Great post, Penny! As you know – I am finishing up year 29 in education. I have two Master’s degree and a doctorate and I’ve never earned six figures. Had I stayed as a principal in the last five years, I would have made six figures. I’d likely be at around $120,000 right now. But I gave that up to go teach at the college level, not work 12 months a year, and have fun educating the next generation of teachers. Five years ago, I knew I was almost to FI because of this community (and that’s never making six figures and being a single mom for a number of years…)

i just couldn’t resist jumping in here. even though i’m a b.s. chemist i’m in a union at this big company as more of a technician. we just allowed our first tier system on the plant this year and it’s the beginning of the end. even though i’m in the higher tier i would have conceded something in my future in order for the people coming in to make what i make. nobody ever wants to address the sacred “higher tiered” people. geez, about 15 years ago i knew of home-ec teachers pulling down 80 or 90k while the physics and math teachers unlikely reach that level, much less with the lifetime gold-plated benefits. i say, share the pain. now i’m fired up and need a drink.
Don’t get me wrong…Sponsored content is great (and next month we’ll be publishing a post on how to work with brands), but I love having total freedom in what I write and–especially now that I’m pregnant and due with my first baby boy in September!!–I really wanted to ensure I could start to rely more heavily on automated and more effortless income.

I’m a senior in college. My major is Risk Management and insurance. I plan on getting an MBA in strategic mgmt/Finance from a top 20 business school OR an MSHA from a top 5 MSHA school like Michigan(1) or UAB(2). I hope to start making a least 120K right out of grad school. I understand you can be a hospital administrator or even CEO with an MSHA. Which career looks more promising when you factor in the cost of grad school?

Perhaps; I think a larger reason for why there are so few $100,000 earners is due to relatively difficulty in getting a job that pays that much (or creating income source(s) to generate that level of income) as compared to a less than $100,000 a year position. I also think there’s more than a few people who happen to gravitate toward professions that don’t pay such high salaries; if you are a kindergarten teacher, and get a lot of personal satisfaction out of your job, you might have no desire to go back to school to become, say, a venture capitalist. The fact of the matter is that not every profession we as a society need pays more than $100,000 a year; which is probably good, because if they did, prices would adjust to the point that you’d need to earn $1,000,000 a year just to be upper middle class.


