Monday, June 14, 2010

Freelancing, Internet Marketing and Valuable Business Lessons from my Real World Experience

Right now, I am engaged in real estate leasing which is generating enough revenue to feed my family, pay the bills, taxes and enroll my kids in a paid home schooling program. I currently live with my family in an unoperational tropical resort here in the Philippines and have recently engaged in Internet Marketing so that I could have savings for the future of my children. 

I've learned about business the hard way. 2 years ago, I made several investment mistakes that I still regret up to this day. It was the product of a hasty decision that's not backed up by a fallback position. Let's just put it this way, I trusted people too much.

In the world of business, it's a dog eats dog world. Call it harsh, call it unforgiving, and call it unfair. But as Jim Carrey says in the movie Bruce Almighty,

"That's the way the cookie crumbles."

But still I have learned many valuable and positive lessons from my bad experience. Read these and I'll tell you why freelancing will lead you to success in your online endeavor.

Lesson 1: 

Engaging in a business when you barely have a clue almost always leads to failure.

There is no magic formula, there is no short cut and there is no work around. If you have no experience in a particular field - you can be assured that the people who do will take advantage of you. You're coming in the business as a newbie and somebody you trust has convinced you that this is a sure thing. It's backed up by statistics, credible media information and maybe that particular field has been given a positive feedback in Forbes.com.

All those don't amount to anything.

Of course, there will be those exceptions who are blessed with the Midas touch. Trust me, if you're still reading this article - you are not one of them. I'll be harsh and punishing with you, who knows you'll thank me later on when you've become a millionaire.

It's simple. They don't amount to anything because you would not know what to do when you encounter both gains and losses. Without knowledge and solid experience, you'll be groping in the dark in times when you are doing good and specially in times when you are doing bad.

Lesson 2: 

Trial and Error is not a Viable Business Formula

In our very competitive world, there is no room for mistakes when it comes to business. There is no trial period. It's either you make money or you lose money. Even the most complex business arrangements provide for this.

There is a very slim margin if not absolute zero room for error. You may be thinking that there is a bail out for you as in the case of the American Auto Industry. You don't.

You borrow capital from the bank and enter a business (Include Internet Marketing) that you don't understand and you're bound to be doomed into a life of paying debt year after year after year. Nobody wants to be in that position.

In the real world, I do know several people who are close to me who started businesses with very bad credits in the belief that these would pay off in the end because the field is "doing so well". Now they are mired in bad debt and are forced to seek employment in other countries to pay for their debts.

Like I said, business is harsh. It's either you make money or you lose money. The same applies with online businesses and Internet Marketing. If you fail in your online effort and end up with bad credit, there is no saving grace. You will have to pay.

Lesson 3: Failure Will Come: Expect it 

When starting a business with minimal knowledge and experience, there will be a lot of unknown factors that could affect the bottom line. Most of the time, these unknown factors will turn up to have negative impacts on your business. I'll repeat that:

Unknown Factors Will Become Negative Factors

They didn't call Murphy's law a law if it wasn't binding. "What could go wrong will go wrong." 

Let me add to that, "what you don't know most often than not will lead to something that is not good."

You may say that this is an overly pessimistic point of view that dampens the spirit of innovation and enthusiasm - on the contrary you can turn it around.

By expecting failure and preparing for it, you will have generated a gain. The amount of gain that you will make will eventually redound to how much preparation you put into it.

Let me give a shortened example. You are in the agriculture business. You want to plant vegetables. You need to buy saplings or seeds. Now, one problem with agriculture is its dependence on favorable weather conditions. If there's a storm, you could end up losing all your crops. If there's no storm you could make a few gains. The thing is, as advanced as weather prediction technology comes, they still can't predict what will happen in the next 30 days. Their forecasts are limited to a week or two at most.

Expecting failure, you decide to get crop insurance. So if and when a storm comes and your vegetables get ravaged, you would have something to tide you over and maybe even have enough to plant anew.

Most of the time, my countrymen who are engaged in agriculture depend on the good graces of the weather and hope for the best. Which is bad, considering that the Philippines is a country that's prone to several typhoons every year. I surmise that a lot of them don't even know about crop insurance. So they end up with tragedy. First they secure undocumented and informal loans aside from banking institutions. Then they use their homes and the land they're planting on as collateral. They plant. A storm comes and all the crops are wiped away. They're not left with nothing. In fact they're left with something - bad debt, which is far worse than nothing. So to go on with their lives they proceed to take more desperate measures like more loans from informal lending parties which have a high interest rate.

In 2009, almost $20,000,000 USD were lost in agriculture due to one typhoon alone.

It's a phenomenon that could happen to online businesses as well. There are no figures yet on how many people end up losing money after starting an online endeavor that fails because there's simply no way to track these online entrepreneurs. Though commerce is steadily and increasingly happening on the online front, keeping track of the small online business would be hard to achieve given the anonymity that the Internet provides.

Lesson 4: The Next Best Way to Learn is to Watch Other People's Mistakes

The best way is to experience it yourself. But that's not really so good if you're the one who is going to lose money.

Today, affiliate marketers, internet marketers, search engine marketers have to put a positive light to their businesses. Good vibes translate to sales after all. But be wary of marketers who'd claim that they have the secret to making money online that's guaranteed to make you earn 6 figure incomes if you just do it right and pay them.


