The Internet Dream

Pankaj grew up in a remote village in the Indian Himalayas. He came across the internet when he was 18. He met people who taught him how to use the internet to learn anything. He learnt programming. Within a year, he got his first tech job purely on the merit of his skills.

3 years later, he makes a pretty good living working remotely, and has taken his entire family into the top 2 percentile, economically, in the country. Now, he wants to build micro-saas businesses to take complete control of his time, what he works on, whom he works with and where he works from.

The Internet Dream

Pankaj and many like him are living the internet dream. But a huge proportion of the population still hasn’t understood the true potential of the internet and are far from participating in this dream.

What is it?

The internet is the land of opportunities. We can build our digital estate, our reputation, our economic engine, our tribe - and it doesn't matter where we come from, what our race or background is. If we have access to a computer connected to the internet, then the only limitation is our imagination, curiosity, and skills. Using the internet and a bit of ingenuity, anyone can move up the economic ladder.

The internet gives us limitless opportunities, a level playing field, and enables us to be helpful at scale.

So what would it mean to be fully enjoying this new land of opportunities? What does it mean to be living the internet dream?

The core premise of this dream is - Freedom (Financial, Time, Location, and People). Freedom to be financially productive doing whatever we want, whenever we want, and from wherever we want. It gives us the choice of choosing whom to work with. It lets us build a lifestyle where we can enjoy unprecedented autonomy. This dream is not about sacrificing health, happiness and family time to make billions.

30 years ago people couldn't see this dream because the internet didn't exist. Our new world doesn't subscribe to previous worldviews of education and employment.

The Game

The Internet is the playground. Which game we want to play is up to us. But the playground has certain attributes - and understanding them helps us play the game of our choosing, better.

  1. Leverage and low cost

    The Internet lets us spread ideas, opinions, and services at scale, inexpensively. Content and Code are the two main levers.

    It makes acquiring new skills simple and accessible. We can learn anything.

  2. No Gatekeepers, no credentials, no elitism

    It gives us a level playing field. We don't have to seek permission from someone to start building our digital estate (e.g. personal website, Twitter handle, SaaS business etc). No one is going to ask for our degree in order to let us publish our blog post. You, me and pretty much everyone can participate in this.

  3. Create value to create wealth

    The Internet rewards people who help others. Helping comes in several different forms, e.g. by helping them make or save more money, by saving their time, by educating them, by entertaining them, by motivating them, etc.

    If we can do something that helps people and in turn people want to give us money, we will create wealth.

  4. Social capital

    We attract people similar to us by putting our work out there. It builds reputation and ultimately helps us find and build our tribe.

How to participate?

Clearly one of the core requirements of this dream is being able to help other people. Create something that other people find helpful and are happy to pay for. At the core, it requires us to change our identity from being a mere consumer to a creator.

What does being a creator and being helpful mean on the internet? It means using the two core building blocks of the internet to help people - Media and Code.

  1. Produce media

    Tweet. Write. Draw. Make graphics, memes, animations, videos, courses, ebooks. People share and search for relevant content. We become helpful when we are the source of education, quality insights or entertainment on particular topics.

    It would have been hard to do all of this 15 years ago but an individual can do all of this today and be able to build a sizable audience by sharing it on the internet. Of course, this in itself is not enough. We need a bit of business acumen to sell and monetize on the internet, but producing content is the first and most important step.

    For example, educating thousands of people on financial literacy via Twitter/Insta/Blog/Youtube, in an easy to understand way?

    Or make niche websites around your hobby like recipe site or gift recommendation site.

    Creators monetize this by selling courses, ebooks on Gumroad, Teachable, Convertkit, and Substack, or by selling their exclusive community membership etc.

  2. Code

    Write and deploy code to build applications (SaaS, Platforms, Marketplaces, Plugins) that solves particular problems that people (individuals or businesses) have by helping to save time and/or money through automations.

    For example, maybe building an application that makes it easier to homeschool kids?

    Creators monetize this by building Micro to Full-on SaaS apps, platforms, etc. Tons of inspirational examples of this can be found on IndieHackers.

Skills and Systems

The very first step in this journey is to equip ourselves with the right skillset and mindset. A mindset where we are curious enough to learn whatever we need to.

  • Do we have the basic skills needed to participate in this dream?

If not, we must invest in ourselves and by this I don't mean money necessarily. The core skills needed would be the ability to write, tell a story, sell, understand how the internet works and people think, and basic internet skills.

Other skills needed would be producing videos, writing code etc. All of which is learnable with the help of the internet.

  • Do we have the right systems?

Are we showing up everyday? The internet rewards consistency. Are we willing to experiment and learn? The internet rewards uniqueness.

With the right skillset, mindset, and systems the internet gives us an opportunity to build a lifestyle of our choice.

Follow and learn from folks like @dvassallo, @jdnoc, @nathanbarry, @levelsio, @jackbutcher who are the vanguards of this dream.

Thanks for reading. 🙏🏻

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