In my 20s, luxury and entrepreneur bullsh*t defined me. I chased success like a dog follows a shank bone. In my 30s, money became kind of ridiculous. A dramatic shift has occurred. The title of this story, which comes from a quote by entrepreneur Anthony Pompliano, helps to explain it.
Let’s dissect the real meaning of money so you don’t fall in love with it and accidentally discover a world of broken dreams.
The Idea of True Wealth Is Broken
True wealth isn’t luxury, millions of followers, or a fake ass Dan Blazerian life holding guns like Rambo and collecting exotic animals that are pleading to be released to their natural homes and take a break from phone cameras. This is what true wealth looks like:
A book a week
Books connect you to humanity. They take you out of your head and place you in the author’s head. Most of us get zero time to read. Books are long. Time outside of work is short. Impressive people have bought their time back so they can read a book a week if they choose.
A good night’s sleep
Ever met angry people at work? It’s either a lack of sleep or poor diet that throws their energy down the drain. Buying your freedom back gives you the opportunity to sleep more. Eight hours is recommended. Nine hours on some days is a real luxury. Add in afternoon naps and you start to feel like a different person. Energy is a better form of wealth than money.
No work on weekends
Your mind needs decompression time. Time to join the dots between all of the inputs for the week so you can grow as a person. When you’re a slave to money, work tends to creep into the weekend. Your mind can’t fully disconnect, so proximity to your goals starts to fade. Weekends are for play.
A clear conscience
I don’t know how certain people make it through the day. I’ve worked with some businesses that simply do evil so they can make a buck. They know what they’re doing is wrong.
They know they’re wrecking society for future generations. But they simply flick a switch. Prioritizing time over money has helped me gain a clear conscience. It makes day-to-day life less stressful. Less stress equals wealth.
A walk with no destination
Walking is better than a rushed workout at a packed gym next to your workplace, where the loud techno drowns out the potential for peace and quiet. Since I got a hearing condition called tinnitus, I’ve begun walking more.
Placing one step in front of the other acts like meditation. It’s why many entrepreneurs love walking meetings. You can walk along tracks that people from hundreds of years ago set foot on. You can ponder what life was like for them. Walking is true wealth.
A family who knows you
Those busy startup worshippers and those high-flying executives that all chase money hide the truth: their families barely know them. They’re never there. A birthday party for their kid is an option, not a priority.
They spend more time with “the business” than their family. So their business booms but their family drifts further apart. Often it ends in divorce or raising out-of-control kids. Time with family is wealth.
“I’m not money obsessed. I’m freedom obsessed.”
— Josh George, entrepreneur
Entrepreneurs or leaders who sit in back-to-back meetings all day just aren’t cool anymore. That’s so early 2000s. The new status symbol isn’t a Lambo or a Gucci handbag. Nope. The new status is freedom. Freedom equals free time.
A few months ago I cut the chains of my cubicle job. No more drama. No more politics. No more wondering who the next moron would be to throw some poor sucker under the bus and get a promotion.
It’s scary at first. A day full of zero commitments. A daily routine where you actually have time to goof off and do whatever you want. Now that I’ve had a taste of a calendar with zero meetings, I’m addicted.
I don’t ever want this to stop. That’s why I use whatever entrepreneurial skills I have to ensure my tiny side business stays alive. If my business dies it’s not a 9–5 job with a bad boss that scares me. No.
I’m scared I’ll have to hand over the keys to my calendar again and let corporate bros in pinstripe suits waste my day because they refuse to accept what the internet has done to business — and what blockchain is about to do to traditional businesses with their heads in the clouds.
Forget luxury status, “founder” and “C-level” titles, and throwing cash into the air on an Instagram Reel. Become obsessed with freedom. It will change how you work forever. You’ll stop chasing money. Anthony Pompliano is right. Time is the ultimate measure of wealth.
All that impresses me now is freedom. The rest is bullsh*t.
You don’t want to be a billionaire who causes society to be your peasant.
