Can I Make Money Online?


You’ve probably seen the disclaimer pages that online networks are (must be) posting about their ability to generate income for members online. Hopefully you’ve read them carefully as well.

In this post, I’m going to share with you ways to structure your online business to avoid getting to the point where you have to ask, “Why Am I Not Making Money Online?”

We’ll get to that in a moment.  

The first question every new entrepreneur wants to know is, “Can I make money in an online or digital business?”

If you’ve read those Income Disclosure (or Disclaimer) pages, then you know that the odds are not in favor of the little guy. I looked up a bunch of pages and jotted down their statistics for you to help tell this story accurately and honestly… and then tell you what to do about it!  So hang in there to the end – it does get better!

Can I Make Money? Yes.  
—-> Will I Make Money… Maybe?

Ok, that’s kind of a good news, bad news headline there.  And it is what leads some people to think that online business is a scam, or a pyramid scheme of some kind.  It’s easy to see why that notion gets tossed out there- if only a handful of people become superstars, that’s not very attractive.

But here’s the real story…

Let’s take a look at information from several real companies- and I am not here to name and shame any of them, I just want you to know these statistics come from real companies whose information I got from just Googling  “Network Marketing Income Disclosure pages”.

Company N listed just under 25,000 in total distributors or IBOs (Independent Business Operators). Of those 17% never made any money at all. 81% made less than $2,500. And altogether, fully 90% made $0-$5K.

Not very promising for sure.  So you can see why people get nervous and wonder if they really can make money online.  This is a lot like “The Hunger Games” where the leader always says, “May the odds be ever in your favor!” knowing full well that they aren’t and actually can’t be.

Here’s why.

The entry to Company N is listed at around $100 for the first kit. But reviews show that to really have a chance to make big enough commission checks, the actual start-up should be at the $500-$1000 level.  Then there is the monthly auto-ship of products.  

This base is what supports those who do hustle and make sales.  If everybody made $1,000 per month, think about how much everyone would have to put in to cover that… right?  So you know that, like life insurance, the odds are calculated that some will get pay outs while most will continue to pay in to the system.  Your job as a marketer is to make sure you are in the group that gets the pay out- harsh as that may sound.

So that’s the dark side of network marketing.  That’s why everyone tells you that it is a mindset shift.  You cannot be soft, and wonder how moral it is for all to pay so some can win.  It is a numbers game, pure and simple.

Now before too many of you stop reading here, horrified that network marketing sounds like a hard place to be, let me stop and give you some of the up side- and there really is a lot of good here.

First, if anyone goes into network marketing for the money, they will end up as part of those statistics above very soon.  One of 2 things will happen.  Either they succumb to SOS (Shiny Object Syndrome) or they get frustrated and quit.  This is not a business to start in hopes of making a quick buck or two.

People who only focus on the money potential forget the self-improvement benefits from the products you sell (I hope you are selling products you actually love and use yourself!) and the often overlooked tax breaks (at least in the US).

The first year I formalized my business, Strategy Links LLC, I made about $1,369.  I bought products in my network marketing group and outside products I knew I wanted to resell (like the ones I have in our web store today).  I bought things with a plan in mind- I knew who I wanted to help and what products I would need. And because of that I was able to build a tidy income tax deduction.  (Win-Win!) Now, I do need to clarify how that worked so that no one goes away thinking that Uncle Sam is giving away free money… we all know nothing could be further from the truth in that respect.

But… my husband is retired and I still worked full-time.  I was paying taxes that I had no reason to hope I would get back.  But, by planning in advance, and taking full advantage of what the tax rules said I could do (remember, my network marketing group had suggested having a bookkeeping & tax service on Day 1), I was able to deduct the full cost of the tax service ($34.95 per month and $395 for the personal and business tax prep/filing, as well as the costs of training, conferences, home office expenses, bank fees (remember I set up a business account early, once I started getting commission payouts), credit card fees, educational materials, taxes I paid for my business license and so on.  I generated expenses that first year, and as part of a building strategy, I was able to save money in other areas. (If you aren’t paying big tax payments, ask your tax advisor how to adjust your expenses to find other ways to take deductions or legally offset income.)

