We all make mistakes as we learn a new trade. I entered freelance writing online back when the idea was fairly new. It was the 1990s, I was the first of my social group to buy a domain name and get web hosting. I ran a discussion list, reviewed books online for my website and a website that no longer exists. I took some risks, but never enough. I lost out on numerous opportunities that could have made me millions. Out of all the ups, downs, and sideways ventures, here is what I learned.
1. Not Jumping on the Bandwagon Fast Enough
It was only a few short years ago that a content mill jumped onto the scene and lit up like wildfire. Everyone was talking about their incredible earnings, but I felt I had enough freelance work on my hands so I ignored the opportunity. Then along came a slow point and I needed some extra cash. I went to the site and signed up. Within a week I was bringing in anywhere from $20 to $50 a day writing 8 short little articles within 2 hours of my time. It was fast, easy money for writing the stupidest crap imaginable, but I loved it. I contributed to the site every day and made a tidy some of money. Sadly, a few months after joining, the site went downhill. People were abusing the system. The site was losing money. Things needed to change. The money trickled up and now the site is no longer.
Lesson learned: Get in while the going is good because nothing lasts forever on the internet.
2. Not Keeping My Old Website
In 1997, I bought a new domain name and began working on the site. Back then I worked between doing my own coding and using Dreamweaver for some of the layout. I lived and breathed that site, day in and day out. Within a short about of time it started bringing in $200 to $300 a month from Amazon’s affiliate program selling just books. My friend told me about Adsense (he was bringing in over $10,000 a month with Adsense) and while I signed up, I was uncomfortable with commercializing my site. Forward a few years later and I was bored with the site’s subject altogether. Like an idiot, I thought I needed a break and asked a friend to keep the site on his server for me while I worked on other projects. Since I had done a lot of free work for his profitable website, he agreed to help me out in turn. Unfortunately, he passed away, left his site in the care of a lawyer and, although the lawyer was aware of the arrangement I had with my deceased friend, failed to return my site to me. I finally asked him to remove all my content from my site. He obliged and now has my domain up for sale. My PR ranking on my well seasoned site is incredible, but it ticks me off to no living end that I have to buy my site back when a tidy profit is still being made from the work I did for my deceased friend’s site - money being pocketed by the lawyer for its “care”.
Lesson learned: Never abandon a website you have had for over 2 years. Never trust it to a friend because life is uncertain.
3. Not Selling Out
You read that right: I regret not selling out earlier in my life. I was young when my writing career started taking off, but I was also a snoot. I thought I was too good to write for this publisher or that website. I wanted to write about the things that interested me at that time. Fortunately, not everyone is like me, but I lost out in the end.
Lesson learned: I should have sold out in my youth, when everyone seemed to want a piece of me. These days, I will write about almost anything, including subjects, like fashion, that I used to snub.
4. Not Investing During the Prosperous Times
Pre-2000, making money on the web was flipping fantastic. While I snubbed many great opportunities, I also accepted a good number of writing opportunities that brought me a lot of good money. Come 2000, the election of a new President, and no Y2K disaster, the internet died on January 1, 2000. My sales, clicks, and job offers went silent. I struggled to regain earnings and then the events of 9/11 happened in 2001. My earnings dropped to pitiful. I should have sold my soul and started writing political commentary, but I decided to proudly suffer.
Lesson learned: Invest while the going is good. Tuck aways as much money as you can and make promising investments.