I get it. You have a heart.
A side hustle that leads you to be financially free won’t make you a billionaire or a Bentley driving snob. That’s not the point. Anthony Pompliano explains beautifully what the point of financial freedom is:
I used to be impressed by people who had a lot of money, but now I’m impressed by people who have a lot of free time. Time is the ultimate measure of wealth.
Here’s the plan.
Stay at your 9-5 job
A guy I know had a cushy middle management job at an airline. The airline went bankrupt. Instead of getting another job, he went all-in on his side hustle. He literally had no idea. He thought making money from a side hustle was the same as warming an office chair and doing two-tenths of bugger all.
The side hustle he loved was leadership coaching. He spent his days and nights going to startup events. At these events he’d hand out cardboard business cards that startup bros in hoodies would chuck straight into the bin when he looked the other way. The leadership coaching side hustle failed. Things went bad. He could no longer pay his mortgage. The career gap plus his age made recruiters easily dismiss him. He got back on his feet but it was a nightmare.
Don’t jump into a side hustle without clocking up enough hours.
A job may feel like slavery. But a job pays the bills when your side hustle can’t. There’s a lot to learn. There’s a lot of mistakes you have to make. Don’t do it and risk your family or your own wellbeing. Take it easy. Let a job help you breathe. Work on your side hustle project after hours.
Remember this: You can run a tiny empire from your phone.
Trial different side hustles
A side hustle is like dating. Until you’ve spent time together you won’t know whether you like each other and want to fall in love. That’s normal. Writing startup press releases was my first real side hustle.
After a few months, I hated it. Startup founders can be real d*cks. They can think a capital raise or a stellar valuation is the equivalent of winning the Super Bowl. It put me to sleep.
I tried a few different side hustles as a writer. I eventually fell into writing about personal development and entrepreneurship. As a failed entrepreneur, this result is the last thing I could ever have predicted. But there you go. Here we are.
Remember that a side hustle differs from a hobby. The plan is to find a way to earn passive income from what you do after hours. Find one you like. Add it to your schedule. Keep your boss at your job happy until what I call The Big Quit.
Debt limits what you can do with a side hustle.
If I made the decision as a 20-something to buy an overpriced home, like all my friends, and add a debt boss (aka bank) to my list of phone contacts, I’d never have had the ability to work on my side hustle. I would have had to try harder at my job, walk over my colleagues’ warm bodies to get the bonuses, and pretend to love “corporate innovation.”
Without the distraction of debt, I could focus on my craft. I could deploy that money towards education from people who had done what I wanted to do.
Build an emergency fund
Some say have six months of savings. I say have an emergency fund that is right for you. I chose to save one year’s worth of salary as a buffer because I tend to make more mistakes in business than most. You do you.
Invest the leftovers
This one is subjective. If you have a family then the money that’s leftover may not be much. In my case, I rapidly decreased my expenses. I looked at subscriptions like knives been put into my chest. I scrutinized the purpose of each of them. That allowed me to have leftover money.
I took that money and invested it into assets such as crypto and stocks. Those assets produced a return. I reinvested that return back into buying more. The compound effect is the stuff of Houdini. Einstein said it best: “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.”
Invest enough time and be patient enough for the alchemy to occur
A side hustle takes time to figure it out. It doesn’t happen in 30 days.
You also have to be patient. If you can stick at it for a year you’ll do well. If you can do it for five years then you’ll likely become a millionaire who can buy their time back, as opposed to buy a Lambo. Most side hustlers fail in the first year so don’t be in that category. Give your side hustle at least a year.
You may have to stack side hustles. I added teaching in my last year as a corporate servant to increase my chances of success, and do something I love along with writing. The fusion of both of them ended up being the vehicle for me to pull the parachute cord and say farewell to my boss.
The trick isn’t to have a magic formula for a side hustle. It’s to have a plan. Oh, and it’s to have a genuine intention. If you want a side hustle to become your entire life, it can be.
