started. The difference between learning and taking action is all the difference in the world.
I created this article as a reference, and I expect to add to it. If there’s someone not on this list who’s helped educate you to use the Internet for income please tell me about them in the comments or @mention me on Twitter. @wagefreedom is my handle.
If you found value in this article please share it on social media. I sincerely appreciate every single share.
If you have a friend who is underemployed or dissatisfied with their job, please forward them the link to this article.
And, if ‘underemployed or dissatisfied’ describes you, I sincerely hope you can find the strength to improve your situation, armed with my humble pointers to people and knowledge you might not have had previously.
Start small. Please let me know how it goes. Life is too short not to wage freedom.
You know there’s opportunity to make money online and you want to get started.
In emails I get every single day from WageFreedom.com readers I see huge interest in the subject.
The two main questions people ask?
• What is the best way to begin earning online income — what specific direction should I go?
• I’m not too ‘technical’. Is using the Internet to make money realistic for me, without taking months to get started?
If these questions have you stuck please keep reading. I will help you understand the opportunity, and your place in it.
Because I believe there is a chance for you, if you want it. I really do. And here’s something: you might find that the LESS technical you are, the better suited you are to taking advantage of opportunity online.
You read that right.
What’s the Opportunity?
One school of though says opportunity should frame your search and drive your efforts. Look for an under-served market or a product or service you can deliver better than the companies or people who currently do so. Look for a new method to earn, and make use of it quickly.
The problem is that you might be in a poor position to assess opportunity in the beginning. And if you’re stuck, this might be why.
Stuck and Uncertain? Meet Domain Expertise
A better question when you’re getting started is: What’s the best way for YOU to make money online?
The answer should involve domain expertise.
That’s a fancy business term which simply refers to your unique combination of experience and skills.
These are critical questions:
• What do you do better than almost anyone you know?
• Do you have an interest that borders on obsession, something you can talk about for hours?
• Is there an activity you enjoy so much you’d do it for free?
Pay particular attention to skills that seem ‘non-technical’. Also, don’t discount obscure or narrow subjects or skills in which you imagine few people are interested. That’s a problem if you offer something only to people near you geographically. Online the world is your market, everyone is potentially your fan.
No matter how narrow your domain expertise, it can be turned into an income stream.
That’s because whatever it is—I promise you—there are other people interested in:
• talking about it online
• learning about it
• buying it
• buying a better version of it
• reading guides or Amazon bestsellers about it
• joining an online community related to it
• buying your time to do it for them
• buying products you create to help them do it for themselves
Ways to make an income once you’ve defined your domain expertise are endless. We’ll get to them.
Chances are you already know of websites or people online who have built a presence, maybe a business around an interest you have. This is excellent. Please view it as validation of a direction you can go yourself to make an online income stream, not as competition that should dissuade you from proceeding.
Often the competition which exists amid the scarce resources of the offline world is replaced online by partnership. Counter-intuitive isn’t it? You’ll notice experts on a topic tend to show up on each others’ podcasts and blogs. There’s a lesson there. The growing, changing Internet still lifts all boats in 2015–well, at least the boats skippered by competence.
Freelancing would be an exception to this partnership idea, but don’t think in terms of freelancing, yet.
Selling your domain expertise by the hour is only one way to make use of it, and usually not the best way.
We’re talking more broadly about earning in various ways from authority.
You want to be one of the experts, and if you’re serious about your chosen topic you already are. You’re just moving your domain expertise to a new medium online, maybe sharing with more purpose than ever before. On top of making an income from it, it sounds like a good way to spend your time, doesn’t it?
And, you’re building an income or even a career essentially customized to you.
Note that I did not say you have to be THE expert, the ultimate authority online. Sharing with enthusiasm and sincerity to people with interest or a real need to know about it is enough. They’ll have plenty to learn from you.
Does tech knowledge seem less important to building an income online than it did a few paragraphs ago?
I hope so: I’m suggesting you simply use various tech channels to present yourself or distribute your domain authority, and/or to sell products of that authority and expertise.
You’ll be judged not on your tech savvy, your clothes or anything except the value you bring—to the conversation, to the client, to the person reading.
Lack of tech knowledge might hinder you at first but your domain expertise—and taking action—will open all the doors.
