The surprising route I took into making money online.

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coins scattered near smartphone with financial charts on screen

No – it wasn’t bitcoin and the title is a bit clickbait’y.. so I apologise for that. I did invest a little in Crypto (back in 2013) but it’s not that surprising a route if the answer was just “Bitcoin”…

My Twitter handle is @mikestottwp and I now work at Automattic building software products – but, my first route into making money online was also NOT WordPress.

I joined in August 2012

Wow. I can’t even remember why I created an account in 2012. I wasn’t hosting any websites on and I didn’t even know it’s actually one of the best managed WordPress hosts out there. It was probably needed to connect a service like Jetpack, or WooCommerce to my first self-hosted site.

I actually started making money online in the summer of 2011. I’d handed in my notice at the consultancy firm I was at, and it was the height of the Call of Duty craze on the PS3 (where a friend would chronicle our COD4 nights – including some results photos). One of the players who I worked with, suggested I should use my notice period (3 months) to write a book about how to be cr*p at Call of Duty.

101 tips to get WORSE at Call of Duty

It was a joke, but the idea was born and I wrote it with my brother (kicking back and forth a Microsoft .doc file) – 101 tips to get WORSE at Call of Duty was born – I wrote a bunch of tips, got stuck and the final few we cobbled together as a team.

A page per tip, plus a bit of preamble and final word took it to 106 pages.

Ha. As I’m writing this, over 10 years later that first tip still holds true for anything. Stick with it and over time you’ll start to see results.

How did the story go. Get it… Story..

I’d researched about Kindle Direct Publishing and it looked pretty easy. I also published to various other online book stores (like Barnes & Noble) through a service called Smashwords. I eventually got a hard-copy “on demand” through CreateSpace which meant I could sell hardback copies of the book too. I think I still even have one somewhere, it’s an interesting “coffee table” book… really it is.

The first place though, was Amazon KDP and I’d listed it for sale. I’d set the price at the minimum Amazon would allow me where I’d get 70% royalties and I got deep. I went deep into all the kindle book forums made profiles, with the book cover in them and links to buy.

I participated loads and spammed added links left right and centre to try and get people aware of the book. When my brother and I started writing the book, we’d set ourselves a goal.

amsterdam architecture building capital
Amsterdam. Yay.

If the book sales do enough to pay for a steak dinner in Amsterdam, we’d be happy.

Mike & Neil – circa 2011.

This was also the time where I’d visit Amsterdam each new year with my brother (before I met my wife, and had kids) – it was a short flight, cheap for accommodation and a great atmosphere / change of scenery for the new year.

It actually ended up doing pretty well and not only paid for a steak dinner (£60) it ended up covering two new year trips away 🤯 which was mind blowing for me at the time.

To this day, it still randomly sells a copy here and there. Which is crazy to say the effort in writing the content was done over 10 years ago – but the tips still ring true to this day.

What happened next?

I got hooked with making money online. I got frustrated with Amazon and their set pricing and started to dabble in the realms of setting up my own website for my ebooks.

We published a follow up strategy guide (which didn’t do as well as the first book) and I even got into illustration for my “How Cow” series.

I learned about WooCommerce for selling digital products and this is probably about the time I created my account. I wanted to create a Social Network for eBook authors, where Authors could set a price for the book but buyers could enter a price below the asking price (and it would either be accepted, or rejected if too low).

The Facebook page is still up – but the domain and site long gone.

And that, my friends, is the surprising route I took into making money online and what got me hooked with WordPress.

I’d love to hear your stories in the comments.

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