Loading

Should You Pay for Your WordPress Theme?

The great thing about WordPress – and there are a lot of them – is the ease of customizing your site’s appearance.

You can directly download from thousands of themes straight from your dashboard and activate it to apply its look and feel on your site. You can tweak its appearance by changing the logo, background color, and the layout with just a few clicks of a button.

There’s also the option for you to add widgets on the sidebar to make the site design your own. Add banners, sign-up form to your mailing list, and a list of your most popular content to increase engagement with your audience.

Most importantly, you can do all these things for free.

As the saying goes, all good things in the world are free. And customizing your WordPress theme is definitely proof of that.

At the same, Murphy’s Law dictates that if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

While they are benefits to using free WordPress themes like the ones found in Colorlib, there’s also good cause for you to pursue premium and paid themes from sites like ThemeForest and others.

In this post, we will discuss why you should decide now on whether or not you should pay for a WordPress theme.

Everything you need to know about free WordPress themes

Initially, you will probably launch your site using a free WordPress theme, especially if you are a newbie blogger or site owner.

Upon installing WordPress, there are pre-installed themes that you can choose from, the latest of which is the WordPress Twenty Seventeen theme.

If you’re not happy with the features offered by the existing themes to choose from, you can easily search from the Themes page of your dashboard to find available free themes for download.

As mentioned, some of these WordPress themes are free and of no cost to you. The likeliest of reasons is for developers to put their skills to good use. By making their submitted themes searchable on its directory, there’s a chance that people will download and use it. This is a great feather in the cap of every aspiring developer that they can include in their portfolio.

From the perspective of the users such as yourself, the themes provide an immersive experience on how you can build and customize a site from the ground up.

The themes are generally safe to download and use out of the box because WordPress implements a strict review process for all submitted themes. It maintains a standard compliant code that all developers must observe and follow in their themes.

The downsides of using free WordPress themes

Once you download the theme, you are pretty much on your own. You’ll have to find your away around customizing the theme to match the appearance in your mind. Most of the themes come with documentation so help aid you in using the theme.

However, if a feature you’re looking for is not available, then you will have to code the changes by editing certain files within the theme. If you have no experience with editing CSS and the functions.php of your theme, then there’s a chance that you will mess up the site.

And once you’ve screwed up, you will have to contact the developer to help you solve the issue. Since this is a free theme, there’s no sense of urgency for the developer to find the solution for you.

Also, you risk your site from looking like everyone else. Assuming that the free theme you downloaded is popular, then your site will look like the thousands of sites that downloaded and are using the theme. As a result, it robs your site from looking unique and premium for your audience.

Why premium WordPress themes are for you

The concerns addressed above about free WordPress themes will be answered once you purchase a premium WordPress theme.

One of the bigger reasons why you should purchase a theme is the ease of using them. While tweaking free themes are relatively manageable, they cannot compare to the breeze of taking your premium theme for a test drive. Most of them offer shortcodes, drag and drop builders, and other features that free themes can only hope to have.

Also, because there is a barrier to entry in using paid WordPress themes, there’s a higher chance for your site to stand out from the pack. Aside from the chosen few using the premium theme, it’s wealth of customization options will help you achieve the look you want for your site design.

Also, premium themes have better customer support. If you find yourself stuck with a feature from the theme or encounter problems with it, you can reach out to the developer from the site where you purchased the theme and s/he will reply to you within minutes. The luxury of having someone to assist you when customizing your theme is a godsend, especially for design-challenged site owners.

The downsides of using premium themes for WordPress

Despite the positives of using premium WordPress themes, there are some hurdles that you will have to jump through when using it.

For starters, some premium themes have terrible coding because they do not go through the strict review process at WordPress. While the theme may look stunning, it doesn’t mean that it won’t load slow or bog down your site speed. Since you will have bought the theme from a third-party site, then you can’t be too sure if the coding is up to stuff until you’ve tried it out.

Therefore, to avoid buyer’s regret or having to go through a refund, you need to check the reviews of the theme first and finding out as much information as you can before making a decision.

Also, not all paid themes are not compatible with the plugins you are using at the moment. If you’re a newbie and want to build a site by primarily using a theme, then this shouldn’t be a problem. However, if you rely on lots of plugins to power your site, then you need to need to choose the right theme that works in harmony with your chosen plugins.

Conclusion

WordPress themes are strange animals. You’d assume that buying a premium theme for your site is the best solution, but it’s not always the case. Just like free themes, paid WordPress themes have their risks and rewards. In general, the positives of using a paid WordPress theme outweigh the negative, assuming that you’ve done your research before making your purchase.

At the same time, using a free WordPress theme is not the precise formula to your site’s success, either. You need to work your way around the theme’s code if you truly want to customize your site and make an impact with your audience. This can only work if you have tons of experience with coding and CSS, as well as building sites using WordPress.

TLDR; If you are new to WordPress and want to build your site in the most convenient way possible, then you should buy yourself a premium theme.  If you are good at editing your theme’s design and code or have time to learn both, then you settle with the free themes found in your WordPress dashboard.

1 Blogging Lesson I Learned from Having Lunch with Rob Cubbon

Me and my wife Kelli enjoyed lunch with online course and eBook creating machine Rob Cubbon in Chiang Mai recently.

I’ve cyber known Rob for nearly 7 years. Yesterday marked our first offline meeting.

He has made Chiang Mai, Thailand an official haunt of his and you need not chase Kelli and I to Chiang Mai either. We adore the place.

Mr. Cubbon is as nice an individual as you will ever meet online OR offline. He is a wonderful human being and we had such a tremendous blast connecting with him live and in the flesh.

To those not in the know, Rob is one of the most well known digital nomads on the face of the earth. He is a pro’s pro at successfully creating and launching incredibly valuable courses through sites like Udemy and Teachable and he’s also released a score of highly successful eBooks for Amazon Kindle.

More than anything, my friend taught me one blogging lesson through our meeting that you can take to the bank.

Authenticity Rules

Rob has built his brand on being authentic.

He is genuine, funny, clever, self-deprecating and after our meet I can clearly say that what you see online is who you will meet, offline.

I spotted the same thing when I had lunch with Zac Johnson last year.

No deviation from the online guy and the offline guy. Not only that – in both cases – each highly successful, prospering dude built their brand on being honest, authentic, genuine and transparent.

Transparency

Have you ever met a human being who has NOT screwed up at some point? Of course not. I became an island hopping pro blogger through a series of mix ups, mistakes, stumbles and screw ups. I failed my way here. Everybody does the same. Because we are human beings, fun-loving, fallible and error-prone.

Yet some struggling bloggers never share their screw ups. They fear sharing their mistakes because they believe it’ll make them look weak, when the opposite is true. Sharing your successes and mistakes makes you human, trustworthy and credible.

You succeed online by sharing success-promoting tips *and* by telling…..the *rest* of the story.

Ron does a fabulous job sharing wins and losses. He shares his successes. He shares his mistakes. He documents his journey then shares his finds with you through his blog, his courses and his eBooks.

Check out one of his latest posts:

HELP, I’ve Been Hacked!

Rob details the highly unpleasant experience of getting hacked.

He’s transparent as hell, taking full responsibility for the hack happening. Then he dives into how he solved the problem.

Brilliant.

And this is the reason why the guy is so successful.

Take the same attitude with your blog by:

  • writing how you speak (I’m considering writing words like bawl or dawg of cawfee to stress my New Jersey accent)
  • write about your blogging successes and failures
  • take full ownership of all the seemingly cruddy things that happen in your blogging life
  • inject your personality into your blog; funny selfies, funny stories….go wild
  • share how you reached your wins and experienced failures, step by step
  • DO NOT try to imitate or mimic other bloggers in your niche

The Reason Why this Authentic Approach Works

Rob succeeds and Zac succeeds because they are credible, trustworthy guys. They tell their truth. They share what’s worked for them. They also share what has not worked too. Because they are genuine and truthful, like-minded folks who dig their blogs, their courses and their eBooks see these pros as being credible and simply buy what they have to offer, or subscribe to their email lists and usually buy something down the road. Even if they do not literally buy in they become brand ambassadors, spreading the word for these dynamos.

Your Turn

What blogging lessons have you learned recently?

Make More Ecommerce Money with Skywide and SAP Hybris

When you run an online store, regardless of the types of products that you choose to sell, you will need to manage a great number of moving parts. You need to make sure that your marketing game is on point. You need to make sure that you’ve got consistent branding across all your channels. You need to make sure the front-end customer experience is pleasant and functional. And you need to make sure that all of your back-end infrastructure is up to snuff.

It’s a lot to deal with it, especially when you’ve got all of these moving parts operating almost independently of one another. It makes a lot more sense if they’re integrated together, working as a unified and cohesive whole. Helping you work toward this goal is Skywide, a comprehensive solution for greater efficiency and improved functionality, front to back.