The tech just serves your domain expertise.
I said earlier that less technical people might have an advantage when sharing domain expertise. So might older people. The sheer range of your experience might have been more varied in the years before ubiquitous Internet, and it can be a source of uncommon domain expertise.
Varied experience and more years of it can give you an edge. Also, other older less tech-savvy people might be unlikely to be making use of their domain expertise for online income. It’s can be legitimate competitive advantage for you.
So, what’s your thing?
As you consider your ‘knowledge assets’, include domain expertise deriving from jobs you’ve had, if it truly interests you. Naturally what you’ve learned in years or decades on the job has huge value; it did to your employers! Making a leap to online income doesn’t mean changing everything just for the sake of disruption.
In fact, some smart people point to on-the-job experience as the best source of legit domain expertise for your own enterprise. Don’t ignore it.
Still, I think you should take into account all your interests and experience, because life is short and because deep enthusiasm for an activity is a multiplier by which people sometimes conquer the world.
This is your chance to build a future that’s more than just an extension of a past about which you might be ambivalent, a career you might have fallen into to pay the bills.
Well, bills must be paid. It’s what adults do.
But this is your chance for an income or career that fits you better, and if you’re still reading there’s a part of you that believes you can have it.
We’ve defined a method for finding your direction, instead of just listing ways to make money online. That’s a huge step forward.
But how does domain expertise translate into online income, especially if you have minimal technical skills?
The simple answer is three-fold. You ‘use technology’ to:
• reach people
• demonstrate authority/domain expertise
• sell to them
The strategies, tactics and tools you can use to accomplish each of these would fill a library (or a server farm). Don’t panic, your education will be ongoing. But as you read through the case studies–each based on a real person–and examples I’ll share, please note how each of these goals is addressed.
If a paycheck is the only way you’ve ever earned money it all seems audacious, doesn’t it? Maybe even impossible.
Choose to think of it not as being paid, but as being repaid for ‘value you provide’, in the largest sense.
It’s what your employers have always done for you, but now your customer is different. Instead of stepping into a role defined by someone else you’re constructing transactions built on what you are good at providing, as determined by you.
Your customers could be other people, or companies, or both. They’ll need what you have as badly as Boeing needs engineers, or Walmart needs their floors swept.
They will repay you for authority you demonstrate, then expertise you share. Audacious? Sure. But the need is real.
The strength of your enterprise will be how well you match a need or needs with your domain expertise.
Case study 1: Existing Business, Add Marketing
My friend Jim is a legit expert in the premium real estate market in Indonesia. With decades of experience buying, selling and facilitating deals Jim’s particular domain expertise is uncommon and no doubt extremely valuable to his clients. With Jim’s contacts he keeps fairly busy. He has no online presence, so his clients are limited to people who know someone he knows.
Would a presence helping him reach new clients double or triple his income, or just increase it by 10%?
Who can say?
But the real question to ask is this: is the cost—time and money—of constructing this online presence and scaling his efforts worth the probable increase in revenue?
The answer has to be yes.
Unfortunately Jim assumes it costs more time or money than he wants to commit, or require more technical ability than he has, so he doesn’t get started. This means a hundred people with marketing ability and a small fraction of his knowledge of the Indonesian property market are helping people who are really looking for Jim.
Note that the tech infrastructure–this marketing–only supports the business idea, Jim’s domain expertise.
Also, Jim doesn’t have to build his website and the rest of his presence, though if he chooses to do so the instruction he’d need can be found for free online.
He will want to add content to his presence to demonstrate his expertise (writing, photos, speaking on video shot from his phone, etc.) and engage with people on social media, but these tasks are about communicating what he knows very well, and do not require deep tech skills.
You’ll find education on ways to engage everywhere online, on YouTube and a thousand websites (like WageFreedom.com!).
I’ll be more specific, to show that many marketing starting points will be familiar to you.
Jim—and you—should have a business website, which in 2015 is still the hub of your overall marketing. A blog is the dynamic part of a website, updated regularly with timely content and a place to interact with site visitors. Augment the website with an email newsletter and Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media ’spokes’ appropriate for your presence and you have a comprehensive, professional way to showcase your domain expertise.
I’m amazed at how many existing, real businesses don’t have this, or have an outdated presence that probably hurts business more than it helps.
