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Now – no beating down on the FI topic, definitely strive to achieve it! Start early, decent career, good salary, great savings (do 401K max-out!!), additional specialization, either publish papers, patents, or present at conferences — which grows your respect and network (future job prospects). Do buy a home in “good” location/school-district, raise great kids/family, while increasing your equity in the house. Do have limited exposure to bad-habbits (but “controlled” ones, might I add), do cater to that inner-self/devil a bit.
I don’t think I would have done worse financially at all. I just think it evens out in the end of you make the right choices. I probably would have started with a much higher salary out of the gate. Put there’s a possibility then I would have been spending my time with people who put value on superficial items, and I’d spend more money on my apartment, car, clothes, etc. I’d probably try to stay in that job for many years, if it were paying well, versus having a real reason to leave positions to quickly move up and try different things. Right now I’m in a private company that is excelling and due to being open to any opportunity I was able to work a job that paid relatively little compared to market rate in exchange for a large amount of options. It’s yet to be seen if these options are going to be worth anything, but at this point there’s a reasonable change that I could meet or exceed the amount of savings I would have had, say, if I were making $100k out of the gate after graduating from an Ivy League school. Having a low income out of undergrad forced me to prioritize and learn how to save, and also how to live on a salary of under $30k a year in the Bay Area. While I’m still scared of losing my job, I understand how to live cheaply, which I consider a value-add to not having such high expectations and requirements for lifestyle out of the gate. Now, I am considering getting an MBA if I could possibly score well on the GMAT (I believe if I could get a high score on the GMAT I’d be an interesting candidate for a top-tier MBA program given my experience working with multiple successful startups as an early employee) but I’m not sure I want to take two years off to do that. If I were to go back to school I feel it would be more valuable to specialize in technical development or analytics, to really address areas where I am weak that would lead me to be a much better professional today. It’s unclear if an MBA program would be able to address my weaknesses — or give me the salary boost you speak of as with bonus I now make up to $130k per year (last year I closed out the year with about $110k.) I’m 29 and 7 years into my career. I save, I invest, and I’m glad I didn’t make all of the “smart” decisions in my life because this made me hungrier, potentially more well rounded, and less scared of taking risks as I had so little to lose.

