Making Money Online — The Truth Behind the Hype

Making Money Online

Here’s a good question: Can anyone make money online? I found myself considering just this question recently when I saw an article re-tweeted in which someone had stated flatly that they had done all of the things they were “supposed” to do, and yet they had launched an e-book product and had zero sales.

Something about that didn’t strike me as quite adding up. Zero sales? Really?

I reviewed the post a few more times, because the thesis of the piece (which was pretty bitter in tone) seemed to be this: This person had done every single thing they could to make their launch successful, and it had not worked, and that anyone who promotes making money online, in essence, pulling a hoax on people.

The tone implied the only people who are making money are those who are selling products which claimed that you can make money.

In the comments of this piece, people were congratulating this writer for “telling it like it is” and “telling the truth.” From my perspective as a life and business coach who sells services and products online, there were a few things that stood out about the piece — things that are important to keep in mind any time you’re launching a new product or service online:

1. Make sure you base your anticipated sales on numbers that matter

The writer was surprised that they hadn’t seen a successful launch, in part because they have more than 1,400 RSS subscribers.

My thoughts: Will 1,400 RSS subscribers even *do* anything? I provide an RSS feed on my site, but I don’t put a lot of effort into getting subscribers onto it. It’s primarily there for those who really like RSS. Why?

Two reasons: Firstly, RSS is really passive. If I send someone an email, they’re either going to read it or they will see my name pop into their consciousness and then delete it.

By contrast, RSS feeds can simply be in a bookmarked folder until eternity. I have some RSS feeds in my browser right now that I haven’t checked in a while myself.

Secondly, not everyone knows how to use RSS. If I asked my mother what sites she had booked on her RSS feed, she would probably ask what the hell I was talking about.

*You* might be thinking to yourself as you read this: “RSS? What the hell is that?” But if I asked my mother what newsletters she was subscribed to, to receive emails, she would be able to tell me.

Newsletters are active. RSS feeds are passive. They can be a good measure of how popular you are (yes, 1,400 RSS readers is noteworthy but the stronger the number of email subscribers or interactions via Facebook fan pages, the better).

2. Plan enough time for the pre-launch and launch

I might have missed this, but I didn’t see how long they spent on promotion of the specific product which failed so miserably and became their “proof” that making money online doesn’t work. When I work with people on launching, I cite this as being one of the critical mistakes that I see newer coaches make (and that I’ve made myself). Announcing something and giving it one month to launch is just not enough time, especially for a first launch.

The person wrote they had spent three years doing everything they could to learn how to make money blogging. That doesn’t mean that they necessarily applied what they learned, and applied it well.

It doesn’t tell me whether or not they created content that anyone wanted to read. They mention that their girlfriend helped them out with their sales page — that doesn’t even mean that their sales page was effective!

As an English professor, I heard numerous students complain as they got a “C” on a paper they’d “really worked on” — but my job was not to grade them on how hard they worked, it was to grade them on the quality.

The metaphor to invoke, “If your mother had to go to the emergency room, would you want the doctor that got through medical school because she had worked really hard or the doctor that got through medical school because she knew the material well and could save your mother’s life?”

3. Get off your blog, but that’s not enough

On a brighter side, I did see that the writer wrote eight guest posts as part of their launch promotion — good! It’s definitely important to get off of your site and be seen elsewhere.

In my experience, guest posts can be helpful, but want to know what’s more helpful? Interviews. In particular, video interviews. Even better? Video interviews that provide some kind of helpful service to the people who will be watching them.

To promote my own work during a launch, I’ve provided several short “teaser” videos from the longer interviews in the product. I made sure that I didn’t select something that just gabbed about the e-program and how great it was. Instead, I chose a tidbit that answered a question I knew someone would really have.

For instance, for a program on how to build a life coaching practice, I asked about marketing, how long it really takes to get going, and what people *really* need in order to get their practices up off the ground. I wanted to share my desire to provide something that was genuinely useful.

If you only guest post at other sites, the traffic goes to those places. If you host the interviews on your own site, the traffic comes to yours.

It’s a win-win, because you’re on your site, featuring the work of someone else and encouraging people who find their message resonant to learn more about them. You’re getting traffic; they’re getting exposure — an equal relationship.

4. Sometimes, timing just sucks

At times, there is inevitably something that you think is going to be a great fit, and the stars just don’t align. We pick ourselves up, and move along.

