I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger. Rod Stewart said it best.

I’ve done my fair share of bone-headed things in my journey to making money online. With a little nudge, hopefully you won’t have to learn from your own mistakes. You can just learn from mine.

Below you’ll not just find the COSTLY mistakes I’ve made, but also what I learned from them and how I turned my losses into wins.

10. Not Staying Educated

As they say, the early bird gets the worm. In the ever-changing landscape of the internet it’s also true that they get the money.

I know it’s impossible to be everywhere at once, but for an internet marketer you kind of need to be. My biggest regret (and probably yours too) is that I didn’t see the value of domain names back in 1999. That I ignored the incredible opportunity to develop apps before the market got flooded. That I didn’t identify the next big thing before it happened.

In fact, it causes me incredible anxiety that I’m blind to some revolution that’s going on right now.

My advice to you is to keep an eye on what’s going on in the world; in technology in particular. Read the newspaper or a magazine or a well-credentialed blog. It gives you so much insight into the possibilities that are before you.

I get lost on Wired.com and Entrepreneur.com (in a good way).

9. Not Getting Out At The Right Time

It’s a fine line you have to walk as an internet marketer. On one hand it’s a glorious thing to build a niche website that creates passive income month over month that you barely have to work for. On the other hand it is ridiculously easy for all of that money to disappear over night with an algorithm change.

Sometimes it’s just the right time to cash in and move on. Identifying that pivotal moment is the hard part.

My advice is that if your earnings have leveled off and you’ve stopped caring or putting in as much work as you once did you’re probably in for a rude awakening in the coming months when your rankings start to slip or worse.

Consider selling your site, get a new perspective, build a new (and better) website and gain back that entrepreneurial spirit that made you a success in the first place.

8. Selling Low

Algorithm updates from Google have been known to make and break businesses overnight. If you’re on the unfortunate end of these changes it hurts really bad. A drop in rankings doesn’t mean a death sentence though and if you decide to sell right away after traffic has gone down you’ll surely never get a purchase price equal to what you would have a couple weeks ago.

Put in a few agonizing weeks of work to cater to the new algorithm and see what happens. If you can get your traffic back the money will follow. That certainly won’t be the case if try to sell your website.

7. Not Being Committed

At this point in my life I’ve come to know one hard fact about true success. There is no such thing as luck. Branch Rickey said “Luck is the residue of design” and he’s right.

The people who are really successful put in the behind-the-scenes, up until 2am, time and commitment that no one else ever sees. They make their own luck while all the other people admire them and call them lucky. If you’re not willing to do that then don’t think you’re going to make a lot of money.

6. Not Having a Good Hosting Company

Your bread and butter is that website that’s bringing in $500 a day. If it goes down you’re out all that money with no one to blame except yourself. Your hosting company sure isn’t going to cover your losses. If you’re relying on a shared server at a mediocre web hosting company you’re running a huge risk.

After slow loading and continued WordPress hacking I left GoDaddy for greener pastures and haven’t looked back. Find a VPS or dedicated server that runs less risk. I host all of mine at MediaTemple. They have amazing support if things do go wrong and you can consolidate all of your websites into one account.

5. Not Registering That Domain

I was just over at DomainShane.com and he said the best domain name always comes along when you don’t have the money to buy it. If you think you’ve found a good hand-registered domain is it really worth the agony to not possess it? Pull the trigger and if you don’t like your decision a year from now when it’s time to renew then you’re only out $9. It’s worth it.

4. Not Following TOS Guidelines

Companies like Google and Amazon have paid a lot of money to lawyers to create bulletproof contracts that you’ll need to sign if you wish to use their affiliate programs. I’m not suggesting that you read through the entire thing, but make sure you know the basics of what you can and can’t do under their guidelines or you run the risk of legal action or account termination.

3. Not Placing Advertising In Content

Every niche is different, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that putting your AdSense, Media.net, affiliate or paid advertising in your page content makes you lot of money.

Don’t leave your advertising in the sidebar, save that for links to your other relevant posts with clever product placement and advertising embedded in the places people are actually reading.

2. Not Spending Money To Make Money

It’s a tough pill to swallow to commit $150/mo to Moz.com or $300/mo to MailChimp, but the old saying is true.

You need to reinvest in what you’re doing if you hope to grow your success. I remember a podcast of Pat Flynn’s with Shane and Jocelynn Sams where they admitted that using free plugins and trials was one of their biggest mistakes. If you’re getting value out of a product it has the potential to increase the speed at which you make money. Don’t get gun shy with your earnings.

1. Not Backing Up Your Data

If your hosting goes down, your site gets hacked, a virus corrupts your files or you accidentally erase everything while performing a PHP/MySQL query you’re in serious trouble.