I love your post. I have been following you over the years. I want to shed some light to others who are in pursuit of the “Six Figure Salary”. Upon graduation, I set a goal to make six figures by 30. I started off making only $33k a year. However, I out worked everyone in my office and established a reputation as a hard work and smart worker. I stayed at the firm (insurance) for 4 years and somehow networked and found an opportunity in management consulting. I stayed there for 10 months and made approximately $95k. Next, i took the experience came back to the insurance industry and now make $125k at the age of 27…. 3 years earlier!. My best advice for everyone is to work hard, follow the opportunities, strive for constant improvement, and be open to change. PS. I went to a “B” school and was a “B” student. Unfortunately, I was an underdog through out my career because of my school, but I balanced it by tremendous work ethic and self taught myself in business. Work hard, keep reading, and continue to improve. You will make six figures!
1. I can go up north (make 120 guaranteed with a pension through the union) but the hours and the lifestyle (2 weeks in 1 week out) might be too brutal for me (fort Mac if you have heard of it really is not for everyone), i thought i would give it a try after school and see if it works for me but ive heard of many people having problems with their relationships/health with working so much. and i have to come back to town eventually and yes maybe ill have a nicer number in the bank but thats about it right back too 85,000 and still working hard.
As for my young self’s income, I’ve told a few pieces of my story in comments for other FS posts, but here is some history that aligns with the content of this post and answers a couple of Sam’s questions: I can’t remember if I made over $100k by 25 or by 26, but was a millionaire by 27 due to a mostly lucky break with tech company stock options in the Roaring 90s. The path: I graduated high school as co-valedictorian, but will call myself #2 because the other guy took harder classes so deserves the #1 spot. I started college in mechanical engineering, hated it (and esp. one evil professor), switched to international studies, liked it. I got decent grades, partied a lot to make up for a choir boy high school experience, and worked all the way through college…full time my senior year…but just sweat jobs, no internships. Paid for college myself. After college, I traveled and partied a bit more, dabbled in a few different jobs and ended up convincing a small software company to pay for a basic software testing programming course in exchange for about 6 months of service (got that through casual networking inspired by a dose of nepotism). I wrote a test script they were able to sell, so negotiated an early break and landed a test engineer contracting job at a large software company via the worst interview in the history of interviews (the recruiter had to come get me in the parking lot as I was getting in my car to leave…the hiring manager’s closing question was an incredulous “…ummm…so, why should I hire you?” which I answered by jumping to my feet with both arms in the air to yell, “Cuz I’m the best!” He laughed and told me to get lost.). After a year at that job, I did a couple other tech contracting gigs, then converted to a full time gig with a pay cut for a junior mgmt job in exchange for lots of stock…which split 4 times in 12 months, thus the millionaire thing at 27. I lost 75% of that money via bad (a.k.a. zero) investment mgmt by 29, but had a fantastic time bouncing around the world adventuring and doing a little non-technology work (including teaching English in a Mexican university and training teachers in Los Angeles, both of which I liked). I eventually got married and went back to madam technology, but as I hinted above, this old whore (hey, “44” rhymes with “whore”..whaddyaknow..I’ll remember that for my birthday next week ;-)) has about run out of energy or interest for working the corporate red light district. I’ve created some other income streams, but want more of that before I leave tech and spend more time the way I now want to. This site is good inspiration for that.
Hey Tiffany, how are you today? This is an excellent guide and I love all the information! It’s true many people who have blogs have no idea about affiliate marketing and it’s potential, but there is so much money to be made from affiliate marketing it’s unreal. One tip I could give is people who are building up blogs should get into affiliate marketing earlier! Great post, have a great day… thanks for the great information!
The one section I found really useful was the monetizing section where the authors explain all about choosing the right ads, affiliate programs and other revenue streams. While I'm sure there's more complete info on this (it could be worth an entire book), it was a good introduction and gave me guidelines if I ever have to do something like this myself.
It is all relative. I am making six figures in my early retirement side gigging a couple of days a week doing consulting I enjoy even though I do not need an income at this point. It is hard to get there in education because of the supply demand equation. As you said hundreds of people applied for the job you got. When I graduated with a chemical engineering degree I got eight firm job offers before I even got my degree because there were only a handful of graduates for the 120 companies that came to our university to recruit us. Certainly teaching has more social value than making gasoline but the market is based on supply and only a tiny percentage of the college going crowd choose chemical engineering while many graduate with a teaching degree. As long as some jobs are under supplied because of the difficulty in obtaining the degree those jobs will be the ones paying six figures and up. The same thing accounts for high pay for medical doctors, electrical engineers and other specialty fields that require a ton of math and science to graduate. However even at relatively less pay there is no reason you can’t accumulate and grow great wealth while still having the satisfaction that you are changing people’s lives through providing them education. Most people would hate the kind of engineering I did, even though it was a great fit for me.
Great article, thanks. My question is slightly off the affiliate topic. I am curious about how Authorship will effect people running blogs on different topics.I run a marketing creative firm and want to start moving into information product sales, but I want to be able to write about our firm expertise (membership marketing) as well as try out products and blogging for people who want to start creative firms. How will people who want to write on unrelated areas manage things like G+ profiles as Aurthorship and authority become bigger deals? Do you think it will be a problem in Google to have the same author writing about different topics?
Thanks for the thought provoking comment. It’s a question of idealism vs. practicality to me. I would absolutely support dictatorship or socialism if it meant responsible management of resources, equality and peace of life. But from history, we know leaders get corrupted or people take advantage of the system. Thus, we all play the game by ourselves to fight for our right to live the way we like…at least for those who are fortunate to be in a country that allows it.
Households may also be differentiated among each other, depending on whether or not they have one or multiple income earners (the high female participation in the economy means that many households have two working members[15]). For example, in 2005 the median household income for a two income earner households was $67,000 while the median income for an individual employed full-time with a graduate degree was in excess of $60,000, demonstrating that nearly half of individuals with a graduate degree have higher earnings than most dual income households.[8]
I personally didn’t earn six figures by the time I was 25 years old, but I’m still SO GLAD I didn’t go through with my engineering degree (I put 3 years into an engineering education, and then switched to finance). I agree with you Sam. I see so many engineers that feel trapped. They want to move up in the company, but it seems incredibly difficult. Sure, they can earn a good wage, but if they don’t love what they do, they’re stuck for quite a while.
The main problem I have with the 401k is that the investment options suck. All the mutual funds (including target date funds) have a high front load fee (4.25%-5.25%) and high expense ratio (0.9%-to-2.0%). With the ROTH I get the benefits of low-cost (0.05%-0.30%), no-load index funds. In some respects there is little difference between the after-tax dollars in a ROTH with no-load funds and pre-tax dollars in a fund that immediately siphon 4.25% out. Sure, I’m taking a upfront hit on the taxes with the ROTH. However, I am also going to be taking an upfront hit from the front load fees and a continual hit with the higher expense ratio in the 401k
I’m not a teacher. So what? I realize that money in education is vastly different than most other career fields. While we enjoy both the good and the bad that comes with having very public salary schedules, it is possible to play the long game in many jobs. Networking, informal conversations, and even snooping researching on sites like Glassdoor should at least give most everyone some initial insight into their field. More than anything, though, flexibility and adaptability if you find yourself in a less-than-ideal situation go a long way.
This isn’t a cheap product that you can buy on the off-chance that it is useful. Instead, the full product costs $1,997. Yes, really. It costs almost $2,000. You can also pay in two payments of $1,100, which are 30 days apart. I'm sorry, but I really can't justify purchasing, or recommending that you purchase a product for two grand. I've purchased two-thousand-dollar products before and they have never been worth it. The most I've paid for a product and been satisfied with it was around $500.

