How I Have Earned a Living Online for the Last Five Years – A Guide to Being Work-Shy

By on September 8, 2014

When I was 16 my Mum decided it was time I got a part-time job, and so I found myself working at a chip shop in Kinson. It properly sucked there though and within a week I was fired for ‘giving customers too many chips’. Screw that.

Then I tried working as a cleaner at my old school, but as my colleagues were all old women, I ended up doing most of the work. So I left. Then I tried working at a One Stop, then a Tesco Express, then a big trampoline company called ‘Jump Zone’ and then in a restaurant at a yacht club. This was in the space of two years.

Word started to spread around that I was ‘work shy’.

And that’s when I realised… yeah I was! But I was okay with it. I mean why wouldn’t you be work shy? Who actually wants to wake up 7am just to spend two hours commuting and eight hours+ working in an office? Who really wants to waste their life working as part of a team who ultimately fulfill some boring job that actually only exists to make money so that they can keep on doing that same thing?

And what’s with the weird sense of pride that people get from working? Why are people so pleased with themselves for being ‘hard working’? Why is hard work in itself something to be celebrated? Have we just convinced ourselves of that so we don’t cry ourselves to sleep every night? Oh well done, you’re good at being told what to do every day to the point where you can’t even really choose what you wear. If you keep at it you might get a raise in five years and be even more stressed. Plus you get to retire once you’re too old and tired to enjoy it. Your family may not get to see you ever, you might lose all your friends, and you might have so little energy that you get fat… But hey, at least you’re hard-working!

How Being ‘Work Shy’ Turned Out for Me

When I reached 18, I did what all work shy people do and went to University. In my case, to study psychology because I was interested in both the physical and mental aspects of health and performance. I had a great time, but as my final year approached its end, I realised that I was going to have to think of something fast if I wanted to continue not working…

I tried a whole bunch of things. I created my most recent website ‘The Biomatrix’ (predecessor to The Bioneer), I wrote a book and I tried selling various services online. Eventually though, I worked out a way to continue putting off ‘the real world’ (I’ll explain that in a bit) and I am still successfully avoiding real work to this day. Man, everyone should try and be a bit more work-shy…

What does that look like?

Well these days my day starts when my fiancé Hannah wakes up for work. Only I don’t have to get up anywhere near as early, so I get to snooze while she gets ready for a whole extra hour. Then I make breakfast which we eat together and then she leaves for work. I’m not a morning person though, and as I don’t have any commute, I let myself get the first two hours of the day off. That’s right, for two hours in the morning I will read books/comics, play computer games, drink tea and sometimes workout.

A recent pleasant working spot in Wimbledon before  going to an art exhibition with my sister...

A recent pleasant working spot in Wimbledon before going to an art exhibition with my sister…

In fact, I probably attribute staying in good shape at least partly to the fact that I work from home. I remember my step Dad telling me my muscles would fade when I ‘entered the real world’. Not doing that then…

Work begins around 9.30-10am then, at which point I go to a coffee shop with my Surface Pro and a white Americano (my current favourite). My day then ends around 5pm, and I have another hour usually to relax/workout before Hannah gets home. Some days I will travel into central London to work in interesting places like the British Library, or I will visit Hannah/relatives/friends on their lunch breaks.

So to tell you the truth… it ‘aint bad. And to be honest I’ve never had any interest in getting a ‘regular job’. Even if it paid more. What do I want with extra money if I have less time to enjoy it?

More to the point, I absolutely love working on my own projects. You get such a feeling of satisfaction when an app you created sells well, or when you get an e-mail from someone who enjoyed an article you wrote. It’s so much more rewarding than being a cog in a machine that ultimately creates a product or service you have no interest in. Talk about soul crushing…

To be honest I think this is the way life’s meant to be. It’s an insult to your honour to be told what to do and what to wear for the majority of your life.

How I Started Making Money Online

So how did I land this cushy lifestyle? More importantly, how can you do the same?

Working in the Surrey Student Union in the very early days - as evidenced by the ancient netbook. And yup, I am enjoying a beer while I work!

Working in the Surrey Student Union in the very early days – as evidenced by the ancient netbook. And yup, I am enjoying a beer while I work!

Firstly, I advertised in the webmaster forum called ‘Digital Point’ and said that I was a freelance writer looking for work. At the time I worked for $7 per 500 words! But because I was able to churn out 10,000 words a day, that actually equated to $140 in total. Which wasn’t terrible. Sometimes I would even write more than that, and occasionally I would work on weekends. Usually then I would manage to add at least an extra $100 to my earnings by the end of the week, making it a total of about $800 a week. More than enough to live on.

Today I charge $9, so when I manage that same output I’m now on closer to around $1,000 a week from the writing alone.

Fortunately, just when I moved to London and started facing bigger outgoings, I released a successful Android app. Over the last two years I’ve earned roughly an additional $15,000 from apps, which is highly rewarding.

On top of this I have money trickling in from advertising on this website, from book sales on Kindle, from YouTube videos and from others sources. I’m not rich by any means, but it all adds up. This site is a work in progress, and I’m hoping it will start paying for itself soon.

And thanks to the apps I created, I now get that great feeling of going to bed and waking up a little bit richer…

Just as well, as paying for weddings sure isn’t cheap!

How to Work Online Instead of Getting a Real Job

When I started working online I was in a fortunate position. Having just come out of Uni, I was living with Mum and this gave me the time I needed to experiment. And it was during Uni that I first put out the advert for my writing services.