Here is a list of ways to connect. The goal isn’t to learn to use them all. The tech only supports your presence.
You may have to learn methods to use these for business, but you won’t have to invent the methods. There is a big difference.
Remember: 1) reach people, 2) demonstrate authority, 3) sell something to them. These all help with #1 and #2, some also with #3.
• Blog articles
• Email newsletter campaigns
Case study 2: Turn a Hobby into a Business, Add Marketing
Neal has a gift for fixing up classic cars. He’s a magician. The before/after photos of his projects are hard to believe. He aims to complete one per year. For him it’s truly a labor of love, and I’ve heard him refer to his job as nothing more than the activity that funds his passion.
Standing in his garage one night I asked Neal if he’s ever considered sharing his expertise via a paid online course or a membership website.
Use video to show and tell all the details of cutting out rusty floorboards and welding in new panels, or how to do a paint job properly from bare metal.
Share stories of finding unrestored classic cars and methods for rebuilding them in a forum attached to a website.
He looked surprised. There are millions of people out there with expertise, many of whom think they already know more about cars than everyone else!
True enough. Sounds like the interest is there.
I looked around at his welding equipment and the expensive paint shop, and asked how many other people he knew who have invested in such a high-quality operation.
Anyone who walks into his garage would be impressed. But Neal doesn’t see how special he is, how unusual his talents and level of commitment are.
Most people don’t see their best qualities the way others do, because they live with their domain expertise every day.
But for people looking for a no-nonsense authority with the equipment to demonstrate it, Neal is a personal connection to expertise they want, a mentor they might not have in the offline world.
It wouldn’t be hard to scale his ability to provide first rate instruction into a presence that would reach, demonstrate and sell 24/7 for years into the future.
Please take a look at these real-world examples of making a business out of a hobby, then adding marketing:
You can’t beat Scotty Kilmer for knowledge and enthusiasm(!), but Neal doesn’t need to. Everyone’s style and domain expertise will be different, as are the specific areas on which you can focus. Remember the spoke and hub idea? Scotty Kilmer on YouTube and his website .
(Hint: there is real opportunity on YouTube to be the Scotty Kilmer of motorcycle repair)
Amy at Knitting Help has a knitting empire. Take a look at her YouTube presence, leading to her site . Note monetization on her website too: Shop, premium videos, etc. with plenty of free content to reach, help and demonstrate her authority. Very, very well done.
You may know nothing about stock options trading, but by now you’ll hopefully appreciate how Gav at Options Trading IQ has turned his domain expertise into an additional income stream. He’s a pro trader, but (as with Scotty Kilmer above) I’d call the education he markets to new options traders a distinct vocation. At any rate, note the sign-up form for his email newsletter and how he establishes authority with free content (free courses and tutorials/blog articles/Youtube videos). For monetization there’s coaching, Amazon bestsellers in his niche, trade alerts, and advertising.
The Non-Corporate Face
To introduce this next section, let me ask you a question:
Why do so many corporations create a character with whom you can connect in their marketing? For example:
• ‘Flo’ from Progressive Insurance (she’s ‘Kitty’ in Australia)
• ‘The Most Interesting Man In The World’ from Dos Equis
• The Marlboro Man
• The Geico Gecko
It’s no mystery: as you connect with the persona, you connect with the product. These corporate mascots are a way to deploy the old sales maxim ‘They like you, they buy you’.
Huge companies are in effect telling us how important a personal connection is in marketing.
I bring these characters up because they describe what Neal, Jim and the entrepreneurs in the preceding examples are doing, and what you will be doing as you reach people who find your presence.
Except that you’ll connect authentically as you share domain expertise and some personality, without million-dollar ad campaigns and silly marketing personae.
And as we’ve seen, today you can make this connection via marketing techniques and tools that are cheap (or free) and relatively simple to set up and use.
I mentioned using domain expertise you’ve gained on the job as a starting point for your online efforts.
If you’re the friendly, competent, non-corporate face of a company that makes use of your domain expertise—say, in sales—you might have a certain competitive advantage over your employer.
Put your face on your own enterprise. For example:
The Shoe on the Other Foot
You sell shoes in an upscale shop. You actually love shoes and know more than a person probably should about high-end brands and models. It’s the job you dislike.
