Hello everyone, this is me Austin Tuwiner (the one on the left).
I’m a 21-year-old college dropout currently traveling the world.
I’ve been putting this post together for a while now, as I always get asked how the hell I got here.
Over the past 12 years, I’ve had several unusual streams of income.
Keep reading, and I’ll explain what I’ve learned from each project/endeavor.
You get to hear about all my mistakes and lessons AFTER they’ve happened.
Please know I’m not upset about anything I mention in this post. This has made me into who I am today.
AnimalEveryday | September 2007
I started my first business venture at 9 years old.
You can view the website at AnimalEveryday.blogspot.com.
Sick domain name, I know.
The internet was a different place in 2007.
The concept was simple: write an informative post about a random animal every single day.
My first post was about wolverines (pictured right). The intro starts off by mentioning how many claws they had on their feet.
I know, I wasn’t a good writer. Just see for yourself how many grammatical mistakes are in this paragraph.
But… as time went on I improved.
One day, my 9-year-old brain had a massive realization.
I could create content 10x faster.
All I had to do was copy and paste National Geographic articles and claim them as my own.
No wonder most of my content didn’t rank on Google.
Later on, I found out that I could monetize the site through Google’s Adsense Program.
Unfortunately, I was quickly banned from the program after earning $10 in one day.
You’re probably wondering why I was banned.
It wasn’t due to plagiarism.
Apparently, you can’t just click on your ads on every single computer in the local mall’s Apple Store.
With my monetization plan ruined, AnimalEveryday turned into AnimalEveryMonth… and then EveryYear… and now AnimalEveryCentury.
AnimalEveryday was a great first project. I was passionate about the topic. The blog has over 80 posts and can still be viewed to this date.
Lessons I Learned From AnimalEveryDay
- Don’t underestimate how powerful being passionate about a project is.
- If a way of earning money seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- You can put stuff on the internet and actually have people read it (like you are right now).
- Your content has to be original and high quality.
- Don’t plagiarize.
Selling Stuff on eBay | Around 2012
After the failure (maybe success?) of AnimalEveryDay, I learned about the magical place on the internet known as eBay.
Everything in my house started to appear as dollar signs. I sold everything in sight.
Luckily for my Mom and Dad… my Dad is in the classic car business and had an endless supply of car parts that needed to be sold on eBay.
I sold a lot of car parts. They had no idea I was only 10…
Until they saw how I packed the items.
My packing improved. My listing speed improved. My shipping speed got better.
I made a few thousand dollars from eBay before I turned 13.
Lessons I Learned From Selling On eBay
- How to communicate over the internet to strangers
- The importance of having feedback
- I could earn a lot of money working for myself
- Money is there, you just have to look for it
Austint27 Youtube Channel - January 2012
My next project took a few years to come out.
At 12 I started a gaming and tutorial YouTube channel called austint27.
The channel featured videos of me playing several video games such as Call of Duty, Minecraft, League of Legends, along with a few others.
At first, I started by pointing my phone camera at the screen and recorded my gameplay. As you probably guessed, the quality came out terrible.
I then realized… I needed to invest money into the channel. I bought a capture card for $200. This was steep for a 13 year old.
The price didn’t matter to me. I was determined to be like all the big gaming youtubers.
Throughout middle and high school, I played a lot of video games.
Definitely too many.
I got pretty damn good at these games, and even played “professionally.” I started building a decent following on the channel and hit 300 subscribers.
I started monetizing this channel through the Youtube Adsense program, and earned my first $100 online!
This was a huge breakthrough.
I even discovered clickbait and came up with clever titles.
Why title a video “2 minute and 17-second MOAB” when I could attract more attention with “137 second MOAB”?
Eventually, I stopped working on the channel to focus on playing more video games and high school.
My all-time top three most viewed videos received 100,000 views, 21,000 views, and 10,000 views.
Not bad for a 13-year-old!
Lessons I Learned From My Youtube Channel
- Good authentic content will get traction.
- You have to spend money to make money.
- How to reach the highest level of something.
- Video games are fun, but designed to be extremely addicting.
Panera Cashier | November 2014 - April 2016
My first (and only!) big boy job was at everyone’s favorite overpriced cafe… Panera.
Like most 16-year-olds, I started working because my mom went in and applied for me.
I was too afraid to go into the store or call them on the phone. I didn’t want the job, but my mom made me.
And for this… I will be forever grateful.
One particular day on my second week of work will stick with me forever.
A customer approached me and said there was a situation in the ladies room.
I had no idea what this meant… and I was in for a surprise.
I didn’t know what the policy on a guy going into the ladies room was.
I asked my manager, and he told me to just knock and see if anyone was inside. (this was 2014, genders and bathrooms were much less controversial).
I looked around and saw nothing. I decided to check the stall.
