People always ask me how they can make money fast in their business. They want to get started today and begin making money tomorrow.
And not tomorrow in the philosophical sense (i.e., that it never comes). I mean literally. They want to make money their second day in business.
And making money your first year of business is just NOT possible. Or is it?
Gary V. and I agree, the fastest way to make a profit is to buy something at a lower cost and sell it at a higher one. He suggests a combination of garage sales and eBay or Craigslist.
But, while making money your first year of business IS possible, I didn't do it. Well, I didn't make any amount of money to write home about. I covered my costs for software and hosting, and that was about it.
In truth, the first year I was online was not the first year I had a business. But, after about twelve months, I'd made about $500. I created my very first ebook, The Personal Branding Toolkit and sold a handful of those, and I think I made a couple affiliate sales for either Amazon or my web host company.
But you're not here to read about my early wins; you're here to learn the major reasons I made almost no money my first two years. And, your hope is that by learning what I did WRONG, you can avoid doing those same things as well. I hope that too =)
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The 4 Major Reasons I Made Almost No Money My First 2 Years Online
Before I go into why I didn't make any money my first two years, I want to mention that after working with writers, podcasters, business owners, and aspiring entrepreneurs, full-time, for almost four years, these “reasons” plague almost everyone in the beginning. They're universal.
And, if you can fix what I did wrong, I have no doubt you'll fare far better than I did.
1: I Wasn't Professional Enough
My first website sucked. The layout was bad, the colors weren't consistent, and I only showed up to write, podcast, or create content when I felt like it. If my work ethic was a storefront, you might pull up to the front door and have to wonder if we were even open. Now I use tools like Thrive Themes to make everything look good.
Real professionals show up whether they feel like it or not. Real professionals put in the work even on their bad days, and don't take breaks because they “don't FEEL like working” today.
I think this is one of the biggest indicators of someone's level of dedication to their craft – successful people show up and do the work even when they don't want to.
And I failed at that my first two years.
Being a professional doesn't mean spending a ton of money on your craft. But, being a professional DOES mean that you out-work everybody else.
Being a professional means you show up early and stay late. It means you finish projects on time.
Not being a professional is a big deal because it makes a huge difference in whether or not you'll make it in business. I'm not saying you have to go “full-time” immediately. You can be a part-time entrepreneur and be successful. I'm saying that if you want my best advice, it would be to increase your level of professionalism.
Just a few quick tips to help you be more professional:
Create a simple logo, and put it on everything. Pick three colors for your website and no more. Create templates for everything so you deliver a consistent experience to your prospects. Be honest and confident.
2: I Wasn't Relatable Enough
There are two ways to build credibility in your business. You could put some PlayStations up on your shelves and borrow the credibility of Sony, or you could go out there and make friends, and shake hands the old fashioned way.
Buyers will not buy from you if they don't relate to you. Buyers buy from people and companies they know, like and trust.
You might think that credibility and relatability are two separate things. They are not. Credibility and relatability go hand in hand.
I wasted the first 15 months of my business because I tried to be aloof, detached, and impersonal. My readers couldn't connect with me, so they didn’t stick around. I tried to write with authority and without emotion, and I never talked about me or what I was up to. My website was bland, and so was the content I created.
But when I started to put more of my personality, quirks and all, into my writing and podcasting, people started coming in droves.
In short, like all businesses, I suffered from the #1 problem that keeps us from making money. And I didn't help the situation by hiding my personality.
Connect with your visitors. Talk about the things that interest you and that get you excited. Don't hide your imperfections, embrace them. Show your humanity, and you'll be more relatable.
3: I Wasn't Specific Enough
Many new entrepreneurs fail to narrow their focus, “nice down,” and get specific about who they're going to serve or who would benefit from their products. Your product isn't for everyone. If you think it is, you're wrong and need to spend more time going through the Ideal Avatar Worksheet.
I thought everyone should read my blog and listen to my podcast. I thought everyone should be interested in personal development, leadership, and in starting a business.
But I was wrong.
And, what's worse, even after I'd already had my business for a couple of years, I still avoided embracing a part of my back story that would enable me to be even more relatable. After I shared the raw truth about getting fired from my job and how I felt the last year of my employment, people around the country came out of the woodwork to tell me they were going through the same thing and experiencing the same feelings.
When you're designing your products, services, events and even email broadcasts, you have to think about one specific person who will benefit from them. Don't try to hide personal experiences you think will push people away.
Sharing about my life made me more relatable, and, as a result, my business grew exponentially.
4: I Wasn't Good Enough
This last reason why I made almost no money my first two years online is a real gut-punch. The plain and humbling truth is that I wasn't good enough.
Anyone can get started online. Anyone can build a website or write a blog post. Anyone can start a professional podcast and get it in iTunes.
But the ugly truth is that I wasn't good enough to stand out. I wasn't good enough to show people I was worth paying attention to or buying from. I was merely good, and good isn't good enough to stick around for very long.
At every stage of your life, to get up to the “next level,” whatever that is for you, you will have to get better. Good got you where you are; good will not get you where you want to go.
If you want to improve your skills as a writer, speaker, or salesman, I'll give you what you need in my program, 8 Weeks to Exit.
When I got started online, I had a part-time mindset and a part-time work ethic. Combined, those two things will kill any attempts at success.
I've worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs over the past few years, and most of the struggles I see fall into one of these four categories. Be more professional, be more relatable, be more targeted, and be better.
Question: Which one of these reasons do you need to work on?