Is it possible to build a real business from home for less than 100 bucks?
And what I mean by a real business …
Is one that generates the cash flow you need to pay for your life …
and with the dependability you need so you can count on that business performing year after year for decades on end.
Now (spoiler alert) the answer is …
Yes! It is possible.
My wife and I began with an investment of $95.40, mixed with thousands of hours of effort that started everything for us.
You're about to get the minimum viable version of this.
What do I mean by minimum viable?
To be able to test this idea with very little money, and hopefully as little time as possible.
I want you to test this idea out for yourself to see if it is for you.
And it really is quite simple:
Billions of people are hyper-addicted to the Internet, their smartphones, their laptops, all of it.
Humanity is glued to their devices, and the lockdowns increased this phenomenon.
This past summer, I traveled to 15 National Parks – I visited a bunch of different cities seeing friends and family; I had lots of contact with people at gas stations throughout America.
And I’ve seen that people are even more absorbed by their devices today than before.
So, what does this mean for you?
If you want to build a business, you need to be showing up on that screen of theirs:
- Social media
- Content marketing
This is the big shift:
If you didn't run a business before, if you're just starting out, you're a consumer.
You've been spending money on things offered by people who took the time to start businesses and market their products, etc.
So, you need to shift over to the creator side from the consumer side.
Professionals create more than they consume.
It's also a mathematically proven way to achieve financial freedom:
Create more cash flow than your lifestyle consumes.
Businesses do exactly that and it's simple; it's not necessarily easy.
So, getting into the weeds, technically speaking, you are going to be a creator and you're going to publish useful content for the billions of people glued to their devices, who are asking questions and looking for that next little thing they can do to improve their lives.
Some people want to lose weight; some people want to gain weight.
Everybody is looking for what they think is going to make them happy.
Two Platform Choices: YouTube & WordPress Blog
So, in the $100 startup fashion, your two platform choices are:
- A self-hosted WordPress blog
With those two, you can publish content that will get picked up by a search engine …
Which means you can get your content in front of people who are looking for answers, products, and solutions in the niche or realm you commit yourself to.
You’re not trying to create desire in an audience …
You’re just trying to get in front of the broader desires that are already there within a market or a group of people.
I've done both professionally.
We've grown a blog that's achieved 40, 50 million visits and I've built YouTube channels. One has had about 11 million visits and the other one upwards of 40 or 50 million visits with 50,000 or so subscribers.
The magic of having a YouTube channel is that you can literally get a little tripod, arrange yourself so you're facing a window so you have some natural light, click record on your phone camera, start talking, and then upload it.
That's what I did, starting in 2016, when video number one came out.
It's easy to convince yourself that you need to go buy professional lighting and a professional SLR camera.
It's really easy to go buy all the things. It's really difficult to show up to, day in and day out, create and publish.
That's the ultimate challenge of this business plan.
Billions of people are using YouTube like a search engine.
- How to record my first podcast
- How to create a podcast on speed
- What is the best podcast hosting software
- What's the best microphone for podcasting
These are the types of queries that people will search.
You're probably thinking, “Well, Miles, I would search that on Google.”
I would probably do that too … up to a point. But when I want to see someone plug those things in and actually see how it’s done, I'm going to search it on YouTube!
And that’s what a lot of people do.
If you're teaching someone how to knit, please, make a video! Some things lend themselves to video and others lend themselves to blog posts …
But you can get the basics with a little tripod with a little cell phone holder clip on the top and, voila, you're in the game.
We have to start somewhere, so start where people are searching for answers …
Because then we can go create those answers they're searching for.
When we do that enough over and over and over, we can show up, get displayed, get their attention, and essentially build a business off of that traffic.
It’s the same game with a self-hosted WordPress blog.
People are searching Google and when you rank for the answers, you get the traffic.
On both of those platforms, if you're getting traffic, you can get paid. They both have simple advertising solutions in place.
