The Ultimate Guide To Making Money – Part III

How to start a successful online business

How I went from being a broke college student to living a Rich Life

What does living a Rich Life mean to you?

When I started I Will Teach You To Be Rich, I was a broke college student who worked hard to get scholarships so I could afford school. Back then, living a Rich Life meant eating Taco Bell’s Mexican Pizza.

Since then, I’ve spent over half a decade of my life and a million dollars of my own money creating online courses to help my students achieve their Rich Lives — so they’re able to spend extravagantly on things they love, automatically save for retirement and other expenses, and take control of their lives.

After helping hundreds of thousands of students, I could buy enough Mexican Pizzas for life.

Or a fancier car than my 2008 Honda Accord. But I don’t care about those things. (OK, I still care about Mexican Pizzas, but I’d live a very short life if I ate only Taco Bell.)

What’s important to me now is having an online business that allows me to live on my own terms. When I started out, I Will Teach You To Be Rich was a fun project, then an extra stream of income.

Now, my business gives me total freedom.

Freedom to choose projects that fascinate me, make money while I’m on vacation, buy drinks for my friends without worrying about splitting the tab, and travel whenever I want. I feel liberated knowing I never have to worry about my finances again.

Yes, if you’re wondering, I still work. It just doesn’t feel like “work” because I’ve built my business around things I enjoy and am good at. That’s why I’ve had so much fun creating courses proven over 10 years, in 34 industries, by 15,000+ paying customers.

Here’s my revenue from a recent day.

But when I started, I practically begged people to buy my $4.97 ebook.

It took me YEARS (and lots of hard work) to get to where I am now — and even longer to test and perfect my methods of creating and growing an online business.

I quietly refined my systems and waited until I could share my insights from nearly a dozen successful launches.

Now, I want to show you the path — the exact systems, strategies, and tactics — I wish someone would’ve shared with me when I started.

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The reality of starting an online business

Separating dream from reality for your online business

Passive Income Dream

Passive Income Reality

Where do you work — and how many hours a week?

You almost never work. But you might put in an hour at the beach, your oceanside cabana, or your private jet.

From your home, favorite coffee shop... wherever you want, anywhere in the world. You choose your hours, and the more you focus on the right activities, the faster you’ll succeed.

How much will you make?

Millions… in your sleep... within a few months.

Many people make hundreds or thousands of dollars a month after several months while still working their day job. With hard work and the right systems, it’s possible to earn $10,000 a month or even more in time

Just knowing the truth about launching an online business puts you way ahead of most people. Because instead of chasing too-good-to-be-true pipe dreams, you can focus on proven systems for starting an online business.

Now, let’s look at what’s great about launching an online business (and what isn’t).

Pros and cons of launching an online business

What’s great about having an online business?

checkmark iconYou make money even when you aren’t working because people are buying something you already created

checkmark iconYou can reach a large audience

checkmark iconYou can 2x, 5x, or 10x your sales… and only have to work a few extra hours

checkmark iconYou can easily test different pricing methods and offers to maximize your profits

checkmark iconYou choose when you want to work

checkmark iconYou can earn $1,000, $5,000, $10,000 a month — or more

What are the potential downsides?

x iconYou WILL NOT become a millionaire overnight (although you can become very successful over time)

x iconIt can be challenging figuring out who will buy your product, how to create it, and how to sell and price it

x iconSome markets are already saturated, so you’ll have to use the Zig/Zag technique to find the right idea for you

x iconWhen you launch an online course, you have to figure out how to process payments, handle customer support, design a website, etc. (Hint: There’s an easy way to do this, and a hard way.)


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How do I get started?

Step 1

Repeat after me:

Most “experts” teach you that once you find your passion, you’ll magically become wealthy.

I don’t have to tell you that this plan is missing a few vital steps, such as an actual plan. Before you invest your time and energy creating an online product, ask yourself these questions:

  • How do I know which idea will be most profitable?
  • Will people actually pay?
  • How do I bring in traffic and buyers?
  • What can I do to set my business on autopilot, so it runs on systems instead of on my (limited) time?

Step 2

Solve the right problem (it’s probably not what you’d expect)

I asked readers, “What excites you about starting an online business?” Over 1,000 readers responded with ME-FOCUSED responses about what they wanted from an online business.

OK, we all want something for our work, whether it’s extra money, more free time, or the ability to be our own boss and give ourselves vacation days when the weather’s nice.

But what about your customers?

Nobody will ever give you money to solve your problems... but they’ll love you and happily pay you if you help them solve theirs. And by focusing on them, you’ll immediately stand out in a sea of online businesses that are only looking out for themselves.

