How to Start a Profitable Online Business for $50 in 3 Months or Less

How to start an online business for $50, in 3 months or less. Want to start freelancing, coaching, or selling infoproducts online? This is your guide.

This post is for your eyes only if you are currently trying to start an online business (a profitable one) from scratch . . . and you want to do it in three months or less . . . oh, and you only want to spend about $50.

Whereas this post (originally published in April of 2015) used to link to a podcast episode on this topic, I decided to completely revamp the post. Why? I think the first chapter of my newest book (which you can find out more about at the bottom of this post) might inspire you and help you to create an amazing online business this year. Ready?

Let’s only assume 3 things as you start your business:

  1. You have access to a computer and the Internet a few times per week.
  2. You have access to a smart phone (yours or a friend’s) that can take pictures and connect with social media.
  3. You either have your closest friends’ and family’s email addresses, or you’re connected with them on Facebook, or through some other electronic means. As in: You can get in contact with your people—whether that be 10 people or 1000, for me, it was more like 10 when I first started. Or, if you’re not connected with friends and family, you’re okay with building a presence online and engaging with strangers (who will totally become your friends, don’t worry).

Now, let’s get into the first chapter.

Chapter 1 of Build Your Freedom Business for $50 in 3 Months or Less: How to Start Coaching, Freelancing, or Selling Information Products Online

“What have I gotten myself into?” you may be asking. A lot of things. But the main one is discovering a new system for starting a business you love. Really, a way of thinking and moving through the very involved, and intricate, and amazing world of creating a profitable online brand or empire.

After years of creating various businesses, years of creating websites for clients and personal projects, and most recently, years of creating and running online businesses full time, I can without doubt tell you I’ve failed a lot.

Wait, what?

Yes. I’ve failed miserably, I’ve failed publicly, and I’ve failed my way to success. Let me explain. Because I believe the lessons learned can help you create your own business online with less stress, fewer headaches, fewer sleepless nights, fewer mistakes, and less time. It will still be a lot of work, but man will it be worth it.

Let’s explore.

The Internet created a whole new world of possibility and completely changed the way we (1) get information, (2) make purchasing decisions, and (3) operate businesses . . . among other things.

The online space as it is today makes it possible for people like my friend Erika, a mother of three adorable kids, to make a living online training people how to provide better customer service. The Internet allows my friend Mike to provide coaching for mind, body, and emotional health. It allowed my friend Kelsey to create and sell planning templates to busy women for a full-time income until she decided to also show people how to design their own (which gave her another full-time income). My friend Ivan sells design and brand strategy work online. My friend Aislinn markets and sells her freelance writing skills online for a living. And I could go on . . .

I have friends doing everything from teaching yoga, and selling interior design or architecture services, to creating fabric patterns and selling cookbooks online. I myself write and publish books on business and marketing, plus create courses on starting and running a business, getting better at conversations as an introvert, and using yoga and movement to increase your flexibility, durability, and range of motion as an athlete or gym rat.

How is it possible to make and sell the types of products and services all of these people are creating? How can you really create significant extra income each month or perhaps even work for yourself full time online?

There is more than just one way to accomplish this goal, and in this book, you and I are going to explore the “system” I’ve used to create a full-time income online in the following ways: through freelancing, through online coaching, through self-published books, and through online courses.

Please be mentally prepared that this process is not easy and will require consistency from you, and that the “system” I’m showing you is a solid framework that you can modify and mold to fit you.


Here’s an overview of the system that we will dive into deeply within this book:

Step 1: Start with PASSION.

As cliché as it sounds, I think that the passion you feel for a hobby, a cause, a people group, a certain subject, or a specific skill will be a key driver of creating something meaningful and awesome.

In this book, we will get into a questionnaire to help you discover some of your true passions plus a list of 1001+ niche topics to help you pinpoint what interests you, what you want to talk about and create content on, and what you love.