Advanced Integrations for Optimal Monetization

At the end of the day, the ultimate goal of any ecommerce site is to push more product. But you want to do so in such a way that is manageable and scalable, working with all the other cogs in the machine.

In this way, Skywide will work with you to develop just the right strategies to best monetize your ecommerce business. A big part of this is accomplished through a series of advanced integrations, working with the latest in B2B and B2C commerce applications. They integrate together so that you can manage your digital business platforms in a logical and interconnected way.

Perhaps your ecommerce site is powered by WordPress or Drupal. It likely contains PHP elements and you might leverage the power of HTML5. Maybe you promote your business through Google AdWords. All of these components need to work together in an efficient way if you want to maximize sales and minimize headache. Skywide helps you do that.

End-to-End Solutions for Ecommerce

A big part of Skywide’s value proposition is the fact that they can handle every aspect of your ecommerce business. This starts with coming up with “innovative custom strategies that accurately reflect your business needs and goals,” all the way to web development and online marketing.

As you browse around the Skywide website, you’ll see just how expansive their services are. From the digital marketing agency site (largely powered by SEO Brand), you can get everything from pay per click advertising to email marketing to content marketing and blogger outreach. Need some custom development? Skywide can help with website maintenance, mobile app development, and custom software solutions.

Need to take another step back to look at your design and branding? Skywide can work with you to develop your branding and identity, including web design, print design, video, and photography. It’s all there under one roof not only for your convenience but also to make sure all these moving parts work together in a meaningful and effective way.

SAP Hybris Is the Key

While all of the digital agency and branding services are critically important, SAP Hybris plays a very central role in why Skywide is such an excellent solution for e-commerce professionals.

“Among the top-ranking digital commerce software,” SAP Hybris unifies all of your business channels together for maximum efficiency. The customer-facing commerce platform links to you back-end data management. This way, you never find yourself entering redundant data because it all works together already. With Hybris integration, you are better equipped to launch real-time contextual marketing to really engage your customers and forge those long-lasting relationships.

How do you connect with your customers? Do they send you email? Do they phone you? Do you chat with them online or via social media? These can all create rather disparate channels of communication and what you might have said to the same customer on one channel may not get suitably recorded and relayed in another. With SAP Hybris, your cloud-based customer service all works together.

Your sales team can be far more efficient and far more effective when they are armed with this integrated data set. Since all the information is one place, they know exactly how they can approach each individual customer or lead in a very specific way. The real-time data means that your business is nimble and agile, while Cloud for Sales centralizes your CRM data with product inventory and price lists. There’s nothing worse than when your sales team lands a big contract, making promises on the availability of product that is back-ordered for weeks.

Sales managers can also look into the performance of the team too, carefully analyzing all of the available data to produce informed and intelligent sales forecasts and sales targets. To get the results you desire, you need to be armed with the right data at the right time. SAP Hybris with Skywide can do that. Bolster customer loyalty and grow your bottom line.

In much the same way, the e-commerce billing solutions connect your sales with your ordering process too. With powerful revenue management solutions, you don’t have to worry about the usual “order-to-cash” challenges that burden other businesses. Personalized customer-centric subscription plans provide a level of predictability unlike anything else. Customers get transparent payment summaries and you reduce your bill-collecting inefficiencies. It’s win-win all around.

But Will It Work for Me?

The best way to wrap your head around Skywide, SAP Hybris, and how all of these integrations can work for your ecommerce business is to take it out for a demo and see it “live” in action.

There are a few different ways you can arrange this. The toll-free phone number for Skywide is 1-844-475-9943 and you can get in contact with an appropriate representative that way. Alternatively, when you are at the top of the homepage, click on the “find out how” button on any of the jQuery slides to bring up the contact form shown above.

Enter your contact information and a brief message about what you’d like to see and a product specialist will “get back to you in a few hours.” Then you can see for yourself how SAP Hybris and Skywide can boost your revenue, improve your customer relationships, and grow your ecommerce business.

1 Blogging Lesson I Learned from a Dog Named Yoda in Thailand

That’s Yoda.

And me.

Yoda is our little friend. We are watching him for the next 7 weeks in Thailand on a house sit.

By the way, if you are like most folks who say,

“How in the HECK can I get into house sitting?!”,

I wrote an entire eBook on the topic that you can purchase here:

How to Land the Best House Sits Easily.

When we walk him around town I feel like the Pied Piper. People smile at us. No approvingly. Laugh. Yoda wields that type of power here.

Yoda is different looking.

REALLY different looking.

He looks nothing like the Thai soi/street dogs. He looks not like farang/foreigner dogs. He is authentic. 1 of a kind in this sleepy little Thai village. He has bulbous eyes, a pug nose and he often labors to breathe after a 10 minute walk. His long tongue almost hits the ground after a few sprints for a tennis ball.

He is so freaking cute I want to squeeze him to death. You know that wave of violence overcoming all of us when we see something so cute but know not what to do with the energy.

Yoda teaches me – and you – an invaluable blogging lesson.

People Love Different

People love different. People love when we walk Yoda through the ‘hood – Thai and farang – because he is so different, and so endearing.

People may *like* living in their comfort zone. But people *love* different. Different is bold. Different is authentic. Different is eye-popping. Not different for the sake of being different. Nope. Different for the purpose of being….you.

Yoda is being him. He is a dog. A French Bulldog. His breed has certain genetic qualities. Pug nose. Cute bulbous eyes. Long tongue. Game attitude. Cuteness out the ying yang. He is just being him so he is different and people in the neighborhood love him for it.

How Can You Be Different as a Blogger?

Not by trying. You cannot be different by trying to be different. Doesn’t work that way. You come off as fake. A poser.

You are different by being YOU, through and through, to the core.

Example; I once told a story of how the inside of my toilet looked like a Jackson Pollock painting after a wicked bout of giardia in India. I told the story in my voice. My style. Different. But it took little effort. Because I was just being me. If we had coffee here in Chiang Mai I would tell you the story 1-on-1, just as I tell the same story via my blog.

This takes no effort. Because naturally, we are all ourselves.

Trying to FIT IN takes a crap load of effort. And you are penalized for fitting in. You just lost your different factor. You lost your uniqueness. You had to bust your tail to fit in. Look where it landed you.

Meanwhile, I am walking around like Yoda – who does in fact look like the 700 year old Star Wars character – telling my travel stories in my voice and linking them to blogging, standing out by being me and having fun as I expand my presence online….all through the power of being authentic.

Be different. By being you.

  • tell personal stories; link each to your niche
  • write 1,000 words daily for practice; allow your writing voice to surface
  • hang with authentic, genuine people; let them be shining examples for you
  • write how you speak

Take a lesson from Yoda. People love the guy. And he’s not even trying.

This is how you become endearing in the eyes of like-minded folks. How you build a one of a kind brand. How you succeed and have loads of fun in the process.

Be. Different.

By being you.

Infinity Pro Theme Review

Having an online presence is becoming important day by day and it’s utmost important for a company. If you’re a startup or an existing company, having a digital profile is important. Thanks to the platforms like WordPress, creating a digital presence is easy. At least, you don’t need to learn to code.

Infinity Pro is one such premium theme which looks perfect from every sense but, is it really good? Let’s find out in this detailed review here.

Before we begin, here is a quick fact. Infinity Pro is a StudioPress product, a brand well known in the theme development industry. I know many people who will blindly go for a StudioPress product, just because they have a good online reputation.

But, not all their products are good to go without thinking thoroughly.  You should check reviews and feedbacks before making any decision, even if it’s your favorite brand.

Infinity Pro Theme Review

The reason why Infinity Pro is a recommended theme is because it looks modern and still manages to stay lightweight. The content published on a website using this theme will always look impressive enough to drive the conversions.

Let’s find out why it’s a good pick for your newly registered digital agency or any other firm.

Highlight Features

  • The homepage is Widget ready, making it easy to bring possible customizations without writing any code.
  • The theme is ready to be used as a Landing Page and can be used to capture leads.
  • It has a responsive layout which ensures compatibility of every element with the smartphones or even normal mobile phones.
  • There are multiple layout options and a good number of customization options including support for WordPress’s Live Customizer.
  • It is ready for e-commerce as it is compatible with WooCommerce and even has pre-styled layouts to support the same.
  • It has dedicated page where team details can be shared.

These are the primary features of Infinity Pro theme, but these are not all. The theme has almost every important feature which a digital agency need.

WooCommerce compatibility makes it ready to sell products or services online, which are important for a digital agency profile.

SEO and Performance

As far as the SEO part is concerned, there is hardly any element which StudioPress theme misses out. They are super rich in SEO features and possesses all the standards. On top of these, the themes are compatible with SEO plugins and other tools as well.

Infinity Pro being a StudioPress product, it is very strong in the SEO department. You can simply use it and start focusing on the content creation and On-Page SEO techniques. Off-Page SEO is well taken care of!

Coming at the performance side, the graphic elements used in the theme are not on the heavier side. Thus, keeping the overall theme lightweight, which helps in achieving a super good performance.

