What’s the process for making money in my sleep, and where do I begin?

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Its raining money

Entrepreneurs have big dreams.

I want to quit my deadly job and create an online business that pays at twice my salary.

I want to write a best-selling book and be on Oprah.

I want to create a start-up in my garage that  makes me a young millionaire.

I want to speak at the TED conference.

I want to write a column for The New York Times.

There is nothing wrong with these dreams. Some people achieve them.

I wanted to be on the Today Show with Matt Lauer when my book came out. So did my friend Gretchen Rubin who wrote The Happiness Project. We both worked with our networks and publicists, sent our books to producers, and pitched a story angle. She got on The Today Show, I didn’t.

But instead of being discouraged, I was elated. Because I knew that there was a process and steps to achieving that goal that worked. And I got to watch Gretchen do a great interview, sharing her amazing story with poise and intelligence.

So to get out of the state of daydreaming and into the state of seeing your dreams come to life:

  1. Name your big, hairy, audacious or crazy-wild goal.
  2. Create a list of questions to find out what is involved in accomplishing that goal
    1. What knowledge do I need?
    2. What experience do I need?
    3. What kinds of contacts do I need in my network?
    4. What attitude do I need?
    5. How much money do I need?
    6. What kind of mentors do I need?
    7. What is the process that has been successful in many cases?
  3. Create a list of people who have successfully accomplished the goal you are trying to achieve.
  4. Study these people, getting  answers to as many of the above questions as you can.
  5. Read books, blogs and articles. Steep yourself in the subject, and enjoy it.
  6. After a lot of research, you will begin to see a core process emerge. Then you can add your own special twist to it. There is never a magic formula for accomplishing great things. But there are key factors that will greatly increase your chance of success.

Sometimes, as you gather information about the process, your goal changes. This is due to digging into the reason why you had that goal in the first place.

Maybe you wanted to quit your job and create an online business that paid twice your salary because you were so tired of doing meaningless work that an online business seemed like a great idea. But in your pursuit of talking with successful online businesspeople, you realize that you would not be happy working for hours in front of your computer, and would rather find a different kind of job that gives you meaning and allows you to interact with people in the flesh.

Maybe you want to speak at TED because you want to be in a room filled with people who are smart, passionate and interested in changing the world. You may find that group in your local community.

Maybe you wanted to be on The Today Show because you feel passionate about the message in your book and want to expose as many people as possible to it. You may find there are many ways of getting this message out if traditional media is not ready to hear it.

And maybe not.

I haven’t given up on you yet Matt, and I know you have my number.

In the meantime, I will keep working the process.

How are you working on your big goal? Maybe we can help.

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17 Responses to “What’s the process for making money in my sleep, and where do I begin?”

  1. […] Entrepreneurs have big dreams.I want to quit my deadly job and create an online business that pays at twice my salary.I want to write a best-selling book and be on Oprah.I want to create a start-up in my garage that  makes me a young millionaire.I want to speak at the TED conference.I want to write […] Original post […]

  2. Susan says:

    Thanks Pam, this is encouraging to someone who’s in a somewhat obscure hard-to-reach market which sometimes becomes discouraging. There’s still hope to reach the thousands of women I know I can help.

  3. […] How to make money while you sleep and How to Flip on your Winner Switch from Escape from Cubicle Nation […]

  4. James M says:

    It was interesting for me to notice that Pamela mentioned the importance of connecting with people that have accomplished the same goal as you would like to achieve. Ramit Sethi (iwillteachyoutoberich.com) mentioned something similar in his email on how to use the people we know to get jobs or get into Stanford. The question I would liked answered is how we go about finding those people and how to we make the right connection without annoying them?

    • Barbara Saunders says:

      Making connections is easier than many people think. Honestly, that is something I learned from Stanford 😉

      I’ve made the observation that most successful people, the ones that really stand out, have gone through the process of being the sore thumb that sticks out, getting fired for not going with the program, and so on. Then, when they publish the book or make the money, or whatever, the same conformists who once mocked or punished them start kissing their butts.

      What they yearn for – in the salad days and in the days of glory – is like minds who will treat them with respect!

      If you truly enjoy someone’s work and engage that person in a real conversation about it (without “talking up”, which is ultimately just as objectifying as “talking down”), they usually respond well.

      I’ve contacted people high up in their fields via the Stanford alum network. In every case, I approached them as a FELLOW community member who admireS their work and shares their passion or interest. In every case, they have been happy to help – sometimes making a direct referral to someone more famous and more powerful than they are.

  5. I really liked the article – good idea. Thanks for reminding me what’s next.

  6. My big goal is to be an in-demand fashion and portrait photographer with a spread in a large magazine or a photo on the cover.

    What I’ve been currently doing is:

    1. Farmed out my website design to an outside company with examples of websites by other photographers I admire.

    2. Began following magazine editors on Twitter & joined the same groups on LinkedIn

    3. Began the fundamentals of a project called “Faced with Injustice: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian American Citizens” that’s in the planning stages and will launch on October 1st. The project is to travel the country, beginning January 1st, 2011, photographing average Americans — police, firefighters, nurses, doctors, dentists, lawyers, EMTs, retired and discharged military members (very much hoping to find some WWII vets/Greatest Generation-age individuals) etc. — who happen to be gay, bisexual, or transgendered.

