Making money online, or getting rich quick, is one of the most hotly discussed topics of the internet age.
For an internet marketer such as myself, it’s no big deal. Billions are spent on the web every day, and millions of businesses make money by selling their wares online.
However, both of these topics, in the sense we’ll be talking about today, are usually seen by those who are sick of the 9-5 job and want to find a way to use the internet to make money from home. They may even have an ambition to become rich in the process.
Considering the sheer amount of misinformation and ulterior motives out there, it’s time to deliver some home truths about making money online and being your own internet-based boss. Some of them you’ll find disappointing, and others may give you encouragement, so before you go down this path, I strongly recommend that you take in every word to understand what it’s all about.
And just for the record, I will not attempt to sell you anything or rope you into any get rich quick schemes. I don’t offer those and never would. If you have a good idea and believe you can really make it work online, then I’d encourage you to give it your best shot. But that’s for your benefit – not mine.
Firstly, the 5 main truths.
Truth 1: YES, you can make money online
Of course you can. Millions of people do it every day. Some make a fortune, whilst others create a residual income to support their main revenue streams.
So don’t give up just yet.
However, it’s not as easy as it once was. What tends to happen is that a new way of making money on the internet appears, and works for a while, but then becomes flooded by hundreds of thousands of people all jumping on the bandwagon. This over-saturation either pushes profit levels down to near zero, or makes it increasingly difficult to find an effective niche.
There are tons of example of this. When eBay and Amazon first launched, it was far easier to sell products in a full or part-time capacity and make an income working from home. These days though, there’s so much competition that many people are selling products for pennies of profit.
Affiliate marketing also used to be a lot easier than it is now. And again, over-saturation is a problem. Pretty much every effective niche has already been found, and there are an endless stream of websites all vying for traffic. You can certainly push through the crowd, but you have to be smarter and more hard-working than everyone else to get there.
Mobile phone apps are another great example. Back when Apple’s App Store first came out, it was fairly easy to create a good quality app, gain exposure and make money. But these days, it’s almost impossible to gain the exposure required unless you are either very lucky, or carry out some form of outreach marketing to reach your target audience.
Those multi-million app game studios seemingly ranking in a fortune? You can bet that they’ve also spent a fortune on advertising and PR to get where they are today.
So if you want to make money online, you certainly can. Potentially a lot if you push all the right buttons. But expect it to be a time-consuming job just like any other.
Truth 2: It takes a heck of a lot of work
Like many folk, I can’t help believing in something “more”.
One of the things I do believe in is the universe rewarding you for your effort. Call it karma, yin and yang, the law of attraction or anything you like, but when you really put the hard work in, and genuinely believe in what you’re doing, the world just has a way of opening new doors for you. Often in ways you never expect.
When you keep pushing, even when you’re utterly fed up, everything can just suddenly click into place one day.
However, there are caveats to keep in mind. For example, if you’re working on an idea which is technically not feasible no matter how hard you try, then you’re more than likely wasting your time. You have to work hard, but work smart.
But back to how this ties into making money on the web.
Simply put, in 99% of cases, making good income through any online method takes a lot of hard work. Not just when it comes to time, but raw effort in how you think, plan and problem solve.
Even the act of learning how to make money online is included in this. Someone who spends dozens of hours familarising themselves with affiliate marketing, website design, e-commerce, e-mail marketing, blogging, SEO, PPC, search engine marketing, PR, drop shipping, ad monetising and all of the rest will set themselves up much better long-term.
It’s not just about learning the basic theories. It’s about having the mental toolkit to make those theories work better than others can. Either that, or you can pay people with the skills to do it for you (but we’ll discuss this in my formula later on).
Truth 3: YES, it can be PARTIALLY automated
A lot of get rich quick schemes have a magical solution to making money fast online:
If you can create a system which works, and then find ways to automate and replicate this system, then your earnings will grow. Sounds impressive, doesn’t it?
But the thing is, if someone had a system which was as fast, easy and “hands off” as they claim, why on earth would they share it? Would you?
The fact is, no online business out there is fully self-sustaining. Or if it is, it’s because the owner has hired employees to take care of the work for them (again, see my formula later on).
Successful marketers and online business owners, even those who have made millions, are often the hardest workers. Remember earlier when I said there’s seemingly a law of the universe which rewards you for hard work? There’s another law as well: no matter how successful you become, there’s almost ALWAYS something more to do.
Let’s say you create useful content and draw in traffic to monetise. Eventually, at least some of this content will become less relevant or obsolete, meaning there’s a need to create new content to replenish dwindling traffic sources from other areas.
