There are a lot of guides for how to make money on the internet. Most of them aren’t worth mentioning. Often the author greatly oversells the concept, creating wild claims that you can earn $10,000 per month with just a few hours of work each month. In other cases, the author doesn’t have any past experience, his or her first online business is writing guides for how to run a successful online business.
The Unconventional Guide to Working for Yourself  is different. I recently got a chance to read this new report by Chris Guillebeau, the author of the must-read blog, The Art of Nonconformity . A few of the reasons I was impressed with the report were:
- The claims are modest and reasonable. Chris isn’t intending his readers to become online millionaires after reading his guide. Instead the stated goal of the book is to teach someone enough that they can earn an extra $200 per month in income. Modesty might sell fewer copies, but I think the guide delivers on the information it promises. Plus, who couldn’t use an extra $2400 per year?
- The author actually has experience (and not through blogging). Chris has been earning money online for the last ten years, The Art of Nonconformity is a recent addition. Although it’s possible to reach spectacular success as a blogger, it’s often not the best money-making platform on it’s own. I’d rather hear from a regular guy who has experience earning money in several different channels, than one superstar blogger telling me how to make six figures.
- The advice is both broad, and specific. Books like Rich Dad, Poor Dad are great for instilling a mindset, but often lousy for specific results (who feels like investing in real estate today?). Chris’s book is good because it offers both the general philosophy you need, along with the nitty gritty tactics to get started.
Who is the Guide For?
I’d recommend this book to anyone who either:
- Wants to start an online business. (even just a small-scale, part-time enterprise)
- Is interested in knowing how people can make money online.
The guide is a bit pricier for someone who is just casually interested in the topic. However, if you are going to put in the work, spending $39 for a guide that could easily lead to another $200 per month, it is a great investment.
The guide includes a .pdf report, filled with detailed advice on how to get started, as well as various types of very small businesses you can set up. Although it doesn’t cover anything, it gives many different routes to potentially generate income, many of them I wasn’t even aware of until reading the book.
Along with the book are three, 30-minute audio clips where Chris provides advice. I’m not a huge fan of straight audio, but there is some good advice in here as well.
Even after running this website for close to three years, I still learned a lot from the book. I’d recommend it to anyone running an online business, because it also provides a lot of motivation and ideas to fuel your own improvements. In my opinion, the mark of a good book isn’t just in the ideas it provides, but in the creativity it fuels in coming up with your own ideas.
A Few Comments on the Guide
As I’m an opinionated guy, there were a few places where I disagreed with Chris. These definitely weren’t in the majority, but it was interesting to see where our views differed on how very small businesses should work.
Chris makes a point of stating that most affiliate programs stink. Amazon, most likely the biggest online affiliate is the major point of his attack as it is hard to earn money through referrals as your commission is only around 6%. Other affiliate centers have similarly lousy commissions of 20-30%.
I’d agree with Chris that the Amazon rate isn’t too high. But, Amazon has reached a point where they sell almost everything. Linking to Amazon when you mention a book or product can be done without making a big pitch. In fact, many of my readers ask for Amazon links to books when I don’t offer them automatically. In these cases, being an Amazon affiliate can give you a small side income for something you would do normally. Just don’t expect to make huge bucks.
Chris tends to focus on the technical and tactical ends of running a very small business. That, on it’s own, isn’t enough to be successful, however. In order to do this, you need to view your business as a way of creating value for other people. Too many people think online businesses are all about setting up tricks and strategies to squeeze a bit of money out. With this attitude, even $200 per month will be a stretch.
In my opinion, you should read Steve Pavlina’s guide to building a high-traffic website . Although he focuses on blogging, the principles are true to every business: creating value is the only sustainable way to earn money. I think if you pair Chris’s more detailed perspective with this overall philosophy, you’ll get a lot more from the book.
Overall Thoughts on the Guide
As a whole, I thought The Unconventional Guide to Working for Yourself  is professionally done, and is crammed with great ideas. If you’re getting started online and not sure where to start, I believe this book is a must-read. Even if you’d just like to know about some alternatives to working at a job for a living, the book is a worthwhile read.
I am an affiliate for the guide, so I do receive income for directing it to people. Because I get a lot of books/products to review, I have to reject 99% of all offers. But, I enjoy the affiliate setup because it means I only promote the books I find really useful.
Getting the Guide and Getting Started
If you’re interested in the guide, you can get it here. It is $39 and comes with a full pdf report and three, 30-minute audio sessions.