How I Made My First Five Dollars Online

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few years doing what some people refer to as “mental masturbation”.  This means that I have wasted an incredible amount of time thinking, dreaming, and imagining the wild success of my online business – but without actually taking consistent, thoughtful action that would get me anywhere near those fantasies.

Yes, I made some serious effort on occasion.  For example, I do have a budding YouTube channel and some faithful fans.  That said, I haven’t been able to monetize those efforts, the traffic to those videos, or to the website associated with them.  Basically, I did the consistent action, but it wasn’t thoughtful.  I let my horse out of the gate without any plan on where to go!  It turns out that dreams don’t equal success if you don’t work the steps between the start and the finish.

Finally, over the past few months, I think I’ve hit on something that might bring me a taste of what I’ve been searching for all this time.  I’ll tell you about how I made my first – and hopefully not my last – five dollars.

Here’s What I Did

A few months back, I was really frustrated about my main website and how I was getting only trickles of traffic from YouTube, and making no sales.  I knew that one of my mistakes was that I had tried to enter a really crowded, super competitive market with lots of free solutions available.   I tried to narrow my niche a bit, and I did see more traction with my idea, but still.. NO SALES.

This had happened to me in the past, but I had never give it so much of my time and effort.  What was I doing wrong!?

It turns out that there was what I still think is a big opportunity right there in front of me.  Over the past year I had also taken on a new hobby and joined some Facebook groups that pertained to this hobby.  I had become really knowledgeable on this subject and found that I was spending lots of time answering people’s questions on those online groups.

During a moment of extreme doubt and frustration about my website, it occurred to me that I should check into how much money was being spent on that new hobby of mine every year.  It turns out that it is a freaking huge industry, and it’s one of the most popular things that people do online.  I had no idea!

The first thing that I did was do some general industry research, just to get an idea of market size.  Then, I tried to find a niche in the market for me.  What kind of value could I add to this market, with the idea that I could eventually get a small piece of that giant pie?

Once I settled on a specific niche in that very general industry – one that I felt I was very familiar with and could really passionately spend a lot of time on – I picked out a name for my domain, and got a fresh, crisp version of WordPress installed on my website.  (It’s super easy with Host Gator, they have the 1-Click install!)

It was then time to start writing.  I used both Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner to pick topics and to name my articles.  This is KEY.  I had tried to leverage content for SEO in the past, but the honest truth is that I wrote about what I wanted to write about.  I thought if I threw enough spaghetti on that proverbial wall, the internet traffic would come to me.  It did, but man was it sloooow!

This time, I used those tools that I mentioned to see what people actually wanted to read.  I found trending search terms with high monthly search volumes that I could address on my site.  This is also KEY.  On my old website, I did have articles and videos about popular topics, but I wasn’t adding anything valuable to the conversation.  In fact, there were many people doing similar videos and probably doing a better job than I was.  This doesn’t mean that I was never going to “make it” with that site, but I was taking the long road.

With this exact strategy, I was able to start getting my first Google search traffic within 3-4 days of my domain being registered.  People started sharing my articles on Facebook with a week or two of the inception of the site.  To me, this was an incredible sight to see.  I was doing something that I really enjoyed, and people were really finding value in it right from the start.

I also knew that I needed to have a clear monetization strategy immediately.  The idea was that I would have three ways that I would earn money from this website, and basically get paid to do something that I love to do, and something that I had been doing for free anyway on those social media groups.

The way that I decided I will make money from that website?

  • Google Adsense (or other advertisement placements, eventually)
  • Affiliate links
  • Sales of information products

After I saw that I was getting organic search traffic almost immediately, I decided that I should go ahead and produce my first information product (an e-book guide) on my topic.  I did so, and posted it for sale.

Still waiting for those miraculous book sales, I wrote a few more articles.  Probably 2-3 a week.  Traffic kept increasing!  Wow.  But still no book sales.

Finally, I decided to go ahead and activate those Google Adsense ads that I had been planning on putting on the site.  I don’t know why I didn’t do it immediately, as I kind of like how tasteful placement of ads look on a website.  To me, since most ads are really well-done, it kind of adds to the aesthetics of a website.

Anyhow, within a couple of hours of activating the ads, I started making money.  Now, we aren’t talking about enough to retire on, yet, but this is how I made my first five dollars on my website.  I had 19 articles posted when I activated the ads.

What’s Next?

Maybe you’ve heard about how it is the hardest to make the first dollar in a business.  If you can make one dollar, the assumption is that you can make two.  If you can make five dollars, you should be able to repeat those steps to make ten.  It’s a long-term domino effect.  I’m walking up the stairs, if you will.  One dollar at a time.

Now that I am making a tiny amount of money, seeing good traffic, and see that people enjoy my content, I can spend some time trying to optimize the sales page for my book.  I have had dozens of people visit the sales page, but have not had anyone take the plunge.  Over the next couple of months, I plan to experiment with the placement of the widget on my sidebar, design of the sales page, and of course the price of the book.

Anyhow, that’s where I am right now.  I’ll let you know how things go.  Thanks for stopping by!

(Note:  I don’t count the sales of my softcover and e-books in the Amazon store as part of my first sales online.  I’ve been earning money through those online sales since 2014, and I am planning to wrote some about that at some point depending on interest.  I also had a small e-commerce site about five years ago, and I sold those products both online and in person.  And of course, who hasn’t sold something on Ebay or done gigs on Fiverr!?  Lol.)