This is not a blog post that I relish writing because I talk from experience. Just over 5 years ago I knew nothing about the Internet, I did not know what HTML was, I had never heard of SEO and had no idea what a web host or domain registrar was. I was totally new to the whole business of the Internet. 5 years later I have built up a small portfolio of websites, manage some semi-popular brands and am scraping a living online. 6 months ago business was excellent.
From Hobby to Business
In 2006 a friend got me interested websites after he set up a small eCommerce site selling coffee machines. I started reading, learning and eventually building my own websites. To start with it was just a hobby as I worked full-time in the London banking sector (processing corporate actions for a major European bank). By 2009 my sites were performing quite well. This was the year that the global economic melt down really affected me though, as I was made redundant and found myself out of work.
I decided to work on my business. It was just about earning enough to live on and my wife also had a good banking job. I carried on working hard and managed to build more traffic to my site and reached out to new advertising partners and business grew and grew.
From Boom to Bust
In 2010 my wife was made redundant from her job and we had just had our second child, so decided that she should become a full-time mum while I ran the business
However, in 2011 when business started sliding away from under my feet. Traffic started reducing, each month it seemed that my main site was losing more traffic and advertising revenues continued to fall. Everything I attempted to do to recover the site failed. Short term improvements were followed by more severe reductions.
I am now struggling to make ends meet. I spend a lot of time writing for other people now, helping them to promote their websites. My site is still getting a lot of traffic compared to many small business sites, but it is not enough to live on any more. Not only has traffic reduced, average revenue per visitor is also less now.
I am now reaching the point where I have to question if I can continue to work online. Can I rebuild my Internet business? Or is all lost?
The Rise and Fall of Internet Entrepreneurs
In the few short years that I have been online I have heard many stories about how people have risen only to fall again. Now I understand what happens to them. Years of hard work are suddenly lost and they can never find the energy to start again.
Feelings of failure os a terrible thing and as much as you try to overcome it, there is a time that you have to find an alternative way to make money. If you have a family to feed, a mortgage and bills to pay, then there must come a time when you have to turn your business back into a hobby while seeking a more reliable income.
I am not quite there now, but fear it may not be long. While I am writing this I am still hopeful for the future but unless a combination of renewed hard work and a lucky break comes my way, this could well be the end.
The Internet is a place where dreams are made. It is also a place where dreams are shattered. When all web traffic and the subsequent business is gone, what is left but a few lines of code sitting on a cold server?