6,795,850,072 Reasons Why You Can Make a Successful Living Online

world-populationHow much money would you need in a year to live a comfortable lifestyle, one where you know your bills will be paid, you’ll have a roof over your head and there will be food on your plate, plus a little extra for fun?  $50,000? $75,000? Let’s just say you need $100,000 a year, just to be generous. To put it into perspective, the mean household income in the U.S. (the last time the survey was taken in 2005) was $60,528 USD.

If you sell something online for $30.00, how many units would you need to sell in order to support a $100k lifestyle?

The answer: 3,333 units

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of the world as of November 9th, 2009 is 6,795,850,072 people. If you don’t think you can sell something to 3,333 of those people, you’re crazy. Seriously.

That’s a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the world’s population. Yes, I understand that the population count is skewed as far as who can vs. who cannot purchase things online (i.e. children, certain countries, internet access, etc.) but take those people out of the equation, and the bottom line is that you still have to sell to only 3,333 people to make $100k. When you really think about it, that’s not very many people.

…and that’s selling units at $30 a pop. What if you were selling something for $60? Then you’d only need to reach half, or 1,667 people. At $100 per unit, 1000 people, and so on and so forth.

The above example is how many people make a living online. The following is how “Ninjas” do it.

Ninja Status

Screen shot 2009-11-09 at 12.18.59 AMA Ninja will sell something for $30. Just for fun, let’s say its a book entitled: “How to Be a Ninja in 30 Days.” He only sells 1000 copies in one year. (1000 x $30 = $30,000)

Of those 1000 customers, a quarter pay extra to get an upgraded course, entitled: “Super Secret Ninja Techniques,” which was not included in the original book. This costs an additional $60. (250 x $60 = $15,000)

Of those 250 customers, 10 pay for a two-day Ninja training course that is held live at the author’s dojo. This costs each person an additional $1000. (10 x $1000 = $10,000)

Of those 10 customers, 2 pay an extra $10,000 for a 6-week Ninja apprenticeship. (2 x $10,000 = $20,000).

The Ninja has made a total of $75,000. And how many people did he sell to? Only 1000.

Oh, and he only worked 6 weeks + 2 days out of the year, and it’s probably work he loves to do.

Ninja Lessons

Here’s what we can learn from our Ninja dude:

  • If people buy from you once, they are more than likely to buy from you again. This is so true, and I’ve experienced it myself. Provide excellent content once to prove yourself, and many people will be all over any additional or new stuff you have to offer.
  • Dollars earned per customer is important. There are two basic ways to increase the amount of money you make. First, you can focus on getting more customers. Secondly, you can focus on how much you can earn from each customer, not just from raising the prices of what you have to offer, but offering premium and upgraded stuff as well. Do both, and your income will skyrocket.
  • You don’t need a lot of customers to become successful. This was the whole point of this blog post. You don’t need to reach that many people in order to earn enough to make a living online.

Two Approaches

Here are two things that you can take away from this information:

First, you can enter a widely popular market, one that is fairly saturated with many companies, businesses, websites and/or blogs, and still do quite well. If you can take a relatively unique angle with your business that will appeal to a number of people within that market (again, it doesn’t have to be very many), you can do quite well for yourself.

You’ve heard of “market share” right? Same idea.

Secondly (and this is the approach that I took with my LEED exam training business), you can enter a niche or market that is really narrow, one that is super specialized that doesn’t really have much existing competition. You become the authority in that niche, the “go-to” person or website people find whenever they need information about that subject. Leverage your authority, and again you won’t need very many people to purchase from you to succeed.

This is why doing business online is so cool. You have the opportunity to sell something to anyone in the world with internet access. There has been no other time in the history of the world where this was possible for people like us.

This Isn’t Crap

I’ve gotten a lot of buzz from my last blog post, my Annual Passive Income Report. I’ve had a lot of amazing, really awesome comments from many of you, and I thank you for those, from the bottom of my heart. Some people, however, are still doubtful that what I’ve done was even possible.

I feel really bad for those people because they are not giving themselves a chance to see what’s possible for them! I hope this post gives at least one of those skeptics a dose of reality. Times are changing, people are buying information online. Reach a few of those people, and you will see what can really happen.

Oh, and the estimated population of the world by 2040 will be 9 billion. Will you take advantage of that?

Here’s to your success!


  • Arshad

    “what you think you become” -> Buddha

    It all depends on how we think.If we think its doable,we live the dream.Else we live as a wage-slave.

