In the spirit of my site relaunch, I wanted to offer some advice and my experiences as I have enhanced my mindset, my diet, fitness routine, and free time to pursue my own interests. None of this would have been possible without being able to generate a considerable amount of revenue through my internet marketing activities. This freedom from others has made it possible for me to do more with my time than I would have ever imagined. Therefore, I will outline my journey to location and work-time independence and how you can do the same. Most importantly, I will outline my story from the perspective of the nearly computer illiterate! In my experience, this freedom makes it infinitely easier to take control of your life and follow a path you are proud of.
Getting Started Can Be Scary
Not all of my readers are 22 year old bachelors who can share one bathroom with three other people for $400 a month. There are plenty of mothers and fathers who have responsibilities to their kids and debts to pay off. That makes location and employment independence a difficult task, but not an impossible one. What used to keep people working for their employer was a perceived job security, which no longer exists. In this modern, globalized world where everything can be blamed on a “poor economy,” the CEOs and business owners have free reign to consistently trim the fat. You could be left with no job, no benefits, and no pension plan. In many cases, you may not even have a severance package.
So it may be natural to fear the unknown and contemplate the worst-case scenario, but it isn’t necessarily logical. Historically, it may have been a good idea to stick to a well paying job with benefits and a chance to rise through the ranks. The reality has changed and it is time your perception follows suit.
When I started my journey to build an internet-based business, I was lucky enough to have my back against the wall without any financial responsibilities. I was living at home with my parents, my life seemed to be headed in a downwards spiral, and I knew that if I didn’t do things myself, nobody else would. As a history student with a ruined reputation in the industry, there was only one person that I could rely upon – myself.
Luck was on my side. I had no fear when striking out into the internet world. Most readers still have quite a lot to lose compared to me, which makes this an incredibly difficult decision to make. Nonetheless, I promise you that becoming location and work-time independent is in your best interest and I will do my best to get you started. Grab a drink, some snacks, and get comfortable – this is going to be a long one.
Internet Based? But I’m Not Technical!
One of the largest perceived impediments to creating an internet-based business is whether you have technical skills. While being able to utilize web tools and technology makes life easier, if you can perform basic computer functions (think writing in Microsoft Word), it is possible to make a enough money to survive. How do I know this is possible? I did it.
When I started working on the internet (and to this day, in fact), I could barely even install a WordPress site or register a domain. That is about the least technically savvy you can get, which would seem problematic to most. However, I found out that many internet business people needed content or articles in order to promote their products and services or increase their rankings in search engines like Google. First, I wrote for a couple of clients and in my first month I made a whopping $257. Not something anyone can really live off of. The second month, however, was $1,238.80. Now I was getting somewhere (subsequent months got as high as $4,284.44!).
As Tim Ferriss would say, I say this not to impress you, but to impress upon you how easy it is to make a living on the internet without having any technical skills whatsoever. Over the course of my first year working on the internet, I was able to make nearly $20,000 from writing content alone. While it may be incredibly modest by most standards, it allowed me to live comfortably (for my age and dietary requirements), but more importantly it was earned with an average of 39.7 hours spent per month. That is less than a full week of work per month, which gave me ample time to invest in myself. Here are some of the things I did and re-evaluated with my free time:
- My diet – although I was fairly healthy to begin with, I read numerous books and blogs that ultimately led me to a strict diet with elements of paleo, primal, and my own influences. The free time from work also encouraged me to learn how to cook delicious food for three meals a day while eating out perhaps once a month.
- My fitness – while I played played soccer my entire life and considered myself to be fit, I was actually damaging my body tremendously. With ample time to read, I learned about the benefits of high intensity training, muscle growth, and providing the body with ample time to heal properly.
- My party habits – after a great time spent with friends (and far too much alcohol), I re-evaluated the way I spent my time partying. While I still push myself into social situations, I do so without any alcohol with a no-tolerance policy for the past 8 months.
- Reading – in the absence of work, I was also able to pick up a number of great books including many that are on my resource list. In the last three months of the year, I probably managed to read almost two-dozen books of my choosing.
- Sleep and meditation – relaxation was obviously high on my priority list and meditation improved my life dramatically. Sleeping more in line with my rhythmic human cycles was also a tremendous by-product of this free time.
- Investing in my business – while I did spend much less time working for the money that I used to survive, I did spend a lot of free time investing in more passive projects and learning the technical skills I needed to be successful.
