Business Ideas

How I Earned $10 Million Online (with ZERO experience)

Do you ever think about where all the biggest “one hit wonders” ended up?

I’m talking about the bands that seemingly come out of nowhere with a song you just can’t get out of your head.

For me it’s those lyrics of “Ice, Ice baby.  Too cold. Too cold..” or “Don’t tell my heart.  My achy breaky heart..”   So sorry if those songs are now stuck in your head! 😂😂

After a while, one hit wonders always drop from the charts until you just don’t hear them anymore. The bands seem larger than life for a while, but then they fade into the distance and move onto something else.

We also see this happen with athletes, businesses, and online entrepreneurs. Within the make money online space, you can probably name a few big actors that fit this description.

You know, the guys that come out of nowhere and achieve massive success, but then you never hear from them again.

I am very happy to say that hasn’t happened to me — at least not yet!  #fingerscrossed 🤞🏽🤞🏽

I started blogging back in 2008, and I am still around and performing better than ever. Like it or not, I have staying power. 

I have also been able to exceed my wildest dreams in terms of income. It took me nearly a year to earn money blogging after I started Good Financial Cents, but my website has gone on to generate $10 million in revenue since those early days.

$10 million dollars! I can hardly believe it, but it’s absolutely true.

If you would rather listen to this post, and others here on the blog, please check out the Good Financial Cents podcast on Spotify. Here’s the episode on The Wealth Stack:

6 Key Reasons I Was Able to Earn $10 Million

You may be wondering how I managed to stay relevant all this time, and especially when a lot of others have surged to the forefront only to slowly fade away.

How have I survived and thrived? What have I done differently?

I wanted to share these important lessons, mostly because I think it takes more than people realize to build something that lasts. 

#1: I Allowed Myself to Fail

One key reason I’m still here is the fact I have let myself fail so many times. If I added up all my entrepreneurial ventures and the things I have tried, I know for a fact I have failed a lot more than I have succeeded. 

A lot of people don’t know this, but I was in a multi-level-marketing program (MLM) at one point! 

I have also made poor choices in real estate investing, and I have tried very expensive (and massively disappointing!) marketing strategies as a financial advisor. Heck, I remember one time I spent nearly $10,000 on marketing brochures that basically nobody read.

But, you know what? It’s okay. Most entrepreneurs will tell you failing is part of the journey, and that you have to fail to find things that work. 

This may seem like a small detail, but this is a big deal because fear of failure holds far too many people back. Other times, someone will try one business idea that doesn’t work and give up their dreams forever.

It’s understandable, really. I mean, you don’t want to disappoint your spouse, your church, or your family! 

But if you want to be truly successful for the long-term, you have to be willing to try things and fail. 

More than that, you have to have an underlying belief that you will be successful. If you want to give yourself permission to fail, you have to believe that something better is coming along every time.

Along the way, you have to be willing to treat failures as learning experiences. As painful as it can be, there is always something you can learn why you try a business idea that flops. 

While I wasted a ton of time and money doing things that didn’t work, I made sure I gleaned at least one lesson from every failure. Sometimes it hurt, but this part of the process was (and still is) essential.

#2: I Gave Back

I also started my business with this idea of S.Y.N.R.G.Y., or “Serving Your Network with Radical Giving.” When you look at your network and try to build your client base and serve others, that’s where the magic happens.

What do I mean? Over the years, I have served other bloggers by linking to them, quoting them, sharing on social media, and making an effort to get to know them. I have also tried to recognize areas where I could give back, and the results have been astounding.

And, guess what? When you take the time to help others grow, they often return the favor in ways you never expect. That has often meant doing things to help my business as well, like linking to my videos or featuring me in interviews.

I also started my journey as a blogger by answering as many questions as I could and taking the time to reply to lengthy emails. 

I have even used a tool called Loom to record videos that answered reader questions, and people were blown away that I would take the time to do that. But that investment of energy has helped me build a following that has stuck with me today.

I drank too much caffeine before this pic

#3: I Became an Expert

Another way to have staying power is to become an expert in your field of interest. I’m a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), so that has helped me quite a bit. Even before I became a CFP though, I was generally curious about how things worked. And if I am curious about something, I strive to learn everything about it. I want to understand as much as I can about the topic.

alphabet soup ftw!

For instance, I knew almost nothing about search engine optimization (SEO) when I started blogging. I only knew I needed SEO if I wanted my website to rank for competitive keywords. 

I didn’t have a lot of money to pay someone to teach me, so I started reading about SEO so I could learn as much as I could. After tons of research, networking with other bloggers, and taking advantage of free resources, I eventually figured out how to maximize SEO and make some progress.

It was so exciting when all the time and effort started to pay off. I started ranking for certain keywords, and that almost instantly boosted my online earnings. However, something more important happened. With better SEO, I was able to underscore my standing as an expert in my field.

I still remember the first time I went on the news as a financial expert with a blog. From there, I used the footage from my local ABC affiliate to get on larger news stations, then to write for larger publications. That just led to more and more earned media over time.

If you don’t have specific credentials as an expert in your field, you can still become one like I did with SEO. Learn everything you can, read everything you can get your hands on, and stay curious about how it all works. 

Ask questions, dabble, and try new things. That’s how you become an expert.

You can even use a strategy I have used to get into magazines and major publications. With HARO (Help a Reporter Out), you can sign up for an account and respond to media inquiries from journalists. I used to do this all the time, and I still remember the first big mention and link I got from a major news station. 

