How I Started Making Money From The Internet
The purpose of this page is to explain to you how I came to make money from the Internet.
If you already know my story and want to dive in and begin your own journey to derive income from the Web, I suggest you go immediately to the “How You Can Start” page, where I give you steps to set up your own money making website.
If you want to know what this blog can offer you or you need some hi-resolution press photographs of me, head to the About Page.
Hear My Story
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How The Internet Changed My Life
Blogging and the internet has well and truly changed my life…
Thanks to the work I put in over the last few years I have generated over a million dollars from the Internet.
I’ve purchased a half million dollar inner-city apartment in Brisbane Australia where I live, investment properties, a BMW and helped support my family.
In 2008 I packed up my laptop, got on a plane and traveled around the world, stopping in 23 cities over 8 months. I started in Fiji, then headed to Hawaii, Vancouver, Toronto, Las Vegas, Chicago, New York, Winnipeg (to visit my grandmother), Montreal, Quebec, Glasgow, Edinburgh, London, Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris, Rome, Florence, Venice, Naples, Athens, Dubai, Singapore and then back home.
While at home I spend a couple of hours a day writing on my laptop at cafes, and the rest of the time I do whatever I like, including tennis, dinners out with friends, skating, movies, reading, working on new projects, trips to the beach and sometimes nothing at all.
As you can see, if you set up the right kind of Internet business, you gain financial freedom and time freedom, which is something most people only dream about, especially if you currently have a day job that you despise.
Of course it wasn’t always like this for me and it has taken a long time to bring together the necessary ingredients to live this sort of lifestyle.
With the power of hindsight I’ve come to realize that there is an order, a process of development I have gone through to reach the present point. The order for me went something like this –
- Figure out exactly how to make money from the Internet.
- Start testing ideas until I find something that brings in my first income stream.
- Figure out how to turn a trickle of income into enough that I can live off it.
- Once I made enough to live off, I still wasn’t happy because I didn’t enjoy the type of business I was running.
- Figure out what I enjoy and am good at, and use that with my knowledge of how to make money to come up with a business that is both fun and profitable.
- Realize that I have created a great business, but it’s too dependent on me, so if I stop working, the business starts to decline.
- The final step – develop my business into something that makes enough money, doesn’t need me to survive and when I choose to, I do work I enjoy.
The perfect situation as I see it is owning a website business that generates more than enough money to live off, that runs without you or requires very minimal upkeep so you can travel and do other things, and there is work you can do when you want to that is fun and rewarding (because if you are like me, just living a perpetual holiday gets pretty boring eventually!).
Now let me take you back to how I began this process…
How I Set Up My First Money Making Website
When I first went online it was 1998 and I was an undergraduate university student at the University of Queensland, in Brisbane Australia.
I spent a couple of years focusing on my studies and in my spare time, playing with the world wide web. This was during the days of online chat rooms, bulletin boards and newsgroups, and the start of the dot com boom.
Eventually I became interested enough in the Web that I wanted to have my own website. At the time I played a card game calledMagic: The Gathering (it’s like poker with dragons and elves thrown in). I was a competitive Magic card player, which meant that I played in tournaments and was serious about the game. Naturally my first website was dedicated to this card game.
My website grew slowly, initially off the back of my own effort to write articles about the cards, and later with the help of other card players from around Australia who submitted articles. Later I added a trading forum to the site so people could buy, sell and trade cards. This immediately boosted my traffic and kept people coming back every day to trade cards.
Although my website wasn’t huge – at best I had about 500 visitors per day – I was able to make some money from it. I sold banner advertising to sponsors, mostly card game shops in Australia. They paid me about $50 a month to place their banner on my site. Some also paid $100 to place an advertisement in the newsletter I sent out to all the members of the card trading forum.
By the early 2000s my website was making between $500 and $1,000 a month. I consider this site my first true success story. I didn’t make enough from it to live off, but as a university student living with my parents, it was more than I needed.
How I Increased My Online Income So I Never Needed A Job
Eventually I grew bored of playing the card game and sold my Magic website for $13,000, giving me some money to invest in a new project (and move out of my parents place!).
My next website was different. I wanted a real business with real potential for growth. This was the peak of the dot com boom and I was excited about creating my own big success story.
One day I was in a newsagent browsing through a Yahoo! print magazine. I came across an article about a young guy who was studying business in Harvard. Although he was enrolled to study a degree, he spent most of his time in his dorm room running an essay editing service. The business edited papers for students who were applying to enter university in the USA.
I used this story as inspiration to start my own essay editing service in Australia. Australian universities do not have entrance essay requirements, however I saw a need in the market that I believed my business could fill.
As a student at university, several times I had group assignments. Often my partners were international students from Asia or the Middle East, who had English as a second language. As a group we all had to write a paper, combining our words. It became apparent that most of the international students struggled to express themselves with written English, especially in an academic context.
My editing service focused on this group of people, who needed editing and proofreading of their essays, and feedback on how to write better academic English. My business was called BetterEdit.com.
Although the business started slowly, eventually I grew a small but loyal clientele. To do the editing work I hired contract editors, usually professors or postgraduate students from universities. To promote the business I used the internet and placed posters at university campuses.
How I Started Making Money With A Blog
After a few years my editing business was making enough for me to earn a full time income of about $50,000 a year. Because I had contractors, most of the work I personally did required a few hours per day to maintain (usually just checking email every few hours to process new editing jobs that came through). I had created a great lifestyle business.
Because this business was so low maintenance, I had plenty of time to do other things. In 2004 a friend suggested I start a blog to market the editing business. I didn’t know what a blog was, so I did a little research.
