What’s going on there. We are talking about how to start an online business, but not just any online business, a very special kind of online business, an online business, that your job doesn’t know about. It’s a secret online business. And I happen to know a lot about this because, well, actually I know about it for two reasons. One of them just occurred to me is because when I started my online business, I actually didn’t want anyone to know. And it wasn’t because I had a job. It was because I owed a ton of money. I had a ton of debt and I didn’t want my creditors to actually find me and think that I was making money cause I was afraid they would sue me and come after me. And as it turned out, they sued me anyways. But it wasn’t because they knew I was making money. That was back in 2008, another story. But more recently, I actually did private coaching with a gentlemen for almost a year who was actually an executive at a Fortune 500 Company.
Really, really successful guy. I mean made just as his main job, paid him over seven figures a year. So he made great money, but he had this dream to start this online business. He was interested in the nutrition space and he had this passion and he really struggled because he couldn’t ever, he could not only struggled to commit the time to it, but he was always having to worry about his job finding out. Cause apparently if you, you know, some Fortune 500 Company pays you a million plus a year, they really, really want you to be focused on just your job. I did work with him for almost a year in China to figure out how to do this. And actually as an aside, he ended up losing that job during that time getting a new job. But again, you know these successful executives, I guess this issue follows them because the new job, he had to worry about it at the new job too. So I have a lot of experience with this and I want to actually walk you through the very practical steps that you need to take in order to deal with this situation.
Okay. So let’s talk about how to essentially start an anonymous online business. And probably the other thing I should say is there’s other reasons why people could potentially want to keep their business a secret. Although frankly, the strategies aren’t going to change that much. Some people honestly are just insecure. I’ve literally had people in my education business, which is called Entre. They actually will message into their advisor or to our support team and say, I want to make money on the internet, but I’m a very private person. There’s that group. Obviously you have the job people. And then, and this is, I always think this is kind of funny and silly. There’s actually some people that are, they don’t want their family to find out. And even so far as they don’t want their spouse or their partner to find out. And actually this happens a shocking amount so much so that I actually had to create contents. This is another aside, but bear with me.
People not to try to start a business while keeping it a secret from their spouse and even like giving them talking points and strategies and even actual language on how to approach your spouse with this conversation. I need Jeff to teach me how to start a secret business so I don’t have to tell my spouse, let me tell you, I do not advise that I’m not just out there to help people make money. I’m like I want to help people make great lives. And I don’t think supporting the idea of keeping massive secrets from your spouse is necessarily a recipe or a formula for making the world a better place. So I don’t advise that. Whatever the reason is, let’s assume it’s a good reason that you want to keep your business a secret from the world.
There are some very specific strategies and practical things that you can do. Probably the first thing to know that I recommend and I would say in most cases, it’s going to be very, very helpful is to essentially create a character. Generally online businesses tend to do better when they are anchored to a personality, doesn’t have to be a person, but a personality and characters can have personalities. You know, think of it kind of as like being an author. If you’re trying to sell books, typically if you’re online, many of the business models online involves selling information, just like writing a book, people like do care about the source, right? And they want, they want to sort of attribute it to like personality or character, right? So you can create a character and to sort of illustrate that point. I’m going to ask you if you, if you’ve ever read anything by some of my favorite authors, actually not necessarily favorite, but some really famous authors, the great Theodor Geisel, surely you’ve read his illustrious works. And then of course the crime novel that was published by Robert Galbraith, tremendous, tremendous work of fiction. And then the great Samuel Clemens, right?
Who actually he’s so famous that even his fictitious names pretty famous, but in case you’re not catching what I’m saying, these are all actually the real names of people who didn’t actually publish their books under their real names. Theodor Gisele is actually better known as Dr. Seuss, who you probably have heard of and probably have read his amazing books. And then Robert Galbraith was a crime novel published by J K Rowling, much more famous as the author of the Harry Potter series, who didn’t just create a fake name, created a fake gender identity. J K Rowling is a woman published a book as Robert Galbraith, a presumably, a man, and then Samuel Clemens, who a lot of people actually do know who that is because he’s so famous. He’s actually was better known as Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, you know, the great author of those works.
