3 Massive Mistakes Digital Entrepreneurs Make That Keep Them Out of 6-Figure+ Territory

There’s 3 massive failures almost every digital entrepreneur makes, 3 deficiencies that never fail to cut them short of the 6 figure mark.

I make $100-$150 per hour, BUT — and believe me, this is a big butI do not make 6 figures per year.

Weird right?

I mean, just do the math:

$100 times 40 hours per week is $4,000.

Multiply that by 4 and you get $16,000 a month.

Multiply that by 12 and you get $192,000 a year.

But I don’t make that much.

This letter to you is about my failures, and perhaps the biggest failure I’m STILL trying to correct – the reason I make $100 to $300 per article, but fall miserably short of 6 figures.

Pain is a harsh but effective teacher, and while I’ve gone through some very real pain learning these 3 things, my goal is keep you from burning through time, energy and crushed hopes by telling you what these mistakes are and how to avoid them.

Let’s back up a bit, way back actually, to my first failure as an entrepreneur.

Failure #1: Nightcrawlers

I had my first business failure was when I was 6, maybe 7.

We lived in a gray, crumbling old duplex on a busy road — the roof leaked and the heater barely squeaked out enough heat keep us from freezing in the winter.

But that decrepit little cottage had one huge redeeming factor — it was just a short walk from my favorite fishing hole.

If there was any one label I would’ve willingly put on myself, it was that of a fisherman.

At night, the biggest worms ( we called them nightcrawlers) would come out of the ground, and if you were fast enough, you could pounce and snatch them from their holes before they zipped back into the bowels of the earth.

After weeks of practice, for hours each night, I got good enough to fill a bucket with worms in a single night.

As much as I fished, there was no way I could use even a fraction my supply, so I got the brilliant idea that I’d sell the surplus on the side of the road. Like a lemonade-stand….

…but with worms.

Car after car rumbled by without a second glance.

By the third day of standing for hours with my sign, I was miserable. My legs were tired, nose was burnt, and worst of all, I felt like a failure. Unnoticed, unwanted, inadequate.

But then something amazing happened. A friend of the family stopped by to buy some worms.

I was thrilled.

I gave him the bucket of worms I’d hunted all night for, and pocketed my profit, grinning from ear to ear.

As he drove away, I uncrumpled my first glorious payload.

It was a dollar. One. Measly. Dollar.

I didn’t know what bartering was at the time, let alone have the stones to play hard ball with a grownup, but I knew enough to feel ripped off. And with that, my bait shop dream disintegrated into cold reality.

Failure #2: Primal Trade and Barter

I had a few other escapades bartering baseball cards and marbles with the kids in my neighborhood, again getting ripped off by the older kids who knew what the cards were actually worth.

I always left feeling shamed and confused, wondering if I’d done the right thing.

By the time I started junior high, I thought I had learned a thing or two, and decided to give entrepreneur-ism another try.

Failure #3: Submarine Savant

This time, I sold sub sandwiches, and while I barely turned a profit, it felt good. I was no longer that doe-eyed, naive little kid. I was a shark tank entrepreneur; a sales savant, a savvy merchant.

But this time, it wasn’t my poor bartering that killed my dream. I got lazy. It wasn’t fun and I got bored of it, and after a month or two, I stopped altogether..

That turned out to be my trademark for years to come. I’d get a brilliant idea — one of those ideas that would clearly make me millions — then, after a few months of passion-fueled work, my motivation would dry up, leaving me questioning myself, wondering why I hadn’t made my millions yet, or even thousands or hundreds…

Failure #4, 5, 6, and 7

Later, I started an army surplus sort of e-store. It failed. I tried selling airsoft products. That lasted a few weeks. My hookah e-store actually got a few solid sales, but not enough to keep my interest. It also failed miserably. I tried dropshipping, affiliate marketing, Amazon stores, Ebay — you name it.

I wrote on a blog for about 6 months without seeing a drop of profit, but then it hit me.

I knew I wasn’t dumb, and I wasn’t lazy. I woke up at 4 every morning and put in more effort than anyone I knew. I wasn’t unlucky or some kind of bad karma magnet.

Whenever I failed, I made excuses to avoid the pain of being a failure.

