I get quite a few emails (and see quite a few ads) about a very tempting prospect: making a lot of money online very quickly. We’re talking tens or hundreds of thousands, even a million or two, in a matter of weeks. The idea holds that the right product, unleashed on an Internet filled with potential customers, can’t help but find its market. With no need for traditional advertising and so few barriers left between citizens of a shrinking world, all you need is the product and a little know-how.
Sounds good, even plausible. The Internet has changed everything. It has made it easier than it’s ever been for the average person to take their shot at entrepreneurship. It has brought potential customers within reach of…anyone, really. The right idea should be able to sell itself, right? But there’s one key factor missing from this viewpoint. There’s one thing that anyone with real business experience— especially online— has to point out.
The product is never enough.
Examining the Claim
As often as I’m asked if it’s really possible to rake in the dough so quickly, it still surprises me. We all know what they say about things that sound too good to be true. But again, we live in a new economy where new things are possible. The temptation to believe in fast money actually makes more sense today than it used to.
Unfortunately for anyone hoping to get rich quick, even the Internet can’t change certain core business principles. Chief among them is that no product, no matter how great, is self-promoting. If business really worked based entirely on the merits of the products, there would be no such thing as advertising or marketing. Billions upon billions of dollars wouldn’t be spent annually to convince people to buy things. The fundamental truth of business is that people sell things to other people, no matter how good or bad those things are.
I have literally never seen anyone make fast money firsthand. I have never seen a product launched into an unsuspecting market and suddenly been jumped on by thousands or millions of customers based on its sheer awesomeness. I have seen brilliant products created by brilliant people, but I have never seen a single one of them sell themselves.
That’s because no matter how brilliant yourself or your product may be, you not only need people to sell it, you need people to sell to. I have seen the appearance of fast money. I’ve seen product launches that blew the doors off expectations and raked in profits with astonishing speed. But those success stories weren’t the result of timing or luck or even the quality of the product. They were the culmination of years worth of effort. No matter how sudden the breakthroughs may have seemed, they were the end result of a long-term strategy.
The Reality Behind Fast Money
The real key to what looks like “quick” success is a long, patient struggle to find and build an audience. Dedication to developing your brand, establishing your authority, and proving yourself to be someone who can solve problems is the only way to create the conditions in which your “sudden” success can happen. It’s about giving to your audience, giving generously and consistently, until you’ve built enough trust to fuel an explosive product launch.
For a perfect example of what looks like instant success but really reflects the long game, look to John Lee Dumas of eofire. To help launch his Freedom Journal project, he started a Kickstarter campaign. Boosting a product this way isn’t unheard of, but the reaction Dumas got was astonishing even to industry insiders. The campaign raised $453,000 from 7,000 backers in a matter of weeks.
Now, the product is truly great. However, that’s not what led to those jaw-dropping numbers. The simple fact of the matter is that Dumas, through his podcasting, his appearances on other podcasts, his blogging, and all the million little gifts he gave to his audience every day was able to build a following. He didn’t do that in a matter of weeks. He did it over years of dedicated content marketing. He gave and he gave to his audience, and when the time came to ask for something back, they responded in kind.
Your “Fast” Money
If you’re looking to get rich, or wealthy, or even just self-sufficient through entrepreneurship, you can. But you won’t do it quickly. Start with realistic expectations and attainable goals. Create milestones to reach, and once you reach them, create new ones. Start small. Make $10 by providing something valuable. Then make $100. Then make $1000. And as you keep pushing towards that next subgoal, give. Provide your growing audience with what they need to get some wins. Solve problems. Provide value. Build trust, authority and gratitude.
Don’t try to be the person who came up with the game-changing idea and watched the millions roll in. That person doesn’t exist. Brilliant ideas do exist; you may even have one. But no idea becomes a fortune without the patient work of making yourself known to a wide and loyal audience.
Get started now. Demonstrate your value by creating content. Establish a publishing schedule. Start giving people what they need in order to trust you. Get that momentum going. Down the road, you’ll know where your “instant” success really came from.