So, you want to be a millionaire? I’m guessing that’s how you ended up there
You could try answering a bunch of trivia questions from Regis Philbin and hope your phone a friend doesn’t fail, or you could go out and buy a lottery ticket. But both of those methods are for betas, because they rely on pure chance instead of skill or hard work.
The truth is, t’s actually not that hard to make your first million. You don’t have to be a genius, and you don’t invent something totally new. The best things were just a brilliant repackaging of something that already existed (iPod, anyone?).
The key is starting something for yourself. You’re never going to hit a 7-figure salary in your day job, but at least you’ve got a chance as an entrepreneur. Experiment, and once you find something that works, scale up. Thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever to make lots of money fast. See also: the best tips for starting a business and the best online business ideas.
I’ve ranked the top 30 ways to make your first millie by how much time they take and how passive they are, because we all know making money while we sleep is #goals. Preference is given to anything digital, because making money in the Bahamas is also #goals.
36. Invent something
Thanks to the metropolis of money-making opportunities that is the internet, you don’t even need to have the capital to manufacture anymore. Websites like Quirky will do all the work for you from manufacturing to marketing to sales — all you have to do is submit an idea that’s good enough to get chosen. (1)
With 30% royalties, invent a $40 product that sells at least 83,334 units, and you’ve got 7-figures of pure profit. Wild world.
35. Pet services
Americans love their yappy little poodles more than ever right now. By 2019, experts predict that the pet industry will hit $92 billion. (2)
If you live in a big city with lots of rich people willing to shell out the big bucks for someone to make sure their beloved Fifi gets the royal treatment while they’re on vacation, you can make good money. Build up lots of clients, hire a few high school kids and pay them minimum wage. Get more clients, hire more high school students. Skim profits off the top and relax while your $$$ stacks itself.
34. Admissions coach
Rich people will also pay big bucks if you can help them get their kid into an Ivy League…families pay upwards of $42,000 for an admissions coach to help their kid ace the SATs, write a good entrance essay, and nail their application. (3) This can also be done virtually.
With clients paying $50 grand/head, you really only need a handful of clients each year to make a million within 5 years.
33. Index funds
Warren buffet agrees, and he’s a billionaire: index funds are the best investment. They’re passive, you don’t have to pay outrageous fees to an investment manager, and they have great returns. In one study, they averaged an 8.5% return, higher than managed funds and hedge funds. (4)
Even with no savings to invest right now, that return would give you $1,000,000 in 20 years if you invested $1,587/month. You will need to really up your savings game and it will take a couple of decades to pay off, but still, those are monster returns.
32. Food truck
Food trucks are fire right now. Even with government red tape and regulations, the food truck industry has been growing at a steady 7.9% since 2011. Most good industries grow at about 2-3%/year. (5)
Use this low-cost investment to get some buzz and work out the kinks in your business. Once you’ve built a brand, expand to a full-blown restaurant. Rinse, wash, repeat with a second location and eventually a third.
We’re in the golden age of American wineries. The U.S. is the leading global consumer of wine, California wine sales are breaking records year after year, and wine sales in the U.S. are up to a whopping $60 billion. (6) As a country with plenty of unused potential farmland, you can have your pick when it comes to starting a vineyard.
30. Sell ad space
I wouldn’t usually recommend selling ad space as a way to get rich, because it’s just not an effective use of your time, and time is money.
But 21-year old Alex Tew has a pretty genius idea when he created the Million Dollar Homepage and went viral. Basically, he sells 1-pixel ads for $1/piece on a site with 1,000,000 pixels of ad space. (7)
If you’ve got an idea for a company and think there’s a market for it, try crowdfunding the idea on Kickstarter or a similar website. You’ll quickly make that million if it’s popular.
Of course, you won’t pocket that million. But if people were willing to invest millions into your idea, they’ll likely buy your products too.