As an example, for the purposes of this overview, let’s take a woman named Frankie who is a yoga + fitness instructor, a woman named Ingrid who is passionate about the uniqueness and strength of introverts, and a man named Paul who has transformed his health and body by becoming vegan and eating an amazing plant-based diet.

Meet Frankie, Ingrid, and Paul. Your friendly avatars will help us process all this epic information on starting an online business coming at you.

Frankie identifies her passion as helping people get fit.

Ingrid identifies her passion as helping introverts embrace + use their personality traits and succeed in life.

Paul identifies his passion as the power of veganism to transform your internal health and your body.


Step 2: After identifying your passion, identify your PEOPLE.

Part one. When you have a specific topic/niche in mind, it’s time to start imagining the basic details and habits of the type of person who will be interested in your topic or who needs help with what you provide content on.

Paul might assume that women (and a few men), between the ages of 24 and 50, who have had digestion issues or who are having a hard time losing weight or staying energetic throughout their day might be in need of his information.

Frankie might start to realize she really wants to work with martial artists and other athletes in need of strength and agility. She might then assume most of her clients or audience will be between the ages of 20 – 40, and she might also assume that many of her clients will be men.

Ingrid might realize that most of the people she’s ever talked to about extreme introversion are women, between the ages of 25 – 50 who are tired of being made to feel like their personalities are weird or bad.

Part two. Once you have the basic details of your people in mind, you can head to the Internet (and to in-person events, hangouts, or organizations) to actually find these people and engage with them. In fact, you may already be involved in groups either online or in real life that hold your ideal audience members.

Part of creating a successful online business is narrowing down and/or deeply understanding your audience--the people you want to help.

Ingrid might find a Facebook group or another type of online community for introverts and join it. She might also start reading the comments on top blogs about being an introvert.

Paul might find a Facebook group for people trying to lose weight or struggling with digestion issues (there are groups online for all types of needs, people, and interests).

Frankie might connect with people in her gym or people who regularly comment on a popular MMA Instagram account or a men’s health magazine’s Instagram account.

Part three. After you’ve engaged with your people a bit, it’s time to learn more specifically how to help them. This may include working with them pro bono, providing free content to them, or even creating some low-priced services or products to test the waters.

Paul might offer to coach one of the women in an “Overcome IBS” group online through a plant-based diet for 30 days. He might also create some free meal plans and share them with his friends on Facebook.

Frankie may decide to offer a few free sessions to a martial artist at her gym who she has seen lifting in such a way that will slow his progress towards becoming more quick and agile. She might also decide to do a “10 Days of Basics” series, where she covers some foundational lifts, exercises, and principles for people who want more speed and agility—then she might share her videos or pictures with an online group she is a part of and invite people to ask any questions they may have.

Ingrid may start asking questions in the “Introvert Power” Facebook group she found about what people’s biggest struggles are or where they feel most misunderstood. She might then create and share several new blog posts that address the topics the other women have brought up.

6 Steps to Get Your Finances in Order for Tax Time

How to get your finances in order for tax time with Janet LeBlanc

Psst . . . I’m going to let an actual accountant and super smart person take the reins on this one . . . meet Janet, of Paper + Spark.


Janet LeBlank Paper and SparkHi! I’m Janet and I’m an accountant, serial-entrepreneur, and mama of two living in Texas. My passion is helping creative entrepreneurs feel more confident and empowered when it comes to their money. After a winding journey of selling jewelry, stationery, and spreadsheets (oh yeah!) online for the past five years, I’ve noticed that creatives tend to avoid the financial side of their biz. I’m here to help with bookkeeping templates, tips, and tools that are both pretty and in-plain-English.


It’s the most wonderful time of the year . . . time to finally total up all those numbers and see how your business really did this year. If you’re like many creative entrepreneurs and you don’t look forward to this process, you might’ve fallen a little (or a lot) behind on your bookkeeping work over the course of 2016. No guilt trips here; instead, I’ve got six steps to help you get your finances in order. Start taking action now and avoid the stress and overwhelm before taxes are due!