As per the official norms set by Google, having a good performance is equally important as other SEO factors. This is because they are treating speed of a website as a ranking signal.

In the case of Infinity Pro theme, there will be nothing wrong from the theme’s side. But, you should be aware of the fact that theme is not the only thing which can affect the overall performance. It depends on various other factors.

Design

The theme has a very modern and sleek layout, making it stand out from the crowd. Don’t believe me? Check out its demo and see it yourself.

It’s impressive, right?

For any agency, the way its digital profile looks, matters a lot! And, the developers have kept all these things in mind while designing the theme from scratch.

They have used parallax scrolling effect and have used full-width layout. The color scheme and font used are further adding to the overall beauty score.

Genesis Framework

Just like all other StudioPress themes, Infinity Pro is also powered by Genesis framework which is a well-known name in the industry. The framework provides a secure base which is equally good in performance.

In technical term, the Infinity Pro theme is responsible for handling only the front-end, i.e., the visual side of the theme. Rest everything is handled by the Genesis framework.

Other than the back-end stuff which is not visible to a normal user, the framework adds an Options Panel which offers quickly to use toggles that can bring quick visual and functional changes.

One can also add third-party available plugins to add a particular functionality which is missing in the framework. Like, Social Sharing options or a facility to edit Header and Footer sections easily. But, you need to check the plugin’s compatibility thoroughly before using on a live website.

It can even help in changing the layout and bring out possible customization. These visual changes are different from the one possible via default WordPress Live Customizer.

Over to You

The final decision is always yours but, I hope this review updated you about a lot of things. One of the biggest con of Infinity Pro theme is its cost. Other themes offering similar or even better features are available at half of the price StudioPress is charging.

But, at the end of the day, StudioPress offers peace of mind which is not that promised in alternatives.

Will you go with Infinity Pro theme for the next website?

Need More Site Content? Outsource Your Content through Contentmart

It can be challenging to find the right writers to produce the right kind of content for your website, all while keeping your costs in check. If you’ve got an e-commerce site, you need product descriptions. If you’ve got a blog, you need blog posts. If you run any company of any kind, you need web copy and press releases.

Offering “high-quality content for your business” is Contentmart, a convenient all-in-one solution where you can order all the content you need at prices you can afford.

Quality Articles at Affordable Prices?

Contentmart says that it connects “thousands [of] international clients to talented copywriters across the globe.”

In short, the site operates as a marketplace where customers can post up the projects that they need completing. Either Contentmart can pair up an appropriate writer to the project on the customer’s behalf or the customer can hand pick the person with whom they’d like to work.

As a client, there are no additional fees or charges to worry about. Contentmart levies a 20% fee on the writer’s side of the transaction for that purpose. For that fee, Contentmart will check all submitted content for plagiarism and you can get a 100% refund if the content doesn’t match your requirements.

Who Are the Writers?

As of this writing, there are over 50,000 talented copywriters registered with Contentmart. What’s great is that you can browse through some of their profiles before you even sign up as a customer yourself.

For each writer, you are provided some basic information about the kinds of expertise they may have, the types of content they can produce, the level of English that they have, reviews that they have received, and the number of orders they have successfully completed to date.

After you log into your account, you gain some additional filtering ability to seek out just the right writer for the job, including language, expertise, and country. You can even narrow it down further by region or city if you’d like. Quickly browsing through the list, it appears that the majority of writers are from India.

Pricing Levels and User Fees

As mentioned, there are no additional charges or fees for you as the client. The price that you are quoted for your project is exactly the price that you will pay. Your account can be quickly and easily funded via PayPal or credit card, so it’s really convenient to get started right away.

The pricing scheme at Contentmart is based largely on the level of English proficiency that you seek. If you’re willing to pay more, you’ll get writers who English ability has been deemed to be better. If you want to save some money, you can hire a writer who only has beginner English, for instance.

These rates start as low as 0.6 cents ($0.006) per word for the “standard” writer with less experience and “beginner” English. At this rate, an article of 1,000 words would cost you $6. For each level, you can have a look at some sample text to get a sense of the quality you can expect.

Working your way up the three remaining levels, you’ll find rates of $0.01, $0.03 and $0.07 per word. That would then correspond to a rate of $10, $30, and $70 for a 1,000-word article, respectively. Even at the highest, “hand picked” level with content “from exclusively selected and well-experienced, hand-picked writers/editors,” the cost is very affordable.

You’ll also notice that the rates are based purely on a per word basis. It doesn’t matter if you want a 500-word press release, a 500-word blog post, or 500 words for your homepage web copy, the cost is all the same. This also means that you won’t find any volume discounts if you decide to order 100 blog posts instead of just one, though there is a minimum order requirement of $3.

Getting Started and Placing an Order

It literally only takes a few seconds to register for an account. Just remember to confirm your email address and fund your account before proceeding.

 

The main dashboard for Contentmart, from the perspective of a customer, is shown above. It outlines the basic process you’ll need to follow to get the content you need, as well as a means of tracking your current orders if you have any active.

Another note worth pointing out is that Contentmart also has a built-in affiliate program. When you refer new clients to the service, you get a 10% commission on all orders they place within the first year. So, if they order $10,000 worth of content, you’ll earn a very healthy $1,000 in commissions.

 

The actual process for placing an order is similarly straightforward. You give your order a name and write out the details as you see fit, including the ability to attach supported files. Establish the deadline, define the writing category and required expertise.

From there, it’s up to you if you want to define any special SEO requirements, like if there are particular keywords (comma separated) that you would like the writer to use. If you want to see some of the latest SEO best practices, you can view them here. There is also the option to have the article arrive with “spin text” notations in place, if you plan on publishing the article in multiple locations and want it to appear unique.

Finally, choose the quality of content you’d like (with the corresponding pricing described above) and decide if you want to choose a writer for yourself or if you’d rather Contentmart choose for you based on your specifications. And that’s it. Your order will be checked against Copyscape for plagiarism.

Content Will Always Be King

As much as the Internet continues to change and evolve over the years, the one constant that will always hold up is that content is king. Content will always be king. Whether you’re looking for press releases, authority articles, blog posts or anything in between, Contentmart aspires to fulfill all your written content needs quickly, efficiently, and affordably.

65 Entrepreneurs Share How They Made Their First Dollar Online

Making money online is something many people dream about. However, not many people actually realize the long backstory, failures, stress, time and effort that go into actually finding starting a business. However, it really isn’t their fault. We are all often blinded by the glaring lights of fame and success others have portrayed online… whether it be through pictures with big checks, flashy cars or simply living a ‘laptop lifestyle”.

At the same time, it’s quite an opportunity if you are willing to put in the time and effort. Whether you have an expertise you can turn into a service business, or even getting started with a blog, it’s all about making that first dollar and getting the inspiration to keep scaling and growing your business into something much more!

To help bring some realization and inspiration to everyone’s entrepreneur journey or even just to make a few dollars online, I wanted to get some personal success stories for other bloggers, entrepreneurs, and experts within our industry.

We asked 63 entrepreneurs… “How did you make your first dollar online?”

My first two or three websites never made any money. Not a coincidence, cause they were terrible! I created all HTML myself, so imagine that. On my fourth attempt or so I discovered WordPress, and things started to flow much more efficiently (I guess because now I had time to actually produce content, instead of keep wrestling with the HTML and site files!). After a while the site was attracting 1000 visitors per day or so, and I decided to try Google AdSense. I believe I made $30 on the first month, which was very exciting! So much that I never stopped.

—The year was 2009 and I was studying Music Technology at college.
One of my lecturers mentioned how he started his own underground record label. He explained how easy it was. It sounded insanely simple. Even getting music registered for the charts in the UK (ha).

I was producing electronic music at the time. As were a few of my friends.

So I started up my own online record label and some friends – together we’d release our music under this new record label. The vision I had for this venture was incredibly un-realistic.

Mainly because I had no business experience, no marketing experience and, limited web design experience. I made a few HTML sites when I was 12 but that was about it. None of them ever went live.

I dug in, started doing the research and getting a plan together. I made a few website designs in HTML and found an online platform (Juno) that would enable me to sell music & give me access to their built-in audience.

Finally, the website went live and so did our music – hurray!

Here’s what happened:

After a few months, we made around £15. Ok, at least it was something right?!

Not exactly. We got paid, then the money went straight back out into hosting costs.

My immediate reaction was that I’d completely failed & I should just knock the project on it’s head and move on.

But, I thought about it some more. I’d already bought a bunch of artists together and I still wanted to share this music with the world.

After some researching I discovered the ‘net audio’ movement. It’s sort of like open source software, but for music instead. Artists releasing music for free, simply for the love of music.

The other artists saw merit in this idea, and I did too.

So we released all of our music for free. I continued researching and learning as much as I could about marketing.

What was the result?

I turned 3 sales into over 100,000 album/single downloads after around 6 months.

We went on to release over 60 albums/singles from a global community of super-talented artists.

