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How Long Does It Take To Start Making Money Online?

Every now and then, I feel the burning need to opine on the topic of mindset. In reading visitor feedback and talking to others, I see that some people just have the wrong focus when it comes to building up an online business. And if you are doing this, you might be making it an uphill fight for yourself.

clock_03 Here is a direct quote from my recent reader survey. This was in answer to which single question would you ask me directly if you could. This person said:

How many hours did it take for your tech site to earn revenue. I know it takes time (i.e. days), but how much high-focused work did you put in before you began seeing money (profit)?

I’m going to be completely honest. This question is the wrong one.

There seems to be an idea out there that time is directly proportional to money. If you want to make more money, the only answer is to put in more time. And that in order to start making money, it is a matter of executing certain steps, waiting for a certain amount of time, then money starts to flow.

My wife also busts my balls about this. I have tried to get her interested in internet business. I try to explain to her the sheer potential of it. But, it remains fruitless. She cannot seem to get out of the template of “time for money”. She asks me how long it will take before she starts making money? She tells me she doesn’t want to have to work 60 hours per week. She tells me that the only reason I am successful is because I bust ass.

Perhaps I am just a contrarian, but I see this as a result of an employee mindset. An employee is used to just showing up for work, serving their time, then going home. The paycheck arrives on schedule. And you might even get health insurance and a 401K while you’re at it. All is well.

Outside of being an employee, though, the world doesn’t work like that.

There is a security blanket to being an employee. Personally, I think it is a make-believe security blanket, but mentally it is there. But, when you go into business for yourself, there aren’t any guarantees.

I have gotten successful on the Internet, but it doesn’t mean I followed a template nor served my time. The way I developed is not necessarily the way others do. It also doesn’t mean I did everything right. There are several people I can point to out there who make more money than I do in this business and yet have been at it for less time than I.

So, it isn’t a matter of how many days I worked. Or years. It is a matter of working smart.

I love my wife dearly, but the unfortunate fact is that she has the mindset of most people. She wants guarantees. She wants to know that if she starts a business, that she can follow certain steps, serve her time, and KNOW that money will begin to arrive. And she wants to know exactly how much money it will be. The cold reality is this: That doesn’t exist!

Well, it does. Its called being an employee and punching your time card in the morning.

With the great rewards and potential money of an internet business also comes the risks of failure. I have failed more times than I’ve succeeded. I have made strategic moves that I look back on now as stupid. I now know things that could have saved me a lot of time if I was doing it earlier. That’s part of developing as an entrepreneur.

So, to answer the primary question: The answer depends on you. There is no checklist for success. People like myself who have found some success can help, but we cannot guarantee anything.

My advice would be to think about working smarter, not longer. If you focus on action and not time served, you will find the results you’re looking for.

Got a Question or Comment?

  1. Great answer to a good question, David. To add to your point about working smart – as hard as you try, with blogging there are days when you don’t work smart, where you can invest 12 hours of your time and not move the game forward one centimeter, and there are other days when everything you touch turns to gold. Working smart is making sure you have more of the former than the latter, but don’t think the crap days won’t happen – they will.
    The key is learning from those experiences to make sure they don’t repeat.
    As your business builds, the sheer volume of traffic / list actually smooths things out and life becomes less up and down.
    Bottom line remains – set objectives, review them daily, put in as many hours as you can and try to make as many of them as you can effective hours.

  2. Great answer to a good question, David. To add to your point about working smart – as hard as you try, with blogging there are days when you don’t work smart, where you can invest 12 hours of your time and not move the game forward one centimeter, and there are other days when everything you touch turns to gold. Working smart is making sure you have more of the former than the latter, but don’t think the crap days won’t happen – they will.
    The key is learning from those experiences to make sure they don’t repeat.
    As your business builds, the sheer volume of traffic / list actually smooths things out and life becomes less up and down.
    Bottom line remains – set objectives, review them daily, put in as many hours as you can and try to make as many of them as you can effective hours.