The timing wasn’t right, the market was saturated, I didn’t have money to throw at my marketing like everybody else had.

Maybe there was a grain of truth there, but I was missing the greatest insights that would utterly change my life.

I don’t know when it happened, but something clicked. LOUD.

I realized that I hadn’t found my passion, and even more important, I had failed to be consistent.

Most people give up right when they’re on the verge of success, and I was one of those people.

I didn’t know how close I’d been to the tipping point, but I figured I’d better push hard and non-stop next time. Go big or go die — there could be no in between.

So I did some soul-searching (whatever that means), and landed on a career I knew I could pursue forever, just for the sheer love of it, even if I failed at it for the rest of my life.

Failure #8: My Pride and Joy

That craft was writing.

I didn’t know why or how people would pay for my writing even if it was good, but I set out with a new vision — to write professionally or die trying.

I was a starving artist and proud of it. Rice, beans and ramen noodles were my only friends, and I gypsy’d my way through the countries with the lowest cost of living, places where I could survive off of my sad content mill wages.

My fledgling scribbles met cutting criticism, clients who refused to pay, and more than a few sneering rejections.

But for all the pain and legitimate hurt I felt from those rejections (I know it’s lame, but hey, truth is truth), something inside me changed.

I was creating a career I loved and was proud of; I was finally being true to myself and that made me feel alive.

For the first time in my life I didn’t care about getting stinking filthy rich and impressing my family and friends with my prestigious success.

I simply knew what I was meant to do; what was written in the genetical story of my DNA.

And that’s when I started making money — GOOD money.

I’m not telling you this to show you how I went from rags to riches, as much as I love those stories.

I’m telling you this story to highlight the 3 major mistakes I made that initially kept me broke and literally a starving artist, and 1 monumental mistake that kept me from breaking the 6 figure mark.

Mistake #1: Lack of Passion… and Stuff…

Lack of passion, motivation, belief, momentum. I know those are 4 different things, but there’s so much overlap. Self-belief is your primary fuel that fuels passion, motivation and momentum, which are forms of fuel that drive your actions.

Mistake #2: Craftsmanship

Lack of pitbull tenacity in honing your craft.

My craft is writing.

I’ve spent years with a hyper-focus on writing a lot and writing well; constantly improving my craft. I want every article, blog post, sales letter or whatever it is that I’m writing to be a masterpiece.

And people are willing to pay good money for masterpieces.

My motto used to be “money follows quality,” and while I still say that and believe it, that’s only part of the truth.

THIS is the final piece to the puzzle — the mistake I’ve made for about 7 years — and the reason I don’t make 6 figures a year despite making $100 to $150 per hour.

Mistake #3: Self Promotion

Lack of self promotion. Call it sales, personal branding, marketing whatever you call it, this single mistake has vicious consequences.

You’ve probably heard how Van Gogh only sold a single painting in his lifetime, for 400 francs, the modern equivalent of $1,800 .

One of his paintings (Sunflowers if I remember right) sold for $39.9 million, but he died in poverty, a no-name, despite his masterful skill and dedication to his craft.

If you can’t get your work and ability in front of people, it doesn’t matter how much self-belief you have, or how much passion and time you put into your craft. Without marketing or sales, you won’t make a dime.

And THAT my friends, is my greatest failure to date — one I’m glad I caught onto early in my life, so I can correct it, and one I hope you’ll correct too, now that you know it.

Once I figure it out completely, I’ll let you know and show you exactly how I overcame that single most toxic mistake any digital entrepreneur can make.

Hopefully sooner than later (:

My final message for you is this unbridled truth:

The path to success is rife with failure and pain, and those are two of your greatest teachers.

If you let them be.

Recently I heard someone say that “failure is not an option,” that you don’t have to fail if you just do things right to begin with.

That’s a lie.

No one in history has EVER done that, not even the most brilliant minds the world as seen.

So I want to leave you with 2 quick mini-stories on that note.

Some Motivating Success Stories You Might Want to Digest

I’m sure you’ve heard these stories, but they’re worth repeating.

Let’s start on the writing side of things, since it’s arguably the best career a digital nomad can pursue (I know, I’m biased.)

JK Rowling was a single mother on welfare who wrote in cafes to stay warm and write as her baby slept.

