Hey everyone, staff writer Chris Thomas of FreelancePF here again. This time to tell you the truth about why I’m a staff writer for other sites: i’s because I’m an online entrepreneurial failure. I’ll admit it again: I’m a Failure.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur. To have something all my own. To either succeed or fail on my own terms. I took a strange path towards “entrepreneurship”, as I didn’t start following my goals until the worst possible time–after seven years of higher education and more than $100,000 in student loan debt.
It all started with a personal finance blog my wife and I started to detail our efforts at paying down our massive student loan debt. It wasn’t generating any money–but it was ours, and it awoke the somewhat dormant feelings inside me of my entrepreneurial spirit. I learned everything I could about blogging and online business models. I was desperate for more knowledge, and it seemed like the more I learned the more I realized how little I knew. With time, I started making some progress.
The problem was, I couldn’t figure out how to monetize the blog. Even when I started having a decent audience of 4,000-6,000 unique visitors each month (after only a few months of blogging), I couldn’t figure out how to make enough money for it to pay for itself, let alone generate extra cash.
One sad day I had an outstanding heating bill. It was for $1,000 and was unexpected as I was a new homeowner. I didn’t have enough money to pay it off because my money was all tied up in the home purchase. I decided I had to sell the blog; my one remaining semi-liquid asset (and yes it’s sad if your blog is the most liquid asset you own), and for better or worse, I was lucky to do so and pay off that bill.
But I was also at a crossroads: I no longer had an online presence. I had put in thousands of hours and only made a minimal one-time gain. I was a failure.
Freelance Writing Business
I then decided to concentrate on FreelancePF, my new online freelance writing and copy business. As you could see, I was heading further down the rabbit hole of online entrepreneurship, but also further away from a sustainable passive income source. I have been really lucky to have a diverse and loyal group of clients that I really enjoy working with, but I must write everrything myself to make money.
Think about the business model of the really successful online entrepreneurs: They’re the guys and girls hiring someone like me to do some writing for them. They’re the guys or girls that have learned how to monetize blogs and websites to make a substantial online income. Conversely, most of my business has to be done by me and I will only get paid for the work I complete. Although most of my business is repeat, and that is a great feeling and a point of pride; still, something felt missing. I guess the operative word would be scalability.
Despite limited success as an online copywriter/freelance writer, I found myself wanting to try my hand at something larger. A “go for broke” kind of idea.
It hit my wife and I one day late last Spring.
I had been searching for the perfect Mother’s Day Gift. Unfortunately, most of the gift suggestion websites I came across had too many ideas. I might as well have just walked into a mall. They had all the categories and would even break things down into “personality types,” but then there would be tens, hundreds, or even thousands of options.
My wife and I have a personal philosophy of minimalism. We believe that simplicity and minimalism are needed today when we are constantly bombarded with too many choices–most of them poor. I talked over the gift problem with my wife and we saw a need–the need for a gift suggestion website that was different.
We started the project with gusto just a few short months ago. So far, we’ve earned only $2.66 off Amazon referrals. We’re trying to diversify because Amazon is shutting down its referral service in many states.
We still haven’t learned how to properly market the site. We still haven’t learned how to properly monetize any site–even though the whole purpose of this site is, in many ways, monetization.
More uninspiring still, we have started a personal finance blog that now fails to draw even 1,000 unique visitors. It feels like we’re moving backwards. Again, it’s just further proof that I’m an online entrepreneur failure.
Why I’m Telling You About My Failure
I think there’s a few things to learn from my story(s) of failure.
One: always make sure you have a proper emergency fund. We didn’t and it forced us to sell something quickly that was on an upward swing. That’s never a strong bargaining position.
Two: Trying different things might be bad. My entrepreneurial A.D.D., has probably been more of a detriment than a positive. I’m constantly searching for the next brilliant idea and losing hope after a few months of little or no success with my current ideas.
Three: It’s better to be the boss than the employee. When you can make money from your own sites, then you’re in control. When you have to search for clients like I do, then it’s not as pure a form of entrepreneurship (in my opinion). However, it’s the best I can do and actually does generate some extra cash.
Four: Remember that even a failure like me earns around $500.00 extra a month from my side-job of writing for others. I could earn a lot more if my day job didn’t require me to keep my jobs to a minimum. There’s a million different ways to make money online, and if you can find one then you won’t be a total failure.
At the very worst you’ll be getting paid to write about failure like me, and there’s certainly worse things in the world.
Entrepreneurship really is a journey. It takes lots of baby steps, and sometimes false starts before you get to where you need to be. May you’ll get there, and maybe you won’t. But you won’t know if you don’t try.
I hope your entrepreneurial journey is life-altering and exhilarating. And full of enough failures to teach you the road to success.
Best of luck in all your entrepreneurial ventures. Both online and off.