If you’re anything like me, you value it highly, and want as much of it in your life as possible.
Being independent, setting your own work hours, and earning enough money to do what you want is a common dream these days.
And now, in the age of the internet, there are more opportunities than ever before.
But how, exactly, do you get started making real money online?
What should you do to get your foot in the door?
In this article, I’ll tell you the story of how I escaped the rat race — how I went from working a mediocre 9-5 job to finally being my own boss.
Whether you’re aiming to make a full-time income online, or you just want some extra on the side, read on — you can probably learn a thing or two from my experience.
How It All Began
My journey towards financial independence started out like many others?.
It was the start of 2016, and I was working a standard 9-5 with repetitive days and mediocre pay.
I had no clear path in life when it came to my career.
Because of this, I spent my early twenties half-heartedly improving my grades by retaking exams, while working various entry-level jobs.
I figured I should boost my exam scores as much as possible, so I could at least get paid well while being miserable.
And, no, I’m not exaggerating here; I am, and always have been, completely miserable when working for someone else.
When working a new job, I could keep myself motivated for the first 4-5 months or so. After that, however, my mood would gradually worsen.
It was like my spirit was tugging at me,
“This is not where you?re supposed to be“.
Have you ever had that feeling?
I felt a deep need to be independent and free, yet I couldn’t see a path that would take me there.
Whenever I would bring this feeling up with my parents, my dad would tell me, “that?s reality, you’ll have to deal with it”.
And, for a while, I believed him.
Still, while I was grinding away at my 9-5 jobs, I couldn’t help dream of another reality — one wherein I could choose my own path, where I was my own boss.
In February 2016, I was getting ready to register for my final exams. Once completed, I would be ready to apply for university in autumn.
However, a twist of fate would have it differently.
That very same month, I got a letter from the local educational institution. It stated that they had introduced a new grading system.
Not only did I have to buy new books and start fresh with the upcoming exams, I would have to redo a bunch of previous ones!
With the registration fees and new books, this would cost me about $2000 and, more importantly, at least another year of my life.
At first, it felt like I got punched in my gut — I had grinded away for so long.
Now I had to redo half of my exams while working low-end jobs for another year?
The Law Of Attraction In Action
I counseled with my parents that same day, who both told me that it was unfortunate, but that I had no other choice.
Nevertheless, they were supportive enough, and even offered to pay half of the costs.
However, unknown by my parents, something had changed within me.
For months, I’d been consuming entrepreneurial content about running an online business and being your own boss.
And, most importantly of all, I had been visualizing it every single day — a future where I was working for myself, where I had achieved financial freedom.
As I was riding the bus to work, when I was eating my lunch, in between work sets at the gym — I was borderline obsessed with it.
And here, weeks before the exam preparation, the universe had given me a hint:
The road I was on was not for me.
Mine was a road less traveled — which I really, deep down, had always been drawn to.
And so, I made a decision.
It wasn’t safe. It wasn’t popular. It wasn’t even logical — but I did it.
I abandoned my studies completely, and instead spent every evening researching how to make money online.
Just like that, my life had completely changed course.
Finding The Entry Point
As you probably know, finding out what business model to start with is not easy — especially if you’re not trained in any particular field.
I spent a good two months searching far and wide for an entry point. Youtube, blogs, social media, podcasts — I devoured every piece of info I could get my hands on.
There was only one problem, though:
A bunch of different people were saying a bunch of different things!
SEO, email marketing, blogging, mini affiliate sites, freelance writing — the list went on and on.
While I was eager to learn, I also felt overwhelmed at the time.
One day, I stumbled upon an interesting Youtube video in my “related” feed.
It was of a guy called Stefan Pylarinos. He was talking about how he went from broke to financially independent.
He was struggling to make a basic living, constantly hustling just to get by every month.
At a certain point, he even had to sleep at his friend’s couch, since he couldn’t afford to pay rent.
Then, he discovered the amazing potential of making money online, and the magic of passive income.
His big break came when he started experimenting with self publishing ebooks on Amazon’s Kindle platform.
