How to earn your first million online

8 entrepreneurs reveal how they made their first million online

As they say, money does not buy happiness, but its absence can have serious negative effects on a person’s life. Even if you are not homeless or destitute, there is evidence to suggest that financial stress can lead to mental health issues, and financial insecurity can also affect relationships.

So, if you are looking to make money, consider that we live in the digital information age. The hot new resource is not gold or oil, it is information. Online, you can bundle your knowledge, experiences, and expertise into digital information products, books, or online training programs.

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Online businesses have many advantages. No physical location means you can make money without being tied to a single location on the planet. You can travel or start a business in your pajamas at home or in a hotel room. All you need to start making money is a laptop, a strong internet connection, and an idea.

In this article, eight entrepreneurs share how they built their businesses online. We’re not just talking about a moderately successful venture each; in some cases, they have several multi-million dollar businesses under their belt. And if you keep reading, you can see them pull back the curtain and share how they made their first million dollars online.

Ron Douglas

The online education industry is expected to become a $243 billion revenue opportunity for business owners by the end of this year, according to Statista. In this area, you can create a digital course, offer to coach, or sell digitally packaged products.

Ron Douglas has used all of these strategies successfully in his online business career. Douglas is a New York Times bestselling author, president of Automated Profits, and owner of a million dollar online business.

According to Douglas, he made his first million dollars by self-publishing a digital cookbook and then selling other digital information products online.

Unlike most authors selling e-books, he offered other business owners a generous affiliate commission to promote his book. Since the cookbook was a digital-only release, Douglas had a high profit margin. He had many promoters. Building on the success of his first book, he wrote five more books, published by major publisher Simon & Schuster, and used the insights he gained from the process to then sell a variety of online courses and services.

His advice: Douglas advises aspiring entrepreneurs to choose what you want to be known for, make sure there’s some interest in what you want to do, and network with potential business partners. But above all?

“Make sure you reinvest your profits back into the business; it’s the most lucrative thing you can do to get over $1 million,” Douglas says.

Nick Wolny

You can use social media, traditional PR, or email marketing to reach consumers and sell information online, just like Douglas or any other online success story.

But according to Nick Wolny, online marketing expert and founder of Camp Wordsmith, an email marketing program for service providers, there’s a particular reason to use email marketing in particular.

His advice: “Email marketing should be in the picture from day one,” says Wolny. Why? “It will force you to compose your value position and how you will add value to potential customers.”

As Wolny puts it, “If you can’t get someone to join your mailing list for free, it’s unlikely you can get them to buy from you.”

Zach Benson

While you casually browse your favorite social media network, there are entrepreneurs making money from it. For example, you can use social media to make money as an influencer, or use it to market products and services that you sell yourself.

Zach Benson is a TEDx speaker, social media trainer for international brands, and a former contestant on the TV show So You Think You Can Dance. He is also the founder of Assistagram, an online agency that helps influencers and Fortune 500 companies succeed on social media.

Benson says he made his first million dollars online by turning his success with social media into an online social media marketing agency.

His advice: To take advantage of all available opportunities by focusing on what excites you. “I’ve spent over $300,000 traveling the world to network and learn from other successful entrepreneurs. It helped me form business partnerships and connect me with the right people,” says Benson.

“People started following my travels and my following grew tremendously. I then received a lot of questions on social media. This led to the birth of my agency. The agency grew because providing results for our clients is one of our highest values.”

Can you draw an arrow from what Benson did to your own experience? You may know a lot about social media or have already built a following. If so, there may be an opportunity to build a business out of what you already do.

Jeff J Hunter

There were 31.7 million small businesses in the United States in 2020, generating 1.5 million jobs per year. And as more and more people dip their toes in the entrepreneurial waters, that number will only grow.

All of these companies offer products and services, but they also need help to do so. Your business could provide the services and products these businesses need to operate.

One person who has had success this way is Jeff J Hunter. Hunter is an author who started an agency for business owners called VA Staffer, a virtual assistant staffing agency that helps entrepreneurs and startups grow remote teams.

He earned his first million dollars online by building a company serving business owners, using virtual assistants to help companies fill staffing positions digitally, and helped keep it going using a model of subscription.

His advice: While it can be tempting to always be on the lookout for new business, Hunter’s advice is to make sure you take care of your current customers. It is easier to make money with existing customers than to find new ones.

“I don’t need to chase after new customers because less than 3% of my customers churn,” he says. “I focus on satisfying my existing customers, which leads to retention and many referrals.”

Precious L. Williams

Precious L. Williams is a 13-time National Elevator Pitch Competition champion and has appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank and CNN, as well as The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Black Enterprise Magazine, among others.

Williams says she made her first million dollars online through her lingerie store, Curvy Girlz Lingerie. She then launched Perfect Pitches by Precious, which helps imbue clients with Williams’ pitching magic, and has also earned over $1 million online.

His advice: Williams says you need to know that it can take time to really be successful — even years — no matter what social media tells you.

“I’m a full-fledged black woman who’s 43,” Williams says. “When I started my first business, no one believed in my business until they saw our success, got some media attention, and learned that I had successfully appeared on Shark Tank.”

“I had to believe beyond belief that we could do this, that celebrating the beauty of plus-size women matters, and that you can succeed and be over 40!” said Williams. “My journey is about breaking stereotypes and outsmarting, overcoming and surviving all fear, worry and doubt!”

Blake Nubar

An online business means you can generate passive income by selling information. You can create a membership program or a course that sells 24/7. You can use social media marketing or paid advertising to get sales.

Blake Nubar has built two eight-figure businesses that have generated over $24,000,000 in online sales and helped over 10,000 entrepreneurs from nearly 100 countries. He says he made his first million dollars online selling digital information products and moving to an agency.

“After learning how to create an effective sales funnel, I was able to start an online agency,” he explains. “We transitioned into products and courses with this success and knowledge.”

His advice: Nubar says it’s important to use sales funnels in your business. You’re more likely to build trust and get the sale when you can walk your potential customer through the buying journey.

Anthony Murray

Build a business and earn money when you add value. But adding value can happen in different ways. Like just… helping people, like Anthony Murray did.

Murray is a professional speaker, mentor, pastor and motivator with over 25 years of experience uncovering the hidden gifts within people.

He says he made his first million dollars online helping people unlock their gifts through mentorship: “As a pastor, I founded and started a church with $1,500 and turned that around. into a million dollar business.”

His advice: Stay focused and focus on yourself. Pray, plan and execute. Pray for what you want. Plan the path you need to follow, the ups and downs, your budget, marketing and plan everything. So go ahead.

Freddie Taylor

It’s not always the hottest new trends that turn into a successful business. Sometimes you just have to focus on what you’re personally passionate about, even if it’s not “sexy.”

Freddie Taylor, Founder and CEO of Urban Intellectuals, is an entrepreneur, speaker, history buff and philanthropist, and that’s what he did to succeed.

Taylor says he made his first million dollars online through a $1,500 inventory investment in old memory cards.

“Low-tech and no-tech memory cards and paper products are how we cut our first million, but that’s been capitalized on by building a strong online community of people who know us, love us, and make us confidence,” Taylor said.

His advice: Get a coach or mentor, continuously educate yourself, start building your community, focus on finding your hero product or service, provide great service, take action, rinse and repeat.

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It takes a lot of work to start an online business, but access to information and a clear plan make it accessible to those who want to get into it. You can build an online business that offers time freedom, financial security, and a life aligned with your goals.

So what are you waiting for?

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