5 Reasons You Aren’t Making Any Money Online (Transcript)

In today’s episode, I talk about the 5 things I was doing wrong in my online business (things I see people doing wrong all the time!) and how they can stop you from making any money in your own online business.

This is a transcript of Work Less, Earn More, Episode 35. Listen to the episode here.

I recently shared a video on my YouTube channel about how I took my blog and business from zero to a hundred thousand dollars in revenue in a 12 month period. But in that video, I made it extremely clear that those 12 months were not my first year in business. At the beginning of that year, I had already invested a few years into trying to grow my business, trying to start making money online and completely failing, making essentially $0. Sure, every once in a while, I had to sign a random client or make a random sale, but for the most part, I wasn’t making any money at all. Here’s the thing, though, it didn’t have to take me that long, it’s not as though those years of not making any money were required to get me to a point where I was able to make money. I could have started making money from month one in my business if I had just changed a few key things and done some things really differently.

In today’s episode, I’m going to be sharing with you five things that I was doing wrong and I see a lot of other people doing wrong that can stop you from making any money in your business at all, or simply keep your monthly revenue really small. Right now, if you’re feeling frustrated, if you’re wondering what you’re doing wrong, if you’re wondering why you’re not making any money online, then this episode is for you. We became entrepreneurs because more than anything, we want freedom. We want to be in control of our own schedule, income, and life. But unfortunately that isn’t always the reality of being a business owner. I’m Gillian Perkins and I’m on a mission to take back entrepreneurship for what it’s supposed to be. In every episode, all share with you how to get the most out of every hour you work, so that you can work less and earn more. Let’s get to it. Let’s get into it and talk about five things that you might be doing that could be preventing you from making any money with your online business.

The very first one could be that nobody knows you exist. This is one of the biggest things that held me back from making any money for a long time. I wondered why nobody was buying my products, why nobody was converting, why my funnels weren’t working, why I wasn’t signing any clients. And I finally realized that I was missing a big element, a big important factor of having a successful business, and that was visibility. In order for people to buy your product, they have to know it exists, in order for people to follow you or pay you any attention, they have to find out you exist. If your audience isn’t growing, it’s likely because nobody’s even hearing about you. If people aren’t buying your products, it’s quite possibly because nobody is even finding out that the product exists in the first place. Now, if this is something you’re struggling with, if nobody knows you exist, then one of the big questions you have to ask is why is this the case? Why doesn’t anybody know you exist?

Well, one of the first reasons could be because you aren’t creating or sharing publicly. Maybe you’ve set up your business website, but you’re not getting any traffic to it because you’re not putting any content out into the world to share with people, what you do, who you are, so that people can discover you. Or maybe you don’t have a website right now, maybe you’re just posting on Instagram. But maybe you’re not doing anything to actually share your Instagram account with people so that people discover it. You really have to create content in a public place and you have to share it. You have to promote it. If you don’t do these things, then people won’t discover you. Another reason why people might not know you exist is because maybe your content isn’t high enough quality.

Now, I know that that can be a tough pill to swallow, and of course, I can’t judge the quality of your content because I’m not looking at it, and really you will be the best judge of your content. But it can also be really helpful to get some other people’s opinions on how good your content really is. Because sometimes if you’re too close to it, it can be tough to judge the quality. I see this over and over again, where people are consistently putting out content, they’re posting on Instagram every day, or they’re putting up a couple new videos on their YouTube channel every week. But the quality of the content is just so low that it’s getting drowned out by all the competition, because that’s the truth. There’s a lot of competition out there. There’s a lot of people posting on Instagram. A lot of people writing blog posts, a lot of people making YouTube videos, and a lot of people selling what you’re selling.

If you don’t make content that is high enough quality, that it actually gives people a reason to pay attention to it and even a reason to share it with other people, then you’re not going to see traction. I probably should have started this episode with some sort of tough love disclaimer, because there’s going to be a lot of tough love in this episode. I really want you to be as successful as possible. I really want you to be able to start making money online and to grow your online business, because I know how frustrating it can be to feel stuck and wonder why you’re not making any money online. But a lot of what I’m going to share with you is honestly about some things that you might be doing wrong that can be holding you back. The good news here is that all of these things can be improved. And a lot of the time, even simply clarity about what the issue is can enable you to make the change.