It wasn’t until I knew I could support myself, that I moved in with my buddy Goof into a flat in Bournemouth. And only once that had worked for 18 months was I ready to move once again to London (which was considerably more expensive).

working for yourself

My first flat in Bournemouth with Goof. Two minutes from the beach (where I would regularly work). Not bad for a writer working out of coffee shops!

Chances are that you’re not in the same situation. You probably are working full-time to support a family etc. and don’t have the luxury of quitting your job and trying to earn money online.

So what you need to do instead, is to try and earn the money online on top of what you’re currently doing. In other words, you need to make this a hobby that you’re dedicated to and you need to do it every Saturday, or maybe ever evening for a couple of hours.

It’s only then once your strategy starts to pay off, that you can increase the amount of time you dedicate to it. Then try taking a holiday maybe, or moving to a job with more flexible hours. And eventually, once it pays for itself, you quit.

In other words, there’s no need to ‘take a big risk’. If you’re smart, you will grow your private income by dedicating more and more time, and only then quit your job once you’re confident it will work.

It’s only when you eventually quit the day job that you’ll be taking a risk, but even then it’s not as bad as you think. When you’re self-employed you can’t ‘fired as such’, the only risk is that you don’t earn as much as you need. If that happens, you’ll have time to try and find a job again.

To make this work though you need to be committed to working for yourself. That means treating it like a job. Explain to your friends and family how important this is to you, and that you won’t be as available at certain times for a while. Like working out, this only works if you’re committed.

And here’s another thing: focus on making money quickly in the short term. Don’t worry yet about doing your ‘dream job’. What you’re doing is called ‘bootstrapping’ and that means you’re working a relatively un-fun job in order to give you the means to follow your passions. I worked as a writer anonymously for a long time so that I would have the time to work on apps. Now those apps have helped me to dedicate a bit more time to this site. If I’d started with this site or with the apps, it would have taken years before I could support myself.

Some Business Models to Get You Started

Interested? Great! Then you’re going to need a plan to get started. Here are some business models you can try from home. Pick one or two, dedicate lots of time, read lots on them and focus on making reliable income. Once you’ve done that, you can start thinking about giving up your day-job and chasing your dreams.

And if that never happens, at least you’ve added 10-50% to your income…

  • Providing online services – This is the one I do as a write. I went onto Digital Point and later Warrior Forums and advertised my services (others to try include PeoplePerHour, ODesk, Elance and Fiverr). I started with a low asking price and focussed on volume. When you start out you won’t have any experience or references, so I recommend you do the same. You can chase bigger clients and raise your prices as you go. If you don’t like the idea of writing then you can also offer photography, design, marketing, proof reading, programming, consulting, voiceovers and more. Personally I don’t recommend web design services unless you’re really good – that’s a very saturated market.
  • Reselling – The easiest way to do this is by buying items wholesale and then selling them on eBay. Start small and invest a percentage of your profits into buying larger orders each time and this will be an almost fool-proof business model. With time you can invest in a website, do some online marketing and maybe even get a warehouse for storing your stock. Be smart though with your choice of product and with the way you market. Watch your sales and adapt to what your market wants. You can also resell services by the way – find someone who’s willing to pay you to write articles for instance, and then just pay someone else (probably in another country) slightly less to do the same job. I tried this but didn’t enjoy it much as I’m not really a management type. If you’d prefer to manage people and put out fires rather than working yourself though, then it’s a great option.
  • Crafts – Another type of item you can sell on eBay (and Etsy) is items that you made yourself. There’s a big market for these ‘quirky’ types of products and hand-made jewellery/artwork etc. As long as you can make the items quickly and cheaply and sell them for a good profit, then you can make this into a business.
  • Services – You can also sell ‘offline’ services and use the web simply to market them. As long as this is something you can do in an evening, there’s no reason you can’t set up a website offering your services as a hairdresser, gardener, copywriter, advisor, decorator, interior designer, private investigator… and then you just respond to e-mails and fit the jobs in around your day job and other commitments.

Tip: Don’t forget that if you’re earning a significant amount of money ‘on the side’, you will have to declare those earnings and pay tax on them. Don’t let that put you off though, it’s easier than it sounds…

Notice I haven’t put the usual items on this list like ‘run a website’ or ‘create an app’. That’s because these take years to get right and that puts them in the ‘pipe dream category’. They will happen, but if you want to give up your day job quickly, then they aren’t the way to go. Do people get rich overnight from an app or a Kickstarter project? Sure they do, but they’re the exception. If you want to quit your job quickly then you need to be practical. Then you’ll have the time to launch your comic book series about the rabbit with special powers…

Use one of the above models to support yourself, and then you’ll have the time to invest into a business model that you would really enjoy. Keep plugging away, and learn how to get better at making money on the fly. And don’t wuss out.

About Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki, AKA The Bioneer, is a writer, personal trainer, author, entrepreneur, and web developer. I've been writing about health, psychology, and fitness for the past 10+ years and have a fascination with the limits of human performance. When I'm not running my online businesses or training, I love sandwiches, computer games, comics, and hanging out with my family.

One Comment

  1. Nick says:

    Awesome article! This is just what I’m trying to do with myself – transition from having a “job” to doing what I’m passionate about and making a living off it. Thanks for the inspiration!

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