If you decide to go this route in order to get independence from your job at the lowest level in order to pursue your dreams, I would suggest creating an excel spreadsheet modeled after the screenshot below. By calculating the time that you spend compared with your earnings, you can not only track monthly income, but also create an hourly wage that will increase with time, which can be used for other purposes. While mine fluctuates frequently, over $55 is not bad (especially considering that rate equates to an annual salary of about $101,200).
For reference, you can download this blank template for your own use (calculations and examples included):
Building Sustainability with Free Time
While I spent considerable time exploring many aspects of life during the first few months, learning about more sustainable models of generating income were also important to avoid requiring a job when times got tough. Content provided me enough money to survive, but in my spare time I started to read about other methods that you can also utilize in order to break free from your stifling job.
First, I learned about search engine optimization (SEO), which is a method of marketing products or services through manipulation of Google, Bing and Yahoo. Don’t worry if you aren’t technical because most search engine optimization is going to require that you either manage and outsource, or provide lots of content for certain types of backlinking. It took a few months, but eventually I got a couple of extra SEO clients on top of my writing income. You don’t have to know everything there is to know about the topic and becoming an SEO freelancer is incredibly easy and lucrative.
If you are more visual minded and artistic, you can use your free time to learn how to use the latest tools to be a graphic designer. There is a far greater need for good designers than you think and the knowledge of specific tools can be turned into a great source of income as well.
As I write, I can hear you grumbling about how un-sexy your online-based income is starting to look, but that is fine. If you have no technical skills, the point of the first few months or a year is just to earn a living in a fraction of the time so that you can spend your time elsewhere. Many will opt to learn more about building their online business, some will trek through mountainous regions of South East Asia to find themselves, and others will find a comfortable middle-path like I did.
Investing Your Stash of Cash
For those who are a little more business minded, have some technical expertise, or have the capital to invest in starting an online based business, this should offer you a few ideas on how you can relaunch your life away from the drudgery that you currently experience. This section is also applicable to those who have the willpower or time to start side projects while working a fulltime job (maintaining a well-rounded and healthy life might be difficult in this instance).
Investing money into stocks, bonds, or other riskier ventures looks great if you know what you’re doing or have the time to learn everything thoroughly. In my opinion, there is no better place to invest than in yourself, your passion, and something that you can control at all times.
There are a wealth of resources on the internet that will make any project viable whether or not you have the technical resources to complete it yourself. Globalization and technology have brought well-educated and cheap experts within your hiring capabilities. Here are a few of the sites that you can utilize in order to get started with whatever project you have in mind (if you don’t have something in mind, don’t worry – I’ll get to that later):
Freelancer – With over 7 million users, this site is the best place to find people with any background you’re looking for. If you need a programmer, a designer, or anything else you can think of, they’ll be on this site. With the acquisition of vWorker (formerly Rent-a-coder), you’ll find all the best technical individuals to help you.
99Designs – While you can find designs on Freelancer and other sites, 99Designs is specifically created to get the best designers bidding on your project. Finding the best logo, banner, or design for whatever your project on is really simple with this site (note: I used this site to create the new logo for The Hacked Mind). If you want a full guide to get the perfect logo, check out the Startup Bros guide.
My Investment Portfolio – Projects I’m Working On
As I’ve based this guide to relaunch your life and add more time to find happiness, health, and balance, I figure I should share some of the projects that I am working on in my spare time. None of them are truly earth shattering projects, but many are sustainable or passive revenue that could be easily flipped for hundreds of thousands of dollars (once / if successful).
Ecommerce sites – if you want to follow the path from the very bottom (as I did), then you might find ecommerce sites to be an excellent way of generating sustainable income. A lot of the initial input into ecommerce sites is actually either content (for the site itself and for guest posting opportunities etc.) and search engine optimization skills. I learned how to perform SEO on client sites and then decided to apply the same principles to my own. Using Opencart or Prestashop is best for beginners as they offer great framework templates. If you are having problems determining what kind of products you want to sell or if you just don’t want to source anything to sell at a markup, you can look through ShareASale to find an affiliate that you could work with.
The Hacked Mind Blog – while the monetary return on my investment from the blog might be considerably lower/slower than I wished, this is a personal project that has proved enriching from the start. Whether it is internalizing the lessons I write about, meeting incredible new people with amazing stories, or just leveraging my following and / or focus for acquiring new business, this is well worth the investment that I have made. I would encourage everyone to blog about whatever you are passionate about (more on that later).