Quite possibly, once you realize what’s wrong, you’re not going to have to do any more work. You’re not going to have to spend more money or invest more of your time or anything like that. You’re just going to need to make a few small changes, pivot a little bit, and you’ll be able to start creating much bigger and better results and actually making money. But I’ll throw that disclaimer out right now, this episode is going to be full of tough love. And so I hope that you understand where I’m coming from. I really just want you to be as successful as possible because I know how frustrating this was for me to spend years working on my online business and not see the results that I wanted. With that being said, let’s get back into talking about these reasons why you might not be making any money online. We’re talking about this first reason, which is maybe nobody knows you exist. Another reason why people might not know you exist, why you might not be growing your audience effectively, is if you’re not publishing consistently or frequently enough.

In order for people to discover you, like I said, you have to be creating content, you have to be sharing it online, or you have to be running ads. You have to be doing something for people to find you, but if you don’t make content frequently enough, or you make it really inconsistently, then people won’t be finding you consistently. You’ll make a few pieces of content, a few people will find you, but then there’s this pause where you don’t make any content during that time, you’ll lose some of those followers that you had attracted and so you’ll never make any real progress. Similarly, if you don’t make enough content, then you’re not going to be able to really get any momentum going. Whenever I talk about publishing consistently or frequently people often ask me how often is often enough, how often should they be making content?

And I would say that if you’re making content on a short form platform, if you’re sharing on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter or something like that, you typically want to create content on a daily basis. However, if you are publishing on a long form platform, such as you’re writing blog posts or podcast episodes or YouTube, once per week is the minimum with two to three times per week, being able to grow your audience even faster. One more reason why people might not know you exist, why your audience might not be growing, is if you’re spreading yourself too thin. Typically here, I mean your marketing efforts might be too diluted across multiple platforms, or you might be trying too many different strategies. The truth is that in order to create significant results and see significant growth in any one space on any one platform, you really have to invest a fair amount of time and energy. Now, I’m not talking about 40 or 60 hours a week, but I am talking about three to five to maybe 10 hours per week on that one platform.

And this is especially true when you are first working on getting traction, when you’re starting from zero, when people don’t know you exist yet, you need to invest that five to 10 hours or so per week in order to start that snowball rolling.

Depending on how much time you have available to be working on your business, this might sound like a lot, or it might not sound like very much at all. For example, if you’re spending 40 hours a week on your business, five hours a week, that’s not very much. If you’re spending only 10 hours a week on your business, then hearing me say you need to spend five to 10 hours a week on creating and sharing content can sound really overwhelming. I would say that the base threshold here is you want to typically spend about 50% of your time working on marketing your business. Which right now, we’re talking about using content marketing to do that, creating content and sharing it online. That might sound like a whole lot to you, especially if you have already gotten started, maybe doing some freelance work or something like that, but if you’re trying to build your business and start actually making money and start making more money, well, marketing is going to be a huge component of that.

If you don’t have customers to serve yet, then all that time you might spend serving your customers, right now you really just need to invest that into marketing. As you’re working on starting your online business and growing it and actually making money, some of the first things you need to do are just business setup, type things. You need to get your business registered, you need to set up your website, you need to create accounts on different social media platforms. You need to work out your marketing messages, maybe you need to create your product. All of those basic things that you’re typically going to do once. But then the ongoing work of building your business is primarily going to be marketing, at least until you have a lot of customers or clients to serve. This is going off on a little bit of a tangent, but I think that this is such an important point. When you’re building an online business, there are three primary stages of building the business. The first one is all of that one-time work, the setup work.

The second part of building your business is primarily marketing. It’s where you’re going to work on growing your audience, getting sales systems up and running. And essentially you’re going to focus on visibility. And then the third part of the process of building your business primarily has to do with serving your customers. Now that’s not to say that you will stop marketing at that point far from it, you’re still going to spend about 50% of your time marketing in most cases, but you’ll be through that setup work. And the balance will shift from spending most of your time marketing to now spending most of the time serving your customers, in this third phase. Okay, but let’s get focused again and back to reasons why you aren’t making any money online. The second reason why right now you might not be making any money online is because you aren’t known as an expert in anything in particular.

