In this post I’m going to suggest the possible reasons why you’re not making money online. I’m going to describe these reasons in context of the mistakes I made in the last 20 years in the hope that you will learn from them and avoid these errors.
The Internet in the 1990s
I built my first websites in the late 1990s, when the World Wide Web was a new frontier in which there was little regulation and plenty of opportunity. If I knew then what I know now I would probably have become one of the dotcom millionaires, but as we know hindsight always comes with 20/20 vision.
I started using the Web toward the end of the 20th Century using dial-up modems that provided just 9,600bps of bandwidth at first, rising to 14.4k, then 56k. I remember showing my wife a URL saying,“You see this? It’s a website address. Pretty soon you’re going to see these everywhere.” She looked at me with that look that says,“Who is this geek? What did I marry?” and left me to my tinkering with this new phenomena.
1. Have a plan for your vision
One of my first websites was one from which I sold a few books. It was about the same time as a chap called Jeff Bezos was building a book-selling website called Amazon. There our similarities end – he had the vision and the drive but I had neither and that was my first mistake – not taking the time to come up with a clear vision, and not planning how to turn that vision into reality.
However, I wasn’t a complete failure as I did get into online dating relatively early on in that particular industy. I launched my first online dating site in 2004 and by expanding the portfolio into several niches I began to see some good results. I made a reasonable about of money from online dating between 2005 and 2010 but my second mistake was not reinvesting the income into actions that would nurture the sites and keep competitive.
The internet dating market grew and with it came the bigger businesses with their larger budgets and human resources. They applied their strengths and focused on their goals with the result that small, independent operators like me were soon losing ground to them.
2. Don’t Get Distracted
So that’s my second tip; if you’ve got the vision and the plan and if it starts to bear fruit, don’t get distracted, don’t blow your winnings, and don’t diversify too quickly, because sooner or later others are going to notice your success and start competing against you.
You need to consolidate and strengthen your position in anticipation of those who will soon arrive, hoping to capture your territory. However, you also have to careful that you don’t spend your profits on advertising that fails to convert into fresh sales.
3. Learn SEO Essentials
My next and third lesson was to be about SEO.
Twenty years ago you could build a website and get it to rank in the search results very easily. Today, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is an industry in itself and there are plenty of snake oil salesmen out there ready to take your money in return for empty promises.
It’s very hard to find genuine and honest people who have the integrity and the skills to provide an SEO (or any other) service that delivers impressive results. Flushed with early succes you may feel suddenly confident and with cash in your pocket you head off in search of those who will improve the quality of your websites such that they keep appearing in the top five results.
You pay them, you wait, and six months later your website rankings are worse and the company no longer answers your calls, or if they do it’s only to sell you more services. No thanks.
4. Don’t Delegate Essential Tasks
That was mistake Number 3 – don’t trust others with crucial tasks that you should be doing yourself. There are tasks you can and should outsource but unless you are 100% sure of the company, my advice is learn basic SEO and tweak & fix your own websites. At least if you get it wrong all you’ve lost is time, not hard cash.
The rush to spend money on time saving tools and on outsourcing tasks that you may find tedious brings me to my fourth mistake and tip.
5. Don’t Waste Money On Useless Tools
You’ve probably noticed how the algorithms notice your interests and browsing habits, and how you start seeing more adverts that are related to your online activity.
My Facebook feed is full of adverts for various tools relating to video making, scripts, and advertising. They all make grandiose promises about how they’re goting to bring amazing results that will help me and my business enjoy quick and easy success. The format is often the same – a similar landing page filled with details and testimonials that leads you to a time-limited special offer of “Just $97!“
We know they’re lying or at best exaggerating their claims yet we still click on those links, just to take a look. There’s that part of us that still hopes there is a formula (magic or not) that is easy to follow and which works with minimal effort. Perhaps, like me, you’ve spent more dollars that you care to count on tools and plugins that didn’t deliver and never even recouped the cost of the product.
My advice is be very, very selective about what you buy. Don’t buy it on first inspection, don’t buy tools and plugins on impulse. Instead, wait 24 hours and then check it again. Does it still seem as attractive as it did the day before?
My Two Essential Tools
There are very few tools that I use regularly and which I’m certain have been an excellent investment.
One of them is Vidnami* (formerly Content Samurai) – the tool I use to create these videos. Using Vidnami I’ve created over 300 videos that make up a YouTube channel of over 18,000 subscribers and that generates a small but regular income each month.
Try Vidnami for free for 14 days*, you’ll probably find a way of using it for creating videos for social media, websites, or YouTube.
The other tool that I use each week is TubeBuddy*.
This is actually a suite of tools that includes keyword research for new videos and most importantly the SEO tasks for videos that I’m about to publish. It saves a HUGE amount of time when it comes to completing and optimising videos, giving them the best chance of being found and ranked.
Stay On Track, Be Productive
My fifth mistake was to be spreading myself too thinly and not knowing the value of time management.
It’s very easy, even now, to launch a website based on some vague idea you had while walking the dog or taking a shower. It’s also easy to imagine that if you launch enough websites at least one or two of them might succeed, but that method doesn’t work and just saps you of time and enthusiasm.
Concentrate on one or at most just a few websites and don’t get distracted by the never ending distractiosn of social media. Yes, social media is useful but make sure you’re using it and don’t get used or over distracted by it. Make sure that each day is productive in one way or another. Set yourself tasks that need to be completed each day so that once done, whatever else happens, at least you’ve taken those small steps towards your goal.
There really is a meaning behind the saying,”Make each day count“.
So there are five errors and lessons that might help you. Let me know if these have helped or if you have some suggestions of your own.
*Yes, of course they’re affiliate links!