How I Turned $100 into $1,000,000 (And How Long it Took to Get There)
Since starting my online business journey, I have seen a 7-figure increase in my net worth. While I don't exactly have it all figured out just yet--I still have a lot to learn--I have picked up a few lessons along the way that I think you might find helpful in your own online business journey. In today's video, I'm going to share the exact path that I took to take my initial $100 investment into my first successful online business, and how I turned that into a million dollars down the line. I'll share some of what I believe are the factors that I think contributed to my success, and I'll also share how long it actually took me to get there. If you're new here, my name is Rachel Harrison-Sund and I help online entrepreneurs make more money so they can live more life.
If that sounds like you please do subscribe and hit the bell. That way, you'll be notified every time I put out one of these videos, every single Monday. Back in 2014 I was an art director at an ad agency, and I really wasn't loving life. I was making about $49,000 a year and I was in $45,000 worth of debt, so the math didn't really look so good.
I really wanted to start making a lot more money, not just so that I could pay off that debt, but so that I had the opportunity to live more of the lifestyle that I actually wanted to live. I didn't want to have a ceiling on my earnings income and I wanted the freedom. I didn't want to work for anyone else. I'd also seen what the next rung of the ladder looked like as a creative director. I didn't want to be there and do that,
so I started looking at different side hustle options so that I could eventually exit the nine-to-five. My very first venture down that road was something called Easylicious Gluten-Free. It was a gluten-free meal planning service, and it was completely terrible idea and it totally flopped before it even got off the ground. If you want to hear more about how to properly validate your idea so that you don't experience a similar flop, you can check out this video here. This whole idea of leaving the nine to five and starting my own side hustle and getting all that freedom came from the book, The Four-Hour Work Week, by Tim Ferris. If you haven't read that, I highly recommend it.
This changed my entire outlook on everything, and for the first time it really made it feel like it was possible for me to have that kind of a lifestyle for myself. That is where it all started. Once I got that first failure out of the way, I was kind of rooting around online and I discovered this idea of publishing books on KDP as a business model. Essentially,
you would head on over to Amazon, you'd do some research to try and figure out what it was that real customers were searching for, and then you would pay a ghostwriter to write that book. I'm talking about non-fiction books here. So that is what I did. I really loved books. This sounded like a cool opportunity. I thought, you know, why not give this a try? This was now in like late 2014, early 2015.
I invested $100 in paying a ghostwriter to come up with a recipe book for me. It was a paleo diet for vegetarians recipe book, which I know sounds totally counterintuitive, but it did work. The recipe book was pretty cool, and I ended up making a hundred dollars that first month that it was up for sale. This was a huge, huge win for me. I suddenly saw this potential to make money online, so I took that initial hundred dollars that I had invested and I paid for another book. At the end of the second month, I think I had made $200.
Now I had these two money-making assets and they'd collectively made me 200 or 300 bucks. I kept on taking the money that I had made and reinvesting that into creating more books, so I was slowly able to scale month after month after month in that fashion. It was also around this time that I spent, I think it was about $99 on a course that taught exactly what I was doing so I could fill in some of those knowledge gaps, and that definitely helped. A little bit further down the line, I'd probably been doing fiction for a few months and suddenly I started hearing about romantic fiction. This was kind of the next big thing that was blowing up.
I ended up finding a woman who was teaching a 6-week coaching program all about how to get into the romance genre. This coaching program was a thousand bucks, which at the time felt a little bit scary. I was still in a ton of debt. I had barely put a dent at all in that overall debt, so it felt really iffy spending that thousand dollars, but I went ahead and did it. That ended up being actually a huge boost to me that really enabled me to get into that next level. Now I had some new knowledge. I was experimenting with a different niche.
I went from non-fiction to fiction romance and it was working. This was kind of the first big explosion that I had. After this coaching program, I was able to bring my earnings up to about $4,000 a month. I still had to pay a ghostwriter to create these stories. 4,000 bucks a month was my net revenue, and then I was spending probably a few hundred, almost up to $2,000 a month to get these books created for me, so I was still only profiting like a couple thousand bucks a month at this point. It was also about this time that a good friend of mine, Kelli Publish,
who you might know from her own YouTube channel, told me all about low-content publishing. Low-content publishing was journals, planners, activity books notebooks, coloring books, that kind of a thing. Anything that has low-content. I thought this sounded pretty cool, especially because I have a design background, so I thought this is something I could really try my hand at, but I was still kind of determined to make the fiction stuff work for me. I was still really in there with the fiction and I thought, okay I'll give this low-content thing a try later on down the line.
