Brief history and then I'll get to what I learned. I urge you strongly to take this to heart. All of it.
Okay, I lost my corporate America job in 2000. For 3 years I looked for work but couldn't find anything at my age. I finally gave up in 2003 and decided to try to make a living online. My first year was rough spending 3 months doing all kinds of stupid things like paid surveys, paid to read emails, etc. Made like $10. Finally I learned some stuff that worked and for a few years was making about $1,500 a month. Nothing great but it helped pay the bills.
Then in 2006 a friend of mine told me that my mistake was in not creating my own products. Well, I thought about what I could create and I decided on a book on how I was making $1,500 a month. The book sold like crazy and the rest was history.
Since that time I had created hundreds of products, most selling pretty well. My secret was using article marketing to drive traffic to built a list. Yes, there was a time that this worked very well, especially using article directories.
Then Google put the hammer down on article directories and my business literally crashed overnight.
The traffic stopped, the opt ins stopped, the sales stopped, everything stopped.
Today, in 2014, I am starting all over. I took down all my "how to make money" sites and products (No way I can teach people to make money if I can't do it myself) and have gone into another niche altogether. As of this moment, I am still broke but I expect that to change soon because of what I've learned.
Okay, so just what have I learned from all this?
1) Never invest solely in other people's virtual real estate. I put all my articles up on Ezine Articles and didn't even think to put them on my own blog. By the time I did, it was too late. When Ezine Articles got smacked, something that would have NEVER happened to my personal blog, it essentially took me down with it. I was depending on another site to bring me my traffic. Big, big mistake.
2) Never depend on just ONE source of traffic. Again, if that source dries up, your business essentially dies with it. You need to diversify. Because you don't know when something will stop being effective.
3) You MUST keep your finger on the pulse of the marketing world. You need to know what's going on out there. Had I been reading up on things I would have seen the fate that fell on EZA and might have had time to do something about it. Instead, I buried my head in the sand thinking that Ezine Articles would always be the powerhouse that they were. How could they not be? Big mistake.
4) Don't be afraid to spend money on your business. Had I invested some of my profits into improving my business maybe I could have saved it. Instead, I was a cheap SOB who wouldn't spend money on anything. Had I done something simple like learn Adwords and spend some money on promotion, I could have probably kept my business going especially if I...
5) Create big ticket items. It's just as easy to sell an expensive item as a cheap item. The market is out there. But I was so afraid that the only way I could make any money was to make cheap ebooks because I myself was cheap and thought everybody else was the same way. Another big mistake.
6) Listen to the people who are sincerely trying to help you. I can't tell you how many people told me the things I were doing were not the best way to build my business. I was warned about EZA time and time again. I was told to build my own VRE, I didn't listen to anybody, I knew everything. After all, I was making a crap ton of money so I had to be right. Humble pie doesn't taste all that good, trust me. Listen to your friends, especially if they have REAL success and not fly by night success like I had.
7) Don't be a jerk. I was very argumentative and at times downright nasty to a lot of people because they tried to tell me that I was doing things wrong. As a result, these people who, at one time, might have actually cared enough to help me now won't give me the time of day. I lost a lot of valuable contacts because of my bad attitude.
8) Never think that you can't go from riches back to rags. I am living proof of that. It happened to me, it can happen to anyone, especially if they do any of the stupid things I mentioned above in items 1-7.
9) Concentrate on your strengths in building your business. Don't do something just because you "think" it can make you money. If you don't enjoy what you're doing, trust me, the early rough going will make running your business a terrible bore. But if you truly love what you do, even the struggles will be enjoyable. Right now, I am finally doing what I love. So even if it takes a while to become successful again, at least the time it will take won't be interminable. In short, do something you love because life is to short to be miserable at work.
10) In the final analysis, even though there are people who will try to help you, only you REALLY care about what happens to YOU. Other people have their own problems and lives. Nobody is going to sacrifice to make you successful. You alone need to pick yourself up off the mat and get to work and do what needs to be done to succeed. If you're lucky enough to have a business partner or even a spouse who knows the business and helps you run it, great. But if you're like me, forget it, you're on your own when push comes to shove. I have nobody to lean on as a crutch. When my business failed, nobody jumped in to bail me out. Nobody is going to be there now to pick me up off the floor. This is my responsibility and my responsibility only. I will succeed or fail by my own doing. The upside of that is that there is a satisfaction in doing it by yourself.
11) Finally, and this is what I hope you will take most to heart, you CAN make money online. I truly mean this from the bottom of my heart. I know a lot of new people who have never made a dime think this is all just smoke and mirrors and that it's impossible to make a living online. I am telling you truthfully that it IS possible. I had some amazing years that helped pay off my mortgage, credit cards and send my daughter to college with only one small Fannie Mae lone that has been paid back in full. We are now completely debt free thanks to my previous years success. Trust me, if I can do it, anybody can do it. But don't do it like I did. Learn from my mistakes.
I'd love to now tell you how to build a successful business but I am in no position to do such a thing and have no business trying to tell people how to succeed when I'm a dismal failure myself. But there ARE people here who CAN tell you how to succeed. Maybe they'll weigh in here and offer their advice. I don't know, but I can hope.
In the meantime, I am in the process or rebuilding. I am fairly confident that this time I will have long term success, though I am a little gun shy. Going from a solid income for about 5 years to now having made $300 this year has left me a little scared. What if this is it? What if I had my day and it's over? When you've lost everything, you can't help but think that.
But I'm determined to make this work. Other people have had failed businesses and have picked themselves up off the floor. I am sure many of them are here at this forum. Maybe they'll weigh in on this thread too.
Failure is nothing to be ashamed of. Only accepting it and doing nothing about it. That's a crime and inexcusable.
Winston Churchill said it best.
"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."
My success was not final. My failure did not kill me. And God give me strength, I will have the courage to continue.
See you on the other side.