3 Valuable Lessons About Making Money Online I Learned The Hard Way

When I first started my journey to make money online, very few people were doing it compared to today.

There was little knowledge about what worked and what didn’t. Because of this, I was forced to come up with ways to make money on my own. Some of these strategies works very well. Some of them didn’t work at all.

Interestingly enough, the greatest lessons that I learned weren’t from my successes. They were from my failures.

Here are three of my biggest failures and valuable lessons that I learned from them.

1. Don’t Rely On One Traffic Source

In February 2012, I felt like I struck gold. I had finally built a simple WordPress blog that was generating $1500 per month on complete autopilot.

The blog made money by promoting ClickBank products in a review style format. I received all of my traffic from my organic rankings in Google. Seems like a great business right?

Wrong. Two months later, in April 2012, Google unleashed the Penguin Ipdate. Overnight I went from ranking number one in Google to not even ranking in the top 100 pages.

I later learned that this was all my fault because I over optimized my pages for SEO.

Regardless, it taught me a valuable lesson: Don’t rely on one traffic source for your income stream, especially if it is SEO.

Instead, build an email list. Buy banner ads.

And diversify your traffic and income so you keep making money no matter what Google decides to do.

2. Build An Asset, Not An Income

I always thought that if I just made money everything would be grand. Later, I realized that money was not nearly as important as building something of lasting value.

I had plenty of little tactics to make money. And the money they made me was great. The problem was, I couldn’t wrap up these tactics and sell them as a business, because it wasn’t a business at all.

In other words, I was spending all my time making income instead of building a long-term asset that I could sell at a huge profit. This is what serious entrepreneurs do. They focus on the long-term and build businesses that will be more valuable than the income stream they produce.

I wish I had learned this when I first started. If you are just starting out, make sure you internalize this mindset and focus on the long-term, because when I lost my rankings in Google, my income completely vanished.

I had no long-term asset, like an email list, or a brand, that I could sell. And I had to start over from scratch.

Euro banknotes under a mouse, next to a keyboard

3. Money Comes From Filling Others Needs, Not Following Your Passion

This was probably the hardest lesson of all.

You see, I became interested in making money online because I wanted to have freedom in my life. Everyone said that in order to make money you have to pursue your passion.

So I thought, okay I’ll just pursue my passion and then the money will come. Right?

Well, unfortunately my passions involve surfing and enjoying life. Therefore, no one really cares enough about my passions to pay for me to sustain my lifestyle.

The only things that people care about are solving their problems in their own life. I didn’t actually start making money until I put my passions aside and focused on adding value to other people’s lives by fulfilling their needs first.

Pursuing your dreams and passions can come after you provide value to other people by solving their problems.

Don’t buy into the hype that says you can just live the life of your dreams by pursuing your passions and all the money will start pouring into your life.

Mostly, it’s BS propagated by self-help gurus who are living the same lie themselves.

In the real world, people spend their money on solutions. If you want to have money come to you, you need to be one of those people who provides the solution. Any other way is living in fantasy land.

Making Money Online Advice For Newbies

If you are just starting to try to make money online, don’t just read this article and think “oh yeah but that doesn’t apply to me.”

It does apply to you. 99% of people fail to make any money online at all. It’s the 1% who learn these valuable lessons and actual apply them in their life that get the results.

So in conclusion, my advice to you is this: Don’t be naive and believe the hype. Instead, be one of the 1% and take intelligent action.

Yeah, it might seem more difficult in the short term, but believe me, it’s more than worth it in the long term.

About Steve Goldberg

Steve Goldberg is a freelance copywriter and prolific blogger, who enjoys writing about Facebook advertising, video marketing, and SEO. Learn more about him at his website: http://easyvideosuitereviewbonus.com


  1. Great tips on how to make money. If you are starting out focus on learning one method at a time, make money with it, automate it and then move on to the next.

    • Steve Goldberg says:

      Thanks Elana. Probably the most important tip of all is to focus on building a high quality list, asking them what they want, and giving it to them.

  2. First thing is to keep in mind.. you can earn million of $$ from online or there is no shortcut

    You can work hard to get even $1

    • Steve Goldberg says:

      There is a shortcut. It’s called helping other people get what they want. Forget the systems and tactics. Solve problems for other people.

  3. Very good lessons. I like it very much. I am a newbie. I started my blog a month ago. This will be my great weapon to develop my blog. A real blogger always shares his value experiences to other fellow bloggers. Thank you Steve for sharing this great posting. You give out your meaningful experience for us tenderly. Not all senior bloggers are willing to share this valueable thing like this.

    • Steve Goldberg says:

      Heru, there’s so much garbage out there that I wasted time with. Even more today than when I started. It’s about filling needs, solving problems, creating solutions and SELLING them to the people who need them.

  4. Great article, people often focus on short-term goals, and this is wrong. Initially, people are full of enthusiasm, set up a blog, write articles, but do not care about the needs of others. Today business is mainly about how to solve people’s problems. For me, the best method is to choose less competitive niche, start a blog and build your list. Then it is possible to offer products and the conversion is quite high.

  5. Steve Goldberg says:

    Agreed Peter. Short term focus results in less money. Good strategy there. Going into the major competitive markets for a newbie is a death sentence. Less competitive niches are a great way to get started.

  6. A great post and I agree, build an asset not an income, branding is the way to go, when people know you for being a brand they search for the brand instead of using keywords. No longer would you be relying on Google for traffic if you become a known company. Do you think Coke is searched for online with the term, dark fizzy drink? Hope. it be Coke they search for. Make a name, win the game.

  7. Hi Steve! this is a great post! I agree with your post.. one thing I would add is that you can make money through following your passion if you find a way to fill someone’s need at the same time. For example, you love to surf… well lots of people would need to read reviews on surfing products from a person passionate about surfing! So not only will you do something you love, but you will also make money from it.

