On AskPat, I’ve collected over 3,000 voicemail questions related to starting an online business. The most common question of those I get is this:
“What’s the quickest way to start making money online?”
Before I get into my answer, let me tell you exactly why I don’t really like this question. There are two specific reasons for this:
- First, the emphasis on being quick. I’ve witnessed several new business owners who’ve put speed over quality and value, only to end up further behind than where they were when they started.
- Second, it implies trying to avoid the work it really takes to make money online. Building a successful business takes a lot of effort and strategy. From research to execution and everything in between—it takes blood, sweat, and tears. The question is in search of a magic button, but there is no magic button.
Gary Vaynerchuk puts it best. In order to succeed, you need “micro hustle, and macro patience.”
Micro hustle is focusing all of your work and effort on the next task at hand (not the task ten tasks from now), while macro patience is about allowing time to give you the results, because they will not often happen right away.
The question “What’s the quickest way to start making money online?” is the opposite of Gary’s advice.
I’ve thought for years about how to best answer this question. I’ve been asked this question in person before, and even during a live Q&A on stage in front of hundreds of people, and my answer usually reflects the two points I’ve made above.
After I share my thoughts with those who’ve asked this question, their body language usually very clearly reflects disappointment. They were expecting an all-in-one solution, after all, and it’s not that simple.
As I’ve thought more deeply about how to answer this question over the years, I’ve come to a realization that the problem is not the answer, but the question itself. For those who’ve asked it, I don’t think it’s always coming from a place of “quick money.” If we reframe the question, I think there’s room to empower and actually help those who’ve asked it—to give them a foundational understanding of what it really means to generate an income online.
Here’s how I would reframe the question:
“With the resources I have available to me now, what can I possibly offer to others in exchange for money?”
Now this is a question we can begin to answer. And, as you can likely tell, the answers will come to each person on an individual basis based on the resources they have available, and to whom they may be able to share and offer those resources.
The answer doesn’t come from me, it comes from the individual.
If you’re ten years old, you might not have much, but perhaps you may have access to a lawnmower in your garage, so you (after asking your parents) offer to cut the lawn for your neighbors, in exchange for money.
If you’re a writer who’s been trying to build your own brand and sell your own books, offering your talent to others who need it would be the best way to go. It’s a resource you have available to you now, and it’s something others (i.e. non writers) may be willing to pay for if they need writing for their website or blog.
So if you’re struggling to figure out how to make money online fast—in a way that focuses on your strengths—that’s how you do it. Think about the resources you have available to you, the skills and talents you have, the superpowers that you’ve so severely underrated these past years, and journey out there to find those people who are looking for the resources and skills you offer. They are out there.
The one word that sums up this method of income generation is:
That’s what you need to do. No, it’s not at all passive, but it’s the quickest and easiest way to get paid for something that can actually help people and solve one of their problems.
There are two more major benefits of going down the freelancing route:
- It’s a fantastic way to immerse yourself in an industry and get to know the lay of the land—the marketplace—so you can carve out your own niche in the future in some way, shape, or form. You’ll also be able to connect with the people you need to connect with, and build on those relationships to create more opportunities.
- A freelancing service is something that can, with the right strategy and action, turn into something more productized and passive. Brian Casel, founder of CasJam.com and our featured guest on SPI Podcast Session 158, talks about how he was able to turn his stress-inducing one-on-one design service business into something that was actually more productized, passive, and profitable. I highly recommend you listen to that episode if you have a service-based business and you feel stuck.
Beyond freelancing, you could literally just start contacting everyone you know and offer a service today, right now, right at this moment.
I’ll just wait a moment while you do that 😀
There is one more method of generating an income I’d like to share with you. This method is:
- Even easier and faster than freelancing.
- Something that has helped me earn more than $3 million since I started my online business.
- Something you’re likely, in a way, already doing.
What is this sorcery I’m speaking of?
It’s not magic. It’s simply recommending products you already use to those who trust you. In online business terms, we call this:
Affiliate marketing is the process of generating an income through a partnership you have with a company by recommending their product(s) to others.
Just think of how often you’ve shared with a friend or online network an amazing tool, service, or product that you love. What if you could potentially earn a percentage of the sale of any products you helped sell through your recommendation? Well, that’s possible, and it’s been around for a while.
The term affiliate marketing has taken a bad rap over the years, primarily because people are abusing just how easy this is to do. Internet marketers are finding products they don’t even use because they come with a sweet commission, and are spamming everyone until they either buy, or unsubscribe.
That’s why I sometimes hesitate to even say I participate in affiliate marketing. But that’s not how I, or you, should approach it. I’m here to lead the change and show people there is so much opportunity out there in affiliate marketing the right way. It’s insane to me that more people aren’t really realizing their full potential with this.
There are products that already exist in this world that provide solutions for your audience (and future audience), and when you align your attention to really help them, with the products out there that already exist, it’s a recipe for success and a win for everyone.
This is why, here on SPI, it’s Affiliate Marketing Month. All of the blog posts and podcast episodes published, and even videos on my YouTube channel are going to be about how to master this craft of affiliate marketing, which has accounted for 85 percent of my total income throughout the years.
It’s my most requested topic, so let’s dig deep this month. To start, make sure you download my quick affiliate marketing guide that covers the most basic rules you must follow to win in the affiliate marketing game. It’s called Affiliate Marketing the Smart Way. All you have to do is click the button below, and I’ll email it to you immediately after you sign up. It’s free, and I promise it will be a good start to help you on your way to affiliate marketing success.
Like I said, there’s a lot more to come with affiliate marketing this month, and although it may seem simple—just recommending a product to a friend—there’s a lot more to it than that if you really want to succeed.
Make sure to download Affiliate Marketing the Smart Way now if you haven’t already!