The industrial revolution hit, the internet era is in full gear, Japan is inventing robots with uncanny AI, and the world is experiencing exponential scientific growth. With 7 billion people, our brightest are constantly re-inventing the wheel to propel us further. More and more entrepreneurs are popping up all over the world, self funded and with great ideas to share. There are over a billion web pages, blogs, e-stores, and now that China has opened up, the world of global trade has exploded.
Without Steve Jobs and his peers we wouldn’t all be walking around with iPads; without Bill Gates we wouldn’t be logging onto Windows everyday at work; who was Mark Zuckerberg before Facebook? All of these guys started their multi-billion dollar industries in their basements and backyards, slogging through schoolwork and devoting themselves to their efforts. Could you be the next big entrepreneur ?
Anyone can be, and small ideas sometimes turn into the largest wheels. Nevermind that, look to your local community and you are bound to find fellow neighbours thriving off of ideas that they have taken to the next level. Do you have an ambitious mind? Here are a few places to turn up your brain’s revolutions-per-minute and transcend to new entrepreneurial levels.
1. Any Retail Stores
This seems obvious but hear me out. More and more people today are selling things online and sourcing them from overseas. Next time you are in a store – fitness, pets, food, hardware, automotive, anything – walk through the aisles and take inventory of all the strange things you would otherwise never look at. Cat carriers, funny pillows, resistance bands, strange tools; all made overseas, and shipped to retailers by local sellers. Attract ideas to yourself by noticing sale patterns of easy to ship items that can be made and designed easily without much threshold for damage. Sometimes you just need to see something new to inspire a creative idea with yourself.
2. Etsy, Ebay, Redbubble…
These are a few examples of websites where people are able to sell things that they created. Although you might not be the world’s best industrial designer, these websites are another source of valuable information about what people are buying. People go on the internet to safely satisfy their desire for impulse shopping. They can order things online without leaving home or even seeing money leave their bank account. They can purchase things that look interesting, at low prices, without feeling guilty about blowing through their savings. Here you will find different kinds of shelving units, creative dish wash brushes, alternate wall ornaments and graphic tee shirts that you haven’t thought of before. The mind is easily stimulated – let it happen.
3. International websites
This one seems remote but it’s not. Try to log on to some foreign websites in places like Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam and India. These are countries that although have lower GDP’s than ours, have massive populations of people who love shopping and technological advancements. See what is popular in other countries, what young people are buying, what the market trends are in other places. You’ll find giant Pikachu pillows, motorbike helmet ornaments, and strange fashion designs that are surprisingly fashionable and popular.
4. Celebrity buzz
Daymond John may not be a household name, but he is the founder of FUBU clothing, a billion dollar clothes company from America. He was also a judge on Shark Tank, a popular business reality show. He famously started off by selling hats in parking lots during sports games, and is now a millionaire. It didn’t happen overnight, and it wasn’t easy, but celebrity buzz helped his company explode when he got a famous rapper to wear his clothes in a music video that became huge. Everyone saw the style, and everybody wanted to become a piece of it. Celebrity news might not be our favourite source of entertainment but it is instrumental in determining what will be the next trends in fashion, style and public interest, and it’s worth keeping an eye on for the business savvy.
5. Freelance websites
Did you know you could become a professional audio book transcriber? Or health and fitness blog writer? Through a myriad of websites people are now able to develop streams of income through peer-to-peer networking like Fiverr and Upwork. If you have any talents at all, they can be listed in your profile and certainly somewhere out there is looking for someone like you. All you have to do is a bit of groundwork everyday, and soon you could find you replace your salary with the work you are doing online. Amazing!
The Only Good Reason to Start a Business in 2016
It seems that every content generator on Earth has banged out a post with 10, 13, 21, 34, even 50 reasons to start your own business. And that’s just in 2015 alone. The only problem is that every single one of those reasons in every single article is self-serving. Truth is, customers couldn’t care less about that.
