Many people dream of being full time digital marketers and they tend to picture something specific when they do.
People who want to work online often picture it as giving them total freedom over how, when and where they work. They might imagine themselves working from bed, or perhaps from an exotic beach out of a café, listening to local music and sipping local drinks.
Or scratch that: maybe they think they’re going to be working primarily off of their private yacht. Because they will be rich: super rich. That’s what all of the adverts say, anyway!
But before you give up your day job and pursue that dream, perhaps it’s worth taking a step back and thinking about what life as an internet entrepreneur will really be like. Maybe you should consider the potential risks involved? Or the way that it can end up hurting your freedom too?
In this report, we’ll look at what it is really like to be a digital marketer, what you should really expect and how you can make sure that you have the best experience of it possible.
What it is Really Like to be an Internet Entrepreneur
When you picture yourself as a digital marketer, you might imagine yourself wearing a sharp suit and standing atop a skyrise building.
Well you can forget that image right away! After all, working online generally means working on your own. AKA, there is no reason to wear a smart suit!
And most digital marketers aren’t rich – despite what the ads tell you.
Very often, being a digital marketer means doing a lot of work pedaling things that you aren’t particularly passionate about or interested in. This can be fairly soul sapping work, as you spend hours writing content for blogs, or paying other people to write it for you. You then watch sales, scour for products and send angry emails when a service provider lets you down.
If you’re earning money on the side by marketing other small fry companies on the web, then you probably get shouted at a lot by them too when you don’t get them to the top spot of Google.
That’s right: internet marketing can be stressful and often this is all done while living out of a single room in a small flat. And because you never have to leave the house, you often end up not looking your best.
You’re not quite earning what you thought you’d be earning because you don’t have the budget to invest big time into Google Ads. All the while, you’re promoting the ‘digital marketing lifestyle’ and persuading other people to buy your internet marketing ebook. You maybe even took a photo in front of your friend’s fancy car. And you kind of feel like a bit like a fraud.
So, you keep pushing and keep working, meaning you end up working all hours, all without making much headway. And meaning that you don’t actually get to go out and enjoy the cash you have earned. And it’s not like you can grab drinks with your colleagues after work…
Switching Gears: Doing Something You Love
There are plenty of posts around the net on how to make money online, but they never describe how it can go ‘wrong’ this way.
So, every now and then, it’s worth taking a look at yourself and asking whether you are really doing what you should be doing. Do you actually enjoy the work you do on a day-to-day basis? Do you find it rewarding? Or have you lost sight of that in favor of repetitive work that you can be sure will pay the rent?
Are you dispassionately selling products that you don’t care about? Were you nodding along when I described the ‘digital marketing’ guru sitting in their front room with their hair a mess and their face wired?
As with any type of work, it’s worth taking the occasional step back to think about what you’re doing, and to see if you couldn’t be having more fun doing another kind of work. Let’s take a look at how to do work on line that will prove to be truly rewarding and fun. Because like they say, if you love what you do, then you will never work a day in your life…
One of the things that can make any type of work enjoyable is creativity. If you get to create something different, to think outside the box, and to ‘put your stamp’ on what you do, then you will find that it’s more rewarding and better for your overall brain development too.
Generally, we think of ‘creative’ work as being things that involve art or self-expression in some form. So, if you’re a creative type, then you might well enjoy working as a web designer or as a writer. But what’s also important to bear in mind is that you can make almost any type of work creative as long as you approach it with the right attitude and in the right way. Creative thinking can be applied to jobs that aren’t typically creative, whether that means coming up with a unique way to market a website, or whether it means being creative in the way that you solve a programming problem you’ve been having. Even if your job is to check for typos, you may be able to get creative about the way you do that. So, if you are finding your work boring, then perhaps it just requires you to approach the task with a fresh perspective?
Ever since becoming an entrepreneur, I have worked harder and longer hours than I ever did when I worked in an office. The reason for this was that I was now working for myself, and that the work I put in was solely my responsibility.
This gives you much more of a sense of ownership of the work you do, which in turn makes you more invested in the quality. You are working towards something, and you will directly benefit from doing a good job.
