Teach your kids to build a business instead of working in fast food

Feb 16, 2011 12:46 PM EDT

When I was a teenager, like many of my friends, I worked for McDonald's. I'd often work late on school nights, which made me dead tired the next day during school. Of course, I made minimum wage for 9 months and then got promoted to "trainer", which gave me a 10 cent raise. The realization of working hard for almost a year for a 10 cent raise woke me up. I quit the job and focused on school instead.

9 months of hard work and nothing to show for it; however, I didn't truly learn my lesson until several years later. After graduating, I worked hard at each of my jobs and continually moved up the ladder. I made a livable salary, but couldn't ever get ahead. That is, until I decided to work for myself and build my own company.

I'm not going to pretend that it's all roses and lollipops. It's hard work with long hours, long weeks, and tons of sacrifice. However, when you're building an asset, the asset eventually starts to pay dividends.

The Internet has leveled the playing field and anybody can play. You don't need huge amounts of capital to get started, though I'm not going to lie that it helps speed things up. All you really need to get started is an Internet connection, a browser, a hard work ethic, the desire to learn, and the willingness to see long term goals instead of immediate gratification.

Become a Publisher

There are millions of successful companies online, and they all require one key ingredient - visitors. Without visitors, the site and company will fail; therefore, you absolutely must learn how to attract people to your website.

The least risky and least expensive way to learn this crucial step is to build a website revolving around something you know a lot about and then monetize it by either ads or affiliate links. In both cases, your expenses are limited to your monthly website hosting bill and the time you invest into it. If you are diligent about promoting the website, you'll eventually make hundreds, even potentially thousands of dollars per month from those ads. Then, if you decide to expand your business by selling retail items, subscriptions, or whatever else, you'll be ahead of the game because you'll already have the visitors that you need.

How much do Publishers make?

This is the first question people usually ask when I talk to them about this. People with an employee mentality are used to dollars per hour or if they've been in the game for a while, the annual salary they should expect. The problem is that when you're building any business the answer is "it depends". The answer also is "what do you want it to be?" and "how much time are you willing to invest?"

I wish I were 16 again and could start out on the right foot. Instead of working at McD's, I'd build a website about things I was interested in and then spend as much time as I could to promote and enhance it. Today, minimum wage is $7.25 per hour in the US so this is the opportunity cost of building a website asset instead of working in fast food. If a teen worked 20 hours a week, they'd make $145/week before taxes or $580 per month. When they get sick of smelling like leftover hamburgers and quit the job, their salary goes to $0. Since they could make $580 per month, that will be the goal in our example.

One of the easiest ways to monetize a website is to put Google Adsense ads on it. Google manages everything on their end so you don't have to worry about dealing with advertisers directly. Google's search engine spiders read the content of the page and display ads that are related; for example, a page about music will have ads for guitars and drums, where a page about landscaping will have ads for lawn mowers and tillers. Google manages all of this so you don't have to worry about it. When somebody clicks on the ad, you're paid approximately 68% of the amount the advertiser is paying Google for that click. This is done on an auction system, so each click is worth a little different depending on how much the advertiser bid. Some clicks are worth 2 cents, and others are worth 3 dollars. You'll find that different subjects tend to be worth more than others so it's best to experiment with different subjects and then create entire sites around the best ones. CPM is a term you'll need to know. This means Cost per 1000 impressions (M is the roman numeral for 1000), which means that for every 1000 times your page is loaded, you earn on average $X dollars. I've seen it range from $2-$10 per thousand depending on the site.

Let's assume the site is earning a CPM of $4, which is realistic if it's well written, and our goal is $580 per month. To earn this, the pages of the site would need to be viewed approximately 145,000 times per month. Most visitors of a site will view 2-3 pages, so you'd need approximately 50,000-70,000 visitors per month. A well written article with a few dozen quality links pointing to it can expect 500 or more readers per month. Therefore, if you write 100 articles and spend the time promoting it, it's realistic to get the traffic you're looking for. This won't happen overnight, but you're building a long term asset, not earning an hourly wage. The wonderful thing about this is that if you decide to take a month off and do nothing, your pages and links don't disappear. You're very likely going to still make the same amount the next month. Spend more time promoting it and that number will increase. Eventually, you could make a full time salary or more automatically from your website assets.

How do I get started?

First, you're going to need to figure out what you like to write about. Make a list of 100 or so articles that you'd like to eventually write and then start writing them. Once you have 10 or more, you're ready to create your website, set up your ads, and start promoting. I recommend using My Market Toolkit's content management system to create your website. You don't need to worry about programming and can have a website up and running in half the time it takes with other CMS systems. Then, it's a matter of writing additional articles and promoting them. Postring.net will teach you the basics on how to promote your website and there are many other resources on the net to build upon that knowledge.

Publishing websites is something that will take a lot of work, but it doesn't require a huge investment of money to get started, and it will pay off in the long run.


Teach your kids to build a business instead of working in fast food

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