  3. What a great piece! It’s so hard to explain to others the amount of dedication and time necessary in building your site—because it’s not just a “site.” It’s a company, a brand. A start-up. Those don’t happen over night. They require hard work, passion, dedication, and time! And if you aren’t willing to give it all—it will not work.

    It doesn’t mean it will be that way forever! Sometimes it’s only a month or two of starting up before things start running smoother and you can actually take a day off!

    For most people they go get to go to work and when they clock out, they don’t have to take their work home with them. But the internet and writing, making your own site. It’s much more because it’s YOURS. You should want to do everything in your power to make it the best. If that means working 16hours straight for a month, so be it!

    It’s not just time spent “clocked in” sitting at my computer working—it’s the time I spend in the shower, the gym, the car—all those times thinking about the next step. So that I am working smarter and not harder. So I can work 12 hours not 14.

  4. What a great piece! It’s so hard to explain to others the amount of dedication and time necessary in building your site—because it’s not just a “site.” It’s a company, a brand. A start-up. Those don’t happen over night. They require hard work, passion, dedication, and time! And if you aren’t willing to give it all—it will not work.

    It doesn’t mean it will be that way forever! Sometimes it’s only a month or two of starting up before things start running smoother and you can actually take a day off!

    For most people they go get to go to work and when they clock out, they don’t have to take their work home with them. But the internet and writing, making your own site. It’s much more because it’s YOURS. You should want to do everything in your power to make it the best. If that means working 16hours straight for a month, so be it!

    It’s not just time spent “clocked in” sitting at my computer working—it’s the time I spend in the shower, the gym, the car—all those times thinking about the next step. So that I am working smarter and not harder. So I can work 12 hours not 14.

  5. I think it depends a lot on the learning curve of the person. It also depends on the application of what is learned. But mostly I think it is the ability to step out on your own with out the security. It took me more than a year to see my first profit, but I kept at it.

  6. I think it depends a lot on the learning curve of the person. It also depends on the application of what is learned. But mostly I think it is the ability to step out on your own with out the security. It took me more than a year to see my first profit, but I kept at it.

  7. Great, great post… What are some of your tips for working smarter, not harder in internet marketing?

  8. Great, great post… What are some of your tips for working smarter, not harder in internet marketing?

  9. First time reader, but I love the blog. Great post – I struggle the same way with my wife. Even when you show them they still don’t believe!

  10. First time reader, but I love the blog. Great post – I struggle the same way with my wife. Even when you show them they still don’t believe!

  11. That’s what I love about your information, you don’t sugar coat the facts. Thanks for all the practical truths you present.

  12. That’s what I love about your information, you don’t sugar coat the facts. Thanks for all the practical truths you present.

  13. Hehe, it’s the same kind of guarantee that you get from your friends who say “Alright David, when you’re making money with it, you come back and let me know about things and MAYBE then I’ll be interested.”

    Some people just don’t get it.

  14. Hehe, it’s the same kind of guarantee that you get from your friends who say “Alright David, when you’re making money with it, you come back and let me know about things and MAYBE then I’ll be interested.”

    Some people just don’t get it.

  15. Brandon Uttley says:

    David, it’s refreshing to hear you say it takes work (and smart work at that) to make money. Too many people want a quick fix, and think they can get rich quick on the web somehow. There are plenty of “gurus” who will take their money to show them how, too. Thanks for being honest with your readers.

  16. David, it’s refreshing to hear you say it takes work (and smart work at that) to make money. Too many people want a quick fix, and think they can get rich quick on the web somehow. There are plenty of “gurus” who will take their money to show them how, too. Thanks for being honest with your readers.