We went from expecting to pay a huge tax bill with our return that year, to getting a healthy refund.  Because of smart advance planning.  And because of a network marketing business that was being set up to grow smartly. I am grateful our network company thoughtfully recommended professional advice on the day I signed up!

Take-Away For You, part 1

1Set up your business as a real business from Day 1.  

How?  a) Have the right Mindset. It forces you to take this business seriously, not to do it haphazardly just when you feel like it. Don’t go into business thinking it’s a way to make money from your hobby.  You have to think of your hobby as a money-making enterprise that keeps business hours and does business things.

And b) By setting up a bank account and tax service, you tell yourself that you are committed to spend money that may not come back the first year. You are investing in YOU, Inc.- you may get back some of it on a tax refund, but even if not, are you in this for the long haul or not? If not, you’ll find yourself in the statistic above- part of the majority who never make any real money at all.  Don’t be that guy -or gal! 

You are investing in YOU, Inc. Are you in this for the long haul or not? Click To Tweet

2. .Have a growth mindset from Day 1

Why? What you know today is likely all from your network leaders. You’re a follower.  To make any real money you need to take responsibility and become the leader of YOU, Inc. And you can. It may seem scary or confusing at first, but you can do this. You’ll learn something, Do it, then Teach it to others- soon it becomes natural. 

My network group has products that teach business skills, personal development skills, and life coaching skills.  I read, watch, and listen, then use it to enhance my marketing abilities.  But even if it were health & beauty, or nutritional products, it would be the same. I would study the literature about each product and become an expert on it.  I want to lead my customers, to be their go-to source, not turn them over  to someone else to answer questions.  This is my business.  I depend on me- not any outside source I don’t control. I grow as an expert each year, and gain more influence in the market place and on social media.  It’s a growth mindset.


How Can I Make Money Online?
—->Add Revenue Streams!

Up to now we have focused on network marketing groups, mainly because they are the biggest draws for people who want additional income or a new “lifestyle.”  For many the promise of a turn-key business system is like buying a franchise- something of known quality with a ready-made structure.

But aren’t there other ways to make money?

Yes, as I mentioned in my earlier blog and in the mind map I posted last week, you can also sell products as an affiliate (with, or without, a networking group) or perform a service (think, web design or coaching). You can also create products for others to sell, for example if you are a writer or product maker (like jewelry).  You can do each of these things as a stand alone business and create multiple businesses, or do many things within one business, much like a singer-songwriter may write songs for others or may record his own songs- you can set up a business based on one or many streams of income.

So, we know that the odds are stacked high against making a lot of money in network marketing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t. It means you have to be smarter than 90% of others in the group. With additional revenue streams, you will also need hustle- you can’t be lazy and just “hit it a lick”  when you want to, as my dad used to say.  Most entrepreneurs work harder at their businesses than they did at their full-time jobs. Getting the sales coming is tough, and then keeping them coming requires attention too. Push-button ease and passive automatic income is a marketing myth for most people. It takes a lot of work to make it look easy!  You can build toward a repeatable system that CAN be outsourced once you get your processes figured out.

I’ll say this again: Anyone who goes into business for a quick buck should think again.  The bucks don’t often come quick, and are not guaranteed at all.  And the temptation to jump from one group or biz opp to another, buying one sure-thing product after another can’t-miss product is huge… yuuuge! (I’m doing the hand gestures… yuuge!) Lol!

Shiny Object Syndrome is very real and will get you so distracted you won’t remember what you started out to do.  Everyone else will have your money and you may become deeply in debt.  It happens to even the most talented and ambitious. Don’t feel bad, just be forewarned to watch out for loose purse strings!

