Starting an Internet Marketing Career from Scratch- 500 Yards to Freedom

As I’ve mentioned a few times, I’m trying to help my brother Gene start an online business.  To be honest, I don’t have too much time to do this while traveling.  But this is going to be a major priority when I get back in November.  Right now, Gene is working really hard to get his Internet marketing career off the ground.  That’s why I asked him to write a guest post describing some of the challenges he’s currently facing.  The article he came up with is a really good one…plus it references one of my favorite movies!

Trying to earn a living through Internet Marketing with no prior experience or skill is not an easy thing.  There is a lot of potential but it takes time and a lot of energy to push through all of the difficulties.

Almost four months ago today I started trying to earn a living with nothing but money earned through online.  How much knowledge did I have going in?  Well, I knew how to logon to the computer.  I just sort of walked to the edge of the cliff and jumped.


I can’t say that I did not do it having some advantages.  I retired from the Navy, so though my pension is small (too small to get by on) I had something coming in.  Having a knowledgeable brother who has been successful helped a lot.  No doubt about it.  He was able to steer me to some good decisions and away from some bad.

Utter lack of knowledge

Of course these positives are offset by an immense knowledge gap.  I knew nothing about SEO, Internet Marketing or writing online.  In fact writing itself is an issue.  The only writing I have done since High School was the occasional safety report or evaluation.  Not exactly thrilling stuff.

Why should you care?

I am not trying to blather on about how awesome I am.  My point is that though I certainly had some advantages, I had a lot of disadvantages also.  In September I got my first decent return of money from working online.  Almost $200 for writing on Helium and almost $400 more from Affiliate Marketing.  Not amazing riches or money for the down payment on a new yacht, but since some of that is residual it is a nice start.

What are the lessons to be learned?

The first thing to overcome is the information gap.  When you are experienced, terms like SEO, SERP, EPC, and anchor text seem familiar and cut through the BS.  But when you are starting out it is hard not to have questions every few seconds.

The good thing is that just doing it is the best way to learn.  All of the tricks, at least the ones I have learned, are able to be applied after the fact.  Just do it.  Create content.  If you make mistakes, that is what an edit is for.  If I waited until I had perfect knowledge, I would still be waiting to write my first word.

Failure is an Option

It sucks, but failure happens.  Even in this relatively short amount of time I have been doing this I have tried some things that flat out did not work.  Maybe with time these things will “come around”, but for now, they are chalked up to failures.  My approach has been to throw all of “it” against the wall and see what sticks.  Some of it sticks and some doesn’t but no better way to learn that than to try.

It does take some Work

Writing and doing stuff online work for 12-14 hours days is not hard work.  I have done hard work and this ain’t it.  But it does begin to wear on you after a while.  It can get old after a while.  The great thing about writing is that when you do get an interesting idea it is suddenly fun again, even if you have been going at it for a long time.

The idea of writing a few articles and retiring to your Malibu Beachfront Condo is a myth that people need to lose.  That really will not happen.  I still believe that a real and significant living is possible, but only after you have busted your ass to make it happen.  The good thing is that you are busting your ass for yourself not a paycheck in a J-O-B.

Starts Slow

It takes time to see results.  Four months may not even be enough time to properly see all the results for the efforts put in.  Even writing sites like Helium have better results monetarily after you have played their game for a bit.

Half a Mile to Freedom

Perhaps the title of this piece seemed a little odd.  It seems to me that all it takes to be able to make a living online is to make it the 500 yards.  But they can be a tough 500 yards.  A 500 yards that easily discourages people.

I think of it as a quote from one of my all time favorite movies, Shawshank Redemption when the main character finally makes his way to freedom, but has to do it going through a sewage pipe, “… crawled to freedom through five hundred yards of shit smelling foulness I can’t even imagine, or maybe I just don’t want to.  Five hundred yards… that’s the length of five football fields, just shy of half a mile”

Just 500 yards.   That’s nothing.  Just make it through and everything is Golden.

Take Action. Get Results.

23 thoughts on “Starting an Internet Marketing Career from Scratch- 500 Yards to Freedom”

  1. Nice explanation of the biggest hurdle, just doing something. I am starting out on the same journey myself and have earned a huge $4 so far, but baby steps. It’s hard when you have a full time job as well but I am lucky in that I work at an online business so I can learn a lot about SEO, analytics etc.

