How to make a million dollars


A million dollars is not a lot of money.

It sounds big, but it can be broken down. Viewing it in smaller numbers makes it easier to wrap your head around how you can generate that amount.

For example, a million dollars is only 1000 people giving you $1000 dollars.

1000 x 1000 = 1,000,000

Let’s say you run a services business. You need to sell something that has $1000 value. You could sell a few a month for several years.

But you need to have something of extreme value ($1000) that doesn’t take you much time – you’re an expert, with valuable knowledge. You could be a consultant or a lawyer or a career coach. To earn big money, you have to do things that directly helps other people earn much more money. You could be a real estate agent, a jewel thief or a land use developer. You need to have the knowledge and power to help clients that are dealing with huge sums of money and have the potential to profit big – then the $1000 won’t see like much to them.

Tip – if you aren’t earning $1000 an hour yet, you’re probably working for regular people. Always focus your efforts on high-end clientele and high-priced items or services. If you’re a painter, you can focus on selling paintings for $1000 – but each painting would probably take you much longer than an hour, which is why painting isn’t a good business unless A) your are selling prints or gifts or B) you are selling for significantly more money, at least $10,000 per painting.

Let’s say you found your service, and it takes you only 1 hour. To make your million, you need to do 1000 hours of work. You could do one hour a day for three years, or 3 hours a day for one year. Or 6 hours a day for only six months. The trick is, if you earn is slowly, you will spend it on things and not save as much. You want to make a million quickly, so that you have more than you need.

Services are OK, but time-consuming. It’s even better if you have a product or something that doesn’t take your actual time.

Let’s try this scenario again with a product. Maybe you’re selling a solid gold iPhone case. Maybe you sell it for $10,000, but it costs $9000 to make. Even though you’re only making $1000 per item, you aren’t limited by time (unless you are making it yourself, which you shouldn’t be). You could sell them 1 by 1 or presell until you get 1000 orders, then get them all done at once. You’d be done quickly and you’d have your 1 million.

But maybe you don’t want to work with rich people and are looking to connect with a more general audience.

A million dollars is also 10,000 people giving you only 100 dollars. So you could develop an innovative or interesting product that sells for $100, and sell 10,000 of them. Again, services don’t work very well. 10,000 hours is a lot of time. It will take you too long to make your million. What can you make or sell for $100 that doesn’t take any time? Kickstarter is a great resource for these kind of things – think of something cool that people want, make a prototype, and make sure that you figure in production and shipping costs. 10,000 people is a lot of people, but if your product is cool and you make $100 profit on each, you could make $1million pretty quickly.

If you’re an author, however, it’s very difficult to make products that sell for $100 – or even $10.

But the good news is, low value items can that can be easily consumed also make good products as long as there is enough demand for them.

Think of a bag of potato chips: it’s mostly air, costs a few dollars, but people buy millions of them. Likewise, an ebook in a very popular genre could sell very well, since readers of the genre are always hungry for more. If you make $1 per book, you need to sell a million of them. That’s not easy to do… but if you have 10 books, you just need to sell 100,000. If you have 100 books, only 10,000 of each.

Stuff to know about selling

It’s not really about the product. It may be at first, for strangers, but you can capture potential customers hearts by tapping into their worldview, showing them that you understand them, and promise to change their lives.

Think of any Coke or car or new medicine commercial. They don’t focus on the specific details, the ingredients, the indications and effects. They play nice music and show video or happy families enjoying time outside in nature. They sell the dream of happiness, or completion, of love and companionship, of health and joy.

People buy things that improve their lives, make them happy, promise to solve problems and avoid pain or frustration, or project something about themselves into the world. The main trick is promotion – if you want to reach 100,000 people, you don’t need marketing, you need a story.

The story of you and your product or service needs to resonate with the worldview of your target audience. You’re not just selling something that they want or need, you’re selling something that also confirms and supports their own personal worldview. And your story needs to be unique and interesting and amazing.

If you don’t have a story, you can invent one by doing something awesome.

For example, in the future I’m going to write a book on vampire literature. My personal story is pretty boring: that’s why I’m going to move to Romania and live in a castle for a year. If you’re writing about health or spirituality, what crazy, committed thing can you do that will become part of your story? Try every diet in the world? Spend a year without speaking?

If you’re writing a book about baseball, can you build a field with your own two hands in an underprivileged area? To have a story, you need to do something remarkable. But the great thing is it doesn’t have to be accidental – you can choose to make your story great. Think up the most incredible thing that you could do, that would revolutionize your author bio, then go do it.

The same is true of artists, bloggers or entrepreneurs. Your ideas aren’t enough. Your products aren’t enough. Your personality and writing aren’t enough. You need a one sentence kick-ass catchphrase that amazes people – something that reporters will be happy to announce on the local news because it will make people pay attention.

Become a legend. Become a superhero. Do something for others in a huge way; or something unusual to highlight a social cause you believe in. (If you jump of a bridge to sell your book, it’s self promotion. If you jump of a bridge to bring attention to the problem of teenage suicide, a subject related to your book, then you’re a hero).

All business needs to be focused on helping other people.

Making a million dollars is about helping a LOT of people, or providing exceptional value to a few people.

You’re a creative genius. Don’t just make enough money to get by and live a happy life. Do more!

About Derek Murphy

I help authors and artists turn their passions into full-time businesses, make a bigger impact, and blaze a luminous trail of creative independence. Right now I'm in Taiwan finishing a PHD in Literature, writing several books, and managing a handful of online businesses. Find me
  • Fantastic post, Derek! I actually bookmarked it which I never do unless it has a huge impact on me. I want to keep rereading it until I DO SOMETHING remarkable. Then I’ll read again and do something remarkable again.

    Definitely post more about your castle adventures once you get over there!

    • Yup – I was getting too comfortable with my ‘stretch goals’ and forgetting about the thing people call your ‘quantum leap’ goal – something so big is seems almost impossible, something you don’t think you can reach; but you add it as a goal anyway and you actually start to figure out how to do it.

  • The best thing here is – “giving”, how about one person giving the whole million? 🙂
    When people will give you one million dollars – I will actually use your advice.

    They say it’s easier to convince someone to give you a million, than it is convincing a million to give you a dollar.

    Rocket science in a nutshell.

    To sell a painting for a million you gave to be Lars Ulrich from the band Metallica – he sold his crap just for two and a half million.

    Before you make cash – you need to be a celebrity.

    Don’t be offended, but your logic with book sales is over the top – selling 10×100 000 or 1 x 1000 000 or 100 x 10000 is actually the same thing and it’s not as easy as it looks.

    Try to give away 1 000 000 copies using all sources you know and maybe people will give you a dollar. 🙂

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