This is the start of the Digital Writer series.
Over the coming weeks (with some breaks for a few harsh truths and self-improvement letters) we will dive deep into how to become a profitable writer while talking about your interests.
I’ve always been a creative at heart.
I loved the thought of working from my laptop, living anywhere in the world, and not having to worry about money.
Naturally, I studied things like graphic design, photography, and film.
Those were valuable skills to learn, but they never really got me anywhere.
I knew that I had to learn something that was valued by the market more, but I didn’t want to give up my creative edge.
That’s when I took a web development class in college.
I became obsessed.
The promises of a high-paying job without a degree and the infinite resources I could use to teach myself to code were enticing.
And I didn’t have to let go of my creativity if I did front-end design.
Creativity paired with coding seemed more valuable than something like graphic design alone, but only to the job market (from my level of awareness at the time).
I have always wanted to do my own thing.
Getting a job was the bane of my existence.
It wasn’t hard to observe society and see that most people were overweight and unhappy. The common theme was that they all had their precious resource, time, sucked away from them by a job that worked them to death.
Long story short, I never was able to monetize my creativity.
It’s not because I wasn’t skilled enough, it’s because I didn’t stack other skills that would allow me to make money. I wasn’t skilled in the right things that would allow me to monetize my main skill. Another loss for “focus on one thing.”
I’ll talk about my full story in one of the next letters, but for now, just know that it didn’t work out.
I had to swallow my pride and get a job.
Luckily, I was able to land the first web design job I applied for because I took a year to teach myself to code (and had design experience before that).
You don’t need to go to school to get a high-paying job.
That job can be used as a launchpad for building your own thing.
How I Made Millions As A Digital Writer
I worked at a web design agency for a year.
This was a blessing, because it showed me the exact pieces I was missing in my freelance web design business.
The agency had a marketing, sales, and operations department.
Marketing and sales generated and closed leads.
Operations handed them off to the designers (me).
I built their website and handed it off to them.
It made sense, so I started studying skills like copywriting, sales, direct response marketing, and all of the other skills that people tell you to learn.
In my free time, I would try everything under the sun to land clients.
Facebook Group networking.
Paid Facebook and Google ads.
Walking into local businesses and talking to the manager.
Writing down the phone numbers of services businesses from their vehicle graphics (like pest control).
I started landing a few clients, but not nearly enough as I wanted. Don’t get me wrong, I replaced my income and quit my job within my year at the web design agency.
But I didn’t just want to replace my income.
I wanted to make millions… because who doesn’t?
I was well off, making close to $100,000 a year – mostly from referrals after a lot of manual effort – and was able to quit my job.
A few things happened at this point.
And they could only happen at this point, because my mind wouldn’t understand them without my prior experience and failures.
1) I began to understand the power of social media.
Why in the world was I doing all of this manual work to land clients?
Why didn’t I realize that people posting content and building a following had unlimited clients at their fingertips (if they understood marketing and sales)?
If I could build an audience, that would save me 10-20 hours a week generating leads for my freelance services.
And if I built a large enough following, I could pivot out of client work. That would save me even more time because I could monetize digital or physical products.
You can start to see where my 4-Hour Workday philosophy comes from.
2) I had the experience to grow on X.
Centuries ago, there was a social media app called Twitter.
I never really cared for it.
But for some reason, I started using it more and more.
I noticed people talking about everything I liked.
Self-improvement, mindset, philosophy, web design, business, marketing, and more. Often from the same accounts. They didn’t seem to limit the topics they talked about, because it was obvious that they all overlapped (similar to how this newsletter can be categorized as any one of those topics). They told you to “choose a niche” but didn’t have one themselves. Their products and services were niched down, not their personal brand.
If they were generating traffic with their content and had the successful business they said they did… why couldn’t I do the same?
I started emulating their content structure and posting the ideas in my head.
Remember, I had prior copywriting and direct response marketing knowledge.
I knew what was necessary to write a post that captured attention and generated enough interest to follow me.
In my first year, I gained around 10,000 followers.
In my second year, that jumped to 50,000.
In my third year, another jump to 100,000.
Then, I used my validated ideas to post to other platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube. I knew they would get engagement because I had so much data from writing on Twitter.
Today, 4 years later, I have around 2,800,000 followers across all platforms.
Talk about exponential growth and how consistency is king.
There is a lot more to this social media growth thing. I’ll talk about that in a letter soon called How To Actually Grow On Social Media (What They Don’t Tell You). For now you can read this letter on networking.
3) Everything pointed to writing.
Writing on Twitter made me realize one thing.
I wasn’t just writing on Twitter.
I was writing emails, newsletters, landing pages, promotions, video scripts, direct messages, course curriculums, product material… everything.
It wasn’t too long until I just considered myself a writer.
That’s all I did every single morning.
That was the driver of all growth in my business.
My ability to capture attention, create value, and impact my readers was all due to writing.
This is how 2 Hour Writer was birthed. That’s a course where I teach my entire writing ecosystem. Because everything in business – no matter what you do – starts with writing.
Most writers want to sell their writing, and they can with something like a paid blog, newsletter, or community, but that is limiting.
Writing is both a traffic generation mechanism and the means to create an information product.
When you know how to write, market, and sell, you can earn an income writing about whatever you want.
4) My income grew with my readership.
A few years ago I read a tweet that said you can make $0.50-$1 per follower per month (with your own product or service of course, not by relying on platform monetization or Adsense).
This held true for me up until a point.
From years 1-3 I made about $1 per follower per month.
So, $10,000 then $50,000 then $100,000.
I made $800,000 in my third year.
This past year I’ve passed my follower count in income, around $3.1 million so far.
There are a lot of technical details here, but one thing holds true:
If you slowly build a decent readership, launch a new product, and get 80% of things right, I find it hard to believe that you couldn’t make a million dollars.
At this point, if you stick it out, the path should be blatantly obvious to you.
The main trap I see is people playing short-term money games. Blasting their audience with promotions on a crappy product and never improving what they offer.