One way you can increase this feeling of ownership though is to create your own commercial product. That means running a blog or selling an app as opposed to providing a white label service to other clients. This way you get to have your name on the product, and you will get feedback from customers/visitors /fans who appreciate your work. At the same time this will also give you more creative freedom as you won’t have to answer to anyone else. So, while selling an affiliate product or a PLR product might seem like the quicker and easier way to earn cash, the truth is that you might find yourself even happier if you built something of your own that you were truly proud of. What’s more, is that this would then come across in your marketing – you’d know the product inside out and your genuine enthusiasm would help it to sell!
Bear in mind though, that when you create your own product this way, you will end up working a lot more and your income will be even less stable. This can be a stressful process and it might mean working for months on a single project only to see it flop. That’s not so fun.
This is why I always recommend taking a ‘fail fast’ approach to developing digital products. Don’t spend more than a few months on a single product without first ‘verifying’ that product. That means opening up a beta, selling a beta or otherwise just testing that there really is an audience for it before you waste years on something that won’t sell.
And make sure that you enjoy the process too: make the kind of product you’ll enjoy making as well as the kind you’ll enjoy selling.
Something else that can help to keep your work more interesting is variation. If you run a blog on a single topic and write articles on it day after day, then you could find yourself starting to get bored of that subject and struggling to differentiate between one day and the next.
A simple way to make blogging more enjoyable then is to blog on more than one subject. If you run four different blogs say, then you can always write for one of the others whenever you get bored of writing on that same topic.
Best of all though is to work on your blog and to have your finger in other pies. Provide web design for a client as well as creating a YouTube channel. Or run a blog and sell an app. Or do all four at the same time; that way getting the stability, the creative freedom and the variation – and never having a boring day in the ‘office’ again.
Why You Should Become a Content Creator
To this end, I highly recommend rethinking the way you label your work. I recommend considering becoming a ‘content creator’ rather than a ‘marketer’.
These days, internet marketing has a lot to do with content. Content marketing is synonymous with SEO and social media marketing and one can’t exist without the other. The difference is that a content creator is someone who puts the content first still with the aim of boosting the profile of a brand. This usually means they care more about what they’re writing, which in turn means they write better things. They are often capable of multimedia content creation too – whether that means video creation, app development or stunning photography.
These are the people who become the true internet celebrities. These are the people who eventually get given book deals and who eventually go on to star in their own TV shows. These are the Pat Flynns, the Tim Ferrisses, the Elliot Hulses, the MKBHDs… the people who love what they do, who have strong brands and who have big audiences.
These are the real internet millionaires – not the ‘marketing’ gurus pedaling ebooks.
You will find that you can sell much more easily if you’re this kind of digital entrepreneur, and you will find that you gain more creative freedom, more ownership and more variety than you would any other way.
The Perils of Success
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that there’s no need to change your workflow in all these ways. After all, the only reason that you’re not happy is that you haven’t had the success that you need yet. You haven’t ‘cracked the digital marketing formula’. You don’t need to create your own product, or to do work that you find rewarding… you just need to get rich!
It’s this dream that keeps us going, and that drives us to become successful, but will success be everything you thought it would be? Or is it a case of being careful what you wish for?
What It’s Like to Be Successful
Of course, being a big hit online is a great feeling. It certainly is vindicating and it’s also very exciting, but if you think it’s going to be like the super-happy-endings at the end of most Hollywood films then you have another thing coming. There are many complications you need to watch out for, drawbacks to all that money, and unexpected consequences that come from any form of success. It’s called ‘real life’ I’m afraid and having realistic expectations is important because otherwise it could actually be enough to drive you crazy.
So, with that in mind let’s look at one of the first emotions you’ll feel after the initial jubilation – fear. While you will at first be super excited to see your AdSense Unit clicks skyrocket or your app downloads reach the tens of hundreds, you’ll pretty quickly begin to worry that it’s just a ‘flash in the pan’ and that it won’t last. Getting a taste of success like this is great, but it also makes the prospect of going back seem very daunting indeed. Expect to spend the next few days checking your stats every two minutes and probably not sleeping much.