In the meantime, I got together with another friend of mine that I worked with at the ad agency. I told her all about low-content publishing and she went ahead and ran with it. Meanwhile, I was still doing the fiction stuff. This was at the end of 2016.
I ended up getting laid off from my advertising job, so as of January 1st, suddenly I had all day and all night to work on my publishing business. I was still plugging away at the fiction. My friend who I showed the low-content thing to, after a few months, was making thousands of dollars a month, all profits.
This made me super mad. I was still sort of beating this fiction dead horse. I'd been doing this for two, two-and-a-half years at this point, and I had never managed to break into that next level. I show it to my friend and three months in, and she's making like $10,000 a month, so I was pretty choked. I was happy for her, but kind of mad at myself.
I immediately ditched the fiction and I went all in with the low-content publishing. I cut out the middleman. I was creating the books myself, so I didn't have to pay someone else to do it, so the profits all became mine. By the end of 2017, I finally was able to have my first six-figure year, all profits, so that was very awesome. I was very excited about that. 2018 rolled around and I had a double six-figure year, so that was even better.
By 2019 I had enough people around me asking me, "Hey, what is it you do again? And how are you doing this?" that I thought, okay, there's another business idea. Why don't I create a digital course? So that's when I put up my blog, I put up my YouTube channel and I started teaching people online how to do this. As I was building my audience through my blog and my YouTube channel, I was creating a course that taught people how to generate passive income online through KDP--creating and selling journals and planners and notebooks, and more. Most of you already know that because that's why you're here watching this video right now. That's what brought you to my channel to begin with.
So that is what I did. I launched my course in late 2019 and that has been going ever since. Since I first started this whole online business journey, I have had half a million dollars in book sales. I have had over half a million dollars in sales of my digital course.
And of course that doesn't even include affiliate sales or AdSense from this YouTube channel. I have now finally turned that first initial $100 investment into a million dollars. It took me about six-and-a-half years from start to finish to get where I am right now. Some of you might think that's pretty cool and pretty fast considering how long it would take for you to generate that amount of money just at your nine-to-five job. It's next to impossible unless you have been saving and investing since you were this high or you have a really, really high-paying job or you're a CEO or something like that. Others might think that was kind of a long time to generate that amount of income. I know YouTube is full of people,
oftentimes as young as their twenties or early thirties, who seem to have had this "overnight success" business and they've generated that kind of income over the course of one or two years, and that really is absolutely amazing. But for me, I'm very happy with this timeline and I think it's a realistic timeline. I mean, I was working full-time for two out of those six-and-a-half years.
I've also had two kids in that time as well. Four-and-a-half years ago I had my daughter Maven. Almost two years ago I had my son Alden.
So that's taking a little bit of time off in between. You're busy. I know you are. You've got families, you've got jobs, you've got all sorts of things. Six-and-a-half years, in my point of view, I think is a really reasonable timeframe. I just wanted to share with you what a reasonable timeframe looks like when you've got lots of other stuff on the go as well. Reflecting back on the entire journey, these are, I think, the lessons that really helped me along that path and kind of get to where I am now from where I started.
The first lesson is to decide to stop trading dollars for hours. You don't need to have a fully fleshed-out plan. You don't have to quit your job tomorrow, and I don't even recommend that.
But you kind of have to have that mindset shift of, "I'm not going to make a considerable amount of money," if that's what you're after (like I was, to be perfectly honest), by just working at that nine-to-five job, unless you've got an amazing job that's paying you hundreds of thousands of dollars a year already (which most of us don't). You have to have that mindset shift of, "I've got to find some other way to start making money where I'm not trading time for money." The next thing is to seek out mentors and community. You need to actively be online and look for people that have trod that path that you're about to take yourself. They've done it before and they've been successful and you need to study them and take notes and follow in their footsteps.
This also includes finding like-minded people--peers--that are kind of on a similar path to you so you can all encourage each other and support each other and help each other along this path. For the mentor part of this, it doesn't have to be like an official mentor-mentee relationship. Those can be really challenging to find. These can just be people that you admire from afar online. You've taken one of their courses or you're consuming their content. That's what I did.
