Starting with Nothin' and Ending up with Somethin' | My Journey Online

by mandeesears

From despair came hope. From hope came drive. From drive came knowledge. Knowledge and drive are my keys to making a living online.

Success or succeeding is not an end goal -- it's an ongoing process. You climb a mountain, reaching the top only to find it's a foothill and there are plenty more to come.

I felt like I was on top of the world for a while -- a wonderful husband, two great kids and the requisite dog. We owned our own business and were succeeding -- or so I thought. The recession sneaked up on us and our lives changed forever.

Was it bad? For a while, it was. Is it getting better? Yes!

I still have my wonderful husband, two great kids and a requisite dog. This is my story of defeat that gave wings to a new direction in life.

Fighting a Losing Battle

Starting Over from Scratch

clubhouse fire
Clubhouse Fire

Our family owned business did well for quite a while. I think we came to expect it -- took it for granted. The trouble began one January morning in the form of a call at 3:20 AM from the sheriff's office. The main clubhouse was on fire.

Would stood helplessly on the driving range, a safe distance away from the flames as 3 or 4 fire departments worked together put it out. The good news was no one was hurt. The bad news was it burnt to the ground. 

Newspaper Photo

For the next year, we worked re-building. We attributed our business being down to the loss of income from the clubhouse but there was more to it than that. We were so caught up in rebuilding, we failed to notice the downward spiral of the economy. 

We built a bigger and better clubhouse and re-opened at the worst possible time. The rural area where we lived was losing jobs and population quickly. A couple of factories and a handful of small businesses closed. The county's population was just over 18,000 with just over half the population living in the town that was home to us and our golf course. 

New Clubhouse

As the economy worsened, so did our business. Exactly 30 months after we re-opened the clubhouse, our golf course because a casualty of the recession. We lost our business, jobs and only income in September 2009.

We moved south and started from scratch. Finding jobs was the hardest. After 7 months of unemployment, my husband finally got a job -- I was still looking.  

Looking for Work

Finding the Internet

It's never fun looking for work but in an economy that isn't hiring, it's even worse. I filled out hundreds of applications and never even got an interview. We were desperate for more money. Even with our business and personal bankruptcy's there were still business taxes, student loans and everyday bills we just didn't have enough money to cover. 

I was surfing the internet one day about a year after moving south. I found an article on Squidoo about making money by writing online. It intrigued me right away. I have always loved to write and had been doing more of it since being unemployed -- mostly memoir writing. 

I checked into Squidoo. The price was right -- free -- so I dove in and made my first lens, Ideas for Buffet Tables | Setting a Buffet Table, in August of 2010. About two weeks later, it won LotD -- not that I really understood what an honor that was at the time. 

I continued writing lenses and started a couple of free blogs. I knew nothing about SEO, backlinks, how to get found, affiliate marketing and such. I just wrote. 

Needless to say, I had a dozen or so lenses now but wasn't getting any traffic or clickouts. I remember thinking: "Figures. That would have been too easy."

Bonnie (bdkz on Squidoo) invited me to join RocketMom's. I was thrilled. Another lensmaster pointed me towards a group of lensmasters teaching each other how to succeed on Squidoo and in online marketing. The group is now defunct but that is where the real story begins. 

I met Paula, AJ and Bev, among others and they took me under their collective wings. 


How Long Have You been Earning Money Online?

Keywords, Niches & Backlinks -- Oh My!

Understanding Affiliate Marketing

Having been a brick and mortar business owner for 20+ years, I was having a problem wrapping my head around how - the process by which you make money on the internet. It's different than a traditional, physical business and it wasn't computing for me. 

Paula, AJ and Bev were very patient with me, answered my never ending questions, reviewed my lenses for effectiveness. I continued writing and posting but my click through rate and traffic weren't great. I needed to understand the process in order to execute it properly. My analytic mind wouldn't have it any other way. 

writing-onlineWe got into more detail about the who, what, when, where and how's of writing online to make an income. The only point I absolutely hated and could do nothing about was the time factor. Paula kept telling me that age of lenses and articles is a factor. You need to build authority in a niche and that takes time.

Slowly, the light began to break through. The lessons I was getting were making sense. Then, one day I had my "light bulb" moment. It finally all made sense. I was so excited, I wrote a blog post about it. Paula had to laugh but she was there saying "See? Now you can make money too!" Yes, I could do this.

Applying all I had learned from the 3 Musketeers, I started seeing results. I was getting traffic, clicks, sales and the whole shebang. I was finally earning some money online. I teared up with my first Squidoo payday 5 months after I had joined. It was the best $38.15 I had ever earned! 

There is no reason to re-write what has been written. Everything I learned, Paula and AJ have already written about. All you have to do is read. Below are links to articles that explain the same lessons they taught me.

Keyword Research Articles

by My Keyword Guru - AJ

Worthwhile Lessons from a Pro

Paula -- Guide, Mentor and Friend
Authors make money on Wizzley through impressions, clicks, and sales and share impressions with Wizzley. Do you understand how this works?
What are your goals when you write an article online? Are you striving to get a lot of traffic or to convert sales?
In less than one year, Wizzley has proven itself to be a powerful platform to make money by writing online.
If you are writing online, then you need to know who you are writing to. This group is called your target market or target audience. Do you know who they are?

Do You Believe Success is an Ongoing Process?

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Yes. It's like chasing a rainbow but you do find gold.
happynutritionist on 09/02/2014

Yes, especially online as the dynamics are always changing.

