An Internet Marketing Reality Check

What's your aim as an Internet Marketer?

Is it fame? Is it to become rich? Is it financial freedom?

I want to set down a few points that you need to really consider if you think Internet Marketing is the career path for you.

These are kind of things that the big name guru products just don't tell you.

It's an Internet Marketing reality check.


The Day Job

Many people start Internet Marketing as a method to leave the day job.

They have totally unrealistic expectations that a few months down the line, they'll have said goodbye to the boss and will be raking is serious cash.

That's the exception, definitely not the rule.

First of all, most people simply can't get their new business in order that quickly.

It takes time to develop new skills – and you need lots of them for success as an Internet Marketer.

You need Internet skills. You need product creation skills. You need writing skills.

You need to be able to sell and market.

And, you need a willingness to keep up-to-date with all the latest trends and topics.

Sure, you can outsource some of this, but you need a high level understanding to make things work for you.

That's more than just reading about it. It's learning things and putting them into practice through simple trial and error.

A much better approach is work on the business slowly, and to plan for things two years down the line, rather than expecting a 'Get Rich Quick' soluton.


The Support Network

When you're working with other people, there's always a support network in place.

You're surrounded by colleagues. Some of them you might not like as much as others, but they're there to offer help and to provide answers when you're stuck.

As a solo Internet Marketer, you need a dedication to succeed without that immediate network. Many people find this lonely. You need to have a very specific personality to sit alone in front of a computer all day.

Sure, you can replicate some of this online.

I surround myself with great people who are accessible through forums and other support communities, but if you're a social person this may not feel the same to you.


The Benefits Of Work

Working for an employer has many benefits.

The key one of these benefits is a secure and guaranteed income. You put the hours in, you get paid.

Internet Marketing has no such promises. You may spend weeks creating a product which you think is brilliant, to find that it only sells a hundred dollars worth of copies.

Some people like the risk/reward basis of that (more rewarding than blackjack?), but most people do need a guaranteed income.

Many people try and work out what they'd earn as an Internet Marketer by only looking at the headline 'take home pay' figure. They fail to consider all the additional incentives that make up a full day job package.

Pensions. Benefits. Childcare. Healthcare. Subsidies. Tax contributions.

All of these aspects disappear when you work for yourself.

In many cases, it's worthwhile continuing with a day job just for the benefits.


How To Approach Internet Marketing

I've painted a slightly 'doom and gloom' view of Internet Marketing. The real picture isn't so simplistic.

The very best way to think of marketing is that it's a nice hobby, that may work well for you someday.

It's to look at Internet Marketing as bringing you the kind of extra income that might allow you to pay your mortgage off quicker, treat yourself, or take an extra holiday.

For most people, it's just simply not realistic to think of this as a new full time career.

Here's what I would do.

Work on your Internet Marketing business in evenings and weekends.

Try and build up a level of security in an Internet Marketer through slow and continual development. In my case, that's through learning and product development.

When you feel ready, negotiate to reduce the hours you spend in your day job. That offers you a little more time for marketing, but still provides you with security, and a link back to a traditional career if the marketing arena changes.

Working 3 or 4 days a week in a day job strikes a good balance between security and risk.

Test the waters slowly and you should do well.


What's Your View?

I'm really interested to find out what you have to say about this post.

Do you aim to go full time as an Internet Marketer soon?

Are you already full time and has it always worked for you?

Or, are there sensible strategies for doing well as a part time marketer that you'd like to share?

Just reply below, and I'll look forward to seeing your thoughts.

20 replies on “An Internet Marketing Reality Check”

There is a massive amount of money is available at the moment and it will continue, the question is for how long. You have to treat IM like tax loop holes. They only work for so long. I use IM as a cash cow to put into offline businesses as well as having a full time day job which as an employee. 

I often tell people if warren buffet was an Internet Marketer what would he do. 

Interesting thought. 

Good points.
It also depends on the nature of the person some people can't last long on jobs because there nature is not to work for stupid people.
Cash flow is king if you ain't got the flow of cash than for sure get a job if not you can really fall into ddebt quickly all it takes for most is 2 months.
The key is to treat it like a business not a hobby an stop buying all the courses.

