Ever since college, I’ve been planning for my financial future. The path was always pretty straight forward – get a job I hopefully like, don’t fall into the consumerism trap, stay in shape to not die young, save as much money as possible, work hard, get rich, and retire.
But one thing happened I did not anticipate. The internet started becoming more mainstream. I’m part of the generation that knew what life was like before the internet and smartphones. As a result, I very much appreciate how much better life is now with the internet! Starting your own website is a no-brainer. Let me share with you so many reasons why.
REASONS WHY YOU NEED A WEBSITE
We tend to only do things when there’s enough agitation to change. For me, I felt like working at an non-ideal job was like a test of endurance. Originally, I thought I’d be able to last 18 years until the age of 40. But I failed. Instead, I harnessed the internet to start this site in 2009 because I needed an outlet. I never anticipated just running a website would allow me to be completely free, but it has. If you’ve been reading Financial Samurai for at least a couple years, you’ve witnessed the progression as I’ve been pretty open during the journey.
Here’s what you could potentially do if you started your own site.
1) Connect with new people in a tailored fashion. The internet is all about connecting with people who share your common interest from all over the world. You can make new friends with people all over like I’ve done since 2009. There are literally dozens of people scattered around the world whom I can grab a meal with or stay with during my travels. Having a community of friends can help you better achieve your goals. You’ll still need to go out there and meet people in real life, but the social aspect is pretty wonderful once you’ve found your people.
2) Do what you love. Once you have a website, you’re free to test the platform out on things you love. There are sites about music, cars, sneakers, movies, electronics, travel, food, dating, fitness, real estate, and money that have gone on to create large audiences because it is evident the owner loves what s/he is doing. I love to write finance-related articles without compliance committee oversight. I love to come up with an idea, formulate a plan, execute, and watch the idea grow. Having your own website allows you to test out so many things without much downside.
3) Make a little or a lot of money. Creating a large enough site that makes you at least $1,000 a month takes work – at least a year for most people. But as you can see from the millions of sites out there, it can be done! Start with a smaller goal, like making $100 a month, and work your way up. Remember, if you can create a $10,000 a year additional income stream, that’s equivalent to owning a $400,000 asset that yields 2.5%. A website is scaleable, costs little to run, and is very low maintenance. Compare an online business to a bricks and mortar retail store and there is no comparison! Income upside is unlimited!
4) Legitimize the existence of your new business. You can tell people you’ve started your own business, but if you’ve got nothing to show for your business, does it really exist? Since you’re not down to spend thousands of dollars a month on office overhead, the easiest and cheapest way to establish your business is to establish your site online. You’ve now got a virtual place for everyone to go to check out your product or service. Once you’ve set up your business online, you’ll discover a myriad of ways to earn money, save on taxes, help loved ones, and blend work and fun much easier.
5) Leave a job you no longer enjoy. In 2012, at the age of 34, I negotiated a severance from a job that no longer interested me after 13 years. It’s been four years since I’ve last had to report to anybody, do something I didn’t want to do, play office politics, and endure an unpleasant rush hour commute. Not a day goes by where I don’t thank my lucky stars for having freedom. Financial Samurai was the main reason why I had the courage to leave. I had something fun to do that had some momentum. I just didn’t know how far I could really take it.
6) Own your own brand online. The reason why sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc have grown so large is because millions of people have decided to create their brand on their platforms. Instead of playing by another website’s rules and enriching them, why not play by your own rules and enrich yourself? When someone Googles your name, it’s much better to have your branded site pop up first rather than LinkedIn. Have both if you must, but definitely have your own at the very least so you can tell your desired story.
7) Get a new job more easily. Every single employer Google’s your name before they hire you. If you are one of the very few people who have their own branded website vs. just a LinkedIn profile, you will instantly stand way above your competition. I’ve been able to get consulting gigs at four financial technology companies with relative ease because they recognize my work on FS. I know plenty of examples where individuals who’ve carved out their little niche have gone on to get plum jobs at places like AirBnB and Uber. A potential employer will see creativity, hustle, and initiative from those who’ve spent the time to create their own site. A website looks fantastic on your resume.