    Your writing style is very nice and readable for someone who hadn’t written a lot before.

    • 4 bucks is 4 bucks. You are right it is baby steps this last month was leaps and bounds ahead of the previous. All you can do is build the foundation and let it grow as quickly as possible. Obviously I have been doing it full time plus, so that is an advantage, but I actually wished I had eased in the way you are doing it. It may take longer but you will have something there ready to go when you are able to put more time into it.

  2. Hi Steve:

    Starting an Internet marketing career from scratch is like 500 yards to freedom, is a great description to explain how it feels as a newbie. You are 100% right saying it starts slow. This is the reason many who start making money from Internet do quit or fail because they can not wait this long.

    So Steve I think those who start part time, with their full time job must be more satisfied with Internet marketing. As they have the time to wait and become successful.

    Great insight here. I will keep that in mind in case I ever created a product to sell.

    This blog post is great for those who want to start, you have said clearly how will the feel in the beginning and there is light a the end of the tunnel.

    Make it a great day for yourself.

    Fran Aslam

    • Fran,

      Very perceptive. It would certainly be easier to ease into it. It adds time to the mix, but there is security and a lot of the aspects of online actions take time to bear fruit anyway.

      Thanks for your comment and I hope you also have a wonderful day.

  3. Hi Steve,

    It’s interesting to see a beginner’s insight, and valuable for all of us. Sometimes even veterans get caught on stumbling blocks like failing, etc. Your brother has passed these hurdles remarkably quickly and has made some nice scratch to boot.

    Thanks guys for sharing the insight and have an enjoyable day 🙂


    • Thanks for the kind words, Ryan

      The hurdles are certainly passable. Thanks for your comments.

      I hope you have a wonderful day!

  4. Gene!

    Great to hear more from ya buddy! Glad Helium is working out well so far (sorry for bogarting you on the one writing contest “140 characters” saw a topic I loved and went after it) otherwise, that’s quite amazing and I hope that I can help you expand this area very shortly – got something in store coming up (btw, you’re probably going to win the 1k article challenge cha-ching!)

    In four months you’ve already come a long way so fast; I think with this attitude you’ll be able to really go forward and make something amazing – sure, like you said, you won’t retire on these smaller things but I think it’s also a case to reduce your every day living – ya know? Find a perfect balance and then, once you can sustain yourself online, you can cut back on other areas and really make a killing what you do 🙂

    Best of luck buddy!

    • No worries was funny that we were both writing those articles at the same time, going for the empty title bonuses and all. I might have a few more in that category in me before the contest ends (maybe this weekend). This weeks contests ideas are pretty lame. I think any more idea will take too much time to research to write intelligibly on.

      As for writing contests I am almost convinced those things are subject to too much manipulation. The last one I came in 3rd on (behind Thu for a 2nd time) I was #1 for almost an entire week. The content ended and I had double the point of #2 Then all of a sudden all three people in top positions crashed I went to 8th and climbed back up to 3rd by final accounting. Now that was frustrating.

      I am looking forward to hearing what ideas you come up with!

      You are also definitely right. One or two streams won’t set you up, but when you get enough going it is good news.

  5. Steve,

    This article particularly speaks to me. Well, I am not retiring in the near future, though.

    I wonder what worked and what did not in those four months. Maybe that’s up for his next post. I am always interested in posts at this level. I am just starting out my journey in the pro-blogging world as well.

    Being a newbie myself, I can say that earning $600.00 in 4 months on internet is a great feat! I started my blog in July but I am yet to earn my first $100.00. I just checked my Amazon account a while ago and I only have $14.00 so far.

    So I need some inputs, guys!

    • Marlon,

      A lot did and didn’t work. Squidoo for instance has been a bit of a bust so far. I have written about 30 articles there under a couple different account names and have pulled in under ten dollars (actually none, since I have not reached a minimum yet) . But of course I also get backlinks for these..and the “rank” is is going they aren’t “wasted”

      I have tried affiliate marketing for three different products. My “error” I think has been to try to get into crowded niches. I can see that my sales are proportional to my efforts though. I wrote about 6 articles for one and got no sales. I did about 20 articles for another linking directly to an information product and got 3 sales so far. And on the last one I wrote about 230 articles and linked it right to a mailing list. I now have over 500 people on the list and made about 8-10 sales.

