Making Money Online

Making Money Online – Your Mind is Your Biggest Enemy

I cocked up a client’s site today -well not their site -the new website is just fine and they are happy, but I stuffed up their email. I hadn’t realized that I needed to add a MX entry to redirect the mail sub-domain to ensure that mail still went through their current provider. It took me a few hours to figure this out between several calls to find out who the email provider was and then get the right tech details from them, and a live chat session with Hostgator to make sure I didn’t fuck it up further.

I was working under pressure, people’s email was heading out into the interstitial void instead of their inboxes. I didn’t know WHAT an MX record was at the start, I just knew I must have caused the problem. I chased the people I needed to find the right technical info, I learned a lot about how email works on the Internet, I implemented the solution.

I focused and worked and sorted it out.

I looked up after 3 hours, decided the dog needed a walk and I needed a coffee.

Then I wondered – why? Why can I focus that well on a technical problem, and yet I struggle so much with focusing to write the bloody books I need to write, develop the sites I need to develop. Get to the income goals I need to reach?

As I walked I thought about why I was good at technical support.

Its just a little bit broken, Christchurch earthquake damage

I learned how to do technical IT support before I even knew what the job involved. I arrived in London in 1986, with no money, the right to work, and desire to work in London and not the North Sea (thereby precluding working in my actual profession – geology).

So I became a typist, a legal typist to be exact, it paid better. I could touch type, I re-did my resume and I started working for a small agency based in the City specializing in secretaries for legal firms.

This was before Windows was invented (yup Word was not the first word processor. Google: DisplayWrite, WordStar, Word Perfect). I ended up being their troubleshooter – there were bazillions of WP packages and quite a number of operating systems (CP/M anyone?). No standard operating system, no plug and play printers. The “network” was large floppy disks, usually poorly labeled. There was no email, or google to find the answer. They’d usually lost the manuals. If the secretary was away and the partner needed a contract printed out for a client – they needed me. It was fun, I had no fear, and nothing to lose, I was well paid and I learned a ton in a short space of time. I don’t remember ever failing either.

A few years later, back in New Zealand, I set up a unix network from scratch. By myself, with a mixture of toll-calls to the supplier in another town, and the manuals. It was mission critical, and it worked well. I had no unix qualifications, no experience, in fact I didn’t know what a systems administration WAS, but someone had to do it – that turned out to be me. I worked stupid hours for months, I was well paid, I learned a ton. I don’t ever remember thinking I would fail, or what if we didn’t get it working right, or what would happen if something went wrong.

These days you’re not allowed administration access to similar servers unless you have a several qualifications, and lots of years experience. From what I’ve seen in more recent work places, they fuck it up more often than I did. But at least there’s always a paper trail and someone to blame. Must truly dreadful doing IT support these days for most corporates.

Which gets me back to – WTF does Lis’s ancient history have anything to do with making money online? It explains something – well to me anyways. It explains why, when faced with a white screen where a website should be, I fix it. When the emails get lost, I find them. I don’t panic, I don’t worry about whether or not it can be fixed, I just find out what I have to do, and I fix it.

So I have this other problem. My income has declined significantly this year. There are three main reasons:

  • hubpages stuffed up
  • the US$ collapsed (I’m paid in US$ but I don’t spend US$ at the supermarket)
  • I fired my long-term client who had got way too picky about their backlinks

The first two were out of my control, the third was simple ROI investment decision.

The net result was that last month, for the first time in a VERY long time, I spent more money than I earned.

So what did I do – did I deal with it by say, figuring out what the problem was, finding out the solution, and then working hard? You know just like when I had to do technical stuff which scares the crap out of lots of people?

Nope – I panicked. I couldn’t focus, I flitted from Facebook to Twitter to G+. I wasted over a month.

And the really, really stupid thing is – I don’t actually have to problem solve. I know how to fix my income problem, I need to build more websites, build more backlinks, write more books, sell more books, and ensure people go Christmas shopping while using my Amazon Christmas link!.

I just have to do the fucking work. How dumb – one wasted month. Time to start writing.