She pushed through the pain of severe poverty and 12 publisher rejections until she hit her tipping point, and went on to make millions off of her passion.

Oprah Winfrey, love her or hate her, is another shining example of pushing through failure.

She was abandoned by her parents to live with her grandmother, who was so poor she had to dress the child in potato sacks. Needless to say, going to bed hungry was just a part of her life at the time.

On top of that, she was molested by two family members when she was only 13. She ran away in hopes of a better life.

Her newborn baby died when she was 14.

Despite one of history’s roughest starts, she kept beating her head into her metaphorical brick wall until it shattered.

Forbes now estimates her worth at roughly $2.7 billion.

Alright, I know I said I’s give you 2 success stories, but let’s count this one as a bonus.

Have you heard the story about the trader who started with a match and traded his way up to a palace?

Well that pretty much happened in real life.

Ingvar Kamprad was born in a small village in Sweden called Pjätteryd.

He was a humble door to door salesman, selling — you guessed it — matches, riding from house to house on his bicycle.

After some success, he started buying them in bulk to get the bulk-rate discount, and his profits grew.

It wasn’t long before he’d saved enough to buy and sell fish. Then Christmas decoration, and then seeds, and then low-cost, high-return ballpoint pens and pencils.

Finally, he pooled all of his resources and began selling furniture.

The furniture and home decor powerhouse IKEA was founded by Ingvar in 1943 at his uncle Ernst’s kitchen table. IKEA is made up of the initials of his name (Ingvar Kamprad) plus those of Elmtaryd, the family farm where he was born, and the nearby village Agunnaryd. His IKEA chain is now worth well over $6 billion.

All from a box of matches.

Remember, the journey to 6-figure success as a digital entrepreneur is only possible by maintaining your motivation, passion, and self-belief, and channeling that drive into mastering your craft, and promoting your craft.

Find your passion and never stop improving and promoting yourself.

A Strong Introduction to Affiliate Marketing For the Newbie Marketer

Someone wise once said “I would rather own little and see the world than own the world and see little of it,” and I thoroughly agree.

But there’s not much more satisfying than seeing the world AND owning your fair share, thanks to minimalism and some good old-fashioned entrepreneurship.

As a digital nomad, I make all of my money online.

Right now, the bulk of my income comes from writing blog posts, magazine articles, and sales copy, but affiliate marketing is rapidly becoming my go-to for pulling in passive income. The company I work for now have given me access to the record of the files which they store using the CRM software. Hence, I need not go to the office to access the files as I can do it right from my house. You can find examples of CRM technology on this Salesforce post if you want to know more on it.

In this post I’m going to show you evidence that affiliate marketing works, second, how it works, and third, a strong introduction to how you can create a stream of passive income that flows into your bank account while you sleep.

You know how it usually goes right?

Yes, marketers are notorious for scummy, fluffed BS proof like driving around in Ferrari rentals, posting videos and selfies of them working happily on their laptops on a beautiful white-sand beach in the Bahamas, or worse yet, clicking through their income reports like we don’t know that video editing and photoshop exists.

But I know they’re not all con-artist liars, and I’ll show you why.

Frankly, I don’t buy most of it, because lots of them say you can make thousands, right off the bat; overnight even.

That’s a common myth, and unfortunately, there’s a lot of myths in this business. More on that soon.

Truth is, affiliate marketing takes hard work on the front end. A lot of it.

And it takes a lot of time too.

So I’m going to give you the best evidence I have of affiliate marketers who regularly make $100k+ per year, and I’m going to give you an introduction to how you can do the same.

What is Affiliate Marketing Anyway?

First things first — what is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is where you promote someone else’s product or service, you send traffic to their website, they do all the work, and they pay you a commission.

Nothing new there right? It’s been around forever. People have been partnering with each other way before the Internet was conceived in the mind the brilliant SOB who invented the idea, whoever he was (shut up Al Gore).

As soon as the Internet grew into the great digital universe we all know and love, affiliate marketing took off like a rocket.

But here’s the problem.

In the beginning, pretty much anybody could promote anything, and lot of people did some shady stuff.

They started spamming affiliate links in emails, building cheesy, useless affiliate sites — shoving those flashy popups in our faces and more.

