Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Why Everyone Should Start an Online Business (or How You Can Be Your Own Patron)

Most people I talk to are at least a little curious (and sometimes skeptical) about the idea of starting an online business. But it’s not quite as mysterious as it sounds.

Launch Business

Photo Credit: Stuck in Customs via Compfight cc

For the longest time, I avoided the world of online marketing and business. It sounded sketchy (and the truth was a lot of it was). But when I launched my own business, what I discovered about making money online surprised me.

Here’s what I learned:

  • You don’t have to over-crowd your website with ugly pop-up ads that attack the user.
  • You don’t have to turn into a used car salesman with slicked-back, greasy hair, hawking useless products at people who don’t want or need them.
  • You don’t have to spam people to death and sell your soul just to make a buck (promise).

You can, in fact, build a legitimate business simply by helping people.

Does this sound like you?

I have a missionary friend who doesn’t make enough money to save for an emergency. If she ever gets in a car accident or runs into some kind of financial crisis, her life will be very difficult. She calls it living by “faith;” I call it living foolishly.

My younger sister recently graduated from college a couple years ago and is now having trouble entering a crowded market that’s in the process of downsizing. She feels stuck, like there’s no place to go.

My wife and I know a couple that’s adopting a child from Uganda (which can be expensive), and they’re exploring ways of making a side income online. The trouble is they’re not sure where to start.

And of course, I have a ton of friends who are working a day job, while waiting to be picked to publish a book or be hired by their dream company — some day. In the meantime, they’re growing frustrated.

What are these people supposed to do? One strategy would be to stop waiting for opportunity to come and instead to take it. They can start an online business.

Three reasons this is a no-brainer decision

Why an online business? Three reasons: 

  1. It’s cheap.
  2. It’s simple.
  3. It’s profitable.

Look. I’m not going to tell you starting a business is easy — it’s not. But launching your venture online makes this easier than it’s ever been.

In the old days, if you wanted to be an entrepreneur, you had to take a lot of risk. You had to buy or rent office space, raise capital (which usually meant going into debt), hire a team, and hope for the best.

In those days, I never would’ve wanted to start a business. I never would’ve been able. But now you can start a business for as little as $100 (just ask Chris Guillebeau) — if you really want to do it.

What it really costs to become an entrepreneur

So if you want to do this, here’s what it’ll cost you:

That’s around $120 for the whole year. Not bad, right?

My dad used to run a hole-in-the-wall restaurant with dirt-cheap rent, and he paid over 20 times that. We live in an age of unbelievable opportunity — for those who are willing to undertake something new, something a little scary, and figure it out.

And that’s the real cost of becoming an entrepreneur — not the money, but the time and sweat equity it takes to find out what people want and deliver it to them. Incidentally, it’s also the most rewarding part of the job.

It’s cheap to start, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. As you grow your business, the expenses can rack up (they certainly have for me), but so will the revenue. The point, though, is this: the hardest part is now the easiest.

All it takes is a little time, energy, and the will to endure.

“But I’m an artist…”

So you’re an artist. Like Hemingway. Or Leonardo da Vinci. Or the thousands who have come before you — and starved. That is, of course, unless they had a patron, someone generous enough to pay their bills so they could make art.

But here’s the thing: There are no more patrons. Not really. No one’s going to give you a heap of money for your genius. The chances of a publisher buying your manuscript for a million dollars is unlikely.

Sure, these things happen — occasionally. But you don’t have time to wait around for someone to notice you. You’ve got important work to share now. That patron? It’s going to have to be you. And the best part is we live in an age when this has never been easier.

Yes, easy. Compared to the Renaissance and the Roaring Twenties and even the late 1980s when publishers were doling out multi-six-figure advances to first-time authors, it’s easy to finance your calling. You just need some guts and and a little perseverance.

Don’t get me wrong. Starting a business will require hard work on your part, but it is possible (and surprisingly cheap). Which is what make this whole thing remarkable: Anyone who wants to do it, can do it.

And that, as per usual, is the really scary part. Because now it’s up to you.

Note: If you’ve ever thought about this, you have to check out the new book LAUNCH by Jeff Walker, which will teach you everything you need to know about launching an online business. And here’s the crazy part: for a limited time, you can get it for free (just pay shipping and handling). Find out more here.

Have you ever thought of launching an online business? What’s stopped you? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • Darn, Jeff. Really, did you have to?

  • I have a steady and wonderful job, but I also have a blog and online publishing company to provide extra money. I am not concerned with making a big profit, but the internet has made it so easy (and inexpensive) to even do this. Nearly anything we sell is profit, because there is almost no overhead!

  • Thanks for the encouragement Jeff.  I have started an online business and have been off and on for five months now.  Biggest issue for me is that I left it in the hands of my web developer and  did not learn the word press tools — now I am struggling.  Key lesson — know the tools you are using …if not you leave your timing up to someone else.  

    Other item is web hosting …seems since i used a web developer any updates too word press are in his hands too….all i can say is persevere.   Enjoy reading your blogs. 

  • You know that moment when you are frustrated with too much information trying to make heads or tails out of what you should know, and what is just advertising; intimidation is kicking your butt over making big changes and learning new stuff; and then a kind soul sends you an email with all the answers. I’m there! Sigh…. Thank you Lord, Your people save the day again. 

