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5 Lessons I’ve Discovered In 2015 As An Unemployable Work-From-Home Geek

As 2015 is coming to an end and 2016 is swiftly approaching, I figured it’d be a good time to share the things that have worked well for me this year plus the 5 lessons I’ve learned from them. Hopefully you’ll find some of the lessons below useful. Let’s dive straight in!

#1 Earning More Money Is Always A Better Solution: While many people talked about saving more money and spending less in tough times (nothing wrong with that), very few actually take action to learn how to earn more money. Most people only think about it.

I once heard from the copywriting legend John Carlton that money will solve problems that not having money creates. In fact, many of our day-to-day problems are caused by not having enough money. If not, why do you think people go to work every day huh?

I’ve learned that the key to earning more money is you need to have control over your income source. In other words, you can’t make more money by just having a job. The reason is simply because you’re actually working for a fixed salary every month. Even if you got a high paying job, often, you need to sacrifice ‘something’ to earn that money.

You asked “How to make more money without having a job?” Here are my suggestions:

  • Sell your own products: digital products, software, physical products
  • Sell other people’s products: affiliate, cost per sale, cost per action
  • Sell your services: coaching, consultation, freelancing, Airbnb, Uber

Note that the keyword here is Sell. Not only you need to understand salesmanship, you also need a target market that wants to keep purchasing from you again and again.

#2 Focus On Building Income That Is Residual/Passive: Generally, there are only 2 types of income in this world — Linear (Active) and Residual (Passive). Linear income is an income where one is trading time for money. Whereas residual income is an income earned on a recurrent basis, with little (sometimes no) effort required to maintain it.

When I first started making money on the internet, I did lots of freelance work for clients, i.e. building WordPress sites, membership sites, and marketing funnels. While I was able to make a nice living from it, I still need to sacrifice my time to do the work. In other words, I won’t get paid a penny until the work is finished. I was trading my time for money.

make money online as a freelancer

Earned the Top Rated status after freelancing for almost 2 years

As my client base grew, sometimes the feeling was like having 10 different employers to report to at 10 different time zones. So I made up my mind not to focus my time working on freelance projects anymore. I simply wanted to have more time doing my own thing.

I switched my focus to work on stuff that generate me residual income and it has been incredibly rewarding so far. I’ll give you 3 recent case studies to show you what I mean.

In October, I took a month plus off and traveled around Japan. Throughout my trip I didn’t spend much time doing any work, yet I still have income coming in from these sources:

Case Study A: Google AdSense

When I was traveling, I had some small earnings coming in from Google AdSense. These earnings were derived from the previous content I published on my sites long time ago.

google adsense payment

Picking up my October AdSense payment at the end of November 2015


Case Study B: Affiliate Marketing

If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably know I’m a big fan of OptimizePress. Even though I didn’t really promote it, but I’ve affiliate sales coming in on a regular basis.

affiliate marketing payment

OptimizePress affiliate commissions for sales generated in October 2015


Case Study C: Selling My Products

I’ve been selling my marketing templates in the OptimizePress Marketplace since end of September 2014 and it’s really worthwhile. Throughout my travel, I’ve sold hundreds and hundreds of my products. Many were designed in late 2014, and some in early 2015.

I won’t disclose how much I’ve made but the sales in October were more than enough to cover my travel expenses in Japan. I didn’t work on any new products when I travel.

selling products

I made $50.00 USD for a new design that I’ve created in September 2015

#3 You Don’t Have To Be The Smartest To Make More Money: Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting one to be a total idiot. I’m merely saying that one doesn’t have to be the most talented or smartest person in [whatever niche] in order to earn more income.

Let me give you my own example. Some of you might know that I had no prior experience or knowledge in website design, yet within a year, I managed to build a 5-figure business in the area of web design. And the most fascinating part is that → I did it all by myself.

I certainly realized there are a gazillion of web designers out there who are better than me, but that doesn’t stop me to keep learning to design better and earning more right? Besides, I can always hire people who are more talented and smarter to do the work.


“You want to know the main difference between a master and a beginner? The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.”

— Stephen McCranie

I recently came across a quote by Dan Kennedy saying that “The highest income people tend to get paid more for who they are than what they do.” I find this statement so true.

Many people have this misconception that one needs to be really talented to succeed, but not many people know building one’s personality or character is what truly matters most.

mount koya

November, 2015 @ Mount Koya – one of the world’s most sacred mountains

#4 Serving Your Customers Is The Number 1 Priority: Without customers, there’s no business at all. But in order for a business to stay profitable (and sustainable), you need to have satisfied customers. Take care of your customers and they will take care of you.

Chances are I won’t be the best web designer out there, however I always make sure to support all my customers by helping them to solve any problems they might encounter.

satisfied customer

Here’s a reply I received recently from a happy customer in Australia

Once you’ve developed a mutual relationship with your customers, rest assured that they will keep buying from you again and again. Some will even refer more businesses to you.

Click here to find out what some of my existing customers have to say about my support.

#5 Learn From People Who Have Already Achieved Your Goal: Early on I made a big mistake by taking advice from the wrong people (gurus). Guess what? I wasn’t achieving the results I was hoping to get, and for a while I really thought the problem was with me.

Once I identified the actual problem and learned from the right people → things changed.

matt mullenweg

With WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg @ WordCamp Europe 2015, Spain

Want to achieve financial freedom? Then learn from people who have already achieved financial freedom, NOT people who talked about financial freedom (yet they themselves are still working on a job). Want to work from anywhere and travel the world? Then learn from people who have already been there, done that, NOT people who promote about it.

I hope you get my point here. So be very careful and selective who you take advice from.

Basically these are the 5 most valuable lessons I’ve discovered in 2015. How about you? Any lessons you’ve learned that you think could be of benefit? Please comment below.

by KM Lee

KM Lee has been a self-employed geek since 2008. Currently he's working full-time from home online. You can also connect with him:

7 comments… add one
  1. Thank you for this great post! I’ve been following you for a year now and I’m so amazed at what you’ve accomplished in the OptimizePress Marketplace.

    I’m a top rated freelancer but I don’t enjoy this work anymore.. I really have to focus on building a residual income and I’m so confident I can do great.

    You encouraged me, thank you so much!

    1. Thanks for leaving your comment.

      Totally get what you mean by not enjoy doing freelance work anymore. I had the same feeling as you previously. Since you already have experience working online, there shouldn’t be any problem for you to start building your own residual income.

      Wishing you all the best in 2016!

  2. KM Lee. I just started with OptimizePress and your advice, css hacks, have been soooo much more helpful than the OP support. Thanks for doing what you do.

    I’d like to connect on LinkedIn. What’s your link?

    Benjamin Reed

    P.S. here’s mine.

    1. Thanks for your kind and encouraging words. Unfortunately, I don’t use LinkedIn.

      I’ve been lacking in writing lately but will try my best to post more helpful tutorials about OptimizePress in the coming days.

  3. Thank you very much for sharing the experience working from home. At this moment, I still not able to work on myself as I need to work for others as an employee to cover my commitment. Sigh.

    1. Thanks for stopping by. Nothing wrong to make a living working for others, but if working for yourself is what you eventually want to do, you better get started soon.

  4. Hi KM,

    It’s always inspiring to read successful stories like yours. Agree with your view on ‘one wont get rich from employment’. I must learn and practice on passive income.


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