Easy Button

Sorry, but No, You CAN’T Make Money Online NOW

Easy ButtonSomehow I ended up where it had all begun, life goes in circles, I guess. The post featuring the ant and the grasshopper seems to have struck the nerve of the edupreneurs out there, it even landed on the agenda of tomorrow’s review:ed with Christopher Dawson.

What caught my attention and what serves as a basis for this post is a blog post by Dr. Nellie Deutsch over at the WizIQ blog titled “Make Money Teaching Online Now!”. Though probably great for search engine ranking, I have to say that the title and blog post are somewhat misleading. I am also not sure which kind of online educator it tries to target.

Before switching gears into rant mode, I want to make sure that I respect Nellie and her work. She has built a great brand online and really does a lot for the online education community. But I have to disagree with her point of view and I even with my own post from three years ago. Here is why.

First of all, let’s talk about the “now”. Everyone who has tried to sell something on the Internet knows exactly that there is no way that you can make money online now. Even on eBay you need to wait at least a couple of days until someone buys your old shoes. This is even more true when you try to sell your own products or services. So, let’s stop with this marketing BS and tell people like it is. It is hard, very hard, but it can pay off in the long run.

If you start building your brand right now (or after you finish reading this post) it will probably take you at least six months of hard work every single day (no weekends) before you’ll see any kind of relevant traction. Sure, there are always exceptions may it be because they narrowed down a lucrative niche (which takes time for research before the launch, mind you) or they were lucky. But in my playbook luck is not a business model.

Then, what is the definition of “money”. Is money $1, $10, $100 per month? If I am not mistaken, Dr Nellie still is a faculty member at the University of Phoenix which I suppose means that she receives a salary. That leads me to the conclusion that for her “money” means “additional income” whereas for most readers “money” is equal to “full-time income”.

Dr. Nellie also mentions some successful edupreneurs in her article, but nearly all of them are, like Dr. Nellie, in a very lucrative niche of the online education market: telling other people how to market themselves / make money online or who provide material to educators. En101 is the only one in the language teaching space which is probably the biggest group of aspiring edupreneurs and it seems that even this example sells materials, correct me if I am wrong.

And all the talk about social media marketing etc, yes, it’s great if you run a consulting business at the side like I do and like Dr Nellie does. Getting clients interested through LinkedIn, Twitter, Quora, Facebook works, no doubt about it, but for an ESL / French / German / Math teacher? Forget about it, at least with the hope to sign up students. There are LinkedIn groups for education professionals in which a freelancer can get a speaking or consulting gig. And yes, there are LinkedIn groups of content creators targeting English teachers to sell their materials. But show me a LinkedIn group of English learners, searching to hire English teachers.

Yes, there are ways to create marketing funnels through Facebook and YouTube but again, this takes time, a lot of it. In April my Deutsch Happen project goes in its 4th year, without providing me with a full-time income. Do you have the guts to invest time = money in a project that takes that long because it targets a small niche of online learners? And if you are an ESL teacher, do you feel confident enough to compete with tens of thousands of other teachers on the global market place? Do you have a product that is different and will attract students?

Now, of course all that does not mean that you won’t be able to make money teaching online. If you want to swing for the fences be sure that you have enough runway, e.g. money in the bank to survive until your product or service sells.

If you don’t feel ready to quit your day job yet you might be able to make some money at the side and yes, it might even happen that you will be able to turn this into a real business one day.

But don’t believe that it will be easy because there is a platform out there that will take care of all the rest, e.g. getting you paying customers. No one buys from a “rookie” online teacher with no references, online presence or evaluations. It’s a constant up-hill battle.

Really successful edupreneurs, the ones who make a full-time income or more, run their businesses like a startup. It’s built to scale and sooner or later they will hire employees or interns to grow it. And all of them rely on their own infrastructure in the first place, platforms, ebook stores etc are all secondary revenue streams or means of delivery.

To sum this rant up: there is no magic bullet, no easy button, no short cuts. If your aim is to make money = full-time income online prepare for the marathon. If you want to make some money at the side you still need to invest a minimum of time and effort to get the ball rolling. Sorry.

funny pictures - invisible $1,000,000 check

  • http://twitter.com/BarrenCode André Klein

    Awesome! I couldn’t agree more. Then again, you probably know that. In any case, thanks for giving people hope and destroying false hopes in the same breath!

    • http://kirstenwinkler.com KirstenWinkler

      Thanks André and sorry I did not mention you in the other post. Sometimes I overlook great examples right in front of me, will fix that in the next post on that matter.