  • Joanne

    Great article! I have taken more risks this past year than ever in my life and at times I have wondered- have I finally discovered myself or am I just in an extended midlife crisis? Lol! We are so lucky to live in these times when people publish and do things independently and don’t look so much to others for validation.

  • Cheri Fields

    I was able to catch  Danny Iny’s webinar yesterday. Thanks for recommending him!… It was hard to hear what I need to do to make my “brand” profitable. But then I remembered the whole reason I began writing in the first place: earn enough money to take my pastor husband with me to Israel and then save up for missions trips for our kids….. Things are already starting to change on my blog and I pray Iny’s strategy works!…..For me the biggest hurdle to starting an online business is having to put so much out up front without a direct promise of results. So far, I haven’t earned any money (just been blessed with goods and services), but wouldn’t trade my experience for anything. This awareness is helping me stay motivated to take the next steps.

  • Stef Gonzaga

    I have been thinking of starting an online business for a while, so your post came just in the nick of time.

    I think what’s really stopping me are money and the uncertainty of the product’s marketability. As a writer, I enjoy collecting beautifully designed notebooks and notepads as these help inspire me to write or come up with good ideas. I’m not sure though if other people would share the same sentiments as me and be willing to pay for it.

    I hope to get around to doing some basic market research. Thanks for the push, Jeff! 

    • Awesome, Stef.

      • Stef Gonzaga

        Thanks Jeff! 

    • Renee Altson

       i share your desire and sentiment for beautiful notebooks! up until recently, i have been a moleskine lover…..

      • Stef Gonzaga

        Hi Renee! I’m a Moleskine lover too, but I’m checking out other brands (some handmade with love) to include in my soon-to-be inventory. 🙂

    • Melanie Fischer

      I think this is a fabulous idea! I got a fancy scribbler for
      Christmas and it has inspired me to actually write with a pen. I have heard
      that a different part of our brain is tapped into when we write rather than
      type…I believe this may be true. Let me know if move ahead with this, I would
      be interested in seeing what you come up with.

      • I think that’s true.

      • Melanie Fischer

        I have been thinking about your notebook idea: You could
        always get words of encouragement (such as “keep writing”, “the world needs to
        hear your words” etc.) printed on the bottom of the pages. From experience I
        would think that hard cover notebooks would be best so that one could write anywhere
        without requiring a hard surface to write on, and coil bound so the pages can
        easily be flipped and not be in the way. You could offer support to others by
        donating a portion of sales towards projects such as for illiterate adults or
        writing workshops for inner city children. You could even collaborate with
        other artists by promoting their art on the covers of your note books. If you
        are a Christian, you could make this not only a business but a ministry also by
        committing to pray daily for the writers who have these books in their hands.

        Blessings on this project…I truly believe that it has

        • Stef Gonzaga


          These ideas are great! I’ve actually decided on opening a section of the business to artists and DIY craftsmen from the Philippines who would like to promote and sell handmade notebooks and notepads online. It’s somehow my contribution to the local market and community of artists in my area.

          I guess you can consider this my main niche — rare, beautiful, and unique notebooks and notepads made with love by creative thinkers. I’ve started gathering potential products from Pinterest and Fancy, plus others using Evernote. Already I’m having a blast, how much more when I open shop? 🙂

          Thank you once again for your encouragement! I’ll let you know as soon as I’ve started working on the business. This is exciting. 

          • Melanie Fischer

            Good job Stef, way to move forward with this!

            Definitely keep me posted, I would love to follow your progress…and purchase one of your notebooks!

      • Stef Gonzaga


        Thank you so much for the encouragement! I agree, it’s a different experience when writing by hand. I wrote a poem last night by hand, and I noticed that my brain exercises more than when I write with the computer.

        I hope to get this business idea running within this year, hopefully after graduation. I got in contact with Daycraft Paper Products, which I hope to include in my inventory. I’ll let you know as soon as I’ve made progress! 

  • Caught the webinar yesterday. One of the 1st webinars I watched/listened to from start to finish, without multi-tasking! Phenomenal webinar and all the info was very practical. Plus, I feel I can actually do it all!

  • Lisa Hall-Wilson

    I listened in to the webinar with Danny Iny (a fellow Canuck! 😀 ) but his suggestion to use squeeze pages seemed sketchy. Feels smarmy to me. Websites that do that claim they work well in gathering emails…but it turns me off. Maybe I’m alone in this? 

    • I think it’s a matter of semantics. I mean, my about page is a “squeeze page” that acquires a lot of emails: https://goinswriter.com/about-me/. I think there are ethical, non-smarmy ways to do it.

  • Great post! Something else others could consider is not just an online business but a “virtual” business. Take me for example. I’ve been 100% self-employed for over 12 years now. The last 10 of those years I have worked from a home office and 90% of my work is virtual (taking place online, via phone, Skype, etc.). I can work from anywhere I want, when I want. My point, for those who might be skeptical initially of an “online” business selling a product, course or information… if they have a skill and can provide a service that can be done remotely, a virtual business isn’t a bad way to go as well. : )

  • Sheri113

    I have wanted to work for myself as long as I can remember. I have a blog, a website and lots of ideas but . . .  excuse, blah blah blah, excuse.  Thanks for writing your great posts. They have been just the poke I needed to get my lazy ass into gear!