And while we shut down the record label several years ago – every release is still available and we’ve clocked close to 3 million downloads.

I’ll leave you with this…

I could have thrown in the towel straight away.

But if I didn’t, then I’d not be writing this for you now. I probably wouldn’t have my own business either.

The reality is that this experience taught me the power of free content. And started me on the path to start my own business.

And I view failure in a completely different light. It’s not the end – it’s a learning process that can often signify the beginning of something that will change your life forever.

I used what I learned through this experience to start my next project which actually earned money (my first cheque from Clickbank of $200). And while that project didn’t last long either, it taught me enough to land a job as a marketing executive at a small marketing agency.

You have to keep learning, and pushing yourself to take things to the next level. Things won’t always go right, but that’s part of the journey – it’s what you do with the experience that counts.

Looking back, I can count on one hand, the events that have helped me get to where I am today. I talk about most of them in this post – I hope you’ll give it a read and share your experience in the comments below the post 🙂

—I made my first dollar online by buying / selling domain names. I would buy domain packages where the owner wasn’t planning on using them, and these domains were going to expire in 3 – 6 months period. I would then turn around and individually sell them to prospective buyers. From there, I went on to turn several of those domains into websites that earned me money through affiliate marketing.

—The first dollar I made online was through Amazon Associates. I’d written a review for a backpack I’d been using while I was traveling and it became one of the most popular posts on my blog. I hadn’t even considered using an affiliate link for the review as I was new to blogging and barely anyone read my posts. But I added in a link and within a month someone had used it and bought the £150 backpack! That was nearly seven years ago and that backpack review still performs well on my blog and leads to a couple of hundred pounds in affiliate sales each month.

—The date was January 12th, 2013.

I’d been rocking EOFire DAILY for almost 3 months, and not a dollar had come in the door.

I was growing a small email list, and one day I wrote an email chronicling my journey thus far, highlighting both the struggles and mini wins…

I received a reply from a listener sharing how he had enjoyed how I’d written the email in such a personal way, and he had a question of his own.

I wrote a DETAILED response to his question, and hit send.

An hour later he replied how BLOWN AWAY he was at the detail of my response, and although there were many more experienced Podcast Mentors out there, he knew I was the one to guide him.

He PayPaled me $1800 for a 3-month coaching session, and my first dollar had officially come in the door.

How you communicate is how you will WIN Fire Nation.

I knew from that day I had to continuously improve my communication skills, both written and verbal, and it’s been my mission ever since 🙂

—“Order by May 3, 1999 and receive 25% off the cover price and shipping for just $3.00 in the USA!”

That was my first attempt at creating urgency.

In 1999, online trading was just getting started and I was able to capitalize on it. I had been trading with one of the first online brokers for about 6 months and a few buddies asked me how I was doing it. So, I wrote up a few pages in a Word doc and sent it over to them.

Being the capitalist that I am, as I was writing it, I realized that this book might be the first thing I could try selling online. And when I say selling online, I mean that there was a web page promoting it, but you had to mail me a check. Like, literally get their checkbook out and mail a check to my house.

I put up this web page and waited to see what happened:
The first check arrived three days later. Then another, then 3 in one day. Pretty soon I was selling 40-100 copies per day at $24.95. I still had a day job so I would print the books at night and my wife, who was six months pregnant, would use a binding machine to bind them up, package them and take them to the post office to mail. We went through about 10 black and white laser printers in 6 months. We used them so much they burned out quickly and our entire house smelled like toner all the time.

I paid off all my debt, bought a condo and realized that the Internet could provide a lifetime of income for me and my family.

Eventually, I learned about merchant accounts and created a crude online order form. I would then manually type in the credit card number into the machine. Oh yes, it was old school.

I quit my day job about a year later and have worked for myself ever since.

When that first check arrived in the mailbox, I took it out of my mailbox and stared at it for about 30 seconds straight. A total stranger had sent me money in exchange for content. It was the best $24.95 I’d ever made and it made me realize I could be in control of my financial future from that point on.

—I first started making money online back in the mid-90s, and when I think back… it was such a fun and exciting time! Back then I knew there was a way to make money with the internet, I just had to figure out how. It’s hard for me to remember the very first dollar I made because I tried so many different things (like AllAdvantage’s “surf the internet to get paid”), but I can tell you a story about how I got my first ‘physical’ dollar in the mail.

Back before blogging and affiliate marketing, I used to have a couple hobby websites where I was just really putting up anything I wanted and just creating a site. At the same time, I was also designing banners for my site as well (468×60 banners for AdExchange). I was also active in the AOL chat room called “The Web Diner”, where other site owners would chat.

Some of the people saw the banners I made and wanted one of their own. I told them I could make it for a dollar, and they would have to send it to me in the mail (remember, this was years before anything like paypal was around). Long story short, I got a bunch of $1 bills in the mail… and the rest is history!

—Way back before I became a digital marketing consultant or taught my first course, I was an acupuncturist with an informational website (Pulsemed) for people interested in alternative health. I actually enjoyed writing about it more than practicing it. I put Google Adsense on my website and made about $1,200 that first month. This sudden windfall perked me up, so I started analyzing my website’s SEO, PageRank, etc. and the keyword opportunities available to me. The next month, after writing more articles that yielded more traffic, I made close to $5,000 from AdSense. Then I developed my own keyword analysis equation, better than the industry standard at the time (KEI) and identified 1,000 keywords I wanted to write articles on, but I realized I couldn’t write all those articles. So, I used another keyword-based article to attract freelance writers. I teamed with 10 writers to put over 1,000 articles onto my site in just 6 weeks. There were two months in a row where we brought in over $20,000 checks from AdSense. But soon after, my site lost most of its rankings and traffic. I believe this may have been because our site had diverged from its health-only focus, and the SEO algorithms changed. That was a big SEO lesson for me! And so I learned AdWords and shifted into client services, because the Internet Marketing bug had bitten me, and I was finding it much more interesting than acupuncture. That was the beginning of my career in digital marketing.

—Before NinjaOutreach, I started my own travel blog. I was traveling around the world with my girlfriend at the time, so we documented this and earned ads from that site. I also had a business blog, selfmadebusinessman around that same time, where I earned from ads and affiliate programs.

—So I signed up to a CPM network that was incredibly popular with bloggers. The beauty of the network was that it wasn’t IP restricted, so you could in theory visit a site 1,000 times from one location and it’d still be valid. So, one summer, I built a portal which included the adverts and put it on my family’s computer. It added value, as it included links to Hotmail and Myspace and Yahoo! at the time, but also served up the ads. I kept it up over a summer, just enough to reach the minimum payout.

I still have the cheque for $13 somewhere.

—Since I’m an online publisher my first “online” business was being asked to write an expert article for AMEX OpenForum. There’s nothing more thrilling than to be acknowledged by a big brand for having a specific point of view and sharing it with others.

—There’s a reason the “starving writer” trope exists: most bloggers take on too much work.

I made my first dollar online (and every dollar since then) because of specialization. While common sense suggested that I should take every job that came my way, I turned down more work than I ever accepted. Why? Because it didn’t fit my specialism.

When I first started blogging, I chose a single niche for myself – health and fitness – and refused to deviate from it. Work was slow in the beginning, but with every job I eventually secured, I developed relevant experience, great case studies and in-depth knowledge that “generalized” writers couldn’t match.

Over time, I became known as the go-to health and fitness blogger. I developed a great customer base of health and fitness clients; they’d refer me to their own networks, and I’d build my specialism even further. The more specialized I became, the less competition I had – and the more I could charge.

This works in any industry, and any walk of life: if you want to succeed, carve out a niche and become the go-to expert.

—The first dollar I actually made was through Google Adsense. It was on one of my coloring book sites and I had no idea how to monetize my content at the time, so I threw Adsense up on the site and let Google do the work for me. This was before we starting launching our own physical books on Amazon. Let me tell you… while the first dollar I made from Google was exciting, the first book sale on Amazon was a thousand times cooler!

—The first dollar I made online was through my e-book sale. I had priced the e-book at $5 and I got $4+something after Paypal’s cut.

The e-book was a pretty simple piece of product where I just packaged a small series of blog posts together into an e-book. There was no fancy cover, no cutting-edge marketing strategy to promote the product, or anything else like that.

So it was pretty amazing and surprising that I still made that sale.

Even though the amount I received was close to nothing ($4+) it felt so great. I felt so proud to having made that sale!

—Sometimes I am a bit ashamed to admit that I have started my activities on the internet in the year 1997… it makes me look so old!

In any case, my first steps were the creation of several websites of different themes where I was able to earn my first money in online activities by selling banners and sponsorships. I still remember I used Front Page from Microsoft to create those websites! And really, the design was, to put it in kind words, unfortunate.

