I was thinking when I woke up in the early hours – jumping into self-employment for me can be compared to the immigrants leaving Liverpool a hundred or more years ago to find a new life in America. Once the decision is made and the deed done, there is no going back. For those people there was in most cases definitely no going back, because there was no way they would be able to afford it. Their leap into the unknown was literally a one-way ticket.
For me, in many ways it feels the same. When I was in my last contract, working in an office amongst employees, I deliberately held back, not getting too involved, keeping a certain distance, not building strong working relationships. As a result, I am pretty sure I damaged my chances of future contracts with that employer, and I knew that at the time. It was a deliberate decision to make the act of “jumping” more easy for me.
Now, today, as I type this with NIL income, no colleagues and at the dining room table, on my own, I realise that, for better or worse, like those immigrants I am here, now, in my new life, and there is no going back so I’d better move forward and give it my very best shot.
I have just read a load of articles from a SEO blog describing a whole dung heap of really dodgy practices for promoting web sites in search engine results. Really, I thought I knew a bit, but this was awful and left a really bad taste.
A massive great blog post relating how someone built an Internet Marketing empire out of a load of database-driven, spam and useless web sites, literally thousands of them, all being used as linking sites to a smaller number of monetised sites. I am NOT going to give the address because I don’t want to be associated with it in any way whatsoever, and neither do I want to give it a shred of extra publicity.
Basically, what I object to is the fact that the majority of these web sites are useless, add no value to any reader, are junk. I wonder how Google is tackling this type of internet empire-building lout? I also wonder what effect these people are having on all those who are using genuine, approved of, moral and fair techniques to promote their work?
I am still trying to decide (some would say prevaricating) on whether to start a few internet marketing web sites. What I have read today can at best be described as discouraging. I must now find something fluffy and positive to balance it out.
Woke up with that awful feeling of panic again. Not the ship-sinking sort of emergency panic, but the dull ache of knowing that, despite some three months of research and work on my trial website, world-of-honey.com, I have still not got anywhere near earning any money.
Of course, a lot of advice about Internet Marketing, and about self employment in general, says you should focus not on money but on passion – do what you have a passion for; do what you are interested in. Thinking like this is not all that easy though when you have the daily pressure of bills to pay. Hence the little panic.
I have to step back a little at these times and think about the big plan. I have had several forays into the world of self-employment, and they have all ended in my taking paid work for someone else, or at least an I.T. contract that has bailed me out financially. This course of action was the result of the panic I am talking about here; a product of a mindset that made me fail in my self-employment efforts.
This time, I want so much for it to be different. I want to persist with my ventures until I find a combination of things that works for me – and also pays the bills. I have to be brave. I have to be businessman-like. I have to be professional. I have to see the bigger picture – the long term. I have to accept that there may be a period of a year or two during which I may not be able to pay my way. I have to accept all this with good grace, with a smile, with the appearance that I know what I am doing. Even if I don’t really know what I am doing at all, because the reality is that, like so many people starting out, I am learning largely by feeling my way, by doing.
I do find, though, that acting is better than thinking when it comes to dispersing a bout of panic. Producing an article, a web page, a little promo video, a blog entry! It feels as if you are producing something, even if maybe that thing is not the best – at least you have something to show, at least you did not just sit on the bed crying.
I am still struggling to wade through the very murky water of affiliate scheme information on the web. There is just so much of it. So many worthless products to read about and dismiss, so many “ebooks”, so much junk. And so much real business being done, behind the scenes almost hidden by the smokescreen of rubbish.
So my challenge is to line up my efforts with those companies who are selling real products and interested in doing proper, old-fashioned business but on the internet as opposed to the High Street, reputable companies, companies I am happy to partner with. Or I could choose a hidden niche of industry that is under-represented on the web yet in demand. Who knows – as of now I am firming up my ideas and hope then to decide whether affiliate marketing in this sense is something I want to get into.
I am thinking about how to set up my next monetised website now. I have spent a few months learning about internet marketing in a big way, and I have set up a trial site called world-of-honey.com which was basically an experiment to see if I could, from scratch, attract some visitors to content that I hoped would be interesting. I got some good results, considering it was my first attempt at a content-rich website from scratch, averaging about 40 visitors per day after about six weeks.
Anyway, the trial is over and I am not going to pursue that one much more. Now, I want to go for it for real, choosing a “real” theme for my next internet marketing website that will generate some income.
It seems to me that I have two choices. Both involve creating great, content-rich websites that are original and add real value for the readers. But they are very different in concept. One is the traditional internet marketing affiliate-style website. Now, when I say affiliate I DON’T mean those rubbish ebook selling websites, but rather the genuine on-line content-rich sales-generating sites of professional on-line publishers, using products of reputable manufacturers who work with, say Commission Junction. I did not monetise my trial website so I don’t know how that would have gone, and in any case I did not market it for long so the visitors were not enough to make it good, so if I went down this route it’s all new territory when it comes to monetisation.
The other approach is not to use affiliate schemes but to work directly with local or regional businesses who have a potentially national customer base but only local marketing or maybe a website that is like so many SME websites of businesses whose traditional customers are local. It is perfectly possible to take a really niche product and use internet marketing to roll it out nationally so that a local business gets national coverage. I don’t know how to do this apart from creating a website and seeing how it went. A big gamble, because this would involve a lot of work to get it noticed and even then when I approach the company they may just say “no”. I will need to reduce the risk by making some tentative enquiries to see if they are open to getting business from introducers, and I would also need to make sure they don’t have some sort of exclusivity deal with another internet marketer.
So what to do? As of now, I am undecided.
The other question is whether it is best to go for less clicks and less competition (as in a very narrow niche) or more clicks and more competition ( as in selling, say, digital cameras or something popular). I have read that it can be good to go for the popular things and then add a load of long tail keywords into your web pages, so that you effectively catch people who search for “digital camera with good battery life” or whatever. I don’t understand how this is different for choosing a theme that has a short keyword phrase but a lower search volume each month.
So many questions!
I started this blog amongst other things to record my thinking behind my business decisions in this, my early part of my bid for sustained self-employment. I want to record these thoughts because I know that, whether I am a great success or a spectacular failure, I won’t be able to remember why I took a certain path, what made me act in that way.
So, ijumped.net is partly about recording how I arrived at my decisions, at the time those decisions are made. So far, I have decided that I need to do “something on the internet” and I have some ideas that I will share with you soon. I also have a little head start, because I have a fledgling web business already that is breaking even (which is not saying a lot for a web-based business, I know!)
This my blog about jumping into the unknown. Not literally, you understand, but metaphorically, and in this case, career-wise. Or career-unwise. It’s all about my undying urge to break away from a lifetime of compliance, received caution, and the ingrained need for job stability. My jump, although not life-threatening, has a lot in common with the physical leap off the back of the cross-channel ferry into the darkness. It was born not so much out of careful planning as out of desperation. I may sink or swim, and my survival (in self-employment at least) is by no means certain. I may get a life-saving hand just when I need it, or I could be left to flounder in the depths.
Being renowned for starting things that I never finish, I can’t promise anything, but I am starting this blog today with a view to recording the thinking and experiences, the successes and failures, the joys and woes, as my jump into the unknown unfolds.