    • Excellent.

    •  Good luck Sheri! Now that you’ve gotten the poke to get going, what’s your next step?

      • Sheri113

        I am working on my first ebook. The suggestions on the Webinar last night for building a platform were very inspiring. I spent half of my precious football Sunday working on my book and researching ebook publishing options.  Actually made progress today – amazing!

  • Everybody now has an opportunity online. Thanks for sharing, Jeff! I hope to check out the webinar today as well. 🙂

  • I just figured out what’s stopping me! While I have a pretty solid business idea and no real reason not to start, I’ve been, well, not starting. And wondering why. But it just clicked — I’ve simply been *more* compelled and in love with another project.  But the two are starting to intersect and the passion is resurfacing. Danny’s presentation, as always, was stellar!! The perfect roadmap. Thanks for sharing him with us! 

  • Jenn

    Toddler + baby prevented me from missing the webinar yesterday–thanks so much for offering it again today! The last one was fantastic, looking forward to today’s.

  • Rob F.

    What stopped me? Mostly, not knowing what my business was about and not having a product to sell. That webinar was a real eye-opener, and I’ve actually got something I’d like to get myself expertised on! Thank you for the hipping-to, Jeff!

  • Pilar Arsenec

    Hey Jeff, if I was wealthy, I would be your patron is a heartbeat. Man, you changed my life besides Jesus and my husband. You are a genius and world changer. You ROCK!!

    Now for my answer, my dad owned a restuarant in Greenwich Village for 37 years. He opened it after I was born. I am 46 now. He closed it due to his second bout with colon cancer. He wanted me and my brother to take over, but neither he nor I were interested.

    I guess after witnessing the ups and downs of owning your own business turned me off. So, I would say that competition and fear is what’s stopping me.

    • Well those are real things, so that makes sense. The pod news is you face much less risk than your dad did.

  • Jeff, you hit the nail on the head, it’s not easy but easier than you think. There’s an estimated 2.3 billion people online everyday and they estimate that number will triple in the next five years. That’s a large audience to share your art/expertise with the world, it’s just about figuring out what you want to talk about and who you’re talking to. 

    After that you combine the amazing tools we have and you can start seeing a few bucks coming in. Chris Guillebeau always talks about creating a life of freedom and value and an online business can give you just that. 

  • Carol Malone

    Starting an online business sounds terrific . . . but . . . what do I have to offer but a few extremely unpublished manuscripts with no prospects for publishing at the moment? I have the Facebook presence, a Twitter account, a regular blog about my life and a writer’s blog. How do I construct relationships–as Danny suggested in his webinar–when I have nothing to offer?

    • You have your ideas, Carol.

      Your ideas about writing – why, how, who for, what, your inspirations. Write about these in ways that answer other writers who want to get noticed on blogs with large audiences who write (like Geff’s here).

      Read more blog posts, and then read the comments section following them. You’ll find your answers about what to offer your audience right there. And yes, think about creating your audience before you start selling your writing. That’s the business part 🙂

    • You have yourself: your voice and your worldview. And that’s interesting. I write more about that here: https://goinswriter.com/writing-topics/

      And how do you make those relationships? Be nice to people; do favors. I write about that here: https://goinswriter.com/influence-people

    • You have knowledge Carol. If you’ve written manuscripts in the past, it’s something you know how to do. Start there and see where it goes. In the end, we all have something to offer.

  • Yeah! I already have my own online business but I almost feel inspired to start another one after reading that 🙂 I feel really sad when I hear the “but I’m an artist/it would be selling out” argument. Since when is getting fair renumeration for your skills and talents ‘selling out’?

    Figures aside, it seems like the biggest barriers to entry for people starting their own business are fear of the unknown and a reluctance to change. People might hate their work, but they’re also resistant to taking the leap and daring to dream. I definitely experienced this myself, and it was really easy to come up with a list of reasons I shouldn’t do it. The harsh truth is that it’s ultimately about taking responsibility for your future: what kind of life do you want, and are you willing to feel uncomfortable to get it?

    • Totally agree, Hannah. Fear is the biggest barrier to start anything.

  • Geff! So true. Artists need to make a business of their art. It’s not a new concept though. Successful artists have always known this. Damien Hirst knew this and used it in the kind of art he produced. You don’t have to like his art to recognise his business nous.

    Even in the days of patrons, artists needed to understand that creating art was also about creating buyers for that art.

    It’s all in the marketing.

  • Excellent post! I Started a business awhile back, and it was a great move. In this type of economy, it’s a great way to earn a little extra income without a lot of overhead. 

  • Amyah

    I see your point, Jeff. But what always stopped me is… I am NOT a sales person, I know nobody neither than nothing about selling to people, and… it is good to want to have an online business but… for selling what? I know, it looks silly but… I have problem to imagine what I could sell… kind off… and not talking about the how to do it… this is another story.

    I am a writer/author, writing articles for magazines in French and English, would like to make a living with my writing but… because there is a but… I really don’t know what to do and how to do it… I would say that it is… should I say… frightening, in some sort?