There really is only one good reason to start a business: You’ve discovered a market need – a customer problem that begs to be solved – and have the passion and commitment to come up with a better solution than what’s out there. That’s what real entrepreneurs do.
Every successful business I’ve ever heard of started that way. Every single one. No exceptions. No kidding. Here are just a few examples, off the top of my head:
- GrubHub was founded by Matt Maloney and Mike Evans. While working on a job, the pair got hungry and that’s when it hit them that there was no one-stop-shop online for food delivery from local restaurants.
- Once the Web grew from a collection of static pages to an interactive platform, Matt Mullenweg knew users would need an open source content management system, so he created WordPress.
- After leaving Yahoo, Jan Koum and Brian Acton felt the need for a messaging app with no ads, no games, and no gimmicks. That was the genesis of WhatsApp, which was acquired by Facebook for $19 billion.
- Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp founded Uber as an app built on scalable infrastructure to get people rides from one place to another.
- Richard Branson created a discount mail-order record store, Virgin Records, because he was frustrated with paying exorbitant prices for music and thought others felt the same way.
- Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created Apple Computer to meet the growing demand for fully assembled personal computers with a display and interface for loading and saving programs. Today, Apple is the most valuable company in the world.
- When friends asked for custom PCs, Michael Dell started building them to order out of his Austin, Texas, dorm room. That became Dell Computer.
- Fred Smith came up with the idea of using a bank clearing house concept to more efficiently ship packages from one place to another. That’s how Federal Express was born.
- Bill Gates loved writing programming languages and customers needed them, so he started Microsoft for just that purpose.
- With a billion people and little brick and mortar infrastructure, China had thousands of small merchants with no easy way to reach customers. Jack Ma built Alibaba to meet that need.
I could go on, but you get the point.
Look, there’s a massive amount of hype around entrepreneurship these days. You can’t visit a single website without reading about it. So the pressure to conform to this particular social norm is enormous.
And I understand how easy it is to start a company with a website and a blog. It costs almost nothing to get started. Not only that, but it feels good to have a site, a company, a business you can call your own.
But none of that changes the laws of supply and demand, the fundamentals of competitive markets, and what it takes to start and build a successful business over the long haul. They’re as true in today’s virtual world as they’ve always been in the real one.
So if you’re going to forsake your career, and give up the opportunity to learn and gain experience by working for others, it’s a good idea to know upfront what you’re up against so you have the best chance of winning in the end. Without the passion and commitment to come up with a better solution to a problem that really matters, that will never happen.
Don’t just take it from me and all those successful entrepreneurs. After reading my new book, Real Leaders Don’t Follow, an old friend and business associate who’s had a long and successful career, Ziv Azmanov, sent me an email that, among other things, does a pretty effective job of explaining what distinguishes real entrepreneurs from the pack:
What makes real entrepreneurs is their passion and commitment to solve a problem/need that really matters to them. These people are also willing to take the great personal risk, and make the significant effort that’s required to solve this problem.
Ziv goes on to say that “innovation is also part of it since they are trying to solve a problem that either hasn’t been solved until now, or was solved in an insufficient manner.” And he’s absolutely right. That’s what real entrepreneurs do. And that is the only good reason to start a business in 2016 … or any year, for that matter.
15 Inspiring Entrepreneurs Who Built Careers Around Their Passions Through Social Media
Have you heard this advice before: “Follow your passions!” “Do what you love!”?
And have you thought, what if my passions are my hobbies? Things that I could never be paid for?
For some, the advice to “do what you love” seems possible only if you have a passion for things like finance or accounting or coding. Well, I’ve been happy to find that it’s possible to follow your passions into a career, no matter what those passions may be. With social media, you now have a platform to do what you love—and to make a career out of it.
I found 15 amazing entrepreneurs who built their entire businesses and careers around social media, many earning $100,000 or more.
I’d love to share their stories with you—and how you can follow their lead to turn your passions into a career, through social media.
