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The 7 Digital Career Paths (In The New Economy)

Throughout my childhood, I was only made aware of one path in life.

Go to school, get a job, retire with just enough currency to survive until death.

I was fed the information from my parents, teachers, and friends that solidified that narrow worldview.

The dream injected into my mind was to:

  • Do well in school
  • Choose a major that would increase my earning potential
  • Aim high and become something like a doctor, lawyer, or engineer

I didn’t realize I was being trained as a replaceable unit of society.

I knew there were millionaires, digital nomads, and people doing what they loved for a creative income – but I never registered it as a possibility.

It just seemed so far out there. Too far away. My mind couldn’t fathom doing it, because the only thing I knew was “get a high-paying job” being repeated by those who never decided to pursue their dreams in the unknown.

Eventually, the potential of the digital world made itself apparent to me.

In eighth grade, my best friend and I shared a math class with Mr. Schroeder.

He was also the after-school weights teacher.

My friend and I had decent builds. I had already grown to 6 foot 5 inches tall so he softly bullied us into showing up to an after-school weights class.

I still remember how weird it felt to lift weights for the first time. Completely different from today where it feels strong and stable.

My skinny arms would shake uncontrollably to bench press 65 pounds. The soreness was next level. I didn’t want to go back, but I did.

With time and progress, I became obsessed.

In high school, my after school routine was:

  • Drink preworkout
  • Grab my gym bag
  • Review my training program (Ogus 7/5/3 at the time)
  • Hit the gym hard with my friend
  • Go back home, make a protein shake, and watch YouTube videos

The only channels I watched were fitness channels.

Matt Ogus, Chris Lavado, Scott Herman, Elliot Hulse, Chris Jones…

If you are aware of this era in YouTube fitness, you’re welcome for the good memories popping up in your head.

The realization:

These creators were doing what they loved, impacting others at scale, and exposing people to their potential.

This is when I started to become aware of and deconstruct how I could do the same.

After years of failures with a fitness YouTube channel, digital art Instagram page, multiple marketing agencies, and eventually seeing success with freelance web design while transitioning to a creator… I found what I was looking for.

I’m here to make sense of the path for you.

The path to purpose, profits, and peace.

Before we begin:

  1. The Art Of Focus is now available on Amazon. The book contains my practical philosophy to find meaning, reinvent yourself, and create your ideal future.
  2. Kortex University is accepting applications. The next cohort start date is the 26th. If you are interested, it makes to apply now so you have time to join before it closes. Start your digital career in 90 days here.

Creators Are Decentralized Media Companies

Media runs the world.

Media shapes culture.

Media keeps people in chains.

Media exposes people to their potential.

The computer you’re looking at? Everything on the screen is media.

The billboards you drive by? Shops on the side of the road? Car brands next to you? Song on the radio? Media.

We are in a spiritual war of ideas.

Media is synonymous with content.

And content is arguably more encompassing than media, so we will use that from now on.

Everything you hold within consciousness is content. The content of your attention.

Mindful content helps people grow, evolve, and expand their sense of self.

Mindless content encourages decay, stagnation, and defending their low development ego.

That’s the game we are playing.

You either raise the well-being of humanity by spreading.

Or you destroy the well-being of humanity by creating content.

You are a content creator whether you water it down to a new-age internet job or not.

You write texts. You speak to your peers. You persuade your way into a career. You are doing everything that “content creators” do, but with a fraction of the leverage.

And as Balaji says, “Physical, then digital, then native digital.”

You will be an internet content creator within the next few decades. It will be a necessity for survival.

Here’s how you prepare.

Your Character In Virtual Reality

You aren’t a “creator.”

You aren’t a “personal brand.”

You are just a person who is conscious about their internet avatar and how it will interact with the digital society.

You already have an account.

Are you a consumer – soaking in value or memes while giving nothing in return?

Or are you a creator – contributing to humanity with the value you produce?

This is not an internet phenomenon.

The masses are consumers. They leach off the government, their parents, the school system, and blow around like a bird in heavy winds. Life happens to them. Life is assigned to them. They don’t realize they are fueling society with attention.

A select few are creators. They contribute more than they take. They control their destiny by controlling their attention. They encourage the destiny of others by capturing their attention and expanding their consciousness with valuable content.

Attention is the first step.

Attention is the root of existence.

You have to capture attention if you want any form of success.

“But Dan, I don’t want to capture attention, it seems unethical.”

Have you sat and contemplated this for even 5 minutes? Or are you regurgitating a bad take you found on the internet?

Are you mad that you are using your attention to read this right now?

Is it unethical that your attention is drawn to important things?

Is it unethical that your attention goes to your phone when you get a notification?

Do you want nobody to capture your attention? So you just want to sit in a void for the rest of your life and never interact with anything?

Wake up.

Learn to persuade.

If you don’t, you are actively choosing to let unethical people win this spiritual war.

