Twenty-Two Months

From the day that I created my first website, to the day that I decided to dedicate myself wholeheartedly to building up an online income, approximately 22 months passed.

From the day that I created my first website, to the day that I decided to dedicate myself wholeheartedly to building up an online income, approximately 22 months passed.

Throughout those first twenty-two months, I did generate small amounts of residual income from my websites and it did grow, month after month.

However the majority of what I accomplished in those first months was not to generate income.

If you are wondering what this has to do with you, I don’t blame you.  But if you are still interested in reading more, here we go.

Lets have a look at those first months:

1.  My online enterprise was experimental, even recreational.  I was working long days and long hours at another profession and what I did online was more of an entertaining distraction from day-to-day life.  On some occasions, weeks would go by when I didn’t have time to even check my email, let along update a website or learn any code.

2.  Several projects I worked on were intentionally not monetized, and I had no intention of monetizing them for a long time to come.

3.  Several of the projects I worked on were done for educational purposes – in other words, to practice and learn.  And learn I did.

4.  Biggest time consumer:  Dumb Mistakes.  If there’s one thing which can eat up more time than anything I know, it might be this one.  Dumb Mistakes.  The mistakes I made during those first 22 months might have easily cost me at least 12.  And yes, I mean 12 months worth of mistakes.

Examples of Dumb Mistakes?  Well, lets look at some things a new marketer can do wrong:

  • Thinking that I would have to buy a new hosting account for every site I had.  And thus, creating most of my sites as free Blogger Blogs in order to avoid paying extra hosting costs.  In fact, for a full year I had two “real” websites and I paid hosting for both separately.  Embarrassing, but true.  One day I realized that Blogger is great but it’s not where to put your website if you’re in it for the long haul.  Too late!  And this is how my one Page Rank 4 site happens to be a Blogger Blog.  If I had known better, I would have simply registered a domain name and placed my blog there.  It could even have been WordPress.  Oh well, sigh.  That blog is http://freepoemsonline.blogspot.com by the way, in case you are curious.
  • Oh it gets better.  At one point I decided that my first website wasn’t going to make it and that I should transfer its content to a Blogger Blog so that I wouldn’t have to pay for hosting.  Not only did I waste incredible amounts of time creating a Blogger Blog and transferring my content (as well as hours searching for other free web hosting oppurtinities), but I even went to other websites which were linking (sometimes quite naturally) to my sites, and I asked them to change the links to the Blogger Blog!  Which they did.  Somewhere along the line while I was preparing to nuke my site, I noticed all of a sudden that it had Page Rank 3.  Oops.  I decided not to get rid of it.  I still have that site, and it now makes a few hundred dollars a month.  But boy, was that a waste of time (and links).
  • Needless to say, I spent wasted time on several other free blogs, which could have been great start-up websites if I had known that all I had to pay for was a domain name.  Some of them built up Page Rank.  But down the line when I realized I needed to have self-hosted WordPress Blogs, my poor little freebies faded into the back burner.  So in the long run, yeah, it was a waste of time.

But I DID learn a lot in the process, and maybe that’s what counts the most at this stage of the game.

I could list out plenty more of these, but I will spare you the pain.

Now here is another thing we spend a lot of time on when we are first starting out – learning how to do some things, and learning how not to do some things.

We buy a software or product and spend time using it and experimenting with it.  Sometimes in the end we realize that that software is useless.  Sometimes we are so glad we got it.  But in the long run, I can’t say I regret trying these things when I did.  If I hadn’t been willing to learn about new tools, I also would not have found the tools which are invaluable time-savers me and which have opened up whole new possibilities.

But all in all, its true that a lot of time goes into that.  Especially in the beginning I think.

What did I gain, more than anything, in these first 22 months?

Primarily I gained what I learned.

Keeping in mind that when I started out I knew less about the Internet in general than the average person.  Like “what’s a hyperlink?”  Domain name?  URL?  Server?  All new to me.  As far as HTML code was concerned, forget it.  I had not a clue.  I couldn’t make text bold in html.  FaceBook?  Never heard of it.  Blogs? I had never blogged, nor commented on a blog.  I did not know what a blog was.

So what did I learn in these twenty-two months?

  • Well, all the basics of Internet Marketing.  Keyword Research, Affiliate Marketing, Social Networking, Web 2.0, Advertising, Article Marketing, Blogging, Payment Processing, Online Sales, and ya … you know.  It goes from there.
  • Oh – well I learned what a blog was.  Big first step!  And how to blog, how to work with WordPress.  Installation, optimization, and the works.  It doesn’t seem like a big deal now, but it did then!
  • Basic HTML and Dreamweaver.
  • Lots of “don’ts.”  Don’t do this, don’t do that.  Learned some of those the hard way.  Oops.
  • SEO, and More SEO.  Onsite SEO.  Offsite SEO.  Siloing.  Latent Semantic indexing (LSI).
  • Software, more software, and other software.  Oh yes and how to program this software or install that software.  Software I learned and kept using, software I learned and never used again.  But lots of software.

