I think we can all agree that 2009 pretty much SUCKED in terms of economic development. We were expecting it, no doubt, as the end of 2008 brought us a world wide financial crash of sorts and the wind was effectively sucked out of our sails, yet I think the reality of these tight times still really blind sided us as this past year drudged on. It wasn’t this way for all of us as businesses that profited off of things like repossessing property, flourished, but I believe we all felt it in one way or another.
I remember, early in ’09, listening to all the financial forecasters prophesying potential disaster for many years to come. A kind of dollar dooms day set the tone for continued Wall Street woes. But it seemed that the agreed upon perspective was that 2009 would deal us the worst hand and by 2010 we should start seeing a lining of silver streak across those gray clouds above. So we’ll have to wait and see what 2010 provides in terms of consumer confidence, but regardless of the degree of upswing we must first understand these irreversible adjustments that have already taken place.
A New Kind Of Economy Starts With A New Media
Even before the crash, the term New Media had been effectively created and dispersed among the masses. FaceBook was stepping on the face of MySpace on its way to competing with Google and Yahoo in terms of all out Internet traffic, while out of our blind spot rose a 140 character powerhouse that tweeted its way to the top of social networking simplicity. News was no longer preceding Paper as the idea of waiting until morning for the latest had become an archaic activity, and advertisers couldn’t jump ship fast enough for our old way of consuming information to effectively adjust. We were moving at light speed and only those who saw this change coming well before the term New Media was even coined, flourished as a result.
2009 brought us a year where the masses frantically made their way online. From that computer guy next door to John and Jane Real Estate Agent down the street to Grandma and Grandpa, we saw new domains flying off the shelves of GoDaddy like never before. From Life Coaches, to Web Designers to bloggers of every size, shape and color, the shift from big business website domination to that of a growing community of mom and pop online shops was drastic to say the least. It had been going on for a few years leading up to this exodus to the Cloud, but falling stock prices and political turmoil had become that straw that broke the Camel’s back.
A Common Misconception Of Global Proportions
Something I’ve noticed throughout 2009 is a common misconception that somehow this economic crisis has reshaped the way we do business. On the surface this would seem to be an accurate assessment, but if we dig a little deeper we will see that the only thing it did was speed up the process that was already set in motion well before this monetary mess.
Common sense would show us that it was only a matter of time that the Internet reshaped our livelihoods and leveled the playing field for both consumers and Entrepreneurs alike. The false bottom of our economy was only acting as a temporary deterrent for the majority to get on board. Once the rug was pulled out from under us we had no other choice but to leap forward.
It’s kind of like getting out of bed in the morning (bare with me as I break out an analogy . We look at the red lit numbers of our bedside alarm clock as they tick well past their initial warning to wake. We know we need to get up, but our bodies convince us to remain cloaked in our horizontal cloud of warmth just a few minutes longer. Then, from out of nowhere we hear screaming in the other room. It’s our 6 month old laying in their crib with an empty stomach and a poopy diaper (can you tell I’m a new dad? . So what do we do? Turn off the baby monitor and go back to sleep…just kidding…sometimes. We pull off those covers, baring the brunt of the cold morning air, and go in the other room to tend to the task at hand. That source of outside stimulation gave us no choice but to act and our crappy economy is what finally yanked us out of bed to tend to the inevitable shift that was already taking place for much of the rest of the world.
The Forrest Fire Effect
Other than waking us up and pushing us out of bed, our ’09 economy had a kind of forest fire effect that needed to take place.
Too many people were making money hand over fist for no other reason than the fact that there was money to be had. Business sense or not, you could earn a strong living regardless of the quality of your work. I personally witnessed all kinds of ‘professionals’ and consumers alike, just throwing money at everything in their path as it seemed to burn a whole in the pockets of their Calvin Klein kackys. Shows like ‘Flip That House’ were popping up everywhere so we could watch as people like us made way too much money buying and selling property.
When I ran my computer business here in my hometown I worked with a lot of Real Estate Agents. During that time I watched as more and more new agents popped up (many of which had no place selling homes or working with people for that matter) and continued to make money hand over fist. The job market was in a kind of free-for-all state where you could pretty much take your pick of profession and enjoy a pretty paycheck as a result. Whether you were feeling this false economic high from a direct connection to the hot spots like Real Estate or, like me, enjoying the run off as their prosperity poured into other businesses as they pushed ahead, you were most likely enjoying a powerful financial peace of mind.
Yet as the smoke began to settle and reveal the true state of our financial system our hearts sank along with our stocks. And so began the process of weeding out the weak and forcing us all to re-adjust our ways. Just like a forest fire clears out the over grown vegetation, this crisis has taken away the ease at which we made a living and pushed us to a new land of promise and hopefully with wiser ways to guide us.
A New Way Of Livelihood
Now that we’re all out of bed and dealing with the day ahead it’s time we effectively adjust our perspectives or risk being trampled by the coming stampede. 2009 brought us a kind of 49er gold rush where we all picked up our shovels and headed online. Yet I believe it will be during the year of 2010 that we truly stake our claims effectively.
Because so much of this was new to us we were flying by the seat of our pants. Decisions were made by guesstimation as there was no historical data to guide us. Yet now that we have a year’s worth of success and failure to analyze we can start educating our decisions and securing our steps. Inevitably we’ll start seeing the shelves of Barnes and Noble and the server space of Amazon overflowing with books on how to make it online. Just keep in mind that by the time the ‘teachers’ make their way to their podiums, much of the opportunity has already passed by.