Richard and Richard,

Thanks for the comments. It's definitely true that there are some IM opportunities (offline marketing being one of the main ones) which will have a limited lifespan, so it's important to act on those whilst the iron is hot.

It's definitely the cash flow which makes it very hard for people to leave a day job. That's why spending time getting a cash flow into place (by working on IM only part time) is so important. Working for student bosses pays the bills!

I do think that you have to buy courses to succeed as a marketer. Just the sheer amount of time I've saved by learning from other people's mistakes has paid for the cost of most of the courses I've purchased many times over. That doesn't mean buying every high end course that's released, but there's so much good stuff in many low to mid priced courses that I can't imagine operating an efficient business without them.


Hey Thom,

Great post. I think you dropped a ton of valuable tips for people who might be like I was about 4 years ago.
Having said that, I am the guy who broke pretty much every rule you laid out in this post.
I had no plan. I was over-confident. I assumed I was going to get rich quickly. On and on it goes. In fact, I wasn't even starting out in the IM world… I started my entrepreneurial endeavors as a speaker and trainer. I kind of fell into IM because it was the most direct route to finding buyers on a shoe string budget.
I have a much different philosophy. I thrive on the fact that I have no guaranteed income, benefits, etc… It motivates me to grow my business and grow as a person. I think ALL aspiring entrepreneurs ultimately need to EMBRACE uncertainty. They need to detach from the security of a paycheck.
Even if you build your IM business to double or triple your salary, once you take that leap to go on your own… there are no guarantees. Things can happen and your business income can disappear overnight.
The real winners are those who can deliver when their backs are against the wall. They know in their heart that when push comes to shove, they have what it takes WITHIN them to make it happen.
Does it mean you should quit your day job and do what I did? HELL no. But I think there is a happy medium between my style and Thom's style that can really be that sweet spot for people who want to run an IM biz full time.

Justin, definitely. I think a happy medium is good. That’s probably one year or so on from where I left the post.

That said, I think the speaking route is an excellent way for Internet Marketers to go. Speaking adds instant credibility and also gives you another entrepeneurial strand.

I must admit that my advice is slightly biased, having a day job I enjoy and I know that many people aren’t in that fortunate position. It is, however, of those jobs that expands way beyond the nominal 40 hours a week I get paid for it. People who do have a guaranteed 9 to 5, with evening time, could push on their part time marketing way beyond where I can, and be ready to leave their day job that bit sooner.

The balanced approach is the best.


Great post Thom. I completely agree with you. It's best to do internet marketing in the evenings and weekend when just starting out.

I'm a long way off full time. By full time I mean replacing my earned  income. For someone to do this you'll need a product or service with a recurring income. I don't think relying on WSO's is the key. I'm thinking maybe software that needs to be paid annually or membership site(s) where the income is pretty consistent.
I'm working into building up my offline business at the moment. That's probably a faster way to go. Maybe as a brokering service.

Des, yes WSOs aren't a consistent income. The problem is that you have to keep working on these and producing new ones. That requires a constant flow of ideas. And, although you can pick up recurring customers, and add new ones (so each WSO is slightly more successful than the previous one), that's not a 'Get Rich Quick' scheme.

With that said, older WSOs do still sell, and there are methods to revitalist the content in them. Having more products definitely helps. And, of course products can be created as a WSO, but then sold off the WSO forum, which is where the real potential as a product creator lies.

Recurring income is the safest bet for the quitting the day job angle.