It looks pretty simple when I list it out here.  But when you think about all of the details, ramifications, eBooks, Google Searches, Free Reports, and Blog Reading … the truth is, we spend a lot of time just figuring out what we are doing!

I think the most valuable thing I gained in those 22 months was what I learned, the experience I got, the experimentation, the friends I made, the mistakes I learned not to make again, the tools and techniques I learned to use, the tools and techiniques I learned not to use, and the increased familiarity with the whole ruddy field of Internet Marketing.

My point?  Well, its up to you to determine what my point is.  Maybe to remind you that even for those rare souls who are not yet making a million dollars a minute, try to remember that this doesn’t mean you are wasting your time.  It also doesn’t mean you aren’t wasting your time.  You could be wasting your time.  I don’t know.

What have you learned?  Have you gained ground or gone nowhere?  Have you learned as much as you could?  Do you use what you learn and practice with it, or do you just spin around in circles going nowhere all the time?

There is also a point in time when its time to shift – from spending a large percentage of our time “learning” to spending a larger percent of our time “producing.”  Ie, getting something done.

Its important to recognize when its time to make that shift.  Too early or too late could slow you down.

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34 Responses to “Twenty-Two Months”

  1. Anna
    January 13, 2009 at 9:05 am #

    Hi Davin! That’s really funny because I was just on your blog trying to comment. I had to reset my password (laptop died, but that’s another story) and I went to my email for the confirmation link and there were your comments.

    I’m glad you liked the post. Yeah I know exactly what you mean. Its easy for me to get discouraged if I think about how long I’ve been at it, but I have to remember where I started and also the fact that I didn’t really have that much time to spend, until a few months ago.

    And you’re right, we’re still here. Many people die off in the first few months. Or weeks. Or days. Or hours. Or minutes. Or … haha.

    Thanks again for coming by my blog. One day I hope to post here more often! But, as you so adeptly described in your own post, I have too many incomplete projects! I have to complete some!

  2. Davin - Viral Marketing Guy
    January 13, 2009 at 8:34 am #

    Hey wow, that was a very great post Anna. Hey lady, do I know what you are talking about! I don’t even think I could possibly count the amount of time I’d actually wasted, on some things. But exactly like you said, it’s all been a learning experience.

    Well, in reality, it’s not wasted time, if we think about it. In the end, it’s all adds up to being much more wise about internet marketing as a whole. But I certainly can relate to the feeling of, “What the heck was that all about?”

    The greatest thing I think about all of this Anna is that we are still here. I guess I probably got started around the same time you did…perhaps a little sooner…but not by much.

    In any case, as I’ve always believed, the perseverance always does pay off, either in profits or in what we have learned.

    Once again…great post Anna!

    Hope you are doing well..talk soon.

    Davin

  3. Jenny
    January 13, 2009 at 6:54 pm #

    Thanks so much Anna! Great Post!! It generated so many questions, now I just need to figure out where to go for the answers 😀

  4. Anna
    January 14, 2009 at 3:30 am #

    Thanks for your comment Jay! I really appreciate it! Very cheering.

    My best month so far in terms of income (i.e., money into the bank account, not just “earned”) was last month. $1300 online. Woo hoo! And some of that was backlogged freelance payments from November (blog setups). Right now my next target is to reach $2000 per month steadily. So when I saw in your post your “confession” that you had “not reached the 100 K mark yet” I felt myself blushing and wanting to hide under the desk. 😳

    At the same time it motivated me to really dig in and complete all my incomplete projects. Or at least get them out of “start-up” and into maintenance mode.

    But yeah, as gone over in this post, working online only became really important for me this September. Before that, I guess it was sometimes like a taste-test! “Lets see if this does anything … lets see if I like this … I wonder if this will work …” and it also wasn’t really super-important, because I was so busy on other things.

    What I remind myself of is the trend – almost every month, my income is better than the last. And even when its not, the general trend is going up. And other stats are as well, like traffic, SERPs, Page Rank …

    Maybe earning money online is similar to weight loss. Some people say that when you lose weight slowly and gradually, you are more likely to keep it off. If I build up my residual income slowly and gradually, I wonder if it’s more likely to stay? I’m sure that’s not always the case. It does remind me of the “dot com bust” a few years ago.

