Mandatory Characteristics

What does it take to be a successful Internet entrepreneur, let alone a self-described dot com mogul? Even if you don’t have the bold ambition to earn a six-figure monthly income like John, even if you’d be terribly pleased to earn a comfortable middle-class living with your online endeavors, you need to start with a basic core set of characteristics and competencies. And these might not be what you expect.

You might think that if you want to make it as a professional blogger, for example, that you need to start with a healthy foundation of technical knowledge. You might think that you should have a basic understanding of HTML or that you need to know how WordPress works or that you need to have a fundamental grasp of search engine optimization. All of those things can be learned along the way. You don’t need them to get started.

You might think that if you want to make it as an affiliate marketer that you should already have a good background in marketing in general. You might think that you should have a firm grasp of everything from ROI to CPL, CTR to eCPM, but all of those things can be learned too. You don’t need them to get started.

Are You Right for the Job?

The minimum starting point is so much more fundamental than that, because it boils down to your personal characteristics and these sorts of habits are much harder to change as adults. They can still be learned, but not nearly as easily as the ins-and-outs of blogging and affiliate marketing.

  • Financial Discipline: Are you one of those people who get really excited when you receive an income tax refund? Making money online might not be for the you. The truth is when you get a tax refund, all that means is that you’ve provided the government with an interest-free loan. It was your money to begin with and you’re just getting back. As an online entrepreneur, there’s a significant chance that you could be hit with a hefty bill come tax time too. You need to have the kind of financial discipline and wherewithal to absorb such costs on relatively short notice. Your perspective on money needs to shift away from what you might get at a regular job.
  • Self-Motivated: When you work at a more traditional kind of job, even if there isn’t a manager or supervisor breathing down your neck the whole time, you’re still subject to the social pressure of being surrounded by your coworkers. You feel like you should be working, if only to keep up appearances. When you work from home by yourself, no one is watching you… but you still need to get the work done. The motivation has to come from within and it needs to be sustainable.
  • Resistant to Distraction: Related to the point above, when you work online, you will be faced with endless opportunities for procrastination. Facebook, YouTube, Reddit and Netflix are just a click away… but they’re probably not going to pay your bills. This becomes even more challenging when working within Facebook and YouTube are a part of your actual business. Resist. You must be able to resist the temptation.
  • Tolerant of Inconsistency: A regular job probably provides you with a regular paycheck. With some minor fluctuation, you can usually expect to receive about the same amount of money every two weeks. When you’re a blogger, affiliate marketer, or other online entrepreneur, you could see wild swings in your income (and expenses). You must be prepared for this.
  • Positive Perspective on Failure: You will fail. Hard and often. And that’s okay, because hopefully you learn each time you fail so that you can do better the next time around. It can be a giant shot to the ego every time something you do falls flat, but you’ve got to learn to roll with the punches and embrace failure if you want to succeed.
  • Willing to Let Go: Try as you might, you can’t do everything. And you shouldn’t try to do everything, because you’ll end up falling into the trap of trading hours for dollars all over again. It is a much better investment of your time and money to outsource tasks to people who can do it better (and faster) than you can and this means you have to be willing to relinquish some level of control.
  • Unconventional Schedule: You know how most people look forward to the weekend? You know how most people stare at the clock, anxious for 5 p.m. to roll around? You can’t be most people. When you make money online, you have to realize that the Internet is a 24/7/365 operation and this means that you might have to put in some work on a Saturday night or a Sunday afternoon. This also means, though, that you can more easily take all of Wednesday off to run errands and to spend time with your family. It’s all about trade-offs and balance.

Test Your Might

Here’s the thing. Anyone can make money online. That’s the beauty of the dot com lifestyle. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, male or female, American or Armenian. Anyone can make money online, but it’s not for everyone. Is it for you?

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