Once your mind knows what you want, oddly, it works in your favor to pay attention to the tiny details that make your side hustle a reality. Just make sure you know what you want. Intentionally experiment with side hustles after hours. Have fun with it. Then quit your job when you’ve stacked up enough income to match or come close to your salary.
From there, don’t worry about a life of luxury. Build a life where you’re financially free and own your time.
It looks like this: can you goof off for a few months and research some esoteric topic that sparks your curiosity? If yes, congrats, you’re financially free. That’s the power of side hustles.
Boomers laugh at millennials for eating avocado on toast.
It’s not that funny. I mean avocado is bloody healthy. And actually, most millennials like me don’t go to cafes and eat bottomless plates of avocado on toast. Cafes don’t have all-you-can-eat buffet options like Sizzler did, you know.
Millennials don’t really worship the whole get-rich-quick idea. When we think of rich, what we mean is free. Free from the shackles of a cubicle. Free to say and do whatever we want. Free to spend our time how we please.
Millennials get drunk on the idea of free time, not $100 bills.
I’ve spent a lot of this year talking to my parent’s boomer generation about money. I wanted to understand whether they think the world has changed, since 2020 turned our financial system upside down and enabled trillions of dollars to be created out of thin air to fund one of the most difficult times in human history.
Stay away from the bricks of infatuation
Millennials are tired of real estate. It’s literally the last thing in the world we want to own. It requires a great big deposit to get the loan, and a lifetime of debt that keeps us awake at night.
The digital nomad movement has nothing to do with selfies on the beach. Digital nomads are quietly protesting against stupidly high real estate. So they travel around the world to the cheap places my parent’s generation hasn’t been able to hype up and cause people to over-invest in. Makes sense.
My parent’s generation gets all warm and moist when they think about real estate. The thought of a floor plan complete with open-plan living just gets their blood pumping. They’re romantic about real estate. Their love affair has made housing affordability screwed for us millennial normies.
Combine the real estate lovefest with traditional banking that doesn’t understand freelancing, side hustles, the gig economy, contracting and consulting, and you’ll see why millennials hate real estate even more.
I spent a lifetime in banking. If I walk up to their marble foyer right now and ask for a loan as a writer, they’ll literally laugh at me. Writing online isn’t a job to them. Selling NFTs isn’t an income to them. Online courses are a fad to them. Crypto is a joke that will blow up to them.
Everything I currently do in my life to earn a living will likely be ignored. They won’t trust me to pay back a real estate loan, even though I probably could if I wanted their dirty cocaine-stained money.
Now you can see why we millennials hate real estate. Prices are artificially too high compared to the typical paycheck, and the dinosaur banks treat us like bums because we make money on the internet.
We know how to get rich: don’t fall in love with real estate. Don’t own hundreds of investment properties that take homes away from people that need them. Don’t pile up huge amounts of debt for no good reason.
We know how to get rich: live.
Stay away from leather recliners on wheels
My parent’s generation talks about people by introducing what car they drive.
“Ohhh, Marty is the guy down the street. You know the one darling. The one with the bright red C-Class Mercedes.”
A luxury car is an overpriced leather reclining couch on four rubber wheels. You can’t get rich enough to own your time when you buy an expensive piece of junk that drops enormously in value the minute the car salesman gets his huge commission and allows you to drive it out the glass doors with your free bottle of champaign, giant red ribbon on the bonnet, and the Mercedes Benz umbrella for suckers.
Millennials don’t care about cars because they make us poor. We used Uber before we learned about Travis. Then we used a more respectable Lyft. Now we’re in love with blockchain and are considering moving to user-owned rideshare companies like Arcade City and Drife, so we can cut out the middle man.
What brand of metal we get into to get to our destination doesn’t really matter. Most of the journey is spent on our phone anyway, not waving out the window to strangers like the Queen of England.
