Last updated: March 9th, 2019
Quick update: James Holt now goes by the name “Scotty.” I’ll keep all mentions of “James Holt” in this article as is. Just wanted to let you know James is now Scotty!
Today I’m publishing a written word interview with James Holt, one of the brightest and youngest online entrepreneur’s that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.
James Holt is the founder of Start Selling Stuff, which is a free blog and email subscription dedicated to helping you start a profitable online business.
Based on his current life path and trajectory, James is most likely a young millionaire-in-the-making.
For example, I met James in Budapest, Hungary, and immediately knew that I was dealing with someone who possessed qualities like:
- Ability to take bold calculated risks
- Strong personality
- Honest and ethical
- Extremely ambitious
- Rebels against conventional business advice (operates his online business on his terms)
But the trait that I admire most about James is his willingness to ditch conventional business advice, and leverage what actually works best for his business and lifestyle.
You could call this high-level critical thinking skills if you like.
By reading this brief interview, you WILL pick up valuable insights related to running a profitable business from your laptop, traveling the world, designing your dream lifestyle, and much more.
Let’s get started…
Question #1. Can you please introduce yourself, and provide some background details about how you’ve been able to generate multiple streams of income from your laptop?
I’m a 19-year-old internet marketer from Switzerland.
I just graduated high school this summer, but I’ve been working on my online income sources for 3+ years now.
I’ve failed a lot.
More times than I care to admit…
But that’s actually a blessing in disguise because my failures have always taught me something.
And as someone who has tried almost 10 online business models, I am in a unique position to help others get their first income stream up-and-running which is my focus right now.
Question #2. What were the specific action steps that you took to generate your first dollar online?
I started off with blogging and failed miserably.
No real credibility on the topics I wrote about.
No unique brand.
Everything sucked to be honest.
After a couple of months with no signs of success, I tried my luck with freelancing.
Specifically, I did freelance copywriting on Upwork (also tried Fiverr, but didn’t have any success at all).
Upwork is how I made my first $500 around October 2015 (I was 16 at the time).
The pay was horrible.
The clients sucked.
The work was boring…but not as boring as the act of getting clients.
For all those reasons, I didn’t stick with freelancing for long.
Luckily, I started my first successful niche site in November so I soon had my first taste of “passive income” coming in.
I was hooked & determined to work on my own projects from then on.
Question #3. Someone reading this interview right now is thinking about starting their first online business. Which online business model (or business models) would you recommend to someone who is entirely new to online business?
Depends on your situation.
Do you need to make money right away?
Freelancing is the way to go.
Are you willing to work for 6 months before seeing any returns?
Niche sites are a great, low-cost way to start.
Want to start making $1000 per week within the shortest time possible?
Dropshipping is a great choice for this, but you’ll need to have $500-1000 to spend on ads (and potentially lose most of it before finding a winning product).
Question #4. What’s the single most important piece of advice that you can give to someone who’s in the process of starting their first online business?
This skill will serve you well whatever business model you choose to pursue.
The amount of former copywriters who go on to have success in various online business is insane.
Question #5. Do you consider online entrepreneurship to be easy, difficult, or a combination of both (and why)?
Not everyone is cut out for it, that’s for sure.
Right now, I’m writing these answers on a beautiful, late September Saturday.
I could be outside enjoying the sun.
I could be hanging out with friends.
I could be sleeping off my hangover from yesterday’s parties.
But I’m not…
Instead, I’m writing these answers despite NOBODY forcing me to do it.
That’s the key part a lot of people struggle with: You need to do the work, but nobody is breathing down your neck to make sure you get it done.
And nobody is here to encourage you to get off your ass.
And nobody will tell you what exactly you need to do on any given day.
So, if you’re someone that struggles with motivating yourself, then online biz will be a challenge for you.
On the other hand, we’re just talking about typing words on a keyboard.
There’s nothing physically or mentally challenging about most of the work I do.
Your high school chemistry class is more complex than internet marketing and most jobs are more tiring so in that sense it isn’t hard at all.
Question #6. How did you get the idea to start a personal brand on Twitter in the “make money online” space when relatively few people were involved in this particular corner of Twitter at the time?
I’m not really sure to be honest.
I’d previously had some success with my blog Red Pill Reviews on Twitter so I had some connections and knew how the platform works.
Plus, Twitter is a good fit for me since I’m still anon and don’t put my face out there.
Question #7. What are your recommended “qualifications” that a person should possess before starting a personal brand on social media or their own website?
Just start putting out content.
The people who your message resonates with will find you.
And those who are more experienced than you simply won’t follow you.
The idea that you need to be some kind of a master on your subject before teaching what you know is stupid to me.
Question #8. What are your thoughts on traveling the world while running an online business? Is this a sustainable lifestyle?
