Money From Home – Myth, Reality, and the Keys to Making It Work

The infomercial begins with two attractive women in low-cut tops, a blonde gushing thanks on her brunette friend for telling her about an incredible “Ten free websites opportunity.” As well she should; as a result of her friend letting her in on this amazing opportunity, she started making money so fast she “couldn’t even believe it.” Despite not knowing “how to make a website, or put a website online” she made an incredible $1800 her first week. How did she do it? Simple — or to be more precise, “This is so totally simple!”

Her brunette friend did nearly as well; $1300 in less than one week, without knowing anything about computer programming, servers, uploading, downloading, or “any of that stuff.” Further demonstrating her lack of technical knowledge, she inquired of her friend, “Do you really know how your email magically appears on your computer screen, or how it really works, or how it magically sends your emails all over the place?” The brunette certainly didn’t; she just knew how to type some information into a message and click the “send” button, and away it goes — “magically delivered to your friends.” The really good news? That’s apparently all you have to know to be able to make right around $70,000 a year from your home.

It’s pretty clear that the women in the infomercial were there to communicate a — let’s call it a “lack of sophistication” — about anything more involved than knowing how to use the most basic functions of a mouse and keyboard. And as the brunette made sure to point out, “I know if I can do it, that anybody can!” The message? If you’re watching this infomercial, and you’re smarter than these two (you are), you’re going to make $6000 a month if you get in on this deal.

The world of Internet Marketing, online business, and in general, anything involving the promise of making money from home is fraught with examples of these kinds of misleading tactics. If you’re a beginner, it’s easy to get drawn in by these ploys; there are a lot of people banking on the naiveté of those just starting out. In fact, unscrupulous marketers base their businesses on fostering a false impression of what making money from home really entails — typically involving the (unstated, but implied) promise that you’re five mouse-clicks away from retiring.

The Myth

The “Money from Home” Myth varies, but it has a consistent structure. Knowing this structure will forearm you against the Internet bottom-feeders, saving you a lot of headaches, heartaches, and wasted effort. With that in mind, here are the things to be on the lookout for:
1. “All you have to do is put up a website, and checks will start flooding your mailbox (or money will start flooding your bank account).”

2. “If you can (click a mouse/send an email/surf the Internet), you have all the skills you need to make (insert incredible amount of money) per (insert arbitrary time period).”

3. “You’ll be making money in (a few hours/a day/a week).”

4. “Once you’ve got this incredible system up and running, you’ll never have to do any work again.”

5. “This system is your ticket to living your dreams.” (Against a background of a majestic estate, with a number of high-ticket sports and/or luxury cars in the foreground.)

6. “Anyone can do this.”*

(*Yes, strictly speaking, this is true — anyone can start a successful online business, and earn enough money from home to “fire their boss.” That being said, just as with any other endeavor, the more intelligent and knowledgeable you are, the more capable you’re going to be of succeeding.)

Individually, or as a group, these all have the same effect — namely, to sell the impression that by merely buying whatever they’re selling, you will be instantly and effortlessly successful — with no learning the ropes, no building and establishing the presence of your business, and most importantly, no work required. The simple fact is that anything insinuating any of the above (e.g., the infomercial mentioned at the beginning of this article) is selling the myth of earning money from home.

Once you recognize this myth for what it is, you’re in a much better position to separate the marketing hype from the content of a given product; quite often, good (and at times, even excellent) information and training are marketed in a seemingly misleading way.

This isn’t necessarily the result of an intent to deceive on the part of a marketer. The simple truth is that Internet Marketing is an extremely competitive business — especially when you’re selling information or training about making money online, or more generally, earning money from home. Even good marketers have to have customers to buy the training they sell, or it doesn’t matter how good it is — no one will ever benefit from it. As a result, they often overstate the effectiveness, understate the effort, or simply leave out the details involved in what they’re selling. In these cases, it’s not an attempt to mislead beginners — it’s simply that they’re marketing to a target audience who they assume is familiar with these (admittedly unfortunate) conventions.

The Reality

Nature abhors a vacuum. Taking away the myth of earning money from home leaves a space that demands filling. So what is the reality of making money from home? Can you honestly expect to make enough money from a home-based business — Internet or otherwise — to replace the income from a “regular job?”

The simple answer is yes — with some caveats. It’s a good idea to make a point of reminding yourself of the “money from home” myth that we just took apart, to avoid getting lured back into it. When first being confronted with the legitimate prospect of earning enough money from a home business to leave your “nine to five” job, there’s a tendency to fall into a spiral of wishful thinking. This can send you spinning rapidly off track, and in the worst cases can end with becoming so frustrated and disillusioned that you give up before you’ve really gotten started. Keeping the myth in mind is one of the best ways to prevent this.

The reality of earning money from home is, of course, more involved than those selling the myth will ever tell you. Like anything else, it starts with learning. If you don’t understand how something works, your chances of ever being successful with it are extremely slim. In the case of “Internet marketing” (for our purposes, selling information products on the Internet), you have to understand at minimum the basics of how to find and purchase a domain, acquire hosting for your domain, set up a website (likely using WordPress if you’re a beginner), get set up with an auto-responder service (Getresponse, Aweber), get a merchant or PayPal account so you can be paid, create accounts at social networking (Facebook, Twitter) and social bookmarking (Delicious, Slashdot) sites, generate backlinks to your website, determine what to sell, write sales copy for your product, etc.

