I’ve chased a lot of shiny objects in my day. Wait … is that really true? Is that what I’ve been doing? 

In this post, I’m going to list everything I’ve tried in my “make money online” pursuit. I’m going to discuss what I think of each of those endeavors. I will discuss why I tried them, how they turned out/are turning out, how it led me to this moment, AND why I’m still going.

I think this can be valuable for you because it can be a way to learn from my mistakes (so you don’t have to make the same ones; you get to make your very own). And it might help you get a little clearer on what you’re trying to accomplish, why you’re trying to accomplish that – and what you might need to do to course correct. 

That’s what this is for me, a way to see what path I’ve been on and check my course – am I headed in the right direction? Which I guess would just mean the direction I want to go. 

Before it Started

I own and operate a hearing aid sales and service business. I started it in 2012. It’s a small business, just my wife and I, but we make a good living and don’t need to do anything else. 

I do most of my own marketing, which is mostly online. And I have a pretty successful YouTube channel related to hearing aids, without really trying that hard. I could focus on that, if I did I know I could grow it, in part because there’s not a lot of competition in that space. But that’s not what I want to do. 

So why do I want to do something else?

Why I’m Trying to Build an Online Business

I want to change careers – I want to do something online so I won’t be tied down to a location. Whatever I’m doing I want to be able to travel. I want to be able to move in a few years and take my business with me. I don’t really want to be in direct sales, and I don’t want to be delivering my services in person. 

Before I started I thought I’d love to find a great product I can promote online. I really like those clever commercials I see, selling simple products like soap. I think I could do that. I’d love to make those types of marketing campaigns. 

I thought this would mean I’d have to develop my own product, or find someone who would hire me to create their marketing campaign.

How it Started – My First Step

I started by trying to become a business consultant/coach. What? As I’m looking back now, why did I do that? 

A guy I knew, who is a business coach, told me he had this great system. He would mentor me (for a fee) to build my own business coaching business. Through a ‘done-for-you’ online program I would get my own website, a white-labeled coaching course – and a whole sales funnel built for me to get my own clients. As well as weekly coaching to learn how to make it all work.

The guy selling me on this had been doing the same thing – AND THIS WAS THE CLINCHER FOR ME – he had this system for easily getting clients from LinkedIn. 

It was all going to be so easy.

I like marketing, I like business management. I thought it would be interesting to help other small businesses learn how to do a better job of marketing. That was going to be my focus. I was also learning how to help small businesses build their sales, operational, and financial management systems. I had studied these things, I’d been putting them into practice with my own business for years – so I knew I could help other small business owners. But marketing would be my focus. 

So then came trying to get clients using LinkedIn. The “system” my mentor told me to use was a plugin that enabled me to spam (to be honest that’s what it was) a whole bunch of business owners at once – sending automated messages with the goal of setting up sales presentations. I was uncomfortable with it, but tried it out for about a week, then decided it was not how I wanted to operate. 

But I still believed in what I was doing as far as being a business coach. I just needed to find a better way to get leads

And I’ll just say this here, even though I didn’t find this out for at least a year after I started – this system for getting leads had only briefly worked for my “mentor”. It stopped working for him shortly after we started working together and he was trying to find better ways to get leads for a while, but he never told me this. 

I Sign Up For My First High Ticket Course – My Second Step

I signed up for a phone call with a guy on LinkedIn who was going to evaluate my LinkedIn page and give me tips for improving it. He didn’t give me any tips but did pitch me his system for getting leads on LinkedIn. I signed up for that.

It was a training course, with weekly coaching calls that would teach me how to get leads using LinkedIn – without spamming people. I have nothing bad to say about it, it was all good stuff. He helped me. But he kept changing what he was doing, and I found it difficult to keep up with all the changes. 

I did get leads, and I did schedule consulting calls. But didn’t get any paying customers. So I was paying two coaches to help me try and get clients. I was working at it every day, posting on LinkedIn nearly every weekday, making connections … 

I Got a Job (sort of) – My Third Step

I became the marketing manager for a startup company. This was a result of what I was doing on LinkedIn. I’m still doing this part-time. The business is growing. I did get paid for making some promotional videos. But I’ve yet to make anything from this work. Mainly I’ve been doing it to earn equity in the company, so we’ll see. 

