In the beginning, there was the Google search bar

Wandering through the infinite space of internet, and playing with the Google search bar, typing random words of interest and scanning results, I have stumbled upon some photographs of the paychecks depicting almighty Google paying people nifty sums of money in exchange for the presence at their web sites. Seeing those blocks of ads everywhere at the internet, and distinguishing the winning sites from the losing sites, I have realized that the creativity was the key of success.
Since I had a lot of time on my hands, I have decided to give it a try.
If nothing else, scoring $100 from the Google, months later, seemed like a nice achievement to me. It was also a chance to test just how globalized the world was.

First I have tried the “pay per click” system using free hosting service. 
I had written a couple of texts on the subject of my hometown, uploaded them to server using simple instructions and few days later got approved by the Google Adsense program.
Seeing 10 page views in a day or 1 click in 3 days was a start, and I wanted more.
Then I complemented my first texts with the other pages describing my skills to fix computer related hardware and software problems. After establishing minimal online presence by adding forum’s “url” address to the online directories, and posting my telephone number, the calls started, and my online income have diversified in two streams.
The potential of professionally designed web site was obvious.

The day job, internet access and an office is a place to start

Suddenly, my priorities had changed; I left it all on "pause" and went after a cruise job, much more promising venture.
Four years ago, while working on a cruise ship, I had a day job, internet access, an office and very little supervision from my supervisor. I like to attribute the last fact to my organizational skills. It is universal story; if you do your job in a way that your supervisor doesn’t get in trouble, you can get away pretty much with everything.  It was perfect time to get more serious about an online income.

I have dwelled for a while over the subject of my future online enterprise, and realized that it would have to be something I was very familiar with, and something that could actually help people, not just make me money.
Thinking about my skills and interests, my cruise ship job was becoming more and more of a something that stud out as rare, unique, appealing and not well-known about. So I went ahead with it.

I have opted for pages in my language (Croatian), avoiding English on purpose.  That was because English versions of the “cruise jobs” sites were way ahead of me in their designing abilities and page rank. They were looking impenetrable, densely packed around products like “employment manuals” and “guides to get a cruise ship job”. They still are. In the top ten ranked sites about cruise ship jobs there were all kind of products available, but not a single one looked like a site that can get you employed. As soon as they ask for a fee to allow you to send them your CV, it is clear to everyone what they are really about.
I had obtained the Macromedia Dreamweaver web page designing software, written 5-6 pages about different aspects of the cruise jobs, bought carefully chosen domain (name) and hosting “for peanuts”, and managed to upload it to the server.
I have been tremendously pleased with myself. Looking at those pages now, I am a bit ashamed, since I had done very little to make them more presentable over the years.
Couple of months after my first file upload, those pages started to look old to me. I was looking at them, and they were looking back at me. I have needed interaction. Sure, I had seen growing traffic on my pages using different (free) traffic measuring tools, and I was getting sporadic emails asking for more information, but that was not enough. I had not been “out there”, my pages were.

The Google seems to have all the answers, and I love the creativity that you can express implementing them.
My first version of the Cruise Ship Jobs Forum had been the one that have come with the domain registration, but after a couple of days, I wasn’t happy with the stripped and colorless outlook. It was not looking inviting. After receiving first posts, and answering them,  I have decided to switch to something better before forum’s content grows any further.
 Sure enough, there was (and still is) great looking free forum software out there, and it took me just about 20 minutes to learn how to set up the database. I have stuck to “When everything else fails – Fallow instructions”.
I’ve placed new forum’s url link to all 7 pages I had out, and in a very slow pace, people started to register and post question. I was the only one answering their questions, and if I had no answer, I would have “Google it” for them, and written the answer at my forum.
After couple of weeks, another cruise job veteran registered account, and the rest is history. Building an online community and administer it is the subject for another article.

Where am I now?

Four years later, I am proud owner of a niche forum. It has ability to work on autopilot for months.
Its income is slowly growing by each post, and I still have a lot of room for advertisers. I have closed one section and allowed access to paid members only and typed in my profile’s signature that all private messages written towards me would be ignored. I figured it was time for community to leave me pursuit things I had no time for in the past.
All the time of existence of my forum, it was just “a side job” to me.  Then, year and a half ago, I had decided that I had enough of what I needed to settle down and start pursuing intellectual challenges.
I had left a lucrative job in Iraq, where I have worked as a contractor for the US state department. That “gig” had been scoring me $4.400 tax free, and keep in mind that in my part of the world, that kind of money goes 5 times further than in the US. It was like US citizen making $22.000 per month. It was not easy to let go, but I needed a piece of mind, and just knew, that I own all of my accomplishments to my ability of contemplating about things in peace. Needless to say, I had no peace of mind in Iraq.

Registered Cruise Ship Veterans
Credit: MM

Endless Possibilities

So there you have it. My online community has close to 5.000 members, my forum ranks first for the search term "cruise ship job" (in my language),  the regional recruiting agencies pay me to stick their banners on,  wannabe crew members pay to get access to the restricted section,  Adsense money drips in ... and I am just getting ready to move into the biggest community - English language speaking region (the one that matters). I hope that this article will inspire somebody to start his own online adventure.
In my corrupted and devastated government, my online income goes a long way, and pays all of my bills. For people from governments with developed economies and higher living standards, sufficient online income stream is more difficult to meet, but whatever drips in, it sure helps buying a heart’s desire (or two).
My niche forum is not yet marketed in English language, but now when I have the time, I will do just that. This article is the first step towards it. Things Are Looking Bright!