“Success seems to be connected to action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.”
– Conrad Hilton
How to model your business
Over the past 12 months I have made money from numerous ventures. Freelance article writing, penning product reviews, ghostwriting books, affiliate marketing, sales, and a whole slew of other hustles.
Although most of my ventures panned out pretty well, very few of them were actually enjoyable. They took up a lot of time and offered no long-term rewards. I was a stay at home office drone toiling away to line someone else’s pockets.
Writing articles paid by the hour. I was making more than I had at my old job, but there were no other differences. I still lacked freedom and had to be chained to my desk at all hours.
The mistake that I had made was basing my business around one time payouts. If I wasn’t making new things to sell, like articles and books, I wasn’t earning anything.
All over the web you can find pseudo-intellectual articles about passive income. Most of them are written by guys who have very little expertise with the subject. They make money by writing books about making money, their other endeavors don’t do nearly as well.
Rather than wasting both of our time with some drawn-out bull, I’m going to share a little analogy that I came up with a few weeks ago. I call it hamburger theory and it summarizes the importance of making a business that can run with as little input as possible.
What is the hamburger theory?
Imagine that you love hamburgers and have an obsession with them. Burgers are your destiny. Since hamburgers, like most subjects, have a very limited range of career options, you really only have two choices. You can make burgers for a living, or you can create something that ties into your passion.
If you choose to make hamburgers you’ll either end up working for someone else, or owning your own restaurant. The first one will pay horribly and the second is a lot of stress. Owning a restaurant means that you have to constantly draw in customers, pump out food items, and try to manage your time. Eventually you have to scale your business to try and meet new demands. The more successful you become, the less freedom you have.
Freelance writing is like running a restaurant. As you gain more clients you lose free time. Saturday nights are spent drafting documents and days off lead to angry emails from customers. You have to constantly be your own marketing team, factory, and customer service representative. All the stuff that Internet moguls casually leave out of their get rich quick books.
Your other option is to create an enterprise with perpetual profits. Going back to the hamburger analogy, you could write a book about the hundred best burgers in America. Or make a YouTube cooking series. Or come up with some other creative venture like a blog. Each of these is infinitely harder than making a single hamburger for one client, but they continually pay out over time.
There are books that are still making money after their author has died. A restaurant, on the other hand, will implode if the owner takes two weeks off.
Blogging and affiliate marketing is the same. It’s way harder to write a quality post for your own site than it is to draft a fake book review for someone else. Before it was banned, I had a private area on Reddit that was making me $15 a day. It was very little work and I was making money in my sleep.
Right now 30 Days To X is one of the top 80,000 websites in the United States. It took some sleepless nights and a lot of work to get there, but I could probably “retire” to a place like the Philippines once I finish up the book I’m writing.
Freelance writing isn’t a bad gig, I actually learned a lot from it, but you shouldn’t rely on it long-term. Constantly having to churn out new material will wear you down. You’d be better off developing a business which allows you to take some time off. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t have to work as hard, especially when you are trying to get established, but you can eventually ease up. Some of the tasks will run on autopilot and take care of themselves if you want to go on vacation or recuperate.