For years I struggled to make money online in any meaningful way. I re-sold CDs in the early 2000s just before MP3 players shut that down. I sold custom-engraved luxury watches to 30 people in 10 months. I think I made a couple hundred dollars after expenses. I didn’t even launch my first information product – just wasted a year pretending to work. I started a coffee company (that’s a story for another time)…you get the idea.
Struggling and failing to make money online is natural – we all have to start somewhere. But those struggles help us grow and improve so that we can succeed at it. If you’re just starting out trying to make money online, or you’ve been at it for years without much success, this is for you.
I’ve put together below a list of the top reasons why people can’t make money online and what you can do to overcome them. Check it out!
1. Your Own Behavior
I’ve been accused of burying the lead so outright the absolute number 1 reason why people fail to make money online is their own behavior.
Look – just like anything else – if you don’t put any effort into it, you won’t get any results. This industry has a bad habit of telling people they can get super mega rich with 0 effort.
Some people just get lucky. And on the flip side, there are extremely valuable products out there that teach people how to make money online reliably and successfully. I know because I’ve purchased them and through that knowledge have made my own online empire.
There are so many kinds of destructive and positive behaviors, but the ones I’ve found will make or break you are:
- Following things through to completion
- Having the discipline to spend time every day on the business
- Investing money in training and self improvement
- Positive, but realistic, attitude
- Believes in self improvement as the ultimate investment
- Getting distracted easily
- Expecting immediate results
- Giving up at the first sign of trouble
- Scarcity mentality
- Feeling entitled to success
- Making excuses
I’m not going to explain these all – it’s pretty simple. If you are looking for shortcuts and believe things should be handed to you, you’ve either bought all those internet marketing lies or are delusional!
People who are successful at making money online have tried and failed dozens, or possibly hundreds of times. They aren’t afraid to take risks, and engage in virtuous cycles of activity that lead to further successes.
When I first started my online business, I wasn’t making money because I wasn’t working on my business every day. I would get dismayed at the first roadblock and give up. I was so frustrated that it seemed like I couldn’t get any traction no matter what I did. But I didn’t do that much at the end of the day.
Here’s what you need to take away – it’s on you to make it happen.
2. Your Niche
In real estate, the rule everyone knows is “Location, Location, Location”. Your market Niche is the equivalent of Location in making money online. Not all niches are created equal.
When evaluating your niche, you have a few factors to consider.
Is there a market? If so, how big? If not, why?
Too big of a market (hundreds of millions of “potential customers”) will likely make you one voice in a chorus, shouting for attention. Too small of a market will likely have no customers.
A prime market for most people is big enough for to have several million potential customers. It’s big enough to make reliable income online, but not so big that you have to be in the top 1% of performers to be successful.
If there’s no market, it may not always be because there’s no demand. New business categories are invented all the time, and being first isn’t always a bad thing. However in many cases, especially online, if there’s no market it is a strong indication of no demand, which is a bad foot to start on. Just tread carefully.
All that said, there is no “best” size. It all depends on choosing a market niche that you are passionate about, and adapting your business to the size of that niche.
My first business failed because my market dried up overnight. My fourth business failed because my market was “Everyone?”. If you’re too specific or too broad, you’re setting yourself up for failure and you’ll never make money online.
Blue Ocean Strategy outlines the idea that markets can have many participants (red ocean), or few participants (blue ocean). Assuming the quality of the market and size of the market is enough to sustain a growing business, or could grow, the book argues it’s better to find opportunity in “blue ocean” niches.
This doesn’t mean you have to invent new categories of business to be successful. But you do have to evaluate how many competitors there are if you want to find a niche worth starting a business in. Some competition is good. Too much competition drives down quality and price, unless you have something special that helps differentiate you.
Which leads me to…
My final comments around niches are that you need to be doing something to separate your business from all the others out there. Price can certainly be a differentiator, but competing on price is a “red ocean” tactic that usually leads to you pricing yourself out of business!
You have a unique perspective, talents, personality, and take on your niche – and that can be all or some of your “secret sauce”. But you’ll need to be creative in finding ways to distinguish yourself.
Think how you can build a premium brand, product, service, etc – “best in class” usually demands a premium (which means more $), and attracts customers just by virtue of being the best. Can you improve quality, or is there a luxury opportunity in your niche to capitalize on?
If you’re sure you’ve got a solid niche with good potential that isn’t too crowded, then it could be this last part – your key differentiator – that needs work.
3. Your Sales Funnel
Your sales funnel is the true “meat and potatoes” of making money online, and the hardest part to get right. If you can make converting funnels, you will never find yourself out of money.
Before we get into the 3 biggest “funnel failure” areas I’ve seen, I want to take a brief detour and talk about the idea of split-testing. If you haven’t heard of split-testing, it involves running multiple versions of an ad, page, funnel, or even product, and analyzing the results.
Split-testing is how you find out what works – you run your current ad against another one with the new changes, for the same duration and amount, and compare results. While this isn’t exactly foolproof, it has led to most of the way you see ads structured today. So make sure to always be comparing ads for performance – go with what works but keep looking for better!
One of the more obvious signs your funnel is failing is when something is technically wrong. A page doesn’t load, a critical button is missing, or the wrong video is displayed.
Whatever the cause, these are the “easy” ones – you just fix the link, copy, image, etc.
Sometimes you may need to consult outside help for setting up a new piece of software or technology, but in my experience there are guides on how to do just about any individual task online – all you have to do is search.
Whatever you do, be sure you learn how to fix it for next time if you can – part of making money online involves improving your own skillset and understanding how to operate it! These days, almost all but the most cutting-edge technology is very user-friendly.
I’m not going to get too far into the weeds here, because honestly, I’m still just a novice at writing copy. But I do know that the way you maximize your words through advertising copy can have a BIG impact on your bottom line.
Good copy evokes feelings in your customers, and people are more likely to take action the stronger a feeling engaged is. That doesn’t mean you should just go piss off your customers just to make a sale. This (NSFW) Key & Peele clip comes to mind immediately…
But it does mean that the words you use in advertising your business are vital. Remember when I mentioned split-testing up above? This is a key solution for fixing “broken” ad copy. Try rewriting your ads to elicit more emotion that is likely to drive customers to buy (solve a huge problem or fulfill a burning need), then test against your current ads to see which one does better.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to write amazing ad copy, I recommend Mike Dillard
Know Your Audience
Most people skip the step of getting to know their audience in trying to make money online. Who are your customers? What do they like? What do they do?
When you don’t know who you are selling to, you end up trying to sell to everyone
This is a surefire recipe for disaster. Make sure you analyze your customers demographically across as many dimensions as you can. Sometimes you may have more than one, or even several, types of customers. For each of them, create a “persona”.
For example, one of my businesses has a persona, Dan. Dan is a 34 year old married man with 2 kids that plays games and enjoys whiskey.
I sell to “Dan’s” all around the world on a daily basis because I have locked in on some key likes that all “Dan’s” have in common!
This is how you can use personas to segment your customers and target their interests more effectively.
Use The Right Keywords
The other key aspect of traffic wrong is keywords. To make money online you’re probably going to need to run ads. In many cases, you’ll pay per click, and costs for “premium” keywords can skyrocket.
For more on Keywords, check out my post How I generate Endless “GoldMine” Keywords here
Is there anything else?
There’s always more, but like I said at the beginning, you have to start somewhere.
Hopefully this has helped you where you’re struggling in your business. If it has, or even if it hasn’t, let me know and I’d love to hear from you!