In her book The Million-Dollar, One-Person Business, author Elaine Pofeldt researched U.S. entrepreneurs that have created a business with over $1 million in revenue and no more than a single employee.
Pofeldt found that these businesses fall into six categories:
- Informational content creation
- Real estate
- Personal services firms offering expertise
- Professional services and creative businesses
If your goal is to make 10K a month, you’re wise to start within these industries. Not only are they proven, but with no fixed labor expenses, they tend to have low startup costs and high profit margins.
How to Make $10K per Month
For this article, we took the above list of industries and found the best business ideas that allow you to generate $10,000 a month as fast as possible.
#1. Start an Agency After Successfully Freelancing
Finding a skill that someone is willing to pay you for is the vital first step to launching a successful service-based agency. Once you have clients, you can build systems that allow others to do the work while you, as the agency owner, focus on sales and growth.
Here’s a personal example: before launching this website, I started a landing page copywriting and design agency. I’m not the best designer, so I outsourced the design aspect of each project. Overall, about 80% of the total work was outsourced, while I focused on copywriting and sales.
It wasn’t long after starting that business that I was earning the equivalent of $150 per hour. And if I had gone full-time, it would have been possible to generate $10K a month.
If you don’t have a specific service in mind, you can start with a basic service such as working as a virtual assistant, a proofreader or a social media manager. These can all be scaled up into agencies.
Learn more: Check out our in-depth series on how to start freelancing.
#2. Start a Blog
A blog is one of the most common ways beginners make their first dollar online. But thinking longer-term, blogging offers a solid business model with high profit margins. And if you hire skilled and reliable freelancers, it’s a business that can run itself.
That’s not to say it’s easy. I tell beginners to expect to work at least 10 hours a week for a year for a chance to earn $1,000 per month after that initial 12-month period. But once you’ve put in the hours up-front, going from $1,000 per month to $10,000 per month happens much faster.
One of the most underrated aspects of starting a blog is that the skills you learn while building your blog are in high demand. So even if your blog doesn’t surpass $10K a month (which is difficult but not impossible), you’re still building valuable career capital. In turn, you can go out and freelance with these skills, or use them to land a higher-paying job.
In my case, I worked for other personal finance blogs while building The Ways To Wealth, and gaining first-hand insight into how they operate was instrumental in making this blog a success.
Learn more: Sign up for our free 14-lesson email course, which teaches you how to successfully start and grow a blog that brings in over $1,000 a month.
#3. Become a Highly-Paid Expert
If you’re not a full-time freelancer, it’s hard to accrue enough billable hours to reach $10K a month. If you charge $100 per hour, you’d have to bill 100 hours a month to hit that mark (roughly 25 hours per week) — and that’s not accounting for time spent on sales.
But here’s the secret of the highest paid freelancers: they don’t charge based on hours. They charge based on results.
Your hours are limited — especially when you’re working on the side. Results have a much higher ceiling.
There are many services where the client cares little about how much time you invest. For example, marketing specialists often get paid a base rate plus a percentage of revenue, and some resume writers charge 1-2% of someone’s annual salary (as their work can result in a 10-20% pay increase for their clients).
The strategy you want to get familiar with is called value-based pricing, which you can learn about in the video below.
In other words, start your freelance business by considering the maximum value you can provide to a client, then find a way to make $10K a month without working 100 hours a week.
Learn more: Like freelancing with the goal of starting an agency, becoming a highly-paid expert is all about choosing the right niche. The critical thing to remember is that your goal is to create a business where you deliver exceptional results that are not directly linked to your time input.
#4. Create an Online Course
It’s never been easier to package your knowledge and sell it to others. Online course platforms like Teachable, which allow you to easily host and sell educational content online, exceeded $1 billion in sales in 2021 alone.
People want to learn from experts, even if those experts are not a household name. One example is Theresa Greenway, a mom of 10 who earned over $300,000 (and counting) selling a sourdough bread course on Udemy.
Don’t discount this idea just because you’re not a world-class expert. Launching a few courses on platforms like Udemy, Skillshare and Coursera can be a source of passive income, as these sites have built-in audiences looking to grow their knowledge.
Learn more: Tiago Forte, who created the wildly successful Building a Second Brain course (which generates over seven figures a year), gave a wonderful interview (see the video below) that dives deep into the best strategies for getting started.
#5. Create an E-Commerce Store
More people than ever are shopping online, with e-commerce sales growing by 18% in 2021. That has created massive opportunities for all types of online sellers.
Some of the most popular options for building an e-commerce business include:
- Selling your own goods. You can sell physical products on marketplaces like Etsy. Some of the best-selling products on the platform include jewelry, crafts and art. Learn more in our post about how to make money on Etsy.
- Selling digital products. Sell digital downloads like PDFs and graphics. Examples include a personal trainer selling customized workout plans or a passionate home chef selling meal planning templates. You can sell digital products on Etsy, as well as a number of other print-on-demand platforms (such as Redbubble).
- Dropshipping other people’s products. Dropshipping is a fulfillment method where you don’t keep products in stock. Instead, whenever you sell a product, you purchase it from a third party that ships it directly to your customer. Learn more in our guide to setting up a dropshipping business.
- Amazon FBA. Source products and send them to Amazon. Amazon takes care of all the fulfillment needed to get your product to the customer, and even handles returns. Your primary focus is building your brand. Learn more in our guide to making money with FBA.
Learn more: Check out Shopify’s free introductory webinar on dropshipping — which is an excellent resource for understanding the current e-commerce landscape.
#6. Start a Podcast
There’s a reason why everyone is starting a podcast these days: it’s a phenomenal business to own.
