What I learned from trying to make money online

Last Update: January 16, 2020

The first time I had the idea of trying my hand at making money online through affiliate marketing was over 15 years ago. Over those years I have learned a lot and I hope you can benefit from my experience.

A little background

Over 15 years ago, I was in college and it was the time of link pages. Remember those? Just a page full of links to interesting websites and some ads. This was during the time that pages full of links still worked and when they would actually rank in Altavista. (Yes, this was before Google)

Like always I thought of a million different ideas and couldn't choose between them, then I got overwhelmed by al my plans and the amount of work that needed to be done, so nothing really got off the ground.

Cue a few years later, I had been working for a few years and working for someone else has never been my cup of tea. But this particular job opened my eyes again to affiliate marketing as I now was the one on the other side of it and checking affiliates and their sales.

I saw a lot of sites and figured I could do that too. But, again my plans were a lot bigger than my skills, got overwhelmed and too busy at work and my 2 side jobs to even get it of the ground. (see a pattern here?)

Then I moved to Curacao and figured I would build something then, but if something distracts you from doing anything it's Caribbean sunshine and a full time day job. I would go to work, hit the beach, go dancing, sleep and read a lot about building a location independent business.

This time, no good ideas would come. So I bought course after course, trying to learn and then get distracted again by something else. Life happens and if you're not careful years go by and you have absolutely nothing to show for it.

So, over the years I have learned many valuable lessons!

The lessons I wish to share with you

The Best time to Plant a tree
It's such a cliche that I am almost reluctant to share this, but it's being used all the time for a reason.

Honestly, most days I don't even really want to think about this one. Just imagine that if I have build that link website 15 years ago with affiliate links and added 1 link per day for a year, I would have 365 affiliate links that could get me some income and something to work from in evolving it to the next level.

So, just take positive action towards your goal. Even if it's writing one paragraph a day. In a year it will get you ahead, as oposed to doing nothing at all.

Learn when you need it
I've spend thousands of $$ over the years on training (some better than others, but also more expensive) to learn how to build an online business, how to promote it and so on, when I didn't have any idea of what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go. Let alone that I would be confident enough in my skills to build a business around one of my skills.

This was all money down the toilet. I invested in myself, which was a good thing, but I invested in the wrong thing.

The best bet for me would have been to invest in a course (or mentor) to help my find my niche, my unique skill set and my "perfect" business idea.

Investing in the right things at the right time, will save you time and money. When you don't have a site yet, there is absolutely no point in learning Pinterest Marketing or Facebook Ads as a promotion for your website, because you have absolutely nothing to share yet.

Take it one step at a time. Don't worry about knowing it all from the word go. Figure it out as you and your business/site grows.

Invest wisely
This may sound like the same thing, but it is slightly different. Investing in your business goes beyond buying courses.

Investing in a mentor for instance for accountability or to help you through problems, might be a lot more worth while than buying every course under the sun that promises you online riches and successful businesses. Because after the course, you still have to do it all by yourself.
A mentor can teach you something and get you going on what you need to do.

Other things to invest in are (among others) advertising, autoresponders, shopping carts and high quality hosting.

So if you are on a tight budget, invest wisely. Instead of buying shiny objects and spend $100-$150 per month on that, save that money for things that will actually grow your business.

There will always be another product to buy
I'll just say it. Get off of JVZoo and WarriorPlus, stop buying the products there. Get of the email lists of perpetual launchers. Because there will always be another product to buy.

Especially if you suffer from S.O.S. (Shiny Object Syndrome) or F.O.M.O (Fear Of Missing OUT) like I did. And tomorrow there will be 10 new products to lure your credit card from your wallet.

And the day after that, and the day after that, etc. (you get where I am going with this right?)

But that next product will not get you to where you want to go. It will cost you precious time to go through it and will take that time away from what you should actually be working on.

Building your Business.

Shiny Object Syndrome only feeds Procrastination. Because you start to get overwhelmed by all you think you should be doing. (Trust me you don't)


Focus on what is important and stop spending money on products.

Stop comparing your beginning to someone elses middle
There are people out there that have been online for a long time. That have spend 2 years working on a shitty looking website not making much - if anything at - all and then all of the sudden they take off.

They start making money, upgrading their websites, utilising their list and adding more monetization options to their websites and in turn making more money to the point where they are posting blog income reports of 10,000 to 90,000 a month.

If you are just starting out, it's great to see what could be possible, but you have to realise that you aren't going to be where they are overnight. Your website will not look like their current site (which was designed and build by a professional and is their 5th or 6th rebrand)

So why are you comparing your site to theirs? Look to them for inspiration nothing more nothing less. Don't expect to be where they are in your 3rd month of blogging.

