The previous post ended with my first unsuccessful forays into the “Home Business” world. None of them made me any money, but they did give me hope that I would find a way to start a business, generate an income, and put an end to the long, arduous days on other people’s farms. My experience with theses first attempts gave me the determination to keep trying and reinforced the belief that I would find a way to build up capital for our old age.
Over the next four years, I persevered with my search for the best vehicle to re-build our finances. I became involved with another 4 or 5 Network Marketing opportunities in health, nutrition, home delivered groceries and even electricity. I lost money on all of them. I am not knocking the Network Marketing industry, there are reputable companies with good products that provide an opportunity for any one to do very well. The reality is that most who join fail, I was one of them.
It is easy to make excuses, as a newcomer to the country my lack of contacts from childhood, school, university or employment made it difficult, but the truth is that I did not enjoy the business and did not put in the required effort.
I had virtually no exposure to the internet before arriving in Canada due to the expense, slow speed and unreliability of access in Zimbabwe, and little in the first two years here. Therefore when I could afford a decent computer and a dial-up connection in our farm-house, I became hooked. As a baby boomer, I had a lot of catching up to do, but I found that with a solid pre-computer age education, I grasped the fundamentals reasonably well and quite quickly.
The stock market adventure noted in the previous post was a case in point. The slow dial-up connection was soon replaced with a faster but expensive connection through the cell phone network and then three years ago, a DSL when service reached our rural road.
The next chapter in my quest for new sources of income was when I naively started believing some of the brilliantly created sales letters for “Internet Marketing Systems”, cleverly crafted to attract unsuccessful Network Marketers with promises of an ability to generate thousands of “hot” prospects just waiting to sign up to one’s opportunity.
I guess I signed up for 4 or 5 of those too in that period. I soon discovered that most of these “Systems” only made their creators and a few early adopters wealthy. Some of them bordered on the unethical, dishonest or even fraudulent. The one exception was The 10K Challenge which has no entry cost and does provide a good learning experience for total internet novices. I have written about it in previous posts, do not have any qualms or conscience about having done so, but am no longer involved.
Over the same period, I had spent money on various courses, some good some not, printed out dozens of free ebooks, subscribed to too many newsletters, and attended scores of webinars.
I had become an information junkie, I had spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of my time with almost no return on that investment. I had put very little into action. For a very good description of the symptoms, effects and dangers of being an information junkie, read Mark Ford’s article in Early to Rise.
What I had learned was the importance of blogging, a proficiency with WordPress and the ability to set up websites. I had found my way around social media, in the process accumulating many thousands of followers. A very valuable – and expensive education, but ironically I would have been in a better financial position if I had never been on the Internet and watched TV every night!
Despite that, all the learning and information had reinforced my determination to build a successful business again. The most important product I had been buying was hope. It was incredibly frustrating when I looked back at the three previous occasions in my life when I had overcome huge adversity and been very successful, first as an employee and twice with my own businesses.
One of the minor successes I had with one of the “Systems” was publishing my first blog and using Google Adwords to build a small mailing list. With positive feedback to my early posts I became convinced that writing and blogging must be part of my strategy. That gave me the determination to keep writing and is the reason this blog is still going after almost four years and 352 posts.
The “Information Junkie” phase had to end, it did, abruptly in September 2010 when I had a heart attack. It was not a particularly dramatic heart attack, nothing like those in TV shows with much chest thumping, waving of defibrillator paddles and nurses screaming to get clear. It was not very painful or frightening, but it was serious enough to put me in intensive care for 4 days and put a sudden end to my farm visits – and more critically, the bulk of my income.
Since first being permitted to work in Canada, I had been a contractor or consultant, not an employee. I had no benefits, minimal disability insurance, no savings or assets of any value, some credit card debt and a bank loan for a motor vehicle. Sue worked part-time but we could not live on her salary.
It could have been a frightening situation, but in reality, it was not as terrifying as the three years of intimidation we went through in Zimbabwe or the 3 days in the police cells when I was forced off our farm. Periods of adversity have their places in our lives, they allow us to add more layers to our core of resilience and give us the strength to carry on.
I increased my blogging frequency, started getting paid for creating content for other people, earned a little from affiliate sales and advertising on my websites. On the advice of well-meaning contacts in the Internet Marketing world, I created two new websites with blogs, one in the Baby Boomer niche and the other as a source of information on social media for small businesses.
It did not take long to realise that I could not provide enough content for three of my own blogs, some guest posts and content for paying clients, so I put the Boomer blog in mothballs, abandoned the social media one and set up a website for my business consulting / coaching activities with a once a week posting schedule.
Over the last 2 years, I have terminated all my remaining network marketing links, assorted other programmes I was promoting and weaned myself off a large number of newsletters, social media sites and blog subscriptions.
Am I making a good living out of my writing? No definitely not, I have to do some non-writing work and some other offline activities to survive. Do I believe that blogging can be profitable? Most definitely yes, but I do not believe it is easy, nor is generating good and frequently posted content any guarantee of success. An examination of many blogs with high numbers of followers and readers will soon demonstrate that not all of their content is well written, useful or unique. What they have done well is the marketing of the blog to get it to authority status.
What next? I have done some serious analysis of how I have been spending my time and what activities get positive feedback and either already do, or have a good prospect of, generating an income. The exercise has produced some interesting lessons and provided a more focused direction for the future.
That will be for part three.
Wishing you success.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net