I soon realized that SEO was one of the most beneficial activities to increase visits to a website. For this reason, I quickly specialized in this field, and I have set up an SEO agency that could offer my services to other clients. This was the way to live exclusively from my online income. In fact, before the crisis of early 2010, we were earning almost 2 million euros per year and had more than 30 employees, but that is another story…

—I made my first dollar online by creating a band website generator after I got out of college. I must say the first time you make money online is a thrill and is addictive. While the band website generator would never be a huge success it did prepare me for my business SeedProd.com which builds plugins for WordPress. And did I mention it only took me 10 years to be what I consider a success to myself. I say that jokingly because while making money online comes easily to some for me it was a journey of many failures. So don’t ever give up and keep learning and trying things. Repetition is the mother of skill.

—It was in the very early 2000’s and I’m pretty sure it was £3 something…

I was lucky to run a very early fashion blog and the first sale was via affiliate marketing. I managed to turn the site into a decent little business and eventually sell it on. Affiliate marketing was a big part of that success but I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone.

Unless you can offer a service that the original seller can’t there’s not much point of affiliate marketing. Even with banners on blog posts, you need many tens of thousands of hits and clicks to make a proper living.

The best way to make money online now is to sell a service or product. Build your expertise and authority using your blog and then create a knockout product. It could be an ebook or in my case online marketing training.

I started small and £3 wasn’t a lot of money but it bought more then than it does now 🙂

—My very first major business online didn’t make any money online until a tragedy struck the world. Let me explain. Launched at the end 1999, I built a site called UCanBuyArt.com. It was a web site for selling art online. It was not the greatest of ideas because selling original artwork online is incredibly difficult. Fortunately, I had excellent SEO skills and was able to drive about 3000 visitors per day to the site by the beginning of 2001. Yet, even with the huge traffic the site wasn’t generating any sales. The site made money but only through charging subscriptions to the artists, but I needed sales. In September of 2001 the Internet and world changed as a result of a single event, the attacks on the World Trade Center. Most people didn’t realize this but the phone hubs went through the towers as well so the telephone system in the US had been weakened. The tragedy caused a mass outcry of support, where people tried to donate to the Red Cross. The Red Cross’s phone system also weakened couldn’t handle the influx of telephone calls. To handle the demand, they told people to donate via their web site. The media reinforced that online payments were safe and secure. As a result, people who had been wary of using credit cards online began to feel comfortable with the process. This changed the Internet. Suddenly people weren’t afraid to buy online and the Internet had finally come into it’s own. My art site experienced sales everyday until Christmas that year. This is how I made my first dollar online. It wasn’t necessarily the way I would have liked to have made it, but it represents a small silver lining to the story of 911.

—I made my first dollar online with an eCommerce store selling MMA gear. At the time, I had no idea what I was doing and put all of my money into computer equipment and having a nice website designed. After realizing that I needed to drive traffic, I slowly learned SEO and grew the website to making $10,000 a year before realizing it was not realistic to warehouse product at my parent’s house or dropship. In hindsight, I should have built a basic eCommerce store on Shopify or Volusion, using one of their free templates and dedicated all of my finances to driving traffic through digital marketing to sell a product that an order fulfillment center can ship.

—I made my first dollar something like 12 years ago.

I was 16, and sports betting was one of the most important things in the world for me at the time. I was pretty good at it, so I decided to share that ‘knowledge’ with the world – for a price (of course).

I was in the entrepreneur mode, so I went to GoDaddy (I’m not 100% sure, though) and registered my first domain – Tips1x2.net.

I didn’t know a thing about CMS’s, design, marketing, etc. All I knew was that I want to make some money!

I got the site up and running using Joomla, set up a paid section for subscribers, created a couple of packages, linked everything together and I was ready to hit the trenches.

It went pretty well, considering that I was completely clueless about the marketing part. But it was definitely an awesome learning experience, and I like to think that that was the main reason why I never lost focus and continued to learn and evolve into the person I am now.

—The first dollar I made was actually through Fiverr, when I was doing freelance work in the design and content writing space. Once I discovered how much money was being made in the content marketing industry, I quickly put my efforts and expertise with my own site. The benefit here was that I was able to see both sides of the spectrum and see how content creators, brands and freelancers are all actively making money at the same time. Making that first dollar through Fiverr was a huge inspiration for where I am today.

—It was so long ago that I’m not sure if this story is about the first one. But I guess my first money made online was from writing product reviews (fake ones to be honest) about 14-15 years ago. It allowed me to buy few games for PlayStation so I was quite happy at that time 🙂

—Remembering and talking about how I made my first dollar online makes me feel really… old! Despite the fact that — to be accurate — I was still a teenager back when that happened. My story predates Google. I was promoting online gambling websites as an affiliate and reached the top rankings in those pre-historic search engines. Their commission model was one of the best I have ever encountered online (too bad they are no longer operating). I received my first and generous check after a while and I had that foolish (and mind-boggling, at the same time) feeling that I could take on the World!

—How I made my first dollar online… The story starts back in 2007. My husband told me to generate some leads for the business. There may or may not have been a crack of thunder and a flash of lightning, but it felt that it happened. I did a lot of searching and found a lot of spammy sites, and it was browsing an email that I found a site called BT Tradespace (now closed). I decided to take a look and in setting up my profile it advised me to podcast or blog. Blogging? Hell no! That’s writing and I can’t do that… Podcasting? Speaking? Let me take a look at blogging again… Here I blogged three times a week as instructed. The first post was precisely 50 words, and it took 2.5 hours to write. I may or may not have used punctuation. Within 6 weeks the phone was ringing and we were making sales. I learned that to make money online you had to have a product. No product = no money. The first sale was £60. Within 3 years we had that up to 7 figures. And I had my 7 figure blog posts. What was I blogging about? Transport. Boring, reliable, transport and delivery services. I read a lot of people talk about starting out as a delivery guy and then moving into something else and making 7 figures. We were the delivery guys, and we didn’t have to move to make the money. I now write about blogging and marketing for entrepreneurs and coaches who are not frightened to work in order to achieve their dreams.

—I read somewhere one the most important proverbs of online marketing that says “the money is in the list” and, since everyone was telling me I should build an email list right from the get-go, I decided I should give a try. It took me a while to understand how everything was meant to work but I guess I was able to figure it out fairly well.

A few months and a lot of trial-and-error experiments later (that included starting over at least twice), I received the good news! I checked my inbox and found an email message whose subject line read “Congratulations! You’ve Made a Sale”. One of my subscribers had just bought something I recommended and I had made my very first few bucks online.

—I am a travel blogger because I love… (you’ve guessed it! :P) traveling and writing about my traveling experiences. I found out that I was always having a great pleasure in describing the best places to visit in every location I paid a visit to. So one day, I decided to write and launch my first travel guide. It was a three-page pdf guide on the best spots to check out in Lisbon that I made available for free to my newsletter subscribers. It made really proud to read their comments and reviews after I officially announced it. The most surprising of them came from a lady who was actually visiting Portugal on the exact same week I gave away my free guide. She and her husband downloaded the pdf and visited every one of my suggestions. They loved them so much they even took pictures in those places and sent them to me with a note saying they would pay a really nice amount for more of my guides. That idea came to life three months later and just one hour after announcing my new guide someone bought it! I had made money online for the first time and that’s when it all started for me!

—The first time I started making money online was with my first business, about 10 years ago. I was looking for a way to make more money and work for myself, so that I could have more time to spend with my daughter.

So, I set up my own online business and started selling e-books at $50 and a toolkit for women who wanted to set up their own Virtual Assistant business, which sold for $200.

—The story around the first dollar I ever made online is quite funny, because it actually has nothing to do with my current business or internet marketing. We’ve all seen those offers for completing surveys and getting paid for it… well, I wanted to see if it actually worked. This was several years ago. I went through a long and tedious process to create an account, fill in all of my personal details and then complete several surveys on electronics, product launches and even entertainment. Some of them were fun, but it was mostly a drag. The end result? I got a sweet check in the mail for $7.23!

—My first dollar came from selling my design services online and that came through blogging and sharing my design process online. I’m still doing that today!

—The first dollar I made online was from our PR mastermind group. After spending several years building an engaged community around the Spin Sucks blog, we knew we had an opportunity to move part of our business online. The PR mastermind group was our first online product, and earned $36,000 in its first year. I was thrilled that through harnessing technology—and the power of our online tools—I could bring the PESO model and ethical, results-driven PR methodology to so many more people than I could through our traditional agency services. Now, we’re applying what we’ve learned from that launch to bringing more professional development and training opportunities to PR professionals around the globe.

—I created a digital course called Effortless Email that helped people save time and be more effective with email. I sold it online and did a big product launch to introduce it to the market. It was successful and I learned more in 6 months than I ever did after years in the corporate world.

—My first dollar came when I was doing freelancing work for outsourcing clients way back in 2011. Article writers back then were getting paid at around $1 or $2 for every 500-word article (regardless of the topic). From humble beginnings, I was able to generate more revenue from freelancing by learning about different skillsets (search engine optimization, social media, virtual assistance, etc..). Then started my own agency which is now catering to five-figure dollar clients.