      • http://twitter.com/BarrenCode André Klein

        No worries. While it is nice of course being mentioned, it’s even nicer to see the “truth” get out there. weiter so!

  • Jason R Levine

    I have to come up with new ways to express my full, total, and absolute agreement with our leader, Kirsten Winkler, as she preaches the gospel of Education 2.0. 

    • http://kirstenwinkler.com KirstenWinkler

      Thanks Jason. You are on a good way with your Fluency MC brand!

  • http://www.language-bridge.com bridge2english

    Amazingly honest and helpful!

    I would put your conclusion – 
    Do you have a product that is different and will attract students? – in big bold red letters!

    • http://kirstenwinkler.com KirstenWinkler

      Thanks Arkady :) It’s been a while. Great to see you back in the comments!

  • http://profiles.google.com/mrdatahs Christopher Dawson

    Perhaps Nellie’s post should be titled “Start making money teaching online now!” I don’t disagree with you here, Kirsten. Not at all. Where I differ, though, is in my interpretation of Nellie’s article. The message that I took home was not that WizIQ (or any other platform) was a magic bullet or that any of us could turn into Nellie overnight. Rather, the message was that “he who hesitates is lost”. Be bold. Start now. Be passionate. Be awesome. In fact, a slightly different reading of the title with the emphasis on starting now to make money instead of immediately making money simply because you’ve started is probably closer to the mark.

    You’ll never start making money teaching online if you don’t start somewhere. As Nellie said, learn from the best – take all the lessons from the Edupreneurs, distance educators, trainers, consultants, and teachers, and just start. Many will fail, many more will find limited or moderate success, and a few will find real success. The same can be said of any business venture. But to break out another cliche, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Nellie can jump in and tell me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think she’s proposing that there are any teleportation machines that can shoot us over those thousand miles. Instead, we just need to take that first step and take it now. There are platforms that make that first step easy, WizIQ included. Those thousand miles will be hard, but hopefully you get somewhere wonderful when you’re done.

    Great article, Kirsten – we can’t ever forget how hard any of us have had to work to find our own successes. Usually, though, the most successful of us are the ones who boldly step out and start. Now.

    • http://kirstenwinkler.com KirstenWinkler

      Blame it on the hay fever, I am a bit cranky at the moment so better prepare for tomorrow! 😉

      The problem is that over the past years I have seen too many intentionally or unintentionally bad phrased “how to get rich or die trying” posts and webinars. 

      The thing is that only a small group has the skills and staying power to come out on top as shining examples. Most online teachers just need a platform that takes care of everything, from getting students to delivering course material to collecting the payments. To tell those teachers “you can do it” is false. If they could, they already would.

      I saw too many good teachers got lost along the way because they believed in those “it’s that easy” marketing messages just to hit the wall in the end. What WizIQ or any other platform needs are true edupreneurs, educators who already gathered a following and who look for new ways to deliver and sell their content.

      Platforms just s*ck at that part, always did and always will because if I want to buy an educational product that is not Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur, Livemocha etc I look for a personal connection, e.g. personal brand not a platform.

      Dang, there is another post :)

    • http://www.edukwest.com Kay Alexander

       Passion is definitely not enough. As the legendary online marketer Jeremy Shoemaker said “it needs skills to pay the bills”. And skills need years to develop, usually.

      • http://profiles.google.com/mrdatahs Christopher Dawson

        Not enough, but an essential ingredient. Then again, maybe those with the passion are also more likely to be the ones with the skills (or the drive to cultivate them).

        • http://www.edukwest.com Kay Alexander

          OK, I give you that. But if we take the example of Dr Nellie, e.g. Steve Jobs his passion was probably not matching his skill set. He cultivated the art of thinking three steps ahead and how to get people to join the cult of Mac. But that is only part of the success of Apple, the majority lies in the hand of designers and tech guys.

          There are only a handful of people who have enough matching skills to run a business on their own, from building the web presence to marketing to, of course, teaching or creating a product. Koichi’s name comes to mind immediately but I also think of @twitter-42840272:disqus

          And I suppose it is very hard to get those edupreneurs to invest time on a platform as they know they could use it to grow their own brands and following.

        • Anonymous

          Dear Chris,

          I reject your idea that passion is an essential ingredient. Especially when you are comparing this to merely the “adaquately motivated.”

          Passion is wonderful but it is icing on the cake, in comparison to the real fuel- mastery or at least compentence in a given niche which comes from fruitful experience.

          Nothing springs from the egg fully formed. Generally speaking, all the passion in the world won’t persuade people to do something, and keep them persuaded, in the absence of experience. The most important question for me is not how to build (or keep) passion, but how do you build experience and then after having built that valuable experience where can you go to have that experience valued at some kind of premium.