How to Earn an Income Doing What You Love on Social Media
It sounds far-fetched, doesn’t it?
Posting photographs or tweets a few times each day to launch a lucrative career doing what you love.
And you might be wondering how these social media entrepreneurs make money. Because after all, a career requires an income.
I’ll get into the specific stories of 15 entrepreneurs below. First, I thought I’d share the many number of ways—the specific avenues and channels—that they use to make money on social media.
Sponsorships are responsible for a lot of the money earned through social media, especially for those just starting off. Brittany Furlan, Caitlin Turner and Shaun McBride all started with sponsorships.
Sponsorships occur when brands pay to be associated with you. When a tourism board pays Instagrammer Lauren Bath to work with them and feature their location, they are sponsoring Lauren.
Podcasts are usually funded through sponsorships as well. The sponsor will pay to be featured on the podcast at some point during the episode.
Advertisements are another popular method of monetizing social media. YouTubers like Liz Meghan use ads to make a living through their social media accounts.
Advertisements differ from sponsorships in that there’s usually not a long term relationship with the entrepreneur.
3. Selling products
If you have a product based business like an eCommerce store, this is perfect for you.
Social media can be a great place to sell your products – or, at the least, build up a following and redirect those followers to your website to buy your products.
4. Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing allows you to work with brands to help them sell their products, earning you a commission each time somebody buys through your affiliate link.
Many social media channels allow affiliate links to be placed within a post, and when the follower clicks on the link and makes a purchase through it, the poster gets a portion of that sale.
5. Promoting services
If a service-based business is more up your alley, you don’t want to look past social media as a marketing channel.
From hair stylists who post their work on Instagram to coaches who use Facebook as a platform to engage with potential clients, there is a lot of opportunity on social media to promote your services.
6. Boosting your visibility as an artist
If you’re an artist, writer, or creative entrepreneur, social media can be an amazing tool to boost your visibility.
Why Social Media Works
Creating social media content every day. Scheduling it at the right times. Analyzing what followers respond to and what they ignore. The time it takes to manage a social media marketing strategy can be significant.
Here are two reasons why the time is well worth it, especially for those looking to build a new career.
1. Social Media Expands Your Reach by 1,000x
How many people visit your website each day?
Those aren’t bad numbers. And it may make sense for you to spend time on your own website rather than social media because your website is like your online home.
But think about it:
- Instagram has 100 million active users
- Twitter has over 135 million active users
- Youtube sees over 1 billion active users each month
Even if only 0.1% of the people on those channels are interested in what you’re doing, you’ve still amplified your reach by over 1,000 times by using social media to spread your message and share your passion.
2. Social Media Establishes Your Expertise
The lifeblood of social media is content.
Even if you’re posting a 6-second video on Vine or a photo on Instagram, you’re posting content.
When you’re consistently posting content about a specific topic, you establish yourself as an expert.
Take, for example, two mathematicians who love numbers. Who establishes herself as an expert?
- Mathematician A, who loves her work but avoids social media, or
- Mathematician B, who teaches others how to do math on Youtube and has 200,000 followers?
They’re both experts, but Mathematician B has established herself as an expert. She has built an audience, and provides value to others by demonstrating her knowledge on social media.
15 Entrepreneurs Who Built New Careers Through Social Media
The creator of Humans of New York
In 2010, after losing his job, Brandon Stanton began to take candid photographs of people on the streets of New York and post them to Facebook.
Self-taught, Brandon took photos that reflected his passion, and these photos quickly began to gain traction on Facebook.
Humans of New York now has over 12 million Facebook likes, and it has launched a speaking, photography, philanthropic and media career for Brandon.The revenue generated by HONY prints sold goes directly to charity, and Brandon makes a living from the royalties of books sales and new freelancing opportunities. He went into a bit more detail about the specifics in a Reddit AMA:
How are you able to pay for your daily needs? Does HONY support you financially?