I didn't really have any sort "in real life" mentors that I could look up to, but I've been following Amy Porterfield and Ramit Sethi and Rachel Rodgers and Jenna Kutcher. I've been following these people kind of from afar for years. I've invested in their programs, I've consumed their free content. Frankly, I would not have been able to get where I am right now without learning from them. They've gone before me. They have the answers. Let's cut 10 years out of the equation because, face it--if you're trying to do this alone, it's going to take you 10 times longer to get there than if you just follow...
Don't reinvent the wheel, I guess is the saying that I'm looking for here. Someone's already done it before; follow them and get it done much quicker. Another lesson is to continuously invest in yourself and in your business.
Courses, memberships, masterminds. Again, look to your online mentors, see what they have available and on offer. If their content resonates with you, buy a course, join a mastermind or mentorship. This is where you are going to learn all of the things that would take you forever to learn on your own. I know investing in yourself and in your business can feel very scary, especially when you don't really have any money to invest, but if you make some wise investments, it really will go a long way to helping you get where you need to be. Aside from courses and everything I just mentioned, once you get going there are other ways you can invest in your business, like by investing in help.
One of the things I probably should have done a lot sooner was to start investing some of that money to get a VA on board. Now that I've got my VA and my community manager and a video editor, this has relieved probably 30 hours a week off of my plate. You're just going to get to a point where you physically can't do it anymore. You can't clone yourself, but what you can do is bring someone on board and delegate to them some of that work. That can be scary as well, but any time I've done that, I've had growth in my business. Any time you want to see some growth, you always have to invest something; whether that be time or money or effort, it doesn't matter.
Making that investment really does help you get to the next level. While we're on the topic of investments, I think another good lesson here is to never invest more money than you're willing to lose. Not all investments pay off. You might end up wasting money on a course that really doesn't do anything for you, or you might end up wasting money on a coaching program that really doesn't do anything for you. Sometimes they'll pay off, sometimes they won't, but you kind of have to have a dollar figure in mind that you're willing to part ways with if you have to. For me,
I never really invested more than that initial hundred dollars. I waited for the royalties to accumulate after I had put in that initial hundred bucks. When I had enough money from those royalties, then I reinvested that money.
That is the way I continued to do it. Some of the investments that I made down the line did not pay off and I lost money, but I never lost my own money because I was just losing money that I had made from that initial $100, if that makes sense. I'm not suggesting that you put a cap of a hundred dollars on whatever your investment is. Everyone's got their own threshold for what they're comfortable with, but for me at that time, I was in so much debt I really didn't have the money to lose. I thought that I'd rather this take a little bit longer for me to get there if I can just sleep at night knowing that I'm not losing even more money. The next lesson is that it's okay to pivot if what you're doing isn't working.
For me, I'd been doing the non-fiction and that started to not work anymore, so I turned to fiction. When that started to not work for me anymore, I pivoted to the low-content publishing. If you've been at something for a while and it's not working, just zig a little or zag a little and see if you can come at things for another angle. It's perfectly okay to do that.
You're going to have to do that. There's going to be a lot of brick walls that you're hitting along the way. I know I did. You've got to be willing to be flexible and pivot a little bit and adjust course to get there. If you're at a point right now where you feel like you're beating a dead horse and you're kind of stuck as to whether you should quit or whether you should persevere, then check out this video right here. I think you'll find that helpful.
The next lesson is to always be looking for opportunity. For me, I'd been at the publishing thing for a while. I'd had some success and then suddenly people were asking me how to do it and I thought, "Hey, there's another business opportunity." Always be on the lookout for different opportunities that might present themselves. That kind of leads in nicely to the next one, which is to always recognize your own value. We all have these natural skills and abilities or accumulated knowledge or skills, and other people oftentimes don't have these skills.
We oftentimes overlook these skills and abilities and talents in ourselves because it's a bit of a blind spot. They just come naturally to us--we just don't think about it--and we assume that everyone else just knows how to do these things as well. That's just simply not the case. Each one of us has our own unique set of skills and values, and it's really important to recognize that value in yourself. You can monetize that. For me, I recognized that I've got this knowledge of how to create and sell these books and make a living doing so.
That is now value that I can offer back out there into the world. The next thing is to be consistent. Ever since 2014 I've been plugging away at this nearly every single day. If you're chipping away at something every single day and constantly making incremental improvements, that is just going to lead to breakthroughs and eventually success. Of course, that doesn't mean beat a dead horse for years on end; you will have to do some of that pivoting and flexing around. Your course is going to be meandering, but the point is to just be consistent and work at it nearly every single day.
