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This is your business, not your hobby
My attitude has caused me to miss so many opportunities it’s really not funny.
If I had a different attitude back in 1998, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this to you now. I would probably be retired.
That was when I started dabbling in this whole making money on the Internet thing. I was still living at home with my parents at that point and was just trying to make a few dollars here and there.
I know, it’s always 20/20 hindsight. However, if I could have my time again I would do things so much differently.
Back then all this stuff was new to me, as it is for many of you. As a result, it was exciting and fresh and most of all fun. I’d stay up all night working on my sites, fluffing around with this and that.
I loved it and it really didn’t feel like work.
In most people’s minds, this sounds like a good thing. However, there is a core problem with this that can actually harm your quest for making money online.
You see, most of us are programmed to do two kinds of work. The work that earns us money should be hard. This is serious stuff and most of the time is neither fun, nor would you ever want to do it for free.
Then there is the other kind of work that is enjoyable. Normally what would be considered your hobbies. That might be surfing, building model airplanes, photography, etc. It’s the kind of work that can be hard, but doesn’t have to be, and you’re doing it because you enjoy it.
So you’re programmed that if you’re enjoying yourself, and you aren’t earning a lot or any money from the exercise, then it’s simply a hobby.
Unfortunately, there lies the root of many people’s failure to make much money online. They see it as a hobby.
PROBLEMS WITH A HOBBY MENTALITY
When you treat your business like a hobby, there are all sorts of negative side effects as you might imagine. Let’s take a look at a hobby of my own, analog photography or what is often called Lomography.
Most of my cameras take only 12 shots on very old 120 film. I walk around all day trying to find suitable subjects and carefully take every shot knowing that I have only one chance to get it right, and zero feedback.
I then have to take the film out of the camera in the dark, drive to the one place in my area that develops them, and even then I only get the negatives. I then have to painstakingly scan each of the 12 shots at high resolution with my fingers crossed hoping that they’ll turn out well.
Most of the time, despite how much effort goes into it, I get only 1 or 2 shots for my trouble.
But I don’t care. I love it and would do it all day if I could.
But I don’t. In fact, I end up doing it only once a month because I don’t treat it as a serious endeavor. It’s not my job, and it doesn’t make me any money whatsoever.
As a result, I do it when I get a chance. It’s not serious work. It’s hobby work.
I know if I get to do it, then that’s great, if not, no big deal. If the shots don’t turn out that well, then that’s fine. I had fun doing it. If I find something else that seems a bit easier takes my fancy (like iPhonography has lately) then I’ll just do that instead.
That’s the great thing about a hobby. If you fail, then that’s OK. If you want to switch hobbies then that’s cool too. If you spend all day and only get 1 or 2 shots, then no big deal. The process was fun.
But this kind of mentality is dangerous if you want to have success in a new online business. If you are treating it like a hobby, you’ll probably fail.
HOW TO CURE THE HOBBY MENTALITY
When you write about correcting people’s incorrect behavior, it’s easy to sound preachy. I’m the first one to admit, that I don’t do all of these things well so don’t feel like I’m on my soap box here.
However, what drives me is to encourage us all to not miss out on the amazing opportunities that are still passing us by everyday. I might long to be back in 1998, but I can guarantee you in 10 years we’ll be longing to be back in 2010 saying if only.
So, do all that you can to tackle this paradigm problem and make the most of what you have. Here are a few strategies that I have used in the past.
Create an Imaginary Friend with Billable Hours
When you have hobby mentality, you have no respect for your time. When I take my photos, I don’t think about how many hours went into those couple of good photos.
Don’t let that creep into your business. One strategy I’ve used is to create an imaginary client. The affiliate site I’m working on is not my own, but this imaginary client. I know that for every hour I work on the site, I need to justify the time I spent as they are paying for it.
No client in their right mind is going to want to pay me for shooting the breeze for hours on end on Twitter or Facebook. If I can’t prove that this is directly going to bring positive ROI, then I probably shouldn’t be doing it.
I would encourage you to do this seriously. Use time tracking and reporting software to make this real. Grindstone is a great free time tracking software for Windows users and timeEdition for Mac.
Set Goals and Deadlines
I can’t stress enough the importance of setting goals and deadlines on your projects. As Steve Jobs said, “Real Artists Ship”. In other words, it doesn’t become art, unless someone else sees it or uses it.
If you don’t have deadlines in place, you’ll just keep refining and refining and never actually “ship”.
You should also work on daily deadlines. I create a list each day that consists of really 3 parts.
- You don’t go home until this is done.
- Important, money making work.
- Long term business building activities.
By using this prioritization system, I can ensure that projects move forward, money is made, and the bigger picture business is built.
Performance goals are also important. Goal setting is a big topic to cover, and I’m not going to try and do it here, however, it’s fundamental if you want to see success.
In addition to the imaginary client, I would encourage you to get some accountability partners. This could be your life partner (wife, husband etc.) or it could be some sort of mastermind group.
Whoever it is, ensure that they are on the same page and believe in you. Mastermind groups are excellent and whenever I’ve had the chance to be involved in this kind of thing, it has been immensely encouraging and helpful. Going to marketing conferences can have a similar effect sometimes.
If you do have a significant other, it’s important that you involve them as much as you can. Share as much as you can with them, and celebrate the wins with them. Even though my wife doesn’t know exactly what I do at the office after 8 years of marriage, she knows enough to help me through disappointing times, and to join in the celebrations when I have a win. I couldn’t do it without her.
A big part of moving your mindset from hobby to business, is to use mental cues as much as you can. There are many ways you can do this. Including:
- Creating a dedicated work area that is ONLY for work.
- Creating a set time each day that is your work time.
- Dressing differently when you work. I know it sounds strange, however, a business mindset and pajamas just don’t go well together in my book.
- Giving your business a name, and getting business cards made.
Write a Business Plan
A business plan doesn’t need to be a 100 page document. A friend of mine ran a $200 million company and helped me write a business plan. He believed it shouldn’t be longer than 6 pages. That’s all you need.
It’s difficult to find treasure without a map.
Reinvest into Your Business
I see people all the time ONLY focus on free traffic sources. This is small time thinking. I’ve seen very few businesses that have become big that haven’t eventually moved to paying for advertising. Usually using PPC.
Sure, you don’t need to do it straight away. However, I would encourage you to reinvest back into your business as much as you can if you want to grow it fast.
Focus and reclaim wasted time
One of the biggest battles we all have online is keeping focus.
We must master this in two main areas.
How many times have you started something, not finished it, and then gone onto something else. Almost everyone has done it, and some more than others. You must stick to your business plan and execute what you set out to do. Remember, a magnifying glass will never set anything alight if you keep moving it.
The day to day problem that many people encounter is keeping a tight focus on the tasks. The Internet is the worlds biggest distraction.
If you want to get things done, turn off your email, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. In fact, turn the power off on your modem. Focus on the tasks at hand. Only turn it back on when you absolutely require it.
If you use Firefox, then try using an add-on called Leechblock. I love it. It stops me visiting sites that are distracting during certain times of the day. When you try to go there, you can even customize a message that says “Get back to work slacker! Time is money!”
Now… go and find a post it note and a black marker and stick this on your monitor… “THIS IS NOT A HOBBY!”
Have any other good strategies to share? I’ve love to hear about them below.
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Your host, Allan Gardyne, has been earning a good living from affiliate programs since 1998.