From the very beginning of the internet, entrepreneurs have drooled at the outsized profits and low entrance costs of digital business. The internet provides the opportunity to reach a global audience for –potentially – just pennies. What was once the province of expensive, ambitious enterprises is now within reach of virtually anyone.
Many people have tried to leverage the most powerful communications tool ever created to make their fortunes. Many have failed. Many a brave, intelligent and determined businessperson has fallen on their face attempting to run their own website or sell their products via established vendors. Some have found exceptional success. Still other people – trailblazers with a sense of adventure, and technology geeks who were just goofing around – have made their fortunes with little more than an internet connection and their imaginations.
The internet connects people. As written above, it gives everyone an audience... whether they want it or not. Post something online and it could potentially be viewed by the entire population of the web. For some people that's a nightmare. Nobody wants an off-the-cuff Facebook insult to make them a villain in the eyes of millions of people. For others, however, it's a dream. Authors, programmers, bloggers, vloggers, and inventors of all kinds can finally reach out and speak to anyone who's looking for someone just like them.
Here are the stories of five people who, through design or luck, leveraged the power of the internet to make themselves millionaires. To some it was a surprise. To others, the outcome was seemingly never in question. This group is as varied and eclectic a collection as you'll find anywhere, but they all have one thing in common: They invented their livelihoods themselves, took the challenge of forging their own path, and never looked back.
5 Perez Hilton Makes Fun Of Celebrities
If you love celebrity gossip, chances are you know who Perez Hilton is. If you are a celebrity, chances are you hate him. Perez Hilton is the professional name of Mario Armando Lavandeira, Jr., a man who makes his living by making fun of famous people and their follies. Get famous and drunk and it's not unlikely that Perez Hilton will be talking about it the next day, making your hangover that much worse.
You and Lavandeira have something in common: You both surf the web at work. The operator of PerezHilton.com, the, “most hated website in Hollywood,” and 491st most popular website in the world, saw his first independent success because he was bored at work. Instead of reading TheRichest.com, however, the NYU graduate, magazine editor and failed actor decided to blog about celebrities. He decided to blog because, “It seemed easy,” and to write about celebrities because they're more entertaining than online diaries.
Evidently the majority of 18 – 24 year old females agree and have given Perez a reported eight million views a day, a new family, television appearances, and a new life in a posh NYC apartment. Not bad for a guy who doodles over pictures of celebrity wardrobe malfunctions.
4 Allen Wong Makes Millions With A Police Scanner App
Allen Wong was barely an adult when he made a simple little app available to the masses. 5-0 Police Scanner may or may not be the most popular way to listen in to the police, but it did rocket Allen from being the first man in his family with a full time job to a seven figure yearly income. Wong went from being the son of a NYC Chinatown sweatshop worker to a Lamborghini collector thanks to paid downloads, advertising royalties, and his app being featured in a Spiderman movie.
Allen is further proof that the mobile app market can indeed be bigger than a winning lottery ticket for an inventive, hard working coder. Allen spent his nights, lunches and weekends teaching himself to code while working at Columbia University. His goal was to make a little side money to help support himself.
How did his life change due to the success of his coding? According to his Reddit AMA, “During my free time, I code apps, do photography, write books, do volunteer work, give free advice to young entrepreneurs, help less fortunate people, and enjoy our short time here on Earth.” As for the best part of having a lot of money? Being able to wake up whenever he wants. Some guys you just can't change.
3 Amanda Hocking Is A Self-Published Success
Once upon a time there was a British record exec who told The Beatles they'd never amount to anything. That man committed suicide and his soul was divided up and passed on to the editors of several traditional publishers who wouldn't take a chance on Amanda Hocking.
Amanda Hocking is one of those rarest of creatures: A highly successful self-published author. Before she was that, however, she was one of the most common of creatures: The poor, frustrated novelist. In April 2010, the soon-to-be-millionaire uploaded one of her novels in a desperate bid to raise $300 for a road trip to see a Muppets show. She needed to raise it in six months. And she did. Plus $20,000.
Amanda's imagination has spawned a host of young adult fantasy ebooks, a small legion of dedicated fans, and the regretful sobs of the publishing executives who turned down her pitches. Amanda has, of course, been approached by traditional publishers since her resounding success. She has, of course, turned them down. What can they offer her that she doesn't already have?
Self publishing offers several advantages over traditional publishing: Much more favorable royalty shares, greater editorial control, and no one forcing you to produce what they wish. It also offers serious challenges, the greatest being publicity. If your novel connects with its audience, like Amanda's, that takes care of itself. Good on you, Ms. Hocking!
2 The Rad Brad – King Of The YouTube Game Walkthrough
Brad Colburn is who every 15 year old boy wants to be when he refuses to grow up. "Rad Brad" is a man who loves video games and gets paid to play them. The self-proclaimed king of the YouTube gameplay walkthrough captures movies of himself playing video games and describing the experience, uploads them to YouTube, and collects a check for his troubles.
TheRadBrad is hardly the only walkthrough channel on YouTube, but he is undoubtedly one the most popular and entertaining. What makes him different? Besides his dedication to constantly recording and uploading, it's Brad's smooth, entertaining voice. It is that voice that allowed Brad to turn down the offer of a corporate job to pursue exercising his thumbs 40 hours a week and making a great living at it as the president of his own corporation. The man announced, as he thanked his fans, that he has insured his voice against damage.
Eat your hearts out.
1 Satoshi Nakamoto Invents His Own Money
Satoshi Nakamoto is the epitome of the jocular reply to a classic question. When asked, “How do you make your money,” Satoshi can honestly reply, “The old-fashioned way. I print it myself.” While that's not exactly true, he did invent his own currency. Bitcoin.
The enigmatic creator of the first and most popular cryptocurrency is believed to hold over $400 million worth of the digital money and, indeed, they are nothing but the fruit of his imagination.
You could consider bitcoins to be a consensually shared hallucination, though really they function based on the same principle that regular money does: They have value because and only because the people who trade in them agree that they have value. They appear on your computer seemingly from the ether, the product of a mining program running on a PC. The only work done to create them being opening and running said program. The only byproduct being heat, the only expense being electricity.
It is believed that Satoshi invented Bitcoins out of frustration with the difficulty of sending wire transfers overseas to purchase model trains. He imagined an internet-native, border-free currency and from his imagination he created bitcoins. He started mining them right away and when they skyrocketed in value his net worth did as well. You could say he literally dreamed up his fortune.