So the point is there’s a great precedent for publishing or creating information businesses, which historically have meant books. But now that we were in the age of the internet, that can mean internet businesses under fake names. The point is, as I said, people don’t necessarily need a person to buy from, but they tend to want a personality. And to expand on that point, I will say that I’m going to share with you here in a little bit, several different business models that you can use anonymously online. And actually one of them, I would go so far as to say, you don’t even need a personality. It’s not necessarily my favorite of the online business models, but there is actually one where you don’t even have to create a character, a fake name or an identity or anything. Incidentally, when I went online, all I did was I actually tweaked the spelling of my last name.
I wasn’t so worried about being, being anonymous per se. I just didn’t want my business coming up in Google searches on my name because at the time again, I owed almost half a million dollars in debt, which I’m excited to report that my online business has worked so well that I was able to clear that in about a year and a half tweaked to the spelling of my name, back to how it’s actually spelled. Basically I had the Learner with an A that I added. Then I removed it. Now I’m Jeff Lerner proudly and you can Google me all you want. Right? Okay. So that deals with kind of the privacy, the general identity privacy concern, but there are some practical ways that that needs to show up in order to maintain it, which I’ll explain here First, let’s talk about the actual address of your business. So to speak, just like if you, if you physically don’t want people to know where you live, what do you do? You have your mail sent to a PO box, right? And then presumably you go to the PO box and PO box companies are like the potent, especially a post of an actual government run post office. But even the private companies like the UPS store and like a PostNet and those types of places they’re supposed to protect the identity of the box holders, theoretically, that protects you, right? Just like that’s how it works in the physical world.
There’s an internet equivalent, which is that you can register your domain address, you know, www dot, whatever.com or.net or.biz or dot whatever you can register those anonymously. So that people who run what’s called a, who is email@example.com, which is this essentially giant database that maintains all the name, registration, the domain registry information from all the different registrars out there who is.com. You can actually look up who owns domains publicly. But for people who have put private registration in place, it’s kind of the internet equivalent of having a PO box rather than your home address. Right? And this is something that you can actually add at the time of checkout when you order your domain. So if you go to, I tend to use Bluehost, but frankly, I use that only because I’ve always used it. And in any case, when you buy your domain, you can apply, what’s called private registration settings and it’ll basically mask your information. So people can’t look you up. So that’s obviously something you would want to do if you’re trying to remain anonymous online. And then the next thing that you want to be sure and do. And I have actually seen this snag people before is you want to make sure that you, first of all, turn off the location settings on your phone.
If you’re going to be interacting with your business or with social media or promoting your business at all from your phone, you either want to just blanket turn off location settings. Or if that let’s say that interferes with your life. For example, myself, I share my location with my wife and vice versa. So we can always kind of, you know, she can check her phone and see if I, if I say I’ll be home by six, she can check her phone at 5.50 and see if I’m on my way. Right? So, but if I turn off location settings, it would interfere with that functionality. It would also interfere with, like, let’s say, I look up something on Google map and it says it’s a 16 minute drive to get to that restaurant. Well, the Google maps app, can’t actually calculate that if it doesn’t know where I am, right? So there can be some consequences to just turning off location settings altogether, but you definitely need to remember to do it if, and when you’re going to be logging onto a social platform to deal with or promote your business, because it will actually track and in many cases publish the location of where you post it from and also particularly if you take pictures, it will actually embed location data, like very specific location data, even all the way down to your GPS coordinates, global positioning system coordinates, or what they call geo-tagging the images or videos as well in what’s called the metadata of the file.