    Not to say that you can’t get rich fast and stay rich. But I suppose getting rich slowly isn’t so bad either. Well, better than just not doing it!

  5. Anna
    January 14, 2009 at 3:33 am #

    @ Jennie –

    Thank you for stopping by! What questions? Maybe I can answer some. Who knows?

  6. Anna
    January 14, 2009 at 4:57 am #

    Oh! I feel better already 😀

    1999? Wow! In 1999 I had never accessed the Internet. Did email exist back then? I think I sent my first email in 2002 when my mother told me it was free. I was amazed! Free! No postage 💡

    Well then I guess you must have a lot more experience than me. lol. Smart of you to get started early in the game.

    Thank you for the compliment about the $1300. It is encouraging. You see, I never see the posts and articles about people making half of that after 22 months. I see the “I make 3,000 a day online with no experience!!!” pages. I must be missing the other ones? Silly me, I really should get out more. Ha ha. Well, $550 that month was from affiliate revenue and Adsense, and the rest was from Freelancing. Sites for small businesses. Offline contacts led to online work in those cases. But I think offline contacts are an easily overlooked asset. What was best was that I was giving them a great deal compared to what they would have normally paid for a site (at least where they were) and I gave them a much better product at the same time. I’ve seen some sites that people bought for over $1000 and they were really horrendous. Beyond horrendous.

    I like your idea about teaching people to create basic sites. And in fact I have had that idea for a while, I even got a couple of domain names in that direction. Right now I’m disciplining myself to complete a bunch of projects (mainly finish creating the sites for a bunch of domains I have so that I can either sell them or use them).

    But I have been really interested in getting more involved in helping people learn to build and promote their sites…

    Like I said on your blog, I bought that book about site flipping that you were promoting. I read the whole thing. It’s great! So simple and so well laid out. If I could learn to do that and succeed at it, I might be able to supplement my income enough until the residual income increases. And pay for more outsourcing.

    Okay, look at me, on a roll. Talking so much! Okay, back to work! Thank you!

  7. SuiteJ
    January 14, 2009 at 3:12 am #

    You should be motivated and proud of yourself for ending that with this conclusion:

    “….time to shift – from spending a large percentage of our time “learning” to spending a larger percent of our time “producing.” ”

    For people struggling to make money online, this is the one place they can’t seem to get to. It’s not entirely their fault though, because newbie’s are constantly being bombarded with the “latest technique” that you “need to learn” to make money. They also usually promise fast riches, which won’t happen until you gain experience from “action” and not just “reading”.

    Ultimately, you should not focus too much on all those points being “mistakes”. There were simply better options that you didn’t know about.
    The fact that you created blogs, continued to learn, and stick with it all through 22 months is something to be proud of.

    Starting off a new year by laying it all out like that is great step! Stay positive! Sounds to me like you’re on the right track! 🙂

    Cheers!
    Jay

    SuiteJs last blog post..Day 11: Are You Still On Track?

  8. SuiteJ
    January 14, 2009 at 4:20 am #

    lol@ blushing.

    First of all, $1300/month online is nothing to blush about. Do you have any idea how many people have been trying for more than 22 months and have not made even half that in a month?

    As for my goals, what you might not know about me is that I’ve been doing business online since 1999. It wasn’t always affiliate marketing, but from 2004-2007 I had a network of affiliate sites that made a very good semi-passive income. However, it was adult, and I didn’t want to promote that industry anymore so I sold them at the end of 2007.

    So, when I went 100% “mainstream” in 2008, I felt like I should be able to not only match what I had already done before, but increase it. Like you, I made a few mistakes and got a bit sidetracked. Although the $$ amount might be different, a lot of the same problems existed (and I was experienced!). It’s all relative. 🙂
    My goal for a few years has been 100k and my point of the post was that I have come to quite a few realizations as to why I haven’t been able to hit it and hopefully I can turn that around now.

    As I said in the first comment, be proud of what you’ve done and the amount you’ve made. Taking action is the biggest hurdle and you’ve already surpassed that one. Obviously you’ve also found something that works as well.

    My advice to you is to take what’s working and build on that BEFORE you move to other areas. Even if you “branch off” of what’s making you money now. Know what I mean?

    For example, if you’ve made $1300 designing websites, you could increase your income by creating an ebook telling new web designers how you were able to make $1300 getting clients online.
    Or, you could create a “getting started” guide on “marketing your website” and upsell it to your clients after the site has been created for them.

    Anyway, I saw you have a couple other comments (about flipping, etc.) on my blog as well. I haven’t forgot and will answer them soon. Hit me up anytime you have questions or wanna chat. 🙂

    Cheers!
    Jay

    SuiteJs last blog post..Day 11: Are You Still On Track?