What would happen if you said, “I’m really good at helping my friends with their relationship problems. I don’t want to just help people 1-on-1…I want to help THOUSANDS of people.” Or “I love helping people get in shape. I want to help as many people get fit as possible.”

It’s a huge psychological shift.

Once you’ve identified something you believe in, you need to know what idea people will pay for, how much to charge, and how to sell it — without being sleazy.

It starts with figuring out what kind of online business you want.

Which online business ideas work best?

When you're starting an online business, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by tactical minutiae. Should you create software, a physical product, a coaching system, or something else? How do you choose the right software, create your website, figure out drop shipping, and accept payments?

But when you drop what doesn’t work — I spent years figuring this part out — you’re left with 6 main options for an online business. I’ve systematically tried them ALL over almost a decade, and I’ll let you know exactly which ones are good and bad.

Your 6 options for starting an online business are software (including apps), physical products, ads, affiliate marketing, coaching, and online courses. And they aren’t all created equal.

What’s the first thing you notice about this illustration?

This simple framework lets you see if a business model is attractive right now, instead of investing time and money on the wrong thing (most people skip this step and regret it later).

You don’t have to quit your job and raise millions in venture capital funding (I’ve done that too… but I love I Will Teach You To Be Rich way more).

There are 2 clear winners that have the highest profit and lowest cost: online courses and coaching. Take a look at the graphic below to find out which one is right for you.

Coaching and courses are both great models.

I love coaching, and I’ve taught thousands of people how to become freelancers, consultants, and coaches using my Earn1K course. In fact, coaching is the single-best way to start learning business skills.

But if you want to scale your business — create something once and profit for YEARS to come — that’s where online courses come in. You can make more money with them than other business models, and you don’t have to mail anything or directly trade your time for profit. And you can help more people, since you aren’t working with them 1-on-1.

Let me walk you through how I went from selling a $4.95 ebook to a premium $12,000 course.

Coaching is the single-best way to start learning business skills.

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What online course could you create?

Many people don’t even think they can launch an online business. They hold themselves back by saying things like, “I’m not an expert at personal finance, finding a dream job, or [fill in the blank].”

“I don’t know anything people would pay for!”

Are you sure? Unless you’ve actually tested your idea, the answer is “no.”

“But Ramit, my idea’s too weird/dumb! Nobody would ever pay to learn about it.”

I used to think that, too, until I discovered how many other weird people are out there. Here are just 3 profitable courses I’ve seen in the past year:

Do these seem like ideas for normal, successful products? Of course not. These people simply found something they’re good at, then tested the market to see if other people were willing to pay for their knowledge.

What skills are you already good at?

Most of us are experts — or at least better than most people — at something. Jot down the first things that come to mind when you read these questions:

What skills do you already have?

What do your friends call you for advice on?

What kind of sites do you read?

(ex: computers, fashion, sports, business)

When you’re done jotting down your responses to those questions, pause.

Did you notice what happened as you went through that list?

I only asked you what skills you’re already good at. But notice how you’re already getting way ahead of yourself:

  • “But what if I’m not sure what I’m good at?”
  • “An online course? But I don’t have a website/traffic.”
  • “What kind of software should I use for…”
  • “What will I do if I have to decide whether to stay at my job?”


If you were on a first date, you wouldn’t ask someone if they want kids... because you’d be getting way ahead of yourself. But somehow, when it comes to making money, our brains concoct far-fetched scenarios about the future to keep us stuck where we are.

When I started I Will Teach You To Be Rich in my dorm room, I didn’t worry about SEO strategies or creating powerful online courses or optimizing revenue.

No, I focused on the first step.

I’ll help you get there, too.

Just know that you do have passions and experiences people will be happy to pay you for — even if you aren’t the best in the world at them.

You’ve already learned more from this guide than most people learn after months (or even years) of reading blog after blog.

The next question is, how long will it take you to launch your first product and start making money?


How to build an online business faster

Nobody can teach you how to build a successful online business overnight.

But you can learn from the mistakes that cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars and months of my time… and from how I grew I Will Teach from my dorm room to 6 figures, to a multimillion-dollar business that’s helped thousands of students.

I’d like to share some of the highlights of the exact system I’ve used to start a successful online business — one that lets you take what’s inside of you and share it with the world, including:

checkmark iconHow to find an online business idea people will line up to pay you for (using the deep psychological frameworks I’ve developed to launch successful product after successful product)

checkmark iconAdvanced strategies for getting traffic

checkmark iconHow to sell online without being sleazy, even if you’re not a “natural” at sales

checkmark iconThe exact systems to set up so your business works for you (and not the other way around)

checkmark iconNever-before-shared conversion secrets I discovered and perfected in the I Will Teach You To Be Rich test labs, so you can reach more people and make more money

Discover how to launch a successful online business that’ll help you live your dream life.