So if you take a picture on your phone and then, you know, let’s say drive to another city, you know, whatever you’re out of town and you post it to Facebook or post it to Instagram, then literally somebody can grab that image, pull up the metadata, put the GPS coordinates into a geographic information system portal on the internet, which are publicly available. And they can literally pinpoint exactly where you were in some cases and exactly the date that that image or video was created. And let’s say, you’re doing a lot of promotion and maybe you on your Instagram story, you posted a picture of yourself and your family, when you were out of town, they could cross reference that and see like, wait, I think this person, I think it’s them. And I think they were there on that date. And then you start to put the pieces together, right? And frankly, you have to kind of assume like, if this is your I’ll use my, again, my client, as an example, he had to just assume that the world was out to get him. And frankly, in his case, it probably was because when, when a Fortune 500 Company is paying their executives, millions of dollars per year, trust me, they have layers and levels of scrutiny that you would not imagine because they’re making, you know, think about it over the course of a 10 or 20 year career. They’re making, let’s say a $30 million or a $50 million investment in a person they’ll spend the money. They have teams of investigators and researchers online, making sure that they’re getting their money’s worth, right. So he had to be really careful. Your situation may not be that extreme, but still, if your goal is anonymity, it’s best to know the extent you can go to protect your privacy. Right? So turning off location settings, at least whenever you’re creating media or you’re doing any interaction related to your business. And then secondly, on Facebook and I would say on Instagram as well, you would want to make sure that you create a business page on Instagram. It’s marking your profile as a business profile, making it obviously anonymous as far as the name, but then also on Facebook, if you’re going to run ads from your page, you could actually have to validate who owns the page and actually submit articles of organization or incorporation documents and tax ID number, even. So in that case, you’d want to go so far as to register whatever business is ultimately going to own the page and register that business in a state that protects owner information, a state like maybe Nevada or Wyoming.
I think Alaska has some pretty good privacy protections around LLCs. I mean, this is the stuff you gotta do if you really, really want to stay anonymous. And here’s the thing. If you’re building a business, look, if you’re making $2,000 a year, nobody cares. Nobody’s probably trying to find your information, but I can tell you if you’re making millions of dollars a year, people are going to try to find out who owns the business or who owns the page. And there’s easy ways. They can find that out not necessarily because they know how much revenue you’re actually making, but because let’s say they go on Facebook and they go to the Facebook advertiser platform and they run a search on all of your businesses, Facebook ads. And they can see that let’s say your ads. They can see all your creatives and they can see, let’s say that your ads are getting 800,000 impressions per month. They can do some basic math and say, okay, well, this person is clearly spending, you know, 10, 20, 30,000, $50,000 a month, whatever it is, but they know what business you’re in. And if they’re a sophisticated advertiser and based on the number of impressions and the category of your business, they can figure out how much money you’re spending on your ads. And that at least informs them to know, well, this person, you know, typically they’re not going to run those ads if they’re not making at least 200% or 300% return on that ad spend. So if you’re spending $50,000 a month on ads, they know you’re a $1 million to $2 million business at a bare minimum. That’s just from your Facebook ads. Then they go, Oh, this guy’s a $2 million a year business. I want to know who the owner is. And they go look up, they go to the page, Facebook publishes transparency data on the page. You can go to any Facebook page and see who owns the page. And if it’s an LLC and they go look up the LLC and you’re not registered in the right state, they can see who the owner or the manager of the LLC is and boom, you’re out. Right?