The result? Companies stopped letting just anybody promote them anymore.

But the damage had been done.

Affiliate marketing has a tainted name to this day.

Trust me, you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about when you start promoting things yourself. Companies don’t respect their affiliates the way they used to. They keep changing the rules, your links, and everything. So it’s kind of a pain sometimes.

But when you do it right, with the right partners, it’s more than worth it. After the hard work on the front end, it really is pretty easy, and it’s good money.

3 Myths About Affiliate Marketing

Myth #1. Affiliate systems are fast and easy to set up, and make money fast.

Nope. In fact, according to Three Ladders Marketing, only 0.6% of the affiliate marketers surveyed have continued on the affiliate marketing path since 2013.

The rest gave up, because like ANY viable business, it takes hard work and time and if you believe that myth, the only thing that’s going to be fast and easy is burn-out.

Myth #2. Affiliate marketing is obsolete.

(See next section Proof That Affiliate Marketing Works.)

Myth #3. You need a popular niche for affiliate marketing to work

Yes, it helps. A lot.

But more than anything, affiliate marketing relies on your direct advertising and SEO skills:

  • Driving traffic to your promotions.
  • Native advertising.
  • Creating new content regularly and updating old content to make it fresh.

Now, I’d never advise building a business exclusively around affiliate marketing — that’s filling one basket with all of your eggs.

It’s much better to run your own business, have your own products or services, and “own” your own clients.

I would say that affiliate marketing is a great way to make some extra cash within your business, but I wouldn’t build a business solely around affiliate marketing.

Can it be done? Sure. My proof of performance entrepreneur that I’m about to introduce you to does exactly that.

But income diversity is key for any digital entrepreneur.

Moving on.

The Evidence Weighs in Favor of Affiliate Marketing

Evidence is the most important weapon in the affiliate marketer’s arsenal.

Because who’s ever created a successful business they didn’t believe in?

So let’s jump right into it.

My favorite affiliate marketer is John Crestani, because you can tell that he’s genuine and doesn’t have an ounce of BS in his system.

That’s my personal opinion anyway, and I like to think I have a pretty solid BS radar.

But that’s not proof.

For evidence, I’ll point you to Business Insider, which says that he built “an affiliate marketing network that currently generates $250,000 to $500,000 per month.”

Forbes gives us his background story:

At 22-years-old, Crestani got a “real job” working for a marketing firm in Los Angeles. The firm specialized in pay-per-click advertising on search engines. Crestani taught himself the trade and was soon running more than 20 client accounts, drafting compelling ads, and smart bidding strategies to drive sales.

He got so good at paid advertising that he multiplied a client’s business by 40X. His firm’s boss was bringing in more than $110,000 per month of extra business from the account. And Crestani was now an online advertising star within the company.

So he did what any self-respecting professional would do: he politely asked for a raise. “My boss looked at me across the table when I asked for the raise and said, ‘Or what?’” recalls Crestani.

Instead of appreciating his value to the company, his boss taunted him and told him to get back to work. Crestani was flabbergasted.

Crestani mentally checked out of the job from that point on and eventually got fired. But he’d been hustling on the side to get clients for himself to keep him afloat while he pursued the real dream: build a multi-million-dollar business where he’d never have a boss again.

Forbes, like Business Insider, claims that Crestani earns $250,000 to $500,000 per month from his affiliate business.

That’s some solid evidence that affiliate marketing works, and works well, but there’s a little bit more I’d like to share.

Here’s a couple other examples of internet marketers who make the bulk of their living off of affiliate marketing, and evidence that they’re legit:

  1. Pat Flynn (makes close to $90,000 per month on affiliate marketing alone)
  2. John Chow ($30,000 per month in affiliate income)

Why Honest Affiliate Marketers Make More

This is the million-dollar question: what should I promote? 

The best advice I can give you is this:

If you’re using products and services that you love and believe in, then go ahead and promote those.

I always make more money promoting things that I personally use and love.

Promoting something just for a commission — it doesn’t work.

Sure, you could sign up for affiliate networks like CJ and ClickBank, they have thousands of products and services to promote. But don’t expect to feel good about your business IF you make anything to begin with. Buyers are smarter than they’ve ever been, and I like that because honesty and quality recommendations are finally being rewarded as a result.