Getting a backlink from a major website can be worth $5,000 to $25,000, and you have a chance to do it through HARO for free if you use it.

#4: Self-Investment

This fourth step I took seems really cliche and cheesy, but it has absolutely worked.

I invested in myself, and I think you should invest in yourself, too.  You hear more of my thoughts about investing in yourself on my YouTube channel here:

One of the first big investments I made in myself was in a business coaching program geared to entrepreneurs. The initial program I joined was called “Strategic Coach,” and it was founded by Dan Sullivan, a recognized leader in entrepreneurial coaching.

At the time, you had to have a minimum income of $100,000 to join the program. You also had to pay the initial entry fee, which I think was around $8,000.

That was a ton of money at the time, and it still is! But I joined based on the advice of a mentor who told me he hired two different business coaches over the years. 

That seemed crazy to me because my mentor was incredibly successful on his own. Why did he need a coach?

I learned from him that the right coaching program can help you grow from wherever you’re starting. Even if you’re successful already, being an entrepreneur means there is always another level of success to achieve.

I went through this program for three years, and I grew my revenue to $750,000 during that time.

Yes, I spent almost $25,000 on three years of coaching, but I earned hundreds of thousands more as a result. What an awesome investment!

The crazy thing is, I only went to three or four in-person events as part of the program. The rest of the learning was through educational materials, networking with other members, and focusing on my own personal growth.

I have joined other programs since then, including Michael Hyatt’s “Inner Circle” coaching group. This one set me back $25,000, but it helped me take my income well over $1 million per year.

The bottom line: You have to invest in yourself if you want to be your best, whether that means joining coaching programs, paying for courses, or earning a degree. 

If you don’t invest in yourself, how can you expect others to?

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#5: I Learned to Let Go

This is hard to admit, but I can be a control freak…..and that’s especially true if we’re talking about the things I love the most.

Letting go of your business can feel like dropping your baby off at daycare. You might trust the daycare providers and think they do a good job, but there’s no way they can love your baby like you do!

Still, I eventually figured out I had to let go of some stuff to really spread my wings. If you want to grow, you have to let go!

An example with my business is when I finally hired someone else to write some of the content for my website. This wasn’t even content in my name, but it was a very difficult thing to do. 

Another example is when I hired an affiliate manager to oversee the affiliate relationships on my website. I wasn’t even sure someone else was capable of doing that, but it freed up so much of my time I could use in other ways.

Over the years, I also made the decision to take on strategic partnerships, which is a lot different than working with freelancers or contractors. When you take this step, it means you’re letting someone buy into your business and take on some of the risk and reward with you.

A strategic partnership is a lot like getting married in business; you are making a commitment to that person and they’re doing the same with you.

Crazy thing is, this is one step that paid off more than anything else. Strategic partnerships helped me go from making $20,000 per month to $100,000 per month.

The bottom line: Outsourcing can help you spend your time doing what you’re best at. For me, it was investing in other areas of my business, such as podcasting and my YouTube channel.

#6: I Never Forgot Where I Came From

The final step I have taken could be the most important. I have never forgotten where I came from, nor have I forgotten about the people who helped me get where I am today.

I have always kept it in the back of my mind where I was raised, the challenges I endured as a child, and even the clothes and shoes I wore to school. The fact both of my parents had financial problems and filed for bankruptcy shaped me dramatically, and these were the reasons I wanted to help people with money in the first place.

I still remember many years ago when Google did a major algorithm update that whacked my business overnight. This update took a bunch of keywords I was ranking for and basically took them away. Where I had been on the first page of Google for some of them, I was now ranking on the 2nd or 3rd page instead. That’s not good. Here’s how bad the Google Panda update looked for my site’s traffic:

Not all panda’s are cute and cuddly 🐼

Look at it this way: Having a search term rank on the first page of Google is like having a brick and mortar store on the busiest street in town. If Google does an update that doesn’t work in your favor, it feels like your town rerouted the streets and took all that traffic away.

I was getting over 100,000 unique visitors per month, and this update dropped that figure down to 20,000 unique visitors in a matter of hours.

Just. Like. That.

It was heartbreaking 💔, but I also felt like I was done. I had spent three years building my business by that time and I was having huge success. It’s crazy to watch something you have built up disappear overnight, especially knowing there is nothing you can do about it.

After taking a few weeks off, I asked myself a simple question.

Why did I start my website in the first place?

The answer is simple. I started my website because I grew up feeling insecure about money. I had parents with financial problems, and that really stuck with me. 

I wanted to help other people make better choices with their money — I wanted to help people avoid the mistakes my parents made.

I wanted to educate others, and to help them become financially independent.

Ultimately, this helped me keep going regardless of what that algorithm did to my site. 

Remembering where I came from and what I hoped to accomplish helped me keep plugging away, even at a time when I wanted to quit.

From there, I actually doubled down on my business, started a YouTube channel, and got deeper into podcasting. 

Now that algorithm update is a blip on the radar, and my business has reached even greater heights.

And maybe that’s the greatest lesson of all. We’re all going to win sometimes, but we’re also going to lose. 

That doesn’t really matter. What does matter is whether we give up, or whether we pick ourselves up and keep working for what we want.

I could have quit a thousand times, but I actually never have. Whether you hope to earn your first $500, $1,000 or $1 million in your own entrepreneurial journey, I hope you find the courage to do the same.

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