Jerrico_Usher on 12/29/2012

the gold is also in the journey if you travel right :)

MHeart on 07/09/2012

Work smart, keep moving forward and success will be yours!

Tolovaj on 06/30/2012

It should be. When we achieve personal goal, we should also find next challenge!

DebbieBrooks on 05/05/2012

Yes we cannot give up ....great .. article

AgingandDisability on 04/30/2012

Everything is an ongoing process. . . especially when big G changes the rules every few months.

BrendaReeves on 04/25/2012

To win at the game of life, we have to reinvent ourselves sometimes. Life's hardest lessons can turn into our greatest rewards. I'm glad to hear your family has survived the storm. Many marriages don't make it out alive.

katiem2 on 04/24/2012

Yes I do, in fact I know it is, I see progress and gain from things I did years ago and had forgotten. That's the best mentality, do something to completion and then think, NEXT! Balancing and maintaining all that came before all that is new ongoing process, everything is a WIP! Work In Progress1

dustytoes on 04/24/2012

Definitely ongoing. I always feel like 'if I turn my back for a moment it will go away'. Nothing is for sure and I don't take one day of earning money online for granted. Always chasing that rainbow - as you put it!

tribute_to_erasmus on 04/23/2012

Absolutely! too often we forget that real success if brought about by hard and consistent work. You'v got to chip at it every day, and once's you've reached your destination, it is only an opportunity to set a new one and start all over again!

Today - I Make Money Online

The Ongoing Process of Success

Today, almost exactly 1 year and 8 months from posting my first online article, I can say with conviction:

"I earn a living online. "

I am diversified now. I still write on Squidoo but I have added Wizzley, 3 websites, 4 blogs and a few other open venues were I publish support articles. 

I earn from Squidoo, All Posters, Zazzle, ShareaSale, eBay Partner Network, Commission Junction, Google Adsense and VigLink. That's enough to juggle for now.

My income has come a long way since my $38.15 first paycheck. I average about $1,000 to $1,300 a month right now. Our financial belt has loosened but I'm not planning on stopping anytime soon! My daughter is in college and the list of necessities is never ending. 

We aren't back to where we used to be but, thanks to writing online, we are a lot closer than we were when I started this journey 20 months ago. 

Yes, Paula, you were right. Time DOES make a difference. And, it's worth the wait.

Recipes for Life IV
Ad AllPosters

Staring with Nothin', I Ended Up with Somethin'

It's not "Rags to Riches" but it's still pretty good!

My best advice is the same thing my dad used to tell me. 

"If you don't know how to do something, talk to someone that does. There truly are no stupid questions -- just stupid people that won't ask questions."

If you have the drive to want to succeed, ask the questions and put some time into research. Knowledge is the payoff. 

There are no "Get rich quick" schemes that work. If they did, we'd all be millionaires. ;D

Some of My Work

A Daughter's Story
2009 was a year of change, adjustments and disappointments for my family and me. However, all the material losses, struggles with the downward spiraling economy and lose of income paled in comparison to one early December morning.

Graduation Party Ideas | Personalized Fun
Back with some more graduation party ideas. This time -- personalized decor for your favorite graduate. I found a few really cool items I wanted to share with everyone. Hope you like them as much as I do!

Kitchen Themes | Creating an Apple Kitchen
Yes, most people, whether they realize it or not, have some sort of a kitchen theme. It maybe very subtle or simply a color scheme but it is still a theme. I recently wrote an article about my mom's Chef Decor in her kitchen and decided to continue in this line with a few more kitchen themes. This time it's an Apple Kitchen Theme.

Old Books | What to Look for When Collecting
here is nothing better than sitting down with a cup or coffee (or tea) and a book. I can sit for hours on a cold winter evening by the fireplace with my legs wrapped in an afghan and get lost in the world the author has created. I love it when I find an old mystery book at antique malls and booths.

Updated: 04/23/2012, mandeesears
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happynutritionist on 09/02/2014

I've returned to Wizzley recently and it was nice to find this inspiring article from you, a reminder that things do change, and there is always something positive right around the corner.

Rose on 11/19/2013

Just goes to show that those who are willing to adapt and try new things, thrive. Thanks for your story, it's inspiring!

Mira on 07/13/2013

I agree, this is really inspiring. You're making a lot of money after only 1 year and 8 months (well, much longer now -- and much more money, I imagine). I'll have to look into for blogs. And read all the articles you showcase here. Thank you for sharing!

MeadowLark on 07/13/2013

This is a really inspiring piece. It was very helpful to read about how you developed your online writing skills. I'm glad that you tackled a learning curve, and that you're being successful.

Jerrico_Usher on 12/29/2012

Great story (sad event but great ending!)! I just wrote an article about not chasing money (taking your time), and this article was in my side bar when I hit publish- I had to check it out and glad I did! It appears I'm promoting you :) (and syndicating tweet/g+,fb)
how'd you get that yellow box in there?

Sheri_Oz on 12/19/2012

I love to read stories like this. You seem to have caught on very quickly. I'm still figuring it out.

Tolovaj on 06/30/2012

Pretty inspiring. Now, let's go to your reading list:)

mandeesears on 06/06/2012

Good to see you Cheryl! Much continued success to you too!

CherylsArt on 06/06/2012

This is encouraging. Thanks for sharing your success.

SharileeShares on 05/14/2012

Congratulations on your success. This is such an encouraging article about sticking with something until you make it. Thanks for the share!

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