Don’t set a goal to write 3 blog posts a day… set a goal to write 1 blog post a week and make that post super helpful, long, and filled with information that is so valuable you will say “yeah, people will link to that.” 90% of my traffic/affiliate income comes from just 20 tutorials, many of which are 5+ years old. But I am constantly updating them to make the content better.
My grades were terrible in high school. I did better in college. I still graduated debt-free, and made very little money the first few years in business. With positive mental attitude and a game plan in place, I was able become debt-free by 35, and my income is very good for my age. Now that I’m debt-free, I’ve been able to save for retirement (what I should have done first).
Thank you Andrew! Also what is your take your data analytical roles in corporate? Do you think data analytical roles will be short-lived due to all the hype and the analysis part will be automated soon within the next 10 years or so? Even if it was automated, EXPLAINING the data and EXPLAINING it to your investors, stockholders, clients to basically tell them how they’ll make money from what they wanted me to analyze and interpret will still be the HUMAN aspect, correct. U you can’t automate that, right? Idk if this kind of role will be short-lived compared to a functional IT role. Moreover, I eventually want to hold a managerial role in corporate, but I want to deal with a line of business where there is a lot of money within IT. Projects that deal with SAP? CRM? <— This isn't programming right? I don't mind working for healthcare companies since that's where alot of money is for stuff like ^.
SEO: getting consistent traffic by writing AWESOME content about your keywords (there’s a phrase “length is strength” in SEO and this paid off big time for me). Maybe you’re doing videos or an eCourse, but I found blog posts WAY easier to update which means less maintenance. The biggest factor by FAR was the time I spent meticulously creating my tutorials… which eventually resulted in a sudden 3x increase in SEO traffic
Google Autocomplete – go to google.com, start typing a phrase and look at the dropdown autocomplete results. You can use the underscore character “_” to have Google fill-in-the-blank. Just make sure the last character you type is an underscore. Try using plurals and change the word ordering to see different results. This is how I find 90% of my keywords.
Thirsty Affiliates tracks, cloaks, and categorizes your affiliate links. Once you’ve signed up for your program(s) grab your affiliate links and add them to this plugin. This can take time if you will be linking to multiple pages on your affiliate’s website (which in many cases, you should). The pro version comes with statistics but I don’t even use it and I’m quite the analytical person.
I DID invest in the 7-Figure Franchise because I gleaned so much from Cheney’s products. In fact, his training helped me steer clear of OTHER junk peddled on the web. So, it made sense that when I was asked what helped me, I recommended some of his products. When 7-Figure Franchise came along, of course, I realized, “why NOT make 100% on the stuff I’m already suggesting to others? Just drive more traffic.” Well, that last part is easier said than done: getting traffic.
×