      The ROI on the last is pretty dismal so far. But if you read my brother info product stuff you can see where hopefully having those people on a mailing list will pay off a lot more in the long run.

      Of course like I mentioned above talking with Murray and in the article I have recently started making some money on Helium. They have a few ways to make money off commission and having multiple articles increases your return. So I made 186 there this month. I will hit the next writing star level there next month and should make 250ish with the same work. Of course more if I do more.

      I don’t have a blog, but from what I know they are hard to make money on until they get more popular. (at least that is part of the reason I have not bothered to start one yet) I am pretty sure my brother is still losing money for the time being on his.

      To shorten everything I said into one sentence: All the success and failure I have had has come primarily from affiliate and article marketing. Just thought I would dig a little deeper for you.

  6. Great encouragment for this newbie. I have had a few bumps in the road and sometimes it is hard but as I want to have my own successful home based business I am persevering and learning heaps along the way.
    This post is really honest and there should be more like it. Instead of false hope about making thousands by signing up to yet another get rich scheme, you tell it like it is. head down, work hard and keep at it. thanks
    Patricia Perth Australia

    • Glad I could encourage you Patricia (a beautiful name, it also happens to be my wife’s name)
      I am a fairly optimistic person, I believe success is out there for us all if we work for it!

      Thanks for the comments and keep at it! You will get there. 🙂

      Have a great day and wonderful weekend, Patricia

  7. Hi gene,
    Your article really connects with us new bloggers. My blogs been going for a bit over a month now and I’ve only made $30 so far. I’m pretty happy though as I set my goal for the first month to just recoup my expenses (3.50 for web hosting).

    I also went with the try everything approach. That’s probably what most new bloggers do.

    Thanks for the great post. I hope you come back and give us another update in a couple months. I’d love to hear about how it’s going.

  8. From what I understand about blogs 30 bucks in the first month is pretty impressive. Good job! I actually haven’t done blogging yet because I know it is a “money later” thing and I am in a position where I need money “now” or at least as close to now as possible.

    I am sure I will be back soon. My brother likes his Thursdays off (guest post day) so at a mimimum I will whip something up if he doesn’t have another guest post. No updates for the next one unless I get lucky and get something update worthy 🙂

    Glad you liked the post Richard and I hope your success keeps growing!

  9. Shawshank is one of the most motivational and inspiring movies ever made. It teaches us not to give up despite the odds and that hope is real. The same applies to blogging, even more so to internet marketing. It is hard slog but if we stick at and remain optimistic and hopeful we will crawl out of the sewerage in jubilation.

    Thanks for the inspiring post.

    To your success.


    • Shawshank is awesome. You are absolutely right, it is a great film to show you how to overcome obstacles, no matter how dire.

      Another line comes to mind, “it is all a matter of pressure and time” if you apply enough pressure and put in enough time things will work out.

      Thanks for dropping by Michael!

  10. Hi Gene,

    I was on Facebook and saw a comment about your blog( ok your brother’s blog).
    The title got me here.

    This is a excellent result in such a short time…
    however you have put in the hard yards…that is a lot of articles:-)
    It is a challenge for me to get through my first.

    Excellent post.

    • Glad you stopped by, Bryan!

      To paraphrase an old saying, “the road to a thousand articles begins with a single article”

      I have not reached a thousand myself yet, but they come easier as you roll them out. I know my first 400 word article took a couple hours of worry and fret. Now I am knocking them out in half an hour, and I know some people do them a heck of a lot quicker than that.

  11. Sounds like your doing the necessary legwork Gene. Keep it up!

    “Create content. If you make mistakes, that is what an edit is for. If I waited until I had perfect knowledge, I would still be waiting to write my first word.”

    This is SO true. When I first started my blog a little over a year ago I just wrote and wrote. Now I am in the process of going back to old posts, editing them, and spicing them up.

    I would argue failure isn’t an option – it’s a necessity.

    “Success is the lurking-place of failure; but who can tell when the turning-point will come?” – Lao Tzu

    • Steven,

      I appreciate your words. It is always nice to hear that other people went through what you did and came out successful. I am a pretty optimistic person, but it always helps to hear people have tried some of the same things.

      Great quote! Thanks for stopping by and sharing. I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

  12. A well define article that matches the title you are right sometimes the 5oo yards seems like eternity but for anything to succeed failure is not an option. Brilliant article

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