This is a guest post by Mike Collins who is here to share his story about making money online. Mike is obsessed with building sustainable streams of income online and achieving financial freedom so he can live life to the fullest with his wife and three amazing children. Read more about his adventures at WealthyTurtle.com.
Many people are under the impression that making money on the internet is as simple as tying your shoes, and that all you have to do is throw together a website and then sit back and watch the money come pouring in while you do nothing.
I hate to burst your bubble, but the truth is making money online takes hard work, determination, and perseverance. All those stories you read about overnight success and instant riches are just a myth perpetuated by people hoping to sell you something.
They make grand promises so you buy their $27 ebook that claims to share a secret formula to unlimited online income. Of course, common sense should tell you that if someone did have a magic formula for generating huge amounts of cash with no work they sure as hell wouldn’t be selling it for only $27.
If you want to earn a significant amount of money online you need a well thought out business plan and a willingness to work your butt off. It took me several years to learn this lesson before I finally settled down and realized I needed to act like a business owner instead of a hobbyist.
Let me tell you a little about my online endeavors so you can get an idea of what I mean.
Trial and Error…and Error, and Error…
I built my first website way back in 2004. It was a cheesy little site about the different types of wine that I started strictly as a hobby. It was nothing special and there were plenty of wine websites much better than mine, but when a friend of mine suggested I place some Google AdSense code on the site, I was surprised that I started making money right away!
It wasn’t exactly a mint. The site was only generating about $10 or $15 a month, but to me it was just the beginning. I figured if I made the site bigger and better I could get it to earn $10 a day. Then I would create another site, and another, and another.
Editor’s Note: The idea of building an army of small, crappy sites that make a few bucks a day rarely works. If you put out junk, you’ll receive junk in return. Plus, it’s much more difficult to maintain many sites as opposed to focusing on one and making it successful.
I imagined having hundreds of sites pumping out cash faster than I could count it. My online empire would be huge and I’d need a money bin like Scrooge McDuck to store my vast fortune.
Alas, I learned the hard way that building profitable websites is not so easy.
After creating a dozen or so keyword based mini-websites on random topics including web hosting, orchids, reverse telephone lookups, baby monitors, and quarter cup bras, I realized I was burnt out and struggling to write content on subjects that I wasn’t even interested in. Even worse, none of the sites was earning anywhere near ten dollars a day.
Frustrated with my slow progress I started spending hours a day on webmaster and marketing forums searching for the key to instant success. I read more ebooks and “special reports” than I can remember and each one would set me on a new course.
One minute I was going to get rich as an affiliate marketer promoting other people’s products, and the next I was convinced I needed to create my own product in order to hit the big time. I wrote my own ebook called “Saving 101 – One Hundred One Ways to Save Money” with plans to release a whole series of ebooks. I had no idea what I was doing and I sold exactly one copy.
More Shortcuts, More Failure
I built crappy review sites that were nothing more than affiliate links in disguise and submitted hundreds of garbage articles to article directories to build links to those crappy sites. I tried AdSense arbitrage and failed miserably.
I built a site selling PLR articles and then I started another one selling ghost writing services, but I didn’t stick with either of them very long. I launched even more AdSense sites targeting “low hanging fruit” keywords that everyone else was targeting too.
In November 2009 I started a personal finance blog and I finally found a measure of success. The site was ranking for some very good keywords and the revenue was steadily increasing. Unfortunately I was still looking for shortcuts and I got greedy.
I allowed the quality of the content to deteriorate as I sold as many text links and sponsored posts as I could. While the money was great for awhile, it all went away when Google penalized the site. AdSense, affiliate commissions, and private advertising disappeared overnight.
While many other bloggers who had been penalized blamed Google for all their problems I took a long, hard look in the mirror and realized that I was the only one to blame. All my get rich quick schemes and shortcuts had led me nowhere. I wasted years spinning my wheels when I could have been building a real business for the long term.
Better Late Than Ever
While it would be easy to whine about years of missed opportunities, I prefer to look on the bright side. Failure is not something to fear. As long as you learn from your mistakes, each failure brings you one step closer to success. My years of failure taught me some valuable lessons…
Overnight success is a myth. Behind every success story is years of hard work. Many entrepreneurs give up as soon as the going gets rough and they never get to see their ideas bloom into a successful business.
You need a plan. If you constantly jump around from one idea to the next you might eventually get lucky. But a well thought-out business plan can help you stay focused and on course as you build a business that lasts. Don’t look for shortcuts and don’t be afraid to ask for help from a reliable source.
For example, Steve’s online course is great place to get information on starting an online store. Steve doesn’t promise instant success, but he does give you the tools you need to build a profitable online store.
Running a business is much harder than being an employee. Working for someone else can be stressful, but at least you only have one job to worry about. As an online publisher I write content, edit staff writer submissions, monitor email, perform routine site maintenance, manage social media channels, network with other publishers, track income and expenses, and manage site promotion. That’s a lot of hats and balancing time spent on each task takes some practice.
The internet has lowered barriers to entry and made starting a business easier than ever. The cost of building a website is insignificant and if you’re not dealing with physical inventory your expenses will be minimal. But that doesn’t mean you can build a profitable site without a great deal of work. Having highly-focused goals and an action plan to reach them is absolutely essential.
photo credit: FutUndBeidl
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