They weren't. It took them 5 years (or longer) to get to that level. Give yourself some time, cut yourself some slack and just keep building your site.

One post at a time.

Ideas will come, All or Nothing
I struggled with this a lot. I wanted to get away from the travel industry. Margins are small and competition is fierce. But that was basically all I knew.

I had worked as a travel agent, then product manager and even in marketing in tourism. But I felt I had no real skills outside of that (other than being really organised, an excellent planner and really good at computer stuff), that I could really monetize.

So for a long time I really struggled to find an idea that I thought I could actually roll with (to be honest a lot of overthinking probably was involved too).

I knew where I wanted to get, but I had nothing to get me there. I looked as hard as I could and for a few years came up with bupkiss.

Then all of the sudden I had idea after idea after idea. Inspired by a website I saw, by a shiny object I had bought (but in a totally different direction) you name it. Suddenly I had 20 ideas in the space of a week. And no clue where to start.

Be prepared for this! It might take you years, it might be weeks. Just keep your eyes open en write every thought you have down.

Just pick something already & just do it
Just do it!

Pick something and do it.

If I had stopped overanalysing everything 15 years ago, who knows where I might be right now. Perhaps in a world of debt, because I had tried and failed at several different opportunities, but I could also be living the life I really want to live right now.

About 5 years ago I had more ideas than I knew what to do with. I picked 10 I really like from the 20 and started thinking a little bit deeper about them to determine which one to tackle first. I picked one, then right when I wanted to start working on it, idea B would be pulling me in and I would get ideas about that. And I switched from idea to idea and nothing really happened.

All were potentially big projects and with the end in mind for all of them, I couldn't decide and ended up not getting anywhere other than an empty wallet and a hard drive full of files.

So, pick something already, don't overthink it and just do it.

If you have no ideas whatsoever, you can just pick something and do it too. Don't overthink your niche and end up doing nothing. Just start your website (yourname.com) and start writing, you'll eventually find the topics you gravitate too.

Or, find a niche site that is doing well and use that topic for your site too. Just because it's already been done doesn't mean you can't do it better.

It may turn out, that that topic isn't for you after all. But you will have something to show for your efforts. At the very least this site will have given you heaps of experience building a site, so your next site will be easier.

Also, you now have a flippable website, so not has to be lost.

The Moral of the Story

In short, the moral of the story is this. It took me about 1500 words to say something that could have been said in a lot less.

Stop being distracted by others and start building your business, just do it!

If you have other projects distracting you?

Get rid of them. Sell them, delete them or give them away. Just focus on what you should be doing to get to your goal the fastest.

Do you have a lesson you learned that you'd like to share?

I'd love to hear it in the comments.

    Join the Discussion
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    Recent messages
    YanFellow Premium
    Hi Linda - great post! Just the thing to kckj me into gear in the new year! :-)
    lindasays Premium
    Thanks. Good luck this year!
    MAXINEG Premium
    Right now, I would live to give you a big e-hug for reminding me to mind my own business!

    That's it! You shouldn't waste time trying to be where you're not because everything takes time.

    Thank you Linda for sharing your brilliance.

    II am having the hardest time monetizing my site in the right way.

    But things will get better with time.I am here for just 5 months.

    Hearing from a veteran like yourself is refreshing to say the least.

    Best regards

    PS. If you have any sites you are trashing, I am the local trash can!

    Hahahahaha. I don't mind making things glitter again. lol
    lindasays Premium
    Thanks Maxine.

    It does take time, but if you put in the work it will happen. The result will be measures by the time you put in.
    MAXINEG Premium
    You're most welcome, Linda.
    Jessibelle72 Premium
    This is a great post...a little hard to read some parts of it because the recognition is just too much to take... :-) overhelmed...procrastinating...ending up doing nothing...because there are just so many ideas popping up...been there, done that! Thanks for sharing!
    lindasays Premium
    I totally get it. I was very hard to write as well. Especially when I realised how many years I had been spinning my wheels (not to mention how much money I had thrown away)

    But you have to look back and admit some painful things if you wish to improve. 2019 is all about focus and focussed work :)
    Jessibelle72 Premium
    Amen to that!
    JonLake Premium
    Blimey, if we got a £1 back for every shiny object we had bought over the years we would be very successful indeed.

    Great post - thanks for sharing

    Jon and Debbie
    lindasays Premium
    Isn't that the truth!
    CalChrisH Premium
    Fascinating Linda,

    Thanks for opening up and sharing your story. Just think, all of that money you spent on resources and here at WA basically all of that and then some are included in the Premium membership.

    My lesson is similar to yours, other than, I waited too late to even start some kind of online business. I had thought about it for years but didn't take any action.

    Thanks for posting!

    lindasays Premium
    It's never too late Carl. But I definitely wish to have had these insights (and acted on them) sooner