You’re outed that. You got to think all this stuff through. If you truly want to stay anonymous, especially if you’re in a business category that’s incendiary or controversial, or has anybody that doesn’t love what you do. They’re going to go try to hunt you down and find out who you are, making sure that you create anonymity around your Facebook, your Instagram, and also on YouTube. Nice thing about YouTube is YouTube is anchored to a Gmail address. Anybody can create a Gmail address and cause their search engines, not social networks. They’re not as technically worried about the who, but even then, if you have Ad Sense on your website, let’s say you’re doing any kind of display advertising. You know, you have to register that to a business has to have a bank account. This is all stuff you got to think through. And then if you’re going to do any interaction on those platforms, in addition to turning off location services, particularly Facebook and Instagram, you’re also going to want to make sure that you set it so that you’re interacting as your page, not as your person, your personal profile, right? So when you go on Facebook, there’s a little toggle before you make a post. Or before you leave a comment in a group as an example, which is a very significant marketing strategy where you can choose, do I want to make a comment as a page or do I want to make a comment as a person, just always switched that to page. So you kind of have to create these discipline habits and these systems and consistent processes to make constantly maintain your privacy. Now I’m not saying it’s not worth it. It could be totally worth it. You can make millions and millions of dollars. I know, for example, a guy on YouTube who generates millions of dollars through his channel, nobody knows him. I know who he is, cause he’s a friend of mine, but nobody in the audience knows who he is. Is it worth it for him to maintain that privacy, which he frankly just chooses to do as a lifestyle choice? Well, yeah, clearly, you know, he makes millions of dollars. So I’m not saying it’s not worth it, but you have to be disciplined. You have to develop these processes. And I would recommend that you write them down. I don’t recommend that you make a list and say every single time I go to interact with my business, these are the things I have to do because honestly you only have to only have to slip up one time, you leave a breadcrumb that you can’t ever go back and clean up. I mean, I guess unless you delete everything, but that’s even more work, just do it right. Right? Now we’ve talked about these somewhat onerous procedures that you have to go through. Let’s talk about the actual business models that I would recommend for people who want to build an online business and maintain total privacy. Okay. The first business model and probably the generally the best one to do for anonymity purposes is affiliate marketing. Probably the biggest reason why affiliate marketing makes so much sense in terms of anonymity is all you’re doing is the marketing. You’re not involved in the fulfillment. You’re not involved in the customer service. You’re not involved even necessarily in creating the sales materials. You’re not involved in really anything that happens after the person buys.
So that’s just a whole lot fewer pieces that you need to try to control. You need to try to connect or maybe disconnect from yourself. It’s basically just a simpler business. So there’s fewer moving parts. So there’s fewer parts that can connect back to you. Right? Affiliate marketing, all you’re doing is referring people to links where they purchase from other companies and you get paid referral commissions. So the first method of affiliate marketing that would qualify, that would work really well for anonymity is blogging. And you may think, Oh, blogging that’s like writing about my life. Well, there actually are lots of people who blog anonymously. In fact, some of the biggest blogs on the internet are anonymous blogs. And I’ll give you just three quick examples of blogs I was actually able to look up really quickly. Basically I Googled anonymous blogs and looked at or anonymous blog examples. And you actually find pretty cool stuff. Cause a lot of times people that are blogging anonymously, they’re talking about like interesting or controversial or polarizing topics and you find all kinds of cool stuff. And whether that’s your intent. In other words, it’s topical privacy because you don’t want to offend someone or it’s these other issues that we’ve talked about, the point is it’s easy to do. So three quick examples, there’s an example of a person who goes by the title of the Militant Medical Nurse. He or she is writing from inside of a hospital, talking about hospital administration issues, hospitals being understaffed, how it affects patient care, how it creates malpractice issues. And it’s, you know, it’s sort of an expose’ from the inside about crap that goes on at hospitals, the Militant Medical Nurse classic example of something that would be very obvious why they would want to do it anonymously. I’m pretty sure they would get fired if anybody knew who they were. There’s another one called the Magistrate’s blog and magistrate is an illegal person. I think a magistrate is actually like the equivalent of a judge in the United Kingdom. And they’re basically critiquing the British legal system and they’re talking about laws they disagree with and things they would change. And you know, as a magistrate, they do their job and they enforce the laws that exist. But as a blogger, they’re very vocal about the things that they think are stupid and should change. Right?
