Next month I'll be coming up on my second anniversary of being self-employed, and I have to admit that it's pretty surreal to think about!
In June of 2015, I sat down in the office of the band hall (I used to be a band director), and told my boss that I was going to put my resignation in so I could run this dinky little website I had made.
I was literally shaking a little bit because I was so nervous. At the time, that was by far the most risk I had ever taken in my life. Everything else up to that point was normal; go to college, do an internship, graduate, and get a job at something I was good at.
Nobody saw my leap of faith coming. Really not even me before I did it!
Here's how I built a $100,000+ per year business from my laptop:
1. It started as a side-hustle
M$M was started as something I did in my free time after work. I watched YouTube videos on blogging and building websites with WordPress (which is what this site is built on), and just started fumbling my way around my site for a while and writing content about personal finance.
Just a short disclaimer before I dig in to some of the finer details of my business – I just want to plead with you not to quit your job tomorrow because you read this post.
Believe it or not, several people that have heard my story over the past two years have decided to leave their jobs and credit me for inspiring them to do it.
While it's really flattering – it also freaks me out! No business is easy to build, but blogging especially takes a lot of time up front without any real money coming in. This is not a get rich quick business model. It's for people who are patient and hard workers only.
My ultimate goal is to help people build side businesses that can help them pay off their student loans and get ahead. If their side hustles turn into a full-time gigs later down the road, awesome!
While I did take the leap and have been successful, it would be wrong of me to push that strategy just so I can sell more stuff. That commitment to do right by my readers is what drives growth for the site (in my opinion).
2. I put in the time to learn my craft
This is where most people tend to fail. You can't just throw a sub-par product out there (in this case the content that I write is the product) and expect to do well in an online business.
Whatever you do, whether it's blogging or selling things on eBay for a profit – you have to provide value, and that comes with putting in time. Lots of it.
My value proposition is simple. I write things that help motivate and inspire people to pay off their debt and find new ways to make money. That eventually leads to helping people live a better life, which is important to me.
That's why I put hours and hours into learning how to create content, finding helpful products I believe in that I think my audience could use, and ultimately grow a loyal following of people.
If there is something I don't know how to do – I pay for a course even if I'm not sure that the ROI will be guaranteed. Most bloggers aren't willing to risk any money on courses or services, which is why many of them don't ever make any money.
You have to treat your blog like a business if you want it to be…a business. Pretty simple.
3. When blogging wasn't working, I found other income streams
This blog had only made about $3 when I took the leap of faith, and so it took a while to make it profitable.
I'm a big believer in multiple income streams, both in life and within your business. If you take a look at my latest online income report below, you'll see that I don't just make money from ads.
I've done blog and Facebook ad coaching, I provide marketing services (which I'll discuss shortly), sell affiliate products, and on and on.
That way, if one income stream looks like it's not going to do well that month – I can focus my efforts elsewhere to keep growing my business.
4. Marketing and blogging go hand in hand
Like I mentioned – in the beginning, I didn't really make much money from my blog. That's when I had to pivot and look elsewhere, which is when I realized how important blogs are for small businesses.
Any small business worth it's salt has a blog, and the smart ones have a really good blog with fresh content about their niche.
Not only is it good for SEO (Search Engine Optimization, aka ranking better in Google), but it can help drive sales and keep potential customers on your site longer!
Just by learning to run my own small blog, I realized that all of the emails, Facebook ads, social media interaction, etc. were the exact same skills and strategies that most small business owners don't have the time to develop.
So I started offering my services to small businesses and generated enough revenue to at least make a living, while I also developed more content for this site and the overall M$M brand.
Now I run two different arms of my business – one side is marketing services and the other one is this site. People have asked me why I still do marketing, and the answer is simple: I like it and it helps me sleep at night because the income is consistent.
5. I consistently produced content
In my free blogging course (which you can sign up for below), I talk a lot about consistency. This is really the same for any business, but ESPECIALLY for online businesses.
People have ADD online, and they will forget about you as soon as possible. That's why I produce content and put it out on the same days at the same time every week.
Far too many of the people that want to start a successful online business miss this detail, and it's so important. You have to show up so many times that people remember you, and then eventually trust that you are an expert in your field.
No shortcut here – you have to put in the work.
There is so much opportunity out there, but it's not easy
People ask me all the time if there is still room for new digital marketers and bloggers in the market, and the answer is yes! But, you have to put in the time, take your lumps, and learn your craft. It's just not for everyone, and that's OK.
If you've considered starting an online business of any kind, you should. I'm a firm believer that millennials (or anyone that can find their way around a computer) can at least take a shot at it and have an opportunity there that previous generations never had.