I am never one to tell someone what to do. But I am selfishly wanting more people to break free from their regular 9-5 jobs so I can go play golf with them during the day. Nonetheless many still have to go to work each day for 40-plus years.
This is the exact reason, I think you should start a profitable online business. So you can be your own boss and work when you want to. It is truly an odd experience when you are making money from an online website. I will never forget the moment that I got my first sale from my first online store in 2012.
I sold something while I was on a boat
Looking back at it, this was the epiphany moment that got me so excited about my online store and making an income from the internet. It was nearly 6 months into making the world's worst website when I took my wife on a boat ride. We had a small powerboat on the lake and went out for a cruise and to do some fishing. Occasionally, I would even get lucky and catch something. On this day, I don't remember catching a fish but I do remember the beep from my blackberry. It was an email from my online store. I can't recall exactly what the email said, but it was to the effect "You received an order - 001."
My mind was instantly blown that someone I did not know would order some from my own website. Did I just become an internet millionaire? Absolutely not, but this gave me the initial spark and showed me that it was actually possible. This is the biggest hurdle because it seems impossible that you could actually sell something online, let alone online while you aren't working behind a desk. I was on a boat!
Starting an online store is far easier that starting a traditional brick and mortar business
Starting a traditional business requires a lot of capital, fixed overhead, and employees. I am personally a fan of running low overhead variable cost online businesses that just don't require as much of your time and money as traditional businesses. Not to say that you can't make a sustainable income from a brick-and-mortar business but you limit the scale you can take it. The true beauty of running online stores is that you can sell to anyone anywhere and it doesn't need a lot of overhead, unlike many small businesses.
How many hours does it take to start an online business?
I think it truly depends on the type of business you want to start. For me, I could work as many hours as I wanted or as few hours as I wanted because I could do it at home after work. This gave me the flexibility to spend time on it wherever I could not just on the weekends. The first time you start anything new it takes longer to do everything because it is new. The real benefit here is that you have the creative freedom that you would not have in the corporate world and if done successfully you could set up your day however you like.
When I first started my online business I knew nothing and there wasn't a lot of helpful information out there, so I ended up working literally every minute I could. I do not recommend doing that. But for me, it was my true passion and I honestly loved it. If I did not love what I was doing there is no way I could have worked that hard. So no matter if you are just looking for a side hustle or make a little more income from an online business try to do something you actually enjoy. You don't want to turn this into work.
Aren't all businesses now considered online businesses?
The obvious benefit to running an online business is that you can truly run your own business from anywhere you have an internet connection. The pandemic which I don't love to talk about certainly fast-forwarded a lot of people's perceptions of what online meant and even transformed what work means. Remote work is the new normal now, which makes starting an online business easier than ever.
You can't have too many income streams
This was a huge eye-opener for me. The last job I had was in 2013 and I was fired the week before thanksgiving when I just found out my wife was pregnant. Did I think I was going be fired? Absolutely not! I was crushing it for the company I was working for. But regardless of my results, it did not matter, I was fired.
This new perspective made me realize that any one income stream, whether from your corporate job or one online business puts you at some level of risk. I am not saying you should go out today and start 100 online businesses, but I think having 1 or 2 extra streams of income that aren't related will help you sleep at night.
When I started my other online business in 2017, I already had a system in place to run my other company and made sure it would not interfere. When my new marketing agency started to provide income it was like a weight was lifted off my back. It took me years to build companies that can run without my dedicated time but neither would have been possible unless they were 100% online.
Run your own business or businesses while having a day job
The easiest time is to start now. Although I am running an eCommerce brand and an email marketing agency, I felt excited to start this blog. Both my other companies require inventory, people, and capital. But, starting this blog has been an extremely simple process.
All I am doing is writing blog posts about my expertise. This is my first content site that I will be monetizing via ads, referrals, and some affiliate offers.
The barrier to entry to starting a simple blog is very low, but it takes time and some relevant experience. When I try to start a new type of business like I am now, I take the following actions.
How I break into a new online business vertical without any experience
The first thing I do is try to find an authority in the space, someone that has actually had success doing exactly that. For this blog, I wanted to find someone that has be able to make a significant online income from ads. I will be doing an in-depth review of his course, but the community he has built has been amazing. Here is a link to his free course and what I am using as a framework to grow this blog with SEO. Once I find a so-called expert, I will take their course and see if it makes sense to me.