Obviously another example of somebody who it’s very clear, why they want to stay anonymous. And then there’s another one that’s actually pretty funny called Taxi Tales. You know, it is what it describes, right? It’s stuff that happens, taxi cabs. And I’m pretty sure it it’s in their taxi driver license agreement or, you know, whatever it’s ownership agreement for the cab. Like you won’t talk about people’s private business, but clearly a lot of funny and interesting stuff happens in taxis. This person wanted to write about it. I would say we’re all better for it. Cause it’s pretty entertaining, but they do it anonymously. If you go through these sites and say, well, did they generate any money? They would generate money from their blogs the way, all bloggers for the most part generate money, which is affiliate marketing. You embed links that link back to other products that people can buy products or services and you earn commissions, right? So anonymous, blogging, probably the most obvious and easiest way to run an online, an anonymous online business. The next anonymous business model or anonymous marketing method to use with affiliate marketing is actually a YouTube channel. Again, as I mentioned, YouTube does not, it links to a Google account. Google accounts are not necessarily required to in any sort of public way, expose who they’re connected to. So you should create a YouTube channel and the two models or the two types of channels that are likely going to work the best. If you’re trying to stay anonymous are either reviews like product or service reviews or an education channel because frankly, those are the two where the people coming to the channel. They’re not most interested in who the creator is. They’re most interested in the information that the creator is sharing. You know, as long as it’s an unbiased objective review of you know, it could be a company, it can be products, it could be services, it could be aggregated experiences. You can also curate other people’s content and post it.
You see a lot of channels, frankly, on YouTube that are basically going to other channels, other media sites and curating information and putting it all together. Let’s say it’s like Top 10 Inspirational Lessons from Hollywood. And they go find sites of actors, sharing stories and stuff, and they cobble it together and put it on the channel. Nobody really cares who organized the information. They just care about the information, right? Clearly the same with reviews, there’s even sites of our channels that people pulling products out of boxes and showing how they work and playing with them and testing them. And you can’t see the face, you just see the hands, right? So that’s one example, anything that’s reviews or curation. And then the other is education people actually teaching, teaching things on their channels, or again, as long as the information is good, nobody really cares who’s delivering it. Typically those would be delivered through like slide shows online or even screen shares. If they’re demonstrating how software works or websites work, stuff that just captures the screen rather than putting somebody on camera. And then there’s probably the most famous anonymous YouTube channel is actually the channel of a group called Anonymous. And I would say that they primarily do social critique and they actually wear masks that are kind of creepy and intentionally designed that way to talk about controversial subjects and you know expose political corruption and do all this kind of edgy stuff. But the point is there’s a lot you can do with YouTube channels and stay anonymous. And then the next business model that we can talk about is actually e-commerce. And this is the one that I mentioned, you don’t even really need to create any sort of a character. Although strictly speaking, you don’t have to do this to run an eCommerce business. I think you’re going to have a lot more success with an eCommerce business.
If you do create some sort of a brand, frankly, this is the reason why I don’t generally recommend e-commerce as an online business model for new online business owners. If you’re established, you have a lot more tools and understanding that you can use to do this, but there was a time when you could be kind of anonymous and you would just, it was all just about the products. You know, you could have discount sunglasses or you could have supplements, or you could have furniture, you could have games or toys or whatever, and you could just connect it to a drop shipping company and just sell basically on the basis of price alone. But Amazon has kind of grown to the point where that business model doesn’t work very well because you’re usually not going to beat Amazon on price. And you’re definitely not going to beat Amazon on customer experience. So now if you want to build an eCommerce business and not go out of business, because you’re competing with Amazon on price alone, and you’re going to lose on other factors like shipping time and customer experience, you really have to build a brand. So technically that is kind of a personality or a character, but if you’re willing to do it, again this is why I don’t necessarily recommend it for new people. But if you’re willing to build a brand or you have something that’s really unique and clearly defined e-commerce can be great. And it certainly is very personally anonymous by nature because nobody cares, right. You go to a site to buy, I’ll just even use some big ones. You go to Overstock, you go to Wayfair, you go to Amazon for that matter. Like you could care less, who’s behind it, right? Even on Amazon, for example and again, I don’t recommend this business. Amazon FBA is a whole other conversation and I don’t recommend it. Most of the products you buy on Amazon are actually products that are sold by independent sellers through the Amazon platform. And you as the buyer have no clue nor interest in who those people are. Right? So again, it lends itself well to anonymity, but I’m also cautiously guarding you against getting in over your head with the business model, especially if you’re new. And actually I will say I own two econ businesses. One of which is very clearly connected to me, which is my Entre Nation store, which everybody knows is mine. Cause they know that I’m I own Entre, but the other I have is just kind of a niche site that has, it does have a strong brand, but it’s related to a health product, a promotional product for a health product.
