This is the article that I wish somebody had written about how to earn money online when I was first starting. And I suspect this article will deliver a lot of you to a come-to-Jesus moment that will (if applied) rock your world, help you make far more money, increase your impact and help the struggle become even a little bit not so real. We're going to talk about money. Specifically, the formula for earning more of it. There are a million articles and podcast episodes and videos out there about how to find clients, how to sell to customers and how to grow your audience… And these are all important topics. But they don't get down to the nitty-gritty of actually making some serious money with your business. Because that's all it is. It's a formula. You may plug different numbers into it; maybe you are heavy on one side of the formula and go light on another. There are also different ways to tackle the formula. But it's still just a formula. And it's a formula we don't see often enough.

It's Not All About the Money

Look, I get it. Money is emotional. For some of you, your knee-jerk reaction to reading that introduction is to shout from the rooftops “it's not all about the money!” You're absolutely right. I feel the same way. I suspect many of you do. After all, you wouldn't be reading this article on this website if you just wanted to peace out with your passively made mega-millions to some island and never work again.

how to earn money online

And if you do feel that way, Unsettle is simply not for you. I'm lookin' at you, Scrooge McDuck. There's an interesting movement in the way we view work, and that's what Unsettle is all about. We want to make an impact. We want to leave a legacy. We don't just want to clock in, clock out, collect a pension and putter in the garden after we're finally able to retire at 65. We want to actually contribute rather than just consume. So no, it's not all about the money. But as Jaime, recently pointed out to me (when I was obviously on my soapbox telling her all about how much of an impact I wanted to make on all of ya'lls lives), money is a tool. And without money, making an impact will be a long, uphill battle. Like eating a big spoonful of peanut butter without water (I'm paraphrasing. She's far more straight-forward). How much of an impact can you really make without the means to fund your impact? Money is a tool and a tool that can make you far more effective in everything you do. So let's get real. We're going there.

The Cold Hard Truth About Earning More Money

If you want to increase your income, get to the point where you can quit your job or even just save more, you need to re-route your focus to your wallet. Doesn't sound very balanced, does it? That's because balance is a complete fallacy that nobody can ever meet if they also want to achieve anything remarkable. Balance is one of those “too good to be true” things – like multi-tasking – that we've all been led to believe is possible when it's not even remotely so.

  • Want to lose weight? You have to focus on your health, to the detriment to other things in your life.
  • Want to learn a skill? You have to focus on practicing, to the detriment to other things in your life.
  • Want to increase your income? You have to focus on making money, to the detriment to other things in your life.

Where you put your energy is where you get results.  So don't get sucked into the “follow your passion and the money will follow” myth. As Cait says, that's not real life. Real life is more like this: Follow your passion, pair it with a skill, make sure people will pay for it, put in the hours and focus on earning money from it and the money will follow. So roll up your sleeves because I'm going to tell you about the real, secret formula for getting those dolla dolla bills (yo).

The Money Force Multiplier

Buckle up because this is big: As an entrepreneur (or in your career in general) the amount of money you earn is a multiplier of how much work you are willing to put in and how uncomfortable you're willing to make yourself.  If you've had a swig of the passive income Koolaid, you might be wondering where making money while you're asleep or watching Pretty Little Liars comes in… But passive income how it's been sold to you not passive. The secret to making money at home on your couch is to get off your couch. At least at first. If you've established yourself as an authority, built an audience and put in some serious sweat equity, you sit back down and watch a few Gilmore Girls reruns. So if you want to get to that point where you can quit your job, or just want to take your already-full-time-business to the next level, you need to get sweaty and squirmy (yuck. Also, that's what she said).

  • Willing to put in more work than you have before? You'll make more money.
  • Willing to get really uncomfortable? You'll make more money.

And remember… more money is more impact and more impact is more fulfillment. So let's talk about that first part…

“The Only Place Success Comes Before Hard Work Is In The Dictionary”

If you've struggled to “find clients”, book gigs, or sell your products, I want you to play a little game with me: The game of getting really damn honest with yourself. It's hard. It sucks. It's not glamorous, but it will help you diagnose where you're going wrong. Here's the honesty part: Think back over the last couple of days. If you have a really good memory, reach back over the last couple of months:

  • How much time have you spent each day being actually productive?
  • How much time have you spent doing things that will actually land you those clients or customers?
  • In hours per day, would you say you've spent 1 hour? 4? Every single day you were “working” to find clients?

