Rites of Passage

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“I’m not sure what exactly my point in writing this is going to be other than to voice my frustration to someone who has been there, and would understand. “Like many, I’ve been considering starting up some form of a home business. Or at least some way to boost the income. So over the past few months, I’ve been looking at every hare-brained idea out there. All the Associate Programs, the eBooks with publishing rights, all the scams (and most of them out there really start to look like scams after a while!). “What I’ve discovered: “There are no short-cuts”. I don’t know why I thought there were.”

This is an extract from an email I received a couple of weeks ago from one of my ezine subscribers, Ric. It typifies the frustration and “overwhelmingness” we ALL face when grappling with what we think we need to know before we can begin to start an online business. It’s like trying to pin jelly to a wall – there’s just so much we know we’re missing so at what point do we actually bite the bullet and just start?

If this is how you’re feeling as you sit here reading this late at night, chin propped on hand, after yet another evening of searching, downloading and reading everything you can lay your hands on about generating an income from the Internet, only to end up feeling more confused, overwhelmed and discouraged than when you started, take heart. This is just how it is. You’re not alone. We’ve ALL been there – it’s just part of the process, a rite of passage, if you will. Rest assured, you CAN get through this to where you need to be.

Let’s shine a light on this beast and cut him down to size, shall we? Here’s the process and, although there may not be much you can do to avoid it, at least you can recognize it for what it is and be reassured in your darkest moments that, far from being lost at sea, you are walking a well-worn path. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and you’ll get there if you don’t give up.

Phase I – Have Computer, Will Get Rich

OK, so you have a computer, and an Internet connection. You’ve been online for a while actually, just dabbling about, sending email to family and friends and maybe doing a bit of surfing.

In your travels, you’ve stumbled across all these people who are making fortunes on the Internet. After a while, it seems to you that pretty much everyone who has a computer and an Internet connection is using them to generate a huge income. You think to yourself, “I have a computer and an Internet connection. I should be making a fortune too.” So, like the pioneers before you, you decide to go after your rightful share.

So here you are, computer connected to the Internet, fingers poised over the keyboard. Now what? How am I supposed to use this thing to make money? Oh, I know, I’ll do a search. I can find out anything on Google. So you go to Google (or, if you’re really new, Yahoo!), and you type in “making money on the internet”.

And Wazzooo! Lists and lists and lists of sites that promise to show you how to make money. Oh, this is a goldmine! Already you’re planning a month-long trip to Europe.

You merrily head off and visit dozens of sites your first afternoon. During the course of that afternoon and in the weeks that follow, you come across sites that promise to give you $30,000 in 30 days if you invest just $30 (you learn about matrix/pyramid schemes the hard way), then you learn about affiliate programs and how you can make money by referring people to someone else’s site (but only if they buy) which is great because you have no product and no idea about how to create one.

You hear a lot about MLM programs and network marketing. You think they sound an awful lot like pyramid schemes but you know they’re different, you’re just not sure how.

And then you find out about products with resell rights so you can keep 100% of the profits (but you have to buy the product first).

Every time you turn around there’s another expert promising to show you the way to the promised land.

Phase II – This is More Complicated Than I Thought

You soon realize that this whole making money with your computer business is way more complicated than you thought. And now you discover you need to go off and learn something else besides. Internet marketing. After all, when you finally decide what you’re going to sell, you have to know how, right? Fortunately for you, there are literally thousands of Internet marketing experts out there just waiting with bated breath to share their secrets with you. For a price.

Everything is so confusing and overwhelming that you just don’t know where to begin. So you decide you’d better learn everything there is to know about Internet marketing before you start. That way, when you’ve learned everything you need to know, you won’t make any mistakes.

So you spend the next several weeks to several months downloading all of the free Internet marketing ebooks that you can find. When you realize they all pretty much say the same thing, you decide you’d better get serious and start paying for some of the really good stuff. So, three months and $900 later you have a hard disk crammed full of ebooks that you don’t even remember reading and you’re damned if even now you have the foggiest idea where to start. No wonder. It’s pretty hard to visualize how you’re going to market a site you haven’t even created yet, let alone make money from it.

Then you learn about the secret marketing sites. Aha! That’s where all the good stuff is, you figure. So you pay your $60 lifetime access fee to two or three of the really best secret sites, confident that you’re entering an exclusive club just for those who are REALLY successful in their Internet businesses.

What you find, of course, is more of the same stuff that you’ve already read, it’s just that now it’s all in one handy location.

Phase III – Paralysis by Analysis

You finally accept that you really do have all the information there is to have sitting right there on your computer. You just have to use it.

Only problem is, it doesn’t matter how much time you spend reading, rereading and absorbing all of the information, the fact is you still don’t have a site, you still don’t have a product and you still don’t have a business so what are you reading all this Internet marketing stuff for?

You’ve reached the point where you have so much information, all of it telling you to do something different, that you don’t know where to start or in which direction to turn – paralysis by analysis, in other words.

Phase IV – The Dawning of Realization

So you take a step back (or have a dummy spit – whichever you prefer). Thoroughly fed up and disillusioned, you decide that this whole Internet business thing’s nothing but a crock – a quagmire of false promises made by unscrupulous con artists out for a quick buck. There’s just no way to make money on the Internet. It’s all a big con.

You go back to watching television in the evenings and having actual conversations with family members. After a few days pass, though, what you read in those interminable Internet marketing ebooks and at those secret sites starts to germinate. Independent thought actually starts to flourish. Suddenly, you realize you were missing the woods for the trees.

You reluctantly accept there really is no business in a box. You’re going to have to create it for yourself. You come to understand that the only way to make money on the Internet is to do *everything* you’ve been reading about. All of the contradictory advice wasn’t contradictory at all – it was cumulative! There IS no one way of doing this. You need a solid, content-intensive web site to attract visitors. You need an ezine to keep in touch with them. You need products to sell and quickly (affiliate programs! you astutely think to yourself). You need to create your own products. You need to market and to advertise. You need to get good search engine rankings. You need a lot of sites linking to yours. You need to write and publish articles to get your name out there.

All of the things you’ve been reading about were true after all. You just have to do them *all*. The light has finally dawned.

Phase V – Where You Need To Be

In a sense, Phase V brings you right back to square one – how am I going to make money on the Internet? But unlike Phase I, you now know what it’s going to take.

What you need to do now is the hardest work of all. You have to come up with a rock solid idea for your web site. Only when you have this can you begin to build your business. That’s why you never got anywhere in Phase I. You went out looking for ways to make money with your computer but you had no context. What’s the point of signing up for and promoting affiliate programs when you don’t even know if they’re going to fit with your site? How are you supposed to think about writing information products if you have no idea of your subject?

Once you have your good idea, everything else falls into place. You can get to work creating your web site, publish your ezine, decide which affiliate programs to promote, create your own products and all that goes along with these things.

So, when you find yourself back at square one, don’t despair, congratulate yourself! You’re exactly where you need to be.

Phase VI – Just Do It

Now it’s time for action. The past weeks and months have not been wasted. They’ve exposed you to all of the things you need to do to establish and grow your online business. But at some point you have to stop reading and start doing. Only then does the real learning begin.

That time is now.

2002 Elena Fawkner

Elena Fawkner is editor of A Home-Based Business Online … practical business ideas, opportunities and solutions for the work-from-home entrepreneur. http://www.ahbbo.com/

Rites of Passage
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