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9 Legitimate Work From Home Business Opportunities I’ve Tried Before and After Quitting My Job 5 Years Ago

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9 Legitimate Work From Home Business Opportunities I’ve Tried Before and After Quitting My Job 5 Years Ago

On March 11th, 2011 I quit my job as a business banker at Wells Fargo…and it was the best decision that I ever made.

I quit my day job to pursue a very legitimate “work from home” business opportunity and my life and the life of my family has dramatically changed for the better over the past 5 years.  Today, I want to dive into the various online business opportunities that I’ve pursued and what’s working for me right now.

So, yes, this is going to be a bit of a reflection type post for me, but also something that will be helpful to you, I believe.  I’ve been working from home and been out of the corporate world for almost exactly 5 years now, and my life as a business banker feels like a lifetime ago.

You see there are so many online resources out there that are touting the next great “work from home” business opportunity and SO many times it ends up being a big fat scam.  Luckily, I’m not here to sell you anything.  I’m just here to open up and honestly share with you what a genuine online business opportunity looks like…and what it takes to succeed.  I’ve been living it for the past 5 years.

The positive experiences that I’ve had over the past 5 years have been amazing and educational. In addition, I will provide some of the monthly income from a couple of my businesses.  If you are looking to quit your job or searching for that right online business to pursue, I hope that this post will provide a little bit of motivation.

How to Earn Money From Home?

I started out like many other people.  I went to college and got a degree in Business Finance.  I figured I would end up working for someone else for most of my life…like most people.  However, after less than a year at my first job at Merrill Lynch, I knew that I wanted to work for myself…BADLY!

The dream of owning my own business started to creep into my mind, and I tried all sorts of things (that never fully panned out).

I sold used books online for a period of time.  I would go to thrift stores and look for first edition books or other novels that I knew would sell well.  Unfortunately, this was only short lived side gig that was never enough to replace my day job income.

I also had a short stint where I sold used clothing online.  Yep, same deal…buy at a thrift store and try to flip it on eBay.  I made a few dollars, but nothing to get too excited about.

I even tried a couple other things like making candles and water fountains (don’t ask!)…but again, no success.

The early days…

I kept wondering, how in the world can someone earn money from home with their own business?  It was still kind of a novel idea back in 2003 or 2004.  I was a lost little lego piece that was never able to find it’s set to build something real.

I don’t remember exactly what happened, but I finally starting doing some research online…probably via Yahoo or Lycos search engines :). I discovered that people were actually making money from their very own websites!  And not just selling things on their websites…but making money with no inventory, no customers, and no massive servers!

People were creating websites, making money from advertising or selling digital products as an affiliate, and just collecting their paycheck.

Thus began my journey into researching everything affiliate marketing related.  Like almost everything in my life, I spent well over a year just reading about other people making money, and never really did anything about it.

This Can’t Be Real…Right?

I honestly did not believe what I read about affiliate marketing and Google Adsense by this point.  It just didn’t seem legit that people could make money when someone simply clicks on an ad from their website!  Unreal!

However, after reading up on various affiliate programs and Google Adsense, everything seemed to match up…I was ready to give it a try.

So, at some point in 2005 I started a blog about personal finance.  This is what I had studied in school, so I figured it would be a good place to start.

I put a ton of effort into creating great content, got approved to several affiliate programs and launched my site!  I worked for a few month just trying to write content and even went out and started to interact with other bloggers!

I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I held my breath for the paychecks to start rolling in.

Unfortunately, that website was a big failure.  I never made more than $100 in a single month, and most months was less than $10.

However, the silver lining was that my mental barrier was overcome…this online stuff was REAL!  People really were making money from ads and affiliate sales…this really was a way to earn money from home.

I was hooked.

I Want To Quit My Job

Even though that first website was a failure, the idea was in my head and never left.  I wanted to quit my job and make money from websites for the rest of my life.

Remember, this was in 2005.  If you do some quick math you will realize that this was 6 YEARS before I actually ended up quitting my job.  I spent 6 years of learning, trying, failing…and then eventually succeeding.

My journey has not been an easy one at all.

However, once I got the idea in my mind that I wanted to run my own online business, I was never quite the same.  I was probably a pretty average employee…my heart was just never in my job anymore.

So, I would work my day job, then come home after work and stay up late working on my online “business”.  (Remember, I have kids, so I would usually try to wait until after they were in bed before working for a couple of hours on my side gigs).

As I look back now, I realize how naive I still was.  I had no clue what I was doing online.  I would jump from one idea to the next within weeks.  I would build websites and then abandon them just weeks later because I thought I had a better idea.

I tried almost EVERYTHING to build a business online!

Here’s just a few of the failed business attempts that I made.  Please note that I was able to go back to the Way Back Machine and get screenshots of some of my early websites that are no longer in existence.

