I get tons of emails per day and around 75% of them are questions about making money online.
Most of these come from people who decided to quit their jobs and travel the world. Some have even started blogs.
But when it becomes apparent that writing about their experiences on some blog can barely fund a cable bill back home, some have resorted to teaching English or even freelancing for some sites in order to make ends meet.
Here’s the thing: I don’t want you to become an English teacher abroad. I want you to make good money selling awesome products and services so that you’re happy where you are and aren’t forced to cut your trip short by returning to the USA (or some other country) and begging your old boss for a job.
The biggest problem these people face is the same problem I faced when I began my online money-making journey: I had no idea what I was doing.
I once believed that I can start a blog, write a few articles and money would mysteriously fall from the sky.
That’s not quite how it works.
There are a lot of gurus out there who’ll tell you that the way to make money is to start a blog.
The truth is that they’re probably trying to sell you something.
First of all, a blog is a terrible way to make money.
Actually, let me back up a minute. It is possible to make money doing just that, but you need a well-devised and well-executed strategy and plan.
I can certainly tell you that 99% of bloggers are not making more than $50 per month (if that) from their blogs.
The reason: they don’t have a strategy in place that comes along with treating it as a business and not a hobby.
This brings me to the first lesson: you must treat your making-money goals as a business.
Most people are super casual about it: they treat it as a hobby.
Their blogs are hobbies.
Their websites are hobbies.
Their online stores are hobbies.
Everything in their life is a hobby.
It doesn’t work like that.
Anything that you build for the purpose of making money should be treated as a business.
You have to be super serious about it.
My ecommerce stores are businesses.
My affiliate sites are businesses.
I don’t do many niche sites, but the few which I do have are definitely businesses.
The blog you’re reading now? That’s more of a hobby and a way for me to connect with the audience, and help people anyway I can.
The important point I want to drive is that there’s a Chinese Wall that separates my businesses and my hobbies.
That means that my businesses all have super high priority because they pay the bills and fund my life.
I don’t fuck around with the businesses.
I live in spreadsheets. I analyze every cent of the revenue, sales and profits. Everything needs to add up.
If I’m losing money somewhere, I need to find out why.
If I’m making more money than normal, I must find out way.
You will never be this serious if you just treat it as a hobby.
Look, I get it. You escaped the 9-5 job, you’re traveling around the world, you’re living in some exotic place like Rio de Janeiro, Brazil or Medellin, Colombia, so why do you need to work?
That’s especially true if you’re living in a country with a low cost of living.
Well, that rent for your bachelor pad in Ipanema and money for your hot Carioca girlfriend isn’t going to magically appear out of nowhere.
You still have to earn it.
The second lesson: don’t only focus on things that you’re super passionate about
This is something I notice all the time: people only choose to concentrate on things they’re extremely passionate about.
That blog you’re writing from your Rio de Janeiro apartment is your passion. After all, you love Brazil and can’t wait to tell people about the women, the beaches, the BJJ training, or how everything is just awesome 24-7.
I get it.
I’ve been there.
I love Brazil and still fondly remember my multi-year sojourn there.
There’s nothing in my life that I’m more passionate about than traveling and living abroad.
Right now, I’m having the time of my life living in Ukraine, and I want to tell others about it.
The problem is that just because you care about it, doesn’t mean that others do as well.
And if you’re not solving other people’s problems, then you don’t really have a business.
I’ve struggled with this for a long time. That is, until I figured out that helping other people is the easiest way to put cash in your pocket.
So, I started to diversify.
Now, I run various websites that have absolutely nothing to do with this blog.
Don’t get me wrong, this blog is my passion and I will probably continue to run it forever, but it doesn’t exactly solve the most pressing problems that people have.
As it happens, there are more pressing problems in the world than figuring out how to get a Brazilian girl to like you.
This blog is mostly a way for me to philosophize and connect with like-minded individuals.
For instance, here are some earnings for a site which I started fairly recently.
Those aren’t exactly life-changing numbers, but that’s just one site of many that solves very specific problems for a laser-targeted audience.
This is not a site about a subject I’m passionate about at all. In fact, I knew nothing about the subject as little as two months ago.
But there are many people that do care about this subject, so I needed to figure out how I can help them.
I quickly learned that when there’s a problem to solve and money to be made, one can be passionate in just about any area. Over time, I even developed interest in this particular subject area.
My e-commerce stores are pure businesses as well. I built my first one back in February of this year, and gradually added more over the year.
Some of the products we sell are loosely connected to one of my passions, but many others I have zero interest in. They just sell really well. I like money, so I roll with it.
Empathizing with other people’s problems is the difference between making enough per month to cover dinner at a sushi restaurant in Manhattan versus making enough to have a luxurious life anywhere on the planet.
The third lesson: you must work really, really hard
Let me ask you something: when was the last time you worked 16 hours per day—all week? Or two weeks? Or an entire month?
Because that’s exactly what you’ll have to do if you want your business to succeed.
I’m not afraid to admit it: I can be pretty lazy. Especially when I spend the summers in Ukraine in my awesome centrally-located apartment. I can’t get any work done.
There’s something about being surrounded by beautiful women and amazing architecture that turns off my hustling mind.
Coincidentally, it’s during those periods that I don’t make much progress and increase my income very much.
But I can also be very hungry and determined. I want to grow my businesses and build new ones.
The major reason that I’m so hungry is because I treat these activities as businesses.
I don’t know many people who spend 12-16 hours per day working on their hobbies. Maybe they exist, but I haven’t met one personally.
On the other hand, a business is different. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been putting in 14 hour days building a brand new business. In about three months, I expect it to easily generate several grand per month, and, if things go well, I expect it to bring in low 5-figures soon after.
There are times when you rest and times when you work.
I need to be obsessed with completing as much work in a single day that most people complete in one or two weeks.
All my friends who make a killing online basically live in either FB Ads dashboard, Google Ads dashboard, some SEO keyword research tool or some fancy landing page builder.
They’re obsessed with creating new products, new sites, new landing pages, new pitches, new funnels, etc.
They’re obsessed with always testing, always experimenting, always seeing what works and what doesn’t.
They all work long hours because they want to create more and make more money.
They love it.
Of course, they take vacations here and there; a good friend of mine flies to Miami from NYC every month.
It’s the work hard, play hard philosophize that I absolutely love.
So, if you’re lazy, succeeding as an entrepreneur will be an uphill battle. It requires lots of work and dedication. Much more than you ever did at your 9-5.
I honestly don’t know a single person who makes a killing but is also lazy. Never met one. I don’t know if they exist.
Remember, you make money by starting a business and by treating it like a business.
Imagine you opened a convenience store. What would happen if you show up one day on time, but then show up at 1pm the next day?
What would happen if you don’t show up for an entire week?
You think you’re going to make money?
Of course not.
Once you begin treating something as a business, the next thing you’ll realize is that you’ve just traded one boss for another; you traded your annoying 9-5 boss for millions of perspective customers whose business you need to keep the lights on.
Some people will relish in this new environment; others will suffer and complain.
Personally, I love building and selling my own products. I couldn’t have it any other way.
I also don’t mind working 16 hour days if that means substantially increasing my income and making serious progress.
When I was a software engineer, I was fairly shy and introspective.
Building my own businesses forced me to go out and become more aggressive, breaking down some of that shyness and insecurities.
That is something you’ll have to learn to love as well.
In the end, it was a lot easier than I thought.
If not, you can always return back home and beg your old boss for a job.