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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Secrets to Making Money Online

I recently had a conversation with a friend who has just started out with making money from blogging. He had been struggling to get over the initial hump of getting things going and wanted to pick my brain on the “secrets” of how to do it.

Of course I struggled to answer at first—there’s simply not a simple equation on how to blog that will guarantee results—however, I did put together some thoughts for him that he found helpful. In this video, I summarize what I said.

While it’s fairly general in nature, I hope it’s helpful as we enter into a new year.

I had a conversation earlier today with a new friend who’s just started to blog. He’s been going for a couple of months now, and he’s a little bit frustrated. He’s hit a couple of brick walls, and he wanted to sit down and just sort of pick my brain on the secrets to making money from blogging and making money on the Internet.

And, look, it’s question I get asked a lot—particularly in interviews. You know, “What’s your number one secret to making money online?” And I always struggle to answer it, because ultimately there is no secret and there’s no one way to do this. You can look at the variety of Internet marketers and see a whole heap of different methods to do it and approaches to do it.

But I began to share with this friend some of the things I guess that I’ve learned, particularly in the last year or two, about making money online. And I asked him for his notes, because he was writing everything down, so that I could share it in a video. And this is kind of the stuff that I said to him.

Number one, I talked about trying to do something online that you really love. Choose an area, a topic, a niche, an industry, that you have some resonance with, some appreciation for, some passion for. There’s a whole heap of reasons for doing this. One, it’s much easier to stick with it for the long term. Two, those who read what you produce and come across you will feel much more drawn to you if you are passionate about it yourself. And I just personally find it much easier to make money from something that I actually have a genuine interest in, because I’m able to produce products and blog posts and content that connects with people, because I know what turns those people on, and I know what will get them reading. I know what will get them purchasing.

So if you have an interest, if you have a passion, then try to center what you do online around that. That doesn’t mean you can’t make money from something you’re not interested in or that you don’t like; it’s just a lot easier to do it that way.

The second thing I’d say—and I repeat this over and over again on ProBlogger, but I think it just needs to be said—is be as useful as you possibly can. One of my most recent videos on ProBlogger was about my son telling me, “Tell the world something important.” And really, that is it. That is what it’s all about for me.

Again, you can make money online by doing things that aren’t useful, that aren’t important, that aren’t really enhancing people’s lives, by ripping people off, but it’s much more satisfying if you’re doing something that is actually useful, and it’s much more sustainable in the long term if you want to build a business, rather than just make a quick buck, if you actually make connections with people and be useful to them.

The third thing I said was that you need to be confident. Once you’ve chosen something to produce and to focus in on, and once you are starting to be useful, it’s much easier to be confident—but you still need to work on that confidence. Many people get online, and they feel that they’re not able to sell themselves, they’re not able to sell the things that they do. And, look, that’s difficult to do, but you need to learn how to do that.

You need to approach this confidently. You need to make offers confidently. You need to approach other potential partners confidently. If you are nervously doing those things all the time, people will sense that.

Now, that doesn’t mean you have to be an extrovert and you need to hype things up. A quiet confidence will go a long way for you. So work on that aspect of things. Push yourself forward, if you aren’t one of those confident people. Get people around you to encourage you in that as well. So be as confident as you can.

The other thing I talked about with my friend today was diversifying what you do, and not just focusing upon one income stream. Now, this is a bit of a tricky one, because if you diversify too much you can end up not really doing anything very well. But what I’ve tried to do over the last eight or nine years now is diversify on a number of fronts.

One, diversify the topics that I write about. Now, I have four different main blogs that I produce content for, four different interests for me, and by doing that I’m diversifying, and if one doesn’t go so well I’ve got the three others to back it up.

But I’m also trying to diversify the income streams. And you’ll have seen, I’ve produced a breakdown of my income streams over the last couple of months. And you’ll see in that eight or nine different areas of income. I’m not just relying upon ad networks like AdSense, or I’m not just relying upon my own eBooks. I’m trying to build in different income streams so that if one falls over, or if one takes a little while to take off, there are other things there to supplement that income.

In the early days of my own blogging and making money online, I diversified by having a real job as well. When I first started I had three jobs, so I had this diversification, I guess, of the income streams, and that helped me to be much more sustainable in the long term.

Speaking of long term, the number five thing that I’d say is that you really need to take a long-term view of this. You can make money fast on the Internet, but it generally comes after years of building foundations. A number of times, I feel like I’ve made a lot of money really fast on the Internet, but as I look back on it there’s usually been two or three years of work, of building relationships with readers and producing content for free, that have led to these bursts of income. And so you do need to take a long-term view of things.

You need to see it as an investment. A lot of the times, when you make investments, you don’t get a return on those investments for a number of years, and the same is true on the Internet. See the time, the energy, and perhaps even some money that you’ve put into these things as an investment that hopefully, one day, will pay off.

The last thing I guess I said to my friend was that you really need to treat it as a business rather than just an event. Making money online … again, it can happen as an event, it can be these moments where you make money, but most online entrepreneurs actually see it as a business. It’s not just a one-off thing where they make money, and then they go and try something else. What I’ve tried to do is to build a business that has this diversity of income, but is also growing over time. As you release a new product, you need to think about ways of driving traffic back to that product over time. As you do affiliate marketing, you need to build systems that will continue to promote things to your readers using, say, an autoresponder.

You need to think a bit strategically, I guess is what I’m trying to say. A lot of people get online, and they produce content, and they think that it will make money by just getting readers. You need to think strategically about how you’re actually going to monetize it. So you need to think about it as a business, you need to think about it strategically, and probably one of the main things for me in terms of building a business rather than just having a job online is to actually build products into what you do. Don’t just rely upon advertising revenue, or marketing other people’s products. Whatever you do, try and work towards having some products that you can sell of your own, and then develop systems around those products to sell them, not just when you launch them, but in an ongoing way.

They’re some of the secrets of making money online that I guess I’ve been thinking about, particularly over the last year or two. There’s a whole heap more of course, but I’d love to hear some of your secrets to making money online. You can leave them in the comments below this video, and I’d love to connect with you there.

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