As a kid, I used to play in the sandbox all the time. I’d move stuff around without a care – building, creating whatever I wanted. Everything from castles to landscapes to active volcanoes that I managed to make by putting the garden hose in at the base of a mountain of sand and wait for it to erupt.
It was awesome. I had total freedom to do whatever I wanted to do and make whatever I wanted to make. Nobody could tell me what to do and whenever I got tired of building something, I simply bulldozed it and started again (excluding the times my older brother demolished everything before I was ready).
I loved the sandbox. That’s where I learned to build things and I’m willing to bet that that’s where most people who build things for a living get started.
Taking the Sandbox Online
When I started working online, I wanted to build something awesome. I imagined them like online skyscrapers. Something massive that would stand the test of time, look amazing and be a part of a distinctive online landscape for years to come. There was only one problem, I wasn’t an engineer – I didn’t know how online skyscrapers were built. I didn’t know html, css, php, writing, marketing – any of it. I had to go back to the sandbox.
This is the problem most people run into online. The first time they run out into the online world, they want to build a skyscraper. They think they need to build something amazing without realizing that even the most basic structures start with an easy-to-build stud. If you want to get started doing something online, instead of rushing out to create the next big thing, you need to go back to the sandbox.
The $100 Sandbox
The great thing about a sandbox is all it takes is time. You can really do it anywhere, but with so many opportunities available on the Internet, I recommend you do it somewhere online. The great part about this is it only takes $100 to get started building something in your sandbox – which is why you want it in the first place – to build stuff. Here’s the very long, complicated list of everything you need to make your very own sandbox.
That’s it. There’s your sandbox. With those two purchased, you’ve carved out your own little corner in the world where you can literally do whatever you want. Whatever you want for less than $100. (And, if you don’t have a $100, here’s a bunch of easy ways to¬†earn $1,000 this next month). Whether it’s installing your own WordPress site or trying your hand at e-commerce, here are a few ideas to help you get started:
Things You Can Make In Your Sandbox
Start a Blog
You might have seen this here before, but start a blog. Write about what you’re doing, what you want to do, even if it seems impossible. Try it. Commit to it. See what happens. At the very least, you’ll bone up on your writing skills a bit.
Create Your Own E-Commerce Site
Start selling stuff online. They can be your products. They can be someone else’s. Just try selling something, anything. Dan and Ian grossed a million dollars last year in their business through their online e-commerce sites. Why couldn’t that be you?
Work On Your Art
Hugh MacLeod is probably my favorite non-blogger blogger out there. He draws cartoons. Jessica Hagy does something awesome with her drawings at Indexed. Sarah Peck does too. Matt Koenig’s photography sites are awesome. Try showing off your art in your sandbox and use it as an excuse to refine it and get a lot better at it.
Make Something New
Create A Niche Site (or Sites)
Maybe you want to focus in on HDR photography software after discovering a passion for HDR. Maybe you love extreme sports and want to create a site devoted to that. Whether you’re passionate about sports photography, reticulated pythons, or the word boom, you can match your interests with a need and make whatever you want come to life.
Screw Something Up
The beauty about the $100 sandbox is that it’s a sandbox, it’s yours and it’s only $100. If your first idea stinks, it’s really easy to wipe that clean (sometimes too easy!) and try something else. It doesn’t have to be permanent if you don’t want it to, so just do something, anything and go from there. Seriously, I tried 3 different blog ideas and a couple different website ideas before I finally settled on the one I have now. Make something. Screw it up. Make something else.
Not Just Money, Fame and Fortune
Even if you don’t want to become a billionaire e-commerce conglomerate or the next Leo Babauta mega-blogger, the $100 sandbox is still useful for lots of reasons besides money and fame.
You Gain Skills
HTML. CSS. PHP. Huh? That was my reaction just two years ago if you would have rattled those off to me. I had no internet skills besides being blessed with the ability to waste countless hours on facebook and youtube. I’m no where near an expert an any of those (coding skills that is) now, but I’m able to comprehend them, use them to hack things and make them work together on a level that the average person can’t.
You Open New Doors And Make Changes.
I know this one guy (let’s call him Sean)¬†who started a blog. 9 months later, he quit his job and was on his way to Thailand. That was his start and he never looked back. None of that would have happened if Sean never started his blog and started doing something. He’ll probably get mad if I point this out to you, but some of his very first posts were about happy hours in portland. Somehow that that led to traveling the world? Whaa? That’s what happens when you start building in a sandbox. Anything can happen.
It’s Makes Everything A Lot Less Impossible
I deal a lot with the impossible. The first time you do anything, it all seems incredibly difficult, but as soon as you actually try it, you realize it’s not really impossible if you’re willing to work at it. The sandbox gives you an arena with the freedom to do that. Once you start, you realize that bloggers are not tech gods. People who hack together html templates are not another alien species. They’re humans who decided to learn a skill – and that’s all it is – a skill. If you put in the time and spend the hours learning, you can learn it too.
If you haven’t already, give the $100 Sandbox a shot. Try it and go build something. It’s only $100. Who knows, it might just change your life.
Joel Runyon started with a $100 sandbox which turned into an impossible movement and brand. You can find him doing the impossible on ImpossibleHQ, or download his brand new manifesto: IMPOSSIBLE for free. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.
Image Credit: Jon Clark