Amazon Publishing – as a content creator for my clients, for ecommerce sites, for my blog, and for other media sites I write for online, I figured it would be interesting to get started with publishing on Amazon. Gone are the days when you desperately needed a publisher to approve, edit, and distribute your book. Now you can create it all by yourself and ship it off. You can even create a digital only version and make a hefty sum.
Offline/Online Service – I’ve learned that there are many industries in the offline world that have yet to adopt the latest technologies (think lawn care service). In my city, I have taken it upon myself to lead the charge in a specific industry that is lacking in technology. Yes, that means I have to interview, hire, and pay employees, but it also means I have great access to profitable markets that are waiting to be explored.
What If I’m Not an Idea Person?
This might look great in theory, but there are many who consider business and entrepreneurship to be the realm of “idea men”. While it does serve you to have a strong idea muscle, it is not required to create a successful business.
One of your best resources for creating a self-sustaining online business is actually the terrible job you are currently a part of. What makes your job so tedious and boring? What costs the most money? What is the least efficient? Ask yourself these questions, ask your co-workers and boss, and then determine if there is a way for you to come up with a solution. More than likely, you will find that software is an easy way to fix the problem and this same software can be applied to every other existing company like yours. If you’re smart about it, you could do this without spending any money of your own (link is a long, but extremely relevant podcast if this is the route you want to take). If you find pain with your existing job / company, you can create the solution and profit from it.
If software isn’t a solution for your industry, don’t be discouraged (even though you’re probably not looking hard / well enough). There are plenty of ways to make money no matter how small or niche you might think it is. The website Security Guard Training HQ made nearly $4k in January and that is an obscure, non-sexy niche that you might know better than anyone else. You can even create a podcast that has particular guests within your industry, build a highly relevant and trafficked site, and then you’ll find a way to make money off of it.
To summarize, there is no way you can’t be able to come up with a way to free yourself from your 40 hour a week job in order to be happier, healthier, and more free. Here are a few ways you can use your existing job or expertise to do so (with relevant links):
1. Solve a work-related problem – no matter where you work, there is some problem that can be fixed with a software solution. If it is big enough and painful enough, you will make money. Podcast (linked earlier) with Dane Maxwell.
2. Create a work-related site – if you want to create a niche site about the happenings in your industry, there is a market for it. Believe me, people are making a ton of money with the strangest things. Sean Ogle writes about starting your own.
3. Create a work-related podcast – if you don’t want to write or create a website, you can go the route of creating a podcast-based business. This works especially well if you are well connected in the industry and can have experts come on and talk about relevant topics. Best of all, it’s so much easier to generate great content with pure conversations rather than sitting down and writing it all out. David Garland documents this often on his site. See? He can do it and so can you.
As you can tell, this post is all about providing you with no excuse to continue with your existing job. If all of the work-related ideas don’t work for you, it is possible to utilize the oldest business practice in the world, which has been employed by merchants since before recorded time. Buy something cheap and sell it for more.
It may sound too simple to be true, but as Will Mitchell at Startup Bros lays out, it isn’t difficult at all. If you are looking for the right methods to find a good product to sell, there is a complete step-by-step guide located on their blog. Don’t believe the theory? Check out his case study that he created when he was 13 years old. You don’t have an excuse. Get to it.
Looking for Time, Not Money
Money can buy many things and it offers a level of freedom that everyone wants to attain. Still, the most valuable thing, which most people forget to realize, is your time. Living a healthy, happy life that consists of the things that make you happy is only possible when you free yourself from undervalued 8-hour days. I’m not an expert at providing you answers to break free from your job so that you can pursue what makes you happy. I have offered a plethora of links to those who have a much better idea than I do. However, I know what it is like to start from the very bottom level and think it is impossible to create an online-based income without technical skills. I have made vast changes in the way I live life, I have found more happiness because of it, and hopefully my experiences prove worthwhile for your own endeavors.
Relevant Links in this post:
- Altucher Confidential – James Altucher
- Location 180 (location independence) – Sean Ogle
- Startup Bros – Kyle and Will
- 4 Hour Workweek – Tim Ferriss
- Rise to the Top (Podcast creation) – David Garland
As always, please provide your comments and thoughts in the comments section. I love to interact with readers to see how it helped, how I can help more, and just chit-chat in general.