This new way of making a living hasn’t necessarily stripped the worth of our initial skill-set, but instead given us incentive to make some adjustments. I, for example, moved from working on computers in my local community, to developing website software for the World Wide community. Some may have sold items by means of brick and mortar and now find the Internet to be a better venue. Maybe you counseled individuals face-to-face and now use your LCD screen as a window into the minds of your patients. Whatever the specific situation, there’s most definitely a WWW at the beginning of your new way of livelihood.
Even those who either can’t or don’t fully need to move online, will be required to have a presence in the Cloud. From social media to online advertising, the Internet is only going to become more prevalent in our daily business dealings. Those who resist will inevitably fail and even the dragging of feet will provide a passing lane for our competition.
A Crowded Cloud Makes For Stiff Competition
Just like the gold rush, too many shovels in the stream makes for a lot of disappointed dreamers. The blogging craze of the past few years has brought about this allusion that a catchy domain name and few well versed posts will position yourself for a future filled with fat Adsense checks from Google. The result has been a few miners striking it rich and many weary writers with nothing to show but some calloused finger tips.
But those with their eyes open and a willingness to adapt have found great opportunity to profit. As the masses continue to make their way to our online marketplace we will continue to see the need for skills of all kinds. Just like our pre-’09 business world, this Cloud Community will continue to open doors of opportunity for each of us. We just need to position ourselves so we can walk though them.
Let’s say you’ve just moved to Hollywood in hopes of becoming a big star. You’re waiting tables in a diner right next to a big production studio and practice your lines while serving food, nervously awaiting your next audition. There’s nothing wrong with this picture, but the harsh reality is that you’re probably not going to find your face on more than a low budget TV commercial and even if you ever DO make it big you could be looking at years before this takes shape. So the question is, “What are you doing in the mean time?”
True Bill Paying Income Can Be Found Online, But At A Cost
I’ve found over the past year and a half or so online that it has been the many small steps of small success that have continued my forward motion. I’ve seen a great number of individuals come and go as they seek a quick buck. I myself have failed over and over again and found great discouragement as reality hit too close to home. Yet each time I’ve fallen down I’ve somehow found my way back onto both feet and just a bit more sure footed as a result. I’ve tried many different avenues for revenue and found many things I don’t enjoy as well as those I do. But it only takes one properly fitting online profession to make a living and once you achieve that goal you’ve just bought yourself more time to gain even greater Internet success.
Let’s face it. The idea of making a living purely online is a pretty awesome concept to consider! No longer are you bound by location as you can work from anywhere that connects you to the Cloud (and these days that’s just about anywhere). Your flexibility to enjoy your family and friends expands exponentially and, assuming you’re working for yourself, the word Boss is now just a dated piece of slang from the ’60s.
When I set out to achieve this goal back in July of 2008 I really had no idea how I was going to completely replace my computer business income through a website. Initially I attempted to profit from writing, writing and more writing. This blog was new, but growing, yet my bank account was still unaware. I then worked on writing that I would actually sell directly (as apposed to making money off advertising). Still no go. It wasn’t until about 6 months later that I found a way to profit from my Internet connection.
I realized that though I didn’t really want to delve back into services I needed to temporarily adapt my abilities to do just that. This is when I began building WordPress websites for individuals. With the right advertising connections I found more work than I knew what to do with and finally had a full time income online.
BUT, and this is the big but, this was only the beginning and by no means even close to my intended destination. Though I enjoyed much of this design work, it just wasn’t what I wanted to do. I had already spent 5 years in services and I was looking more in the direction of products so I could try my hand at development, marketing and sales. This would come my way very soon, but keep in mind that I had to sacrifice some of my perfectly pictured online presence so I could find a spot to start my journey. It was this crucial step that gave me the platform to stand on so I could see stage two.
So my WordPress Web Design business morphed a WordPress Theme development and sales business. This was something that was quite new to me but much more suited to my personality and idea of success online.
Securing An Online Income Requires Diversification
Those who make a living online probably have a main source that pays their bills. Yet there’s just as good a chance that they also enjoy multiple streams that they’ve picked up along the way. My WordPress Theme business is certainly my main source of income, but in all the time I’ve been online I’ve managed to keep my eyes open to the opportunity for other income sources as well.
I mentioned my failed attempt at earning a living by selling written content. It is true that making a full time living from ebook sales or even advertising from your blog is quite a challenge to say the least, but making an extra bit of cash each month from these pursuits is not out of the reach of most. Every month I bring home the bacon with my WordPress Theme business, but I also enjoy income from book sales and ad revenue. We could survive without it, but it offers a bit more peace of mind, knowing that not all our financial security is tied into a single source.
This also offers greater flexibility as I continue to push ahead to scale the looming peaks on the horizon. My family is growing and therefore I must do the same for my online presence. Each step of the way I broaden my horizons and strengthen my resolve to keep moving forward.
May Your 2010 Be Everything You Planned For
The potential for success and prosperity in 2010 is great, but will only find its way to those who are willing to be flexible and yet steadfast in their ways. The rush to stake our online claim is still in the early stages, but the competition is already fierce. For many of us technology can feel like a double edge sword (filled with opportunity yet constantly growing more complicated), but it’s crucial for us to tackle none the less.
As the dust begins to settle and our economy rebounds we will certainly see a new marketplace in the Cloud. Fortunes will be made and lost, but more importantly livings will be earned. What makes this year of 2010 so crucial is that much or our online presence will be established during this time. Whether we like it or not our ‘profiles’ are already being formed. So it is up to us to either effectively form them ourselves or let it be done for us. The former will provide great online opportunity and the latter will put us in our place as another part of the herd.
As a second part of this post I have created a kind of text based toolbox to help you build that business, blog and/or community as well as effectively form a powerful presence online. So be sure to click the above title if you’re interested in learning more.
I hope you have an absolutely AMAZING and PROSPEROUS 2010 and may it be the beginning of even greater success in the future!