Frustration and drop out/burnout is high among non-lead dogs. And why not? If you are part of a pack, back in the back,it’s like the old saying goes, If you’re aren’t the lead dog, the scenery never changes.  Think about it- you’re going to be running miles and miles looking at someone else’s tail. Or worse… πŸ˜‰

So how do you  (a) guard against burnout, frustration, SOS debt? and (b) guarantee that you make the money the upper 5%, 10% or even down to the 20% make.  Not everyone wants to focus on being a million dollar earner, but it would be nice to make over $50,000 this year, right?

Take-Away For You, part 2

Use these principles to build your business on that work, no matter what business you choose or what niche you settle into.

1. __Be aware from the beginning that you are building a real thing.
Your business will have a life of its own after a time, so structure it as a real entity.  Set yourself a plan- what do you want to accomplish (beyond your money goals), what do you hope to become in your industry  ( a mentor, a leader, a solid business person, a reputable distributor?), what are your business hours, what is your budget for business expenses (not to exceed $x per week or month, etc.). Whatever system you buy into, treat it as a business you can commit to. Like Yoda said, “Do! or Do not. There is no try!”

2.   Know that you have to invest from the get go.  
You may start a business with no money, but you won’t build a business with no money.  Read, listen, buy better products, buy higher level commissionable products, improve yourself daily- make one change for the better everyday (it is part of your story that attracts others to you), invest in others- help who you can (remember Learn, Do , Teach). Just know, and plan, that you will need to invest to grow.

3.   Be smart about your business.  
Watch what leaders do. Follow what influencers say. Be aware of business trends and prepare for them. Don’t necessarily jump on every platform, but do know what’s out there.  A few years ago Periscope was all the rage, then came Facebook Live, as well as Instagram Stories and SnapChat.  Which ones will have staying power and which ones will fade like MySpace?  My point is, don’t chase anything except your customer.

In hockey, they talk about moving to where the puck “will be,” but in your business you have to be where your customer is.  Let the fads and trends come and go- get on when it makes sense for you, not when you feel pressured to by others.  A year or two ago Snap Chat took the world by storm as influencers like Gary Vaynerchuk touted it from stage.  For me, I let it go by-  it never was a draw because my people are not generally 18 year-olds  (of course, if you’re 18-ish and still reading this, you can stay, you are welcome here too!)

Is There An Ideal Business Model…
To Really Make Money Online?

While everyone is different, and each online group has its own dynamic,  diversification has its advantages.

Some people like building teams, like the guy who brought me into our group. He has since moved on to another biz opp where the money was flowing fast in its first year- he liked that ground floor biz opp attractiveness. I’ve never been a hopper.  When I see what I want I go all in and put down roots.  Almost any biz opp can make you money, even if the company is not the top- if it still has good products and services and cares about you.  Don’t depend on others for your success! Take what you can and find your best way to promote and use it.

Some people like selling, straight up. And they are often great at it!  Think really great waiters in a restaurant. They love their product (food and beverages) and love to see you happy.  Affiliate marketers are like this.  If you can hustle and like that salesy thing, this is for you. The excitement of new product launches can be fun and can make you money, but know that you will also need to continually chase new launches.

Others thrive on offering one-to-one services like coaching, mentoring, tutoring, art creation, writing, web- and graphic-designers.  

What’s the Best Way? The “IDEAL” business model probably combines all these in some shape or fashion so when one is slow another can be clicking along.  Think of an artist selling art online, supplemented by art courses on Udemy, Thinkific, Gumroad, or Teachable, supplemented by art supplies sales fulfilled by Amazon (FBA). It shouldn’t require more than a week to set up this combined approach.  Usually…  For me I did it the hard way (myself) and tinkered with my website till I was so frustrated with it that I almost gave up and chucked it all.  Finally I wised up and gave Fiverr a job and the web person I worked with was a great match and got me back up and running again.  He also fixed my website… Lol!

