One of the biggest mistakes I see people make in the online space is coming out guns blazing from day one and expecting people to buy their product or service. These people haven’t built relationships with customers, and they certainly haven’t provided value to potential customers. Instead, they use social media hacks to gain followers on several platforms only to throw up a “hire me” page or link to buy their product. Nine times out of ten, the same result ensues… crickets.

If this sounds familiar, don’t feel bad. I was right there with you once upon a time. I did a lot of things right but for every great move, there was a misstep not far behind. Looking back, I still admire my younger self (of course), and I definitely admire the other trigger-happy internetpreneurs. My admiration primarily comes from our conquering the most difficult part of any successful journey, getting started. With many would-be entrepreneurs never taking the leap, the simple act of starting something, anything could be enough to skyrocket the success of a venture.

But first, failure – for most, hearing the crickets chirp a single time is enough to close up shop, marking it up as a complete, debilitating failure. The fear of failure is well known by all us, although some more than others. This fear is what causes indecisiveness and inaction in those with genuine million dollar ideas. It’s this same fear that leads people to think they’ll never be good enough and should stay put in their “safe” corporate job. The fear of failure is a real thing, and it’s a cruel bitch.

I’ll spare you the commencement speech about believing in yourself and how failure is one of the best forms of education. Instead, I hope this article helps you avoid failure from the get-go. Because the truth is, unless you’re resilient from day one, you won’t make it. Failure is inevitable, Mr. Anderson.

I want to help you set yourself up for success. At the very least, enough early success to build up serious steam. A full head of steam will give you a sense of resiliency and confidence, allowing you to shake off most minor failures in hopes of achieving something far greater down the road. Every failure you overcome and small win you notch in your belt; a rising tide of confidence in your work and abilities will overflow into every aspect of your life.

What to look for:

  • One of the most important things you can do when starting an online business
  • How you can make a living with only 1,000 fans
  • The #1 way to get those fans
  • A realistic timeline for success
  • Turning your worst case scenario (failure) into a positive

Providing Value

Value: a fair return or equivalent in goods, services, or money for something exchanged

This may come as a surprise, but I make $0.00 on %80 of the content I create. Seriously, if it’s not a freelance gig for another site, I’m probably losing money for hosting costs, website maintenance, etc.

I could tell you that I don’t do it for the money (which is partially true), but I won’t. In reality, making money and helping people improve their lives are in a constant battle atop Mount Priority.

So if making money is important, and I just told you I don’t make any money from most of my writing, why do I do it? I think Jay Z said it best, “I’m playing the long game.”

You see, I provide value to everyone that reads a post, watches a video, downloads a training program, or consumes any of my content. If you revisit the definition of value above, I don’t just provide value, I provide extraordinary value. I trade my goods and services for free and in return I expect nothing. McDonald’s can’t touch this McValue.

But is it really for free? No, not entirely. While I don’t ask for monetary compensation, I do ask for loyalty in the form of coming back to read more, liking a Facebook page, signing up for my newsletter, et cetera. Essentially I’m asking them to become a fan, without actually saying those words. And why wouldn’t they? If I’m putting out content that’s good enough for people to continue reading and engaging with that audience enough to build relationships, they’ll stick around.


Let’s take a second to look at two words in the previous paragraph: fan and relationship. Your success in delivering a product/service to someone is largely dependent on your ability to build a relationship and gain a person’s trust. It’s the key. So while you’re after fans, you should really be after loyal, trusting fans that you’ve built a relationship with. Those are the fans that will support your business and make certain you succeed. Here’s my favorite part about this; you don’t need many of these relationships to thrive. Things get a lot less discouraging when you realize you don’t need to be a giant player like Walmart or Apple.

To put this into numbers, look no further than Kevin Kelly’s infamous post, 1,000 True Fans: “A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author – in other words, anyone producing works of art – needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.” If you’re a creative or solopreneur of any kind, I would highly recommend reading the post in its entirety.

To summarize, providing value and earning the trust of merely 1,000 people could be monetized at some point to provide a living for yourself. This could be through products, affiliate marketing, services, or whatever you have to offer. Someone who trusts in your opinion or abilities will buy from you, period.

Do It to Do It

1,000 people is cake, right?

Wrong. It’s going to take time, lots and lots of time. There is no such thing as an overnight success. People that have 1,000 true fans, and I’m talking “true” fans, not followers, did it over an extended period of time. I’m sure it took most of them years to master their subject before they even shared a thought or idea. And once they started sharing their ideas, they did it consistently for several more years before they were noticed.

Expecting fast success or to get rich quick are great ways to set yourself up for failure. You have to trust the process of creating a body of work and be ok with potentially never making a dime from it. If you accept those facts and truly have a passion for your work, you will set yourself apart by nothing more than statistics. Look at how many blogs, accounts, or business are abandoned early into their lifespan. It takes serious grit to continue putting the time in with little to no return and most people will give up, but you won’t. Unlike most, you’re going to keep doing what you’re doing because you would do it even if you won the lottery.


That level of passion and dedication to your work is what will get you noticed. Even if your passion is underwater basket weaving, there are beweavers out there waiting to connect with your work.

Build a Body of Work (Worst Case Scenario)

Let’s say your work or business never catches on. For some reason, you never get close to the 1,000, or even 200 for that matter, fans that could support your business. Despite your dedication to building a beautiful website, molding your skills as a writer, marketer, or whatever, your business just never grew its wings. Now what?

You get a job.

But not just any job. No, you get an awesome job. The body of work you’ve been building (website, marketing materials, writing skills, customer service) speaks for itself and would make you a candidate for any job you want. Just because you went to college for something totally unrelated to your desired field, you have the skills (and proof of those skills) to bust into whatever field you want.

Your body of work is your CV 2.0.

Maybe you’re not the entrepreneur or business owner you thought you were. It’s quite possible that your personality and skill set serves better in a complimentary role. All you need to do is find the yin to your yang (business owner) and build an uber successful business. Or find a company/brand that you love and join forces. There’s a serious shortage of creative, driven, and growth-minded individuals in the workforce. Use your work and network as tools to find the perfect job for you. There is no shame in joining forces with a team that compliments your strengths for world domination.

arm wrestling

The Takeaways

  • Provide value by solving a problem.
  • Solve enough problems, and you will build a readership or following.
  • Nurture your readers and followers. Engage with them. Create true fans.
  • Maintain a positive give:ask ratio. Giving establishes rapport and trust with your readers and fans so that asking for a sale will always be well received.
  • It’s probably going to take a while to be noticed. Remember, the longer that takes, the more time you will have to master your craft.
  • Do what you do because you enjoy it. If you no longer enjoy it, why do it? If you don’t love your work, why would you push through the difficult times?
  • The myth of the overnight success is just that, a myth.
  • Play the long game. When you get discouraged, remember you’re building a body of work. You are acquiring and putting a unique skillset on display through your work.
  • Remember your worst case scenario. If you fail, your body of work can create any job you want it to.