Stay away from fashion status
Mark Zuckerberg isn’t exactly the guy from the tv show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. He’ll take a peek at your data, and joke about privacy. His employees may look up your dating history to qualify their chances of a good time. But Zuckerberg did one thing right.
Zucks set the trend for millennials to stop playing fashion status games. All the changing of outfits for no good reason costs a lot of money. Us millennials have become the grey shirt army.
Stay away from instagram food unicorns
Fine dining in my parent’s generation is huge. They don’t understand that the grilled filet mignon is just beef with sauce. It’s enhanced with lots of salt. Oil is often added to speak to our inner caveman/cavewoman. And those naughty sauces that taste so good are just injected with tonnes of sugar. Voila.
Our parents love fine dining restaurants. They want to tell the neighbors where they went on a Saturday night to eat a dead carcass. The food is assembled nicely on the plate, not for eating pleasure, but so it can be photographed by an army of dumbphones and be plastered up on Instagram for the whole world to see.
Hands up who has ever gone back through their photo library and re-looked at photos of food? Not me. Ever.
Fancy plating, oil, and salt cost a fortune. Millennials have figured out fine dining is window dressing on food they can get anywhere or make at home.
Rethink the rotten deal of a savings account
My parent’s generation preached the need to have a savings account. Yeahhh, right. That was when interest on a savings account was 6%. Now I get 0.3% on my savings account if I’m lucky.
Us millennials are not falling for one of the greatest scams in history. The bank gets rich. We get the scraps that inflation eats while we sleep. Companies like BlockFi, Coinbase, and Celsius tried to save us from our savings accounts.
Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong tried to defend millennials. The SEC in America seeks to prevent his company from taking crypto savings from millennials and lending them out to borrowers in return for a respectable rate of interest. The dinosaurs that run the SEC are deeming this type of product as a security to protect the legacy banks.
You can’t fool us millennials anymore. We know savings accounts make us poor by design. 0.3% doesn’t cut it anymore. We will find a way to use crypto to replace this badly designed product, just you wait.
Stay away from a workplace you’re forced to live next to
The micromanaging culture our parents come from wants us to live next to an office. This is so we can return to work and be under their watchful eye.
No thank you amigo. A workplace tied to a postcode means one thing: high housing costs. An office you have to live next to, that doesn’t require a 3-4 hour commute every day, wastes money.
We know we can get richer when we choose a job that doesn’t care where we do Zoom calls from.
The pandemic did one favor for millennials: Remote work forever.
Getting rich isn’t about making bucketloads of money. It’s about living differently and changing the rules of society.
Cars, fashion, offices, real estate, instagram food, and savings accounts have eaten away at the foundations of freedom. Millennials are not falling for these lies any longer. We get richer by challenging all the things we supposedly need money for in the first place.
The truth is, we don’t need that much. That’s why we’re not following what our boomer parents did anymore.
Lots of love, millennials.
This article is for informational purposes only, it should not be considered financial, tax or legal advice. Consult a financial professional before making any major financial decisions.
This way of thinking makes me nervous. I spend a lot of time on Twitter and the general consensus about crypto is way too confident. The price predictions have become outrageous. No coin is hitting $1 million by the end of the year — I don’t care how many influencers say it.
Whether it’s crypto, stocks, bonds or real estate — what goes up must come down. The official term is “bear market.” I’ve been in the crypto game a long time. The crypto crash of 2018 caused me a lot of pain. Here’s what I learned that can help you make better decisions about crypto investing.
Long-term conviction is crucial
In 2018 the biggest cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, dropped by more than 80%. Ethereum, the second-biggest crypto, plummeted shortly after.
In 2018 it wasn’t clear whether crypto would be banned. What tanked the market was the China ban on crypto. The general consensus was that other countries like the US would do the same. The use cases for crypto were limited. Crypto solved the problem of startups that wanted to raise money. A new product called ICOs allowed anybody to create a coin, promise the world, and take investor’s money. This led to wild speculation.