For me, I have a network marketing group that I pay a monthly subscription fee to, which licenses me to use the products and to sell what I want. In addition I can create courses based on self-help products.  I decided I don’t enjoy the quarterly rallies so I don’t join those, but I do get the live streams so I can stay involved.  And the commissions come in regularly, like clockwork.

I also have my own store on my website where I put all the products I bought with re-sell rights- the ones that teach basic marketing/social media skills and techniques that beginning entrepreneurs need to compete and feel confident.

A third income source is my courses that I have on a teaching site.  Another is a membership site where unlimited products are available for a low monthly fee. Often Members may not want to buy a bunch of products but do like the tutorials online, so this is a great way to meet those needs.

And finally (for now) I also provide a limited number of clients with coaching/mentoring help, one-on-one.

All of these products and services support one goal- the support of  my ideal client becoming a successful online marketer.  To the degree I do my job right, fewer people will be left asking, “Can I Make Money Online?”

To the degree I do my job right as a mentor, fewer people will be left asking, β€œCan I Make Money Online?” Click To Tweet

Thanks for joining me here today. I hope you’ve gotten useful tips and ideas that you can use to further your success and now know the answer to your questions about becoming a more successful entrepreneur!

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and hear your story- why not leave me a comment below?

Oh, and be sure to subscribe so we can stay in touch!


Resources used for this post:  (In case you still want more!)  πŸ™‚


When we talk about starting an online business, becoming an Entrepreneur, the ads make it all sound so… EASY, right?

Just get a domain name, set up your web hosting, install an instance of WordPress, load up a theme you like the looks of, and in minutes (multiples of 60 to be really honest) and start typing.  You are a blogger! Congratulations!

What? What’s that? You don’t know what a domain name is or how to redirect it to the other place it should open? What are preferences? And how do you set them up?

Beyond that, there are more details no one even mentioned in the slick ads.  If you want to make money with your blog, exactly how do you do that?  It really was a lot easier when we just wrote letters by hand… Lol!

Having “A Why That Makes You Cry”

I wrote out some of the questions I had to grapple with when I formalized my business after having a blog for already 4 years.   This is the thought process and questions that need to be addressed when you decide you want to start an online business- it’s more than just having “a why that makes you cry”.


(I could have retyped all this- put it in a Cheat Sheet, made it look pretty, and left it sitting on my desk till I got it just perfect…)


UPDATE: As you can see I did go back and put this in a mind-map after all to make it easier to read and use. Download the free .pdf here!


When looking back, I wanted to start an online business. Why? Because the network marketing group I was in had so many people who just gave up.  That bothered me… a lot.  Why should people buy systems and products that “should” give them a turn-key business to build, only to find they need to sink more money in and still not get anyone to stay past a 7 day free trial?

This computer business idea, instead of being simple as the ads say, was just too foreign, too complicated, too unknown. What is a back office?  When did a dashboard go from being a part of my car to being something I need to watch?  I just want to blog- and now you tell me that to blog, I need more viewers and to do that I need to build a list… and to build a list I need to do that SEO thing. And then I need to jump on a Skype call to get the time for our Hangout; or check a FB group to get the link to our ZOOM!  Ay, yay,yay!  No wonder people just walk away without making that easy cash!

So You Want To Start An Online Business… 

If this sounds like you or someone you know, subscribe and make plans to read these posts.  Either we’re having these questions or we’ll laugh because we remember when we did!

My plan is to write about each topic, sharing what I did, what I learned and what I would do now if I was starting again.  I want to bring hope- you are not alone in this- and guidance to get you out of whatever quicksand you find yourself in. I want you to think about next year’s taxes and what you need to do today to maximize your deductions- yes even from a blog- and provide resources to get you official and legal so that you can keep more of what you earn.

If that sounds good subscribe here and let’s get this party started!


