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 catch up with Laura, from Portland, Oregon who is approaching retirement but made the shift to transition her work experience to the Internet and now might retire early.
Education: Master of Social Work
Occupation: Director of development
Location: Portland, OR
Income before/after: $67,000/$265,000
What was the draw to shifting your work to the Internet?
“Wow. Lots of reasons actually. I knew I was going to retire fairly soon, and like many of my friends of similar age I started to think about that reality. What am I going to do with my time? What if the market tanks again? Will I have enough money? Also, I absolutely love what I do and wanted to stay active in the non-profit world in some capacity. I went online, to start to researching options. How’s that for irony?”
What did you find?
“A lot of what I found was volunteer work or consulting work. Those are fine, but I wanted a little more income and autonomy than that. That’s when I came across Digitize University and their intro training session. Going into the online world directly was interesting to me so I took that free workshop.”
How did that go?
“I was blown away. Like most of us, we’re online all the time. But I didn’t think about what I could be doing online if I made the shift to the Internet where I could offer my experience in a much bigger way. I didn’t know about these key skills I needed. After than session, I knew I needed to get that know-how and start.”
So what happened when you started learning these skills?
“After the free workshop, I went all in. I went through the DigitizeU at night. I did the work and found that I could definitely leverage my years of knowledge and work experience into a digital form, now and into retirement, which could be all online using the Internet. “
What did you decide to do? What made it work?
“Well, I’ve been in social work for gosh, almost 35 years now. Most of that has been in non-profits. The key talent I have, fundraising and managing growth, I now offer as an online workshop. Part of that is automated. Part of that is consultative. All of it is online. What makes it work was learning in DigitizeU how to create an effective digital product and putting in front of hundreds if not thousands of NPOs across the country that could not afford a full-time development director or have little knowledge in raising money. It was the training I received and the work I put in.”
Did you have any fears?
“Yes, I thought ‘why would anyone buy from me?’ I learned in the course that this is a common fear. But I also realized two things: 1.) companies I worked for in the past all ‘bought’ my talent in the form of a paycheck. And 2.) my experience has tremendous value. Those realizations removed that fear. I found out quickly that companies would gladly pay me for my experience and knowledge rather than hiring a new employee, which is tough for many smaller companies to do. That feeling of value, impact and worth is what drives me now. It really is a fantastic feeling.”
How does work now compare with the 9-5 life you gave up?
“Actually, I didn’t mind working in a traditional sense. But what I have now is so much better. I feel like I’m making more of a difference now than ever before. I get to work where and how I want. I also get to choose the type of companies and people I want to work with. This is freedom I haven’t had before. I also like the financial result. I can earn so much more online than before. I’ve never really made this kind of money since my husband passed away so that also takes the worry about money away for sure. I’m looking now to retire early and keep doing my thing online.”
What words of wisdom would you give someone approaching retirement about making the shift online?
“With today’s technology, you’d be foolish not to look into it. The Digitize workshop is a good, free place to see what you need to do. If you neglect being where the world is, which for all of us is online, you risk making yourself a remnant of the past. Taking your talents to the Internet keeps you relevant and valuable. I think it’s something anyone can do for sure. I’m living proof of that.”