I learned that crypto only makes sense if you have long-term conviction that blockchain technology is here to say and will be the backbone of the internet. If you haven’t reached that conclusion yet, then you’re better off doing research until you do. Eventually, with enough googling, you’ll see the cold hard facts: crypto is taking over every industry. The total value of crypto is now more than $2 trillion and increasing.
Once you believe in the future of crypto, it’s easier to invest and not panic when the inevitable crash comes.
Crypto crashes are a feature not a bug
Even now that crypto has matured, a crash in price is a given. It’s not unusual to wake up and have half of your crypto drop by 50%. You could argue this is bad. Here’s why it’s not: after every major crash in crypto the price has skyrocketed after the event.
Volatility is necessary for high growth. You can’t have one without the other.
If you can survive the huge drops, you get to participate in the 200%+ year-on-year gains. This is harder than it sounds. My psychology has been reprogrammed by crypto. When I only invested in stocks a 10% drop in price would make me want to sell. After the crypto crash of 2018, 50% drops do nothing to me, because I know what follows.
Focus on the proven cryptos
People investing in unknown cryptos is one of the biggest mistakes I saw in the 2018 crash. Many of the popular cryptos back then have never recovered. That’s why I recommend people stick with proven cryptos like Bitcoin and Ethereum. You won’t make 1000x your money, but you should do well based on historical prices and the current uptake.
The need for 1000x gains is the result of greed. Stocks in an index fund that went up 7% per year used to make people happy. Then crypto came along and people’s expectations got way out of control.
“Why don’t you stake your Ethereum and make 8% interest?” a friend asked me the other day. It’s a great question.
I don’t get interest on any of my cryptos because it adds risk. Ethereum is up 360% this year and Bitcoin is up over 60%. I’ve already made huge gains so what’s the point of 368% gains? It doesn’t make sense to me. Greed can cause us to make terrible decisions and take on ludicrous risk.
Choosing what cryptos to invest in is a difficult decision. If you want to stay with the proven cryptos then stick to the top ten largest coins. (You can find the list on CoinGecko.)
Network effects help you see winners from losers
The way to get stuck in the next inevitable crypto crash is to invest in cryptos that have little to no network effects.
Network effects are simply the rate at which new users are joining the network. If the price of a crypto is going up but hardly anyone is joining the network, then you’re simply gambling. Yes, people can join later on. But are you a venture capitalist/startup investor, or a regular investor? I’m a regular Joe so I stay away from anything early stage.
Ethereum is growing faster than the internet did in the early days.
Right now there are approximately 757,859 active Ethereum addresses (accounts). Pretty soon Ethereum will have more than 1 billion accounts, although some people may have multiple accounts so it doesn’t reflect exactly the number of users. It’s unlikely that a network with that many users, growing that fast, will fail. They’re the cryptos that recover the best when a crash occurs.
Nothing beats research
In 2018 I did barely any research. I simply listened to what my mates by the water cooler were saying, and the random comments of any Twitter users. The people who misguided me the most were the IT staff at my employer. They made it sound like they knew the technical architecture of each new crypto. Realistically they had no idea.
I now know to do my own research. Here’s my criteria you can copy:
How many developers are working on the crypto project?
What use cases do they have?
When do they launch their first release or next big release?
What problem do they say they solve? What problem (if any) do they actually solve?
How old is the crypto project?
Who are the founders? Who are the trusted investors (if any)?
What do the users think who have used the crypto?
Is the functionality easy for dummies like me to use?
Have I personally used the crypto? If so, what are my thoughts?
Secondhand opinions are the worst. Your own research gives you confidence in the cryptos you’ve invested in. You’ll need that confidence when the next inevitable crash comes out of nowhere.
Beware of the hype machine
Dudes on Twitter display charts every day. These charts are supposed to tell you what the price of any crypto will do. It’s all bollocks.
No one can predict where the price of any cryptocurrency will be in the short term. Read that again.