First things first… Can I Succeed?

Everyone talks about passion, mission, the why that makes you cry… but really, most people just want to make some extra money to make a better life for their family.  It doesn’t matter how as much as that it can happen.

The good news is that there are billions of people using the internet to learn things, to buy things and to share things. That means theoretically at least, that you have a market that can be taught, sold, or serviced in some profitable way.

What keeps some from making their first dollar while others tout the millions they have made is a thing called hustle.  Gary Vaynerchuk has it, and preaches it daily. Tony Robbins has it and uses it to motivate others. Kim Garst has it and that’s how she got to be the Queen of Periscope then Facebook Live.

If you have it you know it. It’s that restless feeling that you have to do more, be more- make a difference.  Just wanting to make money isn’t hustle.  The feeling that to make $100 you would do anything it takes, that’ s hustle… If you don’t have it naturally, don’t despair. You can learn it, and I’ll show you how.

What is it that you’re better at than the next guy?  Writing a blog with no “So What” factor will just cause people to read and say, ok, that was pleasant. But it won’t make you money. That’s not hustle.

People part with their cash when you show them how to make double that amount back.  Or because you have solved some problem that was costing them twice that each month.

What can you do for others to make their lives better?  What product or invention can you bring to the market that will make them more productive?  What will you do to make a difference in people’s lives?

In my case, I saw confused new sign-ups sitting in a group orientation. You’ve seen this a hundred times- in any meeting there will be the 10 really engaged people, the middle group listening and taking notes and the back row who had to bring 3 projects to do at the same time, while going through that onboarding process.

If you’re one of the 10, I want to save you time- with products that make list building and SEO super easy, a membership that brings products to you. I want you to get where you’re going faster and easier.

For you in that middle group, I want to give you the shortcuts, sharing what it takes to be successful, the behind the scenes tips uplines “forget” to mention (like how they spend $10,000 per month on traffic to generate those 5 high-ticket sales per day!) Yeah… I didn’t think that was part of the overview!

(Note: the people in the back row, they haven’t got the time or attention to take on a new business, so this isn’t for them!  Not to be mean, but seriously, let’s think about what it takes to win… )


You Know What You Want To Do, For Whom, And Why… What’s Next?

Deciding HOW to provide your products or services brings you to the legal side of things. Once you know how you want to sell, teach or coach, you have a good idea where this will need to happen.  Will your blog have an “online store” to sell the products you review?  Will your coaching service have a website from which to make appointments and hold coaching classes or one-on-one sessions?

These answers will tell you whether you need a business license, what kind of business form will be most beneficial to you, and what fees and taxes you’ll need to prepare for.

Four years ago, after having my own physical business- teaching business skills to people who wanted to work for western oil companies in Baku- I wanted to set up an online business to prepare me to transition from consulting to that “massive passive income” everyone was talking about online.

I followed a link, listened to the video and made the decision to join that night at 11:30pm- Halloween night!  I “got all in” and spent the entire night listening to video after video, filling in form after form. I understood the potential and decided how I wanted to use it.  (Relax- I am not here to recruit anyone!)  But as a teacher of business skills, I knew if I was challenged,  people like my mother would be lost and at the mercy of those who would say, just buy more stuff!  That annoyed me…  I want people to succeed, not feel like failures when they run into walls of hype and complexity.


Decision Time

I decided that night,  in order to do what I wanted (help other newbies succeed) I needed a business license.  I registered a business (an LLC,meaning a Limited Liability Company)  here in Virginia (I did it online) and applied for my IRS EIN (tax ID number).  Not hard to do, but you do have to do things in order to ensure the right numbers go in the right boxes.  Ideally we would all know to do this before we wanted to join a plan or program. It would be so much easier!  But as a first time business owner in Virginia (my physical business was incorporated in Delaware when I lived in Texas and worked in Baku… whew!) I faced the same unknowns as you will or have. 

