How I Leveraged My Job To Start An Online Business

By Leslie Samuel
18 Comments

As an entrepreneur, I have somewhat of a “problem”. I tend to see opportunities wherever I look. A few weeks ago, I started learning to bake a New York Cheesecake. It turned out very well and all of my friends were very impressed. When I saw how successful my cheesecake making venture was, I immediately started thinking – I can set up a blog that teaches people how to make cheesecakes and make ONE BILLION DOLLARS (Austin Powers voice).

These kinds of ideas always seem to pop up and can be quite distracting at times. I usually try to ignore them (eventually) and have been successful at doing so. Except for one time . . .

The One Idea I Could Not Ignore

I’m a biology teacher and as a biology teacher, I LOVE BIOLOGY. It’s a subject that has always fascinated me. As usual, the entrepreneur in me came up with another great idea – to build a biology blog where I could teach biology and eventually sell resources that other biology teachers (and students) can use to enhance their biology classes and the learning experience.

There was one problem. I knew how much work it would take to get a blog up and running, market it effectively and start a profitable website from. Also, since I already have an internet business (and a full time job), if I were to venture into this new product, that would be time taken away from my already busy life.

However, there were some factors that weighed heavily into me still wanting to set up the blog:

  1. I LOVE BIOLOGY. This was probably the most important reason.
  2. There was a lack of high quality FREE resources for Biology teachers available online (in my opinion). I had done the keyword research just for fun, and was amazed at what I found.
  3. I had a lot of resources that I’ve built up in my few years of teaching that others would find useful.
  4. With the Internet Marketing experience that I had, it seemed like it would be easy to outshine what my competitors were doing.
  5. I had a ton of ideas that constantly plagued my mind as to some cool innovations I could have on the website that would make the website super awesome.

My desire to put a high quality resource out there on the topic of biology was much stronger than my concerns about time restrictions, so I decided to give it a go. However, I knew that in order for this to work (and for me to remain sane), it needed to be set up in a way that I was contributing a significant amount of value, while not investing a significant amount of time, because my time was very limited. It needed to be as efficient as possible.

My Biology Blog Journey

After doing some quick keyword research, I decided on a domain name, registered the name, set up WordPress, got a premium theme and put it up there within a very short period of time.

Once the site was installed, I started working on my Biology lecture powerpoints by adding high quality images that I had the rights to use and tweaked them to make them a little more interesting, with various animations. The great thing about it was that I was being paid to work, and enhancing my lecture materials is a part of the job.

In order to have content developed consistently, I decided that I would record my lectures with a lapel mic and record the screen with screen recording software (screenflow on the mac) to use as my main content. Every day I did a lecture in class was one more day of content for the website with minimal effort.

At first, I edited the videos myself and uploaded them to YouTube and my website. However, I soon realize that I had a student worker that needed the extra hours who would love to do it. I taught him how to use Screenflow and his job was to make all of the lecture videos ready to be put on the blog.

Once I had 10 videos on the website, I started reaching out to other bloggers and website owners that were also posting resources for biology, told them about my site and asked them if they would consider adding a link to my site on their website. A few responded, were quite excited about the content, and were happy to give me a link. This resulted in a significant increase in traffic over a relatively short period of time.

I’m to the point where I spend an hour or two every other week to upload the edited videos into individual blog posts. Besides that, I do nothing to the site and my traffic is growing faster now than with any other website I’ve ever started with minimal effort on my part.

My Biology List

Because of my experience in Internet Marketing, I knew that one of my main priorities had to be growing a list. I thought about what I could give away to entice people to join the list and after racking my brain for a little while, I decided that I could give away my powerpoints for teachers to use in their classes. I did not imagine how excited people would get about it.

There’s a constant stream of traffic coming to my website and people are opting in every day to be able to download the Free powerpoints. I installed Popup Domination on the website and the opt ins increased by over 400% overnight. Needless to say, this got me very excited.

My Monetization Plans

When I launched the site, I decided not to start off trying to monetize the site. I wanted to focus first on contributing value. Also, I had nothing to sell at the time and little time to develop a product. I am still at the point where I’m just trying to give away value for free. The site is still in its infancy, but I do plan on eventually monetizing the site by selling some of the following:

  1. Powerpoints
  2. Handouts
  3. Lesson plans
  4. Royalty-free Biology images

I also have a few other ideas brewing in the back of my mind for a membership site later down the road.

So Why Am I Telling You All Of This?

There are many people who struggle to find a niche. I really believe that if you are creative, you can find ways to build a blog around what you are already doing.

I leveraged my job. What do you do on a regular basis? What do you love? Is it possible that you can leverage what you do to grow an online business? Is it possible that you can even build an online business around YOUR job? I think it is very possible in many cases. The important thing is for you to take action. Who knows? You might surprise yourself like I did.