  • http://www.meisanmui.com meisan

    great writing,and inspire article.
    I’m freelance illustrator graduate from architecture field like you.
    I think this can apply for a lot of thing thankyou for sharing and writing great article.

  • http://www.freestylemind.com/ Oscar – freestyle mind

    Perhaps the biggest challenge is to reach those 1000 people (thanks internet).

  • http://richquickreview.com/ Shane

    I’d like to buy the “How to Be a Ninja in 30 Days” ebook, please. 😀

    You make a very good point in this post. Selling stuff might seem like a huge challenge until you realize how many people are out there and how much money is spent on products online, every single day. As you say, if you can just get a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of that, you’re already rich.

  • http://www.twitter.com/iannuttall Ian

    It’s the same principle that offline businesses use for their sales teams.

    When you break down the quarterly targets into monthly, weekly, and daily numbers you can see that it’s much more achievable than you thought.

    Of course, my problem has always been finding something I’m passionate enough about to create awesome content regularly.

    When I can crack that, I’ll be rolling in Benjamins!


  • http://www.twitter.com/iannuttall Ian

    Oh, and I took would quite like to buy the How to Be a Ninja in 30 Days ebook.

    If you turn it into a membership site with audio/video tutorials, even better!

  • http://www.jameslittle.me.uk James

    If the world population really is going to 9billion, it might be a good time to get into farming 😉

  • http://www.realestatecareermentor.com Marty Green

    Another great post Pat!

    I really love that ninja stuff.

    I think the biggest key here is, there are plenty of potential customers out there, and niching down is a very good idea. You don’t need the whole world as a potential client. Exactly what you described, just 1000 clients and you can live very nicely.

    Marty Green

  • Howie

    ….yet another reason why your Blog is part of my daily surfing routine, Pat…..great post, once again!

    hey…would you ever let someone guest blog here? I’d love to contribute some time if you’d ever be open to it…..

  • Howie

    …just sent this post to my eBook partner…..thought he could benefit from reading it just as much as I did…thanks Pat!

  • Howie

    ….I’m hard charged to be a case study of yours, Pat….I’ve been following your eBook guide step-by-step, and it’s really turning out awesome! I can’t wait to release it….. :)

  • moon h

    Pat I’m new here. I’ve been through your Archive and the articles are fascinating. Ever since I’ve read The 4 hour Work Week, I’ve had this damn itch…. I hate this while 9-5 lifestyle, drains the life out of you!

    For me, I need a little bit of proof. I’m starting with affiliate marketing, marketing to a really narrow keyword targeted set of people. I know if I can make a $1.00 or $10.00, I can at least duplicate that effort and make more.

    My goal is to do what you have and document it along the way. I will certainly be reading your posts to learn as much as possible!

    p.s. This post really puts it in perspective.

  • http://www.windhill.com Link Moser

    I agree and find your site very interesting. MY challenge (and perhaps that of others) is how to determine what topic to write about? No doubt there are several things in my head that I could share and capitalize on but is there any formal process for narrowing that down to the most marketable topic?

  • http://www.moneyfunk.net Money Funk

    Great post! And I may just more solstice in having to try and sell to 3,333 people or less than to sit behind my cubicle 8 hrs aday and 2 hours stuck in a traffic commute. Hmmm…something to consider.

    Thank you. $30 seems much more achievable. 😉

  • http://jforestphotos.com jforestphotos

    This is a great post Pat! It’s just what I needed to keep motivated. I realize that nothing is instantaneous, but it is easy to get discouraged and think that I’ll never be able to make my website profitable! This puts it all in perspective for me.

    Thanks so much!


  • http://www.freemanlegacyllc.com Ms. Freeman

    I have noticed that your posts are very information packed and encouraging. When you break the statistics down the way you have here is really does make a lot of sense. Only having to sell a $30 item to 3333 people really does sound doable.


  • http://www.realestateguide2success.com Vance

    Ah….the beauty of the sales funnel! You don’t need to sell to everyone in the world. Just develop products that people want and need, then repurpose that information to provide new content. As far as reaching some of those billions you talked about, it really is possible. I’m using google analytics to track my website activity and I’m getting visitors from all over the globe…pretty cool :-)

  • http://www.mywritingexperiment.com Travis

    Very insightful post, Pat. I never thought of it that way. 3,333 people does not seem like much when you take into consideration the multitude of people online these days. This is very good encouragement for me. Thanks, as always! :)

  • http://www.passive-income-passion.com Menandro Tomas

    The way of the Ninja… Really focused and disciplined… Oh, and creative!