Once I got the business type decided, and got my IRS forms sorted out, I could register for this network marketing system not as me but as a business.  The best advice they gave that night was to sign up with their bookkeeping partner.  Why? Because if it had not come from them that night, I would have put it on the back burner until I was making money. Then tax time would have rolled around and I would have missed out on about $28,000 of tax deductions.

**Disclaimer; not everyone will invest this much into their business in the first year, and therefore not have much to deduct, but because I talked with the planners, we organized it so that I could invest as I began making small sales to legitimately be able to deduct my set up costs etc.

This is why it makes sense to plan in advance so that we don’t leave money on the table… or even better, we can take money off Uncle Sam’s table legally!  We’ll get into more of that in the next post…

For now, if you are one of the new business entrepreneurs- solo-preneur, mompreneur, dadpreneur- whatever flavor you want to be, please take time to read the questions above and tell me which ones spark your thoughts and questions.  And what questions have I not put on the list that you are thinking about?

Don’t forget to subscribe so we can keep the conversation going.  Leave me a comment below with your thoughts on this subject– has it been easy for you or have you had more challenges than what I listed today?  Let me know, and let’s discuss!


The Power of Perseverance

When You Feel Like Giving Up… Take My Advice – Don’t!

Recently, as I have been re-vamping my previously serviceable-but-limited blog-only website, I hit more than a few snags along the way.  
You’ve been there, I’m sure… we all have at some point or another.  “I’ll just make this one little change…” and then boom, you’re in the depths of a full-blown re-make and don’t know how you got there.  Sound familiar?
I took my StrategyLinks blog down at the beginning of this year.  Yes – more than 6 months ago!  I thought I would just update the theme and be done. simple enough. I had done this any number of times on my 4 other sites, and never had any major indecision or complications.
Keep in mind, I have been doing this for more than 8 years, have made money on 4 websites and blogs. I know my way around font-ends and back-offices, so this should have been a relatively “no-brainer” .
But this time… whew!  This was the mother of all updates!  And about half-way to today, I wanted to give up, scrap it all, and start over.  

When we feel like giving up, or settling for
second-best, we risk losing our passion.

And without our passion, what’s the point?

But I was conflicted by all the time I had spent working with this new site that I just knew was “this close” (another 3 months close!) to being what I liked or could live with.
Note that I didn’t say it was what I wanted. No, I was only up to the point where I could “settle for something” just to get it back up and running.  And that is a dangerous place for an entrepreneur to be!
I was disgusted with the lack of progress, my inability to make this thing work,and not understanding why this particular theme was so difficult to work with.
Fortunately for all of us, the story doesn’t end there!
I’m all about lessons learned- a hold over from my teaching and corporate communications days.  Everything I do, I view as a bit of experience I can pass on to you.
So I kept thinking about what I was learning through all this ordeal, and what I could share as takeaways you could use to become a more successful Entrepreneur.  

         So here are my top lessons:    


image of man standing in the middle of a road, seeing his future stretch out before him


  • Things will always get harder before they get better!
  • Don’t be that guy who stops digging 3 feet from the motherload of diamonds.
  • Think of tough experiences as “fish tales” you’ll tell later. You know, “it was ‘thiiiiisss’ big”- just like we used to joke with our parents about walking 10 miles uphill-both ways- to school… in the snow. You’ll get through this and be better for it, I promise!
  • You’ll never gain any knowledge if you don’t have to try hard to learn.
  • Buy products that teach you and you can resell these as proven tools to your customers.  Without struggles, how can they be sure you know your stuff?
  • Always look at  problems and know there IS a way out.  It is there, you just have to keep looking, ask people (like Fiverr) for help seeing it.  Thanks to Usman for all his wise advice!
  • Success you fight for is so much sweeter than anything built for you. So just keep on going, reach out to me and tell me how I can help you “earn your wings” as my grandad used to say!