1. Come up with a plan and write it out.

Be honest with yourself—figure out just how behind you are and craft a plan. How much work is going to take to compile all the data you’ll need before taxes are due? Do you need to get started like, yesterday? Or is it not as bad as you thought?

Examine your calendar from now ’til the tax deadline (2016 taxes are due April 18th, 2017) and sketch out how much work you’ll need to do each week in order to get caught up in time. Actually putting it down in writing in your planner will increase your chances of really doing the work.

Here is a very high level view of what you may need to know for your tax return:

  • Total sales and refunds
  • Total business expenses (sorted by expense category)
  • A year-end inventory count if you deal with physical inventory
  • Expenses related to your car if you used it for business purposes
  • Expenses related to your home office if you have one
  • Info on any business assets (think like big equipment) you bought or used during the year

2. Set yourself up to succeed.

That means 1) holding yourself accountable and 2) figuring out how you’ll stay motivated. To prevent yourself from saving all this *boring* accounting work til the last minute (and creating more stress), you need to figure out the best way to hold yourself accountable.

You know yourself best—whether that means sharing your accounting “to do list” with your mastermind group or promising yourself a big reward upon completion. In order to complete any task I really don’t like doing, I’ve got to stay motivated. I personally like to treat myself with a small reward each week after I’ve made progress; this way I keep working on the goal in small, manageable chunks until the deadline. {Note from Regina: Ditto! I like to get myself vegan brownies, yoga gear, new notebooks, or other “school supplies.” Find your “thing” to reward yourself.}

3. Gather all that paperwork.

Just start by getting all your junk together! It’s time to scrounge up all those receipts you’ve been (hopefully) hoarding throughout the year. Don’t forget to organize your digital receipts and documentation as well. Go through your email and “star” any business expense receipts, take screenshots, or print to PDF and save in an easily accessible folder on your desktop.

You can also physically or digitally print your bank statements, PayPal reports, etc. if you want to have these on hand for easier data entry later. Having all your documentation sorted and organized will make life easier when it comes time to record all these transactions.

4. Do the grunt work in pieces.

First—do you have a bookkeeping system, or at least a place to record your sales and expenses? If not, I suggest you set something up and quick. You don’t necessarily have to scramble to research accounting systems or apps right now; a simple spreadsheet can suffice.

Second—it’s time to play catch up. That means entering ALL your transactions for 2016—sales, refunds, shipping, expenses . . . everything. Entering transactions is probably going to be the majority of your bookkeeping time, so try to break it up into small, manageable time chunks.

Remember that plan you made? If you start early enough, you can give yourself a timeline that is actually doable for playing catch up. I’d suggest making it a goal to enter one month’s worth of transactions every week, and go one week at a time. If you start in December, you’ll be done before the April deadline with a few weeks to spare.

A case study on my first $1350 online course launch

A candid case study on my first ever paid online course launch that brought in $1300, with an email list of only 71 people.

So, you may not know this, but the first paid online course launch I ever did (about 2.5 years ago) was to an email list of only 71 people. For a total of $1350. And some recurring revenue of about $1000 per month after that. And guess what? I ran exactly zero high-pressure webinars (or webinars at all) for my launch, and I sent zero pesky emails, just emails filled with value and information.

It was a crazy time. In which I had no idea what I was doing, but I desperately wanted to get my valuable, organized information out to more people at once—more people than I was able to reach through 1-on-1 coaching and small in-person workshops.

“But, what’s up on this case study though?” You may be wondering.

It’s funny. I was having a conversation with one of my best friends not too long ago—a friend who was definitely around me all the time when I was launching this first product—and they had absolutely, 100%, no idea that my email list had only 71 people on it when I first released this course. And then, they told me it actually inspired them a ton.

That meant so much to me. And also made me realize that the few Periscope broadcasts I’ve shared this in before are not enough to really help and (hopefully) inspire others. I knew I had to make a case study out of it.

And so I did. I made two versions even. A shorter one that you can consume as a podcast and cheat sheet and a longer one that you will be able to watch as a workshop in the near future. For now, may I please introduce you to the audio version.