    • Me neither. You don’t need to be.

    • I don’t know Amyah. But I have to disagree that you’re not a sales person. We’re all selling something whether or not we know it. We sell our traits to our significant others, to our employers, etc. We’ve all got skills that we’re selling.

      One thing you mentioned is you’re writing articles for magazines in French and English. There’s many people who would love to do this. Maybe you could start up an online course showing people how to sell themselves and their articles to magazines for publication?

      • Amyah

         Hmmmm! Thank you guys! 🙂  It is a completly different world. You’re right Joe, we are passing our life selling something abour ourselves, be it ideas, abilities or else. Time to think about this seriously and with a new vision of “The Thing”!!

        Thank you Jeff!

    • Dan D.

       Actually, Amyah, you are selling… just not you. But the articles you write are selling for someone else. Just move yourself from the background where you are when you write for someone else, to the foreground when you write for yourself. I also like Joe L.’s comment about building a business showing other folks how to write for magazines – especially if they are multilingual.
      Go Girl!

  • MatBastardson

    I signed up, confirmed, and here it is after 5 Eastern, Jan 19th, and I never got any info about how to actually attend the webinar. No link, no nothing. Just a free PDF, and now another internet marketer has my e-mail address. 

    • Not sure what happened, Mat. Sorry about that. Shoot me an email and I’ll see what I can do: jeff (at) goinswriter (dot) com

  • GaryReed

    Same problem as Mat.  Clicked the link, but nothing.  Signed up this morning, but had things to do.  Hello! It’s Saturday! Thought I could get a look after the event.  What’s the deal Jeff?   

    • Hey Gary. These were only live replays, not recordings. That’s why I shared those specific times. We may see about doing another live replay, since some weren’t able to make it. Sorry you missed it.

      • Christoph

        Same here. I missed it and would love to get my hands in a recording/replay. Keep it up!

  • Amazing post, Jeff. And thank you and Danny for the great webinar.

    I empathize with the folks who are afraid. I was there myself a while ago and still feel the nagging fear in the back of my mind. I think the trouble is that we scare ourselves by thinking that, in starting a business (or anything important), we must take a huge leap…

    When it really comes down to being willing to find the initial small steps.

    The lesson I learned is that we must first be willing to accept uncertainty and step into the unknown. How else do we learn anything? After all, that’s how we learned everything as we grew up…and hopefully, how we will continue to learn as we grow older. 

    It’s only when we make a move that we start seeing what works and what doesn’t. Obviously, it’s easier said than done. But you know what they say…nothing of value is ever accomplished without struggle.

    Again, thank you, Jeff!

  • I’ve started up a couple and am starting up another one shortly. I’m working with a great friend and we’ve got some amazing ideas I’m sure people will want to hear. 

    • That’s fun. Keep up the good work, Joseph!

  • Really starting to get some momentum on my side endeavor, thanks to encouragement from folks like you and Michael Hyatt.  You are right, the barriers are gone…GO FOR IT!

  • Jeff,

    Thanks for the encouraging words and insight.  I agree 100%.  With today’s technology and the power of free software like WordPress, we are without excuse.  We all have the ability to have a presence online.

    I have one question about the webinar with Danny.  Because of meetings, I missed the original call.  I made it to the first live replay and got about half-way through, but because I have two kids, and they began to melt down, I could not finish it.  Is there anyway for those of us who tried our best to make it, but were unable, to get a recording or in someway have access to the content/blueprint?  I got to the landing page idea, then had to stop?  

    I would love to have access to the rest, because I am definitely up to the challenge Danny gave for year 1.  Any help you can provide would be much appreciated!

    Thanks Jeff.

    • Hey Nathan, sorry for the delay. Shoot me an email at jeff at goinswriter dot com if you’re still looking for this.

  • I think I just make things bigger than they need to be. Then I either get overwhelmed by the scope or slowed down by it. Jeff, your TribeWriters course has helped me see that and it’s helping me ship. Thanks.

  • DS

    Fear.  Thanks for the continued prodding and encouragement through your writing and interviews.

  • KM Logan @lessonsfromivy

    Thanks so much for hosting the webinar, it’s really helped me focus my vision.  I’m currently in Danny’s master class and looking forward to good things.

    • You’re welcome, KM. Glad you’ve found Danny’s stuff to be helpful.

  • wwjw.com

    Your article makes my dream come into alive again.Thanks for your article!I will keep an eye on you like before.

  • Signed.I have an online business I’m making more than my living with and I don’t have to sell anything. Oh, and I’m an artist. The nice thing is, now I work one hour a day and the rest I can dedicate to my arts.

    I do, however, understand all the people who are not there yet. I’ve fought six years to get there. It can be pretty frustrating and all the advice on any business blog doesn’t help at all, if you haven’t figured out how to put it into practice yet.But believe me, folks. You’ll find a way and then an internet business is the best thing that can happen to you 🙂

  • I always want to write. I feel like I can’t write when I have so many things I’d like to write about. My cousin told me, “Maybe its because you have so many things going on in your life….” –I do, but I still like to write and I’ve been slacking in my journal. However, when I do write, i try to be detailed and make it short. I don’t write the way i use to write…with every little detail, and I may not like it, if I go back and re-read my stuff!