I’ve said publicly that I don’t want to “cash out” or “monetize” HONY. I like to say it publicly because I want my audience to keep me on mission. HONY print sales have raised nearly $500,000 for charity in the past six months. I want to further monetize the site for non-profit ventures. I honestly want to “give” HONY to New York in some way.
Freelancing and book royalties are keeping me afloat now. I get money for collaborations, occasional magazine pieces, occasional speeches, etc. And I signed two book deals which pay the rent. Also, I live cheaply.
2. Jeff Goins
Author and Blogger behind Goins, Writer
Two years ago, Jeff Goins quit his day job to pursue his passion for writing full-time.
He now has built a tribe of over 100,000 people, and has just launched his fourth book, The Art of Work.
This is all made possible by social media.
Jeff began writing on his blog, Goinswriter.com, and continued to work in his day job. He then began to earn more on his blog doing what he loved part-time than he was in his full-time job.
My blog (which accounted for less than 10 hours per week) was now contributing more income than my full-time job (which took up at least 40 hours per week).
His first product—a $2.99 ebook—earned $1,500 in its first week, convincing Jeff that his hobby could be a business.
His blog gave him a platform to follow his passion and do what he loves.
3. Grace Ciao
Fashion Designer and Artist
Grace Ciao is the ultimate accidental social media entrepreneur.
Since she was a little girl, Grace has had a passion for fashion design, and one day, she noticed a flower a boy had given her was dying. So Grace created a fashion illustration out of the petals of the flower.
She took a photo of her illustration and posted it on Instagram, which quickly became popular.
Grace earns a living as a full-time illustrator, and has used her platform to book engagements for events.
Husband and Wife Singers, Us The Duo
Michael and Carissa Alvarado were making music before they began posting 6-second videos on Vine, but nothing has skyrocketed their careers more than Vine has.
The couple was already trying to gain more traction on Youtube when they decided to put snippets of their covers on Vine, which served them well.
They now have 4.6 million Vine followers, and signed a record deal with Republic Records in 2014, allowing them to follow their passion by getting their start on social media.
Nerd and Baker at Nerdy Nummies
If you’ve ever thought the only way to pursue your passion for baking is by opening a bakery or through feeding your family, think again.
Rosanna Pansino built a career on social media centered around her love of baking when she was egged on by friends (pun intended) to start a Youtube channel.
Rosanna’s Youtube Channel, Nerdy Nummies has over 3.6 million subscribers.
Comedian from Sh!t My Dad Says
“Don’t focus on the one guy who hates you. You don’t go to the park and set your picnic down next to the only pile of dog sh–.”
— Justin (@shitmydadsays) June 28, 2010
Let me guess.
It seems as if every time you open Twitter, you’re instantly barraged with links to mediocre blog posts, pictures of people’s lattes and announcements of what the newest member of oversharers-anonymous is having for lunch that day.
You could never imagine Twitter as a platform to build a career, right?
Well, Justin Halpern did just that.
He took his comedy writing career to the next level by starting the popular Twitter account Sh!t My Dad Says, where he began to Tweet snippets of conversations with his father.
The Twitter account quickly gained traction and morphed into a television series and book.
7. Lain Ehmann
Scrapbooker and Blogger from Layout a Day
If you’ve ever felt as if your interests or hobbies were impossible to build a career from, you may be inspired by Lain Ehmann, who built her career from a blog about scrapbooking.
Yes, you read that right.
She’s built a six figure business around a niche that is traditionally a hobby niche, teaching others how to scrapbook and holding live online events through her blog.
The power of the internet allows us to connect with people who are interested in the things that we’re interested in, and if we can provide enough value to those people, Lain proves that lucrative careers can be built.
Artist and Snapchatter
Shaun McBride learned how to draw by looking at other artists’ drawings and trying his hand out at the craft.
After Snapchatting his drawing/photo mashups, he was featured on some popular websites, which boosted his career.
He now can make tens of thousands of dollars from one advertising deal with a brand through his Snapchat account, according to Forbes, and “several thousand dollars per image”.