So, you can either choose what to promote based on numbers, or you could ask yourself this simple question:

What are my favorite products and services?

Think about it for a second.

What products do you love?

What services have you used that you’d happily point your friends and family to?

Promote those, because you’re going to make a heck-of-a-lot more money that way, because the best sales person of any product is always the satisfied user — the believer.

Period.

When you promote the things you personally love, you’re inevitably going be more convincing, your calls to action are going to be more compelling, you’re going to make more sales, and best of all, you’re going to love what you do, because you know, at the core of you, that you’re enriching people’s lives by giving them the opportunity to use the things that have made your life better.

3 Steps to Become Independently Wealthy

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Like I mentioned in a a previous post “7 Self Sufficiency Strategies”, becoming independently wealthy is the Holy Grail for any respectable digital nomad.

There’s a lot of crossover because people who want to be self sufficient are trying to become less dependent on others for their needs. When people become independently wealthy, they have become completely financially self-reliant.

If you don’t completely understand what it means to be independently wealthy, don’t worry, we’ll cover that now.

I’ll also tell you how I became independently wealthy after years of trial and error. 

So first…

What does it mean to be Independently Wealthy?

To be independently wealthy means that you’ve acquired enough wealth (typically passive income) to support your lifestyle without depending on others. This requires a certain level of financial acumen that not many people possess. But then again, not many people pursue it to begin with.

Becoming independently wealthy means that you are no longer a “slave” to your assets, instead, your money and assets work for you.

Here’s the 3-step process (it’s not that simple of course, but it is only 3 steps;))

Let’s say I’m a roofer. The money I make in my trade covers the expenses of my lifestyle; mortgage, utility bills, entertainment, etc., and my paycheck only barely stretches to make ends meet. But if I want to buy a new TV, a new couch, a new Xbox or anything above the basics – I have to find something like Investors Choice Lending in Seattle to accomodate me.

This is how most people live.

If I stay in this situation indefinitely, I will never become independently wealthy because I have to bring in a surplus that I can put aside to make my money work for me.

So something has to give if I want to become independently wealthy.

I either need to cut my expenses so my savings increase, or I need to find a way to make more money. Ideally I’ll do both.

Step 1: Create a Surplus Cashflow

If I take on additional hours, shave the fat off my budget (Read “Minimalist Living: The Simple Budget” for more information), or find some other way to cut expenses and/or increase my cash flow, I’ve taken the most vital step toward becoming independently wealthy.

Why is this the most vital step? Because the first successful step is the one that will transform your lifestyle.

It establishes positive habits that build momentum, motivation, and morale, which will ultimately lead to financial success. These habits become strong because of the sense of fulfillment they give, and the satisfaction of success.

Sadly the vast majority of us don’t take that first step. They live paycheck to paycheck, and are unable to see how one simple step can change their life from barely making it, to becoming independently wealthy.

Step 2: Raise a Passive Cash Cow  

A Cash Cow is simply an asset that provides a steady inflow of profit or income. I call it a “Passive Cash Cow” because I need the cashflow to be passive income, that is, steady income I don’t need to directly manage or maintain.

So if I – Josh the roofer – am able to complete Step#1, I now have a surplus of income that I can start investing with. Now when most people think of investing, they think stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, but that’s not necessarily what I’m talking about.

Any asset you buy is an investment that has potential to produce passive income:

  • Farm Land
  • Hunting Land
  • Trailers
  • Trailer Parks
  • Houses
  • Other Forms of Real Estate
  • Websites
  • Blogs
  • Forums
  • Other Online Real Estate
  • Small Business
  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Mutual Funds
  • Storage Units (bought through auctions)

This is just a tiny example of assets I can potentially buy to generate a passive income. They’re all investments.

The hard part however, is not simply making an investment, but making a good investment.

If I’m smart, I’ll probably start in a field I already know well, or choose one field to study and experiment in until I get good at it.

As I roofer, I decide to invest in real estate since I’ve been around houses throughout my career and learned my fair share of real estate knowledge aside from roofing.

So I save my surplus cashflow until I have enough to buy a small fixer upper for $10,000 (I bought my first 2 houses for less if you’re thinking that’s ridiculously low).