A Long Way Down…
This will dissipate of course, and you’ll find yourself eventually accepting your new status quo as normal (meaning the jubilation will subside too unfortunately) but then there are the other things you need to consider and some big decisions that need to be made. For starters, do you give up your day job? Sure, you’ve always dreamed of telling your boss to stick it – but when it actually comes to doing it you may well find that it’s incredibly nerve wracking giving up that sense of security that comes from a 9-5, as well as the sense of camaraderie that you’ll be used to getting in the office.
You also need to think about how you’re going to invest and protect that money, and whether or not you’re going to tell your friends. Trust me – just having a large sum of money in your account can be very frightening and you’ll be paranoid every time you go to an ATM. You’ll probably need to get yourself a financial advisor and an accountant, and the amount you’ll probably pay in tax… doesn’t really bear thinking about.
What you might also find is that you become somewhat obsessed. You’ll want to talk about your successful YouTube channel/website/book all the time, so that means you’ll become a bore and your friends may well start to avoid you. Worse though, you’ll also feel like you constantly need to keep working to earn all that cash that’s coming in and to keep it that way. You’ll never be ‘satisfied’ with the amount you’re earning because your cost of living will constantly be rising as well and you’ll start to have bigger and bigger aims.
And this can mean that very quickly the blog that you loved writing becomes a massive chore that you have to work with for 6 hours+ a day. Suddenly it’s not a hobby any more, it’s a job and we all know that jobs aren’t fun.
This is before you even consider how your friends might start treating you differently, or how you might suffer a kind of existential crisis when you realize, you’ve achieved all your aims. This stuff can get heavy.
What to Do
Of course, despite all this I’d still recommend success to anyone. Success might be a bit stressful, but it’s exciting and it’s something you can adapt to. If you’re strict with yourself and make sure not to get too caught up in the earning – to focus on doing what you enjoy and seeing the money you get from it as a very nice bonus – then you really can build a dream life for yourself. I’m just telling you this so that you can be prepared and so you know what to expect. Hang onto your seatbelts – it’s a wild ride ahead!
And what’s also important is that you don’t rely on success alone to make you happy. Just think of all those high flying CEOs who end up committing suicide because they have so much pressure and so much responsibility. It’s too much and they lose all of their work/life balance.
This is why it’s so important to love what you do. That way, if you do make it big, then you can at least work hard at something you love doing. This is what will keep you going and this is what will help you to stop yourself crumbling under the rising pressure.
Getting Your Work-Life Balance Right
It’s also why it’s so important that you create strict rules for your work/life balance and that you think of the lifestyle you want to achieve before you even begin pursuing your dream career as a digital entrepreneur.
In other words: you need to think about how much work you’re willing to put in and what kind of work you’re willing to do. You need to build your work in a way that is sustainable and enjoyable, so that it will be able to hold together even as it reaches critical mass.
Some things to consider:
- Create the ideal working environment. This might mean that you work from a well-crafted home office and keep that for work only. Likewise, it might mean that you seek out coffee shops to work in in your local area. This can help to prevent cabin fever, ensure you get social interaction and remove the temptation to procrastinate by watching TV or repeatedly making yourself sandwiches (my problem).
- Go to networking events, work in shared offices and attend conferences and seminars. More and more people work online and just like any other industry, a lot of success as a digital marketer comes from who you know. Rubbing shoulders with other successful people will make you feel more accomplished and it will open up doors.
- Create set work hours and be strict about working inside those. Rest is just as important as work if you are going to be as productive and efficient as possible and there’s no point earning money if you never have a chance to enjoy it!
- Know the lifestyle you want to lead. Know what you want to accomplish and then work to achieve that – no less and no more. This is what ‘lifestyle design is’.
- Outsource the work that you don’t enjoy or that is too much for you. This might eventually mean hiring staff, or it might mean using freelancers. You can also outsource to VAS (virtual assistant services) or to service providers procured on freelancer sites.
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