If a person has day job they love, I say, stick with it until Reality Bytes. Nothing is secure in these pandemonium days. The only person you can count on, at least most of the time, is YOU. And, of course, whatever level of faith you have will fill in most gaps. I have been in Arizona for 6 years now, mostly because there has not been enough income to return to my home, Denver. I guess this lesson is not yet complete :0(
I came here with a teaching job in a specialized charter school, a logical position for 10 years of academics, Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctorate ABD… to complete that with new school owner, full prof. in Flagstaff, as mentor. Only to find that AZ is TOP of the list for fraud in charter schools. The end of the position (and school) came quickly, at about the same time as serious health problems reared ugly heads.
Stuck. But. I've been on the Net since 1994, and have had several small publishing and graphics businesses, with "part time" income. Through academics and big dawg jobs, I've helped build this Net. Why do I bring all of this up?
First, this area of north central AZ is the original black hole of the universe. Sucks you in and you cannot leave. I see it over and over, as I've gotten involved in help for the homeless here. Technology? There really isn't much, here. It is a sad scene. So, I don't have the technical consultancies and job shoppers basically fighting over me as I came off jobs, back in Denver. I raised 3 kids on freelance and tech job shops… CANNOT be done here.
So, I took those Internet business years and the several years of online teaching/adjunct… and I started it all up again.
Today the competition is much more fierce…. mostly with people who are newbies and looking for the big bucks to roll in by tomorrow morning or next week, max. On the one hand, there is much I've found to despise about Google for all the rules games they play… however, at least they are trying to take this situation in hand and somehow stem the huge tide of crap sites out there!
It has taken the past 4+ years to reestablish online business that is really working. A previous post mentioned having "your back against the wall." Perfect description of what has happened here. I have had NO choice but to scrape an existence out of the Internet. Am I sorry? No way. In fact, in the light of what a "day job" will give you…. pahleeeze. Don't trust Korporate, and don't trust Academics. They will take the best you have, and in one nanosecond, drop you by the side of the E-highway, when they have a change of mindset, or downsize 40 upline managers and positions beneath them.
Trust YOU.
Things can, and have, gotten very difficult. We can be thankful as a nation and a globe, that there really aren't "debtor's prisons," I guess. Not in the US, anyway. Many of us might reside there. lol.
I say…. DO IT. There is a lot of help out there, from local to global via the Net. Scale down your vision of what "lifestyle" must be… we here in America have seen what the credit card lifestyle will do. I got rid of all of that 10 years ago, and I'm here to say, life is SO peaceful when you live up to your realities rather than what a CC will buy… I love it.
Spend that time and energy in really learning the skills of this trade. Try to prioritize and do the things that logically or seemingly logically, will bring on income the most quickly. Have a ton of patience. None of this is easy, and none of this is quick. Getting past FEAR is one of the hardest things. Once you really realize that none of this will kill you, you are getting to the top of the game. If you continue with the fear and stresses, then it MIGHT kill you…. of heart attack.
Once you get things into what amounts to a plan for your business, you start to see the real benefits…. a growing income, a growing list of peers and mentors, and all of a sudden, a huge Web presence. What can Korporate give you that EVEN comes up to this level of satisfaction for "job well done."
When I started 20 years ago, much of the freelance and consultant work was what we today call "Local" – the Warrior Forum etc. is full of it. Someone here posted that "local" will go away. Huh? That's where it's always has been, in spite of the global benefits of the Internet. And it will always remain. Unless of course, we blow ourselves up. That's the only way local business will "go away." I see this as a wonderful trend, that peeps are finally seeing what has sustained me for years… LOCAL.
And publishing. I swear, if anyone here is not a part of Warrior Forum, they need to go there and jump in. What is going on in publishing (I have been there all my life, as my Dad has a 40 year old small publishing house, very successful, and I cut my teeth on the printed word) … it is astounding! I've jumped into Amazon and Kindle. I'm changing over from Lulu to Amazon and LSI for print books. Most of the inspiration has come from WF, and yes I've bought my share of courses/WSOs. ONE bit of stellar info in a product makes it all worthwhile. But you must take action and not just let the purchases sit on your drive.
Okay I digress, I guess.
Quit your day job? Hey, unless you have children relying on you for food and a roof, there is not much about your day job that will satisfy your soul and spirit. Not now, and not on the day you are suddenly laid off for no reason other than Korporate HAS no soul. Get your online thing together. And like Nike says: JUST DO IT. For me, there *was* no looking back, as I had no choices here in Arizona.
But I soon realized that there really WAS no looking back, with so much to love about all of this. In spite of difficulties, this is the DREAM. And yes, with enough perseverance, you will one day, suddenly see your AHA moment….. Wow, I am DOING it!! I wouldn't trade this for anything.

Sorry for post #2. The user interface of your visual editor is a bit strange. It ruptured my URL, with a trailing back slash. And what look like paragraph separations… aren't.
Thom, I enjoy your newsletters. Glad to have met you! Again…. through a Warrior Forum WSO!