I am not a great student, so I like businesses that even I can understand. After I do a deep dive into a new business vertical like monetizing a blog via ads, I like to hire an expert to coach me in 1-hour sessions.
Each one-hour coaching session will be a hand-on-screen share. I don't have the expert do anything, other than tell me what buttons to press and their thinking behind it. This usually helps fast-track my hands-on learning and also help me see if they are actually an expert or not. If I think I understand something well enough, I personally will give it a try for a short period of time. Just enough time to see traction. Once I have some traction, I will then look for independent contractors, an agency, or a solo expert to do the actual daily fulfillment of the work.
My best case scenario for working online is to learn it and then delegate it.
The hardest part of starting an online business or any new business is that you need to actually know what you should be working on and get started. Once you break through that initial roadblock, you can start hiring and turn this into a business that doesn't require you to do all the day-to-day work. This is the only way to actually build a business not only that can scale, but also could be sold one day. This is the biggest trap I see for new small business owners, they feel so busy because they are doing all the busy work. It is so hard to delegate tasks and trust others to do it, but you must do it to scale any online business.
Can you generate passive income from an online business?
Truly passive income typically doesn't come from a business. You can absolutely build systems, hire and get free from 99% of any online business. But that doesn't make it truly passive. I would not start an online business if my only goal is passive income. I would rather try to earn money from an online business as I grow it into something that is sellable.
The benefits of an online business
Only need an internet connection and a laptop
More scale than a local business
Can work after your day job and on weekends
Typically low cost to get started
At a certain size, you could sell an online business (I did this in February and it changed my life)
Don't need to work traditional 9-5 like in the corporate world
Anyone can start an online business
Making money online doesn't require you to exchange hours for dollars
There have been many successful online businesses - proven
A successful online business needs to be simple to start and stick with
One of the biggest hurdles to starting an online business today is simply starting. But, starting online websites can seem overwhelming. There are seemingly endless options of business types that a business owner could choose from. I think to actually build a profitable online business you need to focus on one thing and that one thing you actually enjoy. Let me give you an example.
There is a very famous social media icon who talks about providing value and just slamming social media content out on all channels. This is the type of advice that is far too vague to take action. What does value mean? What will I sell? What channels? How often? The list of questions on how to execute and the outcome is not clear.
For this blog, I ran into the exact situation. How will I grow it, how will I monetize it and what simple strategy can I focus on that will grow it and let me have the creative freedom that I want from a personal website?
As of today, my strategy to grow this blog is simple
For me, I want to grow this blog by doing one thing. Writing content from my actual experience in e-commerce and running an email marketing agency. But not just write content for writing content's sake and providing "value." Although I want to provide value to anyone that is reading of course. Write content that will be found on google. Once I am ranked for a number of keywords, I will then monetize that organic traffic. That is my entire strategy.
My blog strategy update to make "good money" that is also "simple"
Search for low keyword difficulty keywords around my niche using Ahrefs (Update: I am using RankIQ for my keyword research)
Keyword difficulty for any keyword I am targeting will be under 30
Write content from my unique perspective in SurferSeo
Try to score a minimum of 70 on SurferSeo
Monetize via Google Adsense, Adthrive, or Ezoic
Secondary but not core focus: Affiliate offers and Agency referrals
That is it. By having a simple strategy, I can actually stick with it. Since it's my personal site, it is something I can always write about. The challenge is that this is a low barrier to entering an online business which means I have to write creative content and that is how I will provide value. Anything else I do at this point in the online business would be a distraction.
Building a blog from scratch can certainly take time, I hope that because I have 2 other online companies I can leverage that experience and network to grow it faster. I will be updating you as I go. Wish me luck.
So should YOU start an online business?
Not everyone is built to run their own online business or e-commerce store. I do believe in the freedom that it can bring and the stability that having multiple incomes can give you. I would rather have a day job where I really don't need to go. How empowering would it be to be able to quit and not be worried about making a living?
For me, I am able to spend time with my young family. Or I can decide to go golfing or skiing any day of the week. I don't have to clock into work. The sad reality is that we spend so much of our lives working, we should do something we enjoy like writing this blog post, and have time to enjoy life. It is just too short.