I Was Lost – My Fourth Step

I was searching for something that would work. I was paying two people to mentor me, but for some reason, I don’t feel like I really knew what I was doing, or what I was trying to accomplish. So I was searching. 

Maybe I should have asked more questions of the people I was paying to mentor me. Why didn’t I – I think it’s because I didn’t really trust them, or at least I didn’t trust them to understand my values and goals and give me good advice. 

But did I even know my goals? No, I really didn’t know what I was trying to do. I felt like I was floundering, just trying to find something I wanted to do, felt I was capable of doing, and felt I understood how to make it work. That was the biggest issue – making it work. 

I bought a relatively inexpensive course that was full of great information – but it was designed for people who were selling websites. I did build a website for someone and edited another – but that’s not what I really wanted to be doing. 

I purchased another course – “What I’d do now if was starting all over again.” Again, not bad information. But it was leading towards basically building an online ad agency – doing the work for people, providing hands-on service, not consulting. I didn’t want to be selling my services to small businesses to manage their social media ad campaigns, online listings, websites, etc.

I purchased a Facebook ad course from Samcart and signed up for their funnel system. I did manage to sell a pdf through my storefront. That was my introductory “tripwire” offer intended to lead people to buy smaller offers for me to consult with them on their online marketing – website evaluations (I don’t even remember exactly), which would then lead them to my premium offer of monthly business coaching. No one took me up on that offer.

I have paid for so many different little courses, quick guide pdfs, lead magnets, email sequences, books, I don’t even remember what all. but it has all really just been me searching for WHAT AM I REALLY DOING – what’s the product I’m selling, and how am I going to sell it? 

Of course, I still had people I had paid, who were supposed to be my mentors and coaches. But I was off trying to figure out what to do by myself, instead of getting the guidance from them I was supposed to get. And I’m not saying it was their fault. 

It Wasn’t All a Waste

I was learning a lot about online marketing, building sales funnels -and  taking leads through the sales process. But I wasn’t  booking any appointments. And I wasn’t getting any clients.

As a result, I kept adjusting the “product” I was selling to whatever lead I could get. 

What do you need? Oh yeah, that’s what I do.

That’s not a recipe for success. 

I did have a good product to sell – that business consulting course I originally started with. But, in part, because I couldn’t figure out how to get leads for that product – which was probably because I wasn’t fully confident in my ability to deliver that product – I kept looking for other things to sell. Products that I felt more confident I could deliver, but I couldn’t sell those either. 

Affiliate Marketing – My Fifth Step

After working at trying to sell my “own” products for about a year, I came across an affiliate marketing program I decided to try. I had heard of affiliate marketing before, but nothing like this. It was a high ticket offer. And it sounded great.

They had built a company that had developed multiple high-ticket affiliate offers, different products, and different niches – I’d choose which one I liked, and all I had to do was direct traffic to it. They’d take care of the rest. 

This was going to be a cakewalk. I was feeling pretty confident in my ability to do Facebook marketing (not sure why I was so confident, but I thought I knew how to come up with a good ad; I could get thousands of views on the videos I’d make for my hearing aid business for very little ad spend). I was just struggling with my product. In part because I still didn’t really know what I was trying to sell. And like I said, I wasn’t very confident in my ability to deliver my product. 

This would be the answer, a proven product, no service to deliver. 

Here was a way to do the marketing (I thought I knew how to do), and not have to worry about anything else. I thought this would be a great way for me to supplement my income while I figured the other stuff out. 

I proceeded to spend thousands on Facebook ads over the next 6 or so months and then got my Facebook ad account shut down. It doesn’t really matter that the reason I got my ad account shut down was definitely BS, I exhausted the appeals process and got nowhere. I still doubt any human actually looked at the ad that was flagged. I was cooked. 

The Last Gasp of My Business Coaching Business – My Sixth Step 

I didn’t know it at the time, and my business coaching business is officially still in existence, but I haven’t done anything with it in nearly 2 years. 

I paid for another high ticket course, which included weekly coaching with a new mentor – even though I still had the other 2 I could go to. But this new guy was going to coach me through setting up my own Video Sales Letter funnel (VSL). 

I made a pretty great video (I’d say). I built a good funnel using Builderall. And then I tested it on a networking group I was a member of. These were people who were supposed to be trying to send me leads; in turn, I was sending them leads for their businesses (none of us are in competing businesses). 

