I met Andrei in 6th grade. He was the new kid. We befriended. We used to mock one of our classmates by calling him names. We came up with an interesting new entry every day. We had a lot of fun. Then, as we finished 8th grade and went to high school, our roads diverged.
It wasn’t until 6 years later when I met Andrei during a train trip to Timisoara, in Romania. I barely recognized him. Since then we kept contact. He never lost his entrepreneurial spirit. We have a lot of things to talk about when we meet.
In May 2015, I wrote a blogpost on different ways to make money online. Andrei picked it up. It was something new to him. He was on the verge of reinventing himself, so timing could not have been better. You’re about to find out what he did next. In his own words, enter Andrei.
Laptop Entrepreneur – Andrei’s Story
I am alive! This is how I feel after three months since I begun a new life as a digital entrepreneur. I didn’t imagine before, that someone can actually make a living by working online. Of course, I knew that earning money from the internet is possible, but not in a way that it would replace a classic job. You know, the 9 to 5 type of thing. Running on the treadmill for a decent paycheck but without having the time to really enjoy the money earned.
I started making my own money when I was 16 years old. My first job was as a busboy at my uncle’s restaurant. The old man taught me a lesson from the very first day. Everyone working at his restaurant had to pass a test before getting hired. He put every candidate to wipe the floor in the warehouse. My uncle would randomly and on purpose plant a 10 euro bill in a visible spot. If someone would finish the task without telling about the bill, than they would lose the job interview. I passed my test with a 100 euro bill (because we were relatives).
He sometimes used to take me on his business trips. I was fascinated by his work as a small restaurant owner. It was not the food that made my eyes glimpse, but the idea of being independent and still making enough money to make a decent living.
Next year I decided to start my own business. I met another restaurant owner, from the trips I made with my uncle. That owner was suspicious of some of the cooks stealing from the ingredients. He was looking for a way to keep an eye on it. I convinced him into buying a laptop and keeping acquisition and consumption history records. I even offered him basic computer skills lessons to help him learn.
He did not trust me enough to give me an advance of the money to buy the laptop. I also did not want him to buy it from somewhere else. I was risking the whole deal. So I asked my parents to lend me $1,000 to buy the laptop from a local warehouse. Asking them was like playing roulette, but they eventually gave me the money. I was surprised of their level of trust in me. In two weeks, I paid my loan and made a nice $200 profit. I kept reinvesting, and by the next year I was able to pay for my first year of college.
I went to college in another city; so I needed more money. My parents could not afford the entire cost so I was forced to get a job.
My first real full-time job. I got hired by Orange, a telecom company, as a call center agent. You know, the one answering your call at Customer Service, after years of waiting on the line.
In 2 years, I got promoted to supervisor. One year after and I was a trainer, preparing new colleagues for the call center. Then I got a better proposal from Vodafone, their main competitor, to work in one of their shops. It was a downgrade but on a bigger paycheck. After 3 years of Customer Service, I was working in Sales.
The true corporate life had begun. High income, but high expectations. The well-known meetings, sale targets, follow-ups, feedback, surveys, auditors. If you currently work in a corporation, you totally feel me on this one.
After 7 years of working for a corporation I was pretty messed up. I felt that I had no life. I was like a robot. A little PAC-MAN grabbing points on an endless game board. So I quit.
I wanted to try playing the entrepreneurial game one more time, by making and selling homemade fresh pasta. But this time life was harder. I was no longer living with my parents so I had to make money fast. The pasta business was too new to sustain itself and I could not make enough money to pay my rent and my bills.
One afternoon, after taking a nap, I checked my smartphone Facebook news feed. I saw a link to a post on this blog, about making money with your laptop. I know my friend Cristi was already making a living in this way so I said to myself, why not?
I felt ready for it. My stomach also felt ready for it and I think that even my landlord was feeling the same. I asked myself, what can I do? What could the world ask or receive from me? I believe that I have a strong skill in creative writing and I have a degree in Marketing and Economics.
(Cristi: one of the first things that Andrei had it right while most people have it wrong – start with the why – ask yourself (research) what the world needs, instead of creating something that you like and then trying to push it into the market).
I started browsing the web for a tutoring platform. The ones presented on the blogpost did not meet my needs. They seemed reliable and famous, but I needed a simpler platform.
After 2 days of Google-ing, I found SchoolSolver. It is a simple platform with a straight-forward mechanism. Someone asks a question on any area of interest, mentioning the price they are willing to pay and a deadline for the answer. Other website users can access the question and answer it if they feel appropriate. The one asking the question gets notified when answers are posted.
The answer has a free preview function. This increases the transparency and legitimacy of the platform; risks are minimized. Further more, dissatisfied customers can use the money-back guarantee.
On the other hand, the tutor answering the question can generate multiple streams of income from the same answer. If a person (student) asks the same question in the future, he can find the answer using the search function. So you can answer a question one time, and get paid multiple times.
After three months of working on this website I managed to receive the “exceptional tutor” award from the website administrators and even make it to their billboard. I am rated as the second top earner on the site.
Making money online is simple but you must first answer yourself to three questions.
- What can I offer for money?
- What skills do I have?
- Is there something I am really good at? Anything, even cooking or chemistry?
I have a friend who makes money by giving online poker and sport bets lessons.
Another important question:
Can I keep a promise?
Always keep your promise, no matter that’s been made over the internet. No one will slap you through your screen, but the negative ratings and feedbacks might ruin your reputation forever.
Being self-employed can help you get a better control of your life. You can decide for yourself when and where you work. The sky is the limit. Making $10 or $1,000 dollars a month is only up to you.
There is a risk of being greedy though, as you can end up working 14 to 16 hours a day. Overworking yourself may also lead to delivering poor quality work to your customers. Try to set yourself a limit. As times go by you will get more and more efficient and good at it.
In my first week as an online tutor I was depressed. I’ve been working all week answering questions and I only got $7 in my site account. It seemed that no one wanted to work with me.
But then it happened! After taking my morning shower one day, I checked my account and saw $80. People started buying my work. I was thrilled. In the first month I made $350. It was not enough to pay my rent and bills, but I was satisfied.
Now I’m making more money and I can even afford to take one week of relaxation every month. Not in Ibiza or Paris, but having a week for relaxation and reading is a dream I never had while working for a corporation. I won’t say how much I earned last month because my girlfriend might read this and she would expect me to buy her a new purse.
You can also do it!
Do what you are best at, be serious about it and success will come. I must now end my story. I also started working on a book, like my friend Cristi. I would have never hoped of having the chance to design my own lifestyle.
What an inspiring and epic ride! Now, some practical insights.
If you want to step into Andrei’s shoes, use his story as example; if you want to start your personal online entrepreneurship journey, begin by reading this post; it should help you design your own strategy.
If you need help with school, make sure to check Andrei’s stellar profile on School Solver. Should you have further questions (for me or for Andrei), please leave them in either of the comment sections below.