  17. Thanks, guys.

    Niche Titans, I’ll be posting some stuff later on about working smarter. I’m still figuring out what works for me, and I’ll post as I develop it. Right now, I’m playing around with budgeting my time and planning my week in Google Calendar. More later, though. :)

  18. Thanks, guys.

    Niche Titans, I’ll be posting some stuff later on about working smarter. I’m still figuring out what works for me, and I’ll post as I develop it. Right now, I’m playing around with budgeting my time and planning my week in Google Calendar. More later, though. :)

  19. Nail on the head! It’s not about some formula of do x action y times per week for z hours and you’ll receive $a in return. I’ve given up trying to explain to non-net friends, but I know for myself that I’ll make money just as fast as I learn to deliver value that people want, and to grow into the kind of person that is comfortable receiving the level of money I want.
    It’ll take as long as it takes.

  20. Nail on the head! It’s not about some formula of do x action y times per week for z hours and you’ll receive $a in return. I’ve given up trying to explain to non-net friends, but I know for myself that I’ll make money just as fast as I learn to deliver value that people want, and to grow into the kind of person that is comfortable receiving the level of money I want.
    It’ll take as long as it takes.

  21. Great post!! It’s always nice to hear someone speak honesty in their writing instead of just writing what people want to hear.

    I’m in a similar situation. I have put in a lot of time, not so wisely spent time unfortunately, and am still trying to find exactly how to produce enough income to not have to work my regular j.o.b. I know it will happen… just not sure when and know there is no magic equation.

    My problem is actually that my husband doesn’t understand how it works and that it will eventually pan out. He wants to know if I spend x amount of hours I will make x amount of money and thinks that if I don’t then I am wasting my time. Some people just don’t get it.

    Anyway, I am glad I found your blog and look forward to reading more!

  22. Great post!! It’s always nice to hear someone speak honesty in their writing instead of just writing what people want to hear.

    I’m in a similar situation. I have put in a lot of time, not so wisely spent time unfortunately, and am still trying to find exactly how to produce enough income to not have to work my regular j.o.b. I know it will happen… just not sure when and know there is no magic equation.

    My problem is actually that my husband doesn’t understand how it works and that it will eventually pan out. He wants to know if I spend x amount of hours I will make x amount of money and thinks that if I don’t then I am wasting my time. Some people just don’t get it.

    Anyway, I am glad I found your blog and look forward to reading more!

  23. This was exactly my problem starting a website. I have a nice cushy job. Paycheck comes in every month.

    When I read about all the work involved in getting a money making website/blog I start to get discouraged. All that work for no money. The money might come later, if at all.

    But like you say, if I can me smarter, I can cut some of that initial time down.

  24. This was exactly my problem starting a website. I have a nice cushy job. Paycheck comes in every month.

    When I read about all the work involved in getting a money making website/blog I start to get discouraged. All that work for no money. The money might come later, if at all.

    But like you say, if I can me smarter, I can cut some of that initial time down.

  25. Seems right on, but can you maybe give an idea if a blogger who does as you suggest is looking at days, weeks, or months before some nonzero cash starts trickling in? Just a ballpark range to give us wannabes an idea what we’re in for. How fast can it ramp up if you do some things right.

  26. Seems right on, but can you maybe give an idea if a blogger who does as you suggest is looking at days, weeks, or months before some nonzero cash starts trickling in? Just a ballpark range to give us wannabes an idea what we’re in for. How fast can it ramp up if you do some things right.

  27. Marco, that’s the thing, there is no “right” answer to that question. Some people could put 2 years into something and still not make much money. Others can do it in a matter of months. The difference comes down to marketing skills.

    Just focus on providing a lot of value to your readers – and learn marketing and branding. And if monetization is a goal, start on it early. All that shortens the runway.

  28. Marco, that’s the thing, there is no “right” answer to that question. Some people could put 2 years into something and still not make much money. Others can do it in a matter of months. The difference comes down to marketing skills.

    Just focus on providing a lot of value to your readers – and learn marketing and branding. And if monetization is a goal, start on it early. All that shortens the runway.

  29. Growing up, I had the old belief of working harder led the way to success. While that does play a part in it- working smarter IS the way to success.

