The Stark Truth of Making Money Online: Lessons Learned from My Journey to Explore the New Economy of the Internet

Where Has the Time Gone?

It is over 4 years since I started my Blog and have neglected it for most of this time. Where I ask has the time gone and what on earth have I been doing over this period?

When I retired after 45  years in engineering and commerce, I felt a duty to explore the New Economy of the Internet and this is what I’ve been doing for the last 5 years, or so. I’ve learnt a lot but feel disappointed with myself that I did not report progress along the way, as I had intended when embarking on the journey. After all, this was the reason I started my Blog.

Time has flown, this is for sure, but what have I achieved? Although on a mission, I’ve had no clear business goals, it was more of an interest to pursue and I have treated it more like a hobby. If given the choice between doing what I should do rather than what I like to do, then invariably I’ve been favouring the latter. However, this is okay as I’m retired although, on balance, I do feel need to have a more business-like plan to make money online.

I suppose I could write a book about it, but my problem is that I still have so much unfinished business to do with so little time left to do it. The positive thing is to reflect on lessons learned and share these with the making money online community. I do so candidly in this post.

It’s All in the Plan, or Was It?

Here is what I said at the outset of my journey…

I’m an old guy, on a journey to investigate the New Economy of the Internet. In some sense, I see this as a duty. The system has educated me and I have enjoyed a blessed life, around 45 years in industry and commerce.”

What I found on my journey around the New Economy of the Internet was rather disturbing. There are so few marketers who prosper on the Internet, indeed most fail, around 97%, as commonly reported. It’s shocking I know, but industry figures show the chance of success is only around 3%. Anyone who tells you that internet marketing is easy is misleading you. Getting started making money online is hard work and requires a great deal of determination and resilience.

Many hang around believing things will change. And, of course, they might, with one proviso… that the marketer changes. “Adapt or die”, as they say. So, when completing my initial appraisal of the make money online niche, it became my mission to understand why failure should be the norm, and to help as many people as possible avoid the pitfalls that most fall into.

You can see from what I’ve described of the plan that I was clearly on a research project with few business aims. The question now, more than 4 years on, is what do I have to show for all my efforts and what have I learned from my persistence?

Well, it’s difficult to know where to start on lessons learned. There have been so many but here are some of the key points…

Knowledge is Power

Let’s begin with learning, as we all need to figure things out and develop the skills we need to accomplish what we set our minds to do. The accumulation of what we learn about a subject is called knowledge, and over time this gets assimilated into best practice. Apply the practice correctly, they say, and you will always get results. Hence, “knowledge is power”, but why then do so many folks fail?

There are three things I’d say… The first is that an accomplished internet marketer has to learn a wide range of skills to make money online, including communication, financial, marketing and technical. Second, each skill has its own learning curve to go through, and the third is that learning these skills takes time. Remember, “Rome was not built in a day” (Anon).

No great thing is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig, I answer you that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen.
~ Epictetus

There’s plenty of scope for folks to drop out across the wide range of subjects that we must learn and skills to master. Many do give up for a variety of reasons. I’ll discuss some of these below. Survival is a challenge and you will soon realise why when you appreciate the learning cycle to accumulate the necessary skills is anything between 3 to 5 years.

However, this duration should be no surprise to anyone, as mastery of any trade or profession is of the order of 10,000 hours.

Self Mastery

The skill that is most likely to make or break you is self mastery. This is the ability to manage your mind and exercise control over your own emotions and limiting beliefs, the stuff lingering in your subconscious. It is also about managing your time and having confidence to do the more challenging things in life to achieve success in whatever you decide to do.

Mastering others is strength, but mastering yourself is true power.” ~ Dan Lok

Self-mastery is something we should all strive for. It requires a great deal of commitment, but the payoff is huge. It will build your discipline, determination, self-belief and confidence and, ultimately, will lead you to do the right things to achieve results and ultimate success.

Developing Self and Others

If you want to succeed in business you also need to quickly learn to place networking at the heart of what you do daily. But what in essence does this mean?

It is essential to develop communication and networking skills if you are to influence others and make progress online. Central to this is the art of engagement, which involves actively connecting with your audience, building meaningful relationships, and fostering a sense of community.

So it is more than self or personal development. It is also about others and how well you interact and work in a collaborative way. A comprehensive approach to success in business should therefore encompass development of both yourself and others. Part of this is recognising and applying the concepts of duplication and teamwork.

