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Why I Started An Online Business [and why you should too]

Today’s post is by Ryan Scribner, a personal finance and investing YouTuber with over 300,000 subscribers. He also has a personal finance blog Investing Simple where he talks about the stock market, personal finance and different money making ideas. 

It is a Wednesday morning and I am on the rooftop patio of the hotel I am staying at in Todos Santos, Mexico enjoying a hand rolled cigar while writing this. Now, am I sharing this with you to brag?

Absolutely not.

The reason why I am sharing this is because this perfectly demonstrates the two key reasons why I decided to follow the path of the online business instead of the traditional 9 to 5. I will get to those reasons in a bit.

why i started an online business on youtube

Tale of an Internet Entrepreneur

For those of you who are not familiar with me, my name is Ryan Scribner and I have a number of different online “assets” that I am involved with. My main platform is YouTube, where I got started. I make videos every week about investing, the stock market, personal finance and passive income.

I also have a personal finance blog known as Investing Simple and an accompanying Instagram page. Between those three things, I am able to make a great living doing something that I love.

Outside of work, I am currently 23 years old living in Upstate NY. I have a community college degree in electrical construction and maintenance and I am the proud owner of two munchkin cats.

Two years ago, you would not have found me on a 10-day trip in a foreign country. You would have found me in a rather financially depressed area of New York known as Gloversville where I worked for the local power utility.

I got the job while I was still in college, and I was able to leave college thre weeks early because of my grades and good attendance. I stated out working in the past due bill collection department. Essentially, I would go door to door asking people for payment on their utility bill. The motto I was taught was “cut or collect.”

Not only was this job difficult emotionally, it was extremely dangerous. On one occasion I was way up north with no cell service shutting off the service to an old camp. As soon as I pulled the meter out, a gigantic man came running out of the camp holding a crowbar over his head coming towards me.

Thankfully, I was able to diffuse the situation and I wasn’t harmed. I remember that day driving back into the office wondering what in the world I was doing with my life. Why was I at 21 years old risking my safety for a power utility? 

After I worked in this position for 8 months, a new job came up that actually required a college education. I got the job and transferred to this sad, depressed town. I would commute to work, 45 minutes each way. Now, my job was a planner. I would go out on site when someone was looking to get electric service and I would plan out exactly how we would serve them.

Essentially, I took down measurements and put wooden stakes in the ground where poles should go. 

To tell you the truth, there was nothing wrong with this job. I made around $65,000 a year at the age of 22 and I had a lot of freedom. I made my own appointments, had my own work vehicle and I was not being micro managed. I can remember going a week without even hearing from my supervisor. By all accounts, this seemed to be a great life. The problem was, it wasn’t mine. 

I was not passionate about the work I was doing. I had no real interest in engineering or electricity. I simply followed this path to make money. When I was deciding what I would go to college for, I simply did a google search for high paying jobs and found out that this degree would make me decent money.

Now, it is important to consider what the job market is like when you are going to college for something. For example, basket weaving or arts history. But you should not do something just to try to make a lot of money. If you aren’t passionate about it, you won’t want to do it for very long.

Why I Started a YouTube Channel

To tell you the truth, I started a YouTube channel because I had nothing better to do. I had a lot of down time at work in between jobs and I didn’t do much of anything on weekends or in the evenings except going to the gym.

I was making great money and living a frugal lifestyle, so I had a cash surplus of around $1,500 a month. My dad, a financial adviser, had set me up with a mutual fund. After seeing the returns over a year, I pulled it out and decided I would invest that money myself. 

I started off with swing trading, which is holding a stock for a few days hoping to make a small profit. I had spent a few months learning about this strategy and reading books about investing. While I was never really a successful swing trader, this is what got me started with YouTube.

While I was at work, I liked to listen to YouTube videos in the background. I usually listened to Gary V or Les Brown motivation, but I decided to search for the stock market to see what came up.

I was shocked. There was very little content out there about the stock market, and the few videos out there had a lot of views. One video, which is still up, is a video of a teenager scribbling notes on a chalkboard which at the time had over 500,000 views.

As soon as I saw that, I knew this was an opportunity. I decided to start my own channel documenting my swing trades and teaching others what I was learning about investing

Over time, my investing strategy shifted from short term to long term. The problem that I found with swing trading was that you could have a few good trades and make money, but one bad trade could bring you right back down to where you started. Regardless of this, I consistently uploaded videos to YouTube for the next two and a half years. 

For anyone who is looking for the secret to making money online, all I can tell you is this. Dedicate a year to something in a niche or market that you are passionate about. I had no real interest or passion for planning electrical construction. What I did know is that I was always fascinated with money, the stock market and teaching others. Just like with my old job, if you do something you are not passionate about you won’t want to do it for very long. 

I worked for the power utility for a little over two years. I ended up quitting on a Monday in June. I couldn’t see spending another week there. At the time, I was making just about $1,000 a month from my YouTube channel. I was taking a massive risk. But, I was willing to work hard and do whatever it takes.

Since then, I have scaled this YouTube channel from 10,000 subscribers to over 300,000. I diversified my online business by spinning off with the Investing Simple blog and Instagram page. I went from $1,000 a month to $1,000 a day in earnings. 

Now, will everyone who quits their job to follow their dream be successful? Absolutely not. The ones who will be are the ones who scale in and work their butts off. I did not quit my job to start a YouTube channel. I spent 8 months doing both, having this channel serve as my side hustle.

Once I was able to prove that it actually worked, I dove in head first. Not only that, I had saved up $10,000 to live off of in the meantime so I would not be stressed financially. If you do decide to follow a similar path to me, be smart about it and plan ahead. 

So what are the two key reasons why I chose to start an online business? In my opinion, these are the two most important factors to consider when looking at a potential job or gig. I don’t care if someone is offering me $1,000,000 a year as a salary. If they cannot offer me these two things, I am not interested.

Looking for your own ideas to make money online? Check out these 7 Online Side Hustle Ideas to Change Your Life!

1. Time Freedom

Do you have control of your time? Are you able to work when you are naturally feeling productive or are you working when your boss wants you to? Like I said, I am writing this at 9am on a Wednesday because I felt like doing something productive.

I didn’t have to do this.

Now, it is important to remember that this time freedom requires a lot of self discipline and self motivation. Some people thrive in this environment and others fail miserably. 

2. Location Freedom 

Equally important to when you work is where you work. Are you able to work anywhere in the world like me? Or do you have to work at a desk in one particular place? Having location freedom allows you to integrate travel with your work. If you are among the “laptop lifestyle” group, you can work wherever you please.

Now, one thing that I have found is that it is important to work around people at coffee shops or shared work-spaces as this can be a lonely life working at home alone!

Take my old job for example. I did not have time freedom because I had to work Monday though Friday from 7:30 am to 4:00 pm. I also did not have location freedom because I had to conduct site visits and complete my work on the computer at my desk in Gloversville. Because of these two reasons, I was not able to integrate travel or fun with my work. With the online business I have now, I am able to work while traveling and do things on my own terms. 

At the end of the day, everyone has their own reasons for living the “laptop lifestyle” and having an online business. The main point that I want to leave you with here is that the traditional 9 to 5 job is not the only path out there. For the self motivated and creative few, there is a huge opportunity out there known as the internet. I am just one example of thousands just like be doing exactly this. 

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