  9. Ana
    January 16, 2009 at 1:07 pm #

    I envy you for earning much now..but I’m happy at the same time..because I’ve been reading your blogs and your comments to other blogs and you deserve everything because you are a person who have a lot of potentials and abilities. 🙂 By the way my name is ANA too.

  10. Matt@Tees For All
    January 16, 2009 at 5:38 pm #

    Well i’m sorry you made all those mistakes, but look how far you’ve come. congrats. I am just starting out and i’m trying to learn from all of the knowledge online to minimize mistakes. good luck in the future.

  11. Anna
    January 16, 2009 at 6:52 pm #

    @ Matt and Ana – thank you very much for the encouragement. It always makes a big difference! If you stick to your chosen course, push through barriers, learn, and never give up, you can accomplish just about anything.

  12. vivek
    January 16, 2009 at 9:20 pm #

    It’s so great to hear from someone who is ahead.Most of the times successful bloggers don’t talk frankly and they always try to sell something.
    Thank you for sharing. It really feels that you are speaking from your heart.
    We need more people like you online.
    specially for new bloggers like me.

    viveks last blog post..How often do you post?

  13. Anna
    January 16, 2009 at 9:26 pm #

    Thank you, you make my day.

    Really appreciate it.

  14. Marc Norris@Business Ideas
    January 28, 2009 at 8:20 pm #

    I always love to read stories about how people have started out online and how they have gotten to where they are right now.

    I would like to congratulate your for taking that big step of deciding to try something different than the norm by starting your own business. Most people never make it past that step, and it is great to see another entrepreneur join our ranks 🙂

    For myself, my journey online started seven years ago, and though it has been great, I’ll admit, I don’t know everything. But, I love the fact that I can spend time with my kids, and wake up to a business that can offer something new every day. That part alone makes it all worthwhile.

    Here is to your next 22 months (holds up my wine glass) 🙂

    Marc Norriss last blog post..Slow and Steady Wins the Race

  15. Anna
    January 28, 2009 at 10:32 pm #

    Thanks very much for such an awesome comment Marc. It really makes my day. And thank you for the toast. You know, it’s funny, I was thinking the other day that Slow and Steady Wins the Race really does apply to Internet Marketing. I was even thinking of writing a post about it, but you beat me too it! I will have to have a look 🙂

  16. Anna
    January 28, 2009 at 10:33 pm #

    @ Matt, Yeah, I’m sorry too! Haha. But thanks for the encouragement.

  17. Best Man@Best Man Speeches
    January 29, 2009 at 6:38 am #

    Awesome post Anna. I feel like I am reading my own story. Even it seems I too started around the same time you did. By the way, did you ever join Charles Hefflin’s IM course ?

  18. Anna
    January 29, 2009 at 7:08 am #

    Hi, thank you! I never joined Charles Heflin’s course but I do follow his blog. I read The Plan early on, and then a bit more than a a year ago I bought and read The Master Plan. I am a definite fan of what he teaches, has helped me quite a lot.

  19. James
    February 5, 2009 at 5:10 pm #

    Wow, that’s a pretty thorough description. I jumped into the internet marketing scene just over nine months ago and, needless to say, my early days were very much bravado filled; ‘I’m going be rich in 6 months’! Roll forward nine months and, as you’ve probably guessed, I’m not rich but getting closer each day ;). I think the key point to take away from this post is that we need not only learn how the game works but then actually apply the knowledge. There are too many ebooks full of useful info sat on peoples hard drives doing nothing – read them, act on the information. If it doesn’t work, find out why then repeat without the mistakes.

  20. Anna
    April 18, 2009 at 5:09 am #

    @ James – Oh my, am I slow to answer this. How did I miss this comment? Very well said, it is exactly what happens. I try to keep it in balance but it never seems done – I have so many eBooks to read, they are on a 2-year waiting list!

    Yet I try to manage doing both – progress and study, so they don’t go out of balance. You can study so much you get nothing done, or you can do everything wrong because you didn’t study. So its good to have both – I think in the beginning it should be at least 50% study, but after you know what you’re doing, its a lot less.

  21. Pam
    May 18, 2009 at 1:09 pm #

    Wow Anna, I can surely relate to this! I could have written the whole thing myself – except I’ve “only” been working like a maniac for 14 months. My best month so far was last month – I made $138 from adsense…woo hoo. I’m on my way to producing – instead of just reading!