I find and buy a foreclosure I know I have the experience to fix up to par – this is my investment.

When I fix it, I have the options of either renting it out,  immediately flipping it for profit, or waiting for the real estate market to improve so I can cash in on higher flipping profit.

Since flipping the house only provides a one time chunk of income, I decide on renting it out. If I go the other route I’ll need to build up an autonomous small business for flipping houses, which is a viable option to generate passive income, but not my thing :).

Once I rent it out and hire a property manager (who takes a 10-12% cut from the rent), I’ve created my first Passive Cash Cow!

Step 3: Push Past Passive Cash Cow Equilibrium

That’s a tongue twister. Like the state of the screw in the picture, equilibrium is just a state of balance – If I’m able to duplicate the Passive Cash Cow investments to the point of budget equilibrium, I’ve finally become independently wealthy. The rental properties bring in enough income to pay for my lifestyle expenses, and now I can choose to pursue whatever I want. I’m no longer dependent upon others for my paycheck, which is just about as free as I can get.

But planning beyond budget equilibrium is a necessity that shouldn’t be ignored, especially after I’ve come so far. All it takes is one property and I’m below equilibrium and forced to rely on someone else again for enough money to make ends meet.

So I need to push past that equilibrium so I can offset any devil-in-the-detail problems that rise along the way.

And then the sky’s the limit! Should I continue to raise Passive Cash Cows to support a comfortable lifestyle of luxury? Should I travel the world?

I could use surplus cash help the people I love, and even the people I don’t! Maybe I’ll retire until I get bored, then I’ll start a business revolving around my favorite hobbies. It wouldn’t even matter whether it’s successful or not, I’ve got all the money I need because I’ve become independently wealthy!

Now let’s get into the specifics — what I did, do, and will continue to.

How I Became Independently Wealthy 

Here’s how it works.

People use the internet to find stuff.

Think about the last 10 websites you visited.

Nearly all of them had commercials, right?

They might have even convinced you to buy.

And guess what? When people like you decide to buy, someone else gets a paycheck. Who? The person who owns the website.

I cashed in on this reality years ago, and thank God I did!

Here’s what I did.

I started by attracting freelance writing clients to my portfolio website, which helped me convert those leads into cash.

Then I did some extra-credit homework —I studied the people who build websites and generate passive income from them. I observed their strategies and once I figured it out, I did it myself. I built one website, then two, then three. Now I have what I call my cash-cow fleet.

What happened? Well, I started getting hundreds of unique visitors per day, and a certain number of them click my advertisements and buy.

Does any one website make me rich? No.

Did it happen overnight? No. (It took years actually.)

But each site pulls in enough for me to be independently wealthy, and the magic happens (partially) while I sleep.

Thanks to my cash-cow websites, I graduated from being a worker to being an owner.

And that’s the only way I truly know how to become independently rich.

-Josh

How to Work Less Today by Building Value

By Josh Rueff on July 02, 2013

Is it possible to work less and still earn more than enough to survive and enjoy life?

First of all, why would you want to work less? Same reason you’d want to eat less fat or salt – in America we get too much of these things in our diet, and as a result, we have high blood pressure, less energy, and fat bottoms.

If we utilize the principles of minimalism, we’re able to cut away the excess to create a healthier lifestyle.

The same concept applies to work – we work too much. There I said it. If you ever wonder why our divorce rate is so high – why depression levels are skyrocketing, and why therapists earn three figures by sitting in a comfy chair asking questions – look at our work habits. If work takes up nearly half everyone’s day, and sleep devours the rest, how does anyone expect to hold on to anything beyond their work and sleep habits?

In a previous post “The Golden Age: 12 Hour Workweek”, I rooted around the idea of working less, and showed how historically, people have worked as little as 12 hours a week to earn everything they need and more.

That sounds pretty enticing I know, but here’s the catch: Those people were hunter-gatherers. So if you don’t mind living in a tent (my wife won’t let me), killing your own meat, and gathering your own veggies, you’re set to go.

For the rest of us, we need to find another way.

How to Work Less in the Digital Age

To work less and still earn more than enough, you have two options:

1. Convince your employer to let you make your own schedule: This can be nearly impossible for many, but there are a number of businesses that have a high potential to allow this. 100% commission sales positions are an extreme example of such a job. No one cares how much or little you work because the bottom line is what counts. And that “bottom line” is what counts most in just about any job or business – it’s your value.