In order to thrive in the dynamic and competitive landscape of today’s online business, self-development is critical. Continuous improvement, refining skills, and expanding knowledge are essential for staying relevant and adaptable. Entrepreneurs and business professionals must invest in personal growth to lead effectively, make informed decisions, and inspire others to follow their visions.

However, personal development should not occur in isolation. Building strong teams and cultivating a culture of working together in collaboration are equally vital. Working with others not only leverages diverse perspectives but also fosters a sense of unity and shared purpose. Effective teamwork enhances problem-solving, promotes innovation, and leverages collective potential.

The development of others should therefore be embraced as a core aspect of leadership. Nurturing talent, empowering colleagues and providing mentorship are all means of leveraging more from that what you can attain as an individual. It’s also important to recognise that the growth and success of others within your network will contribute to a sense of community, and its overall prosperity and sustainability.

Thus, success in online business requires a holistic approach that involves self development, nurturing growth in others, and fostering collaboration. Embracing these elements will empower entrepreneurs to adapt to their constantly changing environments, create a positive impact on their business relationships, and achieve lasting success.

Content is King

Content gets traffic to your website. attracts subscribers to your list, builds relationships with your leads, and influences prospects to purchase your goods and services. These functions are all central to your online business success, hence you should be aware: “Content is King”.

At all stages of marketing, you must communicate with your market and quality content, in conjunction with engagement with your audience using one medium or another, is the means to do this effectively.

There are five elements to content management… (i) Consumption, where you gather, review and assimilate data to garner essential information and ideas, and (ii) categorisation and storage of the information for later retrieval. The third stage (iii) articulation is how you customise and present the content to serve your target audience. Stage (iv) is production, the point at which you create content for (v) publication and subsequent distribution.

Content has another important time dimension. Until the novice marketer goes through a transformation from consumer (stage i) to producer (stage iv), it is unlikely that any consistent earnings will be made. Such change is a key shift which represents a major hurdle for many, and is a main contributor to the dismal performance statistics.

Advertising is an Art

The primary means of getting traffic to view your content is by advertising. However, a major challenge faced by all entrepreneurs in making money online is getting potential customers aware of their products and services. According to Russell Brunson, every year, thousands getting started online fail because they have not learnt the basic art of advertising to get enough people to know that their products or services even exist.

In all forms of business, it is essential to get your message out to the world about what you do. It’s therefore important to learn the correct steps and be systematic in how you advertise online to achieve results.

Experienced marketers use a two-stage process making money online. They use advertising to build brand, raise awareness of their products and services, and build an email list from the leads they attract. The second stage is to follow up these leads with more detailed information by way of email follow-up messages. The emails “warm” the leads and build trust. Trust forms relationships and draws out prospects before any conversion is likely to occur.

This process takes time. While some prospects will purchase after a few emails, others will require more time in the sales funnel. Indeed, some may take months, or years… And some will purchase nothing at all. Patience, while you build your business and making money online, is therefore necessary.

A common shortcut used by novice marketers is to use advertising to try to sell affiliate products making money online. This is a mistake as “cold” traffic seldom if ever converts. It is therefore necessary to apply the art of advertising to build your future, and not expect it to satisfy immediate needs.

Traffic is discussed in more detail in the following section.

We All Need Advertising… Learn About It Here!

Traffic, Signup and Sales

Sales are the most important aspect of your business. Without sales, you have no customers, without customers you do not have a business making money online.

According to Perry Marshall, there are 3 elements to selling anything… The first is traffic. The second is conversion, and the third is economics.

“Traffic, conversion, and economics form a Power Triangle that governs everything in sales and marketing.” ~ Perry Marshall

The “Power Triangle” states that in order to sell something you have to get traffic (eyeballs in front of your offer), and then convert that traffic (cause a percentage of leads to opt-in or prospects to buy). Economics means you have to make a profit on what you sell (after considering the costs to generate your traffic). Profit is the bottom line. It determines whether you stay in business over the long term.

Once you are making a profit, you can then re-invest the profit to get more traffic and convert that traffic into more sales, which means better economics.

According to Marshall, and contrary to what it may sound, when you start your online business, you need to think first about the economics. Instead of thinking… “How do I get more and cheaper traffic?”, focus on making a profit. Conversion and economics are therefore the priorities. Traffic comes last despite what most gurus may teach you. Many, of course, are selling traffic products.

