"What's he talking about? People DO make money online!"
Of course they do. I'm not suggesting in any way that it's not possible to make money online. In fact, I've been making a decent amount of money online myself for the last 4 years, continue to do so today … and hope to continue to do so well into the future.
"So … what's your point?"
Over the past few years, with all the progress in making the internet accessible to the common man (through blogs, cheap web hosting, simple web page creation tools, social networking, etc) … internet marketing gurus have made a ton of money Selling a bill-of-goods to the public. It goes something like this:
"Lost your job due to downsizing? Unhappy in your current job? Eager to make more working from home than you can make slaving 40-60 hours for" the man "?? Buy my ebook and I'll unlock the mysteries of" making Money online "for you, and you'll be independent and wealthy sooner than you dreamed possible. Then you can retire, drive your new Lexus and spend your days on the beach drinking pina coladas …"
Let's face it … that does not sound half bad. But a lot of people have fallen for this hook, line and sinker … and there's now a huge group of people who do not talk about creating or providing products or services that actually help people. Rather, they've fallen in love with the rather generic (and lame) idea of "making money online". But … what does that mean mean, anyway? Not much.
Once again, a qualification: SOME people CAN transfer the kind of work they do to an online marketplace and do quite well with that … and in fact, if you do not do it, you might well be at a competitive disadvantage. As a professional voice talent, I work for clients all over the world who find me through my web site. And, for the most part, voiceover work is one of those jobs that does not suffer from geographical limitations. You may be in a similar situation, and in such a case, you NEED to seriously consider your need for a web presence, and to educate yourself on issues like Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) to reach your potential Client base.
But, that's not what I'm talking about here. The "make money online" gurus tell you that you do not have to know anything about a certain topic to use it to make money online. They'll teach you to "play the edges" via niche marketing … by creating a web site on some "hot" topic or product, loading it with ads, RSS feeds and affiliate links for related products … and Then dragging traffic to your site by hook or by crook: ranking well for long-tail search phrases or buying dirt-cheap ads … making your money back plus more ad clicks or affiliate payouts once the visitors arrive and either purchase a product Or leave in frustration … a system known as "arbitrage".
"Yes, I've heard most of that before. And I still do not know what your point is …"
Well, with that background set … we can finally get down to the point.
The idea of embracing hot topics or products that you do not know much about … cobbling together relevant resources, tossing up web sites or blogs and grabbing traffic wherever you can find it CAN work for awhile. But is it any kind of decent long-term strategy? Hardly. Here are the weaknesses of this as a way of "doing business":
- You're going to be chasing hot topics and shifting market trends for the rest of your business life … not building a resource with any shelf life. Translation: High burnout factor.
- The market continues to get more crowded and the sophistication level of the people doing this continues to increase … there are only so many hot topics and products around at any given time … and window for these things can come and go before you Can even respond. Very few of these "niches" hang on for long. I've heard that 3 months is fairly standard.
- Google and the other search engines are getting better and better at weeding from their search results sites that offer no real added value (and, as if that's not bad enough …) they're providing faster and easier routines for your competitors to report you For being pretty worthless in a gambit to try to get you penalized.
- For the big commercial entities that already dominate these markets in the real world, there are new tools coming online that they can afford and you can not (try $ 6500 a pop for absolutely EXHAUSTIVE keyword research!) … and soon enough, they Will absolutely OWN all those long-tail keyword breadcrumbs that you're currently using to rake in traffic. They can not afford not to. You can not count on these slumbering guys to stay clueless forever.
I realize that many people do not really care about this kind of appeal. They'll "take what they can get" now … and they figure they'll stay a few steps ahead of the game and can always make a decent living that way. That's fine.
But the point of this article is to challenge those of you who can see the logic of a good long-term strategy in building a business … who can see that there is a certain "scammy" nature to grabbing short-term profits and Disappearing into the night. I'd like to suggest that there's a better way:
We all have areas of knowledge and interest. We may not be top-shelf experts … but we know enough to discuss certain topics intelligently, and some of us have gifts of communication in terms of writing, speaking, translating complex topics into simpler terms, teaching, illustration, etc.
My challenge is this: Instead of falling into the "make money online" trap, why not try this?
- Sit down with a blank piece of paper and brainstorm. Take an inventory of your interests and your own personal gifting.
- Invest some or all of your energy in building valuable resources that will build an audience because you're providing something that they can not get anywhere else.
- Learn to stay current on industry news in your niche.
- Interview the thought leaders in the field.
- Create a resource directory to make searching for related online resources easier.
- Share your opinions (usually done through articles or blog posts).
- Write articles and advocate for change where needed.
- Build an audience.
- Use your audience's feedback to continuously improve your product and presentation.
- Become an authority of texts on your chosen topic.
- And use your position as a thought leader to gain additional info and bring it back to your audience.
Bottom line: ADD VALUE. STRIVE FOR UNIQUENESS.
And when you've done that … you've got something of actual value for yourself as well. People who care when you speak. A great outlet for info that your visitors will link to naturally and share with their friends. And NOW … FINALLY … you've also got yourself an opportunity to make money. And THAT'S when ads, affiliate links and the rest start to make real sense.
Summary: The "make money online" game is not immoral or illegal … but it IS short-sighted. Most people who get involved come to that realization once they've been in it for awhile … but their response it to ratchet their efforts to a fever pitch in hopes of "making a killing" and getting out. Some succeed … but most will not. And, it's not in anyone's best interest to tell you this, because so many have a financial interest in your attention and loyalty. Not me … I'm not selling a book, or a monthly subscription service, or trying to get you to my seminar. I do not have a dog in this fight.
I do, however, have a conscience …. and I think it's only fair that someone share this with you before you've sunk thousands of dollars and thousands of hours into pursuing a strategy that does not bode well for the long term .
Instead, consider doing something of real, long-term value. It's a win-win for you and your web site's visitors!