You can check out my Biology blog at www.Interactive-Biology.com.

So what do you blog about? Let me know in the comments below.

About Leslie Samuel

Leslie Samuel is a blogger who believes that the internet can change the world. He runs an Interactive Biology website that Makes Biology Fun and teaches people how to grow their online business in his Learning With Leslie podcast. He also runs a Become A Blogger - A blog dedicated to helping people Change The World with their blogs. Follow Leslie Samuel on Twitter.

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18 Comments

  • Honest and very informative post Leslie.

    Love the way you have turned your job in to a powerful niche. You have given some great ideas in this post. You have a great looking blog.

    Looking forward for more from you, Leslie.

    Prajwal Shinde

    • Hi Leslie,

      Great idea and blog totally in agreement with Prajwal, if you can use biology as a topic the world is really at your finger tips.

      Making the decision to go into a niche that is so unusual I wish you good luck and BTW your site looks great.

      Thanks for the reminder that we all have something to offer and getting stuck is normally our own doing.

      Thanks and have a great time growing your tribe.

  • Your take on finding niches is really impressive. All people have to do is look around themselves and they would be able to find almost any niche to monetize.

  • If you find the niche in which you are very much interested then it would be easy for you to get creative ideas and explore it. I must say that this post is very nice and useful.

  • Thank you for sharing your story Leslie. I know it is brought up time and time again but you really need to have a passion for what you blog about.

    I have finally found my passion and enjoy posting about it every day. My blog is just starting out but I am enjoying every moment of it.

  • Your presentation of the whole thing makes the whole blogging thing look so easy afterall. It’s fantastic. And so is the visual appeal of the blog itself. Thanks.

  • That is definitely one subject I do not love… Biology. I was a bio major in college for all of one semester. Congrats though… it’s one way of making things happen on the internet. Finding a passion.

  • Awesompe post Leslie! That’s why it’s always good to follow your passion. It’s mandatory for a newbie to blog on how to make money online! Do what you know best. You can blog on how to slap a bitch! If you are passionate about the niche. Thanks for sharing. Have fun.

    • Hmm, I’m hoping never to see a blog on that topic, lol.

  • m@

    I agree, using an areaof your own passion makes all the hard work that is involved that little bit easier to manage.

  • Leslie: I love your enthusiasm and positive message. It’s good to know you’re a teacher because you have the right attitude for teaching our young people.

    I’m sure there are lots of people out there thinking they don’t have a passion or enough knowledge to put to use in a blog that anyone would want to read. It’s important for people to understand that almost any topic can be a topic for a blog. I always think of the Fuzzy Yellow Balls guy’s blog focused on tennis because

    As for me, I’m a lawyer, and I practice in California (outside of San Francisco). Even though there are a lot of lawyers, and there are more and more legal blogs popping up each day, I decided to create a blog which is simple and accessible and down-to-earth but which shares my legal knowledge. It’s called California Law Report (www.calawreport.com) and I’ve been slowly building it. I’ve actually already checked out your blog previously for advice.

    Thanks again!

    • It’s awesome to see someone else using their “job” to start something helpful online. I can imagine that a blog on that topic would do well. Keep up the good work!

  • Leslie,
    That is an awesome story. I like how you just started with a topic that your really love and turned that into your niche. I’ve been toying with the same idea as I am also in a career that I really enjoy, but I’ve been debating whether I really want to work on the same subject matter round the clock as opposed to blogging about something different but still interesting to me.

  • Leslie, I still think you might have something with the cheesescake blog idea. Anyhow thanks for sharing your ideas.

    - Robert

  • I would agree that if you are an expert in your field and you want to share your knowledge for free then people would be more than interested and blog will get a lot of traffic.

    Your profession is unique and normally there are very few biology expert blogs online. Hopefully it would really grow in the future as well. thanks for sharing your experience.

  • A determined entrepreneur will indeed learn how to build a successful business around their work schedule. If you really want something bad enough, you will stop at nothing to get it done. Being an entrepreneur means having the perseverance, dedication and WILL to be a success no matter what comes your way.

    Find what you know best and LOVE TO DO. Then, find a way to become the expert at it. Having a niche in today’s business arena is a great way to get your business noticed.

    One of my favorite all time quotes is

    The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge but rather in a lack of will – Vincent T. Lombardi

    If you will it, it will happen.

  • Thanks for this post! Though, I had a hard time viewing your post in Safari 5. Just wanted to bring that to your attention! Thanks.

  • UGH!I wrote a crazy long response to your post but my internet cut out and I lost it all! Oh well, just wanted to tell you that it was a great post! Great job!

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