Thanks Leanne, so glad to hear everything's working for you.

I think there's a certain group of people who do have that "get up and go" and everything will just work out. For some people, that's one step too fast.

Of course, if you end up in a position without work through no fault of your own, I'd definitely suggest trying to make things work. Much better than sitting around and feeling sorry for yourself.

Incidentally, I've sorted your link. I like this editor for writing posts and using from the back end of WordPress, but I'm not convinced it's quite as useful for comments. Any recommendations for alternatives are welcome.


Hi Thom,
Once again a very good post, and you are right in every word you write here.
To quit your dayjob before you are fully established and with a income worth the name of it, might be a very thin line to walk. You should stick with it until your new business is more steady.
One very important thing you highlight is the network. And to honest, even established and successful IM are "only" human too.
And you Thom, is a very good example. 🙂


Stefan, I believe strongly in the network. And of course I consider you, and actually all the people leaving comments here, part of that extended supportive network who want everything to work.

Having a network in place like that is one of those things that will help you to succeed if you ever do go full time.

It's definitely easier to have an established part time business and to scale it up to full time then it is to start from scratch. It's not impossible. I can see some ways I could scale up a business quickly if I needed to, but I'm not convinced the typical person keen on Internet Marketing would consider it worth the stress and hassle.


I can't tell you what will work for you, but in my case this is what I did – it worked out for me so far also I didn't have many expenses.
First I switched to a part time job when my internet marketing income was at a point where I would make at least as much as my full time job would have, this gave me security and allowed me to focus more time on building my business.
When I quite my part time job it was because I knew I would make more money by focusing on internet marketing full time. While the security of a regular job is nice, you still have to think about how much you can realistically make if you dedicate more time to your business.
The hardest thing to do is motivate yourself to work hard enough, self motivation is not easy it takes a lot of practice.

Thanks Jeff. I know you've had a lot of success, and I'm certain you did the right think going through the part time route.
You're quite right about self-motivation. It's the hardest thing to master. I think in many ways, it's the same problem being an evening marketer as, after a hard day at work, you then have to pull together and put in the time as a marketer. If you can manage that, you can manage to work for yourself permanently.
Of course, the worst thing is that many of the world's most successful marketers are total workaholics! I suspect they're working far more hours than they ever were when they had a day job!

Great post Thom. It's one that people should consider carefully before jumping headlong into quitting their jobs.
And, I think Jeff Bode makes a great point when he says

"The hardest thing to do is motivate yourself to work hard enough, self motivation is not easy it takes a lot of practice."
Many people get seduced by the dream painted to them by many salespages, of a life of leisure and only working a couple of hours a week.
Being able to motivate yourself, being able to focus on directing your energies towards the important tasks, and ignoring the distractions is not easy when you work for yourself from home.
It's best to achieve some level of "sustainable results" before jumping in headlong.
Always remember there are good days and bad days.
With a job, if you turn up at work, you get paid.
In Internet Marketing, you get paid on the good days, and you don't get paid on the bad days. So you must make sure you have lots of good days.

Excellent points Irene. That motivational problem is such a big one. You only need some days when you're feeling down, or otherwise distracted, to seriously dent your online income.

Being able to show that what you do works on a part time level, and that you can scale it up to full time, is so important for success.


Thom, Thanks for saying what needed to be said. I’ve seen too many people expect to be rich in 6 months, only to find out they are worse off than when they started. Having an employer is huge, especially when first starting out.

Yes John, I don’t think for most people moving into Internet Marketing full time is realistic, although some people do an incredible job of it. Recently I’ve a few people make it by running Warrior Special Offers and getting the right brand of outsourcing and a management team in place, but those people are few and far between and generally already have their heads screwed on.


Ever since I learned about John Chow I have dreamed of quitting my day job and having a blog that generated the kind of cash he does. If it worked for him, why can’t it work for others? He’s made $500,000+ from blogging!

There certainly are ways to make money online Kai, and one thing I’d recommend is that people decide on an area and concentrate fully on it before giving up.

Blogging, with quality original content, is a tried-and-tested method of Internet Marketing, and it’s certainly one that I’d recommend for all.


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