There’s also competition. It’s likely that there are other websites doing SEO or outreach marketing activities to battle up the rankings in search engines. If they continue pushing on with this, whilst you don’t, it’s just a matter of time before you’re overtaken by someone in the ranking positions and your traffic starts to decline.
In the world of generating online income, you simply can’t rest on your laurels. If you built up a successful money-making site, and suddenly left it alone, there’s a chance that it would continue making money for months or even years. However, this income is extremely unlikely to grow further on its own, and is far more likely to decline over time instead.
But partial automation? Sure
It’s possible, and if you want to remain sane, I’d strongly recommend it.
One such example is e-mail marketing. You may end up building a list of thousands of prospects, but sending out the same set of e-mails to them manually just wouldn’t be feasible.
This is where automated e-mail sequences come in. Many e-mail marketing platforms, like Mailchimp, allow you to create a sequence of e-mails which are sent with specific triggers (such as time delays). This means that you can set up a fully automated system which sends the same sequence of e-mails at set intervals without you lifting a finger. For example, each new recipient can receive the same 10 e-mails on a weekly basis.
With this, you can reach out to thousands of recipients on your list, and even send dozens of e-mails long term, in a fully automatic system. You can even set other triggers, such as stopping an e-mail sequence, or moving a prospect to a new list, if they purchase a product.
Eventually, you could end up with a fully automated e-mail marketing system which acts like a sausage machine. You put prospects in the front, and receive sales out the back.
Another good example is social media. There are plenty of systems out there which spread your content across your social media accounts with just a few clicks. Other systems can reach out to social media users based on certain keyword triggers.
All in all, there are plenty of ways to partially automate money making systems. A lot of which you’ll find on this Marketing Pinch.
However, a complete, self-perpetuating system is a different story
Even if such a magical, off-the-shelf system did exist, the question you have to ask yourself is this: If making a large income on the internet could be 100% automated so you don’t have to lift a finger, would you even want that?
Okay. Maybe you would. Even I admit it sounds a little tempting.
However, if you have a mindset where you consider the work to be an inconvenience, and you’re only interested in reaching a target and then calling it quits, you’re far less likely to succeed. Just look at all the successful online marketers and web entrepreneurs out there. No matter how much they make, they keep going. Not because they’re greedy, but because they’re ambitious, they’re driven, and they gain fulfillment out of rising to new challenges.
They simply love what they do, and if you love it too, you’re far more likely to reel in the cash with a career which keeps you motivated.
Truth 4: It takes a lot of time
If you’re starting out on this path for the first time, I can say with near-certainty that you will experience the following:
1). At least one of your ideas will fail.
2). Most ideas will always need more tweaks and adjustments than you expect to get them working properly.
Why am I so sure? Because these rules also apply to people who have decades of successful experience. They even apply to me.
Simply put, the chance of you putting “version one” of your project online, and hitting every nail on the head immediately, is slim to none. Ask any successful marketer, and they will tell you the same.
This is amplified even further if you’ve just started in your quest to make income online. Why? Because you just can’t beat cold, hard experience. No matter how much material you read, you will ALWAYS learn of new techniques when you give any project a live run. Things always pop up which you need to fix or improve to get where you want to be.
This is why even the best marketers in the world will invite feedback or carry out split-testing. No one has the perfect answer to everything, but they certainly do have the methods to find those answers and improve on what is already there.
Unfortunately, this takes time. I’ve seen countless examples of online entrepreneurs who eventually become very successful, but not without one or more years of figuring things out as they go along. A rare few hit the jackpot right away, but the vast majority do not.
But this isn’t a bad thing. In fact, figuring it out as you go along can be rather exhilarating. It’s all one big journey, and even if you go through prolonged periods of not building any money, you will always be building knowledge and experience with all those eureka moments which eventually start pumping money into your bank account.
Why do so many people fail? Because they usually give up before they get there.
Truth 5: Some of what the get rich quick gurus say IS correct
This may be controversial, but I’m not one to immediately dismiss what people suggest just because they’re trying to charge you money for it.
After all, all of us need to make a living, don’t we? If we discredited these supposed “gurus” for trying to sell something, this wouldn’t fair well for lawyers or plumbers, either.
I’ve read a lot of the material these popular get rich quick schemes put forward, and whilst I disagree with the notion that it’s possible to get rich quick, many of the elements you find are well-established and could play a part in any successful marketing campaign. For example:
- Affiliate marketing – yes, it can work. Many people make a lot of money from it.
- E-mail marketing – Creating and promoting to a mailing list can generate leads.
- Niches – Anyone looking to start a business would be wise to find a niche with opportunity and minimal competition.
- Content writing – Yes, quality content can rank well and draw in traffic which you can monetise.