    Thanks Pat!

  • http://www.firstclasssuites.ca JadeDragon

    I’ve been experimenting with ehow as a result of your blog and am seeing a little success. While the numbers are still real small I like the residual income aspect. I continue to rearrange my life so the income is all passive and I can travel.

  • http://www.upgradereality.com Diggy – Upgradereality.com

    Hey Pat!
    Love the Ninja example :) I can totally relate to it.
    You speak the truth and put it out there so simply. All you need to do is sell to 3000 people. How hard can it be?
    Provide value and persevere in giving value, and good things will come your way!

    Cheers! :)

  • Adam

    Nice overview of the power of leveraging your buyers with the all important upsells. Market Research needed now to find the topic most people will bite your hand off to know.

    If your looking to get started with selling ebooks and your on a tight budget. Check out my free wordpress theme for creating your typical sales letter minisite. Head over to our youtube station to check out what it can do: http://www.youtube.com/user/speedtheme

  • http://www.passivefamilyincome.com John

    Great post Pat! This is one of the most motivating reads that I have come across in a long time. I think the way that you explained reselling to existing customers who may buy other versions or products is very useful info.


  • http://www.betterlearningbetterearning.com Steve Churchill


    If you haven’t read it yet, be sure to read the book “Blue Ocean Strategy” by W. Chan Kim &Renée Mauborgne.

    It dovetails real nicely with what you’ve written about creating a new market.

    Thanks for the article.


  • http://gruber-tom.blogspot.com/ Tom

    Say you whant to sell 1000 Books a year, thats 2,7 per day. Typically one have 1% of site visitors interested in the book and then 1% of this 1% is willing to buy it.

    So you need 27000 unique users every day of the year to sell 1000 ebooks an thats a lot and not easy to achieve. Shure, the quota of buyers could be higher than 0,01% of visitors but over all its a matter of quality traffic on your site, blog etc. if you can make a living or if you stay hungry because if you have only 500 users each day (and thats not bad) you want sell much. But the longer you are online making quality content the more users one will get and with this the possibility to sell on an interesting scale.

    • Eric


      Your #s are way off. If you’re building a site with the expectation/intention of selling to .01% of your visitors, you’re doing this the wrong way. I have two campaigns going right now that are in double digits. If I can’t break 2% I drop a product and move onto the next.

      Consider your audience as well as your product… test before building… and viola.

    • Pat

      Tom, I have to agree with Eric and Ian. Where are you getting your numbers from?

      1% is not typical for interest, and 1% of 1% for sales is not typical either. I can tell you that at my peak, when I was averaging $30k a month, I was averaging less than 600 uniques per day.

      Make something that people are looking for, and your percentage will shoot through the roof, because you’re providing them with exactly what they need. Their “interest” will be almost 100%.

      • http://gruber-tom.blogspot.com/ Tom

        Sure the numbers are higher if the people on your site are searching for such a book or the content in the book. But then you’ve frequent readers which may already have bought and traffic from search engines which is interested in the site but not in buying the book. If you’ve sold 3 books a day over a whole year with less than 600 uniques per day, head of you’ve done a pretty good job in selling to your audience. You’re one of the writers out there who can produce quality content which is why I’m a frequent reader.

  • http://www.twitter.com/iannuttall Ian

    Tom, I think you’re deeply underestimating the % of people that will be interested.

    Once you’ve built up a loyal audience and delivered free, quality content for them time and time again (this is info marketing 101) you’ll find that the conversion rates are WAY higher than just .01%.

    Trust me, you could sell 3 ebooks a day with as little as 10-20 unique visits if they are the right type of visitor (and if you’ve done your SEO & keyword research correctly, they will be).

  • http://www.homesprosperity.blogspot.com Steve-Success Factors

    I had lunch with a friend from college days, and he shared with me some of the success he’s had just playing around on the internet. He’s made some great sales! I really liked what you said at the end of your post: Too many of us have commented that we don’t think this kind of success is possible for us. But anything is possible. Thanks for encouraging all your readers as you do.

  • http://www.marketingtutorblog.com Suz

    Your posts are real and show the nuts and bolts of making a real difference to a blog. It make me feel that I can do it, sure as heck trying to follow
    Good luck with the baby

  • http://investing-101.net Investing 101

    I’ve found that most of the time, people do have what it takes to be successful, whether it be at an online venture or an offline one. What usually stops them is that it takes the willingness to take a risk in order to make it happen. In our security-driven society, that’s enough to stop 95% of the people.