It’s not difficult to set up automated backups of your database (aka the thing that holds ever post, page and comment you’ve ever created). I use the WP DB Backup plugin for my WordPress sites, but also go a step further and have automatic backups through my hosting account as well.

You won’t ever regret taking the time to do this one.

Ahh heck, why not make it 11.

11. Not Paying It Forward

This one didn’t make the top 10, but as this list demonstrates it can be pretty helpful to see where others have failed so that you don’t have to make the same mistakes.

How about leaving a note in the comments with something you wish you’d known?

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  • Very good points Tim
    I’m just starting out in niches and so have the opportunity to learn from others mistakes. Just a question, How do you add Adsense links into your content? Doesn’t it come as a separate “Sponsored ad” box?

    • Hey Russell,

      Depending on the amount of pages you have on your site you can do it a few ways.

      1. Add the javascript code straight into the text portion of your blog post or page (assuming you’re using WordPress)
      2. Add the code to the php file that generates the page code so that it’s already automatically inserted in the page.
      3. Download and install the Ad Injection plugin and insert the code into one of their predefined positions. This one gives you a lot more control in terms of where and how the ads are displayed.

  • Another thing is Shiny Object Syndrome. Those $15 ebook courses with titles like “Make $700 in 7 days with 2 hours work” are not going to teach you anything. I know many people who spent way too much money buying every other course that promised the world but provided nothing.

    So stop wasting money on these useless courses.

  • Not building an email list as soon as you start posting was one of my bigger issues. A new site I’m working on hasn’t any real content yet, but I still want to start gathering info on my visitors to tweak the content they perhaps want to see.

    So, like me, even if you don’t have a legion of followers yet, you can offer a free e-book with valuable niche content in exchange for their email.

  • Tim I’m lost where to start a niche.

    having held domain names for years, which are
    now collecting dust and giving free advertising
    to the register .. yep sucks!

    I’m not developer or designer do not hold
    masters in computer science or outsource
    my work ..

    since I lack in both those area’s. where do I start?
    I’m kinda a old dinosaur I guess.

    to date I understand how install Word Press
    just not sure how to secure or create the proper

    aside from everything else my direct goal
    is find means to teach my only child that is autistic
    how build and create a skill set that he can use
    survive with for rest his life.

    All ears, All eyes and all Heart ..

    • B,

      It sounds like you have the desire which is half the battle. I’d say the other 49% is action and the other 1% is design.

      Don’t worry about the right layout. That’s a time suck that you can’t afford to waste precious minutes on right now. Instead find a way to start answering the questions that you’re already asking.

      You’ve already got the perfect niche that you’re passionate about it seems with Autism so I’d stick there.

      How Do I Teach My Autistic Child Life Skills?
      What Is A Good Profession for Autistic People?
      Top 10 Things Parents Of Autistic Children Should Be Doing Right Now

      Answer these questions on your own blog to the best of your ability and get the ball rolling. Once you start seeing actual visitors to your site then you can be a little more concerned with the presentation.

      If it helps write all of your content in Microsoft Word so that you don’t get tempted to try to format it or make it look right for WordPress.

      As with everything it takes time to make money so I don’t recommend that as your main priority. Just provide value to others who are in your own shoes and eventually the dollars will follow.


  • Hi Tim

    Indeed a great post about internet marketing mistakes.

    I am glad that you have covered the major internet marketing mistakes which almost every internet marketers do.

    Internet marketing is the best way of making money online and the best part about it is, It allow internet marketers to earn with few but potential visitors. We don’t need huge amount of traffic to earn. We only need 10 targeted visitors who can purchase the product.

    The most common mistake which internet marketers make is, they promote so many products at once without having any experience with them.

    To earn more, internet marketers pick every high paying product and start promoting them but don’t get any sales from them because they don’t focus on each product correctly that’s why they are unable to makes sales.

    Every successful internet marketer suggest to promote only those products which you have personally used.

    I would like to thank you for sharing such a great piece of content. :D

    • Hey David,

      I noticed the link you dropped in. Cool niche, I actually own AcousticGuitarsDirect.com and always dreamed of opening up shop in the music instrument business. Seems like a good place to be.

      Thanks for your kind words.

  • Hello,

    Well, I am trying to learn affiliate marketing from last few months, but I am finding it very difficult, specially the conversion part, as I am not able to attract any sales expect one or two.

    Although, I am learning it quickly, and Now, I can say, I made a mistake by picking products without enough research and also, I reviewed the product without even using it, so all this resulted in failure.

    But I hope, I will improve on my skills and will succeed in Affiliate marketing soon.

    • Hey Rubel,

      No one ever gets it right the first time. It took me a couple years to figure out what the hell I was doing. Keep throwing stuff against the wall and eventually something will stick. Just make sure whatever you do isn’t half ass. Put everything you have into it.

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