YouTube has some requirements. You've got to get to a certain level for monetization. But if you commit and you stick with it, you'll get there …
Then you can start running ads with a few clicks and all of a sudden you’re generating clear cash flow from the content that you're publishing.
On a blog, Google has their AdSense program and it’s super simple. I don't think they even have a minimum requirement.
Again, the real challenge is growing traffic.
That's the first real challenge.
Now, here's the part that's gonna burn:
You need to do this hundreds of times.
You have to go all in on creating a library of useful content, pieces, answers, solutions, tutorials, guides, reviews, etc.
Execute relentlessly, hundreds of times per year.
For perspective, two posts a week for a year equals 104 blog posts. Three videos per week is going to get you just over 150 videos in year one.
Now, as you're building up this library of content, there is a risk.
The Risk: The platform owns you.
When you publish on YouTube, you are renting land, so to speak. So, you'll want to make sure you build out some stability with the ownership of your content.
On YouTube, they have the power to just turn off your account, which they've done to some content creators (let's hope they don't but it is possible.)
With Google, their algorithm changes and sometimes there's collateral damage; good sites that were built appropriately get slapped out of the number one spot: it’s a risk of the game.
The risk of the platforms owning you in this business model means we need a solution for this model.
#1: Build a List
Once your traffic is consistent, start work on building an e-mail list …
Because no one can stop you from emailing your e-mail list.
That's something you truly do own.
There is an infinite number of online mailing programs. You can even go to self-hosted mailers if you want to get really geeky about owning that core communication method with your people.
So, that is one of the real goals within this minimum viable $100 startup.
When you get into e-mail marketing, there are eventual costs associated. When your list is over 1,000 people, you have to start paying …
But if you've got a consistent system built and you've driven your first thousand leads, that means you're making money off the system, so you should be able to handle that monthly fee.
The only costs we're talking about at the outset for this whole business model is less than $100 worth of hardware so you can get your phone stable to record yourself for YouTube.
That's how my YouTube videos started, with my cell phone.
Or if you’re going the self-hosted blog route, you've got a fee of $95 or so; it's less than 100 bucks a year for a domain name on WordPress.
And from there, there are free keyword research tools you can use.
You can use Google to give you as much research as you actually need to get going.
I teach how to do these things on YouTube. Here are a few of my video trainings to get you started:
“How to Do Keyword Research for SEO and Content Marketing”
I’ve created plenty of step-by-step tutorials on how to do it.
#2: Develop Multiple Streams of Income
In addition to growing your e-mail list, you also want to build out multiple streams of income.
This safeguards you from any one vendor turning you off.
If you're all in on ads and the ad company decides you're not ad-worthy anymore, there's very little you can do other than switching to another ad company, which is kind of annoying …
And during the interim phase when one turns you off and you figure out how to get the next one set up and running, there can be days, weeks, months in between those, when you're getting no cash flow.
This is where you ought to be able to do affiliate marketing:
You recommend products. And when someone clicks through your link, you get a commission.
Eventually, you can create and sell your own products with better margins.
There’s more profit in that game … but that's all down a path, right?
The Challenge: Get the Algorithm to Love You
The real challenge in the beginning is getting the algorithm to fall in love with you …
So, what do you do?
You have to become a master of the craft.
If you’re looking for the cheapest way possible to build a business online, it’s important to remember you’re going up against people who are bringing money to the table.
You’re going to have to get some sort of competitive advantage …
A lawyer who gets to bill $430 per hour and makes $375,000 per year and hates their life, if they want to build an affiliate site on the side, they’re looking for a solution where they can throw money at it.
They’re thinking, “Who can write all this for me for 1,500 a month? Perfect, I can pour $1,500 a month into this asset, it will grow, and #passiveincome.”
That’s one potential competitor that you have, but if you geek out on two things, you’ll run circles around their content …
What are those two things?
