Why It’s Hard To Make Decent Money Online.

by on December 4, 2008

Imagine you are a typical American worker.  Or don’t bother imagining, since if you’re reading this, you very likely are already a typical American worker.

You make $615 per week, which works out to around $32,000 per year, generally accepted as the average annual salary for an average American worker.   Sure, there are huge variations in the cost of living and local salary (you could not find a place to sleep lying down in Manhattan for $615 a week let alone have any money left over for food), but let us say overall your salary before taxes is $615 a week.  Hopefully that is low for many of you.

You work hard in the coal mine or farm or Walmart (can you make even close to $615 a week at Walmart?) or gas station or factory or whatever for your $615 per week.  That’s before taxes, so don’t go spending it all.

Now imagine someone tells you how you can make $800 per week working for them by spending half the time you used to at work in much nicer working conditions by sitting in front of a computer doing legal simple jobs that require little skill.  So you do it and find out that not only is it true, but it’s fairly easy to make $1200 a week by picking up some extra work, and then fairly easy to make $2000 a week or more by striking out on your own and hiring some people to work for you.

Sound like a typical make money online pitch?  Sounds like it will cost you $49.95 to find out?  Sound too good to be true?  Well, for 99% of you that live in the Western world, it is too good to be true.  And that’s the problem.

It’s really hard for most people to make even 1/10th a real US full time salary through basic online techniques such as running a website, creating content, affiliate marketing, or blogging and here is why.

In the example above, trade the US average weekly salary of $615 for the average weekly salary in Thailand of $20 or the average Indonesian salary of $15 a week.   If you can get access to a computer and an internet connection in those countries and can learn third grade English, you’re golden.  One can make $20 a week easy selling 20 original content articles for $1.00 a pop to an article service, or making backlinks in forums, or rewriting sentences on the Mechanical Turk.  Even if you can’t speak english and have zero technical skills, you can likely learn how to spend 50 hours a week solving captchas at $0.001 a pop.  It has to be better than working in a mine for the same or less money.  And you can easily out earn a typical worker in your country.

Sure, there are a very small number of individual people making a large US type salary using white hat non scam online methods (like the people who made Commission Blueprint) and a larger number of people doing it with grey hat scammy methods (I’m looking right at you Rich Jerk).  But for the majority of online work, it’s $20 a week, $50 if you work hard, because that’s what the marketplace pays in the world economy for work that can be done anywhere in the world.

This is why it’s so hard to find a decent paying work at home job in the US.  Because there is someone in a country with a far lower standard of living willing to do it for 1/10th or even 1/100th of what you can afford to do it for.

This is certainly not a rant against globalism or foreign workers, they have as much right to work as you do, (possibly even more so considering their general living conditions), but it is a rant against wasting your time trying to work for someone else online, or to start any online business half assed.  You have to work hard, go that extra mile, differentiate yourself, and most of all STICK WITH IT.  The difference between blogs/sites that make it and gain subscribed readers and Page Rank and backlinks are:

1) CONTENT: Those with original compelling content.


2) TRAFFIC: Those who worked hard to build traffic and subscribers.


3) LONGEVITY: Those that stuck with it for more than 12 months.

Go to any free blog site.   For every blog that has “made it” and is obviously pulling in more than $500 a month, you’ll see that they followed those 3 steps.  Content. Traffic. Longevity.  For every site/blog with the above three qualities there are 100+ where the person tried it for a few months, only posted once a week, didn’t get any Google rank or readers and gave up.  Sometimes they’ll come back to it a year later, try again for a few weeks then give up again.

Don’t be that person.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Ka Ntru December 7, 2008 at 3:49 pm

Thanks for the insight. The 3 steps truly make a lot of sense. I will implement them diligently. Keep up the great work!

Carole Morin April 30, 2009 at 2:13 pm

You forgot a fourth step: Having enough money to get that traffic to your website! I’ve tried them all and stopped because I was maxing out all my credit cards and getting nothing in return. Unfortunately, most people trying out for these programs are, like me, broke and have to spend their last dime on Google adsense, pay-per-click, etc. I know I gave up many times because I simply ran out of money! You have to do TONS AND TONS of advertizing to get a bit of traffic to your website and then actually make a sale! Money is definitely a factor in this case. I’m a very hard worker and would like very much to be able to have a business online but, I just lost my job and have 2 teenage daughters, I can’t afford to max out my credit cards again. Unfortunately, in our world, it takes money to make money. That definitely would be a 4th condition to add in order to make a good profit online.

