So, you’re thinking about starting your own online biz? If you commit and manage to make your online biz successful, it will be rewarding beyond words and open up an endless row of doors for you.

If you fail, you’ll likely end up in a similar position to where you are now: in an employee-employer relationship (I’m assuming).

When you look at the big picture, it’s a cinch, right?

This just leaves the task of deciding what you want to do, then closing the gap between where you are now and where you need to be to succeed.

It takes more time than you think, a lot of sweat equity, endless tenacity and the privilege of having those all at your disposal to make this happen for yourself.

But when you pull it off, let me tell you – it’s the answer to everything, my friend.

online biz pinterest cover - View of clouds from a plane window

What It Really Means To Have Your Own Online Biz

Self-employed, freelancer, business owner – people will use different terms, but having an online biz really means that you’re in charge of making your income flow.

The best way of explaining is that say that it’s like riding a bike versus riding in a car.

Being employed is like riding in a car. Even if you’re tired, or you half-ass your work for the week, you will still arrive at your destination: you will still be paid. It’s stable. How you show up every day isn’t a litmus test, seeing whether or not you’ll make money or if your career will progress.

Being self-employed, on the other hand, is like pedaling a bicycle. If you want to go anywhere, you pedal. And if you have a slow week and don’t pedal, then you don’t move forward. It’s one of the hard-to-swallow pills of the entrepreneur lifestyle.

Me with my bike in front of a park
Once established, an online biz can be outsourced and automated so that you don’t have to pedal constantly, but in the beginning, you better saddle up. Pic in the Netherlands, 2020

What Having Your Own Online Biz Isn’t

At first glance, it looks like being self-employed is more work than having standard employment. And, in a way, it is: there’s more day-to-day, and it takes a lot of work to get it off the ground.

But, for many career paths, it’s the same amount of work: just reversed and compounded.

Graphic showing comparison between typical job and online biz

The most energy-intensive part of any flight is the takeoff. Your online biz is no different. It may take years to arrive at cruising altitude, but once you’re there, the heaviest lifting will be behind you.

The rewards of having your own business blow employment off the damn map, but the buy-in is also steep.

Mountable, but steep. So what’s waiting for you at the top of that mountain? The triangle of freedom.

The 3 Big Draws Of Having Your Own Online Biz: The Triangle Of Freedom

Source: I did not create the location independence triangle of freedom; I learned about it on the Location Indie podcast.

1. Location Freedom

This is the point that pulls at the heartstrings of travel lovers and adventurers. The ability to work from anywhere. *harp strumming*

It’s not a well-organized myth, staged by influencers: the laptop lifestyle is real. Working from your laptop on the beach isn’t real (sand, glare, battery life), but working from a beachfront cafe is.

It comes with difficulties you’ll need to overcome, like any lifestyle, but I’m convinced it’s one of the most exhilarating ways to live.

mexico through plane window and me with backpack
Flying into Mexico on my first digital nomad adventure. 2017

My online work has taken me through North and South America and then moved abroad with me to Europe. When I met my husband, I was able to move to his country (where I didn’t speak the language) and know that I would always have options online.

My life didn’t always allow for these freedoms, but more on that further down.

Woman sitting on a ledge over a canal with German rowhouses behind her
I left my 9-5 at age 24, and now by age 27, I’ve traveled more than I would’ve ever dreamed possible. Germany, 2019

Of course, the biggest draw into creating your own online biz isn’t location freedom for everyone. For some, it’s the ability to decide how they spend their working days and their months.

That is what we call time freedom; sweet, sweet time freedom.

2. Time Freedom

Spin the wheel of work schedule options!

  • work 9-5, Monday to Friday
  • hustle all night and sleep in until noon
  • work 100 hours a week in April and take all of May off to travel
  • save up a month’s worth of income, then spend said entire month developing digital products like these and selling those for years to come

Time freedom refers to the freedom of how you spend your time, both in the minutia and the grand scheme.