Finally, note that the conversion process described by Marshall is twofold…The first conversion is at the front end of the funnel – the advertising stage – when some traffic (leads) get persuaded to subscribe to your email list, while the second conversion is to convince some prospects as they progress through your sales funnel to buy. For this reason, I personally prefer the slogan “Traffic, Signups and Sales” as this encompasses both stages of the conversion process.

Customer Retention

It is easier to sell to existing customers than to find new customers for your product and service mix. Customer retention is therefore of prime importance for a successful and sustainable business making money online. In my experience as a consumer, many internet marketers neglect customer satisfaction, partly because of the automated nature of online business. These marketers therefore miss out on a potential flow of additional business as dissatisfied customers move on.

However, there is an implicit obligation on business owners to manage customer relations. A large part of this is to coach or train customers what to do with what they have purchased. This may be to inform them how to make best use of the products or train them to replicate the business and sell making money online offers to others. Duplication and leverage are important subjects in network marketing, but are also of wider significance to all marketers making money online.

The absence of good customer relations is a matter of concern for another reason… I’ll discuss the “dark side” of making money online in the following section.

The Reality Of Doing Business Online

The first thing to realise is that most internet marketing gurus only give you part of the story making money online.

There are several well-established platforms on the Internet where you can witness “the dark side of internet marketing”. You have probably seen it… a large group of marketers in collusion talking about how easy it is to make money online and how they have discovered some “terrific new push button software” that makes 4 or 5 figure $ incomes per week, and how you can do the same for only $7. This, of course, is just the magnet. What follows is a foray of upsells to get consumers and “wannabe” internet marketers to part with more money.

These “dark side” marketers have been deceiving gullible investors, regurgitating and rebranding the same old products, time and time again. The glossy sales copy produced by these gurus is persuasive and can often be deceptive. That’s why so many novice marketers investigating business ideas making money online get tempted to buy. I’m living witness to the deceptive practices. I’ve been misled into purchasing stuff I don’t need many times. There is seldom any follow-up on the purchase, other than a steady stream of new unrelated offers from the same large group of marketers.

The stark truth, however, is that few of these marketers make big money doing what they preach. How they make their money is by selling “how to make money online”, and the reason they’re able to make so much money is because they are all sharing lists and testimonials with each other. It’s a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” mentality, with no consideration given to customer satisfaction whatsoever.

Such marketers all have huge contact lists. Upon release of a product, they all promote the launch to their respective lists. Most never give a second thought about offering value to their customer base. They just share the same stuff repeatedly and because they’re all promoting one thing, there is massive social proof.

In some forums on the Internet, users refer to these platforms as “flea markets”.

In summary, you don’t need acclaimed gurus to help you make a six figure income. What you need to understand is building and making money online business is hard work, and it’s rarely as easy as the gurus make it out to be. There is no substitute in the long term for the learning cycle and learning the essential skills for yourself. Your development as an internet marketer will take time and you will equally need to learn to use imagination to fuel your creative energy, hopefully to support and add value, rather than deceive your fellow marketers.

We All Need A System: Here’s What I Use!

Imagination is Greater than Knowledge

According to Albert Einstein, “Imagination is greater than knowledge. Knowledge will get you from A to B, while imagination will get you everywhere”.

In order to explain this, I’ll return to planning and what this entails. It’s a future-oriented thing and therefore comprises perception, a combination of knowledge and projection. What fertile minds don’t know, they make up! They use imagination and intuition to fill out the gaps in knowledge.

We can only measure the quality of a plan at the end of the period once results are known. The outcome, therefore, hugely depends on the experience and abilities of the person making and implementing that plan. A plan is about options for the future (strategies) and making a choice of what strategy is likely to provide the best outcome in the fullness of time. Any foray into the future therefore requires both imaginative and analytical skills.

All experienced business owners will have a plan which encompasses the goals they want to achieve over the forthcoming period. Such entrepreneurs have gone through a mental shift from business opportunity seekers to business owners. Having made the shift, they have a clear focus on the results they want to achieve.

There is important learning here for novice marketers. This shift will go a long way to help you avoid distraction from “shiny objects”. Hopping around from one new product to another is characteristic of most inexperienced marketers and something we must all learn to control. The advice is to make a plan, break it down into chunks (goals), and work on it.

