Online Entrepreneur - Brad Hussey

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Brad Hussey never thought he would generate the majority of his income from online, passive sources. A web designer, developer and coding expert, he started his career as a web developer and worked for a Calgary-based digital marketing agency. While working full-time, he began to build a sideline business, accumulating a client list. “I ended up working full-time with Sajak and Farki and freelancing full-time. Eventually, they became my client and I went completely solo.”

However, freelancing was up and down with inconsistent income and he didn’t like dealing with what he refers to as the low months. “My wife and I wanted more consistency,” he said, “so I had to add to my income. Rather than making a career change and doing something completely different, I wondered if I could keep doing what I was doing but make more money? Could I teach what I knew?” He considered adding to his income by offering coding classes at a local college or university. Then, he found Udemy.com, an online training platform and his portfolio career took a turn in a new direction.

His online training didn’t blow up over night. Brad started small and created one tutorial in coding. Students taking his courses liked his teaching style, his personality and the design of his tutorials resonated with students so his courses grew in popularity. He then started getting traffic on his blog, which featured him living passionately, freelancing and building a freelance business. His online business naturally started to grow.

The tutorial business grew so well that he and his wife decided to scale back the one-on-one clientele. “We decided that one-on-one clients weren’t working as well as growing the online tutorials. I trimmed my face-to-face work back significantly. My business reach is now no longer local. The entire world has access to my training. I have hundreds of thousands of people who are serious about buying a tutorial.”

...there are billions of people in the world and if you can sell to a thousand, one thousand true fans, you can make a comfortable living. As long as it is in line with your values and niche market, you can generate 80 to 120 thousand dollars a year.

Recurring income in a global market has huge potential. People are generating six figures a month doing what Brad is doing on a larger scale working from home. “One of my mentors, Pat Flynn, said there are billions of people in the world and if you can sell to a thousand, one thousand true fans, you can make a comfortable living. As long as it is in line with your values and niche market, you can generate 80 to 120 thousand dollars a year.”

With an online business concept in mind, it didn’t make sense to facilitate tutorials on site. Brad could access a market far larger than his local reach but he needed to learn analytics and strategies to drive traffic to his tutorials. “At the time, I didn’t have a strategy on how to improve attracting followers. I started exclusively on Udemy. On Udemy, I get 30,000 – 60,000 visits per month depending on the course. Udemy takes a large cut of the sales, but they do all the marketing. I generate income from students signing up for courses and then other people from Udemy land on my blog. YouTube for me has also driven traffic to my blog. On average, with my free tutorials as the attraction, I have 35,000 YouTube followers. I offer free stuff on YouTube to generate traffic to my blog where people can download free tutorials or sign up for courses. My blog sees about 10,000 visits/month and subscribers will come from them. Between my blog traffic, Udemy and YouTube, I’m able to attract enough students.”

The bulk of Brad’s portfolio is built primarily on passive, recurring income generated from courses, which accounts for 70% of his income. In total, he offers web development, web design, coding and programming front-end development with video courses and tutorials ranging from free to expensive. “I have a membership based website designed like Netflex where you can buy coding tutorials one off, or you can subscribe to Code College for $34.00/month with access to all of the coding tutorials. My coding courses are around 40 hours long with 100 videos in total.”

Within the package of courses he offers, he has developed another training program that only opens up 2-3 times a year. It’s called Freelancing Freedom and it’s a six-month training program where students have access to videos that teach them how to start a successful freelance business. Brad created Freelancing Freedom in 2016 because his students wanted to learn how to work like him, and the new training has now added income to his on-line portfolio career.

I asked him how he has become successful in a sea of online training options. “I accumulated a following based on my style and it has opened an abundance of opportunity. My teaching style and personality as well as information, editing from a technical perspective are what makes me stand out. People enjoy my training style and design of my tutorials. It has resonated with followers. My free tutorials also attract followers that will turn into paid students.”

From YouTube, he has generated a significant following and makes 5-8% of his income from affiliate marketing. “I promote and talk about products that have affiliate programs and because I have a large following, any books or apps I suggest, my students will go and look it up.”

Starting an online business seems daunting to most, but after talking with Brad, he makes it sound so easy, “I started small on Udemy and created my first course. I then kept building. It was a natural progression. Now, I’m up to 30 subscribers a day on my website.”

Brad breaks down his online income into three categories:

  • 70% accounts for courses - Coding Tutorials and Freelance Freedom

  • 10% from YouTube and affiliate marketing

  • 10-15% one-on-one clients

Then, he specifies, “I don’t take on many clients anymore. I scaled it back because I didn’t make the revenue. I only take clients that really fit with what I want to do.”

I asked Brad what he loves about going online with his business. “My income isn’t tied to my time.” He has freedom and wasn’t in an office in the middle of the week for this interview. Instead, he was staining his deck as we talked over the phone. He and his wife like to travel so an online business suits their values and lifestyle.

“My income is tied to the value I create. My work now is to try to optimize what I already do and improve what is already working.”

Click here for Brad's website

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— Hope K.