Not quite as simple as “just clicking your mouse a few times.” Fortunately, the basics of turning “money from home” into a reality fall into just a few broad categories: Setting up your website, finding (or creating) a product to sell, and driving traffic to your website. As we’ve already seen, there are multiple elements to each of these, but when you understand the reason for everything you’re doing, how it fits into the larger scheme of things, it’s much easier to get it right. An example that really drives this point home (no pun intended) is that of someone telling you you’re going to need a truck to do a job, but you know nothing about the job itself; under the circumstances, there’s a good chance you’re going to get the wrong truck. Knowing what the job entails gives you the information you need to make the right choices. That’s why learning the basics before jumping in with both feet is so important.

It should be abundantly clear at this point that the major difference between the “money from home” myth and the reality of creating a successful home-based business is… work. It’s a four-letter word, and it’s no surprise that less scrupulous marketers try to feed beginners with the notion that what they’re selling doesn’t require any work. After all, assuming you don’t know what the reality of selling on the Internet entails, what will you be more likely to buy — a program that says “Click, click, click your way to riches,” or one that says “Learn the steps you need to take and all the work you need to do to build a successful online business over time?”

With all of that being said, the reality is that if you’ve spent the time learning what to do, and you’re willing to put in the time doing it, you will be successful. Occasionally success comes quickly; more often than not, it takes some time. Either way, if you learn and follow the proven steps, your business will grow steadily to the point where you won’t have to answer to someone else for a paycheck. It’s no different from following a recipe; do what the recipe says and you’ll end up with the result you want. There is a consistent, repeatable recipe for making “quit your job” money on the Internet, and anyone who persistently follows that recipe will build a successful online business.

Knowing the reality of making money from home makes a considerable difference in how you’ll sort through the overwhelming glut of products and training available on the subject of “Internet marketing.” You already know that there is no “three clicks to wealth” system out there, and that succeeding in a home-based business requires learning and effort. Once you’ve learned the basics of what needs to be done, the rest is simply a question of learning how to do it. This automatically eliminates ninety percent of the junk out there, because you know exactly what you’re looking for. The result is that you’ll stay on track, save yourself a lot of money, frustration, and above all, time that would otherwise be wasted chasing the pipe-dream of the week.

The Keys to Making it Work

There are some simple things you can do to avoid the pitfalls that often snare beginners, stay on track, and steadily build your Internet business to a level that will enable you to quit your “nine to five” job. This has nothing to do with the details of running an online business; rather, it’s a set of steps that will help keep you on course to making your Internet business a success.

First and foremost, begin the learning process. The quickest and easiest way to do this is to sign up for a free training course, either email or video. It may seem strange that marketers would give away training for free, but the reality is it’s win/win. You’re learning the basics for free — which is of inestimable value to you — while in turn, you’re giving the marketer providing the free training your name and email address. This enables them to contact you with future offers, and (if they’re providing good content and training) they know you’ll likely return to them when you’re ready for the detailed “how to” training that you’ll need as you progress.

Once you know the basics, get on the Internet and start looking around. Find Internet marketing forums and start reading. The best place to start is the Warrior Forum. They have an immense amount of useful information, and you’re likely to learn more here for free than just about anywhere else. Don’t be afraid to browse around — it’s one of the best ways to pick up those important little details that often don’t get covered in “official” training. If you want to post or ask a question, you’ll need to sign up. One other thing: be sure to read the rules. Failure to do so is the quickest way of getting banned.

Next, find a few experienced Internet marketers who provide good free content (usually on a blog) and follow them. The people who are the best in the business are where they are because they love what they do, and they love sharing what they know. More often than not, it’s the “big-picture” things you’ll get from them, rather than specific, detailed “how-to’s;” but that big-picture understanding is often what separates the run-of-the-mill people hawking mediocre products, and those who are extremely successful. One of the best out there is Ed Dale. The content and information he provides are second to none. He even provides a free Internet marketing training program every year called “the Thirty Day Challenge,” and it contains an incredible amount of very valuable training.

Avoid chasing “the next big thing.” This is a lesson too often learned the hard way. There’s always something new coming along that sounds really good, even though it may not fall into the “myth” category we covered. These products may provide good information, but they won’t necessarily fit with what you’re doing. It’s very easy to get distracted and pulled off course by these types of offers. The result is you stop moving forward. If you get in this habit, you’ll find yourself jumping from one thing to another without making any real progress. Remember, Internet marketers are masters of making what they’re selling seem irresistible. If it’s a good product that provides good training, that’s fine — but it doesn’t mean it’s going be of any benefit to the business you’ve been building.

Above all, be persistent. Success doesn’t happen overnight. You already know that the “get rich quick” idea is part of a myth that has less substance than the Easter Bunny. Even so, the fact remains that if you take the time to learn the basics, keep yourself informed, find and follow good training in Internet marketing, and work on doing what’s necessary to build your business consistently, you will be successful. Making money from home isn’t magic, any more that making a chocolate cake from scratch is magic. The only difference is that telling your boss, “You’re fired!” is a lot more satisfying than even the best chocolate cake.

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