El Plumber (admin) May 18, 2009 at 8:26 pm

Carole, I don’t think you should spend money to get traffic to your website until you are sure it will work! I’ve never spent a single cent on advertising, yet this blog makes about 1/4 my wife’s salary per month. That’s like getting a 25% raise!

I can put a number value on what we earn on each visitor from the few Adsense ads we have and determine the value of each targeted user we get today. I can’t say exactly but it’s likely less than the minimum PPC on most ad networks.

Eventually we’ll add more revenue streams to get that Value Per Visitor up, but until then spending on PPC will just send you into the poor house.

Andres Ferraro October 10, 2009 at 5:11 am

I have to say I enjoyed your global perspective of it. It’s not that common. You’ve just earned yourself a new feed subscriber. Thank you!

aussiemum April 20, 2010 at 7:53 am

Carole I agree with what El Plumber said . Why pay people to visit your site?
If your content is good , they will come . Because if your content is good you can give it a little push start with all the free social networks around the net and people will talk about it . When people talk about it and share it , google likes you even more and you become popular.
When you become popular you rank well , you might even rank very well so that if people that don’t know about you already will find you when they search google or yahoo for you !
Love what you do , write about what you love , and tell the world, the rest will come naturally.

dennie July 13, 2010 at 1:50 am

new fan. thanks, and good job!

Michael January 15, 2011 at 9:27 pm

I think the other thing is long-term “certainty” in earning money online – many people perceive (rightly or wrongly) some stability and assurance of job security in their day jobs, especially if they have a strong and valuable skillset.

Online, even with constant diligence, there is the chance that a rework of search engine algorithms or many other events can annihilate your income stream overnight.

I agree that you shouldn’t have to pay to get visitors to your site!

James Taylor February 3, 2011 at 1:40 am

I need to know other sources of advertising on the internet other than putting out a web site

A.G October 31, 2011 at 9:59 am

you re right life in USA mostly expensive and 600$/week it s not a big deal BUT her in Algeria for example it s very good payment for a month of hard working (doctors get paid around 700$/week ) .
And i can say :
3200$ in USA = 35000$ in Algeria for exp , Why ?
- her life is not very expansive (does not mean it s not good ).
- Almost every thing is free (health,education,food support and many more )
-there are other reasons .
So imagine some one from Algeria works from home and he makes around 2000$/month (20000$) it s really amazing .[ i m working on it :) ]

But don t forget that this field-e-commerce- required really good english manipulation and specific skills (you already know that) .

Note :
if you are making a good income working from home and you want to live very comfortable life than welcome to Algeria , i can help you out for zero charge but in return i need a little service .

Cormac November 2, 2011 at 3:14 pm

I agree with the main thrust of your point, but the situation isn’t as extreme as you suggest. Some realistic weekly incomes in Thailand (used to work there – this is a few years out of date as wages have gone up)

Bangkok minimum wage (illiterate construction worker) $50
Bangkok school-leaver (zero English) $100
Average graduate $130
Graduate with some experience, enough English to write garbled emails $200
Fluent English speaker with a few years office experience (studied at international school or overseas) $325
Someone with enough initiative to start a small or home-based non-food business (without English or significant tech skills) $400 upwards
Someone with that initiative, plus fluent English and internet marketing skills $500-$650.


Foreigner that chooses to live in Thailand, teaching English but would love to do something else: $250-$325.

So there’s your competition. And they’re reading this blog.

INFORMED December 3, 2011 at 11:48 am

Just going to state that I think you are somewhat of a hippocrite. You bash and out money making scams (good thing), yet have ads for them all over your page. I find this interesting. I know this is how you make your money but it just seems a bit contridictive. I complement you though and I might just have to follow your footsteps in the online marketing world.

El Plumber (admin) December 3, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Informed, I use Google Adwords on this site which automatically matches keywords on my site with potential advertisements.

Google generally does an excellent job of filtering these ads and keeping out scams, but occasionally something slips through for a short time. If you see something, let me know the specific link please so I can report it. Note that not every “make money online” offer is scam, there are plenty of legit training courses out there.

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