28. Binary trading
This teenager from England himself binary trading while working at McDonald’s and used it to put us all to shame. He became a millionaire before age 20 and now drives around in a gold Bentley to soccer practice. (8)
Binary trading is one of the easiest financial assets to trade. It’s a yes or no bet on whether or not a certain asset with reach a certain price by a certain time (will the price of gold be below $1,350 by 2pm today?). All you do is pick yes or no. But it’s like craps…you can win big fast, but you can lose even bigger.
27. Weed farming
#Legalization has made the marijuana industry has become one of the most profitable in the country. Even if you start as a farmer picking leaves to learn the ropes, you can make a generous $35/hour ($70k salary farmers? Only on weed farms). Work your way up and then start your own farm.
26. Weed dispensary
Another way to cash in on the legalization wave is to move down the supply chain and open a marijuana dispensary.
Now, opening a dispensary isn’t easy. There are a lot of legal hoops to jump through, and they vary from state to state. Plus, you’ll need a business loan unless you have a lot of cash lying around.
Expect dispensaries to be much easier to start in the future as legalization spreads throughout the country.
25. Real estate
Real estate is one of those opportunities that really has no ceiling to how much money you can make (although that also means there’s no floor). While the median income for real estate agents is only about $54,000/year, if you look at the Wall Street Journal top 1,000 agents, you’ll see that the top real estate agent in the country grossed $1,400,000,000 in sales last year…that’s billion, with a B. The 250th ranked agent sold $60,000,000. (9)
That’s sales, not profit, but at an average commission rate of 3%, even the 250th ranked agent profited well over $1 million for the year.
The craft beer industry is exploding all over the country. Sales of microbrews in the U.S. have grown 15-18% in the last few years compared to the 3.5% growth rate regular beer companies have seen. (10)
If you’ve had success with your home brewing kit and are ready to take it to the next level, open up your own local brewery.
23. Online poker
Sure, it’s a legal gray area, but it’s one of the few gambling methods that involves real skill. If you’ve got some math skills, you can learn how to give yourself an edge and turn $10 into $1,000,000 over time, all from your laptop. Or, if you get good enough, there are live poker tournaments that offer a $1,000,000 cash prize or even more.
22. Start a cryptocurrency IPO
How many times a day do you kick yourself for not investing in bitcoin back when it was worth $1 instead of $6,000+?
Well, now you can just start your own cryptocurrency, funded by an ICO (Initial Coin Offering). This is how Eretherum, one of the biggest cryptocurrencies aside from Bitcoin, started.
These days, your cryptocurrency does actually have to do something valuable. People don’t tolerate pump and dump schemes anymore, so make sure it has some sort of underlying value to it.
21. Network marketing
I know I talk a lot of crap about 3-way calls and Facebook harassment, but the fact is, network marketing is a good way to strike it big… if you can push your way into the top .001%.
If you’re really set on doing MLM, I suggest you pick one with a product you already use and love because knowing and being passionate about the product makes selling it easier. Also, lose your shame.
20. Subscription boxes
Birchbox, Dollar Shave Club, and snack boxes to Netflix and Spotify, subscription services are the future. By charging people monthly, you can get away with making a lot more than you would otherwise – what sounds better, shelling out $120 for a year’s worth of services, or paying $10/month?
Pick a targeted, niche product that’s cheap. People rarely pay over $9.99/month, and that’s for a service like Spotify that gives them access to just about every song ever, so think $4.99/month or less.
19. Etsy seller
Find cheap trendy stuff and sell lots of it. The number 2 seller on Amazon, Three Bird Nest, nets about a million every single year from her sales. (11) She markets her T-shirts, scarves, and hats as boutique and handmade, but in reality, she buys most of them off wholesale sites in Asia like Alibaba. She resold a pair of lace socks for $28/each that go for $6/each wholesale. Genius.
18. Angel investor
If you have a little start-up money, consider using it to invest in a promising new start-up. It’s risky, but start-ups grow like a forest fire when they’re good. If you have an eye for tech trends, this could be a money-maker for you.
