The Myth of the Overnight Success

“Actually, I’m an overnight success. But it took twenty years.” — Monty Hall

If you’ve ever read James’s site TheInfoPrenuer you would see that he puts a ton of effort into it. In fact, in yesterday’s post he detailed how he spends an average of 4-5 hours a day on top of his 60 hour work weeks. This averages out to be almost 100 hours of work. Yikes!

Now he has a lot of great points in this post, but what really stood out was his statement about how he doesn’t believe in the idea of The 4-Hour Workweek.

This comment really got me thinking because the “4-hour ideal” is a concept I discuss at length on this site.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been struggling with how to communicate certain beliefs that I hold.

I honestly believe that you can make money without a “real job.” But at the same time, I don’t want to lie and say you never have to put in hard work.

I know I’ve mentioned that I do pretty well with affiliate marketing. However I want to point out that this was the result of years of effort on my part. It took a lot of hard work and sleepless nights to find the perfect system for affiliate marketing.

So yeah, I know I write too much about working only a few hours a week. And perhaps I give the false notion that what I’ve accomplished was the result of being an ‘overnight success.’

The truth is it took a lot of effort to earn a full-time income.

To illustrate this point, here are some of the epic disasters I’ve experienced on my journey towards a full-time online income:

  • 2002- Read somewhere that you can make tons of money on the Internet. Got really excited and produced the world’s ugliest site. Thankfully nobody saw it.
  • 2003- Created a jewelry site that sold handmade evil-eye jewelry imported from Turkey. Was a nice little side income until I got sued for selling a product with a copyright protected image.

(In my defense, I bought this from a wholesaler and didn’t know he was breaking the law. But technically I was still guilty.)

  • 2004- Decided that my “expertise” in running an online jewelry business made an authority on the subject. I spent an entire year writing an information product which only 10 people purchased.
  • 2005- Found a loophole in the Google search engine. Used this knowledge to crank out thousands of Google Adsense pages. Made lots of money. Google figured it out and banned all my sites. Income went bye-bye.
  • 2006-2008- Got into affiliate marketing. Spent many 50+ hour weeks creating content and driving traffic to my website. Achieved some level of success. But it was a very long process filled with many sleepless nights.
  • 2009- Released my first real information product. Took everything I learned in the past 3 years and learned to “work smarter” with this income stream. So for the first time in my life, I was earning a decent amount of money without having to work too hard.
  • 2010- Started my blog, Steve Scott Site. After writing content for a month, came to the conclusion that I have to roll up my sleeves and put a lot of effort into this site. Realized that the four-hour ideal might once again be a distant dream.

Okay, to be honest this was just a few highlights of what I’ve gone through during the last eight years. For now, I won’t get into the really gory details. Let’s just say it’s hasn’t been an easy time.

Now back to the original point of this post… I agree with the comment that James made. There’s no such thing as a business where you don’t have to do any work. Most of the time, you have to put in lots of time and effort to get to a point where you can enjoy the fruits of your labor.

We all hear stories of the overnight success. But if you look closely you’ll see that any “instantly successful” person has spent many years, even decades working really hard.

The good news is there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I promise that if you plan for your success and take action, there will come a time when you can sit back and enjoy life. The only reason I’m able to do the fun stuff I’m doing is because I spent many years working hard.

So yeah, there have been some crappy moments in the last few years…but all the bad times have made me really appreciate the good times.

Take Action. Get Results.

14 thoughts on “The Myth of the Overnight Success”

  1. Steve,

    Thank you for such a great post which I found very informative and humerous in places.

    It’s a realisation I’ve come round to, that these quick fix Internet solutions are meaningless tripe. Quite rightly you say the work that James is doing is quite unbelievable and he deserves all his success.

    Anyway you’ve given me a great idea for a post, so thanks for that.



  2. Hey Steve,

    We have talked about this in detail in private. To be honest Steve you along with a few others are one of the people I really listen to and watch closely when it comes to business.

    I think a 4hr week ”may” be possible IF you put an amazing amount of work into it first then find a way of automating the income, but I really want to hammer the point home about the need for putting the hours in first.