You can catch it as a podcast episode here (it’s even downloadable). And you can download the accompanying cheat sheet here. Or, you can read below for some of what I cover in a Q+A style. It’s not the whole episode and all the tips, but if you’re short on time or only want to read, the cheat sheet or summary below is for you.

$1350 course launch case study cheat sheet

Course Launch Case Study Podcast Episode

So, some of the main highlights of what I cover are in this episode are:

  • What it means to “scale” a product. (Hint: Scalability does not mean passive income.)
  • How I built my (super small) audience before my launch.
  • How I decided on the topic of my first course.
  • What exactly my first course consisted of.
  • How much (if any) money I had to spend to make the course.
  • How I picked the price for my first course.
  • How long the course took to make and if it was finished when I launched. (Hint: No. It wasn’t.)
  • How I promoted the course and which promotion efforts gave the best results.
  • How much (net) money the course brought in.
  • What % of my total list purchased.
  • What I did after my launch.
  • And more.

The 6 Most Profitable Blogger Career Paths (and How to Get Started in One)

The 6 Most Profitable Blogger Career Paths and Tips on Deciding How to Monetize Your Interests

Oh man. Listen. I 100% believe what I’m about to say and it IS big. I’m not even necessarily being the overly dramatic version of myself that I normally am.

Here it is.

There are six distinct blogger career paths, which if you understand and work on, can absolutely change your world.

I’ve been down each one of these paths in the past, and it is time to share them . . . and to change the careers that we consider, pursue, and build for ourselves.

P.S. Everything below and more is available as a podcast episode. And here is the flowchart I reference and show.

How do you make money as a blogger? What careers are there in blogging. Here's a resource to help.

For years, and years, and years society has been quick to teach us the traditional career paths of lawyers, and teachers, and plumbers, and even professional basketball players. We know which schools we need to go to, which judge to get an internship with, how to get certified during night school, which recruiters and game stats we should shoot for, etc.

We know that once we become a lawyer, we can look forward to either practicing law at a major firm and trying to make partner, or starting our own firm, or teaching law, or working as a public defender, or working for a major corporation as an attorney, or doing pro bono, or advising a non-profit, or getting into politics and perhaps running for president of our country one day.

Great.

But, what about career paths for bloggers? For content creators? For some of these positions and interests that are popping up, making money, and sticking around?

Just as becoming a lawyer doesn’t guarantee you money or clients, but it does provide many paths to monetize (explained above) and many specialties to focus on (family law, corporate issues, intellectual property, taxes, tort law, etc.) and is thus considered a legitimate career . . .

becoming a blogger doesn’t guarantee income or fame, but it does provide many paths (explained below and in the podcast episode) and practically endless specialties to focus on (food, business, travel, crafts, fitness, accounting, fashion, etc.) that make money and should thus be considered a legitimate career.

I hope they start teaching it in schools everywhere soon. But until then, may I please present my shiny new Blogger Career Paths flowchart with some explanations and notes (if you’re taking them) that I hope will blow your mind? Okay. Let’s get started.

The 6 Blogging Career Paths

The first thing to understand is what is happening in any career path, anywhere, at any time, on any day. You are learning something new in one of two ways. You are either:

How NOT to Get Caught in the 6-Figure Blogger Suck-In

How not to get caught up in the 6-figure blogger suck-in that seems to be taking over the Internet.

Aye aye aye. Sheesh. This is about to be a real dose of real.

But what’s the point of having a voice or building a brand if you don’t use them for what matters?

Today, I will endeavor to explain something that I hope truly, truly, truly helps you. Something that will likely provide some clarity and much needed truth about a sometimes confusing world.

It’s all about how not to get sucked in by this six-figure blogger “trend” going around.

And yes, I’m gonna lose some friends (correction: “friends”), upset some people, and remove the chance to ever collaborate with certain people after this . . . but zero flips are given about that because I’m not here for them, I’m here for you and this post may help someone, hopefully, avoid a business-draining, fund-draining, attitude-deflating decision in the future.

