In our series, The Digitize Diaries, people making more than $250,000, completely online, open up about how they got there and what exactly they did to achieve it. We take a closer look at what it feels like to make well into six-figures online — when less than 2% of Americans make that much at all, according to the U.S. Census — with the hope it will give insights into how to better navigate modern day work-life options using the Internet.
Today, we chat with Julie, in Chicago who is now using her accounting skills/education in a totally new way online that gives her the life she’s wanted.
Education: B.S. accounting
Occupation: Accounts Payable Specialist II
Industry: Consumer Goods
Location: Oak Lawn, IL (works in Chicago)
Income before/after: $56,750/$325,000
What got you into accounting as a profession?
“As I kid, I was always good in math. My grandfather was a CPA and told me that it was something safe and ‘you’ll always have a job.’ Still, I went to college with an open mind and was hoping to find other things that intrigued me. I took a management class and found it boring. I took photography but quickly learned that I didn’t have the eye for it. Meanwhile I kept taking my math and accounting classes and excelled. One day after getting another 100% on my accounting test the professor actually wrote on my paper ‘I think accounting is in your future!” She was right.”
What was your first accounting job?
“I have a bachelor’s degree in accounting from DePaul so I interned at a company in Chicago. They offered me a position after the internship ended six months later. I was thrilled. I started in the accounts payable department and started to make inroads there.”
What created the need to do something else?
“I took out $55,000 in federal loans and paid some of them off but found that the ceiling on income was rather solid. I wasn’t always after the almighty dollar, but I started to ask myself, ‘is this it?’ I wanted something more financially and personally. One of the things that my old photography class did teach me was a yearning to travel. I wanted to travel the world, but knew that wasn’t cheap and I needed to make time to do it. I also figured that there might be something online I could do but I had no idea what it could be.”
When did you discover your breakthrough?
“Well, I saw an ad for Digitize University seminar and didn’t know what it was at first, but the idea of going ‘digital’ with my experience piqued my attention. I wasn’t sure what to do or how but I signed up for the workshop they offer and saw what was possible and I was hooked. I knew the Internet would allow me to do way more than I could in any accounting job. I enrolled and started the course right away.”
Did you have any fears about what you could do online?
“That was my biggest question. The only real experience I had was with my work in accounts payable. But within the course, I had my epiphany. One of the core responsibilities I had was working with our vendors with their billing. I noticed that big companies had mature staff to handle most of their billing processes. But the smaller ones were a nightmare. So what the course taught me was how to leverage my background and experience. What I did was create a workshop to help small business, targeting women-owned businesses, understand how to really conduct and manage invoicing, billing, receiving and managing small business accounting software like Quickbooks.”
How did you get customers?
“DigitizeU was awesome on that front. I had never placed an ad. Ever. They showed me how to create an ad, which was way easier than I thought, and position it in front of exactly the right customer I was targeting. I then send them to my super simple webpage (that they also showed me how to do easily) where I would make my offer. I had my first sale within the first two weeks. Being good with money, I reinvested my profits back into doing more and more and more ads. Soon I was making $5,000/month which was my initial target. That matched my old salary. So I kept pushing. Soon I started to really scale. I was earning $12,000/month about nine months in and at that point, I resigned from my old job. 14 months later, I doubled that. Now, I am just breaking into the $26K/month mark and hope to hit $35K/month soon.”
Did you have any problems along the way?
“I was worried about having to be a salesperson. I’m a total introvert! I’m a numbers girl after all. But one of the themes that DigitizeU teaches you is that you’re not really selling. You’re offering help. I realized that I offered help in my old job too but just for one employer. I had to discover my true value, package that up and offer that help to thousands of other women-owned businesses. Once I made that mental shift toward help, it was easy to talk to prospects and customers. So I’m really in the numbers help business! I just do it all online.”
How does your life compare today when you look back at being at your traditional accounting job?
“Working whenever I want and wherever I want is the real luxury. I am also proud of being a business owner. I’m the first in my family to do that. I’m the only employee so I only answer to one boss now! The income and that life flexibility has allowed me to travel. I love going to Europe and seeing the world. I never dreamed that this would be my life. I’m so happy I went into accounting and found the Digitize workshop to teach me how to make it all work and leverage what I was really good at doing online.”
What professional advice would you give someone in accounting looking at leveraging their experience online?
“Go for it! You really have so much more value than you think. Attend the free workshop and see if it’s for you. I was amazed at really how simple it is to do. I’ve referred so many colleagues of mine to do this. I know some of them are now starting their own online ventures and I couldn’t be happier for them.”