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Advice I’d Give My 20 Year Old Self About Making 7 Figures Online

by | Jun 26, 2023 | Making Money Online, Money

Making money on the internet looks like a giant scam.

There are so many bad actors and a lot of terrible advice. It feels like a digital used-car lot where the sleaziest person wins.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

I found an honest path to 7-figures online, where I don’t sell my soul for likes. There’s so much I wish I knew when I started this journey at 20.

Here’s what I’d tell my 20 year old self that can make this journey easier.

Experiments instead of overrated “experience”

The biggest thing I’d tell my 20 year old self is “just do it.”

I spent way too much time overthinking and planning what I was going to do. The thing is the path is unknown. A lot of common advice is based on pathways that are in the past and may not work in the future.

The only way to figure out the online game is to be a player.

And you don’t need experience, money, or Brad Pitt as a friend to succeed. My mantra to this day is to always be experimenting.

Every month I run small experiments. I try to run 1–2 at a time so I don’t screw up the data and act on false signal. Right now I’m doing an experiment with subscriptions.

I hate them but I want to see if this limiting belief is wrong. Because if you just listen to yourself, you’ll go crazy.

Once an experiment is complete, I’ll look at the data. I’ll see what internet users say and look for what they find value in. Then I’ll test the idea and continue to iterate.

It’s 1000 iterations on an idea, not 1000 ideas, that creates momentum.

Forget about the money you ridiculous Aussie

I’m not gonna lie.

At the start I was motivated by money. I found it to be the worst form of inspiration.

It made me do dumb stuff like send ads to my email list and take selfies in front of luxury cars that weren’t mine outside the Melbourne Casino (yes, I was that guy).

Chase obsession, purpose, meaning, or all three. Don’t chase money. Money is a false god that distracts you. People buy your why, not your product. The longer you work online for free, the more leverage you create.

The results from ‘free’ make the results from going paid look stupid.

Free scales faster. Free lets more people come in contact with your work. Free forces you to build after hours and let your job fund your lifestyle until you figure out the online game, which will take time.

Stay the hell away from gurus

Gurus are everywhere.

They love to hang out on Youtube and use silly titles to confuse people and make them think they can get rich from holding up a fragrance bottle on TikTok. TikTok isn’t much of a platform either.

It’s full of distractions. And short-form content is so shallow it teaches you nothing. Choose depth.

If a teacher preaches shortcuts, run for your life. They’re a guru running a secret pyramid scheme that makes THEM rich — not you.

I fell for many of these gurus at age 20. I let them warp my mind at real estate seminars and FX trading video calls. What they said sounded good, but as soon as I asked someone who’d made real money, they showed me all the manipulation.

FX, real estate, crypto and stocks (in particular) are full of scams and fake opportunities that’ll send you broke.

Run from shortcuts and hacks. Be inspired by people who run real businesses and publish regular, helpful content.

Go where the eyeballs are

Nothing online gets built without content.

I messed around with video early on and got wrecked. The skill level for video is much higher than any other format. I finally settled on writing because it has the least mental blockages.

We can all write because we learned to do it in school. It’s how we passed tests and overcame end of year exams.

The rule I wish I had back at 20 was “If the platform doesn’t have at least 100M users, stay away.”

I wasted so much time on platforms that had little traction or were unproven. It’s easy for platforms to become shiny objects you chase as part of a mini online gold rush.

Nowadays I’ve learned from that mistake. I publish in proven places and direct those readers to my email list.

The email list is the thing that makes me 7-figures, not anything else.

Dare to get a coach and throw money at their face

Ya’ll going to hate me for this one.

Coaches are often seen as a waste of money or similar to a guru. Let me share a secret I learned recently that I’d have killed to know at 20.

A bunch of people paid writer Dan Koe for coaching. Every one of them without fail now has a massive audience and a 6 or 7-figure income.

That’s not a coincidence.

If you pay the right coach it’s possible to reach 7-figures much faster. You want to know what works and what doesn’t. And you want to know what the big guys/gals are doing so you can duplicate their strategies.

Otherwise you get stuck in free tutorial hell.

If I had to start again, I’d pay one of my online idols between $5000-$10,000 for 30 days of coaching. It’s a better investment than buying stocks or getting yourself into a mountain of debt with an investment property.

This one hurts like hell…

Knowledge not found in schools is the source of money not found in employment — Dan Koe

Make it a 5 year goal

(You’ll probably get there sooner.)

At 20 years old I tried every way to make money you can think of.

None of it worked. My timeframe was typically 3–6 months. If nothing happened by then, I’d get frustrated and quit.

Frustration is such an obvious way people quit their online dreams. That’s why I learned to take frustration and use it as inspiration. In 2014 I set the timeframe for my online goal to 5 years.

It took away all the pressure and the stress exited my brain. I could go to work each day and not be in a hurry to quit my job. I actually began to love my job because I knew it was a temporary pursuit.

