It was around April that my friend Bill introduced me to the Rich Jerk and I first started to get interested in the idea of making money on the internet. Up until that point, my only internet based earnings were through designing websites for other people.
My eyes were opened by the Rich Jerk eBook. The systems he talked about seemed so simple and so obvious that I couldn’t see how I could fail to make money. All I had to do was slap up a few sites and watch the dollars roll in.
Fast forward to December and a new year is just a few hours away. How have the last 9 months worked out and what does 2007 hold for my online money making adventures?
So let’s kick off by starting out with how much I’ve earnt in the last 9 months purely from internet marketing activity. I’m discounting any spin off work that has come about from this or any of my other sites, I’m talking purely PPC or affiliate sales.
Well, let’s put it this way. This cheque ain’t Shoemoney size. In fact my total 2006 earnings are less than half a percent of that figure. Looking very quickly at my AdSense, CJ, Amazon and Clickbank control panels, I figure I’ve probably pulled in somewhere around $250 in nine months so where have I gone wrong?
I tell you what, let’s start with where I went right. That $250 is money that nine months ago I never had nor ever intended to earn. I’m an actor who also runs a website design business (difficult to believe looking at this site, I know, but it’s true :oops:) and I never intended to try to make indirect money online so, as far as I’m concerned, that’s a positive.
The next positive, and this is the one where I want you to pay attention so I’ll put it in bold text, 40% of that has come in the last month. How come? A lot of my sites have come out of the sandbox and are now getting hits and, therefore, generating revenue.
Next, I’ve learnt an incredible amount in these last 9 months. In truth, no eBook could ever hope to cover everything that I’ve picked up from some amazing people online. I’ll be updating my blogroll over the next few days to highlight some of the absolute diamonds I’ve uncovered in this time but I’ll give a big heads up to Brian Clark, Liz Strauss, Blog Bloke, Jeremy Schoemaker, Michael Gray, Danny Sullivan, Aaron Wall, Darren Rowse, Neil Patel, QOT, SEOmoz and way too many people to mention over at the DP Forums. These folks have given me some amazing insights into how to use the web to my advantage.
Finally, and this point can’t be stressed enough, I’ve had fun. It’s been fun tinkering around with site design, ad layout, new ideas and what have you. Sure I’ve made a heap of mistakes but it’s been fun and the fact is that there’s an awful lot of downtime in what I do. Waiting for my agent to call, sitting around on set with a laptop, months of no acting work. What did I spend my time doing before this? Playing Spider Solitaire so the way I see it is that I’ve picked up $250 that I would never have had.
So where has it gone wrong? In no particular order: laziness, procrastination, lack of capital, lack of knowledge, unrealistic ambitions and lack of focus.
Laziness. I am by nature a lazy person. If I can get away with the least amount of work to achieve my goal, I’ll take that option. If I can be distracted by something else, I will allow myself to be distracted. Interesting enough, with my acting, I become laser focused but that’s probably because that is something that I really want and have done since I was a child rather than something I stumbled upon by accident.
Procrastination. Same as above to a degree. The fact is that I have filled my brain with lots of ways to do it but single handedly failed to..ermm..actually do it. Why? Am I scared? No. So it’s because I’ve spent more time thinking about how to do it rather than just doing it. Maybe Bill was right.
Lack of capital. All of my money making activities were always intended as a sideline. As any actor will tell you, unless they’re Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie, you need to have a second income stream to survive. The way our industry works is that, for example, you can get a part in a soap and be flavour of the month one minute and out of work the next so I was always looking to make money online as my back up but always with a view that any online activities would self fund. There are so many cool tools out there which would help me increase my revenue but I just can’t afford to buy them. I do believe that being able to purchase domain names, additional server space, mail list services and *gasp* links might have helped.
Lack of knowledge. I’d worked in the internet industry for a number of years before getting involved in this but I was clearly stuck in a corporate sized cocoon. Most of my experience of building sites was based on an existing well known brand so trying to launch my own was something new. I’d never heard of the Google Sandbox so how was I supposed to know that my brilliantly designed, META tag maxed diet site would fall on it’s arse? I was stuck in a web design time warp. I thought what used to work would still work but it doesn’t. Shame on me. I also didn’t recognise the enormous benefits of targeting the niche markets so I went after the obvious choices. Diets(26.6), quitting smoking(4.5), poker(114), internet security(597). The figures in brackets are how many million search results there are in Google. Talk about going after the wrong market. As any internet marketer will tell you, you’re better off creating a site about left handed Peruvian boxing gloves than you are about quitting smoking advice. OK maybe not the Peruvian boxing thing but you see where I’m coming from? I went way too broad with my initial choices.
Unrealistic ambitions. I read the Rich Jerk book and thought I’m quids in and although he touches on traffic generation, I assumed that Kevin Costner was spot on when he said “Build it and they will come”. Well, quite frankly, they didn’t. In fact, for some of my sites, outside of me and Montastic, nobody did. I just assumed that building some sites about what I perceived people wanted would generate me income. How wrong I was.
Lack of focus. I genuinely do believe that unless you’re absolutely focused on what you want to achieve that you will fail and, let’s face it, $250 in nine months is something of a failure. I have spent way too much time on looking at the ways of doing things than the actual doing. I can talk you through some of the best methods of affiliate marketing, how to choose a niche market, linkbaiting, SEO, web design and all that stuff but the fact is that I do not and have not employed any of it.
So what am I going to do about it? Well I’m going to wish everyone a Happy New Year and cover that in my first post of 2007.
Happy New Year everyone.