Intrigued, I watched all of his other videos related to Kindle publishing.
I had always been a decent writer, and the thought of building up a library of books that earned me passive income was very appealing to me.
I went ahead and purchased Stefan’s video course on Kindle publishing, K Money Mastery, and went through the whole thing in a day.
I spent the next couple of days going over the lessons again and again, making sure I grasped the concept of the business model.
I soon realized this was it.
This was my way in.
My First 5 Months
With a fire in my belly, I finally went ahead and created a company.
I deposited $4000 of my $6000 savings (much to the dismay of my mother), and started applying the lessons of K Money Mastery, step by step.
I was still working a 9-5 job — now full-time.
Thus, between friends, family, gym and, well, sleep, I found it challenging to push things along.
Still, the thought financial independence drove me forward, inch by inch, day by day.
As Ovid said:
“Dripping water hollows out stone, not through force but through persistence.”
About 3 weeks in, I had finally completed my very first book. While I hired a graphic artist to create the cover, I wrote the whole thing myself.
It wasn’t a long ebook — around 12k words.
However, it was about a somewhat unusual topic, with decent demand and low competition. I also made sure to edit and proofread the text with care.
These factors, combined with the amazing cover I received from the designer, actually made the book rank high for its keyword.
Earning My First Dollars Online
Only one day after it had been through the 5-day free promotional period, it sold 2 copies.
Just like that, I had made my first $4 online.
I’ll never forget the feeling I had when I opened my KDP dashboard that day.
While $4 is nothing in the greater scheme of things, it meant the world to me at the time. If you’ve been there before, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
I had actually created something myself, published it on the internet and made real money from it!
At that moment, the remaining doubt I had about the business model vanished.
If I could make $4, I could certainly make $400 — maybe even $4000!
From Writer To Publisher
When the first month ended, my ebook had made 90$ in total.
I was happy with the results, but I also saw the mathematical reality of the situation?
If I was going to make a living from this, I could not write all of the books myself.
I had to make the transition from writer to publisher, as fast as possible.
Luckily, K Money Mastery addressed this.
I had to hire freelancers to do ghostwriting, so I could publish multiple books each month. This was the only way to ensure fast growth.
And this is where I ran into my first roadblock.
I could write an entire article on all the issues I had when first hiring freelancers.
It was uncharted territory for me, and they could more than likely tell.
I struggled with radio silence, haggling, broken deadlines and crappy writing.
Suffice to say, it was a slow second month for me, and no new books were published.
Looking back, though, I’m happy I went through it all.
Today, I consider myself an absolute hound at sniffing out the good freelancers from the bad, and I can set appropriate price ranges for almost any type of project.
Remember, even when you’re not seeing immediate results from what you’re doing, you are always investing in what’s most important — yourself.
After finally getting the freelancers sorted out, things started moving again.
Although I had given each of them a detailed table of contents, they did all of the writing for me.
I now had 3 books in the works at the same time, effectively tripling my productivity — this is the power of being purely a publisher.
Stagnation & Doubt
After 3 months of part-time work, I now had 5 books published, including paperback versions via CreateSpace (now integrated into KDP).
In the following month, I made $600 in profit.
Although some books had missed the mark, I was still happy about the process.
I was closing in on that juicy $1k a month mark, which would be a huge milestone for me.
The following two months, however, would be filled with stagnation and frustration.
Even though most of my books did well, I just couldn’t seem to get ahead.
It started to feel like I was on a treadmill — running in place, despite all of my efforts.
As I published new books, old ones started slipping in the rankings.
I simply didn’t earn enough to negate my freelancer costs and push the profit to 1k.
Disappointed, I looked through Stefan’s newest videos in hope of finding some missing info.
After a while, it became apparent that he had moved on from Kindle — he was not publishing anymore.
Could the course have become outdated?
Were there missing pieces to the publishing puzzle?
A New Hope
I once again started scanning the internet for info about self publishing.
Surely, there were other publishers with fresh knowledge out there?
One day, while clicking through Youtube, I found a video by an Italian guy, Luca De Stefani.