    The launch site that goes live Friday will be looking for volunteers and patrons (angel donations / people pre-ordering the photobook) for the project. I’m hoping to raise enough money to leave behind the part-time photography job and the full-time cubical with the money raised and travel to meet and photograph my subjects from January through March, with a teaser website and materials ready to go in time for SxSW.

    Then, I’ll launch my pre-release PR campaign, all leading up to gallery show on July 4th, after a performance art piece I’m going to do in Philadelphia, and launch the companion book to the gallery show at the opening that evening.

    Ultimately, the goal of the project is to confront people with the faces of their friends, neighbors, and co-workers–the people they sit next to on the subway, the doctor that saved his or her life, the teacher that taught their child to read, the Marine that lost an arm to save the world from Germany and Japan for our freedom. My background in psychology (which I received a BA in from Rutgers University) informs the project, as does personal experience and one of my favorite books: “To Kill A Mockingbird”. Basically, as a group, GLBTs are easy to hate, revile, fear, and loathe. As an individual within a context, it is much harder to hate that person.

    There’s so much more about the project, and I can’t wait to launch it! Not only do I hope this will support a very worth cause (civil equality for people of all sexual orientations) but also will expose my work to people who would never have otherwise seen it and give me a taste of a cubical-free, location independent lifestyle.

  7. Beto says:

    This is a great list for anyone interested on striking out on his or her own. I am of the thought that just being able to run a startup or company that pays your bills and rent and then some should be considered a major triumph – but of course one can always dream for more. Ambition is what has driven human progress since the beginning of time.

    I’d definitely add “weather- and bulletproof ambition” to the list of requirements. Most often, the art of keeping up when everything seems to go down is what makes the difference between success and failure. Of course it’s not easy. But sometimes that’s what it takes.

  8. Fred says:

    Pam, that is a great list of questions to get people on their way to achieving their goals. I always like to ask people where they want to be in three years. What is there dream situation? And then, we work backwards to develop a plan that gets them there. Your questions are great for developing this plan.

  9. Excellent!

    I LOVE setting Big Hairy Audacious Goals and thought provoking questions to back up the dream.

    Thanks for a great post and for always keeping “it” real. I’m sure the Today Show will be in touch soon!

  10. Jess says:

    Great post, Pam! I really enjoyed reading it and being reminded of my own process (the one that’s gotten me to where I am and the one I continue to refine as I keep journeying on, day by day)! 🙂

  11. Barbara Saunders says:

    “Earn-money-in-your-sleep” is one of the most dangerous siren songs out there, I think – not just for the reason you describe here. I’ve noticed among friends and clients that many people do not have a firm hold on the concept of profit, and this is why they want to “make money in their sleep.”

    For example, a lot of people who deliver personal or professional services offer nothing to customers but billable hours. They want to leap to selling millions of e-books online because they can’t envision – or resist imagining – the kind of program/product approach that would let them stop trading time for money as their only source of income. The tell-tale sign of this problem: referring to profits earned from a program as “making hundreds of dollars PER HOUR” instead of delineating the time they put in from the price of their offering.

    • Fred says:

      Barbara, I agree with your whole-heartily about “make money in your sleep” being a dangerous siren song. The other dangerous phrase is “passive income”. Most of the time people aren’t really making passive income. They are working their butts off to someday make deferred income.

      • Barbara Saunders says:

        Fred – it is particularly ironic when people who enjoy working with people (clients they enjoy and care about) and want to spend more time with people (like family and friends) pursue a course of action that – if successful at all – would mean hours and hours behind a computer screen churning out repetitive copy and/or crunching numbers and running analytics!

  12. Kimmoy says:

    I just knew THE Pamela Slim was not going to give me some internet marketer’s spiel of how to make money in my sleep – phew! 😉 You actually hit the nail on the head for me with my career situation in your example above. I decided to shift gears for a bit simply to expand my network (offline) and now have a new dream of taking my newly formed meetup group nation-wide. I know I’m not the only one who is tired of going to local networking events only to leave with a bill for a drink and appetizers. So I started a Business Matchmaking & Masterminding group for which I’m pumped to take everywhere as Kimmoy The Curvy Coach. Where are those darn publicists?

    By the way, I’m rooting for you to be on The Today Show, do we need to start a petition or what?

  13. Etsuko says:

    Hi Pam,

    I came across this at the perfect timing! My first book will be published in December in Japan. I just had a meeting with my editor last Saturday and started thinking about someone famous who could put a recommendation that goes into the cover of my book….I don’t even know who would be a good person yet, but as soon as I figure it out I’ll start talking about it, and follow the process you wrote in your post. Thank you!!


  14. Jean P. says:

    I think all of these concepts are key to any entrepreneur ready to take their ideas to the next level and profit from it. Staying motivated is another (at least for me) on a regular basis. Because business is tough, it’s not meant for everyone. Only those who want it bad enough will succeed.