At work these products don’t sell themselves, right? That’s why you’re there, creating a connection with customers which becomes the real reason they buy, as you give detailed, personalized info and answer questions.
You are the critical component, the closer.
If you know a niche product line well enough to sell it for a company you can sell it yourself online. Build out a presence with marketing methods I mentioned earlier, into which you pour your expertise and enthusiasm.
Visitors will come. Interest can be monetized, one way or the other.
For a start, there are endless online retailers, from Amazon to small shoe stores happy to give you a commission for linking to their websites. It’s called affiliate marketing.
The company you work for already has a website selling shoes. How can you compete with them? Well, you aren’t exactly. Your market isn’t geo-specific. More importantly you’ll probably aim to appeal to the real shoe geeks who will most appreciate your level of expertise.
Funny how this might best apply to higher-end products, with higher commissions.
Start-up costs to test this idea will be very low—not much more than your time. Initial success will be just to bring in more than you spend. From there you can scale what works.
A Name For the Monster
In these examples ’technical ability’ is simply ‘marketing’ in service of domain expertise, albeit up-to-date marketing methods with which you might until now be familiar only as a consumer.
As we’ve seen, armed with it you can:
• transform and amplify an existing business by creating an influx of customers
• create a business where before there’d been only a passion-fueled hobby
• recycle years of domain expertise gained on-the-job into your own business
Would an hour or three each day spent communicating with people on a subject you know very well be that difficult or unpleasant?
Would it be a higher-value activity than what you do in your current job— especially since it’s building YOUR OWN THING, whose benefits can accrue to you for many years in the future?
By now we’ve given a name to the monster that is ‘tech expertise’. If you expected me to suggest you learn a programming language, maybe you’re a little surprised. I hope you’re encouraged.
We’re not done yet.
But Really, it’s Too Late to get Started, Right?
How can there still be opportunity to make money online today, when every niche and subject has been explored/blogged about/podcast-ed seemingly to death?
People have been asking this for as long as the Internet has been used for commerce. Business is always competitive and there are always reasons to avoid taking action. Take action.
The types of domain expertise I’m describing in this article are enough to build income upon if they’re communicated well, because there is always interest in competence, and interest can be translated into income.
Here’s another thing: if you can create quality content and information you have an upper hand, probably from now on.
You might know that most new visitors come to websites via Google search. You won’t surprised that Google’s algorithm (its complex method of ranking websites for every typed-in search query) gets smarter as the years go by.
It’s still far from perfect, but as a person with ‘the goods’–the domain expertise–you’re in an increasingly better position to benefit from smarter search engines than people who used to have an easier time ranking websites with poor content highly in Google, by reverse-engineering the algorithm. Yes, this was a common activity. And it still happens.
But the fact is, Google is looking for you and the fruit of your knowledge, so it can deliver the best content to users.
It’s a competitive advantage you have, which trumps the old marketing methods.
I’m not disparaging anyone’s ways of taking advantage of opportunity; we use the weapons we have. But you know there’s been a shift when you see people who previously used the old methods proclaiming quality content as the way forward.
Domain expertise is the way you’ll create quality content–articles, video, podcasting, etc.– it’s the substance that will outlast sheer marketing in this race, in the long run.
What You’re Made Of
Okay, what if you don’t have an existing offline business or all-consuming hobby to which you can point, where the marketable results of your domain expertise are already defined?
If your tech skills aren’t strong it might seem like a hopeless situation.
Well this section is for you.
I believe everyone reading this can leverage a more basic ability into domain expertise. I’m taking about a core skill, for example:
• mechanical expertise
• musical ability
• speaking ability
• artistic talent
• Vocal talent (that’s right)
• sales talent
• teaching ability
• language skills
I’m not referring to marketing the basic skill here. I’m talking about supercharging it with tech methods and tools to build new, marketable domain expertise.
It’s similar to Neal’s example above, leveraging a fundamental skill rather than a developed hobby. (The distinction can blur somewhat. That’s OK.)
There are at least two ways to do this.