That's a good exercise in honesty, and I think you'll probably find that you weren't spending as much time as you thought. Now, I have a theory that you probably actually spent even less than your honesty-check told you. Studies show that we tend to grossly underestimate how many calories we eat every day. We also tend to grossly underestimate how much we spend each month. I bet you're grossly underestimating how much time you're wasting, too. Don't worry, it's not just you. Me, too. So that's why I'm going to highly encourage you to do some time tracking. Track every single minute of your day one day. Don't try to prove to yourself that you're ultra-productive; just go about your day but track your activities. Even those 1 minute Facebook checks. Then, total up how much time you actually spent on revenue-finding activities. I bet you'll find that you did a lot of that sitting on the couch watching Netflix thing…except without the passive income.

On Getting Uncomfortable

This is my favourite part of the formula. The members of the Unsettle program get preached to all the time about how you've got to get uncomfortable to earn more.  This is true in your day job, and it's true with your business and blog, too. When you're training, it's the really uncomfortable lifts that give you the most progress in your strength (Note: I said uncomfortable, not painful). That's true with earning more money, growing your business, and even picking up that cute guy/girl.

  • It's the uncomfortable conversation with your boss where you're requesting a raise that bumps your salary
  • It's the uncomfortable feeling in your throat when you get on the phone to sell to somebody that lands that sale
  • It's the uncomfortable knot in your stomach when you ask for the guy's number that leads to a date.

So if you want to make more money, you have to get uncomfortable. As Tim Ferriss wrote (and I recently quoted on the SumoMe Instagram):

What have you been fearing recently that you know you need to do? #SumoMe

A photo posted by Entrepreneur Marketing Tips (@sumome) on

Pitching clients will only take you so far, because you're competing with dozens of other people who would rather stay in their own comfortable bubble. What is one thing you could do to get more clients or customers that makes your palms sweaty?

  • Maybe that's going to meet-ups
  • Maybe it's asking an “influencer” for an endorsement
  • Maybe it's being bold and offering to work for your dream client for free instead of waiting for them to notice you.

You might be skeptical (although I think this is a function more of avoidance than actual skepticism), but think of almost anything good that has happened to you over the past year or so. Usually it's been paired with a healthy dose of discomfort. Meaning, it didn't happen to you, it happened because of you.  In the summer, I emailed Noah Kagan to ask him for an endorsement for my writing (after I knew he had read and enjoyed some of it). Pressing “send” made me want to throw up I was so nervous. But he sent me one, and that not only landed me a lot of work with other influencers (like Nathan),  but I'm now working with SumoMe doing some of the most interesting and enjoyable work I've ever done. This is just one example of the many that put me where I am today.

Stop Settling for Average

If you're unwilling to put in the work and get uncomfortable, you're like the majority of people out there. And the problem with the majority of people out there is that they are average. They might find small successes along their journey, but they won't accomplish anything great. And they certainly won't make an impact, create a the lifestyle they want, or get rich. That's okay, because the world needs average. Without those people, it would be mayhem. But I have a hunch that you don't want to be average.  You just need to stop settling for what everybody else is doing and get off your couch. It's comfortable but it won't get you anywhere.

20 thoughts on “The Article I Wish I’d Read About Earning More Money

  1. Bharat says:

    Hello Sarah!
    Amazing article! Agreed with every word and sentences of it. Only actions create results and if we really track our time spent in 24 hours – the exercise you mentioned – will be very revealing.
    Making yourself uncomfortable for money making dream is the only route to go. It’s good that you are helping people open up their eyes and face the reality otherwise, there is too much noise going on online about – follow your passion & money will follow you – gimmick.
    Thanks much for sharing this epic post!
    Take care

  2. Jane M says:

    What I’d like to know is how you know I’ve been watching Gilmore Girls reruns? Have you been spying on my Netflix ;)?
    Really though, I just wanted to recommend a great time tracking tool I use called Toggl. (Yes, that is spelled correctly.). It sits on your desktop and you can tell it what project and/or client you are working on. You can visit the website to produce reports on your time use. Also, it’s free!
    It can be very useful to keep you on task – when that timer is running, I feel guilty about checking Facebook!