Solution #1: Keyword research and search engine optimization
Ultimately, what matters in the end is the rankings.
It’s not how much content you publish if the content doesn’t rank.
It’s how many different posts you can publish that each get traffic.
It’s how many different videos you can publish that each get traffic.
Because then you get the compounding effect of all that traffic.
You bridge the gap with their algorithms, which decide what post or video gets to be number one for any given keyword phrase.
Now, this is relatively simple stuff and I explain it in my YouTube videos:
Here’s my Playlist on How to Optimize Your Blog Posts for SEO
And here is one of many videos I’ve created on how to optimize a YouTube video.
That’s the first part of the solution for how to get the algorithm to love you:
Optimize your content for the algorithm, which requires keyword research and SEO.
Here’s the second part …
Solution #2: Scale Your Content
Now, I’m kind of crazy …
When I go all in on something, I’m all in.
I honor the fact that when I start anything, I suck at it.
So, I’ve habituated doing these 90-day challenges.
When I started my YouTube channel, I didn’t make a video and sit on it for a week …
I made a video the next day and another one the next day … every day for 90 days consecutively.
I went to Asia for a conference during that period and I was making videos from the business class lounge because I had a video to publish.
I was committed to hitting a deadline of one video a day for 90 days.
Same with blogging.
You might be like, “Miles I can’t do that; I don’t have the time.”
What can you do for 90 days?
- Can you do four per week for 90 days?
- Monday through Friday?
- The business days and then take weekends off?
Do what you need to do …
But the more keywords you research and blog posts you create, publish, and optimize, the better you’re going to get at keyword research and optimizing your posts.
Your skills improve more quickly if you go through this iteration process quickly …
Plus, your library of useful content grows faster.
It usually takes people a few hundred pieces of content to get real momentum with traffic.
Are you going to step up and create the content, do the work?
Because that’s what it takes.
Once you have traffic, everything works
Once you have traffic, that’s how everything works in the business.
Cash flow works and then you turn on ads. It’s easy.
Find some really great digital products that your people want and start connecting them with those products …
You’re going to start seeing real money come in …
But the only reason that works is because you are seeing real people show up …
Because you create content that helps people …
You focus the content on the phrases and thequestions that they’re actually searching and you actually create content that helps them.
When you start, you’re going to suck at it …
But once you do 78 of them, you’ll be much better.
When you get to 124 pieces of content, you’ll be better yet.
Along that path somewhere, it gets fun. (Generally, that’s when the cash flow starts coming in.)
I’ve seen so many people with this business model say things like, “I’ll make a couple hundred dollars on the side” or “I just want to make three grand or four grand a month” …
And now they’re making 18 grand a month. It’s wonderful.
Because behind all of this is the scale of things.
Billions of people every day are glued to their devices, asking questions of their search engines, looking for things to buy, looking for things that are going to help them achieve more happiness.
It might be to get better at hobbies, catch more fish, learn a new skill, find a new side gig.
Whatever it is, everyone is looking down their geeky rabbit holes …
So, go all-in on yours and use it!
When you jump in with the minimum viable $100 start up and follow the steps above, you’ll become a creator instead of a consumer.
I’ve got automated cash flow for vidoes I created last year, for posts I wrote two years ago.
I’m going to make money today from a visitor who hasn’t heard of me before today …
They’re going to find one of my pieces of content today. It might be from a Google search. It might be from a YouTube search.
Thousands of people are going to interact with my brands today and of those thousands of people, one or two of them are going to buy my stuff.
A few dozen of them or a couple hundred of them are going to join my email list today.
It’s happening for me and I want you to get there.
It’s possible for you. It doesn’t require a large financial investment.
The true investment is commitment and perseverance to creating and optimizing a library of useful content.
You get there and you’ve got traffic …
You got traffic and everything else in this business works.
And that’s it.
That’s the minimum viable $100 startup.
Good luck creating yours!