I’m not sure.
I’ve only done the whole travel + work thing for a month so take everything I say with a massive grain of salt.
But I suspect it works best if you’ve got a lifestyle brand that benefits from you being in cool places all the time.
If you’re building a brand around your luxury / travel lifestyle on IG or YouTube, then constant travel is definitely a plus.
(Doesn’t make it any less tiring, mind you.)
However, for someone like me, there isn’t really much business benefit to travelling – It’s purely for pleasure.
And the simple fact is, the more time you dedicate to pleasure, the less time remains for working.
I know for sure that I get a lot more done when I’m back home in my little town in Switzerland vs bang in the center of Budapest.
Whether that is due to travelling or simply living in a cool city vs boring town…
That I can’t say with any level of certainty.
Question #9. What does your current lifestyle look like today?
I’m currently working a mandatory civil service job. It’s 42 hours per week (Monday – Friday).
On top of that, I play football (soccer) 3 times per week, lift weights 2-3 times and I’ve started boxing once per week (loving it).
Then I usually see my girlfriend and / or friends once or twice on the weekends.
A pretty full schedule as is, but I still manage to get in a solid 10-20 hours business work every week.
I generally write my daily emails on weekdays and then use my larger chunks of time on Saturday / Sunday for getting bigger projects completed (creating my course, writing a sales page, setting up ad campaigns, etc.)
I’m tired to be honest – Definitely don’t get enough sleep.
But the work is fun so it’s all worth it in the end.
Question #10. What is your long-term vision for your future (online business, lifestyle, etc.)?
I have no idea.
I want to travel frequently, but don’t see myself doing the whole digital nomad lifestyle. I enjoy sports way too much for that. I want to play football and train boxing which is a lot harder to do than simply lifting weights while on the road.
Not going to lie though, the “international playboy” lifestyle does appeal to me.
Will probably end up basing up in a city I enjoy and travel a couple of times per year from there.
(Potentially Budapest, but I’d want to escape during the cold months & the main tourist season.)
Question #11. Can you list three specific action steps that someone can take today that will help them get started with running a profitable online business?
- Learn copywriting
- Pick a business model that suits you
- Stick with that business model for 6 months minimum
Question #12. Why do the vast majority of people struggle when it comes to actually generating an income from the internet, and what can someone do to maximize their odds of success?
I’ve never heard of anyone who has been trying to make money for more than 1-2 years and has failed to do so.
The only people who fail are those who give up after a month or two.
Sounds simple…because it really is simple.
Keep trying new things and eventually you’ll find something that works for you.
Question #13. If you could go back in time, and do something differently in regards to starting online businesses, is there anything significant that you would change?
I guess it would have been smart to start my personal brand earlier to chronicle my journey.
I kind of did that with Red Pill Reviews, but having it under the name James Holt from the start would have been great.
The SEO benefits of a 3-year-old website with hundreds of posts would be pretty sweet now for my blogging attempts over at Start Selling Stuff.
Question #14. What do new online entrepreneurs absolutely need to know about the future of online business?
I’m not good at predicting the future (although people often say that I am).
I don’t predict trends – I hop on them when they are already happening.
So my advice is to simply keep your eyes open and trust your gut when an opportunity presents itself.
And learn sales.
Because human nature isn’t changing anytime soon – As long as you can sell, you’ll make money.
Question #15. Are there any particular CEOs, business mentors, or other resources that you have taken away tremendous value from?
Never really had a mentor.
I figured stuff out on my own and then started building a network of guys running similar online businesses.
When I have a question on a specific topic, I usually know someone that I can reach out to.
For example, Kyle Trouble was my go-to guy for any questions regarding launching my first course.
Jake from Nomadic Hustle is the man for learning how to generate traffic to a blog through simple SEO.
Jamie McSloy is a quiet businessman who has more experience with online biz than just about anyone I’ve ever come across.
Nate Schmidt is who I go to now to bounce ideas back and forth.
You get the point…
These guys aren’t mentors per se.
They are all more or less on my level, but we all do slightly different things so we help each other out in our area of expertise.
They ask me about dropshipping & selling courses.
I ask them about freelancing, FB ads, branding etc.
Question #16. How can people learn more about James Holt and keep in touch with you?
I’m most active on Twitter where you can find my daily batch of motivational content (to get people’s attention) mixed with some truly valuable content about online biz and marketing.
Follow me on Twitter. https://twitter.com/StartSellingSSS
If you want to skip the motivational fluff (I’m not a huge fan of this type of content, but it works for growing my following), then sign up for my daily email list.
You’ll receive business and marketing lessons straight to your inbox.
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There’s no better way to get a feel for how I think than by reading my emails.
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