Do it right, and you have the potential to see a huge ROI, while barely having to do anything. Take that profit and invest in 2 start-ups. Repeat.
17. Teach online
Teachers aren’t known for making good money, but thanks to the internet, anything is possible. Online education is set to generate over $240 billion in revenue by 2021. (12)
But you aren’t going to get rich by tutoring people one-on-one online. The money’s in online courses because they’re so scalable.
A high school math teacher even quit his day job after making over $1 million in under a year from the programming online courses he created. (13)
16. Be a Landlord
Buy a property and raise the rent each year (with skyrocketing rent prices in the U.S. and scarce rentals, tenants will pay to stay). If you’re in a hot area, it’s not uncommon to increase rent by 10% or more each year.
Meanwhile, the average interest rate on a mortgage is about 4%. Use your profits to hire people and then buy more property (apartment complexes make bank). (14) Rinse and repeat, and you’ll have yourself a real estate empire.
15. Life coaching
Life coach sounds like a made-up job, but if you can brand yourself as a thought leader and reel in high-end clients, you can charge insane amounts of money. Think 5-figures for one package, 6-figures for one speech at a major event.
My advice? Pick a real specific niche, one that’s not too saturated, start a killer blog, build your LinkedIn presence, and write guest articles for major publications. Write a couple of best-selling books on Amazon and get some big-name endorsements. Done.
Instead of making the next smash hit video game, you can make tons of cash by playing today’s favorite video games. You can make decent cash playing in eSports tournaments, but the real money’s in streaming and YouTube videos because they’re passive income sources.
Look at Ninja, who makes half a mil or more a month streaming on Twitch (not to mention his own YouTube videos). (15) Or Pewdiepie, who’s amassed a net worth of about $30 million, which all started with gaming. (16)
You can go one of two ways with consulting: starting at a consulting firm (for the more career-oriented) or doing freelance niche consulting (for the more entrepreneurial).
For the first path, you’d want to start at a top 5 consulting firm like PriceWaterhouseCooper or McKinsey. Start off making at least $70,000 per year, then work your way up to senior level to pull in multiple six figures per year.
Gain enough experience, then leave the firm and launch your own consultancy.
As for the other consulting path, acquire a niche skillset (it can be almost anything, as long as there’s demand) and market yourself as a consultant for that niche. Without a track record, your earnings will depend on the results you deliver. Work hard, and your earnings will reflect it.
12. Investment banking
Investment banking is by far one of the highest-paid professions in the world. Entry-level investment bankers start just a little under six-figure salaries, but by the time they make it to VP status, they’ll easily be making a 7-figure salary.
Investment banking isn’t exactly easy to get into, requiring a finance degree with great grades. And once you get there, you’ll be working way more than a normal employee in another industry might work. Many entry-level investment bankers work 90-100 hours per week for long stretches throughout the year, so be ready to hustle.
This is another saturated market, but if you manage to claw your way to the top 1%, you can bring in 5-figures while you sleep.
Some of the best dropshippers gross millions in sales every single month. Unfortunately, 9/10 of dropshipping websites don’t even make thousands, so be prepared to work and to fail a few times.
10. App development
If you’ve got some coding skills, create the next Angry Birds. Actually, you don’t even have to do that to make 7-figures. Sell your app for $2.99, you keep 70% profit, so that means you’ll only need to sell 477,000 to be a millionaire. Plenty of apps sell over 500k+. No need for it to be a massive mobile gaming hit.
Alternatively, you could make a free-to-play mobile game with in-app purchases and ads. Candy Crush, that silly little Bejeweled clone, brought in nearly $1 billion in only one year between July 2017 and July 2018, quite a lot for a free game. (17)
9. Youtube videos
Remember ‘Gangham Style’? It’s hard to forget, unfortunately. But that video earned the creator, Psy, $8 million on YouTube alone. (18)
YouTube’s average CPM (cost per mille, or payment per 1,000 views) is reported at $7.60. (19) So, a video with a million views (which is difficult, but definitely do-able) would net you $7,600.