You aren’t “conscious” by opting out of the game of life. You are arguably less conscious than the sleazy businessman who at least provides a fraction of value with the product he is selling (that genuinely improves some people’s lives… others, not so much, and that’s okay).

If You Don’t Create A Product, You Are Not In Control Of Your Future

The ability to earn with your intelligence – not your time, labor, or looks – is how you become in control of what you do and how much you make.

The Art Of Focus

To answer a common shallow (but good) question:

“How do I make money online?”

I’m not sure why this isn’t taught in schools, but no, it’s not from platform revenue like YouTube ad money or X monetization.

I make about $300 per month from X and $10K per month from YouTube.

That’s great, life-changing money, but it took me 5 years to get there.

In those same 5 years, I’ve totaled a little over $5MM in revenue. I’ve taken home 90%+ of that.

I started on Twitter in November of 2019. Before that, I was a freelance web designer.

In 2020, I made $100,000.

Try doing that by growing a YouTube channel and only relying on ad money.

In short, how do you make money online? Actual money?

You start a business.

You need a product and customers.

Shocking, I know.

Your job, as a business, is to attract people to a product so they can hand you money in exchange for it.

Obviously, there’s a lot more to that, which I’ve covered in previous letters.

Now here’s the magic click:

You write content.

You put effort into getting eyes on it (crucial step that everyone ignores no matter how much I tell them because this is where the work comes into play).

People who like your content follow you.

You create a product.

You market the product.

Your main lever is content.

If you can gain 1 follower you can gain 100,000.

Your secondary lever is marketing.

If you can make $1 you can make $100,000.

That’s the new economy.

That’s how individuals – with technology that has sprung up in the last 5 years (so most people still view this idea as crazy, it’s not “normal” yet in your eyes) – earn an income doing what they enjoy.

7 Digital Career Paths

To reiterate, you are building an audience to have a traffic source to your products.

That is step one.

Notice how I didn’t say “you are writing content,” I said you are “building an audience.”

There is a slight difference.

Writing is necessary, but most people stop there. They don’t put effort into getting their content shared, making their name known in the space, and making friends that help them grow. I discuss growth mechanisms here, but we also provide a network of people who want to help you grow in Kortex University.

Now, how do you utilize the audience you are building to create a career? To diversify income streams? To set yourself up for a future of freedom?

I will put these in order of most beginner level to most advanced:

1) Working For Another Creator Or Brand

Your profile is your digital resume.

Your content is how you attract opportunities and gigs.

The more people that know what you do = the more people that may hire you.

Now, understand the network effect…

If you “only” have 1,000 followers, but each of those followers has 200-500 followers, and each of those followers has 200-500 followers…

Then you have an indirect network of 40,000,000 – 250,000,000 people that can spread your name.

Of course, that’s if every one of your followers shares your posts (impossible). And we have to take into account engagement rate, quality of content, whether those followers even log in to social media, and the chance that they know someone who needs your work at your experience level.

So let’s give a very generous 10,000 people per month somewhat knowing who you are and what you do.

Multiply that by 6-12 months of effort and I find it extremely hard to fail in this game.

Skills Required:

If you want to work for another creator or brand, you need to practice any skill that aids in the growth of your own brand.

  • Social media growth
  • Content writing
  • Email copywriting
  • Funnel building (landing pages etc)
  • Brand design
  • Lead generation or marketing

Pick one, learn it, implement it, pick the next, learn it, implement it.

Then, write about it. Give advice. Teach. Some creators may reach out to you. Some you will have to reach out to. None of this is guaranteed, but you can increase your chances at success by growing your audience and reaching out to more creators about helping them with your skill set.

You will have to learn them all anyway.

You don’t need all of them to see some success, but it only makes sense to continue improving yourself and your business as a result.

2) Start A Service Business

You can go straight into this if you have a skill set that has gotten you results.

Or you can take what you learn from working with another creator, turn it into a business, and help other creators as clients.

A service business is a client business. You are charging $1000 to $50,000 (on the very high end) to help clients with your skill set.

Types of service businesses (that we care about when just starting online):

  • Tutoring – similar to coaching, but you teach your skill to another person 1 on 1. Like if I were to have weekly calls teaching someone web design.
  • Freelancing – obvious, you help a client with whatever your skill set is, like web design which is a good starting point – but you should learn how to create a better offer because you won’t last long selling something that simple.
  • Coaching or consulting – this is where you help people implement your skill or system. You don’t do it for them like freelancing, you do it with them and guide them.
  • Agency – think of an agency as a freelancing business with employees or contractors that deliver the service. If you don’t have employees or contractors, you aren’t an agency.

You start with a service business because your audience isn’t large enough to support another type of business.

You only need 2-4 clients at $2000 ish a month to replace your income and make decent money.

You will have to learn lead-generation strategies like direct outreach or targeted content to land clients.

3) Affiliate Marketing

I’m not a huge fan of affiliate marketing as your sole income source.

