Ask Celes: How Are You Earning Money When You Don’t Have a Job?

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(Image: Ethan Lofton)

“Hi Celes, how do you get enough money to travel to all these different countries, seeing as you don’t have a job? Can you earn enough money through the sale of your e-books?” — Gen

Hi Gen, your question reminds me of this exchange I had with a friend a few weeks ago in London. We were talking about the high cost of living in London compared to Singapore. After talking about the rent I’m paying here, he asked in bewilderment, “How are you getting the money to pay all of that?”

My friend is unaware of what I’m doing at PE, other than what I tell him. So I explained to him my work.

Most people who don’t know what I’m doing may not think of it as a proper job or career. However, it’s definitely a job, just not a conventional one. I’m running a business where personal development is my message, and I reach out to others through many different channels — blogging, coaching, training, etc.

PE is also my career — albeit one with a unique progression path of my own creation. When I started, I created my career development plan — in the same way someone in a formal job would have a career development plan. As my job is unconventional with no peer groups or direct comparison points, I regularly refer to the top players in my field and measure my progress against theirs so that I know where I stand.

As a business owner, I set high targets to achieve every month — including traffic targets, social media targets, revenue targets, and goals for media features. I track my results daily and constantly review my action steps and create new plans.


Because of that, my business has been growing steadily from the start, be it in terms of blog traffic or revenue. Last year, my monthly business revenue exceeded my monthly salary in my previous corporate job. This is a big milestone for me as it has just been two years since I quit my job. This year, my revenue continues to grow.

So a common question I get is, “How are you earning money through your blog?

There are two things to note here.

  1. I don’t see my business as being locked down to one specific medium such as coaching or blogging. Rather, I see my business as the vehicle through which I help others grow, and I do so through many different mediums.
  2. Similarly, I don’t see revenue generation as being tied to one medium, such as selling ebooks. I see it as a result of giving massive value to others, to the point that they wish to pay money for it.

This means that I use a wide array of channels to help others grow — from blogging to web lectures, from coaching to speaking. I monetize some of these channels — generating revenue through coaching, workshops, ebooks, advertising, and affiliate sales. Ebooks are one of my many income sources — they make up 20% of my total revenue year to date (Sep 2011).


My monetization channels change as I’m constantly reviewing my business model to find the best way to reach out to others.

For example, this year I made the decision to shift a big chunk of my income from active to passive income. I decided to focus on passive income streams like online sales (ebooks, courses) and blog advertising, and moved away from in-person workshops and 1-1 coaching as my core revenue streams. As of Oct 2011, I removed my 1-1 coaching service.

This is so that I don’t need to trade my time for money. For the first two years, I was busy working non-stop and there was always a long waitlist for my coaching services — it was impossible for me to get to the people I wish to help in a timely manner, and I was getting burnt out at the same time. There was a point when my waitlist was 4-6 months long, and I was busy juggling this with monthly workshops and blog development.

By shifting to a passive income business model, I can now focus on higher-scale mediums (blog, video, courses) to help others while letting the systems do the work for me. This also means that online sales like ebooks and courses will make up a bigger portion of my revenue moving forward.

Of course, whatever I share above may change as things change. Business environments can change and my life needs will change depending on my stage of life, and when that happens I’ll adapt my business model accordingly. But one thing is constant, which is my message to help others grow. This never changes.

So to answer your question,

  1. What I’m doing is very much a job. It is a career, and it is a business. Even though it doesn’t have an official job title or pay structure designated by a larger entity, it doesn’t make it any less so to me. I treat it as a professional career, set big goals, and strive to achieve them.
  2. I’ve been making a living from my work since the first year of starting my business, with increasing results each year.
  3. My income is sufficient to fund my travels and expenses, and support my parents (I give them money every month), with savings — in fact, my monthly revenue is now more than my monthly salary in my previous job. This is possible because I’ve been very focused and deliberate in how I grow my business. I share more in my Business and Goal Strategy articles.

Of course, I’m not resting on my laurels and settling for the status quo. Moving forward, my ultimate goal for PE is to reach out to everyone in the world, and it’s nowhere near that yet. The work is cut out for us, and I can’t help but feel very excited about what’s ahead.