1) Polish your talent, package it and market it online. For example:
• Leverage a knack for learning languages into teaching people how to do it rapidly—with personality! Benny the Irish polyglot shares his methods and engages site visitors with free lessons, specific language hacks and stories of his travels, while offering premium membership to his website, coaching and writing an Amazon bestseller. Look at the occupation he’s made for himself: YouTube and website.
• Leverage painting and drawing ability into an art education empire. Matt offers a ton of free courses, and a paid membership area of his site giving access to premium courses on video, ebooks and even lesson plans for teachers. As you look at how professionally he presents and markets his domain expertise don’t be intimidated. His presence evolved to this point over years no doubt; you can and should start slowly, testing what your target market responds to: YouTube and Website.
• Clearly classical musician, world traveler and academic superstar Rebecca Zook has several talents she could share, and professionally marketing her teaching and math ability to help young people is certainly commendable. Note how well she connects to people who might be anxious about math by communicating in her relaxed, informal way, and by sharing plenty of detail on her blog as well as testimonials and video.
The range of opportunity is as wide as the range of basic skills people have. The markets are as deep as the Internet, which is to say nearly endless. You’d never copy the marketing approach of these three people (or anyone else), but even if you had a similar skill in math for example or an art sub-genre, there is room for you in any market you’d like to reach.
The second way to put what I call a ‘fundamental skill’ to work for you?
2) Learn application software that essentially lets you express the skill in the digital realm.
This turns it into domain expertise that’s useful for customers who require digital end-products (most companies today), and also easily discoverable and marketable online.
You have a much wider range of opportunity than you did in the days when people used MS Office competence to get a foot in a door!
From graphic design to illustration to bookkeeping to music production or video editing software suites, there are more tools like this than ever, giving you a wider range of directions.
There also are dozens of specific ways you can apply domain expertise you develop, just within graphic design/illustration/animation for example.
For example, browse through the broad ‘design and multimedia’ category listings here on Elance and be astounded at the range of skills—and skills augmented with learn-able tech—which are needed. Look at the left sidebar too. Also, see:
Before you head boldly off to become a freelancer, please follow me on this final case study, showing how far an aptitude/basic skill—mechanical ability here—can take you. It might be the most important one to which I’m pointing you.
Every word of this case study is true by the way.
Case Study 3: Amplify and Redefine
A good friend of mine was an aircraft maintenance technician, with his professional A&P certification.
On the job he often took direction from engineers responsible for a fix or a design change, and with years of hands-on experience he saw that he often had as much or more expertise than the people supervising him, engineering degree or not.
Their work was more interesting to him, and the money much, much better.
He’d always had mechanical ability and he knew he could speak the language of design, as it were. He just needed a way to prove it, a way to express his expertise.
Rather than mourn the unfairness of life he decided to learn the Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software used to model and refine parts before they’re produced and assembled. He knew he was on the right track when he saw he had a knack for the tool itself—there’s a lesson there for you.
In the terms of this article, he expanded and amplified his basic (mechanical) aptitude into cutting edge, 21st-century domain expertise.
He got computer time during off-hours where he worked, modeled parts in 3-D, asked questions and took notes. He found no conspiracy against him to learn, and later to get hired.
Enough people are happy to share their knowledge that you’ll be able to make a gap in the wall through which you can squeeze.
My friend found there was room on the other side of that wall for competence.
He found contract work as a design engineer, for clients in need of designers proficient in the use of the expensive CAD software used to work on enormous, expensive airplane programs.
On the job his years of practical experience paid off just as he’d hoped. This wasn’t six figures a year income either. With tight schedules, missed deadlines and long hours on which my friend thrived, it could be six figures in a few months.
Eventually my buddy started his own company.
Yes, my friend has palpable confidence about him. Yes, he was motivated with innate mechanical ability, an autodidact willing to learn, to totally change his life.
Many people reading this article won’t be able to point at a basic skill in which they have his level of basic competence.
But some of you will, and you already know what it is.
You may never have made money from this skill, or even thought you could, but if I’ve done my job over these last few thousand words maybe you sense a new possibility.
You might not turn it into the success my friend did.
How much success do you want?
Will you take his example as encouragement, or will you look for ways in which you’ll have a more difficult time getting started?
This is an important choice, and it is entirely up to you.
Before you decide, you should know this: you have help my friend never had.
