I just noticed that I've now officially been in IM for 11 years.
Things have changed a LOT over those years and I've seen many young warriors turn into millionaires.
This forum has helped many people make excellent money in that time and there are new people joining all the time.
Along with all of the changes I've seen there have also been many constants.
Things like - information overload. That's been a problem for people the entire time. The technology has changed but it seems that at any point in time there are people who take advantage of that and people who use it as their reason why things are difficult.
My own journey has been a roller coaster and a massive learning experience.
I've seen one thing that's been common over the years and has caused (and is causing) many people to struggle unnecessarily.
That is - reliance on other people to tell them what to do or to validate what they think.
The biggest lesson I've learned about IM over the years is that YOU are the only person with the control and responsibility to achieve your results.
I see this as having 2 main parts:
1 - The fear of making mistakes.
2 - Uncertainty about how to make things work.
The fear is natural but can be paralyzing. In my experience - the times that I've made big leaps forward have been due to learning from mistakes.
I wouldn't expect to learn to ice-skate without falling over a few times, but falling doesn't mean failure - it's just part of learning.
I see a lot of new IMers not giving themselves credit for what they achieve and beating themselves up about their failures.
It's not realistic to expect to succeed without bumps along the way, but people are buying into the hype about quick easy success with little work.
There are massive opportunities and it is possible to do well quickly and easily - but it shouldn't be the baseline expectation.
2 - Next come the uncertainty.
Uncertainty is a scary thing and building an income on the internet requires just as much focus and work as working a normal job - the big difference is that YOU get to choose your business model and YOU get the results of your efforts.
I know that many people who turn to IM to achieve their financial goals haven't necessarily been financially successful in their previous working life, so there are some psychological barriers about what are realistic expectations for earning potential.
If you've only ever earned minimum wage - it may be impossible for you to accept that you can make a million dollars online.
You probably know that if you don't believe it will happen - you're likely to behave differently to if you truly believed you could succeed.
This can be a huge problem.
It's also responsible (IMHO) for why so many people undervalue themselves, their time and their products and services.
The reality is - value is in the eye of the beholder.
You know that when it comes to selling your house - it's only 'worth' what someone is willing to pay for it. It doesn't matter how much you paid. It doesn't matter how much work you did on it. The economy can change and property prices can swing and massively reduce the price of your house so that no-one will pay what you paid.
We know and accept this perspective on value but people forget this when looking at their online business.
If you can bring in 1 new customer to a local business - if the business sells $20k building work then they're likely to see a lot of value in that customer. If the business sells ice creams they're likely to place less value on one new customer.
The point is - whatever YOU can make from a new customer has nothing to do with the value of a customer for other businesses.
So - you could do the same work and be paid $400 for your efforts - or $5 for the same results.
It's really important that you understand where value comes from and that you leverage that when pricing your products and services.
Lastly - don't rely on other people to tell you your business.
The biggest problem I see in IM is people always looking for others to tell them what to do, how to do it, when, where and why to do it.
What works for others is what works for others - it's not a recipe for your success.
This mindset of looking for people to tell them what to do also feeds a market of people looking to make money from those desperate people.
People will sell you whatever you demand. If you ask them to tell you what you should do - they'll pick (or create) something to sell you.
The problem is - this reliance on other peoples need for information results in some people constantly needing to create something to sell you in order for them to make money.
You only need to look at the WSO section to see this cycle in action.
It started as an exclusive place to get really valuable products and services and is now a constant barrage of whatever people think they can sell to desperate members. There are also people ready to say "you should run a wso" every time someone says something useful in the public forum.
This mentality of - "hey you could sell that information to newbies" has developed and has created a mass of low value information products which simply say the same thing as people are saying for free in the forum and elsewhere.
This all feeds the information overload, the mindset that you need to buy 'secrets' in order to know what to do.
The truth is - most of this information is just a distraction from you building a business and serves to confuse people and continue the cycle of dependency rather than break people free of it.
So - with all that said, here's my top piece of advice for anyone just starting out.
THINK FOR YOURSELF!!!
Yes - model success, but there's so much misinformation around created to feed the desire for information that you're probably not reasonably able to tell the lies from the real information - so just use your brain to build your business and don't believe anything you read.
You do NOT 'need' anything from anyone to be successful.
It's great to work with others (I recommend it). It's great to outsource things which others can do better than you. It's great to model success.
Speeding up a bad system just speeds up chaos and failure.
Tools and systems are only as good as the foundation they're built on. No tool is going to make or break your success.
If you think you're an Internet Marketer and you can't answer the question "what is your business?" - ask yourself why.
Many people get sucked in to the strategies and tools of IM and think that (for example) article marketing is a business, or PPC is a business.
If you have no business to use these tools and strategies on - you're likely to spend most of your time doing stuff and not building a business.
If you make $200 a month and it costs you $300 - you're NOT in business.
If your goal is to make $10k a month and you're spending 12 hours a day and making $2k a month and not sure how to improve that - maybe you're in the wrong business.
You need to have your goals in mind to use as the reference for whether your actions are suitable.
There are so many ways to make money online that people often forget that finding 5 ways to make $200 a month - is not 'success' if your goal was to create $10k a month.
It's important that you measure and test what you're doing - or you can end up thinking you're being successful when you're doing things that won't reach your goals.
It's really important for complete beginners to make that first dollar to prove that real money can be created from internet activities - but after that, it's even more important to create a plan for your business that includes a realistic strategy for making money that can reach your goal.
If you don't do this - you can end up spending years doing things and wondering why you always seem to have limited success, and then trying different things.
You need to be able to look at your activities and have a realistic reason to expect that they will create the income you desire.
Many people kid themselves that making a few dollars means they're being successful.
Many IMers have made less than they've spent on information products and are still kidding themselves that they're successful.
If you want a hobby - then yes, it doesn't matter if you only make a few hundred dollars here and there.
If you want to achieve financial independence - you need a more robust plan.
Houses cost hundreds of thousands of dollars - your plan needs to achieve your goals. If you have no goals, you're probably operating a less than ideal plan. If you know you need to make $250k - you'll see that 12 hours a day making $200 a month won't get you there.
Get real about your plans - don't expect anyone else to make them happen (lots of people think if they just make an ebook and get someone with a big list to promote it - they'll be rich). Don't believe what you see others saying - especially when it's part of, or followed by a sales page.
People will take your money all day long while you're looking to pay them to make you successful.