Personal Finance Blog – (note that the actual design of the website did not get saved on the Wayback Machine).

financeblog

A Credit Repair Site – but I really didn’t know what I was doing…way too competitive.

redfoxcredit

A Really Bad SalesPage I did…trying to sell my own eBook. I’m pretty sure I sold 0 copies.  I’m really embarrassed to even show this, because I hate this kind of salespage stuff…but hey, I was desperate to quit my job.

hfc

I created a survey site, meant to compete with things like CashCrate.com.  Again, this screenshot doesn’t show the full web design which was actually pretty good looking for 2008.  I actually had some minor success with this one.  When I say minor, I mean I believe I had a few months where I was making over $100 per month.

survey

I’m sure I had a few other sites in this 2006 to 2009 time period that I don’t recall.  The bottom line is that I did a lot of jumping from idea to idea without ever really making any good money.

The one thing I DID gain was the confidence that it was indeed possible to make a living online.  I had sold a few affiliate products and even had a few months where I made like $100!

However, the problem that I kept coming back to was that I had absolutely NO CLUE how to get traffic to my sites!  I didn’t know how Google worked, and that bothered me.  I don’t know exactly when, but I decided to dive into how Google worked, ranked sites, and everything.

This is when the light bulb went on for me…

How to Be Self Employed – What Finally Worked for Me

So, here I was in 2009 having spent about 4 years trying and failing all sort of online business ventures that never really panned out.  In my research for understanding how Google worked, I read a powerful article called, The Long Tail by Chris Anderson of Wired Magazine that had a fundamental shift in how I viewed Google and my own websites.

This article made me realize that I was never getting any traffic to my sites because I was always trying to rank in Google for keywords that were just too darn hard to rank for!  I was in markets like credit repair, online surveys, personal finance, and others that were HUGE markets…but were also HUGELY competitive.

When you are competing against multi-national corporations and other entities with more money than they know what to do with…you have an uphill battle.

The “Long Tail” article made the light bulb go on for me.  I needed to create a website that targeted a “Long Tail” keyword that was super easy to rank for…a market where there was not billion dollar corporations competing.

This decision eventually led to me becoming self employed.

Let me explain.

I did some research using the good old Google Adwords Keyword Tool (now called Keyword Planner) and found a market that appeared to have weak websites ranking on the first page of Google.

The market I picked was Worm Farms.  Yep, worm farms!

Here’s a screenshot of my very first small “niche website” that I built back in 2009.

wormfarms

This little website didn’t make me rich, but it did start ranking on the first page of google for terms like worm farms, and how to raise earthworms, etc.  I was pumped!

This little website DID start making around $50 a month.  Again, not significant money.  But what was significant was that even 6 months later, it was STILL making around $50 a month and I hadn’t worked on it in 6 months!

My worm farm site was making me money each and every month on a “passive” basis. In fact, I had created a second “niche website” about buffalo nickels just a month or so after this worm farm site and it was ALSO making $30 to $50 a month consistently…whether I did anything or not.

So, in the second half of 2009 after seeing this data, I decided to push all my chips in and create as many of these small niche websites as humanly possible.

My Decision to Scale…

I did the math in my head.  If I could build 200 niche websites, each making $50 a month…that’s $10,000 a month!

I was so excited about this plan I told my brother all about it.  I said, “Hey Ben, I’m going to build 200 websites in the next year…should I do it?”  I’ll never forget his answer.  He said, “Don’t do it, Spencer”.

Well, luckily I didn’t listen to my brother (which we still laugh about to this day)…and I went out and built over 200 websites from late 2009 to late 2010.  I should be clear that I outsourced most of the content writing and even much of the website building, and certainly all the link building.

For the first time, I wasn’t such a tightwad, and allowed myself to spend a little bit of money in order to build my business.

My Plan Actually Works!

Some of my websites were a complete flop.  However, other sites started earning MUCH more that $50 a month.  I had a couple of dinky little sites making over $1,000 a month, and my highest earner at $3,000 a month.

Almost, all of my income was coming from Google Adsense.  So, I got paid when someone just clicked on the ad from my website.  I had no products, no customer service, or anything like that.

By the time early 2011 rolled around, I was making $10,000 a month from Google Adsense!  My plan worked as I had hoped!

Becoming self employed isn’t something that you just jump into though.  So, I discussed it with my wife to make sure she was on-board (she was).  And then I waited a few months to make sure we had a nice safety net of savings in the bank before I went and talked to my boss.

Quitting My Job

Once I felt comfortable with the savings amount in the bank, I walked into my bosses office and shared with her my plans to quit my job.  I can’t stress how nerve wracking this was for me, but also extremely exciting because I had been dreaming of this day for YEARS!  I had been trying and failing for 6 years to build a successful online business…and the day had finally arrived!

My boss was 100% supportive and excited for me.  My co-workers were happy for me as well. Thanks Wells Fargo peeps for making that transition great!

So, on March 11th, 2011 I said goodbye to working for someone else for the very last time in my life!

I set up a home office (just a desk and a computer basically) and have been happily working out of my house ever since!

