Success online and offline – or how to earn an extra $10K!

Welcome, Readers!

If you’ve never visited this blog before, why not come on in! Today’s post is all about the landmark that I just reached!

$10,059 (US$)

But before that you can read about this blog, and some of the great posts here. Or you can try out one of these two great ways to keep up with what’s happening:

Reaching a Milestone!

As it’s just published, I was reading through the numbers again for income for InvestorBlogger and I was surprised to learn that I have already surpassed the $10,000 mark for earnings. While that mightn’t seem like a great deal for others, it is a big deal for me, even though I just squeaked past!

Much of the success of reaching this milestone lies around some ideas that I drew up in January using my own experiences, and a desire to escape from the rat race of working 50 hour weeks! These have included creating, directing and supplementing a variety of income sources to create an average of an extra US$500 per month over the last twenty months. Naturally, this is a gross income, hosting costs, pc costs, and a lot more taxes need to be deducted from this amount!

Do set a goal!

Truth is: I never set a goal or a timeframe to earn that much because when I started out in 2006, there weren’t many make money blogs. I quickly set some goals in this post for the following year. I forgot about this post for a long time, but a quick gander will tell you that I haven’t managed to reach the financial aspect or the time scale. Never mind: I did reach 42% of the amount during that time.

Never give up!

In the past twenty months since I started this, I have had some really lousy months, and some spectacular months. In fact, in January, all my chickens came home to roost and I exceeded by a fraction my monthly target (reaching a little over 104% of the target)! But success isn’t about what happened then, and failure isn’t about what happened in July (when I barely scraped by at about 24%). Success is what happens when you focus on your business and execute (even poorly). Because when you try to execute, you build up usable data on your performance, and you can tweak or revise as you need.

Building Income Takes Time

Another thing that I realized when I was doing this is that the success that I’ve been experiencing over the last few months in this drive to build a profitable set of income streams, that success was founded on what I was doing a long time ago.

When I got married, my wife and I had almost nothing. We spent most of our savings on our wedding, and we had no clear plan about how we were going to buy a house, build a life or anything. In 1995, it seemed that all we did was earn the money, then spend it.

Soon after the wedding, I realized that we were about to repeat the mistakes that my parents and many others had made: that is, living hand to mouth. So I knuckled down and we began to save our money, budget more effectively and learn about running a business.

Taking Action

The worst thing in the world must be failing to take action: when you know something is right and you fail to take action. The next worst is failing to follow through on your initial actions. And the next worst must be failing to learn from your actions and their consequences.

To be an entrepreneur, you have to be willing to take risks. Many times, these risks involve capital (or your cash!), sometimes they involve business decision (such as what products to stock or not to stock), or who to hire.

Recently, I was chatting about starting a business with a friend in the UK, and I recognised the same thinking patterns that I used to have. “Oh, to start in business, you have to have a marketing plan and a business plan, … and this plan… and that plan…”

Yet no amount of plans can replace the fact that you have to take action. Simply planning everything cannot substitute for the lack of taking concrete action. Planning, in many cases, becomes a way to avoid taking any action because you’re still “thinking about it”, “putting things together”, “researching the market”… Whatever. Perhaps you’re hindered by other concerns: a typical one is fear.

Don’t be afraid

For a few years, I was involved with a teaching journal. I remember after the first issue came out, I was all excited. It cost quite a lot to print, but the edition came back looking good! I was thrilled by the book: knowing that something I had conceived, designed and worked on bore fruit. The contributions were excellent and the journal was well received by everyone.

I set up my commerce site, and waited for the orders to flood in. And waited, and waited. I’m still waiting… Turns out that, if there was a market for my journal, I hadn’t found it! So the books are still sitting around waiting to be sold. I’m proud that I was able to pull something together that had a lot of potential; I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to work with great people on this magazine; and I’m disappointed that I didn’t work hard enough to get sales.

Sometimes though taking a chance will incur negative feedback. In fact, someone wrote to me, when things were bad in both this business and in my offline business: “I don’t think it would be good for your future career” to continue when we faced real problems. Such words of ‘encouragement’ are sometimes hard to bear.

But you have to bear these, and move on. Remember that’s what business is about after all: taking action. You need to make that first step and that second step and that third step and so on.

Develop a thick skin

And that’s what you need… a thick skin but a good pair of ears. Why? Because if you want to be a success, you will get a lot of criticism (both positive and negative) as I have. While many business people really pour their heart into their business, sometimes the criticisms can seem unjustified as the customers or competitors or outsiders don’t appreciate all the extra time and effort you put into your products and services. But, for that you can hardly blame them: they don’t know. A thick skin and a broad smile are therefore two of your best weapons!

You’ll also need a great pair of ears: ears to hear and sift through the criticisms for things that you will get in order to find the gems that can help turn your business into a crown jewel.

I haven’t so far ‘discovered’ my other qualities that I have needed over the years, I doubtless will add them in future posts.

How do you entrepreneurs deal with constructive (and otherwise…) criticism? What do you do with the things customers tell you?