I occasionally receive e-mails from readers of my blog (or those who may have read about me in an interview or article somewhere) telling me that they want more independence and would love to quit their job and work for themselves online for a living.
Some would like to strike it big, making a lot of money online, while others would simply be happy to make enough to pay the bills but still be able to work from the comfort of their own home like I do.
Unfortunately, I believe that a lot of people are misinformed as to just how easy it is to make a living online. Sure, the online entrepreneur life can be easy, but it doesn’t mean that it didn’t take a lot of hard work, skill, and a little bit of luck to get there.
In this post, I would like to reply to all of those e-mails I get from people asking me if they should quit their job and/or how they can do this for a living.
1. Don’t Quit Your Day Job
First, don’t quit your day job to try to switch careers with making money online. Even if you had a $50,000 cushion, I still wouldn’t recommend it.
The only time you should feel safe to quit your day job is when you’re consistently making money online. It doesn’t matter if you suddenly started making $5,000 a month for the past 2 months online, if before that you were making only $50. Things happen a lot quicker online, and your newfound $5K a month could disappear in a few month’s time, leaving you both broke and without a job.
Once you start making enough online on a regular basis to cover all of your living costs and then some (for savings, recreation, emergency, etc.), then you should feel safe to leave your job. By a regular basis, I would recommend at least 6-months, but preferably a year.
Now, I know that a lot of people will disagree with me on this, and yes, working a full-time job leaves very little time to be able to work on your online projects, but especially in today’s economy, where landing a decent job is such a battle, it’s really too risky to quit your job with the hopes of trying to learn the ropes of the online business world.
But keeping your job has more perks to just being a safety net… which brings me to my next point:
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Invest!
If you have a job, you have a massive advantage over the 15-year-old whiz kid nerd who is busy learning PHP and MySQL to try to be the next Zuckerberg.
Sure, he has time on his side – which is nothing to sneeze at, but you have capital.
Take some of that hard-earned cash from your day job and invest it into your online business. Sure, you might lose it, but you will gain valuable experience and be able to leap-frog past others who are trying to do things the slow and hard way.
For example: let’s say you had an idea for a website where people could list the ingredients they have in their fridge, and the website would spit out recipes that contained only those ingredients – a perfect site for poor college students.
The slow route would also be the cheap route: you could learn PHP, Photoshop, XHTML, and even host your site on a free hosting site without your own domain. It’d be free and would cost you nothing except a crapload of time… which is the most precious resource.
Or, you could invest a couple weeks worth of wages from your day job and outsource your idea to a developer and have them do all the work for you. This route might take a month, whereas the slow/cheap route might take 2-3 months.
The point is, you can totally kickstart your way into the online world by investing some of what you make from your day job, online.
One of the best ways may be to simply purchase an existing site on Flippa. Most of the hard work is already done for you then, and you can save a lot of time trying to built a site up from scratch.
You could even work for a year or two at your day job and save $50,000, to then invest it online by purchasing a website that’s making $3,000 a month.
Besides, if you quit your job and have little-to-no experience with making money online, it’s likely going to take a hell of a lot longer than 1 year to learn the skills to build something that you can live off of.
3. It’s Not Really as Easy as You Think
As I said in my intro, a lot of people think that making money online for a living is a dream job, as if you just sit back and hold down F5 all day, watching your 5 digits turn into 6.
While that can –and does- happen sometimes, the truth is that it takes a lot of work, knowledge, and experience to be able to make money consistently online.
It’s so easy for people to become confused, because people – myself included – will often brag about how awesome it is to do this for a living, and how you can work only a couple hours a week if you wanted and still be able to handle things just fine.
But this is usually the case AFTER all the groundwork was done. AFTER all the sleepless nights of server difficulties, programming woes, and no-traffic syndrome torment your mind for weeks on end.
Unless you have a lot of experience as a programmer, designer, or server administrator, you may be surprised at just how much knowledge is really needed to do this for a living, that most people in this industry take for granted.
Offline, people will often ask me what I do for a living, and when I tell them, they tell me how they’d love to do that as well. Often, they even ask me how they can get started.
When I start telling them, I start to realize just how unlikely it is that they could ever do so, unless they really worked hard and were very serious about it, because they’ll start asking me the most basic questions… such as “Wait a second, what’s a domain?” or “What is a PayPal?”.
There really is a lot of technical knowledge that you need to know in this business. Even buying an established website that is 100% complete actually takes a fair bit of technical knowledge, as you’ll likely have no idea how to transfer the domain and website to your registrar and web server properly unless the seller or your web host (or somebody else) does it for you.
And the technical side of the industry is only one set of skills that is required (or highly recommended; you can always hire people to help you with that). Marketing, design, creativity, etc. are just a few more examples of skillsets that are usually needed in this industry.
Making money online can be very “easy” once you build up to a certain point, but getting up there is most certainly not easy.
Don’t Let That Scare You
Don’t get me wrong – I love working for myself by making money online at home, and know that is true for every single other person I know who is doing so as well. It is insanely rewarding (both moneywise and timewise) and offers a mostly stress-free life, at least compared to a regular 9-5 job.
Once you start doing this for a living, you’ll never be able to work for somebody else again… it’ll seem so foreign and obscene to you. And if you think you have the drive to succeed in this business, then I’d encourage you to jump in as soon as possible.
But please do not think that this is an easy gig or simply a job that you can just choose to jump into. It takes a lot of work, drive, and skill, and thinking that you can just somehow quit your job as a mail carrier when you “know how to use Word and send e-mail with attachments” and somehow start making enough online to support yourself with in a couple months is just insulting to those of us who do do this for a living.
This post is starting to get fairly lengthy, so I think I’m going to abruptly end it here. I’m not sure if what I wrote above is written in a lucid manner, as I’m writing in a very tired state, and am not going to bother to proofread my post as I usually do.
I apologize if it sounds like a rant and/or not helpful. And remember, this post is targeted mostly to those who are not making any money online and likely have never even developed a website before and suddenly want to be able to do this for a living.