As a caveat, I should point out that the business of building niche websites has changed quite a bit since 2011. So if you are at all interested in building a niche website, you should follow along with my public case study where my team and I coach 3 different students to build their own site.  You can check out Niche Site Project 3.0 right here.

How My Business Has Grown in the Past 5 Years

When I quit my job, almost all of my income was derived from my small niche websites.  However, I had also started something right before I quit my job that I hoped was something that could grow.

That business venture was Long Tail Pro.  As you may or may not know, Long Tail Pro is a keyword research software that I created out of my own need to do keyword research faster and better for my own niche websites.  I wanted to quickly find and cherry pick those easy to rank for keywords, so that I could go out and build a niche website and start ranking in Google right away.

Long Tail Pro

JPG

I started selling Long Tail Pro just shortly before I quit my job.  I think in the first year of selling Long Tail Pro, I made around $30k.  Nothing huge, and my niche websites were certainly making much more than my software product.

However, in year 2 my blog (NichePursuits.com) was growing and so were the sales of Long Tail Pro.  Sales in that second year were just over the $100k mark.  I was ecstatic!

Long Tail Pro has just continued to grow in revenue every single year since then and has become a very significant business.  In fact, I’ve started an entire blog series on how I’ve bootstrapped and launched a software product, even though I’m not a programmer.

At this 5 year anniversary of quitting my job, I feel like it’s important for me to reflect on how much my business has changed and grown over this time period.  Long Tail Pro has been a big part of that.

Long Tail Pro Business Changes…

I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention that fact that I brought in partners into the Long Tail Pro business just about a month ago.  This is indeed a big change because I have always been the 100% owner of the business, but now I’ve sold off a portion of my share of the business and these new partners have stepped in.

The revenue from the business over the past 5 years, and now my partial exit from the business has truly been life changing in terms of my business knowledge and financially.

Deciding to sell a portion of my software company was not an easy one.  However, it was a good deal for me, and I still definitely a part owner of the business.  I’m excited for the future on Long Tail Pro.

Amazon FBA

AmazonFBA1

As I’ve been growing my digital empire with software, niche websites, and other things…one idea never really crossed my mind until just over a year ago…selling physical products.

I mean going from selling digital products to selling physical products sounds like I’m moving backwards in terms of technology and advancement, right?  Well, maybe so…but I’m sure glad I jumped into the Amazon FBA business just 1 short year ago!

In March of 2015, I launched my first physical product on Amazon that I had manufactured in China.  You can read more about the timeline and other details of how I got started selling on Amazon right here.

In a nutshell, I found a product that I liked but couldn’t find on Amazon.  I decided to manufacture the product in China (easier to do than you might think through Alibaba.com), ship the goods to the US, and sell through the Amazon FBA program.

After my first 30 days, it was clear that I had a success on my hands as I sold over $4,000 worth of goods through Amazon FBA.

Selling on Amazon is definitely a legit business opportunity.  My business has exploded since that first month.

The last time I reported the income from my Amazon FBA business was December 2015.  In that month, I had revenues of just over $60,000 for the month.  I’m not making this stuff up.  But maybe you are thinking that December is holiday season and revenues like that are just a fluke?

Well, here is a report for both January and February 2016.  These are profit and loss screenshots from a tracking tool I use called InventoryLab.com. (I’m also including the Amazon screenshots, but please note these are not as accurate because they include any giveaways that I might do).

January 2016 Profit and Loss from Amazon FBA

jan-profitloss

You can see the total net profit at the bottom of just over $22k.  January was a good month!  (Better than December 2015).

Here’s the January Amazon Screenshot:

janfba

As you can see, this screenshot is not very accurate.  Unfortunately, Amazon “counts” as full revenue all the discounts/giveaways.  I definitely did not sell $96k worth of goods.  The profit and loss screenshot is the accurate one.

February 2016 Profit and Loss from Amazon FBA

febprofit-loss

So, the net income was down a bit in February, but still a fantastic month overall with about $14k in total net profit.  Part of reason for the lower revenue was a shorter month and then a higher inbound shipping costs that usual as I stocked up quite a bit after January.

Here’s the screenshot directly from Amazon for February:

febfba

Again, this sales screenshot from Amazon is not accurate because it inflates the numbers a bit.  However, it really was a great month with about $65k in true sales occurring.

Wondering how I sold so much on Amazon?  Here’s my 10 second lesson:

  1. Researched potential product ideas using Jungle Scout.
  2. Find products selling well (over $10k a month or so) but have low competition (at least a few results on the first page that have less than 50 reviews if possible).  I use Jungle Scout to get all this data.
  3. Think of ways to tweak the existing offerings on Amazon to make your product different. (Could simply be a size or color change, doesn’t have to be drastic).
  4. Order a sample on Alibaba.com.
  5. Inspect sample and ask for tweaks from manufacturer.
  6. Order a small batch once satisfied with product sample from manufacturer; ship to Amazon.  (I use a logistics company to get freight from China to US to Amazon).
  7. Create a highly descriptive listing with lots of high quality photos.  Write a keyword targeted title…you can use Long Tail Pro to help you find keywords to target (that’s what I do).
  8. Giveaway/Discount product to get some initial reviews.
  9. Watch the natural sales start rolling in.
  10. Restock inventory before you run out!