He did all this in 1989, before the Internet could help him the way it can help you, with education, access to software tools, ways to market yourself to clients or customers.
You can learn with online tutorials, from websites geared to teaching a thousand specializations. You can network with social media. Just LinkedIn is a huge improvement in inserting yourself into an industry: learning to use it aggressively–contributing content, joining Groups, reaching out directly to decision-makers–might be all you need to get more interest than you can handle.
If software is the way you augment and express your basic skill, you’ll find free trials of even expensive software packages. There are often student discounts on software suites; your local community college can be a huge help here and naturally formal education should be embraced if it is available for you. If it is not available do not let it stop you.
Use the terrific educational website Lynda.com and many similar sites to augment your education, for many, many types of domain expertise.
And, to determine your direction, is it ‘allowed’ to start with interesting, well-paying areas of domain expertise as defined by websites like Elance.com and Lynda.com and work backward to a skill you might possess only small amounts of, but be able to develop?
Why, yes it is!
Motivation is the great playing-field leveler, and can make up for a lack of almost anything…
Hopefully though, you’re sitting there with a basic skill you haven’t thought of as the basis for a career, or haven’t quite known how to translate into a better occupation, or believed you could.
I hope you’re thinking about it now, with an idea how to proceed. More than anything I hope you believe you can.
Matching software tools to your basic skills will take some digging. Again, Elance and Lynda can be good starting points for discovering categories of vocationally-oriented domain expertise you didn’t even know existed. Also, you can Google
“software for ?”
“? software for small businesses”
where ‘?’ describes the domain expertise that fits the basic skill you have.
A few examples:
• ? = ‘SEO’ if your basic skill is writing
• ? = ‘bookkeeping’ if your proficiency is math
• ? = ‘graphic design’ or ‘commercial illustration’ or ‘commercial animation’ if you have artistic ability
And, if you’re a mechanic or gear head reading this, wondering how you’ll ever get a chance to get to the next level, why not take a chance? Look at free introductory CAD packages online. Dip your toe in, model a few parts. If you find it fun–that’s right, fun–then do not stop. You might be developing a skill that will change your life. We’re moving into a world of 3-D printing, where there might be even more demand for CAD proficiency than there is now. Chaotic new industries are an ideal place to aim to participate. In five years the landscape will look different. Start now.
It all comes back the skill you have, and to domain expertise, the thing you want to create.
If you respond well to a challenge and are not afraid to leverage your ability to learn something complex, you have no idea as to the doors you can open by learning a software tool with commercial application. No one does.
Freelancing: The Onramp to Client Work, and Much More
Freelancers often take advantage of the “basic skill + software” idea, maybe because companies are willing to embrace efficiency via capital expenditure on tech tools, processes and software. At any rate, demand for people who know how to use the latest, most efficient tools, especially in new disciples created by the very existence of new tools, frequently outstrips supply.
It also happens that people with competence in a software tool are sometimes as valued as people with years or decades of experience in a discipline who are unable or unwilling to upgrade their skills. The fact that the tools are constantly evolving works in your favor, especially in the beginning.
I’m not saying it’s fair, I’m saying it adds up to opportunity if you are aggressive.
By the way, becoming a high-tech freelancer may not sound like ‘making online income’, but note that the Internet facilitates every step of this journey.
And really, freelancing most likely shouldn’t be your final professional destination.
I’d never, ever disparage it, especially if you’re looking for income quickly or on-the-job experience, but I hope you can also see how almost every domain expertise can be marketed in a better way than freelancing.
Choose to see it as a starting point for new income streams, positioning yourself as an expert as in the case studies and examples I have shared, once you can offer real domain expertise.
Freelancing can become client work on retainer, then ‘productized services’ to customers online or offline: from ‘writer’ or ‘editor’, the next step can be to start a company that provides tiered service offerings to companies.
Offer content marketing, but go further: setting up basic WordPress sites for companies, offer on-page SEO services, manage social media accounts, etc. maybe with a partner with complementary skills. You see where I’m going. Your hard-won domain expertise is the foundation for a business in whatever way suits you.
Protip: in 2015 the ‘next level’ begins when you’re making use of LinkedIn more than you are Elance.
Competence is rewarded, especially when you’re doing something where the means to monetization are set up by you.