2. Lose the employer and start your own business: This is a more viable option, albeit far more risky one. If you’re addicted to safety and pay great attention to safeguarding yourself from perils, like most people, read my post about Plato’s “Myth of the Cave” – it’ll help you get a better perspective on things. Freelancers, contractors, sole proprietors, and many others have taken the leap that so many don’t because of their lack of independence. That’s not to say working for someone is bad – people that own their own businesses rely on other people as well. The difference is the level of freedom to choose one’s schedule. When you own your own business (a successful one at least), you have  more control over the most important element you can possibly have control over: Time.

And yet you still need to have value.

The most important factor in achieving the ability to work less while incrementally earning more is your name.

Not your first or last name (necessarily) – your reputation, which is really just another word for perceived value.

Your skill or ability has to:

1. Provide value: Your ability to help the people you work with or for is what will make or break your success factor. If you’re a writer, ask yourself why someone would value your writing, especially over other people’s writing. If you’re a doctor, ask yourself how your help is worth it for your patients, especially in comparison to other doctors.

2. Be known: Having the ability to help is not always enough. People need to see how you can help, and how well you can help. Once you’ve developed a reputation of value across a wide enough base, you’ll have more freedom than most – freedom to live life to it’s fullest and work less.

In a book I’m currently writing, I observed Hugh Howey as an example for developing reputation:

…at the age of 38, he rapidly became one of science fiction’s best selling authors, and started pulling in the modest income of $120,000 – a month. So what happened between wandering dropout and world class authorship? 

The answer is simple: Personal branding.

Hugh Howey rose to success with three simple actions:

1. He published his ebook on Amazon.

2. He built a foundation for his soon to grow reputation with Facebook.

3. He established a personal blog and forum.

That’s quite literally how simple it is.

Howey uses other social media sites now as well, but his first wave of success built momentum off of those 3 simple steps. Having a blog, ebook, and Facebook isn’t enough of course. Millions of people have all of those things. But not everyone has value to offer. Like we covered earlier, reputation is only built by offering proof of value. It can be hard to know if our offering will be considered valuable, but the only way to find out is by putting it out there.

Oversimplified though it may seem, the key to working less is as basic as that. Hone your skill and use it to help people. Make sure people can see what you’re doing, and let them do the bragging for you.

That’s how reputation is built, and that’s how you earn complete control over your work time.

Before I forget, take a look at this bonus hint:

The most important and fulfilling aspect is achieving value through your ability to help others, but we can’t overlook the importance of ridding yourself of the urge to buy. Read How Consumerism Shapes our Lifestyles for more info.

The more value others perceive in you, the less time you’ll have to work – that is, if you play your cards right. You need to have your course set toward the right destination. Most people let others do the steering – if you want control over your time and the luxury of working less, you have to set your own course.

Good luck!

Josh

Bees and Mark Twain: Is Work Good or Bad?

 

By Josh Rueff on May 22, 2013

Most people hate work. I’ve been taught that this is wrong, that work is good, healthy, and necessary. Observing nature has taught me otherwise.

Man has always learned from the nature around him. We watched the heron wait patiently, frozen on the water’s edge, thrusting the spear of it’s beak in an explosion of piercing force and energy to capture it’s prey. And we invented the spear.

We watched the hawk climb high on the back of the wind, wielding its energy effortlessly, and releasing its harness on the sky to dive from the clouds as a star falls from the heavens. And we built the plane. 

But what can we learn from the humble insects that crawl beneath our feet?

Watching the bee gather pollen, and the ant as it carries many times it’s own weight; or the spider as she weaves her dew-jeweled masterpieces.

Do they have anything to offer?

Surprisingly, the observation of the insect has taught me the true definition of work; the human definition is wrong – atching the insect has helped change my perspective in a way that will help me live life to it’s fullest.

The Bee’s “Work” is Healthy

As a human it’s hard to see any kind of advantage in living like an insect. A bee for example, does nothing but work, traveling from flower to flower, carrying and building her burden day after day until she dies.

