Its been two years that we’ve been based in Perth, two years since I got my partner to agree to support me while I developed my online passive income business – he asked how long – I said Christmas…
In fact this was the blog post on my long-defunct blog of the time:
I think it just hit me that we’ve signed a 6-month lease on the flat! It seems a bit odd being in one place, but it feels even odder not going out and looking for a job. Although I have done the odd bit of travel in fact since I left uni I have either been employed or travelling. So its a little strange to be sitting here on a laptop trying to develop a self-employed online income without actually having an employer! It does have some benefits, like no starting time, but also some disadvantages, like no finishing time. Its weird to be honest – but I do “know” (in the virtual sense) people who are making over US$1000 month doing this so I think its worth a try. I seem to be able to write but at the moment I having problems with the technology setting up another blog.
Its been an “interesting” two years- in fact just after “that” Christmas, I quit thanks to dodgy programs like Teaching Sells and got myself a part-time job – two for a while. But the dream wouldn’t go away – and although I am somewhat of the school of “if you don’t succeed – walk away and don’t look back” – this dream of an online income really seemed like a much better lifestyle than working for real!
So what have I learned in two years? Well I can tell you I rarely have technical problems setting up sites anymore 🙂 And yes I can write – but I prefer to write on topics I like – not necessarily topics that pay me! Also I learned that neither of those skills are very important – better to learn how to do it yourself – but outsource if you really don’t want to.
There are well known phases of learning which you’ve probably heard before:
- not knowing what you don’t know
- knowing that you don’t know
- knowing but having to consciously think about it
- automatic knowledge
When I started online – I thought that I would write some great content and I would make some money – seriously – those are the only blogs I found – you wrote about stuff you were an expert on and then figured out how to make money later. I don’t even think I realised what search traffic was, I certainly didn’t know what a backlink was!
Here’s all stuff I’ve now learnt:
- how to chose keywords which are profitable and not too competitive
- how to set up websites
- how to find/write/outsource content
- how to build links
But that’s still the technical stuff – its easy enough to learn if you are of even average intelligence.
I wasted probably about 18 months learning that stuff – you can save yourself the time by either buying Janet’s Nomad’s Guide e-Book or enrolling in The Keyword Academy.
Neither program will guarantee to make you money though – no legitimate online businesses do. But given the cost of wasting 18 months of frustration learning this stuff the hard way they are well worth the price.
But they actually don’t teach you the most important thing that I’ve learnt in the last two years:
You Must Learn How to Sell Online
You can learn all that technical stuff and still not make money though. And I had an incident on the TKA forum today which made me reflect on that. Someone reviewed a product that I use and am an affiliate for – he didn’t include an affiliate link. Someone else on the thread asked for an affiliate link – I jumped on and provided the link, called myself a shameless whore and also included a link to a hub which was my fairly long review of the product – I went to bed – its a timezone thing. Someone else seeing my link thought that was pretty spammy of me – others waded in with views ranging from only the bold win and whores make good money. I saw where the thread went this morning and really did laugh out loud. It was really funny – because two years ago I would never have added my affiliate link. It didn’t seem nice somehow – you know – a bit commercial. I would have felt uncomfortable about asking for money.
And that people is the key – if you are going to be successful in any business – and certainly in an online business you have to be able to close the sale – how do you close a sale ? You ASK! Seriously – its really that simple! Don’t laugh that was a huge light bulb moment for me!
I come from an English/New Zealand background where in general talking about money and making money in a “in your face” way is not really considered “nice” – its changed a lot in the 1980’s but still the majority of people would find it hard to ask for money up front. I certainly did. I had to get over that – and if its an issue for you – you need to get over it too.
Does that make you the same as every other spammer marketer on the Internet? Well I hope not – I have a clean conscience – and this is how I do it:
- I only sell products that I use and that I like. If you see my name on it here, on HubPages or on my new blog – I’ve used the product or at least bought it and read it if its informational;
- I try to explain which people a product will work well for – and who will be wasting their money because they either know the information already, or don’t have enough knowledge to effectively use it ;
- I try to recommend products which either have a free trial period or a money-back guarantee – this is not always possible but I try.
Think of it this way – if you find a great new restaurant do you tell people to do there? if you have a fantastic holiday do you recommend the destination to your friends? Would you do the same if you got a commission? Would your friends follow your advice? Would they be happy for you to earn a commission?
Now don’t get me wrong there are heaps of commission salesmen out there who are close to being crooks – some Mortgage Brokers spring to mind. But I use a Mortgage Broker and I am happy for him to earn the commission from the banks (you don’t pay a broker direct in my country) – I know which institutions he can’t represent, therefore I know the limits of his advice. But he saves me time and money – I’m a happy repeat customer. He provides me with a service – sure I could get a the loan from the bank without him – but he makes it easier.
So seriously if you are going to do affiliate sales you have to figure out how to provide value to your customers so they will buy from you – in fact nothing has really changed in the whole history of commerce – its just a different media these days!
And I still can’t believe I wrote a post about how to sell online LOL
17 replies on “Building a Legitimate Online Business – Two Years On”
Cheeky wins time and time again.
When I first started out a year ago my first sites were simply too nice. Trying to not put sales links or adsense too in your face. They make no real money to this day.