And then I saw it…
Someone missed. I’m not talking about #1.
I sprint out of the bathroom and tell my manager that we need to get someone to clean that up. He then goes on to say “You’re the one that has to clean that up.”
I nearly quit on the spot. Nearly.
I wouldn’t say I hated my time at Panera. I ended up working there for almost two years.
My experience at Panera played a powerful role in my development as an entrepreneur. After I was done working there, I made sure I never had to work a job like this again.
Despite being a 16-year old and having gone through that horrible experience, I still gave my notice and left on good terms – as good as it may feel in the moment, never burn bridges.
Lessons I Learned From Working At Panera
- I don’t want to be anyone's bitch.
- I’m not cleaning up shit ever again.
- I don’t want to be paid based on my time.
Booktrade.io | January 2017
During my freshman year of college, I started my first serious business: Booktrade.io.
The idea of the business was to help students trade textbooks once they were done using them.
I couldn’t believe how much the bookstores would rip people off for trade-ins.
I’d see my friends trade them into the bookstore and say, “I don’t care that I got ripped off, my mom got it for me”.
After hearing that a few times, I had enough.
It was time to get to work.
I hired my first developer from Vietnam using a service called Upwork. I paid him $800, and he did a beautiful job on the website.
I can’t imagine how frustrating it would have been working with me. I was 18 and had different ideas for the website every single day.
The website never made a cent.
But it doesn’t matter.
I spent several weekend nights in the library drawing on a whiteboard coming up with new ideas and features for the site.
I’d ask my “friends” to come to the library with me to brainstorm. They never did. This is when I first realized I didn’t belong at college.
I got so much out of the process that I don’t regret doing it for a second.
Lessons I Learned From Booktrade.io
- Good ideas that solve real problems are not guaranteed to work. Execution is key.
- College fucking sucks.
- I was a creator.
- How much can be learned from failure.
Cryptoking.io | September 2017
Later that summer, I started my next online business: Cryptoking.io.
My brother had a lot of success on his cryptocurrency affiliate marketing website Buybitcoinworldwide.
He recommended that I start a site similar to his as he knew the space inside and out.
I paid a developer on Upwork from Ukraine $250 to make the website.
Within a few months, I had learned SEO and was ranking on Google. This website made me $100-$200 a month through affiliate links.
$100-$200 a month isn’t that much.
However… this was passive scalable income.
For the most part, for each additional viewer of my site, my cost is zero dollars and zero time.
While having no extra dollar cost is awesome, the more impressive concept is the zero time.
It’s not until you try to scale a fixed income business (hourly, per word, anything requiring YOUR time) that you understand how powerful of a concept this.
Eventually, a Google algorithm update hit me (this will be a recurring theme).
It turns out, you can’t just copy and paste the same guides over, changing one keyword and expect to rank for it all.
Lessons I Learned From Cryptoking.io
- How to run and manage a website/project
- How to make passive income and why its so amazing
- How well websites and SaaS scale
- High-quality content takes time and effort
Cryptoslate and Freelance Work | December 2017
While doing link outreach for Cryptoking, I stumbled upon Cryptoslate, a cryptocurrency news/journalism website.
Within a few days, I was a full-time writer for the site earning $.10 cents a word. This wasn’t bad for a college sophomore, coming out around $80-$100/hr.
I’d write about current events in the cryptocurrency space as well as guides and introductions to different cryptocurrencies.
I improved as a writer extremely quickly. My portfolio is still available online for anyone to view, although I’m no longer writing for them.
After I built up a portfolio, I began to look for higher-paying writing jobs.
I sent 1000 emails via mail merges to ICOs proposing to write for them, and I’d plug my Cryptoslate portfolio.
Within a week, I was writing weekly for five sites for $.15-$.20 cents a word.
That’s a lot of writing.
I hired writers for cheap online ($.025 cents a word), and would offload the work to them. Then, I’d go in and edit it, and send it in!
I had a system down. And it worked.
In addition to freelance content marketing, I also offered general and local SEO as a service.
I’d charge over $150/hr for my time, as I was confident I’d be able to prove my value to companies.
Here’s a free site audit I did that lead to a $120/hr contract.
Eventually, I stopped freelance writing and work altogether. It’s tough to scale and at the end of the day, you are helping other people’s dream/visions come true.
Not your own.
I highly recommend this work to anyone who’s trying to buy their own freedom. Just not to people with already profitable businesses.
Lessons I Learned From Cryptoslate/Freelance Work
- You can make money doing anything.
- Hiring helps scale.
- Aim to be a premium service, target people with money.
- How to become an even better writer.
Bitpremier | October 2017
Bitpremier was my first “successful” business.
This isn’t to say I didn’t learn from any of my past experiences.
After working on Cryptoking for a while, my brother approached me with an idea.
