We’ve all heard the great news: Make money online. Start your own online business. Operate your own business from home and be your own boss. Sign up here for a home business work opportunity. We’ve all heard of the fabulous success stories: Joe Cool, 25, from Surfside Beach, CA quits his day job and now makes millions by working only a few hours a week goofing around on Facebook. Jane Brain of Easy Town, New York, retires at age 28 after creating a successful marketing site. Sounds great, sign me up, I’m more than ready to enter that virtual land of milk and honey; but as most promises of quick, simple wealth, making substantial money online is not so simple, nor quick, nor free.
Thinking of getting involved in the online business world? Not sure where to start? How about starting with a strong dose of brutal reality. Sure it’s possible to make a lot of money online; plenty of people have. Certainly there are many honest, hardworking and genuinely nice people operating successful online businesses. However, for a great many of us, especially individual amateurs of limited ability, the world of internet moneymaking is largely a world of disappointment and aggravation, as well as money pit. Rather than explain my impressions of it in literal terms however, I would like to use a more compact and readily comprehensible illustration. Think of it all as one giant flea market and join me on a little guided visualization while I will attempt to give you a clear picture of just what the make-money-online world is really like.
It begins like this; you keep hearing about a special flea market in town where people are renting booths, setting up shop and scoring big bucks. You’ve been pretty hard pressed in your budget lately and things aren’t getting any better so you decide that it’s time to see about getting in on the action. You even have an idea already; skateboards. You know all about them, brands, sizes, materials, features etc. as well as where you can get skateboards wholesale. Maybe you can turn skateboards for a modest profit in the flea market. All you need is a booth and a taste of how the whole thing works. Suddenly the prospects of doing this has you quite excited and you can hardly wait to get started. You have no grandiose visions of striking it rich but you are confident you can surely add some jingle to your pockets.
Your first step is rather obvious: Go to this renowned flea market and check it out for yourself. You want to see what this flea market is like, what a booth rental costs, what people are selling, if anyone else is selling skateboards, what type and for how much.
Upon arriving at the flea market the first thing you learn is that you have to pay to park there, $5. Oh well, what can you do. Now you head for the entry gate but you notice quite a crowd of people milling about the gate. They’re not waiting to go in however, they’re looking out toward the parking lot, in seeming anticipation. As you get closer you discover that they are eager to see you and they basically mob you. Amazingly enough, they all seem to know that you’ve come to the flea market not to shop, but to look into setting up your own flea market business and each one of them has some tool that they insist you must have.
One guy has a map of the market for $14, after all it’s a large, confusing place. How are you going to figure out how to do business there unless you know your way around. Sounds reasonable, so you buy it. Wait a minute though, turns out that no one in or next to the flea market will sell you anything unless you give them your name, address and phone number. Reluctantly, and against your better judgment, you do so, because you want this map. But there’s still a large crowd of people around you wanting to sell you other things, and sometimes the same thing. In fact the crowd seems to grow even thicker now. Having just made a purchase it’s as though they smell blood in the water. One guy shows you that he has an even better map for $18 which has prime booth locations marked for the savvy flea market vendor. Then there’s a woman telling you about a list she has of peak customer shopping times for the flea market, for $24. Then there’s a guy who’s offering to give you a guided, insider’s tour of the flea market for $79/hour. Everyone else in this mob is the same, they’re all booth-less wannabe vendors who desperately try to sell you some kind of information for learning how to make money in the flea market. After some time and struggle you finally pull yourself away from this desperate crowd and make your way into the gate of the market. Not for nothing however, entrance fee is $15.
Amazing, you’ve just now entered the flea market and you’ve already spent $34 on three separate purchases, as well as an hour of your time. Well at least you’re in now but what you see next astounds you. This flea market is massive, with countless vendor booths packed into this place like sardines. Then something astounds you even more. Although there is substantial foot
traffic in the market, the ratio of shoppers to vending booths is unbelievably small. This is something akin to a lake with only 20 fish but 50 fishermen with hooks in the water.