Things like this actually work. However, the flaw is the over-promising these schemes make. Generally, making even a chunk of the proposed income takes a LOT more time, effort and ingenuity than you are led to believe. If you find any schemes or programs which are actually honest about the time and effort required, they tend to be more credible.
There are plenty of shortcuts, many of which I share on this blog for free. However, they are small shortcuts as part of a larger system. There’s certainly no one-fit-all mega shortcut which is going to have you making thousands of pounds of profit with ease.
Although let me be clear that this much profit in a small timeframe IS possible. For example, an e-commerce store with an in-demand product at a competitive price could set up an Adwords advertising campaign which drives thousands of visitors per month at a good conversion rate and makes thousands in profit as a result.
However, when you look into the prior time it takes to plan the business, find the niche, source the stock, design the site and set up the marketing, it becomes clear that there’s a significant amount of time and expense involved before you get there – undoubtedly with some challenges along the way.
But should I buy things to help me make money online?
You can, but you have to use good judgement. There are hundreds of tools, plugins and all sorts of other things out there which are worth the money and can really help you.
I’ve bought many of them myself, although if you dig deep enough, you can often find free versions which still do the job (just not as well a lot of the time).
Just be careful, that’s all. Look past the hype, do your research, and remember that if something sounds too good to be true, it usually isn’t true.
Oh, and one more truth
If you’ve read some of the terms in this article and have no idea what they mean, then you should stop before you go any further and learn them first. To start a successful online business, you really need to know about all of the below, and more importantly, how to use them:
- Pay-per-click marketing
- Social media marketing
- Content marketing
- Conversion rate optimisation
- E-mail marketing
- Affiliate marketing
- Referral marketing
You may not use them all, but it’s imperative that you have a solid grasp of these basic tools so you can decide what does and doesn’t work for your particular idea. They are the core fundamentals, and if you know them well, you’ll immediately be better off than 90% of people who first attempt to use the internet to make money. Read this blog, read other blogs, subscribe to e-mail tips, and use search engines to read through the wealth of freely available information out there.
The fast, easy, cheap formula
With any method of making money online, I have a formula which combines fast, easy and cheap. In 99.9% of cases, this will always apply:
If a method is fast and easy = it won’t be cheap.
If it’s fast and cheap = it won’t be easy.
If it’s easy and cheap = it won’t be fast.
And if it’s fast, easy AND cheap, it almost certainly doesn’t exist (or it’s illegal).
With this formula, you can judge what any money making method brings to the party, and also figure out what you have to put in to make it work. To make any method succeed, you’ll always need to put in either a lot of time, a lot of ingenuity, or a lot of money (or a bit less of all three).
Avoid any scheme which claims that it solves all of these requirements for you, because anyone with an ounce of intelligence would keep it to themselves and sail off to the Bahamas whilst lighting cigars with banknotes (or whatever rich people do).
What about hiring someone to help me?
This is certainly possible, and in some cases, it should be encouraged. One good example is the task of creating a website. It can take years to do this, so you may be better off paying someone credible who can set up an off-the-shelf site (such as WordPress) with some customisation. This will give you everything you need, and should not cost a lot of money (unless it’s very complex and hasn’t been done before).
It can be helpful with marketing too. Many people have been successful by hiring credible SEO agencies or pay-per-click specialists to handle a lot of the marketing. It’s all about delegating tasks to people who really know what they’re doing, and can achieve better results than you in a shorter time frame.
If you want to do everything yourself and spend as little as possible, then you’ll have to learn these skills yourself. However, even if you don’t want to do it all, it’s still important to get a grasp of the fundamentals I mentioned above, so you have a better understanding of exactly what agencies are doing with your money.
Also, beware of service providers who just say “yes” to everything. The most reputable experts will never tell you only what you want to hear. If they challenge any points you raise, believe that you have unrealistic expectations and tell you this, or otherwise avoid promising the earth, you should take that as a positive.
- Yes, you can make money online. Perhaps a lot. It’s still possible.
- Learn the ropes. All of the ropes.
- Be prepared to put in hard work and effort.
- Accept there WILL be challenges and setbacks.
- If you spend, spend wisely, and do your research.
- You can automate a lot of elements, but not everything.
- If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Always look at the journey, not the destination.
- If you don’t build money, you’re always building skills and experience.
- Be selective of what you take on board.
- Nothing is fast, easy and cheap.
And finally, take satisfaction that if you go into this with all of these in mind, you’re far more likely to succeed than the thousands out there who don’t. If you’ve got the knowledge, you’re realistic, you’re determined, and you have the right expectations, you’ll already be well ahead of most of the pack.