I think it was Robert Collier who said, "Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out." This is just simply so, so true. I have been nothing if not consistent, and I really think that's been a huge determining factor in having any success at all. Next, you have to be okay with uncertainty.
When you're starting out there in the online business world, you're really not sure if what you're doing is going to pay off and that's scary, but you kind of have to be okay with that. That is why this online entrepreneurship thing, or just entrepreneurship in general, just simply isn't for everyone. Not everyone can get comfortable with the idea of uncertainty.
It's definitely something that you're going to have to get used to. When I was building my course, it took nine months to build. I had a pretty good idea people would buy it because I was building up an audience, but I really had no idea how that was going to go. I had to really just get comfortable with that idea and just be comfortable in general with uncertainty. Another thing that is usually required is to get far, far outside of your comfort zone. I have found that, for me, any time I've kind of leapt up to that next level it's come with some discomfort and having to step outside my comfort zone.
Live launches--that's the first thing that comes to mind. Absolutely terrifying, but it completely paid off in the end. If you're willing to get outside your comfort zone, that can be a huge booster on your journey as well. Another thing is that you just have to learn how to take it on the chin. There's always going to be disappointments, failures, letdowns. You're going to go up two pegs and then you're going to fall down three more.
That's just part of the game and something you've got to be okay with, and you've got to learn how to play the long game. This really doesn't happen overnight for probably anybody, even the ones out there who seem to have achieved overnight success. You never know what kind of path they've been laying for themselves, brick by brick, for God knows how long. Be in it to win it, but just recognize that we're all human beings here.
We all have lives--working nine-to-five, children, family obligations, whatever. You've got to be in it for the long haul. It's not going to happen overnight and that's okay. It can take years, but if you can't get rich quickly, then just get rich slowly. Another thing, quite frankly, is luck. There is just always simply a certain amount of luck that goes into anyone's success. I know some people might find that controversial,
but I think that anyone who claims to be completely self-made...I just don't think that the self-made man or woman really exists. Anyone who says that they are self-made I think is overlooking all of the opportunities and support or connections that they have had in their lives.
The good news is that the more effort and consistency that we put into whatever it is we're trying to do, those connections, those opportunities, that support, that help is going to be a lot more likely to find us when we're actively looking for it. Even though there's a little bit of luck involved--sometimes a lot of luck--we actually do have control over a lot ourselves and we can, in essence, make our own luck. Don't let that luck thing throw you off and think, "Well, that person's just lucky and I'm not." Yes, that person might have had luck but we can kind of create our own luck as well if it's not finding us on its own. We really can all find opportunities if we just simply look for them. Finally, always remember that if you can learn how to make one single dollar online, there's no reason why you can't learn how to make $10 or a $100 or $1,000 or $10,000 or $100,000 or even $1,000,000+ online. It is just simple math. If you can learn how to make a hundred dollars,
you can learn how to make a million dollars. I think a final thing to note here is that success really isn't really linear. It goes up and down. I always like to think of success as looking like a stock chart. When you're zoomed into that stock chart, you're going to see nothing but these peaks and valleys, right? It's just constant ups, constant downs. But when you pull out, when you zoom out of that stock chart and look at it over time, what you'll tend to see is just a slow increase or a slow incline over time. So yes, when you zoom in, there's going to be ups and downs,
but when you zoom out, you're going to see that the tendency is for an upward trajectory. Just remember that. Sometimes you kind of just need to zoom out of your own path to success, just so you can see how far you've actually come in the amount of time that you've been at it. Another thing: don't compare and despair. There are lots of people that are going to get there before you and before me, and that's totally fine. We're all on different paths. It's no race. The time it takes me might be much slower than the time it took someone else, and the time it took me might be much quicker than someone else as well. That's okay. We're all on our own paths.
If you are just starting out on your own online business journey I encourage you to download my free guide, "The 4-Step 'No Time to Waste' Online Business Startup Blueprint." That is going to take you all the way from finding an idea all the way through to launching that idea out into the world. It is a roadmap for you to get your online business off the ground, so go ahead and please download that. You can also join my free Facebook group,
Rachel's Sandbox. It's a great growing community of online entrepreneurs, so go ahead and join that group. I hope to see you there. If you want to learn how you can make $20,000+ dollars a month as a content creator, go ahead and check out this video next, and if you like this video, please like it, don't forget to subscribe, and share this video. See you next time. Bye.