          I would venture a guess that in spaces that value passion that you will find correspondingly less value placed on experience.

          The question then is not how do you fuel your passion but rather how do you build experience and then leverage this experience to extract a premium from the marketplace.

  • Pingback: Online Teaching Platforms: Why We Don’t (Really) Need Them To Make A Living | Learn Out Live!()

  • http://www.integrating-technology.org/ Dr. Nellie Deutsch

    Glad to see heat generated in some cold parts of the world. I believe we have the power to do as much as we believe we can. Why limit ourselves? Kristen, I’m sure you are focused on where you want to go and are doing all you can to get there. It’s not instant as you say, but we can view things in different ways. You understood my words to mean one thing, while Chris understood something quite different. So where is the truth? It’s with the reader. Whatever you got, I hope it takes you forward. But, if things haven’t worked for you and you’d like to go faster, why not try another approach? 

  • http://twitter.com/MONEYCHILLS Make Money Online

     A week of great posts that is truly worth
    reading through. Can’t believe I missed them when you first posted them.
    I especially like the procrastination post. You make some valid points
    about prioritizing your tasks.
    I hope to see more posts like these soon. I am always up for some
    good advice even if it’s advice I already know… it’s good to refresh
    some things in my mind so I apply them.
    Take care,

  • http://luciddreams.hubpages.com/hub/Why-Cant-I-Make-Money-Online-Secrets-Of-The-Gurus Cant Make Money Online

    Well atleast you spell it out like it really is. I also enjoy how you pointed out that successful online business people build their buisness to scale and do so at prescribed times. This is a valid point that anyone interested in making REAL money online needs to understand.

  • Pingback: Make Money Teaching Online: Changing Attitudes & Teaching New Ways « WizIQ Blog()

  • nils albert

     make money on internet
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  • Tom Tabaczynski

    “But show me a LinkedIn group of English learners, searching to hire English teachers.”

    I think any aspiring edupreteur as you call them would do well to begin with this sentence in search of hope. Because to me it’s a total fallacy. If I believed its implication, namely, that there is an oversupply of teachers for the ESL market, I would not bother trying. The fact that this is not there are not, to my knowledge anyway, Linkedin groups of learners, is instructive and in fact favours esl edupreteurs if anything. Perhaps my perspective is biased for two reasons. I reside in Sydney, Australia where there is no shortage of people hunting for esl teachers so you just have to put up an ad anywhere to get students. Second, I recently came from China where it is obvious that demand for English will grow exponentially. So if you’re not following Nellie’s advice now you’ll be late in the game.

    So the question is why people can’t access this market? Well, some people can, namely, people who speak the language of the learners. The problem with ESL teachers to my mind is that they believe that speaking English is enough to get students. It is instructive for example how most ESL schools are owned by non-natives, that is, schools that are not affiliated to universities but privately owned. This is because they know how to market to their own population. So the problem isn’t making money off esl, because obviously these people are making money in significant amounts, off the back of teachers. The problem is to get esl teachers to make the money for themselves that they are currently making for these schools.

    As for what constitutes making money, I think if an esl teacher can make the money that s/he is making in an asian cram school by teaching online from a nice SE Asian location that’s probably not a bad start. You can then invest time in figuring out how to scale your business. Shortage of hungry students is hardly the problem though.

  • CW

    You can make good money online if you approach genuine sources. I am telling this from my personal experience. When I started, I lost a few bucks as an unworthy investment for a service after which I didn’t get any money. Then I started looking for legitimate sources. It took some time but now I am happy to say that I’m making handsome profits every month. I’m a freelance writer and blogger. I suggest people to wait for the right opportunity to make money online.

  • http://timewarnerinternet.jimdo.com/857449-time-warner-internet-and-cable-services/ CW

    Well, the discussions were good but I would like to say there are a lot of opportunities to make money online. In fact, the Internet is all about making money. If you think wisely and choose the right methods then you can definitely make money. Here is a simple tip. Inquire your friends who are already making money online and join hands with them.

  • http://timewarnerinternet.jimdo.com/ CWatson

    Well, the discussions
    were good but I would like to say there are a lot of opportunities to make
    money online. In fact, the Internet is all about making money. If you think
    wisely and choose the right methods then you can definitely make money. Here
    is a simple tip. Inquire your friends who are already making money online and
    join hands with them.

  • Michael Yardley

    You cannot make any money on the Internet. On the Internet there is a sucker born ever second.