One caveat, however. For novices, it is notoriously difficult to plan and execute. There are problems arising from having a low customer base and small sales volume to plan upon. Therefore, the assumptions made in such circumstances, are likely to be very hit or miss. It is also a matter of record that limiting beliefs held by novice marketers thwart sales progress until they gain confidence in their products (Tony Robbins).

Only When Belief Turns to Certainty, Will the Clouds Lift.” ~ Will Banks

Recommendation: Let’s Sum Things Up With a Shortcut

I now need to wrap this up and will do so positively. Although it is bad news about the failure statistics, the reason is simple to decipher. And the good news is that there is a remedy incorporated within this concluding section. First, however, a recap on the findings…

While the failure rate of new businesses is high, there is a solid reason behind the statistics. Most novice entrepreneurs enter the industry alone, lacking the knowledge and skills to make money online Also, many do not have the financial and mental resilience to weather the storms they are likely to encounter trying to climb the many learning curves they have to go through. Typically, mastering a trade or profession can take up to 5 years and if the internet marketer works alone from home, with little or no support, it is easy to see why so many quit and give up.

However, I don’t want to use the statistics to scare you or to deter you from a career online. My aim is to raise awareness so you can make informed choices about your future.

The good news is that there are ways to succeed in a shorter time frame, providing you get guidance from reputable, well-established marketers or marketing firms with suitable done-for-you programs available to franchise, at an affordable cost. I’ll present one such program below. It’s basically affiliate marketing but I’ll also introduce you to an age-old strategy for implementing such a business model which will insulate you from most risks getting started in business online.

Franchising Existing Brands to Make Money Online

The idea is akin to setting up a Starbucks or McDonald’s franchise store on a smaller scale without the enormous cost. Such franchise companies set up stores for investors in the same way many times over, as they are proven systems that have been shown to work making money online. The aim of franchising a brand is to make money for business owners from the outset. Investors in such systems receive everything set up ready to operate with full training in the specific things to be done to grow their businesses. It’s a win-win situation for both parties to the arrangement.

In the online version, as an entrepreneur, you will be provided with a website with all the required content. All you do is send visitors (traffic) to your web pages and let the system do the selling for you. You’ll be shown how to promote your site effectively because you are part of a team which is there to do everything to help its members achieve profit.

In such schemes, you will be trained to do your job, which is the marketing part, and everything else, including the tools and resources are provided by the product owner. This includes all the work setting up your website, creating content, and training materials. You will get help with traffic generation, be able to advertise your affiliate products and get all the help and resources you require to build your business online.

Affiliate marketing is one side of the coin. The other is the strategy I recommend you use to implement this business model. You can read about the story of Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis in this article.

Legend has it the people making the most money during the California Gold Rush were the people selling equipment to the miners. These two men wanted to cash in on the action, but they did not head for the river grabbing their tin pans. Instead, they invented the riveted-pocket denim trousers we know as “jeans” today, and also sold picks, shovels and wheelbarrows. The same holds true today for entrepreneurs selling the tools for doing business online. It’s certainly proven to be a much safer business.

Digging for gold is an attractive proposition for the few lucky ones who strike it rich, but the real gold rush is in selling “Picks and Shovels” to gold miners.

This is one of the most reliable strategies to achieve success online. You then just need to know what are the “Picks and Shovels” essential to online marketers and locate an affordable bundle of tools to provide an integrated solution to satisfy their problems.

When everyone is looking for gold, it’s a good time to be in the pick and shovel business.” ~ Mark Twain.

Therefore, if you really want to make money online, forget everything else and focus in on selling essential tools to online marketers, such as landing page builders, autoresponders, ad and link-trackers, and related resources.

Over time online, hot opportunities come and go frequently. While most benefit the early adopters who know how to capitalise on them, these are seldom the answer for beginners, for the reasons stated in the section above describing The Reality of Doing Business Online.

Some are great, some come and go in a flash but there is one thing that never goes away and that one thing is the demand for online marketing tools. For sure, every online marketer needs tools and resources.

When you offer these tools to your fellow entrepreneurs, many will join you because the tools from this niche provider are both effective and affordable. It’s a simple matter of registering to use the tools for yourself and promote your affiliate links to the make money online and business opportunity communities.

