Anyone who has been researching how to make money online for any length of time has probably come across websites or articles that claim that you can make money online in 6 easy steps or that the secret to making money online can is to follow a simple formula. If you submitted your email address to gain access to the "ground breaking" information, then you likely have one version or another of these following steps:
- Identify a niche. Identify a hot market, and find a niche within that market. Identifying a niche within a hot market usually means there is less competition, but the money can still be very good.
- Look for affiliate offers. Find products to promote on sites like Clickbank that are selling and converting well.
- Identify keywords. Perform a keyword research to find out what the best keywords are for selling your affiliate product to your niche market.
- Get a website. Get a domain name and hosting company and get your own website or blog. You need a website to act as a central hub for sending traffic, and it's where you will promote products and display content.
- Add content. Begin adding content on your website or blog that is closely related to your niche and that contains your keywords and keyword phrases.
- Drive Traffic. Generate traffic to your site using several different sources. Many sources of good quality traffic are free, such as twitter, and Facebook.
There are some variations: Some formulas may not include a website as one of the steps while others will say that you need to start growing a list of email addresses to start marketing to. While there are a few variations, for the most part the steps are basically the same with a few tweaks and differences here and there.
If those 6 steps seem familiar because you have come across similar articles in the past, take heart: There is a process for making money online, and the outline above (and others similar to it) is pretty much it. But then again if they do seem familiar, you probably also know that there is much more to running a successful online business than following a simple formula or taking a series of steps. You know this because even with prior knowledge of the 6 steps you are not yet making money, or certainly not nearly enough.
Even if the 6 steps outlined above are new to you, you can likely still see how the information has little practical use because if you think about it, you actually don't know what the heck you are supposed to do to get started. What can you take from that formula that will help you right now with building an online business right now? The answer: Absolutely nothing.
Well, there is a good reason for that. It's because there is a lot they are leaving out. Here is what they are not telling you:
The steps paint the big picture for you. You still need to learn how to get paint on the brush.
You've heard it before. Follow these steps, work through this formula, look at my business template, or read my business blueprint, and you will have the keys of a successful online business. These are the keys to a successful online business? Really? Well, if that's true, we have a problem. Where is the lock? Heck, where is the door??
These steps you are supposed to take, and formulas you are supposed to follow are only useful for those who already know what they are doing and who have a lot of experience and knowledge about internet marketing but need some help putting it all together.
That's right. The steps are only useful to those that have the know-how to build a business already. They act as a reminder to those who are already up and running what they are working towards so they don't get caught up in spinning their wheels doing things that won't make their business move forward. It's big picture stuff. That's not very useful when you are at the place where you need to be doing the nitty-gritty, day-to-day things that will get your business up and running.
There is a difference between a 6 step formula and a "to do list".
There are 6-step formulas, and there are "to do" lists. They are not the same thing. Don't get caught up into believing that if you know what the steps are to building a business you all but have that online business you've been dreaming about.
The reality is that these 6 steps are hardly a roadmap for running an online business. It's like telling someone how to build a house in 6 steps: You start by digging things up and pouring a foundation, then you build a frame, install the insulation, lay the bricks, shingle the roof, then decorate the inside to that beautiful dream home you've always wanted.
Are you ready to build a house? Of course not. The thought of it is utterly ridiculous. Building an online business is no different; knowing the 6 steps is not enough to make it happen for someone who has never done it before. The steps outlined above for running a business are important and necessary, but they don't help you with the practical aspect of actually doing it. The steps are informative, but are not action-oriented. What you are actually supposed to "do" remains a mystery. You don't need information, what you need is an instruction manual.
No, a monkey cannot run their own online business.
Some articles and sales letters say that their 10 year-old son did it. I've actually read on a few sales letters that a monkey could do what they outline in their steps it's so simple.
Ouch. Really? A monkey could do it? That's really not saying much for the vast majority of affiliate marketers who are struggling, and really doesn't flatter the successful online marketers who could apparently be replaced by monkeys either. The truth is things are generally not easy if you've never done them before. Once you've had practice and a bit of experience, then things have a chance of being easy.
If you've tried to make money online but failed, or just haven't tried because you don't want to look like an idiot for not being able to do what a monkey could do, you are not alone.
Since the steps are supposed to be "easy", many who have tried to build an online business plug away trying to do the steps as best they can. This can lead to disaster.
Referring back to the analogy of building a house in 6 steps we can easily see how. You pick up the nearest stick or, if you are lucky a garden spade, and you start on step one which is digging and laying the foundation. At some point, after 5 minutes, 5 days, or 5 weeks of digging you realize this is taking a lot longer and is a lot harder than you were led to believe. You are burnt out, exhausted, and frustrated, and you probably feel like there must be something wrong with you for not having that foundation built yet because a house is supposed to be built in 6 easy steps, and you haven't got past step one. Either you give up, or you go out in search of more information. You are subsequently convinced by an expert that the roof is the most important part of a house, and that makes sense to you because it's not really a house if you don't actually have a "roof over your head". So you attempt to learn to put the roof on in 6 easy steps, all the while being just as ill-equipped as you were for laying the foundation, not to mention, without having the rest of your house built.
Others might have gone a slightly different root. You bought into the notion that it takes money to make money, so you went out and bought a backhoe and started digging. You hit some rock, but no worries, you just moved over 50 feet and started digging again. Eventually you dig a hole that sticks and start pouring the foundation. You then start putting up the frame and installing the insulation, but then realize you just built your home next to the city dump, and so off you go to start again in another place. By the time this person gets burnt out, they have dug a bunch of partial holes, and have a lot of half-built flimsy homes, and they have wasted a lot of time and money.