    I want to Thank you for encouraging us. I’d like to make a living online and trying to catch up on your blog and try to stay focus. I feel like I’m wasting time when I just sit here but reading your blog encourages me and gives me hope.

  • Francine Grimard

    It is not so easy. I have a website https://francinegrimard/en and a facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ShineLittleSoul?ref=hl , I sell art and books and it is very hard to attract people. So many sellers on the web.

    • That’s true, if you’re trying to attract customers. But what if you tried to help people? Instead of making it about you and your art, what if it was first about them?

      • Francine Grimard

        I do it on my facebook page and on twitter.

        • Great! I also recommend having a website with an email list that you own, so you aren’t constantly having to use other networks to interact with your audience.

  • You’re a counselor, Jeff. Impressive how smoothly you presented the argument and offered the solution to it. I think this line: “anyone who wants to do it, can do it” epitomizes the effect your writing has on me. This is an encouraging read. Thank you very much, Sir.

    • You’re welcome, Arlen. You continue to encourage me in ways you probably don’t even realize. I’m grateful.

  • It will be great to earn a few bucks from blogging, that will at least compensate for the time and resources invested. However, I’m quite new and still trying to increase blog traffic before monetizing it: https://storieswithoutborder.wordpress.com/
    Any advice on how to attract more readers?

    • Hi Hope. One tip would be to start guest posting. It worked wonders for me. Read more about that here: https://goinswriter.com/guest-posting/

      • Many thanks Jeff for your reply.
        I read your article on guest blogging sometime ago and I wanted to implement it. I asked a few bloggers about writing for them on any chosen topic and all of them politely declined. Discouraged, I have almost lost hope on guest blogging.
        Where did I go wrong? Any tips on how to land an assignment will be appreciated.

        • Kevin Wall

          Hi Hope. Just wanted to comment for Jeff (I hope it’s ok!) One thing that he has shared before is instead of asking generally what you can do for a blogger, get to know them, develop a relationship,and offer to provide specific value that they haven’t offered their audience before. Just as an example, maybe if you offered something to Jeff like “how to write for an international audience” (referencing the post from Tom Hayden post above) or “creating an online middle class” (referencing Tara Kimes post above) that his platform would value and could learn from. I know most high profile bloggers get dozens of requests a day offering to “help”, which really is a thinly veiled attempt to tap into their audience. Start with realtionship, and go from there. Hopefully I’m not sticking my nose in where it doesn’t belong, but I’m pretty confident that’s how Jeff has gotten to interview and serve Tim Ferriss, Michael Hyatt, Seth Godin and lots of other cool people.

          • Hi Kevin,
            Thank you very much for the practical and sincere advice.
            I guess that’s where I got it wrong.
            I will now make amends and hope for the best.
            Thank you again for taking out time to reply to my comment.

  • Sara B.

    Freaky. I was JUST thinking and praying over the concept of starting an online business. Thanks for this, Jeff. I completely agree to keep the focus on helping someone. In fact that my advice to grads in a recent blog post, https://findthelovely.com/2014/06/05/graduate-advice/, was “go help someone” and let the life calling thing take care of itself. What’s holding me back is not so much fear of taking the risk, or unknowns of the technical side. It’s the legal aspect. My rule-follower design combined with my aversion to math means I am paralyzed by the thought of tax implications, accounting, etc. It doesn’t seem current tax code is in favor of small businesses. I want to do things right so I don’t end up putting my family in a pickle. I have mentors in the form of friends who have started businesses, and the hubs has a head for accounting. But still, dread is a roadblock.

    • I totally get it, Sara. Fear is a reality. I’m not great at math and I hate having to worry about taxes, but those are all things you can outsource, fortunately. 🙂

  • Susan Bailey

    In 7 years I will be retiring and I will have my first book published in 18-24 months. After taking Tim Grahl’s Instant Bestseller course, I realized I could build a business around my writing that will give me income after I retire (and in the near future too). I had never thought of doing that before but once I learned about online marketing I thought that I could. Jeff, your free webinar with Tim introduced me to his course and methods; thank you!

    • You’re welcome, Susan! That’s so great to hear. Tim’s got great stuff. I’m glad you’re taking advantage of it and, more importantly, applying what he teaches!

  • Susan Stanton

    I have been sitting on 11 boxes of my book since 2001. I self-published and sold around 4,500 copies of my book. I have decided to use Facebook to sell my limited number of unsold books and obtain many new like-minded friends and new friends. Check out my Facebook page. I am striving to be quasi-famous, not infamous.

    • That’s great, Susan! But I think you’ll sell more books by starting a blog and using it to build your own audience. Facebook is good, but you need to start with your own “home base.”

  • Susan Stanton

    I am going to try the “cheap” way to go for now. I am curious to see what kind of response I get this way. I do agree with your advice. BTW. I have been following you for a while now and I find your comments very sensible and helpful. We have tenacity in common. Will you look me up on Facebook? Thanks.

    • Makes sense. But you know you can get a blog for free right?