    Pam’s last blog post..Avail Car Loans Even If you Have Tarnished Credit History

  22. Luca
    May 28, 2009 at 11:43 am #

    Hey Anna,
    I can also relate. I think a lot of us get into Internet Marketing by finding one of those “get rich quick” schemes. The sales letters are so enticing that most newbies – me included fall for them. I bought into one and it was a total scam but looking back I’m glad I did because I learned so much from the experience. We really need to not only take action but also learn from our mistakes from taking action.
    It’s great to hear your story and to know that there are possibilities in this business.
    There is no magic bullet and it does take time.
    Congrats on your success.

    I’m now going to stop reading emails of the next best thing and work on my own business.
    Take care

    Luca’s last blog post..How To Fix Dead Links and Save Your Traffic

  23. Anna
    May 29, 2009 at 3:44 pm #

    @Pam I think you are on your way. I checked my Adsense reports and noticed that it was almost exactly one year for me to make the first $100. This month its close to $500 … so its getting there! Plus, I use anything I can from my earnings to outsource work and article writing so that my projects progress faster.

    Just keep going the way you are and I am sure that with persistence you can get to $10,000 a month and beyond. 🙂

  24. Anna
    May 29, 2009 at 3:49 pm #

    @Luca

    I’m glad you learned from the experience. I think its important to be transparent. When I said “Building from Nothing” I really meant “Nothing!” Some people make 10s or 100s of thousands a month after a few months but I truly think those are “results not typical.”

    But I do think that anyone can make it if they really persist and are willing to work on it for as long as it takes. That’s the truth. Some people lack the interest and persistence, but for those who do, its just a matter learning, working, persisting, and applying what you learn.

  25. Jesse
    July 21, 2009 at 11:31 am #

    Just read a few posts on your site, I ended up here on one of my daily “I’m going to follow comments from blog to blog” and thought I would leave a message here. You have some good content and you are definitely on the right path. I know the hurdles, i feel the pain and frustration that can come when things just don’t seem to “fall into place” the way you wish they would. It’s nice to see someone out there who hasn’t thrown in the towel and sticks with it.

    I also think having goals that are attainable is very important, when I started my first online venture my initial goal was to get indexed by the search engines, then it was to earn money, any amount lol… Now I set more lofty goals but each day is a learning process. While the times have changed, the principals behind solid business haven’t changed. Do what works and stick with it, last month I finally passed the $2500 mark but while I feel good about that, I still have a long way to go to reach my goals. More projects, more products and more diversification is my plan, only time will tell.. Anyhow, great site you have here and keep it up 🙂

    Take care,

    Jesse

    PS.. Jay, you really need to get your blog back online :-p
    .-= Jesse´s last blog ..How To Use Yslow To Speed Up Your WordPress Site =-.

  26. Sharon
    August 23, 2009 at 3:09 am #

    Hi Anna,

    What a great post!

    I haven´t been involved in IM for very long and boy, are you right, there is a TON of stuff to learn.

    I also didn´t know anything about the internet when I first started, but every time I learn something new, I get such a buzz.

    Your story of where you started to where you are now has inspired me.

    Thanks!

    Sharon

  27. Anna
    August 23, 2009 at 11:31 am #

    Thank you for the comment Sharon – I am glad my post was inspiring. I think people get very frustrated and disappointed when sales pages make it seem that they will become overnight millionaires, and it just doesn’t always pan out that way in real life. Like any business, this can take time to set up – or it might take off like a rocket – but if it doesn’t, that doesn’t mean failure, it means that persistence is key.

  28. Dinosaur Bob
    September 8, 2009 at 7:34 am #

    I’ll make sure my family reads this. My folks think that I’m wasting my time. I say that I am gaining experience. Let’s see who’s gonna be right in the end. Thank you for the positive attitude. I was smiling as I read this!
    .-= Dinosaur Bob´s last blog ..T rex skeleton for Auction =-.

  29. Anna
    September 28, 2009 at 4:43 pm #

    @Dinosaur Bob – Thanks for your response! I’m glad it was encouraging. I see too many sales pages which tell people they can become overnight millionaires if they just master “the secret” and I think it frustrates many people when it doesn’t go that way for them.

  30. Greatest Digital Resources
    October 13, 2009 at 9:29 am #

    Appreciate knowing and learning from your experience. Despite the mistakes committed in the past, it does seem to be all worth it. Congratulations for what you’ve accomplished thus far, and thanks again!

  31. Anna
    October 14, 2009 at 12:59 pm #

    @Greatest Digital Resources

    Thank you, and I am glad you appreciated the post!

  32. alada@backup software
    January 12, 2010 at 6:13 am #

    Good Anna I used to read properly your posts. But then due to several assignments I could not visit your blogs. Your experiece is enlightening.

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