I started in the world of eCommerce on 2004 and left university with a fantastic idea of launching a music library for broadcast. I started with around $1000, paid a developer to build me a very basic but functional website and got started finding music to sell on a commission basis.
To fund my living costs and ongoing development I got a job in a bar at night and supermarket by day. I ploughed every cent I earned back into the business, making huge mistakes such as paying SEO guys hundreds per month to employ black hat techniques and ruin any work I was doing. A steep learning curve.
2 years in (2006) and I still was making no money online, had increasing debts (including a non-paid student loan) and was getting desperate. I launched a free music site on the side to try and generate some traffic to send to the main site. The free music site went crazy, receiving thousands of hits per day after a year but it didn't convert to sales on the main site. I monetized the free site as best I could but being inexperienced I was literally managing to make just $50 per day. So after a few more years of struggling on I quit the main business (just closed it down) and spent a further 2 years trying to monetize the free site, with little success.
I eventually sold the free site for a good amount of money, with almost 1 million subscribers to my mailing lists and 12,000 hits a day. Yeah I know, I could have made loads somehow off that list.
I took the money and reinvested it into a new business, a social network for parents which flopped massively. I won't go into the details, but let's just say you need hundreds of thousands to launch a social network, not just a few thousand.
In 2014 I had to get a job back in a supermarket full time to support my now growing family.
In 2015 I decided with my music which was now sitting on a hard drive I'd give it another go and launched my second website, a free music website but this time knowing I needed a strategy to monetize it. This was to offer higher quality audio for a fee while giving away lower quality versions.
I decided the best option was to not get too heavily bogged down with SEO, make the site compliant to SEO standards from the start and focus on adding content daily.
3 years on and it worked, I now have a business earning $60,000 per year and growing.
The moral of this story? Don't give up... work your arse off, get jobs to fund your business and plough every cent you can in... personally I took the route of not spending all my time worrying about SEO... create fantastic content and a service that everyone loves, I try to answer all customer emails within 2 hours (unless I am asleep of course) and just make what you have the best it can possibly be. You should be working at least 50 hours per week (at least at the start if possible).
The final piece of advice.... if you've read the above you'll realize to put in the time and effort you really need to do something you love, you're passionate about and want to spend all your time doing. If you do, you can't go wrong.