    Not only do you have to work smarter but you also have to use what time you have towards accomplishing those tasks which will lead you to success. This refers to Pareto’s 80/20 principle.

    Wesley
    The Geek Entrepreneur

  30. Growing up, I had the old belief of working harder led the way to success. While that does play a part in it- working smarter IS the way to success.

    Not only do you have to work smarter but you also have to use what time you have towards accomplishing those tasks which will lead you to success. This refers to Pareto’s 80/20 principle.

    Wesley
    The Geek Entrepreneur

  31. This is so true. Once I realised that I could earn money without working longer hours everything turned around for me. Its all about the processes and systems that we can put in place to continue earning us money all the time. To make money online regardless of how much time you put into it, you really need to have a system that works without you 24/7. However, it does take some time to build up I agree, ultimately, you want a system that doesn’t rely on you to earn you money. Great post Dave.

  32. This is so true. Once I realised that I could earn money without working longer hours everything turned around for me. Its all about the processes and systems that we can put in place to continue earning us money all the time. To make money online regardless of how much time you put into it, you really need to have a system that works without you 24/7. However, it does take some time to build up I agree, ultimately, you want a system that doesn’t rely on you to earn you money. Great post Dave.

  33. I’ve read it takes about a year for a blogger to really start seeing the success of his/her work.
    I launched my site about a month ago, and was hoping to see instant growth and a very high visitor return rate. I have had a definite awakening to the hard work that it takes to build a successful site. ( I work pretty much every single day, and pretty much from the time I get up until the time I go to bed)
    Just curious– Do you have any numbers of the first couple months? Did you grow very quickly in the first two months or was it more of a steady growth? What was your visitor return rate in the first few months? Thanks!
    Christy

  34. I’ve read it takes about a year for a blogger to really start seeing the success of his/her work.
    I launched my site about a month ago, and was hoping to see instant growth and a very high visitor return rate. I have had a definite awakening to the hard work that it takes to build a successful site. ( I work pretty much every single day, and pretty much from the time I get up until the time I go to bed)
    Just curious– Do you have any numbers of the first couple months? Did you grow very quickly in the first two months or was it more of a steady growth? What was your visitor return rate in the first few months? Thanks!
    Christy

  35. … and your baby is soooooo CUTE!!!!

  36. … and your baby is soooooo CUTE!!!!

  37. Anonymous says:

    Very nice post, and great responses.

    It took me a year and a half to start seeing a very modest number of clients. While I just started blogging, I mostly found my clients through my site.

    It was only after the year and a half when I realized that the time I put into it was worth it. However, I picked the right thing, because I loved every minute of it even without income. But we had a baby in the meantime, and it wasn’t just play time, I had to seriously concentrate on growing the business. Today I see how I could have saved so much money I invested into the wrong things. But I would not consider that a failure, rather, a learning curve.

    Fortunately I have a very supporting wife, who didn’t always necessarily saw what was behind the scene, but trusted that I will make it right, probably this was the biggest motivating factor.

    I can’t tell you about millions I made, because I did not. But after very hard work 60-100 hours a week we have a comfortable income, I love what I am doing, I work less and spend more time with the family, I have the time to volunteer where people don’t have the money to pay for my services, I feel that I’m making a difference in people’s lives, and all-in-all, the hard work finally paid off with a much more balanced and relaxed life.

  38. Very nice post, and great responses.

    It took me a year and a half to start seeing a very modest number of clients. While I just started blogging, I mostly found my clients through my site.

    It was only after the year and a half when I realized that the time I put into it was worth it. However, I picked the right thing, because I loved every minute of it even without income. But we had a baby in the meantime, and it wasn’t just play time, I had to seriously concentrate on growing the business. Today I see how I could have saved so much money I invested into the wrong things. But I would not consider that a failure, rather, a learning curve.

    Fortunately I have a very supporting wife, who didn’t always necessarily saw what was behind the scene, but trusted that I will make it right, probably this was the biggest motivating factor.