Honestly, that’s about it.  Yes, there is lots to learn along the way and this blog post is not meant to be a one-stop shop for how to sell on Amazon.  But that is a very high level look at how I approached the process.

List of 9 Legitimate Business Opportunities That I Have Personally Tried…

Over the years I have tried TONS of different online business ideas.  Some of them have been flops and some of them have been a huge hit.  If you are interested in learning more about the many different business ventures and how I got them to work (or not work), you can browse my projects section right here.

Here’s a quick look back at the business ventures I’ve been involved with over the years.  So, if you are truly looking for some legitimate work from home business opportunities, I would recommend starting with this list.

9 Legit Business Ventures That I’ve Started…

  1. Selling used books online – not highly profitable, but can indeed be done.
  2. Selling used clothes online – same as the used books.
  3. Writing and selling your own ebooks (either on your own website or through Amazon Kindle as I explain here)
  4. Building Niche Websites – You can learn the most up to date strategies for building niche sites by following Niche Site Project 3.0 right here.
  5. Creating iPhone Apps – Check out my experience for building and launching my first iPhone app here.
  6. Buying and Selling Websites – You can read my experiences in website flipping here.
  7. Starting a software business – Can be highly profitable.  Here’s a few of my experiences with Long Tail Pro here.
  8. Selling physical products through Amazon FBA – Want more than just the screenshots that I shared above, read about my Amazon FBA ventures here.
  9. Start a blog (like I’ve done with NichePursuits.com) – Blogs can be a business all on it’s own.  Starting a blog works basically the same way as starting a niche site; so you can just see what I do on NichePursuits.com, or you can read Niche Site Project 3.0.

So, as I look back at what I’ve attempted and what I’ve accomplished over the past 5 years, I realize 2 things: 1. I’m a bit scatter-brained with so many ideas 2. I’ve actually made several of these ideas quite profitable.

I also want to point out that NONE of these are quick or easy!  There is a huge learning curve to any legitimate business idea, and they are going to take time to launch and turn profitable.  Remember, it took me 6 LONG YEARS from when I decided I wanted to start an online business in 2005 to when I was making enough to quit my job in 2011.

However, hopefully some of what I’ve been able to accomplish over the past 5 years as I’ve sat here working at home can provide some amount of motivation for you as you pursue your dreams of starting your own business and quitting your job.

And lastly, thanks to everyone that has followed along with my journey on NichePursuits.com over the past 5 years!  I hope you’ve learned a thing or two along the way, and I look forward to sharing my next 5 years with you as I blog about my business experiences…

 

Yes! I Love to Learn

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98 Comments for this Post

  1. Samwel Dollah

    Samwel Dollah

    Wow Nice read! Have tried flipping,It flopped,got banned and dropped it,never tried amazon,Just wantedto ask what it take to sell on amazon if one is in non-native countries i.e am in Kenya?

    I started my own niche site and so far good traffic

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Samwel. I see no reason why you can’t sell on Amazon US, even if you are in a different country. Just get a logistics company to handle all the shipping for you to Amazon warehouses.

      • ian

        ian

        Any tips/info on the logistics company you use to get things from China to the US and FBA? Do they inspect it/FBA prep it?

        Cheers!

        • Spencer Haws

          Spencer Haws

          There are MANY logistics companies out there, Google will help. They can inspect if you ask.

  2. Sandeep Bajaj

    Sandeep Bajaj

    Super write up about your online journey Spencer….

    Just goes to show that time and persistence is the key

    Great going….

    Keep sharing and growing

  3. Jason

    Jason

    Excellent post. Very inspiring! I had no idea your could design and sell products on amazon in so few steps and the potential to make so much money. Are those reports from just one product? On average, how much time do you spend managing it every month now that it’s all set up?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Those reports are from 7 products total that I sell. It really is possible. It can take a few months to get your first product manufactured and shipped to the US, but its very doable if you have the funds to invest and the skillset to pick a good product idea.

      • Grant

        Grant

        Amazon FBA definitely has a ton of potential! Do you work with anyone in China that does your quality control before it gets shipped out to the amazon warehouse? Sample>looks good, order>batch created>batch QC checked?>sent to amazon warehouse. Who is to say the sample comes out different than what is shipped to amazon FBA?

        • Spencer Haws

          Spencer Haws

          Thanks grant. No, I don’t do any quality control…probably should. So far, customers have been very happy with quality though.

  4. Mike

    Mike

    Spencer, I’ve followed you for years now. I’m more than a little jealous of your success. It is good to hear of your failures as well! Just curious are any your old niche sites still making money. I know quite a few took a hit a while back.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Mike! I do still have some sites from pre-2011; although most of them are gone now. The buffalo nickel site still makes a cool $20 a month each and every month. The worm farm site got some malware that destroyed the site basically, so I took it down a couple years ago.

