Ah, the good old days.
When $1,000 seemed like a fortune worthy of a guard-dragon.
When I first found out about internet marketing I was 16 years old with my main hobby being video games. (Suffice to say learning about internet marketing has oddly changed my life in a holistically positive way).
Today I want to talk about both the major mistakes and some of the successes I have had online. Its up to you to extract the powerful insights and hidden messages behind my words.
1) Instant Versus Delayed Gratification (In Marketing)
When I first started trying to make money online as a teenager I was going into it with the wrong mindset. I wanted money, and I wanted money now. Unfortunately this nearly killed my future.
All I cared about was how quickly I could throw tiny amounts of money into my Paypal because I had never had a chance to hold onto my own money before. Honestly, maybe you haven’t had the same experience, the first day you get that minor-sense of financial freedom is very liberating.
I did article writing, basic wordpress design, boring editing jobs, and really anything that you would expect from a cheap virtual assistant. Keep in mind that I was never a VA… I just did those type of jobs because I had no skills. (Or so I thought).
I was making money, basically working for lower than minimum-wage, but after lots of hours put into my work I brought out my first thousand. On one hand, your first $1,000 is definitely a milestone regardless of the method you used to get there, but on the other hand it was a fixed income that was based around trading time for money.
That’s no better than a typical 9-5, the exact market I was trying to get away from with internet marketing.
2) The Next Step: I Evolved And So Did My Income
At this point, somewhere about 6 months after I started doing online marketing, I started learning how stupid the short-term jobs were. Important note, my article writing was only dumb for these reasons:
- At the time I didn’t need the money, my parents were still paying for everything, so experience and long-term value was MUCH more important to me… I just didn’t realize that.
- I had no “life problems” to keep me from testing and spending lots of time learning rather than rushing into the game.
- Every article I wrote for someone else was worth $5… but hundreds of high-quality articles being put onto the same site and managed well would end up being worth much more.
So basically I was giving up hundreds if not thousands in potential profits because I was working for other people. There’s nothing wrong with freelancing if you have a skill that you can monetize at large monthly rates, but personally I only had one bottom-tier skill. (I wasn’t ever going to take article writing any further)
So I got smarter: I moved into the knowledge game/information world.
I learned about search engine optimization, a very valuable skill both offline and online, because it was a free source of traffic that only took time to complete.
Technically SEO takes an investment if you are doing a professional job for rank tracking software, analytics, and SEO Tools, etc. But at the time being I was literally talking about $0 SEO, which means no paid links, no software, no tracking, and not a very solid investment of my time.
Over time, and after lots of testing I finally got really good at SEO. This was the first time I noticed myself progressing online.
This was maybe two years into my internet marketing career and I started selling low-end SEO packages to people on various marketing and SEO forums. This is where I made my second and third $1,000′s. I was actually on the right track here… but it all went disastrously wrong in just a few months.
3) Give A Kid Some Success And He Will Ruin It…
At this point I was a 17 year old kid, with no monetary responsibility because I had never needed to learn that precious skill before. I’ll admit it, I’ve been living a fairly privileged life up and so I didn’t realize just how special it was to have an extra $2,000 sitting in my bank account as a junior in highschool.
(Notice the problem in that statement: the numbers don’t add up)… I was stupid and spent nearly $1,500 on paintball and airsoft gear for myself.
I got antsy having all that money in my Paypal – just sitting there – practically asking to be spent, right?
Well after that episode I learned to be smart with my money… or so I thought.
Just to re-cap my history so far:
- Bored, broke, but hopeful 16 year old complains about having no money
- Starts to work online for pennies – makes $1,000 from hours upon hours of hard work
- Sees even more success, things start to go good
- Spends $1,500 and is essentially back to the drawing board, nothing to work from once again
4) Literally Burning My Money and Success
I thought I was so smart, this time I was going to invest my money instead of spending it. I had worked another 6 months to get back to my previous point, and I had saved up $2,000 once again.
I decided to invest in websites/profitable online projects. Talked to a bunch of different people, and instead of going into the projects myself I decided that two people would be able to manage and grow a profitable site much better than one.
So I spent some time looking for a possible business partner, and of course I found one who asked for $500 to put together the website we agreed upon.
- The site was basically an image hosting site with a twist
- If you clicked on the image you uploaded (or any image) it would link you to another random image
- Thus… increasing our pageviews, and hopefully our adsense revenue
- It was really simple, just an upload box on the main page, image pages with an adsense banner beneath
The positive side to this site is that if an image went viral online, we would see thousands in adsense profit from the viral nature of the site… the negative side is that I was dealing with a scammer.
But I didn’t realize that at the time.
My “partner” ran off with $500 about 1.5 months into the project.
5) I Wouldn’t Fall For That Scam Twice… Right?
Fast forward three months… I had finally gotten over losing $500, which might not seem like a lot to you guys, but at the time it was 25% of my lifetime savings.
So I went looking for another joint venture, and honestly I’m not sure why. I think I just assumed that once again a partner would be able to help me progress twice as fast as going solo. You know, sort of like he covers my weaknesses and vice versa.
So here’s what happened this time:
- Solid investment opportunity on one of my favorite internet marketing forums
- Tons of reviews/testimonials - this project was proven to work
- Three Months Later - I’ve lost $1,000
- The guy ran off with nearly $200,000 in profit from the entire list of investors
Nothing we could do, he ended up being based out of Ukraine and was fairly good at hiding his identity… but once again I’m sitting at my computer wondering why I didn’t just burn the money.
What I Learned From All Of This Bullshit
- Go for long-term profits, not short-term income
- Think about this blog, in a year or two it could be a million-dollar site, (unlikely, but it will definitely be worth much more in the future while article writing will never lead anywhere)
- Don’t spend your savings, if you want to invest that money, especially on impulse purchases
- Don’t burn your money in false investments
- Take (lots) of time to figure out who you want as your business partners
- Even if you are a teenager looking to make money online, make sure to have a full contract written out for any serious exchange of time or money
Have you guys had any significant failures that ended up being repurposed as positive learning experiences?