You can be doing a lot of other things right with your business but if people just see you as someone who blogs about some general topic. Say people see you as a food blogger or a lifestyle blogger, or they think that you have a beauty YouTube channel, or that you have a YouTube channel about personal development or a podcast about gardening. If they don’t see you as an expert in something particular, you’re going to have a tough time converting whatever audience you do have into buyers. And of course, if nobody knows you exist, then of course also nobody sees you as an expert and so you’ve got a twofold problem. But here I’m mostly talking about, even if people know you exist, you still might not be making any money if nobody sees you as an expert in something in particular. In order to solve this problem, there are two things you need to do, the first one is you need to specialize. You need to decide for yourself what you want to be known as an expert in.

Now, I know that some of you who are listening right now are starting to feel uncomfortable and you’re thinking, I don’t want to specialize. I have so many different things that I’m interested in, I’m a multi passionate entrepreneur, how could I ever pick one thing to focus on? Here’s the thing, you don’t have to cut everything else out. You just need to pick one thing to focus on, one thing that your business specializes in. You’re not limiting yourself, you’re just choosing one thing that you want your business to be known as the best at, one thing that you’ll be known as the best at. You don’t have to get rid of anything, just choose something to be known as the best at and then focus your business and your marketing efforts around that thing. Don’t worry too much about cutting other things out. Some things will fall away and that’s fine and that’s good, but here we’re mostly choosing what we’re going to focus on.

Beyond deciding what you will focus on, what you will specialize in, the second part of the process of becoming known as an expert in one thing is to create authority, building content. What that means is creating some sort of long form content that proves your expertise. You might be writing blog posts, you might be recording podcasts, you might make YouTube videos, or you even might just create long form Instagram content where you’re really, again, showing off your expertise. But you need to do something to show the audience that you’re building, that you know what you’re talking about, so that they start to trust you, so that they see you as that subject matter expertise and they are interested in working with you. Until you do that, you’re not giving anyone enough reason to really want your help, to really be interested in buying your product or hiring you for your service. The third reason why you might not be making any money online right now is going to seem incredibly obvious, but it’s something I see more often than you might think. And a mistake that I made myself for a time.

And that is, you might not be selling anything. If you’re not selling anything, then you can’t really expect to be making money. And I laugh now because like I said, it seems so obvious, but so many people make this mistake. They start a YouTube channel, they start a blog, they start trying to grow their audience on Instagram with the intention of making money. They’re trying to build a business, they’re trying to make money. But when we really look at their business, we can see that they don’t really have a product that they’re selling or a service that they’re offering, or if they do, they’re not promoting it at all. It’s just something that is on a page of their website that people could buy, but they’re not selling it. There might be something that your business offers, but if you’re never telling people about it, telling people what it does, telling people how it works, telling people what it will do for them, then most of the time, people aren’t going to go out there and buy it.

You have to actively sell if you want to make sales and you have to make sales if you want to make money. I’ll mention here that there are some ways of making money online, that don’t directly look like making sales of a product. For example, if you make YouTube videos, you can have ads run on your YouTube videos, this is called monetizing your YouTube channel, and you can make money from YouTube. And it might seem like you’re not selling something. Now, you actually are, you’re selling advertising space to advertisers. So somebody wants to advertise their product and you’re selling this space on the content you created to them. You’re doing it through this third party, middle manager called YouTube, but you still are selling something. And so because of that, there are some people who make money online, even make a full time living without directly selling anything themselves. They just make YouTube videos, they just have ads on their blog, maybe they just link to some products that they use, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

But it takes a lot of growth to build up those indirect sources of income, into really substantial sources of income. What I mean by that is you have to have a fairly high number of views on YouTube, or have a fairly high number of Instagram followers before the revenue that you can create through one of those indirect methods of selling is really going to be a significant amount of money. On the other hand, if you’re directly selling a product or a service to customers and selling it intentionally, then you’re going to be making a lot more sales and you’ll be earning more for every sale that you make. And that means that you’ll start making a lot more money a lot sooner. Right now, if you’re not making any money online, it might be because you aren’t directly and intentionally selling a specific product or service. The fourth reason that you might not be making any money online right now is because you might be selling the wrong thing.

