I’m gonna clear the air on something right away: I grew up as poor as you can in America. I was intermittently on welfare growing up, lived in public housing projects until I was 18, and had to start working at age 11 if I wanted extra money for anything. I’m a product of inner city public schools and I experienced all the distraction and violence that comes with it.
I tell you this so you kill any notions that I had advantages growing up. There were no role-models, parental guidance was non-existent, and there wasn’t money for everything needed–let alone anything I wanted. But I’m still here, doing great, and making more money than anyone I ever grew up with thought.
If you have any excuses for why you can’t make more money, I’m not the one you want to talk to. Save it for your entry into the victim olympics. If you wanna learn something that can make a difference to your life and your bottom line, read on.
Mindset:I debated writing about mindset. It’s not that I don’t think it’s important, but too many guys get focused on the mindset without taking any supporting action. I put it in because the one thing that took me from broke as hell in my 20s to where I am now was a MAJOR shift in my thinking. Writing anything about personal finance and improving your ability to make money would be incomplete without address the cultivation of the proper mindset.
You need to be pissed off at how your life is going. I clearly remember the day that I got so pissed at my life I almost cried. I was getting ready to close the cell phone store I worked in before I headed home to the room in my friend’s house I was renting for $200/month. Someone came in to buy a phone with 2 minutes left until closing. I couldn’t kick them out because of company policy. Instead, I had to put on the fake customer service personality until they left an hour later without even buying anything. At that moment, I had enough.
I felt like I should have better in my life. I barely had enough money to do anything besides work, go to the gym, and drink. I didn’t feel proud of the person I was. I was 27 and had to be on some customer’s time schedule for $10/hr. I sat angrily in my car for almost an hour. Then I decided I was going to start doing whatever it took to make more money.
This was before I knew anything about making money online, so I enlisted in the Army so they’d pay for school. I was willing to suffer and risk the possibility of being sent to a combat theatre so I could be worth more. This is when I stopped drinking because I wanted to give myself the best shot of getting my shit together. When I got back from basic training and AIT, I lived across the street from my gym so I didn’t risk falling into any BS that screwed my life up.
Realize this: The only mindset that matters is wanting it bad enough. My only motivation was not being the same person at age 33 that I was at age 27. I didn’t care how long it took to get my money right. That’s the only real mindset you need.
The Most Important Thing: Value. If you don’t have any, get some. If you aren’t sure exactly what constitutes “value”, it’s simple: anything that people are willing to exchange money or time for. When I was broke, the reason was simple: I couldn’t do anything that people were willing to spend money or time on.
As long as people are willing to give you their time or money, you’ve got value. Views on your blog, followers on Twitter or IG, or youtube subscribers is an investment of time. Last year, my social media easily made me over $100k. This is because people are willing to invest time and read what I say.
This gives me the opportunity to make recommendations and potentially earn commissions from them. Some people have a beef with affiliate marketing, but it has changed my life. I hate to borrow something I was told back when I sat through MLM pitches, but it’s highly relevant here: you already make recommendations via word-of-mouth, so why not get paid if someone makes a purchase because of it.
Affiliate marketing is just a tactical idea that specifically applied to my circumstance. It demonstrates a strategic idea that you can use to increase your value.
People trust my recommendations on a thing because I demonstrate how said thing has increased my value. Whether it’s a nootropic to help me learn, a training program to get me fit, or a course to make money, my life stands as a testament to the power of what I’m recommending to increase value.
This is another display of value. Because the results of my life are stellar, people give anything I say more value and consideration. This is goes beyond affiliate marketing and into the effects of the halo effect on both yourself and those around you. It’s a lot easier to increase your value when you’ve already demonstrated your worth in some way.
If you can do one thing, you can do anything. Each small challenge you conquer convinces you and others that you’re worth a damn. Truly believing this is the difference between working to barely survive and making more money than you need in a way that you love.
Problems: If you can solve problems, you’ll never be broke. This is the truest statement you’ll ever read in regards to making money. This lays out another surefire way to increase the amount of money in your pocket. Solve other people’s problems. It’s really that simple.
People hear the idea of solving problems to make money, and they immediately imagine they need to invent something completely new. Don’t do that. You’ll just make this thing more complicated than it needs to be. From now on, think of problems like this: anything that causes people discomfort.
Now tell me how many problems you see? Neighborhood kids take advantage of this in the winter shoveling snow and the summer with a lemonade stand. People don’t want to get cold or they’re need refreshment from the heat. Problem solved, money made.
Entertainment relieves the discomfort of your boredom. Copywriters relieve the discomfort of low income. The discomfort doesn’t even need to be clear and present. The business of insurance is providing relief from the financial discomfort of an event which may not even occur.
The strategic idea here is that you need to solve people’s problems. What I’ve found is that the problem solver’s mindset is intellectually simple for people to grasp, but challenging to put into action. This is may seem like an obvious statement, but people have a much harder time understanding the concept of “value” than “problems”.
Specifically, I’ve executed this idea through the selling of my twitter products and services. I wrote a 37-page ebook about how to write for Twitter in a way that will make people follow you and engage with you more. I also give exclusive attention to accounts who want me to retweet them more to help them grow. This solves their problem of how to get exposure on social media.
I personally think that Twitter is the greatest thing since the internet itself, but I want to remind you that it is just social media. It’s not something that people need. It’s not even something that everyone wants. But there are people who do want to have greater success on the platform. To them, lack of social media success is a problem.
