What you will learn
The idea for this episode came about after a support ticket came in from one of our customers who, as it turns out, is going through some financial trouble at the moment.
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for people to view internet marketing as the solution in a desperate situation, when in most cases, it isn’t.
Today, we’re going to set the record straight and outline the expectations you should have when it comes to making money online.
#1: Not A Solution To Money Troubles
First of all, if you’re having money troubles, often the best thing to do is to just get a job.
I’m sure that’s not what you want to hear but the reality is, internet marketing isn’t an overnight thing. You have to play the long-game if you want to see any significant return from it.
For example, if you’re creating quality content, it doesn’t matter how much time and effort you put into that, you likely won’t see a return for several months and sometimes up to a year. If you need money today then it’s not a good use of your time.
Of course, you could balance this by working part-time and working on growing your long-term projects. In the end, it’s very likely those will pay you back more than what you make at your job but as we said, it takes time.
It’s easy to read other peoples success stories and assume it’s an easy path to success. You have to understand, people rarely post their failures online and failures are happening all the time in the internet marketing space.
And it’s not just your time you have to invest into this, you also need to put money into hosting, tools, content, etc. If you don’t have money, you probably shouldn’t be spending what little you do have on a brand new website.
Finally, you can always learn an internet marketing skill that can be leveraged to grow your own online business, as well as make money from taking on clients. Upwork is a great place to make that happen.
#2: You Will Have To Learn New Skills
When it comes to internet marketing, you have to be willing to learn.
As you continue to work on your business and grow, you’ll run into different obstacles. You have to be willing to overcome it no matter how far out of your comfort zone it is. Often, that means becoming the jack all trades.
That could be anything from:
- Web Design
- Server Admin
- Graphic Design
- Sales Psychology
- Social Media
- Audio Engineering
- Video Production
You cant go to university to develop this range of skills and there’s often no single source to learn from either.
To really get ahead in online marketing, you need to be prepared to spend money on courses, watch YouTube videos, read blogs and be prepared to break things from time to time.
Other blogs tend to make it looks easier than that is. Truth is, if you want to acquire these skills fast, you need to get stuck in and allow yourself to make a mess of it from time to time.
Just remember, you don’t have to be an expert at everything you do.
#3: Everything Is Always Changing
We learned this in 2011 with the Panda update.
As you probably know, we actually owned a digital marketing agency not long ago, and back then we were doing a lot of grey hat SEO for clients. When penguin struck, 80% of our clients were penalized in a single day.
As you can imagine, that was a rude awakening to the realities of online marketing, and a very difficult one to get through.
But you know what? We’re glad that happened. It was an experience that changed our trajectory for the better. It was exactly the wake up call we needed to adapt – and we’ll always be adapting.
Moral of the story: you need to be okay with things going wrong. You need to be okay with someone or something pulling the rug up from under you. That’s just the way it is.
When these events do take place – like the recent Amazon affiliate changes – it washes away a number of people who were never cut out for Internet Marketing. That can be good or bad for you, and that’s also for you to decide.
Finally, it’s not just about dealing with changes that have already happened. In this game, you need to stay ahead of the curve and brace yourself (and your business) for when s**t’s about to hit the fan.
#4: Barriers To Entry Are Really Low
The barrier to entry with internet marketing is VERY low.
This is especially true when you compare it to a physical business, like a restaurant for example. To start with, you’d need significantly more money to get if off the ground, not to mention a full blown business plan, staff, materials, processes… you name it.
On the other hand, if you want to start a website, it’ll only set you back a few bucks. WordPress is free. Themes are free. The basics cost as close to zero as you can get.
The problem is, once people go through the basics and set up their site, they wonder why they’re not making money. Truth is, that’s just step 0.
To start making money with your site, you need to market it effectively. That’s an entirely different beast that requires a lot more skill and money to get right. When it comes to making your first dollar, the barrier to entry is not quite so low.
Finally, there’s a big benefit to being an established player. Older sites tend to have a much easier chance of ranking. As someone who’s just getting started with their site, you need stay fresh if you want to come out on top. You need to innovate.
#5: Competitors Will Pounce
Competition is something you will have to learn to cope with.
Even here at Authority Hacker, in the beginning, nobody was copying us. But as we got ourselves on the radar, we’ve started to see copies everywhere.
In fact, some of those “competitors” are getting more traffic than us. The reason is likely because they were pushing large amounts of content at a faster pace, whereas we put more focus on the quality.
Either way, they’re leveraging parts of our business to propel their own and that’s just how it is with internet marketing. Everything is on display and people WILL take advantage of that.
Of course, if there’s no competition, there’s usually no money to made and you should avoid it. This is validation 101 but it should be said.
This even happens on a large scale, by the way. Take Snapchat. They refused an offer from Facebook and as a result, Facebook decided to build their own “copycat” version in the form of Instagram Stories.
(I guess the mantra is, if you can’t buy them, copy them?)
Jokes aside, while some companies outright copy, others try to get a leg up on their competition with improvements and new angles. THIS is what really drives innovation and it’s no doubt a good thing for everyone.
#6: Passive Income Is A Myth
Pat Flynn, if you’re reading this, we love you, but it has to be said…
…Internet marketing isn’t really a form of passive income.