  5. Jawad Khan

    Jawad Khan

    Wow!

    What a brilliant journey you’ve had so far.

    Congrats on taking action on your ideas and making things happen for you.

    Its been 3 years since I left my job and although I havent made anywhere close to the amount you’re making, I’m still happy because I get to work on my own terms and still make a very decent income.

    Amazon FBA is a really tempting business model and its great to see the succes youve had with it.

    Would love to see more content on that from you in the coming days.

    Again, happy for you that your hard work paid off.

    Cheers!

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Jawad! I suspect I’ll be writing much more about Amazon FBA, since I’m in the process of launching more products and scaling that business. Expect to see a podcast interview next week with Greg Mercer (founder of Jungle Scout).

  6. Dean

    Dean

    Thanks Spencer for sharing and being so transparent!

    If you had to do it all over again knowing what you know now, what would you have started off with with a limited budget?

    I like the idea of creating a product where there isn’t one and selling it on Amazon! That seems exciting.

    Godbless!

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I’ve found that owning and selling a product (physical or digital) is a much faster way to revenue. So, if I were to start today, I would think of a small product idea (could be an ebook, video course, trinket, software, iphone app) and start selling it right away. If you do your market research right, you can find a need and fill it with your product. Then you can build a blog and audience around that product idea.

  7. Shaun Baird

    Shaun Baird

    Nice, and I bet dozens on here echo similar stores of trying various things .. me too…

    about 10 years ago I started selling a tyre sealant from a uk importer.. I bought a drum of sealant and made a website and put over 50 pages of content on it… it got to number 1 in google even though I had no idea how…
    I put a banner ad on for the AA (automobile association repair service) and began making around $300 a month – I was amazed… that thought has stayed with me through numerous other things.. hyips involvment, “get paid to” stuff, niche website building (got to $1k a month as google penguins slapped me down.. that pi**ed me off so I started a gardening business which pays my bills now…

    kindle ebooks, article writing for others.. and yet throughout ALL of these.. I STILL come back to SEO…

    So I have a 2 year old site… currently at about 600 hits a week, and Im adding content every day….. its a slow slow process, but theres no real focus on the right keywords.. its more natural writing, and its adsense, so click amounts are low, but hey ho.. in time…

    Its growing, and Im in no doubt that in time it will replace my wages, and Im also in no doubt that if I did things right I could speed things up.. but for once I see in my analytics account impressions going up and up..

    All the best for the future Spencer in your life

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Awesome, sounds good Shaun! Consider what you can do to create a product to accompany your blog. Your income will often increase significantly if you can sell your own product rather than relying ad clicks or affiliate sales.

  8. Matt

    Matt

    Congratulations, Spencer! Fantastic story. I started following you just before you quit your full-time job and had high hopes of following in your footsteps. I’m not there yet but still trying. I used Long Tail Pro to help with an affiliate marketing site that I developed and it gave me great ideas that generated decent money until the competitors showed up and beat me in the SERPS, so I appreciate the work your doing and the persistence you’ve shown.

    Looking forward to seeing what you are planning for your next business venture. Maybe an ecommerce site? Is a brick and mortar business in your future? All the best.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Matt…and good luck with your continued endeavors! Thanks for following along for so long!

      Right now I’m just focused on increasing the Amazon FBA business. I do have a site that sells some of my own products (ecommerce)…so who knows…maybe I will open a physical store someday! 🙂

  9. Yaro Park

    Yaro Park

    Nice story Spencer.

    You know everybody just see successful picture of people starting their own business, but nobody shows how they fall many times.
    If you don’t try then you won’t succeed anyway.

    I have story similar to yours, trying many times and failing and so on.
    I quit my job in December last year, move from Seattle to San Diego and happily working from home and enjoying weather outside as well.

    Happy entrepreneurships guys 😉

    Cheers,
    Yaro

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Awesome…congrats on being able to quit your job, Yaro!

  10. Benji

    Benji

    Wow! What a journey, Spencer! Thanks for sharing these incredible details. Your persistence has really paid off and I think this shows people that building an online business definitely takes time and plenty of trial and error.

  11. Ben

    Ben

    Its true I did say that to you. I’m glad you didn’t listen to me!

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I love that mug shot! I’ve learned to never listen to you, bro. 🙂

  12. Louie Luc

    Louie Luc

    Congratulations Spencer on your 5th job-quitting anniversary!

    Very interesting and inspiring journey.
    I guess we started much the same: just trying to see what would happen if we tried this and that and learn from there.

    The crucial thing here is really taking action.

    I would like to suggest a post idea that relates to something I’m always wondering and never see answered by any online business owner or Internet marketer:

    How do you organize your time and schedule to do so many things like a running multiple successful businesses and still have some time to learn and try new things — which is very time consuming?

    I mean, time flies by so quickly for me!

    All the best and here’s to another five years of continued success!

    Your IM friend,
    Louie

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks for the kind words Louie! I’ll consider that as a blog post idea…thanks for the suggestion.