And I found other people at work that also wanted to work 100% online and not have a boss anymore. None of us knew how but we were each on our journeys. I had an advantage because my 9–5 clients were mostly entrepreneurs — some were even internet entrepreneurs.

So I’d ask them lots of questions. I’d have lunch with them. I’d pretend I was going to be them. They taught me a lot. Much of the lean startup approach I use today in my online business comes from those conversations.

Think in 5-year chunks.

If it happens sooner, then do a little dance, make a little love.

Manage the biggest hidden expense

When money starts to flow online you can feel like a fat kid with a chocolate cake on their lap.

My biggest expense wasn’t software, freelancers, or lawyers. No. It was the tax man. He came knocking on my door and it nearly bankrupted me. The first tax bill was $400K. “It’s due tomorrow, please.”

That’s when I learned the value of accountants and good professional advice. I stopped putting money through my personal name and set up a series of companies to be more tax efficient.

Tax is boring but you’ve got to understand it if you want to be wealthy.

Find online heroes to emulate (and copy the hell out of them)

The biggest mistake wannabes make is they try to invent their own path.

Through sheer luck I never did that at age 20. I always had 5–10 people I followed on social media who I wanted to be like.

I emulated their content style and even their business models. My motto was “If it works for them it can probably work for me.”

The challenge of the modern creative is they think they need to be unique or have 100% brand new ideas. But most of what works online and leads to 7-figures stays the same.

It doesn’t mean you downright copy your heroes. But it does mean you borrow ideas from them and remix them in your own way.

If you follow creators who are already successful and do what works, it’s hard not to succeed and make a similar income to them. But if you follow no one (or worse, losers) you’ll be forever guessing.

Those who guess, fail. Those who are data-backed, win.

Online success breeds online success.

Hire this person and don’t look at their invoice

The number one skill needed online is gentle persuasion.

I see people write their own emails, headlines, tweet threads, or eBooks and bite my tongue.

Every one of us needs a copywriter — or we need to become one.

Copy is what brings people into your world. It’s an art form that can 10x the sales from any product or service. When I went from writing my sales pages to using a copywriter, sales tripled overnight.

Over the course of 9 years sales have probably 10x’d thanks to using copywriters. They are worth more than 10 tonnes of gold. It’s the missing ingredient and so many creators can’t see it.

The easiest way to prove this miracle true is to do an A/B test. Launch a product or service with copy you wrote, and a separate page with copy a professional wrote.

Watch the sales dashboard like a hawk. You’ll see I’m right.

Making multiple tweaks at the same time is a disaster

Focus is a big part of online success.

At 20 I tried to do everything. Now at 37 I focus on doing one thing with extreme focus. Creator Tej Dosa says he knows a solopreneur who works 14 hours a day from his mother’s basement and barely makes a living.

He knows another solopreneur who works 5 hours a day and has sold three companies for $100M+ each.

The lesson here is hustle culture has lied to us. How hard you work has little to do with what online success you might achieve. What matters is where you focus your attention and consciousness.

If you’re putting effort in the right direction, the right things will happen.

If you’re focused on dumb stuff and trying to work harder than anyone else for a medal nobody wants, you’ll burn out and be crushed by exhaustion.

Quit solving fake problems

Most online business ideas are stupid.

They’re based on one person’s vibes versus a crowd’s problems. If you don’t solve real problems you’ll never make money. That’s why it’s often a good idea to solve your own problems first.

Then document the process and see if it helps others solve the same problem. If it does, then you have data.

I flat out ask people their problems via tweets and google surveys. I’m obsessive about it. I’d probably ask them at least once a week. Last week I asked four times in one week.

Validate problems then sell solutions.

You can do everything right and still fail without this…

I’ve taught some high-profile creators over the years.

They’re a different breed and it took me a long time to get it. The strategies are all mostly the same. The difference between success and failure online is intensity.

I caught up with a friend the other day who runs an online business helping authors like Robin Sharma. He told me all the people he knows who crush it are coincidentally obsessed with fitness.

Fitness teaches you intensity.

Muscle doesn’t get built until you lift weight beyond the point of failure. When your arms feel like jelly that’s when momentum starts and muscles might begin to grow.

Many of the people I’ve taught over the years have the right mindset, strategies, skills, and even use the correct platforms. But they lack the intensity. They’ll post one tweet a day and be happy.

Obsessed people like creator Dan Go will post 300 tweets a day and think it’s a warm-up. They’re willing to play the online game with such intensity because they know it’s possible to go from a $75K a year job to 7 figures if they do. The opportunity of freedom is just too hard to ignore.

The only other option is to work 40 years at a job and hope to achieve the same level of success, financial security, and impact.

So increase your intensity level to an uncomfortable level for 6 months and see what happens.

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