Now, this is the hardest one of these reasons to give you specific guidance on exactly what constitutes the right thing or the wrong thing. There are two main attributes that the wrong thing might have. First of all, you might be selling something great, but it’s just not the thing that your audience wants. There’s someone out there who would love the product that you’re selling, but it’s not what your audience wants and so they’re not buying it and so you’re not making any money. This problem can be solved fairly easily by simply asking your audience what they want and then finding or creating a product that will better align with what they want or need. And by the way, if you don’t have an audience right now, if problem number one, nobody knows you exist, applies to you, then you don’t need to worry about this problem so much. There’s two ways you could solve this problem that you don’t yet have. One of which is just to work on building your audience and then later choose a product that is something that they want to buy.

The other option would be to choose a product right now, and then to work on building an audience who’s interested in buying that product, but there’s multiple ways to solve that problem. Here, I’m more talking about, if you have an audience they’re not buying your product, why? And one of the main reasons could be, you’re selling something that is a great product, but not something they want. That’s the easier problem to solve. But the other thing that can make your product be the wrong thing to sell is a lot more vague. And that’s essentially because the problem with your product might be that your product is vague. And specifically that the value your product provides is too vague. It’s not tangible, it’s not clear enough, and so it’s not going to appeal really to anyone because nobody is going to understand why they should buy it, what they’re really going to get out of it. And this is a problem that I especially see a lot of coaches find themselves facing.

There are so many coaches out there who have talent, they have experience, they are able to help people get results, but they’re selling something, a service that is so vague. It’s so hard to wrap one’s mind around these specific, tangible results that it would create, that nobody’s hiring these coaches and they aren’t making any money. I definitely don’t want you to stay stuck in that situation. If you are suspicious that this could possibly be the problem you’re facing. And the way that you might know is if you do have something of an audience and your audience is growing, and you have something that you’re selling, perhaps coaching services, and you are actively trying to sell it to your audience, but they’re just not buying. If that is your situation, I would highly recommend that you reach out for some feedback on the product that you’re selling, both asking people, the general question of does this sound valuable to you? Is this something you might be interested in buying? Why, why not? Those sorts of questions.

Ask people for their impression of your product or your service. Asking them, what do you think the outcome is that this product creates? What do you think the value is? What sorts of results would you expect if you were to buy this product? Because when you hear people say back to you what they think your product is or does, you might be really surprised. You might find out that you’re not communicating very clearly what the value of your product is or why people should buy it. And if you aren’t communicating that clearly, then that definitely can affect your sales. And that can affect your income. Like I said, this is a tricky problem to face because it can be hard to know whether or not we are clearly conveying value. Whether people really are understanding what we mean or why they should work with us. But it’s a problem that you need to solve if it is the thing that is stopping you from making money online right now.

Let’s move on and talk about the fifth and final reason why you might not be making any money right now. And that is that maybe you just haven’t given things enough time. You might be doing a lot of things right, in fact, you might be doing everything right, but you might just need to have a little bit of patience. It takes time to build your audience, it takes time to optimize your selling systems so that you are actually turning your audience into buyers. And it takes time for people to get warmed up enough to be ready to buy and to become your customers. It doesn’t necessarily take a lot of time. And in fact, if you’ve been working at this for many months or for a few years, and you’re not seeing results, then probably you’re facing one of the other problems. And you need to figure out which one so that you can solve it because I don’t want you to wait that long.

Now here, I don’t mean that it needs to take years or even a whole lot of months. If it is taking you that long, then probably you’re facing one of these other problems that I discussed in this episode. And you need to figure out which one it is so you can solve it because things aren’t going to change until you do solve that problem. But sometimes we are just impatient and we think things aren’t working and so we change them too soon and that can stop us from getting results. Case in point here, it would be someone who decides to use, say Instagram as their primary marketing strategy, they start posting on Instagram and then a few weeks later, they feel like Instagram isn’t working for them, so they stop posting on Instagram and instead start making YouTube videos. After a few weeks of making YouTube videos, they decide that isn’t working either, so they decide to spend a couple hundred dollars on Facebook ads and run them for a few weeks. They don’t see any results there so they shut down the Facebook ads and decide to try Pinterest instead.