–One of the reasons I moved to a self-hosted site was so I could start monetizing my blog. I soon started a blog coaching service.
I had a reader who had a friend who kept pestering him to improve his blog, so he hired me for blog coaching!
It was really rather funny. Instead of telling me what he wanted help with, he had his friend tell me what aspects of his blog to help him improve, so it was a three-way arrangement. That reader became a good friend of mine. He has since passed away, but I will never forget he was my first paid client.

—My foray into making money online kind of happened by accident, in that it wasn’t something I was consciously working towards or even really had thought a possibility. After my father had died, I found writing to be therapeutic. At this time, those ezine-type sites where anyone could submit content were popular, and I would write articles about my travels and personal development. I remember thinking how cool it would be to get paid to write and be able to make money working from home. But again, I wasn’t particularly attached this happening.

Then one day, I had a random nudge to visit the site Backpage.com, which I had never visited before, that lists all sorts of classifieds and work opportunities. I saw a listing for a company that was looking for writers to produce web content on a variety of topics. I filled out the application, sent in my sample and a few days later I was accepted. I worked with this company for over two years, and it opened the door to my current lifestyle of being able to travel and earn money at the same time.

—I didn’t get to keep the first dollar I earned from My Five Acres. At the time, I’d never even considered that I could make money from blogging.

But one day, while cycling through Cambodia, we met a man who ran a small charity building wells for rural families. He drove us out to the site of their newest well project. It was two men, hand-digging a well that would serve dozens of people in a small rural community. We were so moved by the experience, that we decided to ask our readers to help us build more wells in the area.

In about two weeks we had earned enough money to build 10 more wells! Aside from the glow of helping so many people, the experience also caused a major shift in our mindset. It was the first time we understood what it means to have an audience who are engaged, interested and responsive. It was the first time we realised that making money from a blog was possible.

—I probably have more than one story to tell.

The first ever dollar I’ve made online, as an SEO, was actually from the first job I took with an Australian-based SEO agency (as a remote SEO specialist) back in February 2010. Only lasted for a couple of months – as I was laid off when the client I was handling fired the agency.

Decided to start my own blog in June 2010, and I was able to get a few client inquiries (for freelance SEO work) a week after I’ve published my first case study. And I closed two consulting clients in the same month (which I consider my first ever dollar earned online).

Then I received my first payment from Google Adsense 4 months after (not that much, but certainly something that made me realize that there’s money in what I was doing).

—If I recall this correctly – the first dollar I made came from a satellite TV retailer (via Commission Junction) named All Sat. That first sale came in about 9 months after I built my first affiliate site in 2005.

Everything moved slower and harder 12 years ago – Paypal payment was never an option in Malaysia.

I had to wait two months for the sale to be approved, one month to get the check delivered to my mail box, and then roughly another month for the check money to be credited into my bank account. But still, that first paycheck from Commission Junction was like steroid to me. It motivated me to keep working hard and eventually quitted my day job and went full time as an affiliate marketer.

—I was still an everyday blogger (so to speak), back when I first fell in love with the online world — before I really started blogging for a living and became an online marketer, per se. I read a blog post which mentioned that people could use their blogs as a way to make money online. That discovery caught my attention because I wasn’t really doing it for the money. In fact, that thought had never crossed my mind up until that day. I searched around a bit and learned that people could earn a few dollars just by showing Google AdSense ads on their blogs. I asked a friend for help to place the ads on my blog and the very next day I found out that I had earned my first dollar and 15 cents online.

—About three or so years ago, I and friend ventured into an Amazon FBA business together. There wasn’t much information lying around like there is now so this new kind of business was undoubtedly uncharted territory for the both of us. After a few misses and a bunch of money thrown down the drain, we were forced to rethink our strategy. We spoke to an acquaintance of ours that was seeing much success from his tactics and followed his advice. First we redid our research, then we focused on a single product and bet all our chips in. The good news arrived on a Saturday morning: we were making some serious money with our Amazon FBA biz. It’s not easy, I don’t recommend it to everyone because of that, but it’s totally rewarding once you learn what you are doing and start seeing results.

—I’m not shy to admit that the first dollar I made online was through eBay and spamming people in niche forums.

I was selling things on eBay and was promoting my links on forums since social media wasn’t popular back then. Most of my posts got flagged, but it did help me make my first dollar. In fact, I made my first $100 this way. I continued because it worked.

I did realize that this method wasn’t going to work in the long run since I wasn’t always getting hate messages. I knew there had to be a better way. I refocused, read countless blogs and worked on a new strategy. I started a blog. I never looked back since.

—I made my first dollar online almost 20 years ago as a teenager. I had made some websites about computer games which led to people asking me to design websites for them. This was before PayPal so that first dollar came in an envelope from thousands of miles away in the form of an international money order. It wasn’t much but it seemed like a lot to me as a kid and the realization that I could make money with my computer was huge. I haven’t stopped exploring ways to earn money online since then. It was a real blessing to have that opportunity early on as a teenager.

—When I was 20 or so I was into online gaming. But back then, on dial-up modems, it kind of sucked. So we started to organise LAN parties. We did this on open gaming forums. Recruiting our online friends. Getting them into halls we could hire. And charging a small fee for doing so. It was hard work. Not what you would call hugely profitable. But, it was fun. And we got paid. After that I sold ringtones and then sold my skills as an SEO consultant. And now I make all my money online.

—I’ve been freelancing for many years, but the first dollar I made through online efforts was actually by blogging for a local tourism agency. I was a current follower on Twitter, and just randomly happened to see a tweet encouraging interested writers to get in touch with the editor about blogging for them. I pitched myself, a beat (budget living), and shared my blog (hyper-relevant to the area), and the rest was history. I was hired immediately, and they’re still among one of my best clients! I think the lesson here is that not all amazing jobs exist on job boards – whether or not someone explicitly asks for help, sometimes you’ve got to make your own opportunities. I’ve successfully taken that lesson with me to grow my brand (and income!).

—I won’t include the time I sold a bike when I was 12 years old on Craigslist. The year was probably 2005-2006 and I was really working on making some affiliate marketing offers convert. I was focusing on promoting the “No No Hair removal tool” and I was running it through Maxbounty, who is a great affiliate company by the way. I was running the offer 2 ways: I had a network of landing pages that were ranking in Google, using information I obtained on the No No hair removal tool. Once people found their answer, they would click on the link and convert. I also tried my luck at running paid traffic to some of my pages. This allowed me to test segmented markets to see how real traffic would convert. I will never forget the first night that a conversion happened. It was like I struck gold. I knew that if I could sell one of these things, I could sell a million. And so I did, I spend the next 2 years writing copy, content, making ads, and buying domains. The offer ended up going south, but I ventured into other industries promoting whatever I could.

—First dollar online would have been affiliate income from sharing online surveys 11+ years ago.

—The first dollar I earned online was the gateway drug to the wild west of marketing.

I got my first rush when I sold a pair of Nike shoes in just five days on eBay for $120. Oddly enough, I sold these shoes sight unseen (for those more internet savvy, they call this “drop shipping”). And without paying a penny to start my business, I was off to the races, and never looked back.

—After one year of blogging without earning more than a few bucks I received my first payment of $350 for publishing paid reviews on my green blog in 2012. At that time I was thinking about quitting blogging but one day, without any invite, a company offered me to publish series of their paid posts on my blog. They promised to pay me once all of their posts are published. So taking a big risk, I published the posts and got my payment without any delay.

In 1990’s I had a fan website for my favorite rock band Metallica. This project helped me learn a lot about html, web development, content creation, online marketing and so much more, but it also introduced me to affiliate marketing. With few links inserted into my content I was referring users to buy Metallica music, merchandise, and other products. This was how I made my first dollar online. It was a great feeling and the income helped me expand my Metallica collection.

Back when the country was in a financial crisis many homeowners were being foreclosed on by their lender. One of the solutions for homeowners to get out of a tough financial spot was to short sale their property. In a short sale the lender accepts less than what is owed. Short sales became very popular back ten plus years ago. Seeing an opportunity, I started to write about short sales. I would explain how to do a short sale and what sellers needed to know about the process. These articles were very well received but many of the people reading were from other parts of the country that I did not service.

What I did was add information in every article I was writing on how I could refer them to a short sale real estate agent in their area. This idea allowed me to make between $30,000-$50,000 a year from my real estate blog. With just a phone call to another agent I would be receiving referral checks.

I was an early user of the Internet in collage and decided to start a hosting company back in 1995. We were getting companies online creating websites and I remember we did some of the first database driven websites based on Cold Fusion. We later became an ISP and sold the company to a bigger ISP a few years later. I remember back then going into meeting with businesses and you always had to explain what the Internet was to one person in the room. It was very early days but it was a lot of fun.

Way back when Palm Pilots were all the rage, I decided that I was going to learn how to write Palm Pilot applications, so I created a simple Palm Pilot application which tracked your life totals for a trading card game–which still happens to be popular today–called Magic the Gathering.