Podcasters command very good money from sponsorships. And similar to blogging, there are several additional revenue models that podcasts can pursue, such as affiliate deals, subscriptions, and coaching.
Some of the highest-paid podcasters launch a product-based business. After all, building an audience is one of the most challenging aspects of building a business (which is why sponsorship deals for podcasters can pay so much).
Successful podcasts already have an audience, which allows them to sell a product or service to that audience (and potentially generate an income well above $10,000 a month).
Recommended reading: The Billion Dollar Creator.
If you have a modern smartphone, you already have the equipment necessary to launch your podcast. Yes, there are investments you’ll need to make down the road — like a high-quality microphone and audio editing software. But those can be purchased later.
Or better said: don’t be the person who obsesses over equipment for months instead of getting something out there.
#7. Real Estate Investing
If you’re looking to invest in real estate and your goal is to make $10K per month, it will take capital to get started. Plus, there’s risk involved because it usually means using borrowed money.
But the bottom line is that many very wealthy people live off the passive income their real estate investments generate.
Thinking outside the box, there are other ways to make money in real estate for those who don’t have the capital to invest in property today. Examples include becoming a part-time real estate agent or working as an assistant for a successful real estate investor.
These are great ways to build your knowledge in real estate investing so that you know a good deal when you see one when you’re finally ready to start investing yourself.
Learn more: When it comes to real estate investment courses, there are plenty of scams and time-wasters. I highly recommend BiggerPockets, a reputable website and community of real estate investors that provides beneficial information for beginners.
#8. Build a YouTube Channel
Like many ideas on this list, YouTube has explosive growth potential: the platform paid its content creators close to $15 billion in 2021.
As with blogging, building an audience on YouTube that’s big enough to generate $10K a month takes time. That means newer YouTubers often leverage additional monetization streams, such as affiliate marketing and sponsorships, to supplement the amount they make from ads.
Check out our post on how much YouTubers make, which also runs down some of the best monetization strategies.
Learn more: In 2018, Miles Beckler was tired of seeing entrepreneurs buy overpriced marketing courses. So that year, he launched a YouTube channel dedicated to teaching viewers everything he knew about online marketing, with a big emphasis on growing a YouTube channel. His channel now has more than 198,000 subscribers and is an excellent place for beginners to learn how to get started on the platform.
#9. Social Media Influencer
The top names in social media — think the Kardashians, Ariana Grande, Dwayne Johnson, etc. — get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for a social media post. As a result, the only businesses that can afford to partner with these mega influencers are those with very deep pockets.
Smaller businesses that want to utilize the power of influencer marketing use micro-influencers, who often have a very loyal following (even if it’s a small fraction of the household names mentioned above).
This means they can give brands access to a valuable niche audience — and get paid a good amount for doing so.
Additionally, the skills you learn while building your social media presence enable you to freelance for others — a role that can pay handsomely, as these skills are in high demand.
#10. Luxury Service Based Business
This article tells the story of Ryan Stewart, who earns over $100,000 per year by walking dogs part-time in New York City. Ryan certainly benefits from being in one of the most affluent areas in the U.S., but the big takeaway is that there’s potential for high-margin businesses serving the rich.
Legendary copywriter Dan Kennedy had this to say about the mindset of affluent buyers:
“[…] pressed for time and eager for efficiency, competence, and convenience to be provided to them — and they’re very willing to pay for it.”— Dan Kennedy
Beyond designing a service that saves affluent people time, consider services that make them feel unique. A good example is red-carpet services, a business idea that involves setting up a red carpet event at private parties.
Learn more: Author Thomas Stanley, who wrote one of the best personal finance books of all time The Millionaire Next Door, also wrote Selling to the Affluent. It’s focused on understanding the needs and wants of high net worth people, and then successfully selling to them.
How to Make $10K A Month FAQ
Create a high-end service based on your existing skills that solves a specific and urgent problem, and then sell that service to people who can afford to pay (and who, ideally, you’ve already built trust with). For example, every business needs new leads. Find a way to generate these leads at a positive ROI — such as local search optimization, conversion rate optimization, or pay-per-click marketing — and you’ll have a waiting list of clients.
The truth is that any business can be turned into a passive income source when you set up the right systems and hire the right people. (For more on this, read the classic business book The E-Myth Revisited.)Yet, some businesses are able to run themselves more than others. The key is finding a business where marketing, sales, value delivery are all automated.
Yes, of course it is hard. The median household income in the U.S. is $67,000. So, at 10K per month, you’re making close to double the average household. However, while it’s difficult it’s also possible — and more realistic than many people think. According to the latest U.S. census bureau figures, 12.83% of Americans currently earn more than $120,000 annually.
How to Make $10K a Month: Final Thoughts
A lot of people who want to make $10K a month look for shortcuts.
Instead of focusing on creating value for others, their thought is to do the least amount of work that will provide them the most amount of income. It’s for this reason that the people selling day trading courses and multi-level marketing programs do so well.
Everyone wants to make $10K a month, but few people want to put in real effort to get there.
As M.J. DeMarco said in his excellent book The Millionaire Fastlane:
“Wealth eludes most people because they are preoccupied with events while disregarding process. Without process, there is no event. All events of wealth are preceded by process, a backstory of trial, risk, hard work and sacrifice. If you try to skip process, you’ll never experience events.”— M. J. DeMarco
Earning $10K a month isn’t easy. There is no sure-fire system for doing so.
The ideas listed here provide you a real opportunity to accomplish your goal. It will take work, and some sacrifice. But then again, you may just surprise yourself when you commit to a good idea and put in the time.