People really do buy when you are a little cheeky about ad placement and make sure that they can’t miss it.
Providing real value is difficult but when you find a niche where people are crying out for what you are offering then the feeling is fantastic.
I think Del Boy once said “He who Dares wins”. Sorry if that means little to you , may just be a UK thing.
Been following you for a while and enjoy your outlook Lis.
.-= Dave @ The Best Article Directory´s last blog ..How Do You Get Higher In Google? =-.
Hi Dave thanks for comming out of the shadows 🙂 – I totally understand Del Boy – UK TV is big in this part of the world!
You bring up some really great points. You can have the best articles or content in the world and if you can’t close the sale then you won’t make a dime. You have been able to get over that hump where as I’m still about 3/4’s of the way to getting over the peak. For some people this just comes naturally, but for others not coming from a sales background or having a natural sales ability this can be the biggest struggle that they face.
It gets easier with practice BCarter – I still am most comfortable with a big of humour – feel free to buy thru my affiliate link so I can afford the gin I need to survive – that sort of thing. Yes its definitly something that some people can do naturally – and the truely talented really don’t understand why some of us have to learn it!
Time does fly when we’re sitting in front of a computer. LOL!!
If the person who snapped at you had read the whole TKA thread, they would have seen that you were providing information that had been requested. Guess they just misunderstood. Good for you for providing your aff link, and for adding value by pointing folks to your hubpage. Onward! 🙂
Do you already know people who are making over $1000/mo online? LOL.
One thing that I find with keyword academy and in Nomads guide (I haven’t read it though). You have to do it yoursef to learn it IMO. Even if I read in a hundred places how I should build the websites and how to choose keywords, I am not going to learn it before I make the same mistakes that everyone else does, and before I see what I did and what worked. Maybe that is just me.
.-= Phil@I Need Money Now´s last blog ..I Need Money Now And I Feel Quilty =-.
Yeah me too Phil – I remember at the time thinking that “real” people made money online – not the airbrushed ones in the pics with the red sports car and claiming their $1,000,000 over night! But you are right – I was never more excited that when I actually made payout with Adsense inside a month i.e. $100 – because I’d done it -not someone else!
Hi Lis, I left a comment here earlier, but it doesn’t appear here, any reason for that? Akismet a bit overzealous? SY
.-= hospitalera@Niche Blogs Resources´s last blog ..No Blog Posts =-.
Sorry SY it looks like Askimet ate it – I have so much spam at the moment I don’t check it all before I hit the delete button – this one was OK though?
Not a problem, now I have only to remember what I wrote first time round 😉 SY
.-= hospitalera@Niche Blogs Resources´s last blog ..No Blog Posts =-.
Good on you for getting out there and posting your affiliate link. I don’t think it is spammy at all, since it was asked for and you provided a service by showing them were to get the product. Hope you were rewarded for this.
After reading this post it kind of rings a bell for me. I am glad you put your affiliate link.
How many people can set up a WordPress blog targeted on a keyword with 10 unique posts for less than 70.00 USD in 15 minutes? ( of course after the research and includes outsourcing the content)
The rest is just, will I do it, or will I not do it.
It takes allot of work when your not a Writer, Blogger, Designer, Guru?, but it can be done.
It’s time to mellow out and get to work.
.-= Dirk@outsourcing articles´s last blog ..Outsourcing Your Articles To Make Money Online =-.
Another great post! I am not a natural born seller, so the asking to close the sale was very hard for me at first, although it’s getting easier and easier. It definitely helps when you’re staying with the products you know and/or love. And if someone is asking for an affiliate link…why would you NOT add it????? You can always apologize profusely the very next line – but at least give yourself a chance at closing the sale!
Well done, and I’m enjoying my second month to make the Google threshold in one month of AdSense. The feeling really is amazing, knowing I’ve done the work so that direct deposit is going to show up each and every month from now on. Brilliant!
Shane “Master” Dayton
.-= Shane@Master Dayton Writing Blog´s last blog ..College Students as Part Time Writers, Part One =-.
If you are running a website with your name all over it I agree with what you say about affiliate programs. If you run a site which you don’t have much interest in and if you want to make money, you need to add affiliate links to products you wouldn’t consider buying yourself. If you keep getting sales and no complaints, well it must be a reasonable program. I am talking more about non IM niches here.
Thats true Mike – to date I have been fairly useless at I must admit – but I need to try harder! And yes I am talking about anonymous non-IM niches too.
I think that you classically show that it is very possible to be polite and still make a good income online while selling products through affiliates and whatnot. I think you sum it up nicely here, “Think of it this way – if you find a great new restaurant do you tell people to do there?” It really is no different.
I am glad that you made the choice to make an online income where you can control all of your hours, tasks and profits. The sky is the limit and you are no longer bound to the confines of hourly rates. I hope your next year is even better.
Great article, thanks. That is one of the reasons why I’ve never really done much freelance work (I’m a web developer). I hate asking for money. But I have started to get over that. My time is important and if people want me to provide a service, it’s going to cost them.
I’m a new IM’er also but have been blogging for about a year. I too always though, “if you write great content, they will come.” That may be the case, but it sure takes time and a lot of work. Learning how to target search traffic is the key to MMO. Oh, and patience and hard work.
You may be the best “closer” in the business, but no traffic = no sales.