    • Steve Goldberg says:

      Hey Karen, that’s true. You CAN make money following your passion, as long as it fills someone elses needs, however, I advise going the route of finding out people needs first. Otherwise, people can get stuck in pursuing their passion and not make any money.

      Surfing products have very low commissions and the payout isn’t that great. It’s a passionate crowd though, that’s for sure.

  8. Clair Trebes says:

    Never been a more apt time to mention the quote “I’ve learned do much from my mistakes I’m considering making some more”

    This is a great post, some of our greatest wisdom and knowledge comes about from things not going to plan – if it taught you something then it as a worthwhile exercise.

    I believe the power and longevity in this game is to indeed build an
    Asset – you only have to look at the Gary Vaynerchuck’s, Chris Farrell’s, Jo Barnes’ Pat Flynn’s and Casey Zeman’s of this world to see that a brand is worth far more than a few thousand dollars. These people invested in themselves and will stand the test of time irrespective of how many times google moves the goalposts, or how much Facebook messes with “reach”


    • Steve Goldberg says:

      Gary and Patt are great examples! I’ve always wanted to visit Gary since he lives about 45 minutes north from where I live.

      You mentioned building a brand, which is a great point. That’s something ShoeMoney focused on, instead of going after keywords like most blogs online. It turned out really well for him too.

  9. When I was just starting to be an IM’er, I always search on google with a keywords of “earn money online, how to make money online etc etc..”. I thought it was just as easy as I thought but it took me ‘several months’ before I earned my first buck. Anyway, I like the lessons I’ve learned from you! Very straightforward and yes, so helpful for noobs who wanted to earn money online.

    • Steve Goldberg says:

      Hey Rusty, that’s interesting you typed “earn money online.” Many people who want to make money really don’t want to “earn” it at all. They want some quick type of trick or something to make money show up in their bank account. That rarely works, and if it does, it doesn’t last very long.

  10. At least I know I am on the right path now. I want to have a long term plan for my blog. I make money on freelance jobs but I concentrate building my blog for a long term goal today. I am willing to wait for years until I make money as long as I know it’s lasting.

    I want to have a long term asset, that’s building my SEO, and I take your advice, I won’t rely on one traffic source – it could be dangerous – we can’t control Google. I and my friend is planning to build an email list and we are learning how to do it effectively. Testing, failing, learning… and we know Aweber can really help us.

    You know am risking my time right now for blogging because I am sure it will paid off in the right time. Am thinking outside the box – and see things in the long term.

    Thank you and regards,

    • Steve Goldberg says:

      Prime, that’s great that you are diversifying! Building an email list is the most long term strategy you can do, other than collecting actual names, phones, and home addresses of your best paying customers. Blogging is a good way to get exposure, but not a great way. Your time would be better spent selling something and building a CUSTOMER list, not a freebie seeker list. But until you have a product to sell, blogging can be great to build an audience which you can later sell to.

      • Yeah you are right. Blogging maybe good but it’s not the best – but I take as my foundation to build my audience that will later trust me for my recommendations. I cannot sell or offer some affiliate products today because I know they won’t buy from me because they do not trust me. I am just an ordinary blogger who want to make money online and who will trust me and buy my products?

        At least my eyes are open and I do approach things practically. I want to learn more about building an email list. I want to prove something and once proven to myself I can make a free report that I can confidently share to my audience.

        And you know what – migrating to WordPress is a good move to level up… I realized that majority of WordPress bloggers are not just seeking freebies – they are willing to spend money to make money.

        Thank you.

        • Steve Goldberg says:

          Prime, you have to ask questions like, How am I trustworthy? What unique perspective or ideas do I have to share with them they cannot find anywhere else? There’s definitely something you can share, and plenty of reasons people will trust you if you give them reasons.

  11. Fantastic list. You might want to add Speedy Ads from entireweb.com under the PPC section. I’m testing these on my blog now. Not ready to endorse them yet, but they are an Adsense type alternative.

    Also, Constant Content is a great site for freelancing.

  12. Very awesome article thanks for sharing this cool stuff bro

  13. I totally love your tips! In particular, I love the advices for newbies because I am one. Your tips were great. I totally agree that money doesn’t come from passion but instead it’s the client’s needs that is most significant. Thank you for this post!

    • Steve Goldberg says:

      Chris, good to hear. Stick with it and remember that fundamental principles are what generate success and income, not the shiny new tactics.

  14. Nice post.Excellent points you wrote regarding to making money online.Do work hard and fill the others needs you will achieve success. Thanks for share this points with us.

  15. Steve Goldberg says:

    Jacson, exactly.

  16. Serve the best for our readers and give them our creative ideas. This will keep the good relationship between the blogger with the readers.

  17. Making sure that you have more than three sources of traffic is very good advice since you never know when they will fail or the source will change its policies

  18. Those 3 valueable lessons above are great. They are applicable and real. We can think them over before we act further doing our online business. Success needs hard efforts. It won’t come to us automatically if we are only waiting.

  19. Very helpful tips. Thanks for sharing these. Making money in this business is never easy especially for the newbies. But enough determination and hard work, things will eventually turn out the way it should be.

  20. Thanks Andi for taking your time and dropping your thoughts I have been doing these for the last one and half year and i have getting the reward too. stay in touch

  21. You were right to realize that you needed to become an entrepreneur and build an asset that would create value and be valuable itself in the long term. As I said in the earlier comments to some of your blog posts (which are excellent because they are usually short and to the point) you need to treat your online blog or site as a business and apply the same principles as in any business. When you build long term sustainable value and help other people in the process only then will you achieve success for yourself.

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