Despite reading about blogs I still didn’t understand what made a blog different from a normal website. I always learn best by experimenting, so I started a blog on the BetterEdit.com website.
I lasted about three months writing to the BetterEdit blog. I found it extremely difficult to write about the subject of editing and proofreading, since they are very boring subjects (in my opinion). However the experience gave me an insight into exactly how blogs work. I decided I would start a new blog instead focused on something I enjoy.
In January 2005 I registered the domain Entrepreneurs-Journey.com intending it to be a hobby site where I shared stories from the previous years I spent as an entrepreneur.
At the time I didn’t realize my blog would become my main business and help me to generate over a million dollars.
Initially I treated my blog as a hobby and had one goal: To take as much of the experience I had in the past seven years as an entrepreneur and write about it to my blog. I wrote something every day, created tutorials, did updates on how my editing business was going and just indulged in being creative with a blog.
I also spent time at other blogs in my niche, leaving comments and getting to know other bloggers via email and chat. Slowly but surely I built up a readership, and although I wasn’t making any money from it, I knew the possibility was there.
After six months I had between 300 and 500 daily readers, so I decided to begin testing different ways to make money with my blog. I tried the following methods in this order –
- I started promoting an ebook someone else wrote, which paid me 50% commission for every sale. Later that year I also promoted a live event (a conference, paying 40% commission for ticket sales) and some other information products like audio CDs and home study courses. This is called “Affiliate Marketing”.
- Like I did with my first successful card game site, I started to charge a monthly fee to place a banner on my blog. Over a few months I slowly attracted a handful of sponsors.
- I also tested Google AdSense, an advertising system lots of bloggers were making good money with. However in my case, I did not. I made about $1 a month and realized AdSense was not going to be my path to profit for this blog.
- Using these methods, well the first two anyway, I was able to grow my income to about $1,000 a month after a year of writing to my blog. It wasn’t consistent income, so I still didn’t see my blog as my main business, but I was loving it.
How I Increased My Blog Income To Over $100,000 A Year
After a year of writing to my blog I began studying how other people made money online, in particular through a process called “email marketing”.
In January 2006 I started my first email newsletter. I offered people “blog traffic tips” writing one email per week with advice on how to grow traffic to your blog. You can read my early Blog Traffic Tips newsletters here.
Over the course of 2006 I focused on attracting more readers to my blog, grew my email newsletter and made more money with affiliate marketing and sponsors. By the end of the year my income had reached a steady $3,000 to $5,000 per month. My blog had become more successful than my editing business, and best of all, I loved running it.
In 2007 big changes happened. I decided to sell my editing business. After about six months of looking for a buyer, the sale finalized in June. From then on I made the decision to focus only on my blogging business.
That same year I decided to create a training product of my own. I wanted to teach people about how to make money with blogs, based on what I had done in the previous two years to reach an average of $5,000 a month. By this stage maintaining my blog only required a couple of hours work per day, so I figured this style of online business would appeal to a lot of people.
I launched my first training program, Blog Mastermind, and found myself teaching 400 eager students. I promoted my course to my blog readership, my email newsletter, and offered 50% commission to affiliates for any sales they made. Many other bloggers promoted my course, which helped me reach a lot of new people.
By the time the dust settled I was earning $15,000 a month from my blogging business, and had a nice big payday from selling my editing business, which I used to purchase a new car and pay the deposit for my first home.
I officially became a six figure income earner that year, the first year my business grossed over $100,000 (not including the sale of the editing business).
Find The Right Balance
Since the launch of my first training course I have continued to run my blog and create more training products. My income has grown and I’ve had the pleasure of seeing some of my students become successful too, launching their own profitable blogs (some have even made more money than I have!).
In 2009 I realized my blog business reached a point where I was very satisfied with it. I had many new opportunities in front of me, but I felt something was missing. I still wasn’t happy and I knew what was wrong – I didn’t have the kind of social life I wanted.
Instead of focusing on new projects to make more money, in 2009 I spent the year working on my social life and expanding myself in non-business areas. Of course I didn’t neglect my business during this time, but since I had built it up to a point where it required little maintenance beyond writing some articles and helping my members, I had plenty of time for other things.
This experience taught me the importance of finding balance between how much you work, how much money you want (in my case half a million dollars a year was more than enough!), how much time you spend developing yourself personally and whom you have around you to share your life with.
By the time 2010 came around I felt I had the balance right and I feel blessed to lead the life I do. Since then I have continued to write to this blog, run my podcast, travel the world and teach people how to make a living through blogging in my various training courses and guides.
Your journey continues from here. The next step is for you to begin taking action. Here are instructions on what to do next…
How Can You Benefit From My Story?
This story only touches upon many different aspects of how I have made money online and the different stages of my own development as an entrepreneur.
No doubt you feel there are lots of pieces of the puzzle missing if you are to start building your own online income stream.
Your next step, if you want to follow in my footsteps and create both time and money freedom in your life, is to go to the “How You Can Start” page and begin the process to set up an online income stream.
This blog is full of many articles and resources that explain the different things I have done to make money online and develop a lifestyle business, and they are all 100% free.
Many of the articles go into much greater detail for each step, using stories from my own experience to help guide you.
I realize it can be daunting when you first come to this site to find the content you need, hence I have created these starting pages to help guide you. The next page to go to now, is this one –
Thank you for reading my story, and I’ll see you on the next page.
P.S. If you want to hear a longer, more detailed and personal account of my life story, you can go to the Yaro Starak Backstory Podcast.