I would bring this application to tournaments and people would always ask me where they could get it and how much it cost.

So, I decided to make a version of it that I could sell.

I created a pretty simple website and built a version of the application to sell on the website along with a very primitive registration system which gave a registration code to unlock the app after they purchased it.

In those days you had to manually integrate with PayPal, so I found some Perl code that I could copy and modify and in a few weeks I had my site and payments system up and running and started selling the application for $10.

I reached out to a popular Magic the Gathering website and magazine and told them about the application and that was enough to start getting sales.

It wasn’t a large amount of money by any means, but it was so exciting to be making dollars while I was sleeping.

 

McKinzie Brocail

I made my first paycheck online by writing content. One of my sisters worked for a real estate company and one of their stunning listings just wasn’t selling. She has casually mentioned to her coworkers that she has a sister (me) who worked for a newspaper (at the time), and that perhaps we need to revamp the content for this home. She emailed me photos of the exterior and interior of the home and asked me to write captions for each picture. I did so, and sent my input back.

They were impressed, and I remember my sister’s boss saying that what really sealed the deal for her was my ability to put myself in a homebuyer’s shoes (despite me being a freshman in college then) –I had taken a photo of a simple ceiling and transformed it into something meaningful with so much potential– It was a photo of wooden beams that ran across the ceiling of the living room, but I had described them as “A decorator’s or entertainer’s dream: An ideal place to hang garland during the holidays or streamers during children’s birthday parties. They updated their content to what I wrote for this home on their site. It sold not too long after, and I became their go-to for updating listings that weren’t selling as quickly as they could be.

Now I am a content writer for numerous companies across varying industries and one of the blogs I manage and am the sole writer of pulls in $30,000+ monthly.

Once upon a time, when I was a year into the blogging game, I offered my first 60-minute coaching sessions and featured my illustration prominently via the portfolio tab in the navigation bar. A few weeks later, I attracted my first coaching client from South Africa and my first illustration client from Australia. I earned my first hundreds of dollars, which seems petty now but was a big moment in my online life. That ‘historic’ week taught me that constantly live-testing new features on the site mattered more than overthinking and planning.

Devesh Khanal

The beginning of my conversion rate optimization agency was the first dollar I made online. It started off as just a design agency and I found someone on craigslist that needed a startup presentation made, emailed them, and got my first deal. From there I pivoted to web design and ultimately conversion optimization. We still get leads from emailing online businesses, particular ecommerce sites, but also from content marketing and blogging. When I got my first organic search lead, that was pretty amazing as well. We had a blog post on landing page optimization rank on page 2 for a particular keyword and had a real estate business reach out to us about it.

Long, long before my current job, I worked as a websites salesman. During the conversations with my customers, I noticed how much they feel the need to promote their businesses on the Internet, often wanting to combine the purchase of the website with its appropriate positioning. And I felt that Google was dealing the cards. I began to read and browse through blogs and forums where various SEO practitioners exchange information. I’ve never taken any training; I simply began to test what I had read. First, I got familiar with the so-called white SEO; then I started to explore the Black SEO. Soon, however, it occurred to me that the world of Black SEO is not for me 🙂

I remember my first customer very well. It was a local company, trading in cleaning supplies within my region. I remember how happy I was (and also a little surprised) when the company quickly and efficiently achieved TOP 3 for all keywords that we settled. When I earned my first money from my online activities, I realized that SEO was for me.

Today, I try to share my reflections (which sometimes may be slightly far-fetched) and often publish them on our blog, take a look: here

—Back at the very end of 2007, feeling miserable in my day job, I launched a diet/weight-loss blog with lots of grand ambitions about bringing in lots of money from ads and similar. In January 2008, that blog led me to write a guest post for a much larger diet-related blog. The editor liked the post, and asked if I’d be interested in becoming a regular, paid writer for his blog.

Until that point, I honestly had no idea that freelance blogging even existed! That was my first $1 (actually, my first $20) from blogging: nine years on, I’ve not had a day job for eight and a half years, and I still blog for pay … but I’ve also written ebooks (one of them, The Blogger’s Guide to Freelancing, is all about paid blogging!), run ecourses, have a thriving membership site, have completed an MA in Creative Writing, have published two novels and a heck of a lot more. It all started with that one blogging gig.

And that first blog I launched? I stopped blogging there a year or so later (turns out, dieting is pretty boring to write about!) but it did eventually bring in some steady ad revenue for me over the course of several years after that. I sold it for $1,500 last year — having spent no more than a few minutes on it, here and there, in the past seven years. So in some ways, my initial ambitions did turn out to be well-founded … it just took a long time for the dollars to actually come in!

—My wife and I had just returned from an extended vacation in Thailand, and we decided – we’ve got to make this a long-term thing. We knew there were people making money online, so while she supported our family, I tried to figure out how to make it work. It took a lot of research and experimentation, but one day we made $0.40 online, and we were thrilled – not because $0.40 was going to make us rich, but because we knew that the internet is infinitely scalable. The next day, we turned that $0.40 into $400. That was more than 10 years ago, and we haven’t looked back since.

—I was 14 at the time when my eyes were opened to the possibility of making money online. I didn’t have any sort of allowance nor did I have a job, so I had to beg my grandmother to give me enough money to buy web hosting and a domain, and then again to use her credit card so I could actually pay for it.

That weekend I launched my first site – a simple tech blog with no real refined niche. I pumped out content like crazy because tech was something I was super passionate about at the time – then signed up for Google Adsense (under her name because I was under 18.)

3 days in I got my first click – around $1.50. It wasn’t much, but in that moment, everything I was told about making money online became real. I have no idea how different my life would be if I had not heard of Google Adsense all those years ago. And while I hardly use it as a revenue source anymore, it was the stepping stone onto my entrepreneurial path.

—I simply made an account on eBay and started selling my stuff that I did not need anymore to make some extra cash for the summer. I made around $4k in just one summer selling my stuff on eBay. I sold ridiculous things such as my table, guitar, and tons of polo T-shirts 😉

Rafi Chowdhury – Chowdhurysdigital.com

—Back in 2007, I started playing with Photoshop following tutorials online. After I learned the basics I wanted to try myself at freelancing. Not long after I was able to find a local business in Lithuania in need of an animated banner. I had no idea how to make an animated banner but took the job anyway. 2 days later, I delivered the banner and earned my first $5 dollars online.

The first dollar I earned online was affiliate selling an SEO e-book. I remember going to the pub with my business partner and coming home to find we’d earned a $39.99 commission from an email we’d sent earlier that day. This commission paid for our 2 beers and more. We were hooked.

Adam Franklin – Web Marketing That Works

—In 2011, after trying a few get rich quick schemes (which never worked), I stumbled on something called “freelance writing”.

Since I loved writing, I decided to learn more about it. I already had a blog, but with this discovery, the blog’s purpose became simple – to get clients.

Funny thing is my first client didn’t come from my blog, but my first high paying client did.

At that time, I read a bunch of articles on Copywriting and set out to test my knowledge. So I went to one of the popular online forums, wrote an ad in the form of a forum post, left my email address at the end of the ad and hit publish.

At first it was all crickets. Two days after publishing felt like I had been waiting for a decade. But in less than a week, I got an email from a prospect, we closed the deal and he became a client whom I worked with for several months. The money was way below standard, but as a newbie, I felt I had hit gold.

I have been asked this question several times already, and have contributed to two other round-up posts wherein I answered a similar question.
These two posts are:

  • 1. 22 Lessons from Experienced Freelance Bloggers on How to Land Your First Client
  • 2. Our First Freelance Writing Gig: 11 Experts Share Their Stories

I also wrote a blog post about how I earned my first dollar online, and the lessons I learned from working with that client: 10 Lessons Learned from My First Freelancing Client (who was both My Worst and Best Client).

Since earning my first few meager dollars (way back in 2013), I have increased my revenue streams almost tenfold! You can read about them in The Essence of Blogging (+ How to Earn Money Online).

Going from being an underpaid virtual assistant and freelancer who wrote only one blog post a month for Dear Blogger to earning a living by diversifying my income has been quite the exciting journey!

My next goal is to write more e-books and increase my passive income streams.

It’s great to be able to earn money by doing as little work as possible!

How to Make Your First Dollar with a Blog

For anyone reading this expert round up that still hasn’t made a single dollar online, right now is the best time to take action. As you’ve seen from each of the experts above, there are plenty of ways to make money online, and all it takes is that first commission, sale or payment to really put things into motion.

I still believe that blogging is one of the best ways to start a business online — especially for anyone that doesn’t have a lot of money to get started with. Anyone can go live with a site of their own for just a few dollars a month, and the content and outreach process is all something that can be done in your spare time.

To learn more about this process, be sure to check out our how to start a blog guide and make money blogging guide on how to break down a niche and make money with affiliate marketing or launching a product of your own. Both of these guides will prove you with step by step guidance on how to get started with a successful blog of your own.