To be clear before we begin, not all bloggers who make 6-figures fit the things I’m about to say. Some of us have brands, and friends, and audiences, and content that are really important to us and the income was a natural progression of that plus a lot of hard work.

The “6-figure suck-in” really refers to the super annoying trend to publish income reports that are misleading, to title your courses and resources in a way that implies an unrealistic promise, and the wave of people caught feeling like they NEED to make 6-figures or NEED to reach a certain income amount in a certain time or else they’re failures.

I’ll illustrate.

Here are 7 characteristics of brand owners to keep in mind as you make purchasing decisions and as you process how you’re feeling about your own business.

Again, not all 6- or 7- or 8-figure bloggers are bad and out to get you, but the bloggers who want to suck you in share a few things in common . . .

1. They put VERY misleading numbers + words in the titles of their courses, workshops, and other resources.


How to Go from Zero to $10K in 30 Days
Create 6-Figure Webinars
How to Build Your 6-Figure Coaching Business


It’s all a sneaky/chill form of an implied promise. It is my #1 pet peeve and I get so many emails from others who hate it too.

Can the average motivated person really go from $0 to $10K in the 30 days they take your course? How many people have created 6-figure webinars after implementing the tips in your class? Are people truly going to learn all they need to in your “6-figure” coaching business webinar that lasts 45 minutes and is just a sales attempt for your $2,200 offering?

Like. Really. I’m truly asking you this question dear brand owner.

How about telling us how YOU created $100K in income from a webinar after 10 years in business and 55 other webinars? That’s a course I might take.

Or how about “How 5 Years and a $20K Investment Helped Me Make 6-Figures” . . .? That sounds more believable.

When you read these titles and tweets, try not to get sucked in or feel a certain way about your business. Honestly, there are so many other factors that play into people’s success than the facts and figures they fit onto their sales pages and opt-in advertisements.

Were you urgently searching for a resource on creating 6-figure webinars before you found that one guy’s course? If not, keep moving . . . don’t make a purchasing decision in that moment. Sign up for some of his free stuff . . . stuff where he doesn’t try to sell you a $1,000 offering.


2. They seemingly ignore the fact that they do not blog about anything close to what you do . . . all while making implied promises about your results.

And now, let’s talk about how even if they titled their course “How I Made 7-Figures from a Blog” . . . they blog about marketing through webinars, not the power of a whole food lifestyle, or parenting twins, or getting in shape, or whatever it is you care about and blog about.

I have had three blogs in my time on the Internet that I’ve monetized successfully . . . a writing blog, a design blog, and this creative business and infopreneurship blog. I do believe that I can help people with other interests than these, but I’m not going to title my course $0 to $100K Blogging.

Check out the outline and modules of the courses you are considering . . . are they unintentionally teaching things that only make sense for their industry and not yours? Try to judge their ability to truly help you before being caught up in the magic of the statistics they publish.


3. They don’t accurately represent how much work is required.

Just to make sure I’m not crazy, I’ve had a secret project going on. I’ve been establishing another, separate, secret blog based on all the principles I learned after building hundreds of sites for customers, running 10+ blogs of my own, and monetizing 3 of my blogs.

It’s STILLLLLLLL hard work. It is STILL hard to write the number of posts I wanted to before launching. It’s still a lot of work to create custom images for every resource. It still takes energy to write good stuff. And you know what? It’s still fun.

I don’t want to trade in the hard work for some super magical unreal formula for success. Hahahahahaha. The concept of a formula for success is ridiculous. Maybe math works the same way every time, maybe a science experiment always has the same results, but a life, content that comes from your heart, the Internet, they don’t play out the same way for everyone. They just don’t.


4. They don’t accurately report their income.

Y’all. It’s most likely because they really don’t know any better, so I don’t say this to be rude, but . . .

Some people are literally using made up accounting methods in their income reports. There are two generally accepted accounting methods: cash-based accounting and accrual-based accounting (a.k.a. the cash method and the accrual method). I’ll explain them briefly.

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