How to make $1,000,000 doing nothing

Photo: Sharon McCutcheon

Jennifer Aniston just made over a million dollars doing nothing.

Only one word in that sentence is debatable. That word is not “nothing.”

It’s “just.”


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When I say “just,” I mean last December. Toward the end of 2018 Netflix renewed its agreement to air the show Friends. The price tag on that agreement? $100 million.

To we viewers, it will appear as if nothing happens. We keep rolling Friends to put us to sleep at night, or at the very least, watch the thumbnail on the “trending now” row rotate between Rachel in a skimpy negligee to Ross in a skimpy “Frankie Say Relax” T-Shirt.

Behind the scenes, each of the six stars of Friends watch another $1.4 million fall into their already-crammed bank accounts.

Ca-ching.

I don’t talk about this a lot. I should. At the end of the day, it is nice to disappear into creative land. It is nice to have a hobby or a job you enjoy. It is nice to chase art for the sake of art.

It is also nice to make money.

David, Courtney, Lisa, Matthew, Matt, and sweet Jennifer of Friends fame are all cashing in 7 figures not because of what they are doing now, but because of creative work they did in the past which reached the right audience.

They have, as my business friends would say, an asset.

Quickly, here are some other assets I can think of: real estate, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, equity in a business.

Look the list of assets together and answer this question: Which one doesn’t seem to fit in?

  • Real estate
  • Stocks or bonds
  • Mutual Funds
  • Equity in a business
  • Creative Property*

*You lawyers can go ahead and say “intellectual property.”

Now answer this question: which of these assets feels most accessible to you?

All these things (with the proper care) grow over time and pad your financial health. Only one of them can be started with absolutely zero cash up front.

Here’s an example: In 2016, I released an ebook. A friend did the cover for free. Another friend did the formatting for free. I asked a few thousand followers (which were also not paid for) to buy the book.

The gut-wrenching price I charged? 99 cents.

Out of those thousands of people, only 120 bought. I used that money to buy a microphone. The microphone and I retreated to the basement, where we recorded my audio book.

This is where it gets fun.

In 2016, the audio book made <$200.

In 2017, the audio book made $742.33.

In 2018, the audio book made $2,060.97.

In 2019, the audio book has made $596.16.

If I stay on pace, the book will make somewhere around $3,500 this year.

Which is nice, considering I only thought of it once in the last 18 months.

“But Todd, Audible/Amazon could change their algorithm”

Sure. And Netflix could refuse to renew Friends. And the stock market could crash tomorrow. And, and, and.

“But Todd, the people from Friends have way more exposure than me.”

In Belgium, there lives a musician named Angèle who has 427,000 Youtube subscribers.

Have you heard of her? No. Her songs are mostly in French.

Everyone is a nobody to somebody.

“But Todd, you have a talent in writing.”

Talent? Maybe. I do have the skill of writing.

All it cost me was 1,000,000+ words on hard drives and clouds.

“But Todd, I just can’t make a living from creating art.”

Why? Because someone told you it is impossible?

A long time ago, somebody told me that too.

But today, all the money I make is a direct result of things I make up in my brain.

And it all started with a little book.

Even, then, I had no idea where that one book would lead. I just listened to a close friend who told me these words:

Start today.

Start now.

Much love as always ❤

This article first appeared on Medium


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