For adventure lovers, this can directly into more travel. Cheap tickets? Go for it. Cold spell? Go somewhere warm. Having a creative block? Go somewhere that makes you feel inspired.

me having a beer in berlin
Enjoying a big German beer on a spontaneous trip to Berlin. We saw cheap Flixbus tickets and decided to leave the next day, laptops in hand. 2019

Of course, the realities of work always catch up. Being physically unattached is not the same as being untethered from responsibility. You must pay the piper sometime, or your online biz will turn out to simply be an expensive hobby.

me working on a bus to Paris
Spontaneity comes at a price. During the low-point of the pandemic, I went hiking in France’s Champagne region and spent some time in Paris. On the bus ride between cities, I would catch up on as much work as possible, and spend hours working at the hotel in the evening. 2020

Some people will see the pursuit of freedom as a selfish act, but time freedom allows you to be generous in ways that a normal 9-5 limits.

In February of this year, I found myself working in one of the most curious workplaces yet: a Dutch hospital, alongside a friend who was giving birth.

working on my online biz in a hospital
One of the most unexpected workplaces – this is the laptop lifestyle at its finest, turning any space into an office. I didn’t hesitate to accept the offer of being my friend’s birth partner, because I didn’t have to clear it with any boss. 2021

This gift of time freedom goes to the very heart of what makes an online biz unique: the unbounded flexibility, and the doors in life you will have the privilege of walking through as a result.

me in hospital gear
Entering the second day of the delivery marathon, I was suited up by hospital staff for the final leg. I ended up staying in the hospital for 3 more days post-delivery as well, which was one of the greatest exercises of time freedom yet. 2021

Beyond the tangible gains of choosing your location and how you spend your days, there’s something else sweet and alluring about having your own online biz, and that’s the creative freedom.

3. Creative Freedom

In the OG triangle of freedom, the third element is actually financial freedom, but I’m sharing my own personal take on the triangle: the draw of creative freedom.

Imagine being able to wake up every day and make things for your job. You can make whatever interests you: visually create, write, take photos or film videos.

This should cause some butterflies for the creatives in the crowd.

Or, anyone who has felt chronically bored by prior jobs. It’s possible to have work that’s ever-changing, always interesting and driven by creativity.

Does it elevate your heart rate to think about waking up and being able to make things? Able to make anything? Anything related to your passion?

You may also like: How To Start An Online Business

Today, instead of waking up and getting my daily writing assignment from my editor, I got to wake up and write about the joys of having an online biz. It is an absolute privilege and joy that I try to never forget. That is the gifts of having your own brand.

Blunders That Can Kill Your Online Biz Dreams

Killer #1: Not Digging Deep Into Your Choice Of Niche/Industry

Invest in the industry that you want to be a part of professionally. This should come naturally, assuming you chose an online biz that you’re genuinely interested in and excited about.

You don’t have to pay for a masterclass, but how about reading the prominent books? Following the big wigs on Instagram? Listening to the popular podcasts?

Being new isn’t negative, but you should invest so you’re competent and can hold your own in conversation.

There will be no HR team onboarding you into this position, and failing to self-scale can be fatal.

Open hotel window with a view of Brussels Belgium and a travel backpack propped up again the glass
Could you focus on your work with this office view of Brussels? Having the discipline to continually educate yourself is important, but it’s also not hard when every industry has a dozen podcasts and YouTube channels. 2020

As a Pinterest manager, I listen to podcasts and read the latest Pinterest news to stay up-to-date. It’s not very time-consuming, but it is an ongoing task.

Killer #2: Thinking It Will Always Feel Like Your Destiny

Getting your online biz off the ground, there will be moments where it feels like…

  • it was all a big mistake
  • it’s never going to happen for you
  • you’d be happier back at your desk job

It’s fatal to mistake those moments for the rock-hard truth. These feeling aren’t signs of anything, except that you’ve been hustling for a while and the shine has worn off.

Every successful person has experienced exhaustion, failure and rejection on their journey. Even one of the business world’s sacred texts, Tim Ferris’s famous book “The 4-Hour Workweek,” was famously rejected by 26 publishers before becoming a bestseller. (source)

Stay focused.

Online Biz Killer #3: Assuming You’ll Hit It Big In The First Year(s)

The single quality that scares aware potential business owners more than anything is that there are no guarantees.

