10 Insidious Lies About the “Internet Lifestyle”

No dream has been chased by more people in the 2000’s than the “Internet lifestyle.” Broadly defined as earning money online from home, the Internet lifestyle has become a fixation of dissatisfied employees, stay-at-home parents, college students and even senior citizens. Unfortunately, the undeniably fun and exciting aspects of online work have obscured some important facts about how it actually works. Consequently, many are drawn to the Internet lifestyle by myths, half-truths and exaggerations that simply do not mirror real life. Today we will take an honest look at this cultural fantasy by exposing 10 insidious lies about the Internet lifestyle.

“The Internet” Can Make You Money

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Many books and courses about Internet business (which we address later) suggest that “the Internet”, as such, is a money-making device. We see this in phrases like “Internet money” which sound sexy but reveal nothing about how the money is made. In truth, there is nothing inherently easy or magical about making money “on the Internet.” The Internet is just a medium, like print, radio or TV. In order to make money on it, you need skills that generate income. Typically, the skills being pitched as online moneymakers are sales and advertising. Those who master these skills can and do make online fortunes, but it’s the skills, not the medium, that make it happen.

Anyone Can Do It

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Promoters of make money online courses want you to believe that “anyone” can make a killing online. Check out JamesMakesMoney dot com for a perfect example. During a video captioned “I make $100,000 a month and you can too”, James is shown driving around Miami in a Ferrari exclaiming things like “you can get like this too with the Internet. It’s all easy!” We’ve already explained why “the Internet” does not magically create wealth, and it’s also by no means easy. Take affiliate marketing, a popular online business model. Succeeding at that requires mastering literally dozens of skills, ranging from pay per click management to landing page design to keyword research to conversion tracking. Suggesting that any average Joe can get rich in a hurry with these techniques is simply a lie.

Make Money While You Sleep

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The most seductive aspect of the Internet lifestyle is passive income. So cherished is this goal that there’s even a buzzword for it: money while you sleep. And it’s a perfectly legitimate goal, provided you understand the often Herculean effort required at the outset. Indeed, there is an Internet marketing joke that goes something like “I work 18 hours a day to make money in my sleep.” Make no mistake – there are people who make money while they sleep, but it’s not instant and it’s not completely passive even once it begins working. For instance, a pay per click campaign producing daily sales right now will very easily get left in the dust by competitors unless you monitor and tweak it continuously.

Internet Work Provides Total Freedom

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Going hand in hand with making money while you sleep is the freedom implied by such a lifestyle. And overall, online entrepreneurs do have considerably more freedom and flexibility than the average cubicle dweller. But this comes with a price. In his book Succeeding, Harvard MBA John T. Reed writes that “self-employment equals self-discipline.” His point was that it’s great not having a boss hawk over your shoulder all day, but most people need that to be productive. The Internet lifestyle, conversely, demands that you work even when no one is forcing you to. For instance, you may not feel like writing better PPC ads this weekend, but your sales will suffer unless you do and no one else will care. Those who cannot prioritize such tasks above the occasional movie or club night have little hope of doing well.

Expensive Books and Courses Have All The Answers

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Sorry to say this, but the only people who typically who get rich off “make money online” books and courses are the sellers. Most training courses available for sale contain generic, obvious or outdated advice that falls short of what you need to know. Even worthwhile courses can only give you the theory and fundamentals of a given strategy – say, domain investing or pay per click. As in many fields, much of the truly weighty, difference-making knowledge comes from actually doing it. If you are serious about making an online living, commit here and now to not being a “seminar junkie.” Pick up a few books or courses if they sound worthwhile, but get into the action ASAP.

It’ll Improve Your Dating Life

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Another common reason for wanting to work online is freeing up time to date or impressing people you date. Unfortunately, it’s unclear how often this actually happens. For one thing, we’ve already discussed that making big money online is usually neither fast nor easy. In fact, you will likely find that most successful Internet entreprenuers gave up a lot of social time to work on their businesses early on. Will people you date be impressed? Some will be. However, you will soon see how different your whole concept of time and work becomes than a 9-5 employee’s. Specifically, the fact that you will often choose to work without being forced to may annoy your 9-5 spouse if he/she is accustomed to forgetting about work once they clock out. Careful planning is often needed to maintain an exciting dating life while working online.

You’ll Have More Family Time

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This, too, is a “yes and no” situation where the reality is more complicated than the ideal. By working online, you will indeed spend more time at home with your family. You must realize, however, that your home will not represent a workplace to anyone but you. Your kids wont abstain from drawing on walls because mommy or daddy is building a website. Your dog wont cease chewing up the couch because you’re upset about a Google quality score slap. And since you’re technically “home”, no one will feel impolite barging through your door with whatever problems or questions they have for you. One of the most underappreciated benefits of working in a real office is everyone understands that you are there to work. This eliminates distractions that you must valiantly fend off each and every day you work at home.

There’s Only One Way to “Really” Make Money Online

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Some gurus claim that only their methods “really” make any money. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, virtually all methods of Internet moneymaking – eBay, affiliate marketing, information products, media buying, e-mail marketing, PPC, domain investing, – can work if executed properly. The question on your mind should be which of these many strategies fit your own personal strengths and weaknesses. Read some free articles on the various approaches and decide which one(s) sounds like something you could see yourself doing. You know yourself better than any guru or mentor.

One Successful Income Stream Means You’re Set

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Nothing compares to the triumphant joy of your first online success. That said, anyone who tells you it’s easy street from there on out is wrong. Remember – making money online isn’t like a “real job.” At a real job, you are essentially guaranteed a paycheck by showing up on time and not pissing anyone off. Online (especially if your money making method is sales), you are only paid according to what you produce. That means you should diversify your income streams. If you are only running one ad campaign or one website, your Internet lifestyle has a single point of failure. So it’s important to keep pushing after your first successful project. As Eric Hoffer says, “achievement does not settle anything permanently. We still have to prove that we are as good today as we were yesterday.”

Nobody Really Lives the Internet Lifestyle

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Perhaps the biggest lie about the Internet lifestyle is that it doesn’t exist. Wrong – it’s real, and it rocks. The main reason people claim it doesn’t exist is because of all the hyped-up, pie-in-the-sky courses and seminars on Internet wealth. Intelligent people are rightly skeptical of a field whose most visible practitioners make promises like “I make $100,000 a month and you can too!” That said, plenty are making legitimate, defensible income online with real skills acquired over time. If you’re willing to acquire such skills and put in some hard work, you can certainly live the Internet lifestyle!

Should You Pursue The Internet Lifestyle?

Our goal in exposing these myths was not discouraging you from Internet work. Rather, it was giving you a complete picture of what it involves. There will never be a shortage of people telling you how great it is, but not everyone tempers their enthusiasm with the other side of the story. If you feel the pros outweigh the cons (as they often do), go for it!

Written by Jeff Springer

Jeff Springer

Jeff Spring is the Finance & Markets Editor at BusinessPundit.com. He's currently spending his days backpacking across Europe. While he may be living outside of the United States, he stays connected to American financial markets and M&A's more than is probably healthy for any single person. His love of a good book and a Bloomberg terminal can't be understated. He can be reached at JeffSpringer@BusinessPundit.com