  3. Robbie van't Wout says:

    You hit the nail on the head with this blog Sarah.
    Yep I can sit down at my computer with great plans to get stuff done and 2, 3 hours later I think what have I done? Stuff all really
    You are right staying focused on the money producing activities is the key.

  4. Kevin Obermeyer says:

    I’d simply say thanks for a great article, but I’d rather go above the average comment and say that your words here have motivated me not only to get rid of my couch and TV, but also to cover my bed with spikes to make it look less attractive as well so I keep moving and working even when I think I’m too tired. Okay, I may have exaggerated a bit, but I do enjoy your articles. And you’ve certainly helped to instill more drive within me to push through the tough times of reaching success. I’ll return the favor and offer two inspirational video clips (not my own) that I think you’ll enjoy. All the best! 🙂

  5. Devan says:

    Ughh. You know me too well, Sarah. This post was just what I needed to get moving.
    I personally use Toggl for any client work and when I work on my own site, but I really should start tracking the time-wasters too (I’m lookin’ at you Netflix/any TV show really, FB and Insta).
    Now I just need to get off the couch.
    Thanks for the great post 🙂

  6. Daisy says:

    This was wow, Sarah. I love how you tell it like it is (particularly when you talked about getting off the couch & discomfort being part of success). I always end reading your posts with the feeling that “. knew that before I read this but now I really know it!” Thank you for this. Will be sharing on Twitter & with my mastermind group!

  7. Tom says:

    A solid article with solid advice. There really is nothing quite as exhilarating and liberating as overcoming a fear you had and discovering there was nothing to be afraid of.
    Keep up the good work.

  8. Tom says:

    Another great one Sarah. Onward and forward! The screen time tracking tool I have here is called RescueTime. It tracks how many hours and minutes you spend on every windows when you are doing computer work (I got this advice from none other than Tim Ferriss actually). Lesson for me? Discipline is freedom (and I got this from the badass former NAVY Seal Commander Jocko Willink).

  9. Steve Bentley says:

    Hi Sarah
    I don’t appear to fit your demographic as described on your ‘About’ page as I do collect a pension! Like many expats in retirement, I strive to earn extra income to supplement a pension.
    I am a blogger and freelance writer now and my efforts at earning money online are not solely about the money. It helps keep the grey matter working!
    Despite falling outside of your demographic, I’m sure you won’t object when I tell you I have been following your blog as a subscriber for some weeks.
    I am impressed with this latest article, so much so I turned it into a blog lost of my own here: http://expatinbacolod.com/earn-money-online-retirement-time-life/
    I am also grateful for the link to Toggle and have installed it already.
    Thanks for all the good stuff.

  10. Marcela Diaz says:

    Thanks Sarah, I just came back home after delivering a really good presentation on how to be an effective and cross-culturally aware networker, only to realize my fears have had me focusing on collecting accolades rather hard cash, and that my goal is to make an impact so the article could not have come at a better time. Thanks!!!

  11. Scott Cofer says:

    Hi Sarah,
    As a new ‘Unsettler’ I am loving your content here, and this post is another clear example of why you’re on my A-list!
    SO much here resonates with me, but I particularly like how you framed money as a tool. Very often the whole ‘make money online thing’ has such a negative connotation.
    I’ll tell you what … I can help a whole lot more people with a big ‘ole toolbox than a multi-purpose army knife!
    Keep up the great work …
    Best to you,

  12. Karen says:

    I used to be part of that work till I’m 65 and then retire and collect my pension, just like my parents. My, how times have changed. I’ve spent quite a bit of last year getting uncomfortable to make a drastic career change. It still terrifies me every time, but I will continue to step outside of my comfort zone. I definitely do not want to be average.

  13. Bijoy khan says:

    it’s a important information for new and elder to earning money. now i will earn more money according your process. Thank you so much for this article…

  14. Teale says:

    Hi Sarah,
    I just wanted to let you know that you have the Lombardi quote (“The Only Place Success Comes Before Work Is In The Dictionary”) slightly wrong. “Hard Work” actually does come before “success” in the dictionary!
    Thanks for the article and apologies for being “that guy that points out mistakes” on the internet! 🙂

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