It sounds lofty, but not to someone like me. Not to someone who has an intuitive understanding of economics. Who has helped almost 100 businesses to grow in his lifetime, and counting.

There’s no secret for how to get rich in a legal way.

Here’s how I’m going about it:

  • Minimizing my living expenses.
  • Choosing a market of a certain size.
  • Developing a product or service to fit that market.
  • Starting small.
  • Scaling my ability to sell it, that product or service, over time.
  • I’ve written an answer that’s more in-depth, here.

There are two markets I target:

  • Entrepreneurs who are in the startup phase with their companies
  • Marketing agencies who are looking to white-label my skill

There have been exceptions to these two rules. However, these are my two primary targets.

I’ve been in business for about four years. It’s been a hell of a stressful ride.

I started as a freelancer on Elance. Then, Elance got taken over by Upwork.

I started off doing small jobs to get the initial five-star reviews that I needed for branding. Then, I increased my pricing from $20 per hour to ~$60-75 per hour, over time.

You can see my Upwork profile, here.

Meanwhile, I’ve struggled with two major problems:

  • Pulling in clients from my website, thus becoming independent from Upwork
  • Scaling how many clients I could take at one time

Pulling In Clients From My Website

Marketing the skill of marketing for marketing’s sake is a killer-complicated task. At least, in the beginning, if you have a low budget.

There is unbelievable competition when trying to pull clients from your website.

The reason why is because marketers are a dime a dozen. We all know many of the same basic tactics, which don’t exist in other industries.

For instance, don’t even think about trying Google AdWords if you’re first starting out. The prices per click in the marketing industry are much higher than they’d be in other industries.

You’d be bidding against a ton of people who all have the same Google certification that you do.

That’s not to say that it’s impossible. Of course, it’s not.

You just have to be ready to enter the marketing industry from your website. You’ve got to have the capital to do it right, the financial fuel to make the cost per acquisitions.

What is Cost Per Acquisition?

“Cost per acquisition (CPA)” is a term used to describe how much money you need to invest in marketing to make a sale.

For instance, let’s say you’re using Google AdWords:

  • You’re targeting a keyword that costs $3 per click.
  • You have a 3% conversion rate. This means that 3% of people who see the ad, click on it.
  • Out of that 3% conversion rate, 15% of them actually become an interested lead.

What this means is that you’re going to have to pay $300 for 100 people to click your ad.

Then, out of that 100 people, only 15 show genuine interest enough to contact you.

Then, let’s say that only one, out of those 15, converts into a genuine contract. Your “price per acquisition” or “CPA” is thus $300.

This means, at the end of the day, you’re paying $300 per customer.

To make any profit at all, that customer better generate over $300 of revenue. Not just $301, but $300, plus whatever resources it takes to serve their needs.

So, for me, let’s say that the average contract is worth $2,000 in revenue. Some may be worth a little less; others may be worth a little more. But, let’s imagine that the average revenue generated by one client/customer is $2,000.

Moreover, let’s say it takes $200 to serve them. Excluding the price of my education needed to develop my skills.

That’s $500 I’m paying, total. Per customer and completed contract.

This means $1,500 in profit.

$2,000 – (CPA + Cost to serve) = $1,500

But, first, you need the $500 of capital sitting ready to get that first contract. Assuming that your branding is already perfect.

Why It’s So Difficult For Newbies

If your branding is bad, people aren’t going to convert, which can lead to an infinitely higher CPA.

If your CPA gets too high, you won’t be able to make any profit, even if you do land a client/customer. This means going out of business.

Why this is so hard for startups in the marketing industry is because they don’t have the branding they need. They’re new.

They have little to no reviews. Little to no content. Nobody knows them.

They have to create all the content. Earn all the reviews. To go through the process needed to come off as a truly trustworthy brand.

Then, they can hope for a CPA as cheap as $300 in an industry as competitive as marketing. Competing against other marketers doing the same exact things.

Is it impossible? No.

But, is it damned difficult? Absolutely.

And it’s not a path I’d recommend taking if my family’s food is on the line.

If You Don’t Have Capital

If you don’t have the starting capital, then you’re going to pay its equal in time. Building links in the marketing industry is just as difficult as paid advertising.

And for the same reason. Everybody in the marketing industry knows how the marketing industry works.

You have to work harder to come up with better ideas than anywhere to get links to your content.

What is a link? By “link,” I mean a hyperlink. You know what that is; we use them all the time.

But get Forbes to link back to your company. Get Inc. Magazine.

You see what I’m saying? Get those brands to acknowledge you enough to post content on their website that links back to you.

It’s damn near impossible. And most fail.

So, if time equals money, then you’re going to have to pay in one way or another:

Your time, or your money, or both.

Thus, freelancing websites are the best way to start small, in the marketing industry, at least. They typically cost nothing to get started. And you have the opportunity to pitch your skills directly to job offers.

That’s what I did. That’s how I started:

  • Minimizing my expenses, drastically.
  • Starting as a small-time freelancer.
  • Saving money over four years, and reinvesting into scaling.

By the fourth year, I was making six figures with a team that I’ve built. But I’ve still run into a problem I’ve only begun to solve:

Scaling how many clients I could take at one time.

This has been a big one. Unless I started thinking in scalable systems, I wouldn’t ever be able to break the six-figure barrier.

Read the next article for more. Follow updates on the story of my goals to do so. Leave a comment with your thoughts, and I’ll respond.