As a human I have a natural aversion to the thought that work is the sole purpose for life. I want more – I want to travel and see adventure. I crave the excitement of the raging ocean beneath my feet, the taste of salt on my lips. I love to nap on the warmth of the sand as the sun blankets me with all of the benefits of natural light, and I love to test my wit against the rest of nature, hunting, fishing, and gardening. I want to have relationship with family and friends – I want to help and be helped, love and be loved.

Is there anything more enjoyable and fulfilling than a healthy friendship?

If you consider life from the bee’s point of view, the work they do isn’t so bad.

Her brain is that of the insect; she does what she knows is good, and is satisfied. She has an ability that others don’t, and she uses it for the good of her family – she travels the world on a daily basis, and finds fulfillment in doing what she loves.

The vast variety of beauty she experiences is overwhelming; the elegant grace of the jasmine, the humble glory of the lily, the surreal allure of the orchid. 

What human job could be so fulfilling? And yet it is important to know the difference between the mind of a bee, and the complexity of the human’s. This kind of specialization should only be pursued if it meets the demands of the human mind’s need for intellectual and artistic fulfillment.

From the bee I’ve learned that fulfillment is often found in simplicity – not just any simplicity – the simplicity that promotes variety.

The bee’s work is simple. She gathers pollen and makes honey. But her experience is vast: In the a bee’s lifetime, it will travel over 500 miles, visiting up to 2,000 flowers daily. If the minimum lifespan of a honeybee is 6 weeks, that’s 84,000 flowers visited in a lifetime!

An art, movie, or literary critic would be proud to visit and work with 84,000 works of art in their lifetime, and their lifespan is roughly 652 times longer than the bee’s.

So what does the observation of the bee teach me?

1. Her work is specialized and simple, but the experience is complex and fulfilling.

2. Her work isn’t a job in the human sense – the bee’s work is a fulfilling lifetime of art that feeds the family and helps the community.

3. The work she does is for others as much as it is for herself.

4. Variety is a strong characteristic of her trade.

5. Diligence and work ethic can be seen clearly, but it’s natural for her because again, it’s not “work” in the human since – it’s her passion, calling, and masterpiece. 

If I learn from the example of the bee, I’ll choose a life calling, not a job – a career spent honing a skill; an art that only I can do. This “work” is not really work at all, although diligence and a sense of work ethic are still required.

Mark Twain’s Approach to “Work”

Mark Twain believed that ” Work is is a necessary evil to be avoided.” He consistently spoke against the Puritan work ethic and the evil of overworking and workaholic-ism in America. But his career was marked by success due to the time and effort he put into his work… Or was it work?

This excerpt from Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court shows Twain’s approach to work, and how his definition of work was closer to that of the honey bee’s:

There are wise people who talk ever so knowingly and complacently about “the working classes,” and satisfy themselves that a day’s hard intellectual work is very much harder than a day’s hard manual toil, and is righteously entitled to much bigger pay. Why, they really think that, you know, because they all know about the one, but haven’t tried the other. But I know all about both; and as far as I am concerned, there isn’t money enough in the universe to hire me to swing a pickaxe thirty days, but I will do the hardest kind of intellectual work for just as near nothing as you can cipher it down–and I will be satisfied, too. Intellectual “work” is misnamed; it is a pleasure, a dissipation and its own highest reward. The poorest paid architect, engineer, general, author, sculptor, painter, lecturer, advocate, legislator, actor, preacher, singer, is constructively in heaven when he is at work; and as for the magician with the fiddle-bow in his hand who sits in the midst of a great orchestra with the ebbing and flowing tides of divine sound washing over him–why certainly, he is at work, if you wish to call it that, but lord, it’s a sarcasm just the same. The law of work does seem utterly unfair–but there it is, and nothing can change it: the higher the pay in enjoyment the worker gets out of it, the higher shall be his pay in cash, also. And it’s also the very law of those transparent swindles, transmissible nobility and kingship.

So if I follow the path of the bee and the success of men like Mark Twain, I will pursue a career that I love; a career I consider an art and a joy – specialization is reserved for insects except as it fulfills and creates variety and beauty.

The nature of my work should not simply help myself, but benefit others equally, especially my family and immediate community.

That’s what I’ve learned from the bees.
Josh