As is the case for most professional reviewers, many of the books I review on this site have been provided by the publisher or author, at no cost to me. I've also reviewed books that I bought, because they were worthy of your time. And I've also received dozens of review copies at no charge that do not get reviewed, either because they are not worthy or because they don't meet the subject criteria for this column, or simply because I haven't gotten around to them yet, since I only review one book per month. I have far more books in my office than I will ever read, and the receipt of a free book does not affect my review.
Great post! I majored in Electrical Engineering, instead of going the tech route (mistake?) I went into infrastructure and engineering services. The work is pretty easy and I work no more than 40 hours a week. I’m in my early 30s moving up proves to be very hard even with PM experience and being a licensed PE, this industry is very flat… So I’m going to business school this fall to get an MBA part time. I sat in some classes and I actually love it. I never explored the possibility of studying business before but nonetheless I’ve had side interest in economics and leadership psychology for a long time and read a lot. Don’t know if I will see an ROI immediately but I am probably going to enjoy these courses.
Yes, its possible. If you go in as a tech (for example GS-05), however, you will be stuck there forever regardless of performance (consecutive exemplary ratings here), schooling (Bachelors 3.5 & Masters 3.9), a voluntary war zone deployment, or wherever. Go in as a internship with scheduled grade increases (for example GS07 to 09 to 11 to 12) increasing every year or so.
I’ve just started my blog. I feel that I definitely stand out when it comes to promoting my blog posts on Pinterest because I create illustrated blog post images and don’t use stock photos. But I’m trying to own it. Like you said, there’s a lot of learning involved and there is no better way to improve in Blogging other than actually getting down and dirty with it, lol.
I definitely agree on taking as many AP classes and college classes as possible. I did 13 APs in HS and 2 college classes. My only regret is I didn’t take fewer AP and more college classes. An AP class takes 1 full year and an exam you have to pay for at the end of the year. The college class takes 1 semester and usually the school district pays for it… and the classes are usually a lot easier than an AP exam.
The only other valuable skill I had was dealing with spreadsheets. After getting my first spreadsheet job (9 interviews), I picked up a VBA manual on my bosses desk and read it through. I then ended up picking up more and more technology skills and ended up as a software engineer. Partially, the passion came from the fact that you could model mathematical reasoning so well in programming, which was a pleasant surprise (esp given I’d never programmed).
You are right about inexpensive housing in Chicagoland. To each their own, but in my very humble opinion moving to the Northside of Chicago from New York City proved to be one of luckiest/smartest things I ever did lifestyle, career, marriage, and savings wise. Salaries are comparable to other large wealthy metros, but housing and other expenses can be as much as half due to zero physical constraints on sprawl. That is other than Lake Michigan to the East, which is like a freshwater sea with city parks, beaches & waves. The lakeshore is also where population density is highest and property most expensive in the 10 million person metro…yet still reasonably affordable for what you get.
The quest for six figures gets even more complicated when you consider the ways in which our country tends to vilify any individual with a big income. Let’s look at Scrooge. Whether we’re talking about the original Dickens character or the McDuck cartoon version, one thing is abundantly clear: Rich people are misers who think little of others without divine intervention. News headlines describing real-life millionaires aren’t much more generous. But net worth doesn’t dictate self-worth. No one should apologize for seeking wealth.
AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: You should assume that I am an affiliate for products that I recommend through my website. If you purchase those items through my links I will earn an affiliate commission. You will not pay more when buying a product through my link. In fact, I oftentimes am able to negotiate a lower rate (or bonuses) not available elsewhere online. Plus, when you order through my link, it helps me to continue to offer you a ton of quality free information through my blog @ email list:)
Look around the blogosphere; law school grads are taking perma-part time jobs, MBA’s are a dime a dozen, and on and on. As long as the population keeps climbing uncontrollably in the US, and as long as businesses can manipulate the government into helping them keep downward pressure on jobs through slimy programs like H1B’s, big salaries will be a thing of the past. It’s why you should think *really* hard about going to college. It’s not for everyone, and its no guarantee that you’ll do better than if you don’t. The old fable of going to college means you’ll make $1m more in your lifetime than if you don’t, has been disproved time and again.

It’s a good excuse you make not being smart enough (getting into great schools isn’t just academics), however I just listed 24 companies above you can apply to which will make you six figures, and 15 business schools to apply to as well. And if you can’t get into any of them, there are hundreds of other companies in those fields which pay just as well. And if you can’t get into any of those hundreds of companies, check out this whole section for you:

If you aren’t smart enough to get into a top school, then you aren’t smart enough. Period. At some point, you can’t just throw more effort at academics to be better. People have natural limits. So I don’t believe “anyone can get an education at a top university if you try hard enough” is true at all. That would be like saying “anyone can play quarterback in the NFL if he tries hard enough.”
If you’re in the WordPress industry like I am (whether it be design, development, or SEO) I have accumulated quite the list of WordPress affiliate programs. I excluded those I found unsuccessful or pay too little to make a profit from, specifically ThemeForest, Creative Market, and low quality theme stores like Template Monster. Hosting pays well and I wrote a tutorial for SiteGround’s affiliate program and StudioPress themes which are my 2 highest paying affiliates. Those tutorials have tons of screenshots/social proof especially for SiteGround.

