I’ve done a lot of stupid things when it comes to making money online. When I started trying to make money in early 2007, I had no idea what I was doing.
I thought I’d be up and running within 6 months making a full-time income.
I can now see how delusional I was. I see this a lot though. If you’re new to this scene and want to start making money on the internet, please realize that it isn’t something that happens overnight.
Look at it as a brick & mortar business, only with the internet, you don’t have to invest a lot of money.
All you need is money for a domain, hosting and a paid course or mentor to help speed up the process and minimize mistakes.
I started out with a coach, but I still screwed everything up. Sometimes you’re just not ready. I certainly wasn’t at that time, but I kept going at it and here I am.
The first mistake I did was in the area of research. When you’re beginning with all this internet stuff, research is the last thing you want to do. You already have your great idea and you want to jump right in and get started.
I felt exactly like this, but let me tell you, research is the foundation of your future empire. If you neglect your research, you might strike gold, but often you’ll end up being one of those people who claim that making money online is a scam.
Research can involve many different things, depending on what your goals are. For example, with my niche websites, I did a lot of keyword research because I was going to optimize them for the search engines.
But with this blog, I thought mostly about branding, my personality and how I could stand out from the crowd. This is why I recommend everyone join a paid course, because you get a mentor for an affordable price who can point out any mistakes you make and steer you in the right direction.
I personally an a member of Authority Blogger which is run by Chris Garrett. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Chris and when I saw that he was offering a course, and that he offered comprehensive e-mail support, I was sold.
I used a free CSS template for my first website, which was fine in the beginning, but as time went on, I kept adding to it and it started looking messy.
I never got the motivation to clean it up, so now it just sits there collecting cyber dust. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t need a super fancy design when you start, but something simple and clean will make a professional impression on your website visitors.
For example, when I launched the Wake Up Cloud in December 2009, many people after a few weeks were telling me that they thought my blog was a lot older than it was. I made sure to get a good designer to make a simple customization of the Thesis theme for me.
It cost me $300, excluding the price for Thesis. There are great designers out there that are very affordable if you know what you want. I’ve found it helpful to sketch down what I want, scan it and send it to my designer. Works like a charm.
I was naïve enough to think that I didn’t need to build links to my website. I guess we’re all retarded sometimes and I’ve learned a lot since then, but this was definitely one of my biggest mistakes.
If you want traffic, especially from the search engines, you have to build links. You can do this by being friendly, writing guest posts or asking nicely.
With this blog, I’ve done a lot of guest posting and connecting with people. It has helped a tremendous amount, because not only have I made a lot of friends, but many of them link to me from their blogs because they like what I’m doing.
I also get high-quality links and traffic by guest posting regularly on other blogs. Guest posting is a great way to get your name out there and meet new people.
If you have a blog and are wondering why you aren’t getting traffic, you’re probably not doing the right kind of stuff.
I’ve noticed that actually putting your face behind your website or blog gives you more credibility and allows people to get to know you, which is essential if you plan to make your own products and offer services.
My first website was almost completely anonymous. On second thought, I did have an about page, so I guess I had a face there.
My point is that I didn’t actively go out there and engage fellow bloggers and website owners. I was sitting and waiting for something magical to happen.
If you’re starting a blog around your passion, you should connect with anyone and everyone that you can. Networking can do huge things for you.
This doesn’t mean that you go out and tell people about your website and/or products, because no one wants to listen to that guy.
It means that you hang out with like-minded people and have fun. That’s how you make solid connections. At least that is how I do it.
5. Search Engine Optimization
I completely neglected search engine optimization with my first niche website. I think search engine optimization is not as important for blogs, but it definitely doesn’t hurt.
My first website was meant to get search traffic, so it lived or died on how well I did my research, optimized my pages and built links.
The bad news was that I didn’t pick my keywords well, because the niche that I chose had no good keywords.
It was a highly saturated market with companies spending millions on getting their websites ranked high in the search engines. Suffice it to say, I had no chance.
I was lucky though, because I went to the Site Build It! forums and asked for help. That’s when someone told me honestly and bluntly that my website was never going to make it with the keywords I was working on.
I could’ve gotten mad at him, but instead I chose to leave a broken website behind and start a new one.
My new website is more in line with my passions. It’s also a Site Build It! website. I’m glad I chose to move on, because I am now making close to $1,500 passively from this new website each and every month.
There are times when you have to realize that quitting is the only option.
A few other lessons I learned the hard way was to look for shortcuts. I bought links, I outsourced a bunch of bad stuff and it didn’t help me one bit.
All it did was lighten my bank account. I don’t regret making those mistakes at all, because without them I wouldn’t be where I am today.
If you’re actively looking for shortcuts and how you can become an overnight success, chances are that you will fail miserably.
When I realized that working hard is the only thing that will bring me closer to my goals, everything started working much smoother.
When I started the Wake Up Cloud, I realized that guest posting was a great strategy for me. I’m a fast writer, so I have no problem churning out content for my blog and for other blogs.
This has helped me build links, connections and traffic. It isn’t a shortcut, but it’s a strategy to works extremely well.
7. No Plan
Last, but not least, I had no plan. My grand plan was to start a website and hope that everything would work out.
You have to have a plan if you want to make money. With my second, and successful niche website, I knew how I was going to monetize it.
With this blog, I had a vision in mind before I started. I am open to my vision changing, because that happens a lot.
I am not saying that you should make a plan and stick to it no matter what. I’ve found that the best results in my life have come from me being open to new and surprising possibilities.
Have a plan, but also be ready to modify and adapt it to what is happening around you. As you go through your journey, you will learn new things, your perspective will change and so will your plans.
In order to calibrate and head in the right direction, there is one thing you must do, and that is to take action. Don’t put off going after your dreams.
Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, it is better to start, because you will learn a lot in the process, which will equip you for future success.
Image by Éole Wind