  13. Muhammad

    Muhammad

    Quite inspiring. I am new to online business and have started learning Amazon Affiliate Business from a mentor.

  14. Catherine

    Catherine

    Thanks for sharing, this sounds like me, too many ideas and only working on them when the kids are in bed. But, at year 3 into this, I am starting to see a trickle of income and though it may take a few years to quit my job yet, I can see it is possible now.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks…and good luck Catherine!

  15. Johnny F

    Johnny F

    I spent years making small amounts with low paying affiliate sites….My advice is find a company to promote that pays 25-40% commission on high value products. Spend a little on AdWords, concentrating on niche keywords.

    After making every mistake in the book and wasting time and effort with the likes of Amazon and Affiliate Window, I now make a very nice passive $2,000 dollars every month. I have no product or magic formula to sell. Just read up and try different things! Good luck!

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Awesome, thanks for sharing Johnny.

  16. Leo

    Leo

    Spencer,

    Congratulations on your five years working for yourself. I have been learning from you and NichePursuits for years, and it’s wonderful to hear about your journey. I truly appreciate you sharing your highs and lows, and I look forward to the many more years of learning from the community that you’ve created.

    -Leo

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Leo for following along for so long.

  17. Ilya

    Ilya

    Wow! Very impressive! I never knew that it took you 6 years of experimenting to actually go full time. Love your perseverance! Were there any reasons for selling off a part of LTP? Are you trying to focus on your FBA business more? Great article Spencer! I’ll be sending this out to my subscribers next Monday. 🙂

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Ilya. Bringing in partners is going to help grow Long Tail Pro like I couldn’t on my own. Thanks!

  18. Rachael E Stout

    Rachael E Stout

    Congrats Spencer!
    This overview of your experience was very insightful. Getting money from online doesn’t happen overnight, but with your perseverance you made it.
    Good inspiration.

  19. Adiones

    Adiones

    Impressive Spencer your progress. I also by 2 years ago was studying ways to quit my job and create my own business. For a long time I had no idea what I was going to do, but after searching at that time with the phrase: how to make money on the internet. That is where I found a lot of information that I didn’t know and I dove in head first to study entrepreneurship. And so I started to create niche sites and trying to receive visits by google as well. After I learned how you earn money online never wanted to leave this very lucrative business model.

  20. Cesar

    Cesar

    Congrats Spencer for your fifth year of freedom and independence! I’ve learned a lot from the great content you generously provide! Your story is an inspiration for me that goals can be reached if we are willing to take action and keep working on it trying to find a way to succeed and sooner or later that path of success will be right upon ourselves to take it! We will make some mistakes along the way but it’s very exciting to start something from scratch and make it grow. That of its own is very full filling and rewarding.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks for the kind words, Cesar!

  21. Rick Benz

    Rick Benz

    Spencer,

    I appreciate you sharing your journey with us. I am really happy for your success. There are a lot of gems to take away from your post but here are two that come to mind. Never give up and when you ask someone if your should go a particular way with your business and they tell you “no” do just the opposite of what they say.

    I am delighted that I get a chance to bask in your success. I hope that 2016 is even a bigger year for you.

  22. Jon Haver

    Jon Haver

    Thanks for Sharing Spencer! Love the 13years of grinding! I haven’t heard of many people stepping in and making money in the first year but also haven’t heard of anyone who has hammered away at this for 5+years not being moderately successful! Well done and excited to follow along for the next 5!

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Jon. I should clarify that the 5+ years of trying/failing wasn’t always consistent. I would throw a site up and sometimes go 6 months with very little effort on it. I actually think you might be shocked how many people have tried for much longer than 5 years without having much success. I would say that you are a very rare breed that has had significant success so quickly.

  23. Steve

    Steve

    Thanks for sharing, Spencer. Love NSP – one of the very, very few business blogs I read now – keeps me coming back.

  24. David Robinson

    David Robinson

    Well done Spencer!!!

  25. Rahul Yadav

    Rahul Yadav

    Congratulations, should be a good read.

  26. Ray

    Ray

    Spencer, this has really motivated me further!! I am in corporate world, great job and over $125,000 earnings but…unhappy and want online freedom. Love your podcasts too, you inspire me to move faster and take further action!! Congrats on your success for you and your family. Best wishes from the UK.

  27. Hussain

    Hussain

    Great success story Spencer!

    Beginnings are always painful, but you had a dream and worked BADLY to make it real, that is the key. Even if you are on a wrong track, your determination will support you, especially in this field that nobody will support you to go for, unless they see real cash flows, even your close relatives.

    It was great to mention you unsuccessful projects too, most of people don’t like to talk about their bad experiences, only entrepreneurs do, as the entrepreneur is expected to do everything they can to implement their DREAMS, face the risks, and overcome the challenges.

    Thanks for sharing, this post is really inspiring!

    Regards
    Hussain

  28. Janco Vorster

    Janco Vorster

    Congrats! Spencer!