A bit less optimistic now you move in for a closer look. The booths vary in size and quality but they all seem to be staffed by eager, even overbearing vendors, not unlike the mob at the front gate. Some of the vendors even stand out in the walking lanes to stop people and try to direct them to their booths. Many of the booths have large, sparkly signs and advertizing balloons and the whole environment just seems push and gimmicky. What’s odd is you don’t see much in the way of actual products, you know, car tires, jewelry, clothes, electronics, skateboards, etc. Finally you decide to allow yourself to be handled by the overeager vendors and hear their sales pitches so you can figure out just what it is they are trying to sell.
Booth #1 – this guy’s just selling a flea market map like those people at the front gate, except he wants $29 for his, plus, if you’re smart he says, a $5/month subscription for regular map updates, after all, the market changes quickly and if you’re going to become a successful vendor you’ll need to keep up. As with every other vendor you meet this day, this guy is almost impossible to get away from and he keeps insisting that you give him your address and phone number so that he can contact you with future offers.
Booth #2 – this guy’s selling a booklet which will teach you how to secure a good booth at the flea market and how to obtain a reduced price for it. Cost of his booklet, $55, plus, he strongly recommends his $10/month subscription service for regular updates.
Booth #3 - this guy’s selling a booklet which shows the pedestrian traffic patterns of the market, how it flows and where people tend to stop. Price, $89, plus, he suggests a $29/month subscription for updates.
Booth #4 – these guys are selling a comprehensive book about making money at the flea market. They explain how that you just don’t have a chance to become a successful flea market vendor unless you educate yourself with their tutorial which will take you through the entire process, step by step. $199 for this guide, plus, $19/month for regular updates.
Booth #5 – this gal’s selling an extensive guide for making money at the flea market in video form. $245 for the DVD, and $29/month to be on a information-packed mailing list.
Booth #6 - a man and a woman with several underlings are offering a service where they’ll monitor your booth traffic and give you a detailed breakdown of what’s going, the behavior of your potential customers, as well as offer you tips on how to increase visits to your booth and keep people there longer. $65 sign up fee and a $29 month subscription.
Booth #7 – this booth is really big, in fact about 4 times larger than the booths you’ve seen so far, donned with giant shade umbrellas and staffed by 5 eager young salesmen in matching sport shirts. These guys are trying to enroll people in a special, limited offer, make-money-at-the-flea-market course. This limited capacity, 1 week intensive course will take you by the hand and lead you every step of the way to flea market success. To bolster their claims they have several cool-looking, sunglass-wearing former students on hand to give their testimony of how it worked for them. Cost of the course, $899, but they also strongly recommend a $125/month membership for a monthly refresher class.
Booth #8 – this booth is very sharp looking and seems to be quite a popular booth with lots of people surrounding it. The owner and head vendor at this booth is apparently some kind of flea market celebrity. His story is that he started out just like you, like a deer caught in the headlights, but quickly became a huge flea market success and now he’s selling a big yellow autographed tutorial book that will teach you now to become a flea market tycoon. Price, $149, plus he recommends you subscribe to his monthly mailing list with additional tips as well as support for $39/month.
Okay, you get the picture, and the picture is confirmed as you keep walking along. You walk by a thousand booths and all you basically see are the first 8 booths being repeated over and over with only a few variations here and there. Furthermore, it seems that all the other shoppers in this flea market are only shopping for guides and information for making money at this flea market.
How can anyone, except for perhaps only a few, make any real money at this flea market when the only thing anyone’s selling at this flea market are guides on how to make money at this flea market. Additionally, if these vendors, like the popular guy with the big yellow book, really knew some great secret for scoring big at the flea market, why would they be selling it and letting everyone else in on the secret. And if everyone has access to the secret then how can it possibly keep producing success stories. None of this adds up and your hopes of selling skateboards for fun and profit seems to be dwindling.
Just then, a passerby sees your frustration and strikes up a conversation with you. He nods his head in agreement as you express your dismay. He then informs you that there is another section in this flea market where people are actually selling non-flea-market-business-guide products. These vendors are actually selling products, not information. Excellent, where is this section you ask? Well, he says, it’s not on your map, nor is it very easy to find, but he’ll take you there for, uh, $20. Yes, this is just another both-less vendor, roaming the market looking for people like you and apparently there are a lot of people like you. In fact, every shopper is more or less like you. You hate to do it but you also hate to give up, so you give this guy $20, as well as your address and phone number of course, and he takes you to this “other section” of the flea market.