They will sell you that ebook or that program that contain the "secret sauce" and you will get information that's already out there for free.

If it works, it's good for you and it's good for the person who sold you the ebook.
If it fails, the answer is simple - IT's YOUR FAULT AND NOT THEIRS. You did something wrong.

How many times have you read a story like that in an online forum and see people blaming the hapless newbie because it was his fault. Countless times right?

"You should have listened to guru X."
"You should have joined X because they give better X."
"You should have chosen the right keyword."
"You shouldn't have done X"

But the thing is, it would have been too late. You already spent the money. You already lost it. Now you end up back in square one. Harsh, painful, chalk it up to experience.

And that, my friend, is the reason why you should watch other's make their own mistakes. It may sound harsh and brutal but what have you or him to lose?

Lesson 5: SEO is not simply Search Engine Optimisation

For me, it is also Social Engineering Optimization. Come on, bots do NOT buy anything. People do! When I say social engineering optimization, I don't mean the nefarious tech attempts to trick human beings into doing other people's whims. What I mean to say is, laying down honest, truthful, and favorable conditions so that a sale could be made. You'd have to remember that the person you are trying to sell to is a human being, with emotions, moods, and ultimately - Needs. If you focus on the needs then you'll know what to sell. This is far too complicated for this single post alone so you'll have to remind me to write about it some other time if you want me to.

Mini Lessons:

  • People buy from people or companies that they trust.
  • People buy out of the belief that they will get something positive out of it. Give something that's really valuable in the sense that people's lives will actually improve because of it.
  • People don't buy when they feel that they're being tricked by an article. Have you ever read an article that's written so terribly that you figured that it was written like a third grader - or worse - somebody who is NOT EVEN IN AMERICA? How are these people supposed to know about what they are writing about if they have no clue about the thing being sold as well? 

I still have many mini lessons, but I'll cut it short to focus on the last bullet point. I am one of those people who do freelance writing. I write these articles that are meant to bolster a web page's rankings. Most of the time, I get to write about things that I have entirely no clue about. I get paid the amount of $3 for every 400 words.

Though this may be the case, I try my best to research about a product before I write about them. As a non American, I know that the argument does little to improve my point. But take it this way, I am honest enough to tell you the things that I do even though I know I may lose your trust.

To be fair to the knowledgeable and talented freelance writers out there, there are many qualified writers all over the world who do deserve to write about the things that they're asked to write about.

For the buyers who do research about something before they do buy online, one sure way for you to know whether a product review is genuine or not is by trusting your instincts. Never trust something you read on the Internet including this article. Spinsters abound and are aplenty and absolutely don't care about your decision.

Another way buyers can glean whether a product is good or not is to see the sincerity of the article. Copywriting is simply the art of spinning something that would make something, be it a product, a person, a company or a service in favorable terms.

Unfortunately this is also true in the real world and other traditional forms of media like TV and radio. After all, if such didn't exist, people would not think that they need to buy something and that would be bad for the economy.


Lesson 6: The Best Thing to Sell is Good, Quality Service.

A Hong Kong writer named Chip Tsao remarked that the Philippines is a "nation of servants". A lot of my countrymen have been taken aback by this statement because of the negative connotation of servants as people who do menial work very much akin to slaves. My countrymen are both right and wrong in having that point of view.

But if I were to comment, I believe that the statement taken on its own and outside of the context of Chip Tsao's derisive point of view - is actually a compliment.

I am speaking personally here, but I believe that service is even far more noble than being a master or making a sale. To be a servant is to be of service. To be of service is to be of value to others.

Policemen all over the world, have this archetypal motto:  To serve and protect.
There is a distinction between politicians and public servants.
Public service is a sublime sacrifice that remind us that we are people living with other people.
We serve each other daily though most of the time we are not even aware of it.
The religious serve in their own capacity for the benefit of their churches.
Charity is an act of service to those who need it the most.

Everybody serves somebody or something.

Even the highest ruler in the world's only superpower serves a master - the people of the United States of America.

As a writer I write with the intention of being of service to those who read what I write about. Though they are very few - about a hundred or so people everyday, I take pride in knowing that somebody out there in this world of ours finds value in what I do. It feels great to be liberated from the confines of writing for money.

(But of course, it would be good if I did get paid for writing this article :) )

Now going back to the point. Freelancing is a good way to start Internet Marketing - or just about any online business because the money from freelancing is not debt. Whether you are a writer, a developer, a programmer, a designer, an artist or a specialist, freelancing will give you something aside from learning about how commerce works in the online world.

To be honest, I didn't even dare have a Paypal account before I went freelancing. When I did, I was very elated at the prospect that real, honest to goodness, hard earned money could be earned online.

I bought my first domain (dannybuntu.com) through freelancing. I didn't have to loan money or get from my own real world wallet. I just wrote.

Now, I plan on using freelancing as a vehicle to expand my Internet Marketing endeavors. To be honest, I have not yet made a single sale yet. But I do plan on making at least one big one before I kick the bucket. If I do, I'll write about it here.

To conclude, the last lesson is:

Lesson 7: Make Use of What You Already Have

I always liked stories where people get to make something good out of nothing. If you really think about it, it's not really nothing in the physical sense but rather something that they already have but are not yet aware of. For me, it's writing. For you, it may be art, it may be friends, it may be a talent that you could share, it could be service or it may even be the ability to make money grow.

Nobody has nothing. Everybody has something.