To net a million bucks, you’d need to make 130 videos with a million views. When the videos scoring 7-figure view counts are things like “satisfying sounds”, it can’t be too hard, although you’ll have to set yourself apart from all the noise in some way.
8. Digital marketing ad agency
Lots of money to be made running ad campaigns for businesses. It’s simple: run Facebook or Google ads for businesses, make them a profit, and they’ll pay you handsomely for it.
When you’re raking in the cash, hire people to do all the work for you, while your focus on acquiring more clients. Soon enough, you’ll be pulling in plenty of money.
7. Self-publish on Amazon
Amazon bestseller Amanda Hocking was selling 100,000 copies of her books per month, so it didn’t take her long to hit a million in sales. If you sell a self-published book on Amazon for $2.99, you get to keep 70% of the profits. That means you’d have to sell 477,783 to make a million.
You don’t even have to write the book – pay a ghostwriter to write a series of juicy romance novels or cheesy mysteries and then flex your marketing skills.
6. B2B services
People have limited money to spend, but marketing to companies gives you access to deep pockets. You’re raking in huge dollars if you can help them with their bottom line.
Find a service you can market to other businesses and do it. A recent study showed that B2B digital entrepreneurs are hitting 5x the revenue growth of their B2C peers, so this is a wagon you want to hop on. (20)
5. Affiliate marketing
Stack that cash while you sleep. Online shopping is rapidly growing in popularity by the year. (21)
Affiliate marketing is an easy way to get a piece of the pie, because you don’t even have to stock up on merchandise or process orders. But margins are low until you hit huge traffic numbers, and the field is crazy competitive because everyone and their mother wants to do it.
Stand out above all the noise by writing quality content about your affiliate products and hanging in for the long term, and you’ll make the money.
4. Content farm
Content marketing is still the It Girl of sales and marketing, and it’s on track to bring in $313 billion by 2019, according to PQ Media’s Global Content Marketing Forecast. (22)
I’ve talked before about how you can make good money whipping up epic content for small to medium-sized businesses, but if you really want to blow the roof off of your earnings, build up a list of dozens (or hundreds) of clients, hire up a bunch of promising content writers on Upwork for cheap, and rake in the profits.
3. Instagram influencer
If you’ve got some style, design sense, and social media skills, this is one of the easiest ways to hit 7-figures.
You have to build up a 6-figure following, but once you do that, you can rank in thousands of dollars per sponsored post. Post one photo a day, and you’ll have a million in under a year.
What can you be an influencer for? Anything, really. From fashion, to lifestyle, to books, to cars. Monetize your passion as an influencer.
2. Start a blog
The Huffington Post started as a blog. So did Mashable, Tech Crunch, Engadget, and hundreds of more websites that today have massive followings, full-time staff, and ad revenue in the millions. Arianna Huffington went on to sell The Huffington Post to AOL for $315 million. (23)
Plenty of regular old John and Sallys are hitting the million-dollar mark and retiring at 35 thanks to blogging as well, despite the cries of “blogging is dead!”. Just run an internet search for “list of blogging income reports” to see what I’m talking about.
1. SEO for local businesses
There are probably a million ways to make a million dollars, but there’s no money-making path more certain and stable in the online world than providing services for local businesses. Offering SEO for garage door companies in Madison, Wisconsin cuts your competition down to a few people instead of the few million you have to compete with on the global internet.
SEO is easily the most important and challenging aspect of any local business. If you can do that for them and hand over fresh leads from people ready to purchase, you’re basically handing them wads of cash. In return, they’ll pay you a pretty healthy cut.
The best part? Once you’ve got your site up and running, it collects leads for you, so you get paid while you’re playing NBA 2K17, while you’re on vacation, and even while you’re sleeping. That’s the dream, right?
I’ll Paypal you $500 if you show me a better business to start than our method.