I’m no good at this pop-psyc stuff – but if you aren’t succeeding have you looked at the guy in the mirror lately – he may be the problem…

27 replies on “Making Money Online – Your Mind is Your Biggest Enemy”

I finally buckled down in September with a daily list of to-do(s) and have been pretty productive. I still have a bad day here or there but after having such a productive run I had to admit that I wasn’t working very hard at all for the last year (?).

Yes, I did look in the mirror and it wasn’t pretty. And I hate to admit that. Keep that to yourself, okay.

I thought I may not be the only one! Yeah keeping it up for a month is the trick -after that it becomes a habit! I hope

Lis –

I just want to know why you look in the mirror and see a guy staring back at you?

“I’m no good at this pop-psyc stuff – but if you aren’t succeeding have you looked at the guy in the mirror lately – he may be the problem…”

WTF?! THAT is your problem – you have some MAN on the inside of your mirror! Call the police.

On a serious note (as if that isn’t serious?), I can so relate, only this year I’ve messed around and “lost” 4 MONTHS. Playing around, literally. Extended vacation, trying to make up for lost time in 2010…

It was “good” but strategically STUPID. Like Carrie’s mentioned, started a to-do list so I can see where my time goes and what the priority is – and it’s not really G+ (so I’ve begun timing it). It helps, too.

I use a tool called “Action Enforcer” but there’s free options out there (I’ve only ever used this one, it’s around $25 or something). Like the “egg timer” website, for instance.

I’d write more here but then I’d have to charge you or be marked as spam. Work to do!

LOL James – I’m old, I read books as a kid and identified with the lead boy – cause he did the fun stuff while the lead girl character worried about getting dirty! Also “guy” is a pretty unisex term around here – maybe like “dude” in the US? Trust me if you ever see this blog go PC use s/he or recommend SBI – call the psyc services!

Yeah procastination – I’m good at that – off to follow your link!

Amen to looking in the mirror, Lis. The answer won’t be found on Facebook, I’ve learned that for sure. The dingle most difficult problem facing those trying to make money online is actually getting busy and getting something done.

When we find a plug-in or eBook or iPhone Ap that actually does that, we’ll all be rich.

Gosh you brought back memories, but really, you came into the world rather late … most large legal offices started out with Wang stand alone word processing consoles. Computers? Ha, they were merely for nerds, Jobs and Wozinak and Gates … nothing will come of that nonsense LoL.

Ah never got into the Wangs – they were are around but there were other temps that actually knew how to use them – I guess I got the weird out there PC thingies!

I read Steven Pressfield’s “The War Of Art” and it helps with this problem. It’s a short read, about 200 pages. Well worth it to me. It’s a little odd, but it opened up my eyes to why I couldn’t get motivated. Anyone who writes should give Pressfield a chance.

Pressfield’s an ex-Marine and a very accomplished screen writer and author. If you want to know how to overcome difficult hurdles, a U.S. Marine is a fine person to take advice from.

Thanks Mark – I clicked thru to your site – picked up your Amazon cookie and bought the book – I was hooked by the Forward who was written by someone who called himself an “Olympic procrastinator” – me too!

Thanks! I appreciate it. I appreciate your blog too. I’ve found some great advice here during my long struggle to make money online.

I hope you find it a worthwhile purchase. It’s a different concept and some parts are downright harsh, but true.

One part that really sticks with me is his look at Hitler. He’s got the only Hitler comparison that I’ve found useful. Hitler wanted to be an artist more than anything. He found an attempt at world domination that cost his life and millions of others easier.

Yeah, I’ve skimmed it, its incredible how much it applies if you subsitute “writer” for “online entrepreneur” – the Hitler thing struck me to – also the whole pro v. amateur differences in outlook

There is a part where he talks about having to write sales copy for a nail. I had to smile when I read that. I think all of us have tried to write about something nearly as mundane at one point or another.

I’ve wasted a ton of time this year too (way more than a month if it makes you feel better 😉 In my case I needed to change direction in my work, but I knew that months ago & am not sure why I took so long. I think I have this weird self-sabotage thing going on sometimes. Being lazy doesn’t help either!

September was just the worst of a bad bunch – this week its gonna be different though!

