Nowadays, most college graduates are coming out of school in debt, jobless and having to move back in with their parents. Then there are guys like 25-year-old Nick Walter, who is completely debt free and making upwards to $66,000 a month with his online business as a recent college graduate.
How did he do it, you ask? It’s a combination of disciplined money management habits, learning through books and creating opportunities for himself. After multiple side hustles in college, he found inspiration through Tim Ferriss’ book “The 4-Hour Workweek,” and started creating online classes on Udemy to teach people how to make iPhone apps. He initially created the classes for free, but after getting 1,600 sign-ups within 24 hours, he raised the price to $199 and netted $20,000 on the second day. Within 30 days, he made $40,000. The course currently averages $3,000 to $5,000 a month in revenue.
From there, Walter put his next course on Kickstarter, pre-selling his Udemy course for $29 instead of the regular price of $199. He made over $66,000 on that campaign.
We had the recent pleasure of catching up with the young entrepreneur on the phone. Here, Nick reveals how he manages his money, his secret to creating a passive income, and the importance having multiple side hustles.
You graduated from Brigham Young University recently. How useful was college for you in your entrepreneurial ventures?
“I definitely got value out of it. Looking back at a lot of the things that have led to my recent success, a lot of that has come through school stuff, all the iPhone programming and more of the entrepreneurial things I learned outside of school. But along the same lines, I feel like school also facilitated a lot of that, especially with relationships. The way I even found out about the Udemy website where you can post classes was through a friendship I made in school.”
What is it like being 25, making good money, and being debt free compared to most millennials in this day and age?
“I feel really lucky … I became a big fan of Dave Ramsey about two years ago because I was out of control with my money. Whenever I like listen to his podcast, and people on there are like, ‘Just graduate man. I’m $60,000 in debt!’ I feel pretty special to be where I’m at right now.”
What did you learn from Dave Ramsey that helped overcome your money troubles?
“The biggest thing for me was actually figuring out where my money was going. For a while, the most money I’d ever made for a job was $10 an hour. Once I learned programming, I had this internship which was $25 an hour. A couple months later, I got offered this three month gig where I made $50 an hour. When that hit, I couldn’t believe I was making $50 an hour doing what I do. I had in my mind that this money was flowing in from everywhere and so spending decisions were like, ‘Oh, of course I can order in because it would cost me more to drive there than to work for a couple of months to do that.’
But that mentality can get poisonous very quickly. For me, when I finally sat down, I said, ‘Okay I’m going to track literally where every one of my dollars is going.’ It was then I realized that I’ve been throwing away a ton of money. The big issue was I wasn’t saving. A big reason why I was able to create these classes is because I eventually built up emergency savings. So even though I just had no work for a couple of weeks, I didn’t have to worry about it. The biggest thing I would suggest is figure out where you’re spending your money and make sure you have some sort of emergency fund. For everyone I’m sure that’s going to be different, but those are my two biggest recommendations.”
You credit Tim Ferriss for your success. What are some major lessons you’ve learned from his book “The 4-Hour Workweek”?
“He was huge. The whole idea to teach a class came from him. When I first started making classes, I had been listening to his audiobook about one of the best businesses you can build, an information-based business, because it scales really well and has a lot of markup. So that was kind of in my head, but I had no idea what to teach. Then this new language came along that was brand new and no one had heard of so it’s like, ‘Oh well you know there’s no course that exists on this so I should jump into that.’ ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’ was really big on getting there. From his book, one of the main things I learned is just how to not necessarily be insanely productive doing a thousand things, but how to get big things done. He really helped me to step back and understand that I should only be checking my email once or twice a day. It’s less about all the details and more about these big moments, so for me that was like, ‘Alright. Today, I need to make two hours of content for this class and if I drop the ball on like a couple of things it’s alright because I’m making some big improvements.’ “
What do you think is the key to generating a passive income?
“I think one of the biggest things is just making sure that whatever you’re trying to build for passive income is something that you yourself dig if you sell it. I’m kind of lucky I just stumbled into it, but the bigger the margins that you can have on whatever it is that you are selling makes it a lot easier.”