  • http://www.passive-income-passion.com Menandro

    Investing 101 is correct. Even if it’s obvious that the internet makes money making simpler and easier, most people “do not look”. Some try for a while but at least they “look”. Most just don’t make time just to know the power of what we are showing them.

    Can I ask an opinion if that 95% will ever improve now that earning online is improving every now and then?

  • http://www.curiouslittleperson.com Curious Little Person

    HI Pat, You have a very nice blog here.. the Internet Business is the best way to live off your life..

    And i enjoyed the 3333 sales for 100K income… Vey nice


  • http://www.crowdmanage.com @crowdmanage

    spot on. but don’t try writing a parrot e-book, or trying to rank for viagra via SEO. where can you really add value and shift 3,000 units to 3,000 satisfied customers?

    PS I did market a parrot e-book in my early attempts at affiliate marketing and I sold one. Just one :-)

  • Pingback: Different Posts for Different Folks – Beyond Just Being Consistent | The Smart Passive Income Blog()

  • http://bankvibe.com BankVibe

    This is a very motivating article. You never realize what is out there until you put everything into perspective. I think I can come up with a product to sell to 3,333 people for $30.. especially since the world has close to 7 Billion people now.

    Thanks for the motivation, I needed it :)

  • http://www.roseannstreasures1.com John Jackson

    I sold two items at 33 dollars, looks like I need 3,331 more. No problem on my way to riches!!

  • Pingback: 5 blogs Anglo-Saxons étonnants à suivre pour découvrir des entrepreneurs qui bougent()

  • http://exigopc.com John Faux

    I know this is an old thread but…

    I have always looked at selling like this;

    How to make a $1,000,000

    1. Sell just 1 item for $1,0000,000…. chance of doing that—not much
    2. Sell 1,000,000 items for $1 each. Thats a LOT of people.
    3. Sell an item/download/whatever for $10 profit to just 100,000 people…my favorite…

  • http://www.whitemountainwebarts.com Chris Taylor

    Taking action is the obvious key. Yes anyone can do it, but most people fail to take action and never realize the full potential of the internet. Thanks for this post….inspiring to say the least!

  • http://www.endlessdiscoveries.wordpress.com Sunshine

    Thanks for the great post! I agree with a few people on here the hard part is figuring out what it is that I have to offer people. I have recently started creating my writing services (sunshinewrites.com) work in progress. I still am hoping that it will be what I need to create a portable lifestyle.
    It’s so hard to decipher exactly what you are good at and have to specially offer people. I am so envious of so many who seem to have it all figured out! I thought by 30 I would know.
    Thank you for lighting the path a bit more through your posts. At least I will know at some point how to be more successful when I can figure out what I have to offer the world.

  • Brandon Hemphill

    It looks like I’m the first to comment on this post in two years, still this post is far from dead! You are absolutely right Pat and this is the mindset successful entrepreneurs MUST have. I follow you and a few other successful online marketers that I’ve never heard you endorse, and you guys often endorse the same ideas, principles, and even strategies to win at this thing. This shows me I’m on the right path! When I’m lost in the woods I can follow the breadcrumbs you guys are leaving behind; success leaves clues! Thanks Pat! You are a guide and an inspiration.

  • TeddJPB

    Wow, excellent explanation. That REALLY put things into perspective for me. I’m truly going to consider this; thinking of what I might be able to sell on Amazon then going for it. I’ve always dreamed of a passive income. I also love your comment about your income reports really not being a scam, that just proved to me that I can trust this and I will. Thanks again!

  • teddjpb

    Wow, this article was actually really inspirational. I mean, most people think you have to be Bill Gates to earn a passive income but really, you just need to sell something unique to a minuscule percentage of the worlds population. I’m definitely looking at selling my authentic DIY crafts, furniture, paintings, and food on Amazon or local craft fairs.

  • http://wealthytiffany.com Wealthy Tiffany

    This is a really inspirational article, especially for someone like me that’s just starting out. Now I just need to figure out what to sell. :)

  • https://disqus.com/ David John pk

    I totally agree with Get Dressed For Work at Home. Sometimes even if you
    work at home, it doesn’t mean that you don’t need to get dressed for
    work and it’s just ok to be in your pyjamas. In reality, you can
    actually work better if you’re properly dressed.