I’m able to make a decent amount of money per month because I’m the one who can solve their problem.
It’s Recursive: Valuable people solve problems. Solving problems makes you valuable. This is probably the most basic way for people to understand how to make more money. People who can’t find a job after college refuse to face a simple fact: they actually can’t do anything of value or solve any problems. They can’t solve any problems that people find uncomfortable enough to pay them enough money to live on.
When I was in my early 20’s, I worked at a Starbucks coffee. Out of a staff of 10, I was one of two people who didn’t have a college degree. Let that sink in. These were people with heavy college debt and the best they could do is make lattes.
The point of this section isn’t to bash people who study low-demand subjects; they’re reminded of their foolish decision every time the rent’s due on a Wednesday and payday isn’t until Friday. The point is to cover something obvious but important: not all problems are created equal.
We aren’t all worth the same because we all solve different problems. The baristas I worked with at Starbucks solved the problem of “manpower”. A heart surgeon solves the problem of “cardiac arrest”. A movie solves the problem of “boredom”. You get the idea. Generally speaking, your income will be decided by the following formula:
Income = (Number of people you can simultaneously solve the problems of) * (Level of discomfort relieved)
This formula should make everyone’s income level make a little more sense. If you want to make more money, you need to either increase the number of people you can simultaneously help or increase the level of discomfort you can relieve. First let’s start with the common path most people take to making more money: increasing the level of discomfort they can relieve.
Increasing Difficulty of Problem Solved:This is why the STEM degrees (in particularly, the “T” and the “E”) pay so well. This is why doctors and lawyers are paid well. This is why trades can take a person out of the ghetto and into the upper middle class.
These professions allow you to solve big problems for humanity and alleviate huge amounts of discomfort for people. This thinking is ultimately why I went back to college when I was in my late 20’s and majored in physics. I figured this was my route to making more than $1k/month. While I don’t have a job where I use the degree, I now charge $50 for private tutoring in math and science.
I could probably charge higher because people who can tutor higher level mathematics and sciences are so rare that I actually have to turn down work so it doesn’t turn into a full-time job. There isn’t much demand for tutors of any other discipline outside of foreign language skills.
4 years ago, I didn’t have the ability to solve this type of problem. As a result, I was only making $10/hr at a full-time job. Now my wage is $50/hr for part-work side-hustle work that’s a labor of love. This is the power of solving difficult problems that cause client a high level distress.
This also applies to areas of sales where your compensation is mostly commission. Anyone in this type of sales is tasked with double the discomfort to alleviate; they have to make money for who they’re selling for and figure out how to find and close people who need their discomfort alleviated.
Good salespeople are so valuable because they alone keep the lifeblood flowing through a business. They not only alleviate discomfort, but they prevent it as well.
Increasing Number of People Helped At Once:I hate listening to people complain that it’s unfair that entertainers get paid more than people who serve society. They don’t understand the basic formula that I gave you above. The police officer who puts his life on the line is limited by space; he can only save or help one group at a time. Professional athletes and actors entertain millions of people at once.
Athletes, actors, comedians, musicians, etc. Anyone who has the ability to have their skill or service be enjoyed by more than one person at a time has the opportunity to make a decent amount of money. I’ve self-published 2 books on Amazon as well a few e-books. This allows many people to simultaneously consume my knowledge.
Rather than only get for paid for a 1 hour consultation session at a time for $150/hr (my consultation fee), I can sell 30 books on Amazon at a $6 royalty + 10 e-books on about twitter for $37 + earn $100 in affiliate commision. These aren’t big numbers, they reflect a minimum of 9-12 hours of my week. Some hours are more. Some hours are less. All hours are profitable because I have the ability to deal with many people at once.
Non-Locality and The Internet:Everyone needs to learn how to make money online. In 2019, almost every service can be performed on the internet. You must figure out how to make money online, preferably by selling something. When you make money online, you do something that makes it virtually impossible to stay poor: you divorce your location from how you make money.
I remember last Christmas waking up to a few sales and royalty payments from my books at the end of December. I was on vacation in Portugal. This was the first time in dawned on me that I didn’t need to be anywhere specific to make money. As an extension, I can make money when I sleep because people on the other side of the planet, where it’s daytime, can find me and spend money on what I have to offer.
This set up allows me to impact even more people per unit of time. Understanding and taking advantage of this has changed my life and my income level faster than any other tool and piece of knowledge.
In Summary:Making more money comes down to deciding that you’re going to do it, becoming more valuable via solving uncomfortable problems, and doing it in a way that allows you to reach many people simultaneously. I don’t think this a difficult task, nor does it have to take particularly long (18-24 months). Anyone can make more money. If I can, then so can you.
WSPs Notes: As a side note, we’ve seen Ed’s twitter feed pop up over the last few years. Over time, somewhere around early 2018, it was consistently showing up in the feed. We had a guess that he was about to move into making 6-figures or had recently made the jump to some higher echelon. Fast forward to middle of 2018 and suddenly he made an interesting comment along the lines of “the stuff you guys tweet out no longer seems as crazy”. We figured he was making good money and called it out in a DM. We were right! So as a side note from this side of the web, congrats and we have no doubt that making money won’t be an issue in the future. Will it be easy? No. Will it happen with effort. Yes. Absolutely. To add to this discussion, later this week we’ll outline several way to make money online since people constant say they “don’t know where to start”. Naturally we know this isn’t true so we’ll do a step by step.