Once in the next section you eagerly walk up to the first booth you see to find out what’s being sold. The lady and her cohorts at this booth are selling giant shade umbrellas for flea market booths. $49, plus she offers a monthly service where someone will come by and dust off your umbrella and make sure it’s working properly for $19/month. Next booth? A guy selling sparkly signs for flea market vendors, and a monthly subscription to service the signs. Next booth? A guy selling advertizing balloons for flea market vendors and a monthly subscription to keep the balloons properly inflated. Suddenly you realize that no one here is selling any real world sort of products, only products for other flea market vendors along with monthly subscription services.
Again, a passerby sees your exasperation and asks what’s wrong. You explain it to him and he informs you that there is in fact still another section of the flea market that sells real world products: Pet supplies, fishing rods, tennis shoes, and yes, even skateboards Finally. Maybe you came in the wrong gate or something, so you plead with this man to show you where this section is with real world products. Well, he says, it’s hard to find and not on your map, but he will show you for $20. Plus he’ll need your address and phone number. You’re starting to get a headache by this point but you’re determined to figure this out so you cough up the dough to another booth-less vendor and he directs you to the part of the flea market where people are selling real world items. This had better be good.
In the new section you see lots of booths but again, no actual products. You do see a booth however with a giant shade umbrella, advertizing balloon, and sparkly sign that says “skateboards”. You eagerly walk up to the booth to check it out but all you find is a guy who has no actual skateboards and never deals with actual skateboards. All he does is keep reciting this same speech over and over about skateboards and then try to direct you to a skateboard catalogue company. You try to ask him for more information but it’s clear he doesn’t really know much of anything about skateboards, just the one speech he’s memorized and how to direct you to the catalogue from which he will clearly get a commission if you order a skateboard through him. It’s a common catalogue that anyone can find anywhere. You certainly didn’t need to come to the flea market for this. Then you notice something else in this guy’s booth, laying on a table toward the back of his booth; one of those make-money-at-the-flea-market books. Next to that is one of those big yellow books from the celebrity flea market guy. Then you notice something else, off to the side, there’s someone watching your every move and making notes on a clipboard. It’s one of those people from those earlier booths who offers a traffic-monitoring service and they are monitoring you.
Disappointed, you start to look at the other booths in this section of the flea market that supposedly sells real-world products and every booth is the same. They have no products on hand and no one knows much of anything about their products other than the pamphlets they’ve read. All they want to do is get you to order products through the catalogues they’re affiliated with. And, they all seem to have those giant umbrella shades and various books on making money at the flea market.
Now, it’s clearly time to leave, and you can’t get out of this crazy place soon enough. On your way out however, you notice a sign near the gate that you overlooked before. It tells you that there are currently no booths available for rent. However, you can get your name on a waiting list for $99, plus $39 a month until a booth becomes available (minimum wait time is 6 months). In the meantime, the sign suggest that you join the crowd of wannabe vendors who hang around the front gate and sell flea market maps, which will only cost you $28/month.
Feeling quite nauseous now, having wasted an entire day as well as $74 on absolutely nothing, you finally make your way home. The whole make-money-at-the-flea-market idea now seems preposterous. Just walking in that place sucked money out of your pocket and time out of your life. Trying to actually get into the flea market business would cost more money than you care to add up. The eager, smiling faces of those vendors who promised you great riches if you just follow their books and courses is something you hope to soon forget. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to forget anytime soon. Remember, you gave out your contact info. Oh well, it was only to a few vendors, but what you didn’t realize was that they would in turn sell your contact info to other vendors, thereby putting your name and contact info on dozens of lists. There are even vendors at the flea market whose entire business consists of trading these contact lists.
The next day, the phone calls begin, then the letters and flyers, then the knocks at your door. The flea market vendors know where you live now and for the coming days, weeks, and months you can expect a never ending stream of flea market vendors contacting you, all wanting to sell you books, guides, courses and DVD’s that will teach you how to make money at the flea market.
Get the picture?