At the time, he was mainly making videos about Kindle publishing.
He said that he boosted his income from under $1000 to $8000 in just 3 months — and he showed screenshots of his dashboards to prove it.
He obviously knew what he was talking about, and he was actively publishing.
I quickly subscribed to his channel and kept watching him for another month.
After binge watching his videos, it became clear that he had actually taken the K Money Mastery course as well, but now was experimenting with new methods.
He had created his own course, Self Publishing Revolution (not available anymore, unfortunately), which he kept pitching in his videos.
He said it included a bunch of tips and strategies he had come up with by carefully split-testing different variables.
While I was interested, the price was too high, I thought.
I figured I had already learned so much about publishing on Amazon — what little I could learn from his course wouldn’t be worth the price tag.
Well, I was wrong.
My Self Publishing Revolution
My turning point came when Luca discussed the fact that so many Kindle publishers stagnated and eventually quit.
One month of applying the correct methods could mean the difference between $200 and $2000 dollars.
If they only knew how close they actually were, he said, they would be amazed.
This statement reminded me of an image I had seen on a business blog a few months back, which was now burned into my mind:
Ok, he had sold me.
I decided to take the plunge and invest in his self publishing course.
I bought it on an early Saturday morning, and spent the rest of that weekend devouring every single bit of into it contained.
I quickly came upon several revelations that were completely new to me.
In my mind, the pieces started falling into place?
This was it — I could feel it.
I joined the private Facebook group that came with the course, and saw people posting screencaps of their earnings and discussing strategies — I got excited.
The following week, I ordered 5 new books, just like that.
I did exactly as Luca said, and followed the steps of his video course without deviating.
Finally, after dealing with mediocre results for so long, the breakthrough came.
Within the first month of publishing books following the new model, I nearly doubled my income, from around $700 to just under $1300.
The month after?
Just one hundred or so shy of $2000.
The Final Push For Independence
With the income from my publishing business and day job combined, I could now step on the gas pedal, and start investing big-time.
It was an intense period of hard work. I woke up every day hungry — envisioning my final escape from the 9-5 lifestyle I had grown so tired of.
Like most people, I’ve always struggled a bit with procrastination.
However, I can honestly say that I didn’t waste a single day that month.
This “pedal to the metal” style of doing things is not sustainable in the long run.
But, as they say, sometimes you just got to do what you got to do.
- I re-edited and republished my most profitable books that had fallen in rankings,
- I carefully vetted virtual assistants to help me with promotion,
- I ordered 7 new books and covers and
- I finally started creating audio versions for Audible as well.
Reaping What I Sowed
My efforts paid off, big-time.
In November of 2016, I reached the $3000 mark.
And in December, with the blessing of Santa, I got to experience the great joy of holiday sales.
I watched with astonishment as I ended the month with $4500 between my digital, paperback and audio versions of my books.
As expected, the sales dropped a bit after Christmas ended, but I was still left with a comfortable $3500 or so in January 2017.
I could finally quit my day job. And so, I did.
Was it risky?
You bet — maybe even a bit crazy.
Still, I didn’t care. I had felt the taste of independence, and I was never going back.
I had successfully escaped the rat race — I was finally working for myself.
And so here I am, over a year later, still being my own boss.
As you can probably tell, I decided to move on to other ways of making money online.
Why did I do that, though?
Why didn’t I just stick with self publishing and scale it up further?
It’s actually for the same reason I wanted to leave the 9-5 life in the first place — self-reliance.
I soon realized that publishing on Amazon is not a long-term option. They can choose to shut down the KDP program, or your account, at any time they wish.
Poof — there goes your whole living in one day.
Not a nice thought, is it?
Don’t get me wrong, though, it’s still an amazing opportunity to get started earning money online (and it’s mostly passive!).
In fact, even 6 months after I stopped actively publishing, I still get around $2000 coming into my bank account every month, with no extra work required (read about the details of how I do it here).
Whether you want to make a full-time income, or just some extra money on the side, self publishing works, and I’m the living proof of that.