When you genuinely apply great strategies and yet the wheels aren’t turning, it’s time to realistically look at what you’ve been doing, and stop the madness. We’ve all had these humbling moments, and sometimes the greatest lesson we can learn is to stop resisting what is right in front of us, accept what it is, and most importantly, get some help.

I had reached this point with my own coaching practice when I decided that even though I was scared to drop the money, I would have a one-on-one session with a highly paid consultant who had a scrolling roll of testimonials. I actually said to myself, “If I’m going to quit pursuing this, I want to walk away knowing that I did everything I possibly could to make it work.”

And that call? It happened to be a complete game-changer that shook EVERYTHING up. No regrets.


So here’s what you can consider:

1)   What are you doing in your business that is clearly NOT WORKING? Can you just go ahead and state it: “This is not working”? Declare it.

2)   Now assess what is working. Sometimes, in our rush to define the negative, we forget to look at the positive.

3)   Decide to stop being the agent of your own suffering — or, in everyday parlance, cut the B.S. — and focus on what is working and put all of your energy in that direction.

4)   Determine the action steps for that which is not working. If what’s “not working” is something you can let go of, just let-it-go. If what’s “not working” is bigger, like “having enough coaching clients to support myself”, then perhaps it’s time to swallow some pride and get a little job that does support you, so that your business has some breathing space. Then give yourself three months time to regroup, so you are not constantly sweating your finances.

Finally: Can you make money online? Absolutely.

Will it be an overnight success? Probably not.

What I can say is that when I’ve paid attention to my personal truth, and applied what resonated for me to my business practices, I’ve always come out a winner.

I sincerely believe that you can, too.

What are your tips for making money online? Share with us in the comments!

Photo by DepositPhotos.

Kate Swoboda is a life coach, speaker and writer who consults with life coaches who want to do work that lights them up while they make money and change the world. She’s also the author of The Coaching Blueprint, a downloadable program that includes interviews and video seminars, and leader of the marketing seminar series for the Interchange Counseling Institute in San Francisco. Learn more at


  1. Make Money Online on the 8th September


    It is not very educated people who get rich online. You can also learn how to earn some cash!!!


  2. Michael Belk @workplace issues on the 9th September

    I would never say you can not make money, however it is difficult to make money online. It take many different factors to be successful and it takes time.

    I have not been doing it long enough to say it does not work, but anyone doing it for a year or more need to reevaluate their methods.

  3. Shay on the 9th September

    I think if you make something worthwhile, people will consume it. I would love to know what the book is called so I can check it out and judge for myself weather the material itself warranted any sales or if its lack of success can be chalked up to a poor launch strategy

  4. Beryl on the 29th September

    Kate, thanks for your valuable insights. I agree that sometimes people are ‘sold’ a promise that making money online is very very easy and that a reasonable income can be generated in just a few weeks. Essentially, like every business, a good bit of ground work has to be put in, and a 1,000 or so subscribers will probably not create something sustainable (though I am sure someone has achieved this somewhere!).

    What I personally have found to be crucial is having a really good ‘road map’ to follow. I spent a good deal of time ‘swimming’ in a sea of ‘information’ and being completely overwhelmed. Once I found a Mentor who had a ‘road map’ it was so so much easier. I now knew WHERE I was headed AND how to get there.

    Thanks again Kate for sharing.

  5. Gerry on the 5th October

    Seems like only the rich really stand a chance, as they have more cash flow, and greater sized networks, simples!

    However, joe public can do it! “Keep on keeping on” folks!

    As Shay says, if its worth its price, folks will consume it!

    joe public, only needs to “DO BETTER” to out wit the so called classes.

    And dont forget when starting out, “Sell to folks like you”, selling to your own like to like makes sense. Think about it!

  6. AffinityX on the 31st January

    When it comes to making money on the Internet today, there are a lot of people that are going to tell you that it’s not possible. So many are not willing to believe that it’s possible to earn a great income on the web. This is even after you try to show them information, and after you even start to earn a living on the web. It’s important not to listen to the skeptics, because they will always abound in today’s world.

  7. Ganhar dinheiro on the 30th May

    Hey Kate, pretty good post you have here. Thanks for share. Listen, I’m trying to figure out a product to sell online. Things that people really need. What kind of things would be a good choice to sell ? Continued success to you !

Add a Comment