“So, what do you do Tom?”
“Well, I uh…I make money online.”
*Sweat pours down my face*
“Well uh… I sell online courses and make money with YouTube ads, and uhh, a few other ways too… like….”
*Person talking to me gets distracted by something behind me*
That’s typically how it goes.
I get nervous because I know they’re going to get bored. But despite boring people to death, I’m freaking excited. Over the last three years, I’ve gone from no job to freelance writer to blogger, and finally vlogger.
I recently passed the $100,000 all-time earnings mark, and I now make about $6,000-$7,000 online every month. I can’t believe my life, yet everyone I tell this to in conversation can’t stop themselves from yawning — that is until I mention dollar amounts.
I don’t like to talk about money, but I find throwing out figures like “$7,000 per month” piques interest rather quickly.
The truth is, the dollars I’ve earned aren’t nearly as valuable as the lessons I’ve learned — because the lessons have helped me sometimes triple my income.
Below are the nine that have had the biggest impact.
1. The Best Way to Reach Your Goals Is to Be a Good Freaking Human Being
When I opened up my first online course two years ago, I had zero training in running an online course.
I was clueless.
I decided to overdeliver for my first class. Why? Because I gave a damn about my students’ success.
For instance, I recorded fifty or so 10-minute content critiques, which took about 20 minutes to make each time. When I got testimonials back from people, they praised the course material, but what surprised me the most was how much they praised me.
I started having words like “authentic” thrown at me. It was weird. I was just giving a damn. Doesn’t everybody do that?
Those testimonials from my first students led to more sales (roughly $50,000 in revenue), and I’ve never stopped caring about the integrity of my course.
I just give a damn.
Off the top of my head a few people that do give an actual damn, to me, are Niklas Göke and Michael Thompson.
This is because they care. Success doesn’t have to be so complicated. It can be very simple.
Give a damn… because most people don’t.
2. How Can You Provide More Value in Less Time?
My online course has a Slack channel attached to it. I could spend five hours per week in there answering questions, but instead, how about I spend two hours per week with my students on a live Q/A call?
Wouldn’t a video call allow me to go into more detail much faster since I’d be speaking instead of ramming on my keyboard?
In other words, it would take me less time to provide way more value.
Do that in your own business when you can.
3. Find Your Cash Cow And Spend Most Of Your Time On That
This January, I decided to create my second online course. I spent at least 320 hours recording the lessons, structuring it, and marketing it.
That’s about two full months of work right there. This was a mistake, even though the course turned out great and I made $10,000 from it in the first three months.
The problem was, I could’ve spent those 320 hours figuring out ways to double my money on my first course instead (which would’ve blown $10,000 out of the water since I was already making $4,000 per month with that one).
Business should be pretty simple. It’s the 80/20 principle: 80% of my earnings came from my first online course. I shouldn’t have tried to reinvent the wheel when I had one that was already rolling.
Don’t make the mistake of diversifying too soon. Focus on one thing and maximize it.
4. When You’re Done Maximizing Your Cash Cow, Start Diversifying…but Only When You’re Done Milking Your Cash Cow
OK, so let me show the flip side to this…
About a year ago, I decided to “move on” from online courses and try a Youtube channel on for size. About four months into my video journey, I became eligible to display ads on my Facebook videos.
In other words, I successfully monetized my videos in 120 days.
Doing this was a huge relief. Now when I have slow months with my course, I can rest easy knowing I’m making money in multiple places.
Without diversifying out to video, I’d never be averaging $6,000-$7,000 per month in earnings.
How do you know if you’re done milking your cash cow? Spend a couple of hours brainstorming ways you could make more money with it. If you only come up with one or two viable options instead of seven to ten, it might be time to diversify.
I can’t stress enough how important diversification is — especially in the online world.
5. You’re Never Going To Know The Absolute Best Way Forward For Your Business
Two years ago, I spent an entire month putting together a 66-page digital magazine for my publication, The Post-Grad Survival Guide.
I interviewed four badass people, including someone from the Forbes 20-under-20 list. I transcribed these interviews and did five to seven-page features. I shouted out writers from my publication in little one-page spotlights. I had a lot of fun. I even designed it. Without a doubt, I thought this was the best thing to do for my business at the time.
I thought I could maybe make a little money with it.
I actually put it out for free. I spent 40 days writing, designing, ideating, and publishing it for nothing.
There are a few lessons to learn here:
- My time could’ve probably been spent on something more profitable.
- I actually learned a lot, developed a lot of skills, and don’t regret it even though I made zero dollars.
The point is, you’re going to have a lot of choices in business. It’s better to get on a train than stare at the departures for months wondering where the best destination is.
6. Most People Don’t Want Success, They Want Excuses
You know what baffles me? How most people do useless things just so they can shift the blame when they get nowhere.
“Well, I was writing five days a week, wasn’t I?”
I hear that sometimes from my students.
Yeah, you were, but it amounted to nothing because you weren’t able to take criticism or push yourself into new territory as a writer.
You just did the same thing over and over again.
It occurred to me that most people don’t chase success — they chase bullshit action that doesn’t drive results, but just makes them feel better. This allows them to avoid the “you aren’t taking action” criticism.
It took me a long time to realize that.
7. Networking Is a Waste of Time (50% of the Time)
I’ve met about 40 other content creators online. I’ve loved every meeting, trust me. I’ve interviewed most of them for various podcasts and virtual summits.
But to be honest, networking can feel like drinking out of a firehose sometimes.
Interacting with people ends up in a time suck 50% of the time. The other 50%, dope shit does happen, but don’t trick yourself into believing every person you come into contact with is worth your time.
By all means, be kind to everyone you meet, but invest your time wisely just like you would invest your money wisely.
8. You Never Know How Something Can Pay Off Later
Remember my magazine story? I interviewed four people for that magazine. One of those people I interviewed ended up buying my course a few months later.
I never expected that.
You never know how something can pay off later.
9. Hire an Assistant Already — It’s Like Cloning Yourself
Seven months ago, I hired two virtual assistants to help me respond to people, run my online courses, and run my publication.
The first benefit of this is that hiring an assistant is like cloning yourself. You sort of cap out at a certain dollar amount every month without help, because you only have a certain amount of hours in the day.
Secondly, it’s good because you can outsource the tasks you used to enjoy but don’t anymore. Trust me, there are a lot of them for me.
You want to do work every day that energizes you, not the stuff that makes you want to vomit.
Hiring an assistant or working with a partner can quell that.
Remember, good things happen to good people, so above all else just be a good person.
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