5 Surprising Ways To Make Your First $1 Million

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Making $1 million might seem like a dream for some, but there are actually some surprising ways you can get there — perhaps even faster than you could imagine. While traditional financial advice might suggest that you maximize your income and reduce your expenses — and those are certainly admirable steps — there are also plenty of more unorthodox ways that you can snag a seven-figure net worth.

Not everyone may have the skill, focus or luck required to hit it big in these ways, but if nothing else, seeing how others have done it might trigger something within you to “think outside the box” and chart a course for your own $1 million. Here are some ways to make your first $1 million that may surprise you.

Create an App

The world is moving more and more online, and apps are the most convenient way for many to get there. If you can create an app that serves a purpose, generates buzz or otherwise goes viral, you can reach $1 million in revenue virtually overnight. 

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Think about Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, who came up with Instagram, or Whitney Wolfe Herd, who created the dating app Bumble and now has a net worth of $290 million at age 31. Of course, these are the exceptions rather than the rule, and many apps generate little to no revenue at all. But if you strike with the right app at the right time, money will clearly flow your way.

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Let’s face it, unless you’re a famous person, a previously published author or someone with connections, it’s going to be hard to find a publisher willing to give you a $1 million advance on your Great American Novel. Not that it can’t happen, but it’s certainly a longshot. However, your odds of success can increase quite a bit if you go the self-publishing route. 

Outlets like Amazon Kindle allow you to self-publish and promote your own work, and with good writing, good marketing and a little luck, you can tap into a serious and ongoing revenue stream. Bob Mayer and Jen Talty are just two of the writers that have hit it big on Amazon Kindle – and they even wrote a book about it, entitled “How We Made Our First Million on Kindle.”

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Get a YouTube Channel

In the not-too-distant past, the idea that a “media influencer” could generate a six-or-seven-figure income was ridiculous. Cut to 2023, where YouTube is stuffed with social media personalities and channels created by individuals seeking some combination of fame and fortune. 

Just as with authors or musicians or bloggers or others in arts and entertainment, a majority of those channels never provide meaningful income. But for those with something to say that appeals to a mass audience, generating $1 million may only be a matter of time. 

According to Business Insider, Nate O’Brien, a creator who posts finance-based videos on YouTube, has 1 million subscribers and earns between $14,600 and $54,600 per month.

Invest $100 Per Month

Although this option sounds like something you might hear from your financial advisor, the truth is that many investors aren’t ever told what the easiest path to $1 million likely is. If you can start early enough in your life – say, age 20 – and you can invest just $100 per month, you can reach millionaire status by the time you retire at age 65.

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Of course, this assumes a 10% average annual return – which approximates the long-term return of the U.S. stock market – and consistent investing, but it’s also relatively painless when you think about the pot of gold that lies at the end.

Serve a Need

At the end of the day, all of these ways to raise $1 million – with the exception of the straight investment route – have the same thing in common: You’ll be serving a need. As long as you can provide something that people want or are interested in, revenue is almost certain to flow your way. 

If you can focus on this basic principle, your mind is likely to take you in a direction that not only appeals to you but also works to your strengths and talents. In other words, if you can take a moment to think about things that would make your life easier, better or more interesting, chances are that others are looking for those same types of things. If you can find a way to provide that solution, you could be on the path to your first $1 million.

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About the Author

After earning a B.A. in English with a Specialization in Business from UCLA, John Csiszar worked in the financial services industry as a registered representative for 18 years. Along the way, Csiszar earned both Certified Financial Planner and Registered Investment Adviser designations, in addition to being licensed as a life agent, while working for both a major Wall Street wirehouse and for his own investment advisory firm. During his time as an advisor, Csiszar managed over $100 million in client assets while providing individualized investment plans for hundreds of clients.
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