How to make your first dollar online, according to 3 entrepreneurs


It’s pretty easy to see how entrepreneurs make their money today: whether it’s through affiliate marketing or YouTube, their business models are often in the spotlight. But what about how these same entrepreneurs made their first dollar online? How do we find this out?

Ultimately, the easiest way is to ask them, which is why Ladders asked three entrepreneurs to go into the archives and share how they made their first money on the web.

In 10 words or less, how did you make your first dollar online?

I got paid to surf the web in 1999.

Explain in more detail your first online business.

In 1999, my IT friend told me I could get paid to surf the web. “Certainly not!” I said to myself. So I looked up this company, AllAdvantage, and signed up. AllAdvantage paid you to surf the web and shared the revenue from the ads you viewed.

This business model was state of the art in 1999. After weeks of surfing the web, I received a check in the mail for about $ 20. I thought it was awesome. Then the company went bankrupt. There was no advertiser to sign up to promote when the dot-com bubble burst in 2000. But what an experience!

What are you working on now?

Today, I am a content creator for several brands that I own and operate.

How does the first dollar you earn online relate to your current business?

I was a high school student and was part of a revenue sharing agreement. I didn’t know this term back then – I only knew I got paid to surf the web – but this concept is still one of the ways to generate income today. Whenever you are part of an affiliate program (for example, the YouTube Partner Program), you receive a percentage of the revenue from your activity. In 1999 I made money watching ads, and in 2021 I’m creating content that helps create value and drive sales.

In 10 words or less, how did you make your first dollar online?

Freelance advertising copywriting.

Explain in more detail your first online business.

During my first year at university, I took a month-long study trip abroad to India. It was my first time traveling abroad, and after such an amazing experience, I knew I couldn’t stay in my college town. There were too many experiences for me.

I had no idea how I was going to make it work or what I was doing, but I stumbled upon freelance writing and decided it was something I could do as a person. who always had a knack for writing and selling.

From there, I did what every millennial trying to do online is doing these days: I slapped “Freelance Writer” in my Instagram bio and started building my brand online. I transferred the rest of my university courses online, packed my bags and moved to Spain on my own.

Luckily I was pretty good at all of Instagram marketing and quickly landed my very first client, a monthly retainer of $ 1,600 (who had no idea it was my first client). I have managed to establish a strong presence on Instagram, dominate all the relevant writing and content writing hashtags, and develop a blog interesting enough to draw people in. It worked.

I operated with Beyoncé level confidence and it paid off tenfold. Whenever I received inquiries, I was always looking for new projects, even though I had no idea what I was doing. I figured it out as I went, learning the skills I needed along the way.

I started out as a freelance writer and became in high demand for these skills, but my thirst for knowledge led me to acquire many other skills, this is how I operate as a strategist and consultant. today.

What are you working on now?

Today, I am a content marketing consultant for B2B SaaS companies, specializing in sales platforms and the tools that integrate with them.

How does the first dollar you earn online relate to your current business?

Writing and writing content introduced me to content marketing, which gave me new skills in search engine optimization, public relations and content strategy. Now I’m looking at some of the fastest growing B2B SaaS companies.

In 10 words or less, how did you make your first dollar online?

I have sold exercise equipment on Amazon.

Explain in more detail your first online business.

After doing some research on private labeling, I immersed myself in the world of creating, designing and building my own branded products. I have worked with overseas manufacturers to create exercise accessories and developed a line of bestselling products on Amazon.

What are you working on now?

Today, I run a small business consulting firm.

How does the first dollar you earn online relate to your current business?

My product line on Amazon ultimately failed because the competitors exactly replicated my product and started competing on price. I learned the value of creating a unique selling proposition while also registering and protecting the brand (and asset) you are building in the long run.

My private label products have also shown me the importance of building a strong brand and a loyal following. Today, I help small businesses do the same.

In business as in life, there is no ideal way to get started: the main thing is to throw a lot to the wall and see what sticks. These three entrepreneurs are prime examples. Their earliest sources of income did not stand the test of time, but the lessons they learned from them did.

My story, of course, is largely the same. Today I earn money writing on investment bulletins and trading platforms, but it was not always so.

I started like many others: finding and filling a gap in the market. In my case, it was about buying iPhone cases from eBay and selling them on Etsy, the arbiter of the textbook market. The lessons I learned from this experience have helped me build a global team and recognize new market opportunities today.

Everyone starts from a different place, which is part of what makes the trip so exciting. Perhaps the biggest draw, however, is that you’re also not quite sure where you’re going to end up in your career. And that, in the end, is a beautiful thing.


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