    Thanx for the inspiration. When I started my website/blog I thought the money will start coming in, but it has not been that easy.
    There is so much to learn, but I also have a dream of quitting my job so that I can be my own boss.
    Is creating a digital product like an E-book the “easiest” way to start making money online? Or rather making affiliate sites?
    Janco

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Janco. An ebook is likely to bring in more money if done correctly. I’m not sure that one is necessarily easier than the other though. It just depends on your overall strategy.

  29. Michal

    Michal

    Very inspiring. The day when you finally quit your day job – I can only imagine how amazing it felt! Best of luck with the next 5 years and beyond

  30. Mike W

    Mike W

    Spencer,
    Really one of the best internet marketing blog posts I’ve read in a long time. Maybe its a case of ‘when the student is ready the teacher will appear’ but this is very motivating in its transparency. I’ve followed you off and on over the years, always thought you were a straight shooter, but this post is motivational because I believe it. So … thanks!!
    Mike

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thank you Mike…comments like your really keep me motivated…so thanks!

  31. Michael O

    Michael O

    Thanks for an inspiring article, sir! Persistence through struggle is key to success. (I need to remind myself of this. Often). This niche site work is tough going, but I’m determined to make a buck or two with it, hopefully more.

  32. Gillian

    Gillian

    Epic content! Thank you so much for sharing so much value. That was just what I needed today.

  33. Derrick Barber

    Derrick Barber

    Inspirational. We have a similar past, in some aspects. I started doing the whole niche site thing in 2004. Unfortunately most of those sites have been dropped because I made very little money. Mainly due to the fact the sites weren’t high enough quality design and content wise. A few of them survived and I think still have merit and potential… I just can’t decide if I should spend the time and money on them because they would all need a revamp on the design, lots of content, and an actual strategy to make money beyond relying on Adsense. Do you happen to have any ideas on what my “next step” might be to see if one or more of them are worth getting serious about? I have more, but here are the five I think I have the most potential due to existing traffic/revenue.

    VisitingWashingtonDC.com
    RetirementHobbies.com
    HowToChooseACareer.com
    LowBudgetWedding.com
    ChecklistForCamping.com

    Would appreciate anyone’s two cents on this. Thanks!

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I would look at the overall niche for all of these ideas and start to figure out how easy or difficult the competition is…and the size of the markets. From there, hopefully one of them will start to show as great market, with lowest competition. Good luck!

      • Derrick Barber

        Derrick Barber

        Sorry, I haven’t done this for a long time. What is my starting point to learn how to do that? A blog or Ebook I can read? A YouTube video? Is there someone I can hire to do this? Not looking to spend a crazy amount of time on it, if at all possible. Thank you.

  34. Iqbal

    Iqbal

    Hi Spancer, very awesome blog 🙂 .

    Anyway, i iwanna ask something in terms of building website.
    So, in your point of view, which one more suitable for us ( as a newbie ), build a authority site or micro niche site. Cause this 2 two kind of website have a different mindset and different technical skill we must do.

    Thank you

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      They both start out exactly the same. An authority site starts small, and grows as you add content. So, the answer is they are the same thing…an authority site you just keep putting effort into.

  35. Julie Writer

    Julie Writer

    I had already tried commenting here on my phone but the screen changed
    just when I clicked on the submit comment button and I think the comment
    may have gotten messed up and may have gone to another page or didn’t go through at all. Not sure… so I decided
    to comment again in case that never went through. But this time from a PC.

    Thank you for pointing out that it took 6 years to get where you are. I think I am
    in 4th year trying and still haven’t had a breakthrough. I am taking it more seriously this year and working on it full time. My goal is to be able to generate $ 10, 000 a month through my article writing service and by venturing into Amazon, kindles books and affiliate marketing. What inspired me to continue with my online pursuits is an ebook I wrote 2 years ago and I created a sales page for it and did a bit of marketing for it. I still sell books every week even though I am doing minimal marketing for it now, so I had a light bulb moment and started thinking that maybe I should take this more seriously if I want to make more money out of it.

    Anyway, just wanted to let you know that I will be following your posts, starting with what’s in the archives. Your site is such a rich resource.

  36. Kent Chow

    Kent Chow

    That’s an awesome post. I’ve followed you since you helped Pat on his Adsense optimization and Niche Pursuits.

    I learned a lot following along. Your LTP and Niche Site Projects inspired and changed my Online Journey too.

    I wanna say your sharing of online business, not only profit-wise – also help and inspire this community.

    I believe the real $ value is 5 or 10x of what you have in your bank. 🙂

    Congrats on your last 5 year. Sure bigger success and impact is on your way!

    I do curious what your next BIG project or journey is. Maybe Grow your FBA brand to an empire.

  37. Ademir

    Ademir

    Hey Spencer, their tips are excellent for my business, thank you and much success to you.