    Amazing stuff Scott will definately be asking your advice soon

    @Paul back at you brother

  3. Agree – a lot of work comes FIRST.

    I remember reading somewhere a while ago that once you are experiencing a degree of success with affiliate sales (by this I just mean enough to make a bit of difference to your day to day life not necessarily a “wow” income) you will probably start telling people how easy it is. And for those achieving better sales even easier to feel that it is easy. That once you have start getting success, and you understand what works and what doesn’t you forget all the work that went into it. I think this can be a bit true, so then it “feels” like you don’t have that much work to do…

    Well hopefully that made sense, kind of felt a bit rambly!

  4. @Paul- Yes, the Internet quick fixes are almost 100% B.S. I’m actually going to write a funny little post about that next week. Also, looking forward to this post. What’s it going to be about?

    @James- Definitely work is needed first. Sometimes lots of work. But there are times when you can back and enjoy life a little. Anyway, definitely ask away. You’ve helped me out with a lot of your content and the forum, so I owe you big time.

    @Michelle- I think I followed this thought. I do have to say that I have kind of forgotten all the crap that I went through the last few years. There was a steady period of my life when I was cranking out 60+ hours a week with very little results. While this wasn’t hard as some go through, it definitely was a struggle.

    What I do hope to do with this site was create a bunch of plans and systems to help people simplify that system. Maybe it’ll help people save some time learning this process.

  5. Hi Steve,

    I was about to write something really long, but my own comment gave me something to think about (like Paul) so I am going to save it for now.

    I am going to read more of your posts instead and see if your suggestions and advice can be applied to a website I own, it has over 1600 members with 20 pro members.

    Great post. How did the ski trip go?

  6. Maria,

    I’m definitely interested in what you have on your mind. If you create a post of this, let me know or post it on this page.

    Yes, let me know if any of my ramblings helped you out!

    The skiing trip went well, I actually surprised myself and did pretty well. I think I might have a new hobby 🙂

  7. Hey Steve we have talked off-line in the past and I really appreciate your advice. I am no slacker to hard work having gotten two startups to the market. I have seen that TheInfoPreneur is selling a ebook. Have you been able to review it and see if his plan is sound.

    I have a strong blog idea, I am researching aggressively, but like all of us I want quick traction.



  8. So glad to see the sampling of your ‘failures’ which I prefer to think of as ‘learning opportunities’ as since 1999 I’ve been up the ladders and down the snakes a few times myself. Just looked at your six figure blueprint, and realized I’ve built a couple dozen of those systems for other people, but never really for myself….
    Ding, and the light goes on…
    Thanks Steve.
    .-= Gail´s last blog ..Investing in Junk Coins by Keith Hamburger =-.

  9. I think the days of overnight success are long gone. Many markets are saturated, and unless you’ve spent a fortune on advertising, you can’t become the new thing overnight. The odds are just so small.

    For the rest of us, it takes a serious amount of work. Really, it’s another full time (often unpaid) job/hobby.

    I haven’t read the 4 hour work week, but I reckon the theory can be put to practice. Maybe I’m not qualified to comment on the issue, but putting your blog/product into automation takes a lot of work. And when the buzz dies down, you really need to repeat the process. So the 4 hour work week maybe only is a reality for a few months, before you go back to the drawing board.

    • Timing is definitely a huge part of it. My brother is trying to get into internet marketing so he is trying to copy the success of one of my niche markets. On the positive side I am able to give him some “hands on” experience, a free lead magnet I know has worked and other little tidbits of help.

      From this experience I certainly see timing as an essential part of my previous success. He has had some success but nothing near the level that I had encountered at a similar level of exposure. The only variables really as you pointed out is how much more the market has become saturated in the last 4 years.

      As for the “four hour work week” I am still on the fence on that. Basically I think it is a good concept, IF people understand the REAL cycle of business. When your business reaches it’s height of profit, people either need to grow it more (refresh) or move on to other endeavors.

  10. Couldn’t agree more! To me, 4 hours week is nothing but fallacy.

    In fact I remember one high profile blogger mentioned this:
    ” Tim got to where he is by being an insanely hard worker.”
    She used to be a ex coworker with Tim.

    I hate that many IM ebook authors claim that you can make money with only 1-2hours a day with their system. For most struggling newbies, it’s just not possible.


    • Luis,

      Yeah. They talk about passive income. Which is surely ‘sort of’ possible. But only after a ton of hard work…. and even then will go away if you just ignore it.

      The ability to work at home is great. But it has an important word involved, “work”

      To be a success at this takes quite a bit of it.

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