I actually started my Internet marketing journey by looking for ways to “make money from home”.
In all honesty, making money online has been an obsession for me since I was about 15. I’ve tried so many of the “opportunities”.
Weirdly enough, the same “opportunities” that were being pitched when I was a kid are still being pitched today. Oh, they’ve changed the titles, and added new testimonials. But they are basically the same thing that they were 22 years ago.
I’ve Split These Scams Into 3 Categories For You:
The Time Stealers
Something that blows my mind is how little we Americans value our time.
Let me demonstrate: yesterday was National Doughnut Day (Which, ironically is the day before the anniversary of D-Day). I made the mistake of stopping by Krispy Kreme.
There were people waiting 20 minutes for a free doughnut.
Assuming that their most expensive doughnut – with tax – costs $ 1.50, these rabid donut fans were exchanging 20 minutes of their time for a buck-fifty.
That’s $4.50 per hour. Now, tell me, who in their right mind would agree to work for $4.50 per hour?
And I see folks do this all the time — in fact I’ve done it.
We are so anxious to grasp at any little thing that promises us some sort of future, that we are willing to trade our time – the most precious thing we have – for minuscule amounts of money or pleasure.
And these opportunity-sellers know that. They know they can get us to work for less than minimum wage.
I know the simple tasks they offer that pay $50 are really, really exciting.
But what most of us don’t realize is that in order to qualify for the big tasks (which can be quite erratic in their supply) we first have to do a zillion small tasks for pennies.
Now, in all honesty I have never done a task for MTurk. At best you are probably only going to be paid $.10-$.15 per task (you can see their list of available jobs without logging in if you want to check it out). And even if you can complete one task every minute, you will still be sweating it to crack the minimum wage mark. (And that’s assuming, of course, your Internet does not have any lag time!)
They aren’t the only ones that offer this small-gig-for-pennies game.
It’s great if you live in the Philippines. Probably not so great if you can get to your local Mickey D’s and flip burgers for an hour.
Cash For Clicks
This is basically the same thing as above. Website owners need traffic.
And, these companies are happy to give them traffic.
The idea is you visit ads for 15-60 seconds each in order to collect a few pennies.
It seems so easy, because it is. But the fact is, you’d be hard-pressed to click on enough sites in a day to provide the money to even keep your body alive on Ramen noodles and hot pockets (not to mention making enough to keep your internet turned on!)
And yet, there are thousands of people every day willing to provide millions of clicks. I should know – I’ve bought 10,000 clicks for 10 bucks from these guys! (I had them click on ads showing them how to make money online. Oh, the irony. :p)
Do The Math. Don’t fall for it.
Everyone loves a good survey. Sign up to get free stuff! And if you really love doing them, who am I to say that you shouldn’t?
I mean, even I watch Netflix and don’t get paid for that. So if you enjoy surveys as much as you enjoy watching Netflix, then why not do them?
But if you are actually serious about creating a business and a lifestyle that offers you freedom, (or spending quality time with your kids) you are going to need to leave the surveys for the penny pinchers.
The time versus money just does not add up.
And please, whatever you do, don’t fall for those “courses” that teach you how to get higher paid surveys. Believe it or not, those courses have actually been around since before the Internet existed.
They didn’t work when I was eight years old and they don’t work now.
If you are going to take the time away from your kids to do surveys for cash, you should probably hit up Mickey D’s for that burger flipping job. It pays so much better.
And if you are doing them for fun, you are weird. Probably a very nice person. But weird.
The Money Stealers
This is probably the largest category. Every day there is a “new multilevel marketing plan that is going to be as hot as Microsoft” (or as hot as AmWay or Avon or… ).
Or, there is a franchise you can start for only 10 bucks and your firstborn son.
These companies (Business Opportunities) fail on many fronts, and I could write an entire article explaining how most of these businesses violate the key tenets of running a successful business.
If you’ve read the sales letter for my course, you know that there are three main things a business needs: customers, conversion (sales), and a product.
MLM’s and franchises restrict how you market and obtain customers.
Then they dictate how you pitch the product – thereby limiting your conversions.
Finally,they the top it off by selling an (typically) overhyped product that could be duplicated by anyone with $5000 and the right connections (And I know some of those connections when you are ready to get started)
These guys will take your seed money, invest it in their new Ferrari, and start a new business pitch.
The Bad Ideas
I am going to use this one as my “catch-all” for all of the half cooked ideas running around out there that can take your time, money and even your house.
Take Uber, for example. It starts off as an excellent idea: leverage something you already own (your car), and a few minutes of your time, for a decent pay day.
But what happens if you are in an accident? Does your insurance cover you? Does it cover your passenger? What if that passenger sues you? Will you lose your house and everything you work so hard for?
Not to mention how do you handle the situation when your passenger is doing something illegal and you get arrested? Or what if they accuse you of doing something illegal? How many Uber fares do you need to pick up the pay those lawyer bills to defend your innocence?
This isn’t fear mongering. It is basic risk analysis.
And you see people failing to ask those three words: What are the risks?
Because of that, the “big guys” are all too eager to pawn their shoddy ideas — and its risk — off on you. (That’s why you see these kids zipping around in their pizza delivery cars without the proper insurance.)
Whether it’s placing ads for someone else on Craigslist… using YOUR paypal account to run someone else’s ebay transactions through or taking out a loan to fund some vision other than your own… don’t do it. Please.
How Do You Tell A Good Business Opportunity From A Bad One?
Here’s the checklist:
- Are you receiving an excellent return on the time invested? When I started out I was mimicking the same business plan that I had seen work for other people and knew that there was an opportunity for a huge ROI (Return On Investment). Today, we have finally realized that and see about an $250 annual growth in business for every hour I invest.
- Are you allowed to control the acquisition of traffic/customers? A local business can only bring in so many customers, before they hit a geographic cap. So, ideally this business venture will enable you to promote online, with the smallest of restrictions. (FTC rules, fairplay, honesty, etc, notwithstanding)
- Can you control the conversions? (Or is the company or working with already an expert at conversions?) One of the reasons I enjoy working with Amazon as an affiliate is because they have mastered the art of conversion. However, I’m still giving up a lot of control to them and the best business models out there enable you to keep control in this area.
- Is the product good? Or just over-hyped? I’ve actually had dinner with guys who are producing products in the exact same manner that a lot of these multi-level marketing companies are – and they funded the entire product creation with a credit card! There are some nice products out there (both mlm and non), but you always do best if you can either control the product, or at least verify that it is of top-quality.
- Finally, don’t overexpose yourself on risk. I am a huge fan of insurance. Sure, you cannot mitigate every single loss, but a few carefully-placed coverages can go a long way towards making sure you don’t lose your shirt as you explore your business ideas. (And if the idea isn’t profitable after you buy insurance, it is probably a sucky idea).