Yes, psychology drives crypto. But all it takes is one whale of an investor to come on board, or leave, and all the predictions turn to dust. Charts of prices are designed to hype you up. More people want you to invest money in the crypto market because it helps raise the price of their own investments.
Hype is dangerous if you buy at the height of the euphoria. Then when the crash comes, you’re caught with cryptos that have plummeted. Some, like me, can hold on. You may not be able to. You may need to withdraw money you invested in crypto because of a random life event you couldn’t foresee.
When you buy high and get forced to withdraw your money during or after the crash, the losses become enormous.
A longer time horizon is where the money can be made
Another huge problem in crypto is people have crazy expectations to make a profit. The ones who make money in crypto invest for 2+ years (typically 5 years). This comes back to research.
When you know what you’ve bought and understand blockchain is here to stay, there’s no reason to buy and sell crypto short-term. Most cryptocurrencies traders lose money. They’re simply gambling and don’t know it. Invest for the long-term, or not at all. This applies to stocks too.
My rule: Invest money in crypto you can afford to lose.
Lack of regulation is a huge risk
Crypto has a lot more regulation than the 2018 crash. It’s still dead easy though for scams to emerge. The most common scam in finance is a ponzi-scheme. In a ponzi-scheme, early investors make money from investors who get in later. Withdrawing your money is typically difficult, which is the first sign to be wary of.
Crypto is no different from traditional finance. A crypto project called “Hex” is the best example I’ve seen. Safemoon is another scam. There have been plenty of other frauds in the past like Bitconnect. The US seeks to further regulate crypto in the coming months.
The doomsdayers say US regulation will destroy crypto. Commonsense says regulation will reduce scams and make it safer for banks, institutions and fintechs like Stripe to enter the space.
The crash can be the best time to buy more
Some people see a crypto crash as a bad thing. Because I have enough data that shows me blockchain is here to stay, when a crash happens, I simply buy more Ethereum and Bitcoin (and sometimes some smaller coins). A crypto crash can be another name for discounts. It depends on whether you’ve looked back at the 13-year crypto history or not.
Experts agree on the next crypto crash
The consensus among the big players in the crypto space is that the next crash for crypto will be some time in 2022. The second version of Ethereum launches in roughly March next year. Sometime after that we’re likely to see a crash. This is when our collective greed is reset.
After the crash will be a prolonged bear market of typically 1–2 years. It’s during this time that crypto investors are tested. If you got in for the get-rich-quick scheme, you’ll likely be wiped out by the crash and forced to sell. If you got in for the long-term technological change, then you’ll likely be patient and wait for the next bull market when prices go back up again, slowly.
I learned from the 2018 crash that if I’m patient and don’t fear crashes, I can make decent money over the long term. The fact I survived the last crash is why I’ve done so well in crypto overall.
Expect a crypto crash as they’re a given in all financial markets.
Have a plan for when prices drop by 50% or more. Study blockchain technology so you can develop long-term conviction. Focus on Bitcoin and Ethereum. Do your own deep research to give you confidence in cryptos you may want to invest in. Be patient.
When the hype and greed reach high levels, you’re likely not far from the crash. The Warren Buffet Rule applies to crypto too: Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful (like in a crash).
This article is for informational purposes only, it should not be considered financial, tax or legal advice. Consult a financial professional before making any major financial decisions.
There are several ways to make enough money so a job or profession doesn’t run your life anymore.
It’s not about yellow Lambos or laptop broken dreams by the side of an edgeless pool in the Bahamas. Financial freedom equals the time to do whatever you want. Once you achieve it, make no mistake: you’ll crave work again. You just won’t crave work based on how much it pays anymore.
The traditional paths to financial freedom look like this:
Win the lottery.
Invest in real estate over multiple decades.
Start a business and sell it for bucketloads of money.
Buy the US stock market index fund and dollar-cost average into it every time you get paid.
