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… 😉

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, “Can 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!)  🙂


Strategy Links favicon image

Hey! Want more like this blog? Subscribe here...

I'll notify you whenever I deliver a new blog post... you'll be the first to know! (wink!)

Yeay!  Success- thank you for subscribing. I can't wait to share with you and hear your feedback!