The Hard Truth

… or making money at all, for that matter.

The Internet has provided this tremendous opportunity for just about anyone from just about anywhere around the world to make a very comfortable living from the comforts of their home. All you need is a computer and a reliable Internet connection and you could be well on your way to giant yachts, fast cars, and glorious vacations.

At least the potential is there. Actually achieving these dreams can be another matter altogether. And even though the biggest appeal to the dot com lifestyle doesn’t really have to do with the money at all, the money is what will empower you with the freedom to live your life the way you want to live it.

Surviving the Shark Pool

With these grand goals and visions in mind, you set off on your journey as an online entrepreneur. But the commission checks don’t come piling in through the door. You don’t see those big numbers posted by the big gurus in the industry. What gives?


Step back from the world of online marketing for a moment and consider what the traditional business market looks like. For most of us, Steve Jobs will be remembered as the man who revolutionized the consumer electronics industry with his unique perspective on what the customer actually wants. The Mac wasn’t the first computer and the iPhone wasn’t the first smartphone, but he eventually made them work and the Apple empire was born.

But Apple is not where he got his start. He started by selling a product that would allow people to get illegal free phone service. That’s a little shady, to say the least, and he was met with limited success in its first ever business venture.

Did he give up? No. Did he stick with this one business? No. He kept broadening his horizons and exploring new opportunities until he found something that stuck. He kept pushing the limits until he found something that was popular, profitable, and innovative.

A Humbling Experience

Now, I don’t claim to be anywhere near in the same league as a Steve Jobs, but my own personal experience as a freelance writer and online business owner can be quite telling too.


After co-authoring a book with John a few years prior, I published my own book in early 2014. I had this grand vision of taking my experience as a blogger and professional writer, parlaying that experience to become a successful author. I wanted to be an international best seller.

While I did manage to sell a few copies, most of those grand visions and grand ambitions were shattered. Beyond the Margins is hardly an international best seller. I haven’t been invited to appear on a late night talk show to share some banter with Stephen Colbert. In the grand scheme of things, the book barely made a dent.

So, what gives?

After all, I have accumulated a good number of valuable contacts over the last ten years of my professional career and I have a good grasp on several aspects of online marketing and social media. But the sales were disappointing and stagnant at best. This illustrates a far too common and difficult truth about making your living on or off the Internet.

Falling and Failing, Again and Again

Your first venture will likely fail. You might invest all sorts of time, money and resources into it and you might think you have all your ducks in a row. But you will probably fall and fall hard on your face. This is true whether your first venture is a blog, a YouTube channel, or a published book. If you’re lucky, you’ll see some success. If you’re like most other people, you won’t.

Chances are that your second venture will only do slightly better than your first one, if at all. Again, if you have some good fortune on your side, you might explode on the scene and your bank account balance will shoot through the roof. But if you’re anything like the majority, that’s rather unlikely. You might face similar shortcomings with your third time around.

But should you give up? The simple and very hard time about making money is that it will take more than one, two or even three tries for you to break out and make it big, if you ever do at all. The people who are able to elevate to the level of a Steve Jobs, a Richard Branson or a Warren Buffett are the ones who stubbornly persist in the face of failure. The people who make it big are the ones who stick it through the hard times, confident that they’ll make it.

If you want to succeed, you’ll need to develop a tough skin and recognize that failure is not failure at all. It’s just another step toward your success. You just might have to take a few more steps than you had originally anticipated.

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