Making Money Online: Is It All That It’s Cracked Up to Be?
So what’s it really like to try to make money online? Here’s my experience with making money using the internet, along with a few observations.
First, it’s entirely possible to use the internet to generate income. I’ve made thousands of dollars online, but I didn’t do it overnight. It took a lot of trial and error, a bunch of persistence, a lot of hard work, and then a touch of serendipity.
My first attempt at making money online didn’t succeed. My husband and I put a lot of effort into developing an online stock photography web site. I was a web designer at the time, and I was frustrated by the lack of royalty-free images that were out there. I figured other people were probably equally frustrated. We put together a plan, developed a web site, bought our first digital camera, and began shooting and cataloging thousands of digital photos.
Now of course, there’s a site called iStockphoto that does exactly what we were trying to do. Only better. In fact, that site got off the ground shortly after we gave up on ours. We had the right idea, and we had some sales too, but one little sticking point prevented us from being successful: we did not allow other people to contribute to the site. So basically we put in hundreds and hundreds of hours for…well, a loss. But I was encouraged.
Next up, I tried the whole “write a long copy sales letter and sell an e-book for $79.95” deal. Well, that didn’t work either. In fact it failed completely. I didn’t have a single sale. I quickly got discouraged and gave up on the project without putting a whole lot of effort into it.
And that right there is exactly why many people don’t succeed at making money online. They get discouraged quickly, and they give up. They figure their idea sucks, or that they’re not doing it right. Then there’s usually a bit of flailing around trying different systems thrown in too. Eventually, after spending a bunch of money and halfheartedly implementing portions of various systems, people conclude that it’s all a bunch of hooey. What’s hooey is expecting success to appear overnight by magic.
But you know what system does work?
Picking something, focusing on it, tweaking it, and following through until you get it right. You’ve got to go through the whole process. You can’t jump from method to method and give up the minute you have a set back. Or ten setbacks.
Talk to other people who’ve been successful. See what worked and what didn’t work. Join a group of people who’ll keep you focused. (See my Resources section if you want to know some of what helped me, or send me an email if you have questions.) You’ve also got to realize that it’s going to take time. Overnight successes don’t happen overnight.
Oh, and you know what I first successfully made money at online? Blogging. I’d started a (different) personal finance blog a few years back in order to kill two birds with one stone: writing daily and working on my finances. My goal wasn’t to make money, although although of course I’m always open to doing so. One day out of the blue someone contacted me and wanted to buy an ad. It sounded good to me, and off things went.
I was inadvertently doing the two things you really need to do in order to be successful: focusing on something I was passionate about that also interested others, and persisting with that something even when I didn’t feel like doing it. If you look many of the big online success stories, you’ll find exactly the same kinds of things: they focused, they persisted, they talked with other like-minded people, and they worked REALLY hard.
Now of course, my biggest focus is my Pay Off Debt app. And let me tell you, it’s HARD to focus, and keep focusing, and then to focus some more. But it’s working.
Thinking of starting a side business but don’t have an idea nailed down yet? Check out 101 Ways to Make Extra Money in Your Spare Time.