0. Short Intro
Noah Kagan made me do it. There, I’ve said it. Noah Kagan challenged me to make $1.000 a month. And I did it all on my own, without special software or tools. Intrigued? Read on.
I had started freelancing about a year ago from a combination of necessity (earning more $$$) and curiosity (I’m always interested in learning more about marketing).
My first foray was managing an AdWords account with a very limited budget (a maximum of 10 clicks per day that had to bring in sales).
Soon after I returned to my first love – writing. As a Journalism Major, I’ve always found it easy to write. But I never thought about using it as a marketing weapon. I was always so scared, thinking only experts do it. Or that I had to actually have some experience or something to say before I actually get started with Content Marketing.
I didn’t even call it Content Marketing or Inbound Marketing at the time. Mostly because I hadn’t heard of the terms. And also because I was merely involved with Content Creation – write the article, get the money, move on. Since then I’ve learned a great deal (and I’m still learning) about keywords, topics, questions, SEO, influencers and blogs.
2. Enter Noah Kagan
As a marketer for Mint, a developer for Facebook and an all-around cool entrepreneur, Noah created the “How To Make a $1,000 a Month Business” course. It costs around $600, but you do get lifetime access to a community of fellow wantrepreneurs and real business owners.
The course focuses on growth hacking, niche research and killing your inner doubts about starting a business that gets to $1.000 a month.
$600 is a lot of money. Thinking that I would end up losing at least $400 in the first month, I decided against getting the course and instead trying to gain access to the data shared in it.
Lo and behold, I found the contents of one of the course work books online *cough* pirate bay *cough*, *cough* blackhat world *cough*. I knew that just having the content wasn’t enough so I followed this up with 2 more tactics.
3. $1.000/Month – Tactic #1
Charge for projects you haven’t done yet AKA pre-sell your work. This one’s scary. I still haven’t been able to fully embrace this tactic, but I’m working on it.
Getting money from clients isn’t always easy. I’ve been lucky enough to work with people who’ve paid on time, without any conflicts. But that is after delivering the work we agreed on. Getting money from just a pitch usually takes more balls, a great client or a combination of both.
Your pitch can be in text form, but I’d recommend something a bit more visual. Think in terms of a trailer for the work you’re charging for. What does it look like, how much value it provides, why is it unique, etc. If your pitch trailer is awesome, you shouldn’t have any trouble getting money upfront. And if you’re not getting the whole sum, just get something. It’s important to start pre-selling somewhere.
4. $1.000/Month – Tactic #2
Do more work than you’re given AKA overdeliver. I’d never thought of myself as an workaholic. I do enjoy work and I find it highly fulfilling. But isn’t that a good thing? You wouldn’t call a mother daily nurturing her child “obsessed with kids”.
And so, it comes quite easy for me to deliver more work than it was allotted to me. Not only that, but to provide more value. “Just an article? Why don’t we turn this into a series” or “You know? This series would make a great ebook!”. I often think in terms like these, while keeping my eyes on the balls: provide more value + get more paid work.
More than a few times, I’ve submitted content for clients that they didn’t know they wanted. But as a general rule I have – it’s far easier to apologize than to ask for permission. I’ve never been in a position where the client wasn’t interested in more valuable content and wasn’t willing to pay more.
5. My Raw Results
I had originally planned to get 1.000 $ in January of 2015. Because I had already done some work in December 2014, I said “What the heck?” so I tried making that my special month.
975 $ was the amount I earned by writing articles, teaching courses and various marketing gigs. I got a $25 bonus from my girlfriend just to round out the number, so I ended the year with $1.000 on top of my base salary.
6. My Process – The Whiteboard Method
As simple as it may sound, The Whiteboard Method involves writing down your goal somewhere you’d see it every day. A opposed to that “The Secret” craziness, this isn’t some magical vision board. This is more taking a close look at your resources and setting a goal to maximize them.
Let’s get in depth into what I did and how you can apply The Whiteboard Method in your life.
STEP 1: I’ve looked at my free time and the skills I had. These were about 3-4 hours/day during the week and about 6-8 hours/day during the weekend. As per skills, I was good at writing, creating content, creating and delivering courses.
Time wasn’t really on my side so I knew I had to maximize the amount I was paid per hour AND find a way to make money even while I wasn’t working.
STEP 2: I took my large whiteboard and wrote $1.000 on it. Then I created 4 squares – one for writing, another for online courses, another for real-life courses and the last one for miscellaneous.
STEP 3: I realized that I could push myself a bit harder and make proposals for multiple articles up front. That way, I would apply a bit of pressure on myself, but also set up higher expectations of payment.
STEP 4: Courses were something I was passionate about. I was teaching online on Udemy, but I also branched onto Skillshare and Skillfeed. I also managed to convince one client to pay me for a course I created for him, before I actually started work on it. On the real-life courses side, I managed to deliver another course that month, which made everything add up nicely.
STEP 5: I constantly looked at the whiteboard and kept asking myself what I could do better. What were the areas I could maximize?
In order to apply these techniques and strategies, you have to be very open with yourself. If you’re not good at sales yet, don’t push yourself to become a master in a month. But do make it your objective to become better at it. Not only that, but make it an actionable and quantifiable goal. Otherwise, it’s just a dream.
You’re tired of dreams, you want objectives you can reach.
What “The Secret” got right is that you really do have to set goals. You have to visualize success. But not the common, marketing version of success – yachts, money, fame, etc. You have to create a future version of your life – how you want to look like, what you want people to know you for, what you’d like to do.
Then it just becomes a matter of building bridge towards that future. Because truth is – we make choices every day. Some are imposed by others and some we make freely. Wouldn’t it be nice if we would be making our choices AND those would guide us towards the goal we set for ourselves? This is what The Whiteboard Method aims to do.
What “The Secret” got wrong is that it’s not enough to set goals. Just believing it will happen will not make it happen. The missing piece is hard work. Long hours, efficient techniques, planning and constant improvement. Without those, you’ll just end up another lost soul, thinking there’s no hope in the world.
So while this method simply can’t specifically teach you how to make more money i.e. give you the exact step-by-step framework for any job or profession, it does, however, create the right starting mindset. And that is that you should not think in terms of “Can I achieve this? Can I make more money?”, but rather in terms of “How do I achieve this? How do I make more money?”
7. Outro – Next Steps
I’m still eternally grateful to Noah Kagan and AppSumo as an entity that drives marketers and entrepreneurs forward. I wouldn’t have had the courage to do the things I did and achieve what I had only dreamed.
NEXT STEP 1: Get yourself a whiteboard.
NEXT STEP 2: Write down your SMART (Specific Measureable Actionable Results-focused Time-bound) goals.
NEXT STEP 3: Constantly stare at the whiteboard and figure out ways to reach your goals.
NEXT STEP 4: Be brave and work harder and smarter than you’ve ever worked.
NEXT STEP 5: Get back to the whiteboard and monitor your updates.
So here it is. The Whiteboard Method right in front of your eyes. Is it difficult? Expensive? Do you think a notepad makes more sense? The whiteboard is there for you to see it, but also for others to see it. That way, you’ll feel pressure and excitement to achieve your goals faster, just to get rid of that nagging feeling.