Health Enthusiast of The Model Health Show
If text or images doesn’t interest you when it comes to building a career on social media, maybe audio does.
Shawn Stevenson runs the #1 health podcast on iTunes, the Model Health Show, allowing him to follow his passion for fitness and health through a different medium.
Instead of taking the traditional route of personal training, Shawn interviews guests on his podcast, creating content and giving listeners the tools to live healthy lives.
10. Lauren Bath
Traveller and Professional Instagrammer
Lauren Bath has arguably the best job in the world. Not only is she paid to Instagram, but she also gets paid to travel.
Lauren was the “first professional Instagrammer” of Australia, and quit her job as a chef to pursue her passions for photography and travel.
Lauren works with tourism boards and brands to provide exposure through her huge Instagram account to make a living.
While she doesn’t reveal her rates in interviews, she tells Successful Blogging that she works with brands such as Nikon and Tourism Boards to offer them sponsorships:
Well I can’t talk for others but for me I charge a base rate to travel away from home and that rate includes posting whatever images I like with all content available to the client.
11. Joey Korneman
Animator and Teacher from School of Motion
Joey Korneman is the founder of School of Motion, where he teaches his students through online courses to animate using the principles of motion design.
Most of Joey’s traffic comes from Vimeo, as he tells Pat Flynn’s mastermind group in a recent episode of the Smart Passive Income Podcast.
He has 5,000 followers on Vimeo, which is high for that social media channel, and, as he tells Pat’s mastermind group, “Vimeo is very high-quality traffic for motion design”.
Joey makes a living teaching motion design by directing his Vimeo followers to his website, where he sells courses.
12. Mignon Fogarty
Grammarian and Podcaster at Grammar Girl
Passions come in all shapes and sizes, and Mignon Fogarty’s passion is unique.
Mignon has a passion for grammar, and works full time in the field by teaching grammar principles to her rabid fans of her Grammar Girl podcast.
Through social media, she has been able to build an amazing career around grammar, as she blogs as well.
13. Caitlin Turner
Yogi and Instagrammer GypsetGoddess
Caitlin’s passion for yoga has provided her with the unique opportunity to build an entire career from it – on Instagram.
Catlin’s Instagram account is still relatively new – about three years old – but she still has earned over 220,000 followers.
Caitlin told Yoganonymous that “Instagram has definitely been a huge career chance for me. It’s connected me professionally to different brands and people I wouldn’t have found before because I had no reason to. This is my career now.”
14. Brittany Furlan
Actress and Vine Comedian
Social media has helped people like Brittany Furlan launch comedic and acting careers in a way that was never possible before.
Brittany used Vine to launch her career in comedy and acting and now has 8.9 million followers on Vine.
Brittany told The Wrap that she makes a comfortable living through her Vines.
Those videos — which include a repertoire of outlandish characters (“Ghetto Dora De Explora“), quick-to-the-punchline sketches or pranks on the unsuspecting public — are worth between $7,000 and $20,000 to brands targeting Furlan’s massive audience.
She’s now gone on to partner with Seth Green to create a sketch show.
15. Liz Meghan
Youtuber and Makeup Artist
Liz Meghan had a passion for makeup, and she channeled that passion into Youtube.
With over 672,000 subscribers on her Youtube channel, Liz makes a living doing what she loves through makeup tutorials and sharing what she’s learned about makeup over the years.
Liz tells the Huffington Post that she makes a living off of her Youtube channel because Youtube pays her to put ads on her videos.
There’s no better time than now to do what you love
As these inspiring entrepreneurs demonstrate, by building a following online using social media, you can:
- Get paid to do what you love
- Establish yourself as an expert and
- Grow a following around your passions.
There’s no excuse to not get out there, pick a social media channel, and start posting.
Have you found success in building a career or a following on social media? Are you inspired by others who have taken this route to follow their dreams? I’d love to hear more about what you’ve experienced and learned in the comments.