4 Lessons in Content Creation from 6 Fortune 500 Companies

Content creation and marketing are the lifeblood of many companies. They successfully raise search rankings and improve the online presence of a brand through digital marketing.

It’s not always easy to get it right, though. The competition is fierce, and at times you can feel overwhelmed by how much further you have to go.

When that happens, don’t feel discouraged! Instead, look at some of the Fortune 500 companies that went from startup to wildly successful, thanks to their focus on content. They found success through well-worded and promoted content, and you can too!

To highlight the success of some of these organizations, the digital marketing company Single Grain, which has helped dozens of startups and Fortune 500 organizations to find reach success in content creation, ran an analysis of some of the top digital marketing campaigns on the Internet.

A strong emphasis on content creation was a key goal in their findings. Here’s what they found.

Mint: Spend the Time and Money on Quality Content

The niche of personal finance is terribly crowded, but Mint found a way to rise to the top. Not only did it develop a useful financial tracking tool that consumers loved, but Mint also put a lot of emphasis on the content it circulated.

“Mint committed to publishing hundreds of high-quality content pieces — from informative blog posts to viral attention-grabbing infographics,” says Eric Siu, co-founder of Single Grain. “As the result of its digital marketing efforts, the tool gained a massive online following before being sold to Intuit for a whopping $170 million.”

The biggest lesson was that although content creation and marketing can seem expensive and time-consuming, it can be worth every penny and every minute you put in. That’s what it takes to create high-quality content that will stand out from your competitors.

American Express: Allow User-Generated Sources

The credit card company American Express built a foundation not just on its services, but also on an information-sharing platform. The firm’s Open Forum website is a collaborative platform that allows guest authors to share insights and ideas about anything financial.

This content successfully raised American Express search rankings and branded it as a thought leader in the financial industry. Allowing collaboration on its site gives the firm free content, but it won’t accept every guest post.

Editors screen submissions carefully to make sure they meet preset quality standards. The site manages to maintain a high domain authority in this way. As a result, it’s at the top of search engines for financial and credit-related queries, and the business has managed to build a highly reputable brand.

The takeaway according to Siu is, “Good content marketing strategies draw on a range of user-generated sources to both grow online communities and minimize financial investment.”

Zappos: Make Your Content Measurable

The apparel site Zappos keeps its website content fresh, fun, and inviting with a diverse blog that appeals to the target audience. Blog categories are varied and run from company culture, lifestyle, charity events, and design ideas to style recommendations, weddings, and so much more.

There’s something for everyone on these pages, as is the case with the Zappos product catalog. The content creation is all paid for by Zappos, but the company is very intelligent about it.

It makes sure that the firm’s income is enough to sustain the content creation and that its online marketing is highly targeted so as to be as effective as possible. Zappos makes more money off of its content than it puts into it.

“Content marketing is the way of the future, but it must be managed appropriately to be effective,” says Siu, referring to the firm’s highly targeted content creation platform. “Online content marketing campaigns should strive to produce measurable results in proportion to the resources committed to them.”

Dollar Shave Club: Have Some Fun!

All the content on the Dollar Shave Club’s site, from the landing pages to the company’s video ads and blog posts, is entertaining and highly targeted to the firm’s audience.

The startup is one of the first subscription box services, which means it had a fresh idea designed for younger people. Dollar Shave decided to embrace this rather than try to fit the same serious, sexy, or corporate appeal of previously famous razor companies such as Gillette.

The firm took the challenge of content creation and allowed its personality to shine while answering the kinds of questions young men have wanted to know, such as: “Is it Bad to Pluck Nose Hairs with My Fingers?” and “Do I really Need to Wash My Hands After I Pee?”

“Don’t be afraid to have some fun! DSC doesn’t take itself too seriously (or at all seriously, for that matter),” says Siu to characterize the main takeaway from Dollar Shave’s content marketing campaigns. “They’ve made something as tedious as buying razors and shaving hilarious and entertaining. And that’s what stands out in people’s minds.”

Konica Minolta: Infuse the Content with Thought Leadership

Konica Minolta regularly calls on its executives to pen their own content for the company’s Business Innovation Center blog. It’s been a way to propel the company’s position as a thought leader in its industry and it can do the same for other companies that opt to include personal insights from their team. This approach to blogging also creates a more personable image for the company and humanizes the brand.

“We’ve received more positive feedback from the blog posts that my colleagues and I have posted and provided a way to put a face to our thought leadership position in innovation and technology,” states Ekta Sahasi, Vice President, Business Innovation Center North America.

Insightly: Create Separate Sections for Tips and Product News

So many blogs mix their product news and content that toots their own horn with the helpful advice-focused content. That leaves blog readers with the task of sifting through the product and company news that may not be their focus in order to scroll to the tips they are seeking.

You don’t want your blog readers to become frustrated. Instead, Insightly separates these two main functions of their blog with a clear menu selection as though there are two or more separate blogs. That way, if a reader wants to find tips, they can be connected to that valuable content in seconds. Plus, if they are really interested, they can click on the other area that offers company and promotional information.

Content creation should represent your personality while fitting in line with your company goals. Take it from the above organizations, which went from startup to wildly successful. Be consistent with your quality content, and you too could eventually be held to the same high standard.

1 Common Mistake I See on Instagram

I spent a few hours this morning stalking folks who followed me or liked my updates on Instagram.

I’d click through to their profile, would like one of their updates and clicked through to the website said users provided.

I spotted a few weird trends:

  • some users linked to no website at all
  • some users linked to squeeze pages
  • some users linked to outdated or flat out dead blogs

One glaring mistake jumped out at me.

None of these folks are linking to a current, valuable, brand-building blog.

Instagram Error

Instagram has through the roof engagement rates. Quick and easy posting. Likes out the ying yang. Pronto. I love the site.

But some bloggers totally miss the fact that like any social real estate, IG is a gateway site. Meaning IG is a gateway between visitors and your blog. Because your blog is content central, a brand builder, a space where folks can:

  • view your videos
  • listen to your podcasts
  • buy your eBooks
  • buy your premium courses
  • download your free giveaways
  • read your blog posts
  • enjoy your travel pictures
  • digest your full branding power
  • hire you for your services

People can enjoy some of what you offer through Instagram.

People can enjoy all of what you offer through your blog.

People want you to link to your blog through Instagram. Not a squeeze page. Not a business site. Not some old, dated, rarely updated blog either. I saw blogs not updated for 7 years on clicking through to links. Meanwhile, if someone clicked through to my blog they would see this:

Blogging From Paradise

3-4 updates weekly. eBooks. Courses. Videos. Travel images. My services. Audio books. The Blogging From Paradise brand.

Instagram pales in functionality compared to a WordPress Dot Org blog. Especially a WP Dot Org blog built on a bespoke theme, richly created and frequently updated to provide readers with an optimum experience.

Link to your blog folks.

Link to your travel blog on IG. Link to your blogging tips blog.

Don’t leave visitors on the table.

Link to your own real estate.

Why

To stand out from the crowd.

To create on your own real estate and to brand yourself effectively.

Example; when I click through to a squeeze page I think:

“Why would I opt in? Who are these folks? What did they offer save a few nice images on Instagram?”

When I see no website or blog link at all I have nothing to work with save a few IG photos. Not good. I want something to sink my teeth into.

If I click through to an old, dated blog I wonder why said travel blogger calls themselves a travel blogger.

But if I click to a well-stocked, current, branded blog I feel the impact.

That impact is the Instagram difference maker.

The impact separates the middle of the road bloggers from the blogging big dawgs on IG.

Disclosure: In full disclosure, it is safe to assume that the site owner is benefiting financially or otherwise from everything you click on, read, or look at while on my website. This is not to say that is the case with all content, as all publications on the site are original and written to provide value and references to our audience.

Off-Duty Black Cop Shot By Another Cop

An African-American off-duty cop was shot by a white colleague Wednesday, in St. Louis. Both officers was in an attempt of a first responder on catching suspect with high-speed car.


The high speed car crashed by the chase. The injured officer was in his home when he heard the crash. He decided to help officers on that spot. When he arrived to the scene, his colleagues ordered him to lay down on the ground. After recognizing him the let him approach to them.


In an email the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department said that ” At this time, a responding Police officer (36-Year old white male with over 8 years of service) just arriving in the area observed this and fearing for his safety and apparently not recognizing the off-duty officer, discharged a shot, striking the off-duty officer in the arm,”


The unnamed wounded police officer is 38 years old and in service for 11 years. The off-duty officer’s lawyer, Refus Tate Jr. said the friendly fire shooting was a part of a trend of police violence toward African-American men. Tate told Fox 2 News “in the police report, you have so far, there is no described of threat he preceived.”


Before the crash, St. Louis police officers were pursuing a stolen white sedan. Two teenage suspects were arrested on the scene, third escaped. The department also said that an investigation will take place on the issue.