• This article looked at ways to make money online emphasizing your experience, skills and domain expertise. Searching for opportunity is an different way to approach it, and I’ll cover ways to do that in another article.
• Whether you’re starting with an offline business, established domain expertise or a basic skill in which you have some proficiency, there’s a market waiting for you, reachable online using methods you can learn, without having to invent.
• You can combine domain expertise or a basic ability with enough specific technical skill to serve your market in the digital age. Ways to learn an endless range of tech skills are online, and often free.
• Add appropriate Internet marketing techniques to amplify its distribution and presence in the world. Freelancers can apply Internet marketing to scale their efforts into productized services or other types of B2B (business-to-business) or B2C (business-to-consumer) enterprises.
• Online business is more about business than the ‘online’ part. The tech only serves the business, and you’ll be selective about what you implement. Making money online doesn’t mean to start a blog.
If you found this article thinking you lacked the tech background to start making money online, I hope you don’t feel that way anymore.
There is still room for you among the millions of people who have created their own income streams or occupations, which are in effect customized to take advantage of the best part of themselves.
‘Customization’ implies getting a little creative, and that’s a very good thing.
It’s you exercising a liberty you might not have seized before.
And you have help, you know. If you’re having trouble thinking of talents you can use or develop to take advantage of online opportunity, talk to friends and family.
Suitable directions for you might be painfully obvious to people around you, even as you’re scratching your head.
The time and effort it takes to get started are worth it. This is a front-loaded effort in building for your future, with potentially life-changing effects later on.
It’s time for you to seize your day.
Are you ready?
Sign up for the free Wage freedom newsletter. If nothing else it’s a periodic reminder to examine more closely a direction your best self is wondering about going.
I often suggest that making money online is something Wage Freedom readers take a look at, as a way to supplement their income or create an entirely new career.
You have 100 reasons to reject the idea out of hand, I know. People unfortunately assume that they need a tech-related college degree, or that they’re too old, not technical enough, or that all the good ideas have been taken, etc. to even get started earning.
I’d like to share five reasons why I think everyone should at least take a look at earning online.
I do this because it’s changed my life and the paths of dozens of people I know, several of whom wouldn’t claim to be particularly ‘technical’. It’s given me opportunities I never saw coming, and never would have had otherwise, like living in Bali. It’s made the future more open-ended, unpredictable, promising.
Participating in tech change implies more opportunity five or ten years from now, something many people do not feel.
Yes I’ve had to work, but I believe building my own online enterprises has been a much higher value activity than any job I have ever had. It let me choose a path that fit me.
Can you say that about your current job?
Why you should learn to use the Internet to make money in 2015
1) Flexibility. Create your own hours, work from anywhere, toward success as you define it. This implies discipline and motivation, and that means that frankly it’s not for everyone. But if flexibility means a liberation you choose to use, self-employment online might suit you.
2) Start up costs can be very low, especially compared to ‘brick and mortar’ businesses with physical infrastructure and employees. Setbacks don’t have to be expensive and experimenting with different methods won’t kill your budget.
3) Education is necessary, but nowadays you absolutely don’t have to be a technical whiz to succeed. Much of the education you do need is free or very cheap. Here are 22 excellent free places to start.
4) The rapid pace of tech change is creating online opportunity, for everyone. With new methods and tools being invented all the time, the landscape is shifting and will continue to do so. This means many of today’s experts won’t have the upper hand unless they keep learning, in order to keep up with the new competition (i.e. you!).
5) Tech literacy is on the rise, for us all. Making money from your online presence is part of this trend, and soon it will be quite common. The barriers to entry are extremely low. The tipping point for the average person with an idea or a desire to work for herself is closer than ever for this reason. I believe it will hugely affect the level of material comfort many people have in retirement. You’ll do well to get started early. Your competition is.
Whether I’ve convinced you or not, why not take a look at my comprehensive guide on how to get started earning online?
There’s nothing to buy, I simply want to give back to Wage Freedom readers.
I’ve listed 22 authorities from across the Internet who I believe offer the best FREE education on a huge range of methods and tactics. I also provide you background where you need it: I wrote it for people with zero experience.
No matter what your background, interests, education or level of technical proficiency, I believe there’s something for everyone in the guide, please click here to dive in!