  • braindirector

    nice article and i would like to share my website as well http://www.braindirector.com

  • Challenging post Jeff…just realising the need to have a more business-oriented approach. Finding the balance between being businesslike and professional and keeping your integrity as a writer, and not becoming a person who always seems like they are trying to take people’s money and creating just for money, is the balance I struggle with. I’ve had seasons I’ve lost artistic integrity purely because I got so focussed on platform building my writing suffered. Don’t want to let that happen again.

    • I struggle with that balance, too, James.

  • Jeff, In your article above, (which I loved by the way) you said… So you’re an artist. Like Hemingway. Or da Vinci. If you don’t mind can I share something…

    Mentioning Hemingway would be correct as that was his last name but your reference to Leonardo is off. His name is not da Vinci. The word da in Italian translates into “from”.

    So it would be incorrect as to say, da Vinci. That would mean, from vinci.

    Many people who refer to Leonardo say, Leonardo da Vinci which translates, Leonardo is from Vinci. That is not his name, Vinci is a place. Probably of his birth.

    Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci would be more accurate for his name as a whole but then it still translates roughly, Leonardo is the son of Piero from Vinci.

    Americans have widely accepted and used Leonardo da Vinci as his name, thus your reference. But to those who are European background or of Italian descent, we love to read as well.

    As writers we must always remember our audience is global now. So we must be careful…

    On a side note I loved your recent audio Blog… It was incredible, insightful and enjoyable. Keep writing.

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  • Tara Kimes

    This is great. I love the concept. And if more people started online businesses maybe it would create an online middle class, which could balance out some of the power and ensure net neutrality.

    • That’s a fascinating idea, Tara. And I think it could work.

  • I’ve started selling Arbonne online (to supplement our income while waiting to find a book deal). I have 5000 writer friends on FB and I’ve invited a lot of them to like my page. Only 40 likes (I always like their pages). *sigh* I had an online week long party on FB and sold to ONE writer friend. I think early going is HARD. If a person can make it through the first hard months (12), then maybe it can work. Thanks Jeff!

    • You’re right, Robyn. I heard it takes a good couple years of commitment to see a business take off. This is my second full-time year, and there’s a lot of truth to that.

  • This is definitely something I’ll be praying about. I hadn’t really considered it, I have issues with taxes and finances, too. 🙂 The management is intimidating. But, I’d love to be able to help people AND write!

    • It can all be intimidating, but you can outsource those things, Erika. Starting used to be difficult. Now it’s not. The rest you figure out as you go. You should consider it. 🙂

  • Yes, I’ve started a number of online businesses, plus a few home businesses before there was an online. A couple of my online venture have been mildly successful. The other ten or so have not. The two that made money were very niche, but very me. The first one petered out with the market and with my interest. The second, still going, is so very niche that the market is too tiny to do more than a couple hundred bucks a month in sales. I really mean it. I have saturated the market; I have 100% of it, including the top three spots in a Google search. But it is a labor of love, at this point, so I maintain it (for now).

    So yes, it is easy, but the risk is still there. It is cheap to start out, but you risk wasting your time. Just because it is easy and cheap does not mean you should skip the soul searching that goes along with a big risk:Is this who I am? Am I an expert in this area? Do I have the passion to infect others with the desire to be part of this? Is there really a market? Can I truly add value to the lives of others, value well above what they will pay in dollars?

    No matter how easy it is, if it is not YOUR dream then you are unlikely to succeed, but even if you do you may not be happy with your success.

    • You’re right, Colin. It does take time and there’s no guarantee you’ll succeed, but if you have a dream, you owe it to yourself to try, I think.

      • Without a doubt everyone who has the fire should go for it. There is always a lesson to learn and every failure is still an educational experience you’ll never find in a business class. Make sure it is your dream. Making money is not really a dream, it is a goal that can be achieved in many ways. Dreams aren’t just fantasies, either. By dreams I mean (and I’m taking you to mean) avocations that enthrall and energize your passions while they draw you in to give every reserve of energy that you possess. 🙂

  • Jeff, this is such a timely article as I am just sitting down to plan my next venture. My question is, after you have gotten the shopping cart, domain name, etc, what then? Should you just write for a while producing content or should you have a product in place for you to sell right away? What are the three next steps you would take?

  • I write, paint and cartoon and used to think a website was sufficient. Then I read Michael Hyatt’s book Platform and got serious about blogging. You can’t wait to be discovered. Then I began following a few select content experts online to learn from. Your post is spot on, Jeff. Especially the bit about not needing ugly ads and slick sales pitches. Simple and clean, like your site, is much better. And yes, I’m anxiously awaiting my copy of Jeff Walker’s book, and enjoying his video extras. Thanks, Jeff.

  • Shari Lynne

    I ordered Jeff’s book! Know why? One of the reasons is because you recommend it Jeff! Just had to say that! 😀 Blessings!

  • This advice holds true for many people but never has it held more meaning for women entrepreneurs. In my country where many educated women cannot step outside to earn due to family/religious/cultural constraints, running an online business is the one answer that’s a win-win for everyone! Thanks for laying it all down so clearly Jeff 🙂

    • I’ve never thought about this upside to online business, but that’s a great point! Where are you from?