8) Learn how to hustle and sell. There is no better “sink or swim” test than starting your own site. To get people to visit, you’ve got to build relationships with other influencers in your niche, write good content worth reading, create a product worth buying, guest post, leave comments, and do things differently. If you don’t, nothing much really happens, or the growth you were hoping for doesn’t materialize. There’s no better way to learn than by doing. The great thing is, if you fail, it’s OK, especially if you are side hustling. You simply try again.
9) Easily help others. People often wonder how they can better give back to society, especially if they don’t have much money to spare. I firmly believe all of us have some knowledge to give that will help others avoid pain, suffering, or wasted time if we take the time to share our experiences. If you have a website, you can share your knowledge with anybody who wants to listen. Google will help those seeking your help find your content. There’s no need to game the search engines because Google has had a decade to perfect their search results.
10) Focus on what you can control. With the stock market laying an egg in the beginning of 2016, net worths around the world are getting crushed, and there’s not much anybody can do about it. I wrote in my 2016 goals and predictions post that I expect a $300,000 drop in my net worth due to my holdings in stocks and real estate. But I still plan to increase my net worth by $500,000 through aggressive savings, more conservative investments, and most of all, through my work ethic with Financial Samurai. I know with high certainty that if I write more I’ll garner more traffic. With more traffic comes higher revenue. Being able to do things that can positively affect your future is one of the best feelings ever. Do not simply accept your situation with no way out!
11) Free swag. Are you ever amazed by how much swag attendees at the Oscar’s get? Supposedly, the latest goody bag for 2016 is valued at over $200,000! Well guess what? Your dear author also gets some pretty amazing free swag as well. Most recently, I got a $800 free Fluidstance level balance for those who like to work standing up. If you start a site with a good reputation, you’ll also be approached with a lot of free offers. If you love to read books, you can build a whole library of books for free from authors who hope you’ll promote their stuff!
12) Crowdsource knowledge. I’m always looking to invest in commercial real estate around the country to diversify my real estate and investment holdings. What better way to make more informed investment decisions than to take the collective wisdom from your website’s community and synthesize the information? Here’s a good example of crowdsourcing knowledge where I asked the community to share their thoughts on Conshy, Pennsylvania. The insights in the comments section are pretty amazing!
13) Leave a legacy. I’ve never thought about my legacy, but those who’ve gone through mid-life crises or who are older have consistently told me about their desire to leave a legacy. They worry about what other people will say, or whether they’ve contributed enough to society to make themselves and their family members proud. I guarantee you that if you do what you love every day while helping others along the way, you will leave a fantastic legacy you will be proud of. It is incredibly satisfying to help someone without an expectation of anything in return.
A PLATFORM IS KEY TO FREEDOM
For those of you who’ve only known the internet, I’m not sure you appreciate how good you’ve got it. Us older folks used to have to go to the library to research information and painfully reference each source and wait for results. Nowadays, everything is instantaneous. Thus, it would be a missed opportunity if the internet generation did not fully leverage the web and create their own websites.
FinancialSamurai.com is my X Factor for financial freedom because from 1999 – 2012, I prepared for my exit by methodically creating my Passive Income Portfolio. My online income is a byproduct of sharing my journey towards financial freedom. I never anticipated that what I’ve been writing about these last seven years could morph into a meaningful online income.
You can register your domain for under $20/year and get hosting for $2.95/month through BlueHost within a couple minutes. You’ll also get a free domain name for a year. Connect your WordPress site (what I use) with your domain and host to get started. That’s what I did when I first started seven years ago. Click here to follow a step-by-step guide on how to launch your own site in under 30 minutes.
Every day, I’m thankful for the internet. It has allowed me to break free and live life on my own terms. Along the way, I’ll continue to have setbacks. But at least I know that worst case scenario, I’ve got Financial Samurai and my passive income to fall back on.
Updated for 2020 and beyond. It cost me $1,500 and a week back then to set up my site. Now you can set one up for less than $50 bucks and in less than an hour.