Six easy steps? Maybe, if you have all the skills already and you just had no idea that you could use them to build a house, or in this case to build an online business. Otherwise, the formula, or 6 step approach to making money online is probably not going to do you much good.
The steps do not provide you with the tools or the know-how to get them done.
If you have been approaching your business by plugging away at the steps anyway, you have likely been trying to build a business without the necessary skills and without the right tools. It is quite possible that you have done a lot of work without anything to show for it. You may be burnt out and exhausted and yet you have not made a penny.
If you didn't give up at this point you might have ventured to do some more research and find out the problem. Perhaps 30 sales letters later and lack of sleep has you convinced that the reason your business is failing because of lack of traffic. After all, it makes so much sense! You can't possibly make money without anyone visiting your site or affiliate link! So you go out to and try to learn how to drive traffic to a site that is not yet fully developed or is not set up to be converting traffic into paying customers effectively. Have you been sending traffic to a site that's not conducive to making a sale? Well, there's really no point in sending traffic to it. It's like trying to put the roof on before you have laid that foundation.
If you find this sounds familiar, chances are that you have been overloaded with information as you try to find the missing link as to why the 6 step program is not working for you. In the process you've managed to get on so many mailing lists to gain access to free information that you dread looking in your inbox. You become inundated with staggering amounts of information, formulas, sales letters, reports, and articles. This is where information overload, or analysis paralysis, sets in. You either spend endless hours trying to sift through the information all the while feeling stressed and overwhelmed at the sheer volume of information, or prematurely jump into something, starting the whole process over again. What happened to the "freedom" of owning your own business? Well, this certainly isn't it.
The terms "Quick" and "Easy" are used very loosely.
You won't ever hear it in a sales letter, but each one of these "steps" takes time. Running a business online is a commitment, and many underestimate just how big of a commitment it can be. Yes, it can be done in your spare time, while you work at your regular job, or while taking care of your kids at home, but the less time you have to devote to developing and growing your business, the longer it's going to take to get it going. If you want to have a site that is monetized and is making money on its own so that you can do these other things, it takes a lot of work to get there. It doesn't happen overnight.
Finding that Holy Grail is like winning the lottery. You can go ahead and buy every program in hopes that you've found the one that will make you an overnight millionaire, but keep in mind that you may buy lottery tickets for years before you get the winning ticket, and the most basic online programs generally cost around $47, but can easily run into the hundreds or even thousands. Ouch! You'll need that million dollar overnight success just to pay off what you've already spent! Don't fall into that trap any further. Realize that things only become get quick and easy with practice and if you love what you do, and in the meantime, it will take work.
Running a business isn't free.
They also don't tell you that working through these steps can cost money. In some cases it is nominal, but even small expenditures can start to accumulate if you make poor choices about how you spend money to build your business.
While some things can be done for free, often you have to pay for the information about how to do that something for free (that seems so counter-intuitive to me). Other times it's only free if you do it yourself. Again, this is not useful if you don't know how to do something yourself, like build a website or generate traffic using free sources of traffic. You'll end up either spending a ridiculous amount of time learning, or spending money to learn. Either way, it's not really free.
Not only that, it is important to realize there is a trade off. The things that are done for free are often free for a reason; they may be less effective than services and programs that you pay for. There are no doubt some great sources of free information, free advertising, and free webhosting, but some of them can actually end up back-firing if they are not compatible with other tools and services that you will need to draw on later on as your business grows. You will need to do your research to find out what the differences are between paid services and free ones. It is also important to find out if you can seamlessly go from a free to a paid service if and when the time comes.
Also bear in mind that the old adage "you get what you pay for" is not always true; especially when you are just starting out online. Spending large chunks of money for PPC campaigns for example, is not a good use of your money if a number of other things are not already in place. You need to be completely on top of what is going on in your niche, and very knowledgeable of the most effective keywords, and a good understanding of the conversion rates and their implications for your bottom line. Figuring out where your money is best spent takes a lot of research and understanding about how online businesses and affiliate marketing works.
The Cure to the 6-Step Trap
As I mentioned, there is a process to building an online business and the formulas and steps to being successful are often quite accurate.
It's practicality that is lacking.
To avoid being disappointed, and to save yourself a lot of time and money, focus on where you are in the process of making money online. Do you have a good idea but don't know where to go with it? Do you have a website but are struggling to fill it with content? If you know where you are then you will be better equipped to search for information, programs, and services that will help you find that piece of the puzzle and achieve success. Read reports, use tools, and (if you choose) pay for programs that have to do with that one aspect of your business.
Secondly, focus just as much energy (if not more) on acquiring the tools and skills to build a business as you do on acquiring knowledge. Information is certainly powerful, but only if you can act on it. Tools, by their very nature, are more action-oriented. If you exclusively search to gain knowledge, like how to generate free traffic, you are more likely going to be paralysed by the sheer volume of information out there. Focus instead on tools you can use to generate free traffic. For example, instead of setting goals like "I am going to send free traffic to my website by learning how" set goals like "I am going to use twitter to send free traffic to my website". The first is an information-based goal, and will not get you beyond those 6-step programs. The latter is an action-oriented focused more on results. If you do need help on how to do this effectively, you can narrow your research to how to use twitter as a tool to drive traffic, and focus on actually getting that done.
Ultimately, it is important to understand the limited role that some business formulas and 6-step programs play especially when just starting out. They are useful as a gauge to find out where we are, and to identify what we need to work on, learn, or to identify what tools might be useful. For the most part though, focus your energy on the actionable items if you want to actually see results.