      • Hi Greg, I’m from Pakistan. And I head the local chapter of Google Business Groups for Women. On a daily basis I see so many enterprising stories of women who are educated and skilled but just can’t break free from the responsibilities of running a home and parenting and pandering to religious/cultural stigmas to actually run a business. For them, its completely possible to run an online business and actually reap even more rewards. I should know cause I’m doing it 🙂 Thanks for asking.

        • That’s incredible. Please let me know if there is any way I can help

  • This is awesome! … Esp., the part about being an artists. No matter who you are, you’ve got to make money somehow to support yourself. In today’s world, it’s getting much easier to do, and there is so much material out there to get you going…

    • Thought you might like that part. 😉

  • This may have already been stated, so forgive me if I’m repeating things. But the section that discusses the start-up costs for a business in the first year– there are only two current costs ($5 each) and the rest say $0… Is it just my monitor? I’d be interested to read those breakdowns!

    • Hey Carrie, I think my math is right: $5/month X 12 months = $60 right? 2 X 60 = 120. Right?

      • Ohhhh! Forgive me. I was reading it incorrectly. Man, I hate it when people try to correct stuff on my blog when it’s right… and I just did it!

        Gosh. It seems like it should be so much more than that!! Thanks for sharing!

        • Heh. No worries. I’m not very good at math. 🙂

  • Pamela Black

    I bought launch last week. And I’m going to do this. Come he….lp or high water. Because you’re right. And I’m sick of being broke. And tired. And disappointed. And just stuck. And you’re right. Oh, did I say that already???
    I have people and things that I care too much about to sit around and wait for some random other person to believe in or feel called to. I was called. I believe. And it’s ignorant and irresponsible to waste the opportunity God has given me, as a person in a very wealthy nation, to sit around and not take advantage of it to help those who can’t help themselves.
    Thanks for the kick start. And thanks for always having the right message at the right time.

    You add value to my life. Period.

    Thank you.

    • That’s awesome, Pamela. And you’re welcome! I appreciate you reading.

  • Yup! Love it!

  • Thanks, Vicki!

  • What’s always stopped me is time and effort. Whenever I’ve had the time, I haven’t wanted to put forth the effort. Lord, let this be the last time I put this off.

  • dreamalchemist

    Woohoo! This post rocks, and so do you, Jeff! Thanks for telling it as it is, and for inspiring others to take the leap.

    I am a writer-storyteller-performer-artist-shaman and I gathered all these gifts into a business that is my vehicle to deliver my purpose. It has been hard work and I have had to learn a lot, but the gifts are priceless: freedom, the grace to help others through your gifts and to fully embody your purpose.

    I hear a lot of people, especially women and artists (of all fields) giving lots of excuses, “yes’ butses” and truly disbelieving that they can make a living from what they love to do and from their gifts.

    But I’ve come to realize that all the excuses we give are lies told to us in an indoctrination to make us dependent and keep us working for the powers that be. We keep telling these lies and believing that working for someone else is the only way to make a living, and this programming plays out our fears.

    At the bottom of these lies that cloud our potential is a simple question, like a diamond shining in the darkness of the cave: Do you believe that you came here with a purpose, that you have been given every tool you need to fulfill this purpose and that you are perfect for your purpose right now?

    If you deeply believe this in your heart, then you know that –no matter how hard it is, how long it takes and how much new stuff you need to learn– you CAN do this and you MUST do this before you look back and realize that you spent your life and it’s gone, and you did not share your gifts. Scary, but simple.

    Fear is not a problem if you experience your Greater Why. The Greater Why–your purpose– moves you beyond fear and limitations to fully be the you inside you. That’s the only thing that truly fills our heart!


    • Donya M Dunlap

      Wow. Thank you for this.

      • dreamalchemist

        My pleasure. We need all the stories we can get of others like us who have done it. That’s how we change the false stories we’ve been told. Have a great journey. Life is an adventure. ):

  • I was screaming YES as I read this Jeff! Starting my online business changed our lives. Yes it took three years to build and yes there were times I wanted to claw my eyes out! I was a bread delivery guy who knew nothing about anything online in 2011.

    I’m writing this post from Maui, Hawaii. We move here because our online business fully supports us! If you would have told me this in 2011 I would have laughed in your face. The freedom, the impact, the income. It’s a no brainer! 2.3 billion online everyday, there’s never been a better way to reach people.

  • Donya M Dunlap

    Hi Jeff. You should know that the only reason I would believe such promises is due to the trust I have come to give to you after following you for several years. I know you wouldn’t serve up a gimmick to your readers. Sadly, I tried to sign up for the book and got an error on the second step…twice. I know it isn’t your site, but thought someone should know.

  • Ciao Jeff, are you still in love with your chocolate brownies and Aiden of course 😉
    I am ready to start an online business. Definitely. Mojito is a very demanding woman. Just one thing I would like to know and like everyone of your tribe who trust you. Will this book teach me ‘how to’ despite not having any idea of a product YET. I write travel stories you know….
    I know it sounds like a stupid question…

  • Thanks, Jeff! I cannot tell you how much I appreciate you pulling back the curtain and showing us some of the methods you use. You speak of being generous frequently, and this is a prime example. Yes, starting an online business is easy and has more opportunity than ever. But it is also confusing and the market for available (and affordable) business tools is overcrowded and confusing! Thank you for your suggestions. I especially appreciated your advice on the online shopping cart! This is an area where I have really lost some sleep on who to use that will be both secure and effective. Learning from those that are further along the path is an invaluable resource! Thank you.