It’s true: you may start an online biz and fail to ever pull an income from it.

Some people who fail to make their online biz idea profitable may very well even lose money on their attempt.

Those risks are real. But, failure can also be a mask for other symptoms. Most notably, some people will give up and call time of death when they simply didn’t give it enough time.

Most people will give up before they ever get a chance to fail.

Something sneaky that can become a contributor to this is reading too many success stories of people who made it big in your industry after only 6 months.

When you see those success stories, be inspired but remember what you don’t see beneath the surface:

  • previous work experience or experience from failures that positioned them to take off faster
  • financial support from savings, a spouse, parents, a trust fund, etc.
  • the privilege and safety to invest time, money and energy into something that will cost money and may not never become profitable

Sure, while you’re researching, you will be inundated with success stories that assure you it’s possible to reach every goal in 6 months.

If you don’t hone the right entrepreneurial mindset, it will be to your detriment. You must remember that the “beginning days” of your online biz may very well be more like beginning years.

Those stories are always just the very top of the iceberg, and the majority of the story goes untold. Let me demonstrate this by pulling back the curtain on my own journey.

The Squiggle Of My Online Biz Journey

A dear friend sent me a message on Instagram when my online biz had just started providing for me full-time (in 2020, after 2 years of my blog only costing money). She told me something along the lines of, “you just seem to succeed at everything you try. I wish I could start an online biz.”

It was so kind but it caused a wave of guilt that I had furthered the belief that success online just happens, and that it’s exclusive. I want to set the record straight with my online biz timeline and squiggle.

graph showing what success looks like from the outside

When I started with this lifestyle, I was a staff writer for an online publication and I was still working Monday to Friday. Being a remote employee came with some comforts, but the benefits were largely minimized by my travel lifestyle.

Still being tied to an unforgiving schedule, making only meh money and spending my time on tasks that I felt completely apathetic towards was so dissonant to the way traveling made me feel.

Within the first 2 months, I decided to branch out away from employment. My mentor (and previous boss) had asked me to start a business with him the year prior. I told him that I was ready to take the plunge. We became consultants, now hiring out the skills that we used to do at our day jobs.

That business ultimately failed because I was away from Pennsylvania (where the consulting firm was based) too much. Crucially though, it didn’t spook me from self-employment: instead, I spent a year thinking and researching what my next move should be.

It was time to invest my time and energy into a business that was strictly online, that could weather the wear-and-tear of the travel lifestyle and come with me wherever I wanted to go.

So I started Writing From Nowhere, the very site you’re on right now. The very brand that is the home to my blog and services.

But, like every other online biz owner, there was a massive runway that remains unseen by most viewers from the outside. A few fundamental points of my journey were these:

  • taking on internships where I learned graphic design and WordPress (college years, 2011-2015)
  • starting my first blog that failed (2017) and also a business that failed (2018)
  • starting another blog, this time an eco-lifestyle blog, called Writing From Nowhere – yessiree, this started as a completely different website! (2018)
  • unearthing out what I really wanted to do, and pivoting the brand I had built onto this new path (2020)
me signing paperwork for my biz
Signing the paperwork to become an official business owner with my mentor in 2018. That business folded less than 2 years later because I couldn’t sustain it while I traveled and moved abroad.

Forgive me, that was a bit rambly, but I really want to demystify the success stories you see online and realize that they were long in the making.

Your success will likely be long in the making, too, but the good thing is: your story isn’t starting at zero.

Your path to online biz success has already started, because you’re here. It’s not an accident that you’ve read 2,000+ words on online biz from a stranger on the internet (I’d like to be friends, btw, if you’re ready).

You’re already on the tarmac. I hope you’ll start speeding up.

plane flying over seen through foliage

Online Biz Final Thoughts

Let me reiterate: if you are still reading this blog post, I think it’s a sign that the idea of an online biz is calling at your heart.

Now, it’s time to decide how you want to spend your days and start closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be.

If you want to talk about starting your own online business, feel free to reach out with an email and chat. I’ll be your pep talk! [email protected].

I’ll only say one more thing: it’s worth it.