Affiliating for software and products to link in your own products and content? Sure. But if you can sell it, that means you understand it, and you should probably just create your own version.

Affiliate marketing is when you send your traffic to someone else’s product for a commission.

So, if you promoted my 2 Hour Writer course and someone bought, you would get a percentage of that sale (I don’t offer affiliates btw).

The only reason I am mentioning it in this list is because it is good for beginner practice.

You can build an entire business with zero experience with this option:

  • Write content around the topics of the affiliate product
  • Put effort into building an audience
  • Promote the affiliate product

You don’t need the skill and you don’t need a product.

So, this can be good practice while you refine your skill and create a product.

Don’t get stuck in this phase. Build your own thing.

4) Digital Products

Once you have a large enough audience and have the ability to get results, you can make a decent income with digital products.

I recommend building one ASAP so you can iterate fast (because most first products will be terrible).

But, it makes sense to follow this progression:

  • Monetize with a service business
  • Grow your audience
  • Get results with a service business
  • Grow your audience
  • Turn what you offer in your service business into a digital product
  • Grow your audience
  • Get digital product buyers and upsell them on your service
  • Grow your audience
  • Do whatever you want and quit client work so you have more free time (and desaturate the market for beginners)

For simplicity, we are going to consider digital products courses, cohorts, or memberships.

If you can sell two $150 digital products a day, you make 6 figures per year in revenue.

If we do the math, that means you need to get 80 people to a landing page and convert at 2.5%.

If you write an X thread and promote your product at the bottom, you would need around 10,000 impressions to pull this off, more or less.

If I have 1,000 followers, but I have a friend who has 10,000 and they share my thread, and if the thread is persuasive, I can almost guarantee I make 2 sales that day – and that’s with a small following.

The cool thing is that even if I don’t make those 2 sales, I am building an audience that may buy my products later.

5) Sponsorships & Ad Revenue

YouTube, newsletter, and podcast sponsorships can pay good money.

But you need a large engaged audience to do this.

For writers, newsletter sponsorships are the most viable – but why waste that promotional space in your email for someone else’s product?

This is the same issue with affiliate marketing.

Just build your own product and make 2X-10X more than the sponsorship.

Same with YouTube ad revenue. Stop caring about it. Build your own product or service and take control of your own income.

6) Physical Products

If you want to be hyper-profitable, start with digital products so you can invest in a physical product revenue stream.

For physical products, I prefer to sell something that compliment my other products or are something I use.

This is why I created the FOCI planner.

It compliments my business products and is something I use.

Someone like SolBrah or Greg Doucette sell supplements that fit under their training and nutrition philosophies.

This is a good step, albeit not as simple or profitable as digital products and services.

7) Software Or Service Scaling

Above, I mentioned that you can build a digital product and quit client work.

That is a solid move for a lot of people who don’t want to meet the demands of a growing company (hiring, systems, etc).

You can make $1MM to $5MM a year with a growing audience and digital products alone as one person (on the high end, after years of effort and iteration).

But, another option is to take it further.

You can scale your service business or build something like software.

You have such a large audience at this point that you can build whatever you want.

You can make $1MM to $5MM a year with a growing audience and digital products alone as one person (on the high end, after years of effort and iteration).

But, another option is to take it further.

You can scale your service business or build something like software.

You have such a large audience at this point that you can build whatever you want.

What Makes A Profitable Product?

I teach this in Digital Economics, but a “good” product is a system for behavior change.

Your philosophy is your brand.

The way you live is your product.

My philosophy is that people should build their own thing, become sovereign, and do what they want.

My product is my writing system that allows people to do that.

The way I live is:

  • Wake up
  • Write for 2 hours (with breaks for creativity)
  • Handle other tasks in my business

That’s pretty enticing. I have results and a unique system that allowed me do to that.

The system came from trial and error toward my end goal (my philosophy of doing my own thing and becoming free).

It will take time to get to this point. Be okay with that.

Build a product or service anyway and start selling now so you can fail.

Pursue goals so you actually gain experience that you can monetize.

Sitting around and doing nothing keeps you trapped selling for someone else.

That’s it for this letter my friends.

Thank you for reading.


Who Is Dan Koe?

I am a writer & brand advisor for 7-8 figure creators, influencers, and social media brands. I am obsessed with dissecting human potential, lifestyle design, and one-person businesses.

When You’re Ready, Here’s How I Can Help You:

The FOCI Planner

Goals are important. If you want help reverse engineering your vision into bite-size goals and tasks — order The FOCI Planner.

The Art Of Focus Book

Find meaning, reinvent yourself, and create your ideal future. Now available for preorder on Amazon.

The 2 Hour Writer

Implement Our 2 Hour Content Ecosystem To Learn High Impact Digital Writing, Boost Your Online Authority, & Systemize Content Creation For Rapid Growth

Mental Monetization

Monetize your creative work with a digital product that sells while you sleep. Turn your knowledge, skills, and interests into a meaningful income.