5 Lessons I Learned During My First Year of Entrepreneurship


4 min read

One year ago I quit my day job as a data scientist. Now I work full-time on the following portfolio of websites that earn income with ads, digital products, and affiliate links:

Since quitting my day job, I’ve grown my monthly income from around $3k per month to $6k per month:

Here are 5 lessons I’ve learned during my first year of entrepreneurship.

1. Four hours of deep work each day is enough to make significant progress.

Corporate America makes it seem like an 8-hour, 5-day workweek is an optimal schedule for productivity.

It’s not.

In a given day, most people are capable of doing a max of four hours of deep work. In Corporate settings, most do about two hours of deep work. The other six are consumed by office chatter, pointless meetings, or fake productivity.

When I first started working for myself, I had to reassure myself that it was okay to work less than eight hours per day. With a bit of trial and error, I found the following schedule to be optimal for both my productivity and sanity:

I spend the first four hours of each day producing new content for my websites. I follow this up with several hours of “intential relaxation” where I purposely do other activities that aren’t related to work. I follow this up with a couple hours of light work and then spend the rest of the day hanging out with my fiancé or friends and family.

This schedule isn’t filled with work from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep because it doesn’t need to be. Four hours of deep work each morning has been enough to fuel significant progress on my websites.

2. Habits form the foundation of productivity.

Nobody forces me to get out of bed in the morning. I have no boss to answer to, no deadlines to meet, and no strict schedule to follow. This means I can do whatever I want on any given day.

This complete freedom can be overwhelming, which is why I’ve created a system that allows me to follow the daily schedule I shared above:

1. I keep a list of articles to write about for each of my sites in separate files in Notepad++.

2. Each morning I spend about four hours writing new articles for a certain site, based on a weekly schedule I created in Notion:

That’s literally it.

Using this system, I spend the first four hours each day Monday through Friday writing new content for my sites. This weekly routine is what has allowed me to grow my monthly online income to $6,000+ and it’s what will allow me to grow to $10,000+ per month and beyond.

The secret sauce is not in my daily routine (it’s not that impressive), but in the consistency with which I practice the routine.

I recently shared a tweet that summarizes this idea:


3. I only learn new skills that will lead to more income.

When I worked in Corporate America, I often had to participate in random webinars to learn about new software that our team “may or may not use at some point in the future.”

As an entrepreneur, I can’t afford to spend time learning new software or any other skill that I may or may not use in the future. The only skills I spend time learning are ones that will directly lead to more income. In my case, this includes:

SEO – This is the art of writing articles that can rank on the front page of Google for specific search phrases. This single skill is what has allowed me to grow the traffic (and thus income) to my websites exponentially over the past year.

Copywriting – This is the art of using specific language, wordplay, and tactics to increase sales of products or services. By learning about copywriting, I can directly increase my income. I’m still a novice at it, but I’ve been consuming tons of content around it lately. Here are a few resources I’ve found useful:

Design – This is the art of communicating with visuals. I recently took the Design Fundamentals course by Jack Butcher and found it incredibly helpful.

Each of these skills can lead to an increase in my income, which is why I’ve taken the time to learn them.

4. I wouldn’t return to Corporate America, even for a higher salary.

Over the past 12 months I made about $42k in online income. If I would have stuck with my day job as a data scientist, I would have made close to $90k during that same period.

However, I don’t regret leaving my job because my potential income growth with my websites far exceeds my potential income growth as a data scientist. 

In the 12 months leading up to quitting my job, I made about $14k in online income. This means I tripled my online income in just one year. And in the coming 12 months I fully expect to earn $80k or more. 

The growth trajectory for online income blows the growth trajectory for a traditional salary out of the water, even for a well-paying profession like a data scientist.

I often remind myself of the following quote from James Clear:

“It doesn’t matter how successful or unsuccessful you are right now. What matters is whether your habits are putting you on the path toward success. You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results.”

I would never go back to Corporate America for a higher salary simply because it doesn’t offer the same income growth trajectory as profitable websites.

Related: 

 

If you’re interested in learning how to create your own profitable website, check out the Income Community – a private community that teaches you the exact strategy you can use to start and grow a profitable website from scratch.

5. The secret to boosting online income is to do the work once, then profit twice.

The reason that online income offers a much higher growth trajectory compared to a normal job is because you’re able to do the work once, then profit twice.

For example, by writing an SEO-optimized article for one of my websites, I’m able to get that article to appear on the front page of Google for a specific search phrase.

This means the article attracts new readers each day in a completely passive manner, which leads to income in the form of ads, affiliate links, and digital product sales.

Now imagine that a single article can bring in 1,000 pageviews per month and earn $15/month purely from ads.

If I have 2 articles each earning $15/month, that’s $30 per month.

100 articles each earning $15/month is $1,500 per month.

300 articles = $4,500 per month.

500 articles – $7,500 per month.

It’s easy to see how the numbers can get pretty wild over time.

Best of all, when I write an SEO-optimized article, it becomes a digital asset that attracts new readers and earns income for me over and over again without any additional effort on my part.

The same idea applies to digital products. For example, on Statology I have a collection of Excel spreadsheets that I sell for $24.99. It only took me a few hours to put these spreadsheets together, and now they bring in passive income for me each month when a reader purchases them.

Do the work once, profit repeatedly.

This simple idea has changed my whole view of generating income. I now focus all of my time on creating digital assets that have the potential to pay me over and over again. Over time, the income from these assets will continue to increase more and more as I produce more of them each month.

Zach

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