Also, this all-in-one marketing system comes with a forever free promise. This means that you can build your list of subscribers without running the risk of losing referrals from non-payment of autoresponder fees. The concept is that of an existing success story, or brand, that you can use not only to build your business online but also turn it into a sound business proposition. It is suitable for beginners and you do not have to be making money online to get started and ultimately succeed.

You can subscribe for further details here, or by clicking the banner below…

All-in-One Marketing System: Your Shortcut to Success

Finally, I encourage readers to engage with the blog article and in case of any questions, comments or suggestions, please raise them in the comments section below so I may respond to you.

All the very best,


10 thoughts on “The Stark Truth of Making Money Online: Lessons Learned from My Journey to Explore the New Economy of the Internet”

    1. Thank you Chris, I’m most grateful for your insightful comment. It is difficult to understand the approach of these mass marketers, I cannot fathom it at all.

  1. It’s Been Quite a Journey.

    I agree that online marketing is certainly an art and that it is ever evolving as social constructs evolve and new technologies emerge/enhance. I’ve found, having a system to more or less simplify the process and reach multiple social media platforms with repurposed information, (including videos and audio) seems to work well. Understanding that what we know can accelerate us, yet who we know can further propel our journey may be one of my most invaluable lessons in the space.
    Best wishes for you!
    Your friend,

    1. Hi Mic, great to hear from you.

      I agree entirely, it’s not only what we know but also who we know.

      As Jim Rohn taught, your association with others is a major influence in shaping the person you wish to become and, as such, it is desirable to “surround yourself with winners”.

      All the very best,

  2. Wow great Will.
    I got lot of information here thank you.
    It means that’s a lot you’re involved with. Keep up the good work.
    Best wishes for you.

  3. Will, this is a great article and very well thought out with great insight into the whole “make money online” niche. I literally make sales every day online and what you said about developing skills is very accurate. It’s also true that you have to be persistent and watch out for “get rich quick” schemes that will leave you broke and depressed.

    I also liked what Einstein said about the power of imagination is more powerful than knowledge. I say this because your vision to believe that amazing things can happen in short periods of time is very true if you have the right vehicle, belief, and excitement about what you’re doing. However, you must bring persistence, common sense, and an understanding that making dreams come true can take time, struggle, and frustration too. The thing is that you must not destroy your belief in the “amazing dream” while you’re being practical.

    I do exactly what you said in your article. I get cold leads, warm them up through my emails and encourage them to respond to me. This creates know, like and trust – when we begin responding back and forth. I get sales every day because of this. But the price of this is to help my team succeed like I’m doing.

    The part that is exciting is when you’ve taken a cold lead, warmed them up, created a relationship together, and then share how excited you are about what you’re doing with them, it can create an intense desire for success in them. If you can help them understand why they even get up in the morning and how they can change their lives to make them better, you can pass on your vision and your excitement on to them. Then you can not only earn high ticket items (as your team sees the importance of upgrading) but they will see what this will do for them – not only with more knowledge and tools but also encourage them to take their business seriously (which they will do when they spend more). You can also help them find their “why” and take their excitement and pass it on! I have seen this spread like “wildfire” to their warm list as well and the cycle continues.

    However, as you’ve mentioned, if someone doesn’t take their business seriously and do the humdrum things you have to do each day to create success over the long term, excitement will only be like pouring kerosene over a fire – a fast burst of flame that just burns out fast. The thing to understand is that fire in whatever form can still spread. And excitement is just like fire.

    Again, great article Will! Great summary of the realities of online marketing. I’m glad I read it. 🙂


    1. Hi Albie,

      I’m most grateful for the comprehensive feedback you have provided and, also, that you have taken time from your busy day to consolidate the above important points. These add terrific value to readers of the blog article.

      I’d also like to express my appreciation for your terrific teaching program, especially your 5 essential skills training, which I learned a great deal from. I’ll be in contact again soon.

      Cheers, Will

  4. Thanks Will! This is great!!! And I do like the affiliate business model very much not just because it’s good for beginners, but because it scales really well. As someone who’s been primarily a services focused solopreneur, I’ve run into the scaling limits of being a core service provider. Affiliate marketing solves those problems very neatly indeed!!

    1. Many thx Ten, I’m most grateful for your insightful comment.

      And, yes, I can see for service providers that affiliate marketing is a great buffer to fill gaps which will inevitably occur in core services.

      Al the best,

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