Wow, I didn’t realize just how much I have in common as far as background go. I was a problem solver in the IT world for years as well. I hear you on the motivation issue, though. I went through the same thing back in July. I took a day off and that wasn’t enough; I decided I wanted to screw off for a whole week instead, so I rented myself a cabin in the mountains.

I took along just me, myself & I (i.e. no significant other), and we duked it out among ourselves as to what we should be doing when we got back. It was very refreshing, and I came back home better equipped to deal with the monotony that is IM.

It may seem counter-intuitive to spend money on a vacation when you’re not bringing in enough as it is, but, assuming you have the savings to do it, it may be just what you need. Sounds like you’ve taken a non-vacation instead. That is, you’ve spent a month beating yourself up, instead of just taking the time off & enjoying it as a getaway. So my advice is probably worthless to you now, but keep it in mind for the next time you get in a slump, k?

Good luck, whatever you do!

Yeah this time it was the slump after being on vacation – but you’re right – maybe I need at least a long weekend off!

Ahhh, that explains a lot, actually. I’ve found that real vacations can be a lot of work – as I’m sure you can attest; after all, whole books have been written about how best to pack. 🙂

Maybe next time planning a “vacation to recuperate from your vacation” might be in order. I know when I travel, my days are generally jam-packed with going and doing, and while fun, not exactly relaxing. Even if I can keep myself from thinking about work (rare now – my mind sees niches everywhere), I still come back exhausted. My little cabin in the woods jaunt was quite the opposite. My biggest concern was whether or not to go out for dinner, and where. The rest of the time I spent truly relaxing – reading, working puzzles, soaking in the hot tub, and just a little shopping. I limited my daily travel because even driving was too stressful for the pace I needed. But that may be just me.

Regardless, a long weekend off (really & truly off, not checking your email, twitter, or g+ every half hour off. 🙂 might be just what you need.

Great post – this one hits home! I struggle with all of this online stuff being brand new to me, juggling the expansion of an offline company that is my job, and balancing my home life roles of husband and father of 4 children. (2 home schooled and 2 babies)

I know what I want to do and how to do it; I just cannot balance it yet. I get some traction, and then I lose balance and focus by balancing one item on the list and the rest starts to crash.

But as my dad used to say, the hole does not get dug looking at the shovel.

Have a great day and get to work!


Thanks Eric – you need to focus on doing something – even if its not everything!

Well, as engineer myself, I think tech piece is not too hard. I could pick up anything and learn quick. I think the difficult part is about business development and marketing. I try to catch up and read more great books myself.

Nice that you took a break, that’s all we need, think fresh, be creative, and work on new niche and ideas.

It keeps us going and be persistent. Have STRONG desire and keep us going.

Trust me the marketing stuff does your mind in – computers, hardware, OS – that stuff is dead easy – there’s a right answer and a wrong answer the stuff that involves humans – yuck!


I’m going through a similar situation. You and I have been on this online journey for about the same amount of time. Our income seems to track in similar ranges and we both are very familiar with our own comfort zone.

Like you, I’ve been farting around for the last month or so. My income seems to be stagnant and I know in my heart what needs to be done to get things going again, but I think I’m just at the point right now where I don’t feel like doing it.

I’ve been writing 3 books and they’re all at a standstill. Just this weekend I made the decision to pretend like I’m starting all over again. I’ve got to get back on the schtick if I want my income to move forward.

Your post is like therapy for me. At least I know I’m not alone. Thanks for keeping it real.

You know Felicia everytime I write a “down” post I get more reactions than when I far more comments than for my “up” posts. Know you and I both know that Amazon book sales wll explode at Xmas – so get writing too girl!

Great post Lis! I was seriously reading you post and after the last words, I went and look at the mirror. I had to smile, cause it seems like the problem was really me all along. Damn, need to work my ass off starting tomorrow. Its already 3 a.m here and I still haven’t reach my quota, not even half.

Totally agree, lack of focus is the enemy of online success. Facebook, youtube, there are a million distractions and effort is always more difficult than non-effort. You simply have to have a will of iron, there’s no other way!
I think I need my screen to flash “FOCUS” every minute. Or something.

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