On the other hand: the main reason of bankruptcy for small businesses is bad financial management. Simply said: to forget to make invoices, not checking the payments and not following bad payers. 1 out of 3 is going bankrupt for this reason alone. I had to learn it myself. I spend at least 10% of my time with financial stuff. I don’t love it but the bills get payed ;-)


I totally hear you with deciding on your affiliate products first, and then designing a blog around that decision. I am currently in a niche where the few affiliate products around are fairly low-commission, so it makes earning a decent living with them nearly impossible. Also, the audience is seasonal, so sales spike and then drop to nothing a couple times a year.
I support Sam on this topic. Yes you CAN at any age. I did. $100K fresh out of college and 4 years later I make more than double that in Finance. I didn’t go to a top school. I did get a high GPA, but not in a major that anyone cares about (English). I’m not particularly brilliant or talented. I had no connections. I did not do any networking. I don’t work at a BB either. But I am extremely focused, driven, I learn quickly, I don’t repeat mistakes, I am able to work intensely for long hours, and I produce real results.
I find it a bit "interesting" that Michael says it works like any other franchise. Basically, you are buying an expensive products from him so you have a right to sell his other products. In this scenario, Michael Cheney wins for 100% sure but you, the buyer, may either lose $1,977 or make even more (directly or indirectly) money to Michael if you succeed well.
I come from a quite unsuccessful background of web design/SEO. I blogged because I knew it was good for SEO, but my articles never had a purpose regarding monetization. I finally took a leap of faith and dropped my clients to figure out blogging/affiliate marketing. I was good at website speed optimization and knew hosting was the #1 factor. Looking for the best, I saw SiteGround was rated #1 in multiple Facebook polls and had a great reputation with generous affiliate commissions. So I wrote detailed tutorials on website speed… how to configure WordPress cache plugins, hosting reviews, and other speed-related topics. Usually near the end of a post I would say “Oh, and here’s why you should switch to SiteGround” with evidence on why they’re the best… Facebook polls, Tweets, load time improvements, etc. That’s when things got good. I’ve been broke my whole life and it’s my calling to show people how do this.
I get the feeling it is actually easier than we think to make a salary up to $200,000 a year because so many people in this country are basically LAZY and feel they are entitled to a certain standard of living with little effort on their part. Not saying everyone is, so don’t take me wrong. I’m guilty of it myself at certain times in my life. Therefore, the folks who strive to achieve the principles that you’ve outlined in your article are way ahead of the pack, just by making an effort. As the saying goes…The cream rises to the top.
Hey, I'm Glen. In February 2009 I quit my full-time job and have made my living from the internet ever since. Having previously worked as the Social Media Manager for the likes of Nissan and Hewlett Packard, I took my skills and successfully applied them to my own projects. ViperChill is the place I share everything I've learned in order to help other people make a living online.
100k in the Bay area is like 50k in most of the country adjusted for cost of living. I really wish we used adjusted salary more frequently in the US – including welfare, taxes etc. So many T10, T20 B schools are graded based off average nominal salary, which drastically overstates NE and California B-Schools in terms of their value due to their typical placement location.

Excellent & invaluable information! Choosing the affiliate product before makes total sense as you can more easily tailor your site to your product. I am in total agreement about the soft sell, I find that if I get an email or read a blog post that is too obviously all about making money & too infomercial like I rarely buy or revisit (or unsubscribe).
Nice post John and great to see your stuff here on FS! I have a similar path as the one you described just for biomedical engineering. I’m not making six figures yet but hope to be soon within the next few years and would like to ultimately end up in more leadership/management roles. I think the engineer path is a great one but for people who don’t like the route you described I think plenty of routes through healthcare, finance, and of course the professional schools are great to go through as well.
LOTS of people feel the way you described in terms of being trapped and not being able to move up. I’d argue through, that in a lot of the cases engineers are kind of awkward, while also being kind of arrogant and entitled. I’ve experienced person after person express dislike for their job or inability to get promoted, but they don’t get company paid for masters degrees, they don’t get PMP certifications, they don’t even do the work of applying for other jobs, they just whine about it…

I have made in excess of $100,000 with the 7-Figure Franchise. I get that you won’t believe me. That’s fine. On Facebook Michael constantly congratulates people on high-ticket commissions and you’ll see my name there a lot. My performance as an affiliate for Michael has garnered the attention of other people in IM, who want me to promote their products.
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