I’m not sure if its because of the economy or if many college graduates simply hate their new jobs, but lately many of my friends have been looking into the idea of leaving their jobs and making money online. It has become a popular topic amongst many of my friends to talk about ways to make money online or on the side in general. I don’t know much about the topic since I’m not getting rich off of the internet, but I do make enough extra money to keep me going.
I made my first dollar online back in 2008. There has been a lot that I had to learn the hard way, through trial and error (and more error). Now I wanted to share with those of you that are interested what I wish I knew about making money online in 2008:
Before you do anything towards your goal of making money online you need to choose a topic first. You need to decide on a topic/niche that you want to focus on. This means that you can’t start a blog for guys, or a general theme. There’s AskMen or Yahoo for that. You need to be a little more specific.
Be careful that you choose your topic wisely. You don’t want to start writing about hockey and then realize that you don’t really care enough about it to write about it on a frequent basis. The topic that you start writing about needs to be something that you would write about for free because you enjoy it so much.
You need to absolutely love the topic. You need to immerse yourself in the topic and learn everything about it. The beauty is that you don’t have to start off as an expert. You can grow with your topic. When I started writing about personal finance there was a lot that I didn’t know. Actually, there’s a still a lot more I need to learn about certain financial topics. As you learn about the topic you can share it with your audience. Your audience will then learn with you. The point is that you need to ensure you love this topic. If you get burned out after a few months then you either weren’t prepared for the work involved or the topic just didn’t interest you enough.
Next you need to decide how you’ll make your money from this topic. Will you start your own blog? Will you write freelance articles? Will you work for another site? There are many ways to make money online, you just need to figure out which route you will take. The good news is that there’s a channel for everyone. Those that hate writing can become video bloggers. If you hate both then you can work behind the scenes. There’s plenty of room for everyone to get involved in the internet world.
I tried putting up Google Adsense on my blog before I even had any real readers. That was a waste of time. I find that too many new bloggers and newbies to working online in general are too anxious to start making money. Think of The Social Network and how the Facebook founder refused to monetize the site at first. Your goal from the beginning should be to build a following, not to get rich quick.
I also want to stress that building a following is more important than anything else. It’s more important than your business cards or the placement of your ads. Whether you decide to write a plethora of guest posts or focus on writing content that is linked to by others, you want to ensure that your blog (or whatever you decided to do) has a decent amount of support.
I was fortunate enough to be given plenty of free advice from the personal finance blogging community when I first started out. Forums can be an amazing thing and a superb source of tips from experience. The occasional jerk will tell you to screw off, but you’re likely to find those that are looking to help out a rookie. I recommend that you first start off by checking out the top sites in your field to get a feel for your competition. When you get a little more courage in you, then you can start reaching out to the people that run these sites. Once you know that you’re serious about the topic, you can join forums where you will learn from others and eventually begin contributing your own valuable tips to the discussion. Just remember to be respectable and always thank anyone that takes time out of their busy schedule to lend a hand.
It’s really easy to phone it in. I’ve done it many times. Why put in the effort when you can watch a movie and put together a 300 word post? The reason being that your readers will notice. Others can tell when you’re not meeting expectations. At the end of the day your readers might end up leaving and you’ll be stuck with a tiny base once again. I found it to be extremely valuable to always over deliver and to give others more than they expected. This way readers will keep on coming back.
That’s what I wish I knew about making money online a few years ago. What else would you guys like to add to this discussion?
(photo credit: acererak)
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