Now that I am graduated from college, can see all the others around me out working with some engineering companies, and I have begun working full time on my own business, I can begin to reflect on my work – what I do, how I do it, and why I do it.  There are vast differences in my occupation compared to an average job, and I’ve been thinking about them a lot lately.  I graduated last May with a degree in Electrical Engineering, but I am currently running my own online media company, specializing in pay-per-click (PPC) arbitrage while doing affiliate marketing.  Essentially, I buy traffic such that the traffic I buy does something that someone will pay me for – either as a lead (such as filling out a form) or creating a customer such that I will get commission on what they buy.  Basically a salesman, but more flexible, more scalable, and more fun.  I have had no formal training in marketing what so ever, and I have since learned that marketing is all about testing and revising over and over.  It is a process, and it is risky, but it can be very rewarding.  Because it is risky, it drives people away from it – if it was easy, everyone would do it and my current job wouldn’t exist.  While this has nothing to do with what I studied in college, I have been independently studying PPC arbitrage for about 5 years and have had some solid success with it.  I am excited to see how it will change over the next few years and I plan to be a big part of it.

The following are some of the big differences I have noticed so far between the work I do and general work. **Note: when I refer to “you” in this post, I refer to people in general, not you the reader.**

Motivation

One of the most difficult things mentally, for me, is staying motivated.  Yes, there is a huge amount of money to be earned, yes there is a lot of information to learn, and yes it is a fun.  However, there is no one telling you to wake up and work.  Additionally, the work is not by the hour or by the day or by the job.  I get paid when I find something that works (Performance based essentially).  Not seeing a direct effect is tough for people to deal with.  It certainly takes time and practice to understand direct and delayed effects (ie. investing, or spending $1M on advertising – the effect is often not direct, even though the overall effect can work out quite well from a business perspective).  I may work 15 hours in a day and make $0 more than I made the day before.  It varies. I also try to automate as much as possible, which takes time, but the effect of it isn’t so direct.  It takes days, weeks, or even months to see any return – or I may never see a return.  I love the power of computing and the power of the internet – you can automate a lot and connect to it almost anywhere at anytime.  There is a lot of power to that.

Security

One of the big things that drives people to work for someone else is the job security.  Working for a big company right out of college with an engineering degree tends to be appealing to a 22 year old since it gives them a quick income, typically a lot of money, and it gives them security.  Assuming they wake up every morning to go to work, they will get paid (think about it, the company you’re [in a general sense] working for is making at least as much money as they are paying you, or else you wouldn’t be working there).  A job in which you are you own boss is much less secure (in the beginning).  Starting a business is very unsecure in the beginning, and, in fact, most fail.  I’ve noticed unsteady trends in not only how much money I make, but also my productivity.  I may work 15 hours in a day and make $0 more than I made the day before.  It certainly isn’t secure, which makes it somewhat difficult to deal with.  This also drives away competition, which is certainly beneficial to those who aren’t driven out.  I think this point in itself is really why most people work the way they do.

Time != Money

With a normal job where you go to work, you get paid a salary, typically by the hour.  That means if you work 8 hours, you will get paid for 8 hours.  The company tells you how to spend those 8 hours such that the company will create the most productivity out of you.  Working online and running your own business is different.  I will often put in 50 hours before I see any return, and the return isn’t guaranteed.  In fact, most of the time I fail.  People always say the key to success and to fail first.  Edison said “I have not failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  It is so true, and if you don’t understand it, it is because you haven’t failed enough.  The nice thing about the affiliate marketing industry is that even though you fail most of the time, it only takes 1 success to makeup for all the losses.  For example, I may fail 15 campaigns in a row and lose $500+, or even $1000.  However, with 1 good campaign you can earn that back in much less time than you lost it initially, and that campaign typically lasts for awhile to become highly profitable.

Freedom

The most important and appealing part of my job is the freedom.  Working for yourself is certainly not easy.  However, it does give you freedom.  According to “define: freedom” on Google, freedom is “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.”  When working for anyone other than yourself, you will always be restricted, whether that be the hours you can work, the days you take off, the amount you get paid, or the people you meet.  Working for myself through an online business provides an enormous amount of flexibility and freedom, with little restraints.  If I want to travel for a week, I can, without it even haultering my business.  Being able to connect to the internet almost anywhere allows me to work from almost anywhere, at anytime.

With all this said, money is just a factor in life that helps regulate how people can live their lives.  I’m at a point in my life where enjoyment comes before money, while 99% of the people around me put money before enjoyment.  I’d be perfectly satisfied living with less money if I get more freedom and enjoyment.  I am not willing (unless I had to) to sacrifice most days of my life trying to earn as much money as I can or work as much as I can to get more time off.  I do things that I want to do, and luckily, money is a part of it.

I love what I do, it is very rewarding, and I am privilaged to be able to do it.  I like working hard when I need to, and having more fun when I don’t.  The harder I work now, the less I will have to later.  I don’t take any of it for granted.

Enjoy yourself, you only live so long.