  • Time and money are two of the things that have stopped me, but you have given me some hope in this post.

    I have never considered having my own on-line store. I will check out e-junkie.

  • Lindsay

    Am I missing something? clicked on the link and didn’t see anything about just paying shipping/handling – rather, just paying the $14 on Amazon. Am I looking in the wrong place? Or is the offer sold out? (Tried twice today) Thanks!

    • Sue

      Same problem here. Maybe the offer was over by Sunday not on Sunday

    • I’m sorry about that. Looks like the offer expired.

  • Sal

    your encouragement is helping me and so many others make decisions

  • Kathy Brunner

    Like everything else, some people will wait until Hades freezes over before they allow themselves to take advantage of how easy it really is to start something online. The hard part as you mentioned is to keep it going. Sustaining an online business takes effort, energy and a good old fashion work ethic, but it sure beats paying the rent to some absent landlord and your clients never have to search for an open parking space.
    And that is just a few of the major perks.

  • I don’t think it is sketchy, I think it seems sketchy because of all the hype surrounding the actual great idea of starting a business online….that is the sketchy part.

  • “You don’t have to spam people to death and sell your soul just to make a buck (promise).”


    I actually think that going forward, it’s going to be very hard for these types of internet marketers to be successful. The one-pager sites with aggressive copy may have worked in the past, but not for much longer.

  • Janet

    I’ve got a graphic/web design business all online but I still struggle finding clients. I’m now changing my messaging/branding to serve a more targeted group of people, and focusing solely on book design/layout + book launch websites, etc! It’s exciting and scary to change my target client avatar but I think it will help me get more clients.

    • Book design? Do tell.

      • Janet

        yep! basically ebook design/people who are in the self-publishing space or want to get into it 🙂 most of my portfolio/projects has been ebook design for the past year or more so it’s kind of this no-brainer DUH, why didn’t I do this before, to change my messaging, focus and specialization on book design/layout/launch… which marries my love for writing, typography and design! <3

        • You may have to send me a link to your website. I may have need of your services. 😉

          • hmm i guess disqus doesn’t make it apparent. but its jflostudios.com 🙂

  • RustbeltRick

    “It’s cheap, simple and profitable.” Well, I agree with the first two. Setting up a website is very easy these days. “Profitable” is a whole ‘nother matter. If you sell a product or service that is in high demand, you will make money; and if you have above-average talent and a very unique and people-attracting approach, you will attract readers. But there’s also a chance your blog won’t get many readers and your product won’t sell. It takes more than just effort and determination. The profitability of any venture can best be determined by writing a business plan, and seeing if the market exists, and if you have a plan to find that market and offer them products or content they want, and how you plan to monetize yourself. It’s not enough to just say, “I enjoy cooking, I think I’ll blog about that.” There are thousands already doing that. You need to stand out, and you need to make people want to come to you.

  • We are the patron to our own art…such a good thought. Although how lovely would it be if patrons, or sponsors I suppose is the modern word, would just lavish money upon us…

  • True enough! Putting up a business is not easy but with the use of Internet, starting your business on-line will be much more accessible to anyone. I know many people would wait on the right time to make a move, but when will really be the right time? If you don’t make a move today, you will end up regretting tomorrow.

  • FC Gallo

    There’s the assumption that the art one produces is wanted out there, where, clearly, it isn’t, given that the world has been able to operate without it. But such is the nature of good art. What if the writing has an experimental bent, and it is not mainstream or recognizable, and people don’t know it is important? It seems you believe the writing will find an audience if it’s good, but that was not the case, in their time, for most of the famous writers we now study. Selling literature online is not the same as selling t-shirts or paintings in the sense it doesn’t have the same immediate connection with the audience. Literature takes time and thought, while most of the advice here is quick and cosmetic.

    The scope of your writing is focused on motivation and do-it-yourself methodology, but what about art? Do you write something else besides books on writing? Where is your art, the kind that will advance the present into the future? So far I’ve only seen you spin advice that has been spun before (Seth Godin, for one.)

    Because yes, you can start out business online, and yes, you are a writer if you write everyday, and yes, be generous, and yes, you can do it! Yay! But those ideas are for beginners. They are superficial. They abandon people after the euphoria is gone and folks are left wondering, why is nobody clicking on my website?

    Where does the informercial end with Jeff Goins?

    • You haven’t been paying attention. 🙂

  • Dubem Menakaya

    I think that’s the most important factor of starting a journey to an online business – you are taking back the control. It’s up to you to create, educate, fall down and get up. It’s such a tough process that many wont make it to the otherside – but it is completely doable. And that’s the thing to constantly remember – do the work, learn and trust the process.

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    Thsnk you for creating this masterpiece. #leafitsuccess

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  • You can sale your products online like creating an online store where people can get what they on their doorstep. Now a days eCommerce websites are in trend and people really like to purchase products online like Amazon. there was a time when Amazon was unknown to people and now its the biggest online store.

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  • Derek Harvey

    So encouraging, Jeff. It’s easy and hard at the same time! But it is possible. We just have to push through the resistance!