Millennials are said to be the most entrepreneurial generation ever. What separates you from the gazillion others who try to make it as an entrepreneur but don’t?
“I want to just say luck. I think about the Mark Cuban phrase, ‘You only have to be right once.’ Before I started doing my classes, I had four or five different side hustles that I was doing and I didn’t really consider most of those to be successful. There are a lot of things that struck right. I was in a position where I could teach a class because I have been programming and I got this idea from a book, so I don’t think there’s anything that is very big that is separating me from other people.”
How important do you think having a side hustle in college is?
“Let me tell you what I did and why I think it’s important. So, I’d say the first thing that I ever started was a website called ‘pickmybracket.com’ which I recently checked, I think the servers crashed, so I don’t think it’s up anymore [laughs]. But it’s a website for when March Madness in basketball comes in, you can just click a button and it fills out your bracket based off the ranking and some other stats, but also every time you hit the button, a new bracket is filled out. That was the first thing I ever built and I built that with friends in school.
Other things outside of that, I was building this ‘how-to’ website with my friend and then we later turned that into this weightlifting app that turned into a bunch of how-to apps, like how to do your hair and makeup, how to cook, how to play guitar. Then there was another app I was telling you about where you can schedule messages to send in the future. So, those were just some of the things that I’ve done, but the reason I think they’re important is because before I had been doing those, I read a lot of stuff online about entrepreneurship and had gone to different events and it was super exciting. I thought it was cool, but I held off a long time from getting into it cause I just felt it was something I had to be doing full time. But, once I started making that first website, it really kind of opened my eyes and I realized it’s not that hard to start making something. I think for me, doing these side hustles gets you inside what it takes to start a business and make money. From doing these things, I feel like I appreciate money a lot more than I did before. Doing side hustles gives you a good perspective on what it takes to be doing something entrepreneurial without a ton of risk. You can be a working full time or be a student or whatever and it never hurts to just spend two hours a day doing something.”
Now that you’re making good money, what are some things you noticed in your life that’s changed? Are you getting more attention from people, do you splurge more, is dating different?
“It’s funny because I started dating a girl a little bit before the classes took off and there was an article in Forbes about [my website] and people asked her all the time, ‘Oh, you’re like, dating that Forbes guy?’ That’s kind of weird to me — people have heard about my stories that I’ve never met before. I didn’t have a car before this and I just walked and took the bus, so it’s been super nice to have a car — I think that’s the biggest lifestyle change. But then on top of that, and this kind of goes back to ‘The 4-Hour Workweek, but when I first read the book, something Tim Ferriss has you do is set the monthly amount that you need to hit your financial goals, or whatever it takes to live. For me that was $4,000 a month.
Since the classes have taken off, I’ve made two years’ worth of what my yearly goals were. It has kind of put me at this weird point of where I’m very happy financially, I could stop everything and do whatever I wanted, but it has made me really think about what I really want to be doing with my time and my life, so it’s brought up some deep questions, I’d say.”
What is success to you? Has that changed since you started making money?
“That’s a tough one and I think I haven’t completely figured that out yet. At the very deep down core level, the biggest space for me is a religious and family thing. I’m a Mormon and I really believe in serving other people and I get a lot of fulfillment from that. I’m trying to find someone to marry and eventually have a family, that’s still what drives me. But outside of that, I think success is just being able to do whatever it is that you want to be doing. I don’t think I’ve hit that just yet because I haven’t figured out personally what it is I want to be doing.”
Do you plan on teaching people how to make apps forever or you know do you want to start another company? What’s your long term plan?
“That’s not super concrete. I mean, at least for the next year or so. Right now, I’m working on a class for the upcoming Apple Watch that I’m super excited about. I have ideas for some other classes down the road, but to be straight up honest, I really don’t have any big plans. Up to this point it was always ‘Do what it takes to make $4,000 a month.’ I was just very fulfilled doing that. So now being super lucky and blessed, I have to re-shift were my goals are. I’m hoping in the future I can spend a month to figure out what I’m meant to do. But, for the next year or so I want to work on the classes. They’ve been going so well and I think it would be foolish not to keep pursuing that at least even just for a little bit.“
Check out Nick’s latest Kickstarter Campaign.