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Full-Time College Kid, Part-Time Millionaire

From CoenMayes.com

From CoenMayes.com

I love reading about any entrepreneur, but especially young ones, like 18-year-old Adam Horwitz. In just 3 days, his online course “Mobile Monopoly” made him $1.5 million.

In an interview with Income Diary, Adam explains that he first got interested in digital entrepreneurship when his father took him to a seminar about online marketing one day.  “That kind of opened the doors to me to see that there is potential out there for making money online,” he says.

Before “Mobile Monopoly”, Adam sold a few other online courses, such as his courses “Tycoon Cash Flow” and “Cell Phone Treasure.”  Each made him around $100,000.  “Mobile Monopoly” was his first million dollar program.

His success sounds unreal and unmatchable, but he lives by business principles that are actually pretty simple.  He says that his biggest tip to anyone in the online world is to take their business one step at a time.  “I think a lot of people’s struggle is they set up like eight different campaign [at once].”  Instead, he urges people to start with one and wait until it is successful before they spread their focus to other projects. “If you just do a bunch of different products… you’re not going to make a sale for any of them.”

His other big tip is just as simple — make content easy to consume.  People have short attention spans, especially when going through information-intensive courses like the ones Adam makes.  “The best way to do it is through video,” he says. “[People] don’t want to read a lot, they want to watch you talk.” I think this can be applied to anything.  I feel the same way about websites, social media posts, and anything else — I’d rather see a video or an infographic than lines and lines of dull words.  If it looks like an essay, I’m probably going to click out.  People are busy and they want to hear what they need quickly and easily.

The last point that stood out to me was how Adam views all of this.  When asked if he likes being his own boss, he said that he doesn’t even think about it like that.  “I don’t think of this as work. This is fun, this is what I’m doing.”

Adam is in college like all of us in Entrepreneurial Mind. His friends all have minimum wage jobs but because he had an idea and the drive to do something about it, he has made over a million dollars in his spare time.  I think Adam showcases the possibility and opportunity of  internet entrepreneurship.  He’s a reminder to me that being successful is possible, no matter what your age, other commitments, or circumstances. The internet is a platform that has made that more possible than ever before.

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Internet Schooling? 4 Things to Model

From Degrees4Moms.com

From Degrees4Moms.com

Working on Gary Glew’s “Life College” project got me thinking about people who are successfully coaching and teaching over the internet. Glew wants to create an instructional program for young adults who need help transitioning into fully independent life. This would include things like learning about asking for raises, filing taxes, and managing rent. It’s a pretty unique program. I haven’t stumbled upon any other that does that. But we can still learn a ton about best practice from others in the internet-teaching sphere.

I love looking at patterns, and I found 4 key ones to model while researching this area. We’ll talk about each of them, and how they might apply to Glew’s project as an example of finding ways to model established strategies in a new business.

1) Successful teaching sites openly feature their biggest customers. Almost every site I looked at had images of big customers’ logos on a banner somewhere. For Glew’s project, we could have a banner with the logos of the colleges who have bought or participated in the program.

2) Successful teaching sites are categorical. They clearly define what ‘courses’ or types of information they offer. Kahn Academy is a great example of this. They separate their subjects into math, science, the arts, economics, and computing, and then go into clear sub-topics within those.

3) They produce their content in multiple formats. The most successful teaching sites use a variety of platforms, from videos, to podcasts, to blog posts. This could be helpful for Glew’s project if we decide we want to create a ‘Freemium’ model, for example letting people read blog posts and listen to podcasts for free, but charging for video content.

4) They have a call to action on the first page of the website. This is usually an opt-in to subscribe for a mailing list with an incentive. For example, Glew could put up an opt-in with the incentive that if you subscribe, you get 2 free videos of your choice to start with.

I didn’t realize how huge and varied the online teaching space is, but there are definitely a lot of people doing it the right way. I can’t wait to see how this space expands in the future.

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YouTubers have Business Models? 6 Things We Can Learn

From MidiaResearch.com

From MidiaResearch.com

In another blog post, I mentioned the amazing success YouTubers have had–over 40 make more than a million dollars every year. I said it was important to learn from the achievements of people outside the traditional business sphere (as well as within) to really get a full view of what people like to see on the internet. When I started looking into what made YouTube stars successful, I was surprised at how clear some of the patterns were.

YouTubers have been wildly successful across a wide variety of content, from makeup tutorials (Michelle Phan, $3M), to cooking tutorials (Rosanna Pansino, $2.5M), to prank videos (Roman Atwood, $2.5M), to talk shows (Rhett and Link, $4.5M), to gaming accounts (Felix Kjelberg, $12M).

So what are some of the common ties?

1) Across the board, successful YouTubers are very clear about what kind of content they produce. It’s almost a niche mindset. They choose a category and stick to it, whether that’s gaming or cooking.