If that is you, if you don’t give each thing enough time to work, then you’re going to waste a lot of time and potentially waste a lot of money because you’re just not seeing things through for long enough. You really have to focus on one thing. And here I mean like selling one product specializing in one thing, one marketing strategy, and try that for a few months before you can judge whether or not it’s working. We don’t want to be too patient and just keep doing things that aren’t working for many months or years. But at the same time, we have to be patient enough so that we actually see things through and we give them enough time so that we can start seeing real results. Something I think is important for you to understand is that success typically isn’t linear, but rather exponential. And what that means is that you’re not going to earn $1 today and $2 tomorrow and $3 the next day and $4 the next day.

Instead, you’re going to earn $0 for a fair number of days and then suddenly you’ll earn your first dollar and then you’ll earn $10 and then you’ll earn a hundred dollars. And then you’ll start earning a thousand dollars every week and then $2,000 and then $4,000. It’s going to grow like that. It’s going to have a snowball effect. But you’re going to start with a lot of days where you don’t see any growth or any profits, a lot of days where nobody watches your YouTube videos, a lot of days where you have zero Instagram followers, a lot of days where you make $0 and then suddenly things will start to take off. But you have to give things at least enough time to get to that tipping point. And along the lines of giving things enough time, the last thing I’ll leave you with is that you really have to embrace the process, because success isn’t a destination. It’s not something that you can really put a number on and you’ll say, when I achieve this specific income goal, then I will be successful and I will be done.

Success is a process, and you really have to embrace the process and lean into it and hopefully enjoy the process or else you’ll never achieve success. You’ll never even start making money online because if you’re just in it for hitting a certain goal, then first of all, it’s going to be almost impossible to have enough patience to stick at it until you reach the goal. Second of all, you won’t enjoy the process, so what’s even the point. And finally, once you do hit that goal, you’ll either immediately become unsatisfied because you will simply immediately set another goal. And immediately once again, not be where you want to be, or you won’t become successful because as soon as you hit that goal, you’ll stop all of the efforts that took you to that goal and you will fall back again. What I mean by that is maybe you think that you need a thousand Instagram followers in order to have a big enough audience to have that visibility so that you can make sales.

You hustle to get your thousand Instagram followers, and then when you hit that thousand, because you weren’t seeing success as the process, because you weren’t enjoying the process, you immediately stop posting on Instagram because you didn’t want to be doing that anyway. And because of that, you never turn your business into a real success. All that to say, embrace the process, do things that are sustainable, do things that you enjoy, do things because you love doing them. And at the same time, make sure that you’re striking the right balance between being patient enough to get the results, but not being too patient, not waiting too long when things aren’t working. Figure out what the problem is and figure out how to solve the problem, not just by switching to a different platform or by switching what you’re selling, but instead by honing in. By figuring out how the algorithm on the platform that you are trying to grow your audience on really works, so you can really get results where you’re at. Or by narrowing down your products, not by changing to a different product.

To wrap this episode up, let me share with you a review from one of our listeners. This review is titled, full of amazing content, and our anonymous listener wrote, this is great, I’m so glad Gillian’s started this. Her content is extremely helpful, and I love that it is so practical. Her ideas have helped me to shape my business a lot more and to get a clearer idea about the direction I need to go towards. Plus, she shares knowledge that she has tested herself. Not only is the content informative, but also content you can trust, highly recommend. Thank you so much to whoever did take the time to write this review. I really appreciate your kind words and I’m so glad to hear that you are enjoying the podcast so much. I would love to hear from each and every one of you.

If you are listening right now and you have not yet left a review, then be sure to do that. You can head to Apple podcasts and post your rating and review there. And if you leave your name or your business name then I will give you a shout out in a future episode. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Work Less, Earn More. Now, here’s what I want you to do next, take a screenshot of the episode you’re listening to right now and share it out on your Instagram stories. And when you do that, make sure to tag me @gillianzperkins so that I can see that you’re listening. Sharing on stories is going to help more people find this podcast so that they can learn how to Work Less, Earn More and take back their lives. And when you share, I want to add it to my stories so that you can get some exposure that way as well.

And if you really love the show, head over to Apple podcasts and leave it a review to give the show a boost. Every single week, I feature a review on the podcast and I would love to give you and your business a shout out. If you leave a review, it will help the show, but it can also help your business as well. Okay, let’s wrap this up. I’m Gillian Perkins and until next week, stay focused and take action.

    Sean McMullin

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