The problem with all these strategies is they’re slower than a horse and cart. They’re old school. They’re out of date. And they don’t factor in new norms such as quantitative easing (money created by governments out of thin air), asset bubbles, record stock prices due for a correction, or an out-of-control global health crisis.
A tweet reminded me that paradigms shift happen. Technology has created side hustles and provided a faster way to financial freedom.
Don’t waste your days working on one thing but always thinking about another
This advice comes from an account on Twitter. It’s bang on.
If you sit at work most days and dream of doing another type of work then why do you torture yourself? If you only had days to live you wouldn’t accept this outcome. So why do you accept it when you’re not guaranteed to live for any fixed length of time?
It makes no sense.
Confession: I lived like that. Most of last year I sat in meetings and dreamt of writing online instead. It drove me nuts. As this year progressed I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It eventually consumed me. I stopped caring about anything other than my writing. I would sometimes even write in a meeting, with my microphone on mute. This is what I mean.
If your thoughts are always elsewhere at work then there’s your sign.
If you can make $20 online, you can make $100K+
It all starts with a side hustle. You need work you can do online and get paid for. You don’t just flick a switch and quit your job while being financially free. It’s a process. The quicker you start the process, the quicker you can stop wasting time at work, living like a zombie.
There’s a mental barrier I found. You need money that doesn’t come from a job to hit your bank account. Psychologically it messes up your brain.
Really bad side hustles don’t even make one sale. But a side hustle that has potential can make at least one sale. After that sale you ask for feedback from your first customer — pay them if you have to. Then find out what problems they have or what gives them value in life. Then you create more products and services around the learnings.
To make $100k online isn’t that much even though it sounds big. It’s 500 sales of a $200 information product. Or a handful of freelance customers who want you to be outcome-focused and deliver results. Or 12 months’ worth of money from a paid newsletter that you partner with other creators on.
The almighty transition
The money from a side hustle doesn’t firehose its way into your wallet. It takes time and patience, two things most people don’t have. In fact, if you have time and patience I’m certain you’ll build a successful side hustle. Why?
Google has all the answers. If you spend enough time and focus on one side hustle then you’ll find:
Other people like you
Additional income streams
Untapped places online where customers can be found
It’s easy to think a side hustle is too slow or to become impatient.
Consider the alternatives. Ask a real estate investor. They’ll tell you buying investment properties and waiting for renters to pay off the loan for you takes a lifetime. Ask someone who buys stock index funds. They’ll tell you after the devaluation of the US dollar and taxes, it takes years to get anywhere.
Or chat to someone who has sold their business for millions of dollars. They’ve likely had multiple failed businesses, and the one they hit the jackpot with took years to build and loads of frustration.
Side hustles are the fastest way to financial freedom if you’re willing to invest five years of your life. If not, try the other options that take decades of your life to achieve — just don’t complain.
Polina Marinova quit her cushy job at Forbes as a writer and editor to start her own Substack newsletter.
It took a lot of courage. I’ve followed her work for a while. Watching what she did is part of the reason I quit my job to write full-time. She has also been the inspiration for me to experiment with my own Substack newsletter.
Her newsletter, The Profile, on Substack has been wildly successful and helped her rack up over 98,000 Twitter followers. Dwayne The Rock Johnson even publicly endorses her work.
I studied Polina so you can learn from her and perhaps dare to start your own newsletter or go all-in as a writer.
Building newsletters might be the most slept on business model in the world — James Camp
The smart way Polina makes money
On Substack, writers can charge for access to their newsletter. Polina has chosen a different way to make money from her writing. Some of her posts are free, and some require a Substack subscription.
This is smart because it gives you a taste of her brilliant writing before you commit. Eventually, you become addicted to her work and pay for the subscription. Too many writers put all their content behind a paywall, except maybe one article. This drives people nuts. Charging for all your writing is a scarcity mindset. Scarcity thinking gets you nowhere. Who wants to spend time with a tight arse? Not me.
Free writing shows readers that you back yourself and your work enough to give some of it away for free.