And I actually, for reasons that don’t matter, don’t really want everybody to know that it’s me mainly because I don’t want to get contact from buyers of that product with other questions about the marketing of that, of that business or the health product that it’s connected to. I just, I don’t want to mess with it. So I actually operate that completely anonymously. No, nobody. That’s why I’m not saying the name. Nobody knows it’s my store. But we, you know, we have good customer service. We do our own fulfillment. I do. There are some infrastructure requirements to do that, but again, they don’t have to connect to me. Here’s the one thing I’ll caution you against most eCommerce businesses generally require some usually running ads on Facebook or Google. Very often Facebook, if you are running Facebook ads just know that in order to run ads, you have to create a page. The ads link to the page. It’s very easy to go. Like I was talking about earlier, figure out who’s running the ads, what pages behind the ads, and you have to do all those other things that I talked about. If you’re going to run ads on Facebook for your Ecom business. And then the final business model, that is a little tougher, but technically could be doable. Especially if you have a strong concept of what you want to promote would be to either create books or a courses, essentially the education information marketing business, which I talked about a little earlier with the books. Again, nobody kind of, nobody cares from the standpoint that you can create.
As long as you create some authority, it doesn’t, you don’t actually have to expose yourself as a person. I’ll give you a great example. There’s a book called the “Art of Peace.” It’s been a while since I read it, but it was a really impactful book. I loved the book and it was actually a written quote written by the Arbinger Institute. I have no idea who the Arbinger Institute is, but they sound interesting, incredible. And the book came highly recommended and I’ve never bothered to look up who is the Arbinger Institute? I suspect it’s actually designed to be anonymous. Clearly if somebody wanted the credit, they would have put their own name on the book, but I don’t care. It’s a good book. And so you actually can create anything that’s like an authority piece of content. If you create sort of a personality or a collective or a group or an Institute, an Institute or something behind it, that sounds legit. But again, that’s not neither that nor e-commerce are nearly as easy as affiliate marketing. So unless you have a very specific reason for going to those business models, I would generally recommend affiliate marketing. So kind of a long conversation, but I wanted to be thorough with the subject. If you want to be anonymous and create an online business, I can you know, having I’ve been doing this for over a decade, I’ve seen just about every business model out there on the internet.
I mean there’s other things you can do, like, you know, these MLMs and these binary systems and these crypto trading systems and these just, you know, Ponzi business opportunity, disaster, headache, scam, messy things. And so you’ll, you know, I say that not because I’m at all suggesting them, but as you’re out there looking at the subject, if you’re trying to start a business, you might find those things. Let me wave the brightest scariest reddest flags that I can not to do anything. If it even remotely feels fringe or sketch, it almost certainly is because 95% of the business things that you can stumble into online are fringe and sketch. But as far as these mainstream ones, affiliate marketing e-commerce course creation, those are legit and they can be done anonymously. Okay. So that’s all I have to say on the subject. Hopefully you don’t need to go read any other articles on the subject. I tried to be really thorough here. If you are interested in like more about this world, of how to generate income online anonymously or publicly, it doesn’t matter. I do have a thing or two to say and to teach about that. So I encourage you to check out the rest of my world. Again, I have a company called Entre that educates people about new economy, businesses and how to become an entrepreneur, a business owner. Even if it’s on the side while you’re working a job, even if it’s on the side needing to be anonymous while you’re working a job, like I said, I’ve helped people in that scenario to check us out. Godspeed on your journey, into starting a business online. And it can be incredibly powerful. I have an amazing life because at some point I made that same decision. I encourage you in that direction too.