    I can’t tell you about millions I made, because I did not. But after very hard work 60-100 hours a week we have a comfortable income, I love what I am doing, I work less and spend more time with the family, I have the time to volunteer where people don’t have the money to pay for my services, I feel that I’m making a difference in people’s lives, and all-in-all, the hard work finally paid off with a much more balanced and relaxed life.

  39. Make money online is about being clever. It's about seeing 2, 3, or even 4 steps ahead of everyone else. Timing is also important. Being the early bird in a new wave and starting on the ground floor can easily achieve a tremendous amount of profit

  40. The answer everyone is looking for. I love that you touched on mindset, most of us were raised to believe that we grow up, get an education and find our dream job. The problem is that that dream job is not going to last. I love your comment about the “make believe security blanket”, I had that misconception until a couple of months ago, until I was let go after 22 years. The hours you spend learning and researching is time investing in yourself and your brand. Skills that you can use if you have to get a job. Thanks for the great article.

  41. This post would be eye-opening post to many people who wants to start make money online. I see most people wants guarantee before start working in online. I can tell one thing that they don't know , not only the real earning potential of online but also what they(who asked guarantee) worth. If even they don't know what the earning potential of online, if they know what they are worth, they can start and succeed.

  42. This post would be eye-opening post to many people who wants to start make money online. I see most people wants guarantee before start working in online. I can tell one thing that they don't know , not only the real earning potential of online but also what they(who asked guarantee) worth. If even they don't know what the earning potential of online, if they know what they are worth, they can start and succeed.

  43. For an experienced blogger this could be laughed at. my answer will be “depends, on you” Some people can do it in a month and others will take a year or two… typical beginners who just are used to converting time into money … nice post and hope it opens some eyes up… ;)

  44. My site is not a blog, but more of a web application. Still, it takes a lot of work to make money from a site. I started building the site about 6 months ago, and launched about 2 months ago. I still have no more than a few hits per day. The important thing is to find something you love and don’t mind doing for free, because that’s what you will be doing for a few months.

  45. TurnerB says:

    I think this touched on the right point of mindset. I think most people who starts sites or blogs, think as soon as they post something, wallaa. Overnight they will be in green. But I started my site 3 months ago and bit by bit am getting more traffic, but I have a long-term mindset. I was also given the advice of doing something that you wouldn’t mind doing anyway, because you will get frustrated when it takes you longer to turn your dream/idea into a sustainable reality. Thanks for the article.

  46. Personally I don’t think there are ANY guarantees anymore when it comes to making an income on or offline. All of it can vanish in a heart beat.

    I am of the opinion of many here, that if you follow your heart, be true to your vision and execute with passion, you will eventually be successful.

    How long will it take? Who knows?

    Just learn your craft as best you can and let destiny run it’s course.

    Great post.

    Thank you,
    Alex

  47. What an excellent post. Few people realize this…

  48. I really like your honest post on about online money making, David. I have been helping entrepreneurs for over thirty years to start their own business. The successful are the ones who look beyond the $ sign. Those who see their business as their favorite activity enjoy putting as many hours in it as they possibly can and never get tired of it. Their passion often drive them to success. The money part is a by-product of a successful and passionate adventure. Not everyone can see things outside the per hour calculation of their work. This may be the fine line separating people who think like employees from people who love what they do even for free. Thank you for the great post.

  49. Very nice post. I also agree, that it is about working smart when it comes to online marketing and not necessarily about time. I also believe that it involves being honest with the friends or followers on your pages. For instance, I have a personal FB page that I share with friends and family and a business page. Today I posted that I got a new job and would be marketing part-time until my work with leads developed into a full-time effort. I felt mature in admitting that and working online part-time does not make me less of a leader. My group leader saw my post and mistook it as treating my work as a hobby. Untrue..but to keep my apartment, I must show a 9-5. That is reality. Many marketers are also working a 9-5. It is not as scandalous as it seems..It is about working smarter with the time you do allocate!

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