I would do exactly the same content I did on Cryptoking, but we’d buy a larger site to publish my content on.
With his funds and my efforts, we quickly got Bitpremier running.
At my college, the entrepreneurship club held a Shark Tank style event where students pitch their businesses.
Guess who won?
Not long after winning, I took the $1,000 scholarship winnings and left college.
We ranked #1 on Google for the keyword “Cryptocurrency Exchange”, #4 for “Buy Bitcoin with Credit Card”, the list goes on.
The site makes money through affiliate links. If a user takes action after visiting a website or service we link to, we earn commission in exchange.
This is about as passive income as you can get!!
You’ll find zero advertisements on the website and no paid placements.
I truly believe this is the most profitable approach to take on nearly all businesses.
Don’t always chase a quick buck.
Think long-term, and create the best user experience possible.
If I were to add up my total hours spent on each project, Bitpremier would be first.
I still own and run Bitpremier to this day, and it’s one of my main sources of income.
Lessons I Learned From Bitpremier
- Just how much money websites can make.
- Don't take anything for granted.
- Relying on Google or other large companies for traffic isn't optimal.
ContentCobra | July 2018
ContentCobra is a premium content marketing platform that I still work on today.
After being in the content creation/copywriting space for over a year, I decided to transition to more of a managerial role.
I have a team of writers and offer content marketing services such as content writing, content planning, proofreading, WriterConnection, and translation.
I attempted this business two times.
Here’s what went wrong the first:
I brought the business idea up to a friend of a friend who was very successful.
We decided to work together and split the business 50/50. I’d do the web development, he does the marketing.
A few weeks later, I get the website live and completely functioning.
I can barely get ahold of my partner.
I was pissed. I asked him to meet for lunch.
I brought up how he wasn’t doing his share, and that I was just going to do this myself.
He apologized and told me to Venmo him for half the expenses, and that he’d pick it up here on out.
The Venmo request sat there for a few weeks, and he continued to do nothing.
I told him I was done.
This was in 2018, but I’m revisiting the project as of May 2019.
It’s currently September 2019, and the service is processing almost 50,000 words of content a month! This is just the start, and the service will continue to expand in the coming months.
Lessons I Learned From ContentCobra
- Be extremely careful who you partner with.
- All ventures will take at least 10x the amount (Hi Grant Cardone) of effort you expect to get going.
The World of Poker | October 2018
After moving to Austin, Texas in October 2018, I was quickly exposed to the world of poker.
I knew from my time playing video games, writing, and learning SEO that I could learn anything. And quickly too.
I started my poker career down $2,000 within 4 months. I wasn’t a good player.
I might as well have been using a random number generator for my decisions.
No wonder I was a losing player.
I’m not a very good loser.
This made me want to win even more.
So, I did what I do whenever I want to get good at something.
I sought mentorship.
I have a friend in Austin who quit his web development job to play poker professionally coach me. For free too, it was easily worth over $100 per hour.
These were my stats in my last month playing poker.
I know what you’re thinking.
You made $4.7k in 17 days with an hourly rate of almost $150/hr… and quit?
I get it, you think I’m crazy.
Let me tell you why I had to stop.
Poker is a game of skill, there are no doubts about that.
The same players make it to the WSOP every year. This doesn’t happen by chance.
Poker is a game of high variance. Especially the variant I picked up known as PLO (Pot Limit Omaha).
You can make the right play and still lose. It’s a terrible feeling.
As I went up in stakes, my sessions affected my mood more.
In the picture above, I went all-in with a 97.5% chance to win in a $1722 pot.
I lost the hand to his only out in the deck: the 4 of hearts.
This gave him a straight flush, one of the rarest hands in poker.
I could be up to $2000 for that month and lose $800 the next day. Even though I’d be up a lot for the month or even year… My entire day would be ruined.
Overall, for me, playing poker for a “living” was not worth it.
I still enjoy the game, and even play once in a while. I could never do this professionally.
Scubaotter is an educational and affiliate marketing website I started in October of 2018.
I know SEO, and I can rank anything. Why not rank on google for something I’m passionate about? As I began scuba diving around the world, I’d upload content from my dives to the site.
I created a dive location database on my site, where locations are added only after I’ve stayed and dived there.
While spending time at each location, I’d befriend dive shop members and hire them to help me create content about the sites they dive at every day.
The site makes under $100/m at the time of this writing but should pick up over the next few months.
Lessons I Learned From Scubaotter
- You can’t bullshit content marketing
- High-quality content takes time but is rewarding
Over the past 21 years, I’ve made an endless amount of mistakes.
And that’s okay.
Making a mistake once isn’t a big deal. Making the same one twice is.
After reading this, all I’d ask is to apply some of the things I’ve learned here to your own ventures.
Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions, advice, or feedback, please let me know!