If you’ve ever read the 4 hour work week – if you haven’t, you should – the notion that you can work 4 hours a week in internet marketing is not realistic.
Sure, we could leave work for a few days, or even a week and still make money. But that’s because we already put in the work upfront. It’s a delayed return.
Passive income is exactly that, passive. It requires no active involvement and almost always comes from investments (ie. stock market, property).
In this case, you write content and you get paid for it later. That content also has a lifetime revenue cap in a sense that it wont always stay relevant, stay ranked in Google or continue to make money at the same rate.
#7: You May Not Reach Full Time Income On The First Try
To quote Jon Snow, you know nothing.
When you start out with internet marketing, you won’t know anything. You’ll make a bunch of mistakes that will probably cost you both time and money. But you need to accept that.
Even with Health Ambition, a site we started with a fair amount of experience, we made a number of mistakes that we’re dealing with today.
For us, we were able to make it work anyway. In some cases, it might be best to start over with a completely new site. Again, that’s just the way it is sometimes.
Ultimately, you have to be prepared to fail a few times before things start to click. If the first site doesn’t work out, just know that it’s all part of the process.
#8: It’s A Mental Battle
We touched on this before with the Google updates, and more recently, the Amazon changes. You need to be able to cope with constant flow of changes that come your way.
That doesn’t only apply to changes that happen in your business, but also in your life. If you’re having family problems or relationship troubles, those are going to weigh into your business at some level.
Another thing to consider (when things do kick off) is how to handle the additional income. Financial planning is important because it can be tempting to spend your earnings on nice cars, fancy jewellery or exotic holidays.
While it’s important to enjoy yourself, you still need to ensure you’ve set aside some money for inevitable crashes. It’s imperative to have capital in the bank for when changes do happen…. and happen, they will.
With internet marketing, you won’t have a steady income. It’s always fluctuating and that can be worrying at times. Sure, we can all pat ourselves on the back when things are going good, but what happens when they’re not?
Our advice is not to look at weekly, or even monthly earnings. Look at your average earnings over the entire year. That’s a much better reference point for growth.
These issues get worse as you grow. When you start hiring other people, it’s not just about you anymore. It’s also their livelihood on the line and you will absolutely feel that pressure.
#9: You Have A High Chance Of Success
Despite the difficulties we’ve outlined, IM does work and almost anyone can do it.
If you adopt the right mindset, overcome the inevitable barriers and keep applying yourself, you’re almost certain to make a decent living from this.
We say “decent” because while we know plenty of people making good money from internet marketing – we don’t know any that are making ridiculous amounts of money.
If you’re trying to be the next Facebook or Snapchat, the chance of being successful is incredibly low, though the reward is also incredibly high. (Think billions, not millions.)
#10: Leave Your Ego At The Door
Several years ago when we were working with clients, we saw first hand how ego can stand in the way of progress. One client in particular really highlighted this fact.
Basically, we did an A/B test which resulted in 1 page converting much higher than other. When we presented this to our client, he wanted to stick with the “nicer looking” page because of his own preference.
This is not the mindset you want when going into IM.
Take the Authority Hacker homepage for example, it’s a bit of a joke – but it’s not the most important thing to work on right now. Emotionally, we want to fix it. But we know that working on sales funnels, developing blueprints and creating value is more important for growth at this stage.
What we’re trying to say is, focus on what’s making money and work on your strengths as opposed to constantly trying to fix your weaknesses. It’s far more productive.
One final thing to mention on this point is haters.
When you start to grow, you start getting negativity thrown your way. That could be anything from nasty comments to customers who are unreasonable with support expectations.
It’s easy to get discouraged by that, but you have to understand that it’s not personal. People have their reasons for reacting in certain ways but it’s not an attack on you specifically. Just brush it off, and move on.
#11: It Probably Wont Look Like The Social Network
This is a reference to the movie, The Social Network. (Awesome movie, by the way.)
It tells the story of how Facebook was created from a College dorm and quickly became a multi-billion dollar business – and could even someday become a trillion dollar business.
Will that be the case for you? Probably not.
The growth a site follows an exponential curve. Taking a new site to 0-50 visitors per day is like growing an established site by a 1000 visitors a day.
And of course, when you start, you’ll be paid less than if you were working at McDonalds. But if you keep at it and keep growing, you’ll notice significant jumps year on year.
We just wanted to finish up with a quick update on our Amazon earnings since the recent update.
So what’s the verdict?
Well, our revenue dropped about 35%.
Not the end of the world. In fact, it’s still extremely good. If you check out Health Ambition, we haven’t slowed down. We have a huge pipeline. We will still the CRO stuff we talked about last week.
We know some people dropped as much as 50%, and others as little as 15%. The fact is, it’s still difficult to find any affiliate programs that pay more than Amazon.
Even when you do, they’re often very specific about what they offer which brings it own set of problems. Of course, that’s not to stay you should absolutely stay with Amazon.
What we’re saying is, don’t jump the gun just yet. Slowly test and adapt to these changes much in the same way we’ve highlighted throughout this episode.
Resources Mentioned In This Episode
- Podcast – Sites We Started And Failed