  38. Amin

    Amin

    Hey Spencer!
    another great post from you !
    i didn’t know it took 6 years for you to build your online business and quitting your job !
    well done bro !
    we had some experience in building online business in Iran, but many of them just failed !
    you have many great opportunities in USA for building online businesses because of established economic structure! but in Iran online businesses still have a long way to go and there are many absurd obstacles in between !

  39. Peyton Manning

    Peyton Manning

    Not bad niche boy…I tried 9 times to throw the football in the superbowl and didn’t connect on any…so your strike rate’s pretty decent.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      haha…aren’t you retired now? Thanks!

  40. Vishal

    Vishal

    Hi Spencer Sir, I learned a lot from you. Just like you, I also left my day job in the hope of making a good money online. I searched and researched a lot and almost invested my last 7-8 years for a legitimate online business model.

    I started as a freelance writer which was a decent earner for me for good 3-4 years. Then I really got tired of writing for countless hours for my clients and started my first online site 4 years back. Since then I worked on several sites with little luck.

    Some earned me close to 100 bucks a month while some nothing to mention. But when I started following your site and started applying your advice on my sites, the situation really changed for me. I really thank you for your invaluable efforts of sharing your business knowledge and wisdom with your readers.

    I also wish you good luck for your upcoming projects.

    Thanks again.

    Vishal

  41. Natalie

    Natalie

    A great read Spencer, and congratulations on your success!
    I haven’t started reading your progress with your FBA business, but I find it interesting that you dealt with alibaba.com. My husband and I tried to import a product from alibaba.com which was a bit of a fail, but we did learn so much from the experience and will be trying again soon. Our issue was with the product quality itself.

  42. Adrian Bold

    Adrian Bold

    Thanks, as always, for being so open with what you share, Spencer. Yours is a truly inspirational story. The FBA model interests me but, having had my own failures, I’ve almost stopped believing that I could get true success. Posts like yours remind me that there are still good people achieving success in their business without having to sell out.

  43. Matthew Warren

    Matthew Warren

    A very motivating post! It’s incredibly helpful to read about failed attempts, as well as successes. The failures can sometimes be even more motivating!

    It’s a bit intimidating to read that it can take years to get an online business off the ground, but it’s nice to read how it finally panned out.

    Great reminders here about how to keep an open mind and to not lose target of your ultimate goal, and that patience and persistence can really pay off.

  44. Shawn

    Shawn

    Great stuff! I too started selling on Amazon FBA about 4 months but I only have 1 product at this point. Your posts have definitely inspired me to start scaling and selling more products! It is amazing how fast you are growing and succeeding.

    Are you selling products that compliment each other and in turn help sell each other? I know this is recommended by the gurus in the business but I’m finding this has definitely been a challenge for me.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      As of yet, I wouldn’t say that my products help sell each other. I think that’s a great way to go though.

  45. zach

    zach

    Awesome write up! I have been following you for a while now, and I am deciding to act sometime soon. Quick question, what volume of searches per month on a long tail keyword makes it worth while to act on that keyword?

    Thanks again!

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I have no mimimum. As little as 10 searches a month will still get an article written on it many times.

  46. Madrid

    Madrid

    Great story.
    Thanks for sharing the up AND the downs. Most time you only read about the successes.
    It hard work, so good luck on the next. 5 years,
    Madrid

  47. Mrs. Budgets @MrandMrsBudgets

    Mrs. Budgets @MrandMrsBudgets

    Spencer I loved reading this post. Very motivating!

  48. Bill

    Bill

    Hello Spencer,

    Would you be up for grabbing a beer or coffee sometime?

    Best regards,
    Bill

  49. terry

    terry

    Im chocking, this is one of the most important posts I ever read here, in this 4 years. I feel more close to you and what you have done so far, this motivated me not give up!

  50. W.Y.

    W.Y.

    Congrats on your continued success! How do you handle the sales tax issues for your FBA business?

  51. Steven

    Steven

    A word of caution to anyone considering Long Tail Pro Platinum that is promoted in this post.

    I recently signed up for the annual plan which came with a generous ten day trial period. However, one of the key features of the software is Keyword Competitiveness, and at time of writing, this is not working. LTPro Support explained that it’s due to a reliance on an external API and they are working hard on a fix. As a new customer trying to evaluate the software, I asked if my trial period could be extended once this fundamental issue was fixed, on the basis I couldn’t actually evaluate its requirements against my criteria. I was told this was not possible, which frankly, is very poor customer service. What’s the point of offering a trial period when customers are unable to fully test the software?

    I did not think it was unreasonable to request an extended trial period and I found the inflexibility of the support very disappointing. I did also tweet Spencer to point this out in the hope he may have stepped in to offer a common sense perspective.

    So whilst Long Tail Pro has just continued to grow in revenue every single year, the fact that Spencer has sold off a portion of his share of the business to new partners may not necessarily be a positive change for the business. Spencer says he is “excited for the future on Long Tail Pro”. I would focus on the here and now. If you don’t look after your current and potential customers, that growth will eventually stagnate with less than favourable reviews.

    I would urge the business owners of LTPro to review their policies with regards trial periods of software that is not fully functioning.

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