This VSL and funnel was in part designed to make it easier for them to send me leads – because they didn’t have to try and explain what I did. They could just send people to my VSL. Also, and this is important, we meet together regularly to learn about each other’s business so we can learn what kind of leads to send to each other.

So watching this video I had made was an easy way for them to educate themselves on what I did. There were around 30 people in this group; two of them watched the video, despite me repeatedly asking them to do so for multiple weeks. Most of them never even looked at the initial landing page. 

This was incredibly discouraging. If I couldn’t even get these people to watch the video, should I then pay money on Facebook ads to try to get people to watch the video?

A Screeching Stop

I told my business partner (at my full-time job) I was done seeing new hearing aid clients. My business partner, who was buying the business, was going to take over completely. I was ready to be 100% focused on my business coaching business. This had been the plan for years. 

I Was Ready to Burn the Ships

But then my business partner told me he had decided to quit. He had been working to start his own rival business for months. He thought that when he quit, I would just let the business die and everyone would go over to him. Then he could get all the clients without paying what he had agreed to.

I didn’t let the business die, and over the past couple years, I’ve been busier than ever running that business. So I haven’t had time to do much with the business coaching. I’m still helping with marketing for that startup I mentioned earlier. And I’ve still been doing affiliate marketing off and on. But my day job has been taking up most of my time. 

(I also made a feature film during that time.)

I’m not making excuses – well sort of I am, but they are good excuses. Part of the reason I haven’t gotten to where I’d like to be by this point is because I’ve had other things I need to do – things that pay the bills.

Gearing Up For a New Dawn – My Seventh Step

Not to get too far ahead of myself in this story, but things have been in the works over the last year which will enable me to get back to spending more time pursuing affiliate marketing. My wife is a physical therapist, but she quit her job a little over a year ago to work with me in the hearing aid business. She is nearly fully licensed and will be able to see clients on her own soon. 

The plan is that this will enable me to devote more time to other projects – like affiliate marketing.

What about business coaching? 

At this point, I need to back up a couple years and talk about what got me into affiliate marketing again after my Facebook account was shut down.

Because that was pretty much it for me trying to do anything with that particular high ticket program. 

I nearly quit affiliate marketing altogether.

I couldn’t continue to spend thousands on trying to sell something that I thought was supposed to be easy to sell; that was supposed to supplement my income while I figured out the online business coaching, but wasn’t making any money.

That affiliate program for me had been a total disaster. I was done with affiliate marketing until I saw an ad on YouTube talking about a different way to do affiliate marketing without using Facebook ads. 

This piqued my interest.

But I think that’s enough for this already overly long blog post.

Tune in next week for the exciting conclusion of how the hell I got to where I am right now.

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4 responses to “We’ll Never Make It…”

  1. Hi, Nathan!
    Oh, my! You have been at it for years without the satisfaction of great success. I’m glad you have a successful hearing aid business to balance the experience. You know you can do your own business; you just need to find the right mentor and method to learn how to do an online business. I look forward to your next post to find out how you’re doing now.

  2. Nathan,
    Thank you for this great post, yes, caught up in the shiny objects syndrome like so many of us!

    But you have learned so much! You have earned a degree in the knowledge you have gained from this experience.

    I am trying to give 100% and not take any shortcuts.

    I recently made peace with the idea that even though I may not do affiliate marketing I am learning the skills I will need for any online biz.

    I would prefer to be traveling like you, and coaching, training, and writing.

    But who knows, I may fall in love with it as I did with blogging.

    Keeping yourself open to new possibilities is what we can do and looking forward to learning from you.

    Cannot wait for the next installment.

  3. Hi Nathan,
    Wow, what a story! I thought I had had a colorful experience with the shiny objects but yours takes the biscuit. I’m so glad that you had the hearing aid business to keep you going financially and of course the support of your wife.
    It is marvelous that you have finally found Dean Holland and can be successful with his coaching. I can’t wait to read your next blog!

  4. Navigating the twists and turns of online ventures can be quite the rollercoaster ride, Nathan! Your willingness to share your journey, bumps and all, is incredibly valuable for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to avoid similar pitfalls. Remember, every detour is just another lesson learned on the path to success. Can’t wait to see where your next steps lead you!

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