Shamelessly plug your newsletter
I asked my writer’s community recently about whether they are okay to get paid by platforms like Substack to refer readers and get a cut of the monthly subscription. I couldn’t believe it. Many writers think asking for money is unethical and it makes them sleazy network marketers. Ridiculous.
Polina uses a technique I haven’t seen a lot. She asks readers to subscribe to her newsletter halfway through the article. The typical place to ask people to subscribe and pay for your work is at the end.
Now, the difference with Polina’s ‘ask’ is it doesn’t interrupt the reader’s experience. She doesn’t go overboard with it. She just places a short piece of text asking readers to sign up. This is in contrast to some writers I’ve seen who flood their stories with ads of other work, asks, requests for money, and to follow their dog on Instagram.
Takeaway: Successful writers promote their work and are happy to ask for money.
Pick a badass format
Polina’s newsletter has the same format each time. She focuses on sharing great insights from successful people. These are often not second-hand insights like one of those cliche “Five Ways Steve Jobs Is The Best” articles.
Polina often interviews the people she writes about. So the lessons are firsthand and she’s able to dig below the surface-level bullsh*t everybody has said about that person and find something different. Now that Polina has nailed her niche she has begun adding the odd self-help style article too.
Takeaway: start with a simple format. Add to it as you go.
The secret way to market your articles without posting links on social media
The biggest failed strategy writers follow is they place links to their articles on platforms like Twitter. Twitter will not help you take their users off their platform and onto a competitor platform like Substack. Dah.
Polina has a better way. She turns her Substack newsletter posts into short Twitter threads (see here). Each tweet of the Twitter thread is a bite-sized lesson from the newsletter that readers can snack on. The first tweet is the headline with the cover photo. The last tweet in the thread is a link to the original article on her Substack.
Takeaway: Twitter threads that lead to paid content are the badass way to succeed as an online writer.
There’s no website for Polina. She has outsourced all the tech to Substack. She only uses Twitter for social media.
You can learn a lot from this minimalist approach. It’s easy to get distracted with tools and bullsh*t. When you go deep on a couple of tools you get a lot more traction. Her Substack is successful because she is deeply focused on it. Her Twitter account is enormous because she tweets useful stuff every day.
Takeaway: you don’t need the distraction of a website and a million social media apps to be a successful writer. Read that again.
New content every few days
A newsletter only works if you stay consistent. That lesson can be applied to all of writing. In fact, that lesson applies to life.
Polina has content every 3–4 days. She gives subscribers enormous value by finding interesting people and spending the time to do the research. You can count on her to write. If she doesn’t write she doesn’t eat. Remember? She quit her job to do this.
I’ve found there’s something so freeing when you’re all-in as a writer and have to find a way to be successful. An empty writer’s stomach is great motivation.
Writer’s motto: write or don’t eat.
Name a relationship in your life where you trust someone who is inconsistent. You can’t. That’s because we don’t trust people — whether it’s in work, business or relationships — who constantly break their promises. — Polina Marinova
People pay for convenience
A small number of Polina’s newsletters are summaries of her free podcast. You’d think this would be bad for business. It’s not. Most people don’t have time to sit down and listen to a 60-minute podcast. They’ll happily pay for a 4-minute summary of it though.
Takeaway: Free content can become paid content. Simply optimize for convenience rather than brand new content.
What this all means for you
Polina is an awesome writer who is crushing it on Substack and Twitter. Why can’t you do what she’s done? You can. Polina isn’t a better writer than any of you reading this.
What she’s figured out is to back herself, ask for money, be consistent, choose an easy format, optimize for convenience, and make free content that leads to paid content.
There’s no reason you can’t start a newsletter. The most valuable part of the newsletter won’t be the money. It will be the habit of writing every week to an audience. It will be the joy of organizing your thoughts for the benefit of readers. You’ll be forced to show up and create your newsletter like a job. There won’t be any excuses like there are with blogging.
So get out there and be inspired by Polina. You can mimic her results.