In the my last post, I talked about the very probable likelihood that I will be walking away from my engineering job sometime in the near future. As a person who has spent a great deal of time trying to plan for early FI and the future, you could say that I’ve put a lot of thought into thinking about prospective post-engineering careers.
Tentatively speaking, I would love to give real estate a shot! Right now, my plans are to hit the books hard and get my real estate salesperson license later this year. Currently, I’m studying a little bit everyday, and I’m pacing myself to complete about 1 unit/day.
I was in my accountant’s office going over taxes today, and oddly enough, he mentioned to me out of the blue that he used to work as a realtor back in the day. Not so subtly, I asked him on the spot, “Is being a real estate agent a viable career? For the Average Joe, how much should you expect to earn?”
My accountant stared at me briefly… I wasn’t sure what he was going to say, until he finally muttered out, “Oh, man, you can make good, good money doing real estate! Especially in the Bay Area… I’d say that hitting $150,000/year is very possible, and if you can somehow manage to become an elite player in this game, I’ve seen clients raking in more than $700,000/year.”
Interesting datapoint. Personally, I’m not going to put too much weight into what my accountant told me, but I’ll just say he isn’t the first person I’ve talked to tell me about the seemingly limitless possibilities made possible by pursuing a career in real estate.
At some point in the future, yes, I would very much like to give it a shot!
Having said all that, the main theme of today’s post is to shed light with readers my thoughts on another very viable future career — building an online business.
That’s a rather vague way of putting it, no? Truth be told, I haven’t given this idea too much thought, but for starters, this blog is an “online business”.
Actually, up to this point, I would classify this blog more as a hobby, but since it does earn a tiny bit of revenue, I guess technically you could refer to it as a business. 😉
In case you were wondering (since I’ve never disclosed this information publicly before), this blog generates just about a hair below $100/month in online revenue. If that comes as a shocker to you, let me explain…
I suck at marketing. Period.
By trade, I’m an engineer. By personality, I’m an engineer as well. I’m the type of guy who will sit in front of a computer and spend hours (or days) working on a piece of code that will never be seen by a user, or appreciated by anyone else… except maybe myself. For whatever reason, I’ve always gotten great joy and satisfaction just simply chasing challenging problems. I remember a few years back when a co-worker who was working beside me remarked, “Man, you look so damn focus on that screen… What are you working on, exactly?” After I told him that I was trying to optimize code to enhance reusability, he laughed, and replied, “Seriously? Dude, stop wasting your time… At least go on Facebook or something. If you’re going to waste your time, do it right…”
With this blog, I would say that I’ve treated it no differently than many of the other projects I’ve worked on in my life. From Day 1, I’ve always tried to focus on adding value for readers. Whether it be in the form of:
- Net Worth Reports
- Cash Flow Reports
- Progress Reports
- Real Estate Thoughts
- Stock Updates
- Travel Hacking
The purpose of this blog has been to document one person’s journey to early financial independence. I can’t say that I’ve always made the right moves along the way, but in any event, I’ve always done my best to be upfront with everything that I’ve done. I never wanted to be that guy who became successful at something and then tried to “educate” others later without ever revealing what exactly it was that I did to become so successful in the first place!
In my own case, so far, I’ve built most of my wealth through real estate, and if you dig deep enough into the archives, you can find out exactly when it was that I purchased Rental Property #1… Boy, have we come a long ways since then!
Anyway, my point is that up until now, my sole focus has been on producing content for this blog, not on monetization. If you really want to break it down, let’s say that on average I write 12 blog posts per month. Since the site generates ~$100/month, this computes out to $8.33/article. If it takes me 1 hour to write an article, well, I make just close to minimum wage!
As a side hobby, I definitely appreciate any little bit of income that comes my way. From a business owner’s perspective, however, I should have been fired a long time ago for my inept marketing abilities. Or as we used to say in the semiconductor field, “It doesn’t matter how great your circuit design is, if you can’t use it in a real product that generates revenue, it’s useless.”
Clearly, I’ve got ways to go and a ton to learn about marketing! Social media, networking, and all those other skills that engineers usually lack (and don’t care about). 😉
For me, writing is not only fun, but also therapeutic. The best part is I get to connect with so many other like-minded individuals; this has not only inspired me to keep going full force on the journey to early FI, but it has helped me forge friendships. Because of this blog, I’ve had the privilege to share this awesome journey with others, instead of hacking away at it alone.
So, you can’t put a pricetag on any of that! You don’t have to make money to have a smashing good time doing something. 🙂
And thanks to early FI/pretirement, money will never be a sticking point that prevents me from writing. I’d blog for free (or minimum wage!), regardless…
As I peer off into the future, though, I’ll freely admit that it would be even more AWESOME if I can somehow figure out a way to make a decent income doing the very thing that I love so much.
There are many successful online bloggers/writers out there. Jason, over at Dividend Mantra, has inspired me greatly, especially after he made the bold move to quit his job at the car dealership so that he could pursue his true passion (writing and teaching) full-time.
Joe, over at Retire by 40, was one of my first blogger heroes, and a huge source of motivation for myself when I first got started. After all, he was another fellow engineer, so he knows my pain all too well!
J$ over at Budgets Are Sexy, has showed me that you can take a very serious (and dry) topic like finance and put your own unique little twist on it to make it more fun. He’s also a creative guy, and his side hustles (I probably stole that term from him), such as Rockstar Finance, and it’s wonderful Blogger Net Worth Tracker are simply genius!
Michelle, over at Making Sense of Cents, was one of the first people who opened my eyes to even the thought of writing full time… I had no idea you could make enough money blogging to walk away from the 9-5!
And the list goes on, and on, and on… These pioneers, and many, many others, have shown that it is indeed possible to run a successful online business (that also happens to pay more than minimum wage).
At some point, I will need to reach out and learn from the best in the business!
They say having a plan is half the battle… Right now, I don’t even have that, but by writing this post, I am conveying to readers (and to the universe), that building a successful online business is something that is definitely on my mind these days!
And that’s a start in itself…
As a person who is just beginning, I’ll acknowledge that I need to first learn how to crawl before I can attempt to walk. I don’t need to set the online world ablaze after I FI/RE, but here’s an initial goal of mine:
To generate $1,000/month in online income by the end of 2016.
Bam! There it is… That will be my very first significant milestone. Coming from $100/month, that’s an ENORMOUS 10x increase! Can you imagine the look on your boss’s face if you were to walk up to their office and ask for a 10x merit increase!?! For many bloggers, that might sound like chump change, but as I learned through my journey of investing for cash flow and net worth, the first step is always the hardest!
Things usually get easier over time, but you gotta keep working and hustling. Building an online business will be uncharted territory for me. And I need to be humble as I attack this next great challenge in my life.
But that’s part of the fun and excitement! Similar to my desire to become a real estate agent, I want to continue to evolve and grow as a person. New things are always going to be scary and nerve-racking at first… If you don’t try, you’ll never know what you’re capable of!
I’ve got a few new goals on my plate, with the online business and real estate agent path. Over the months, I’ll be sure to share more of the plan as it unfolds. It’s going to take a few years to learn the ropes, most definitely, but man, I’m excited to start!
First things first — Let’s keep studying hard so that we can get that real estate license, pronto!