2) They find a way to stand out within their category. This can involve creating segments exclusive to their account. For example, Rhett and Link have an ongoing “Will It?” segment where they test whether weird ingredients work together to create a new version of a standard food. No other YouTuber does that. It’s little things like that which help differentiate them.

3) They have a schedule of when they’re going to put content out, and make sure their audience knows it. Jenna Marbles, a comedy YouTuber with 15 million subscribers, sticks to putting out a video every Wednesday. One of my favorite YouTube accounts, Blimey Cow, uploads their main videos on Mondays, and call the series “Messy Mondays.” They have a consistent, clear schedule and stick to it.

4) Their videos look good, aesthetically. Every single YouTuber I looked at when writing this blog used a professional camera with a quality microphone. This model can translate to the importance of having well-designed websites and apps.

5) They have a ‘call to action’ in every video. It’s amazing how consistent successful YouTube accounts are in calling upon people to “thumbs up, comment, and subscribe”. Some even add incentives, or have a clip they replay at the end of each video to remind people to do so. YouTuber Rclbeauty101 (7M subscribers) holds sweepstakes for things like MacBook Airs and tablets, where the only thing you have to do to enter is be subscribed.

6) They form partnerships. Whether it’s promoting a product at the end of their video or joining together with another YouTuber for a video, the most successful accounts seek out partnerships.

I was amazed by how closely YouTube success models mirror traditional business success models. It’s super cool to see patterns like this appearing across so many different platforms.

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Learning from All Sides of the Interent

From MarketTran.com

From MarketTran.com

I love learning about internet-based companies, but while researching I realized how many people have internet-based careers without actually having a traditional business. For example, Ben Shapiro, one of my favorite political commentators, uses the internet as a platform for his podcast, show, and columns even though he doesn’t have a full-on company. It got me thinking about how multi-faceted the internet is. There are so many opportunities, you don’t even have to have a traditional company to get into the internet space. You can have a YouTube-based show, a blog, a podcast on iTunes, a website, and a social media presence, all completely dedicated to your personal brand. A lot of people make millions of dollars a year just off of one of these internet-based opportunities. For example, in 2015, over 40 YouTubers made over a million dollars for the year.

I think the opportunities outside of traditional internet-based businesses can teach us two important things about traditional internet companies: 1) The internet is truly a flourishing and growing content driver.  2) While it’s important to have discretion with how you expand your business on the internet, you don’t have to choose just one platform. You can expand to any and all platforms that effectively help your company’s growth.

It’s important to keep in mind everyone who’s succeeding in the internet space, and look at what they’re doing right, not just traditional companies.

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In the Beginning, There was Amazon

Early Amazon from Blogspot

Early Amazon from Blogspot

I’ve always been interested in Amazon.com. I know a lot about its success–its annual revenue of $61.09 billion, its 97,000 employees, and its status as the world’s largest online retailer–but for this blog post, I was interested in looking at its foundations. How did it start? What kind of internal qualities did the founder, Jeff Bezos, need to start it? How did it take off? The story is actually fascinating.

Bezos started Amazon in 1994.  He was 30 years old and working on Wall Street, and he left all of that to start an Internet business at a time when many did not even know what the Internet was. He was prompted to do this after seeing a statistic on Internet growth that said the Internet was growing at 2,300% per year. This baffled Bezos. “Things just don’t grow that fast,” he said. It immediately got him thinking about business plans, and what he could do to get into the Internet space.

Now, I often think of entrepreneurs as people who have great ideas and then find a way to make them work. But Bezos reversed these steps. He saw a space where something could work and then worked on figuring out an idea afterwards. He says that after he saw the statistic, he brainstormed a physical list of the ‘top 20’ things he could sell online, and then chose to sell books purely based on what he thought people would want.

This worked. Within two months of start-up, Amazon’s sales were reaching $20,000 each week. By 1997, Amazon was able to go public at $18 per share. In 1999, Time Magazine named Bezos person of the year. Now, it is officially the world’s largest online retailer, and has acquired over 40 notable companies over the years, including audible.com in 2008 and zappos.com in 2009.

So, what can we learn from this incredible success story? I think the most important factors of it can be found by looking at Bezos himself. Throughout Amazon’s history, Bezos has been a risk taker, stubborn, flexible, and committed to growth. The company started with the risky decision to quit his job on Wall Street. Bezos tells new business owners to be “stubborn on vision” yet “flexible on details.”  And we see his commitment to growth in the way he puts nearly all of the company’s profits back into the company. Though Amazon’s revenue has been growing since 1994, its profits have remained close to zero. Bezos wants to put as much of the company back into growth as possible. We can learn a lot from Bezos’s attitude toward opportunity. It is clear why Amazon makes success look like a formula it knows.

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