Time & Mobility vs. Money

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In the late 2000s, I experienced a pretty heavy duty case of workaholism.

I would spend just about every waking moment thinking about work. After working, my “free time” was spent reading about internet marketing, freelancing, and any kind of at-home, non-traditional money making scheme I could find. If I wasn’t reading, I was watching videos, talking to other like minded people about these things, or making another pot of coffee so I could stay up late and work more.

While I’ve never quite been able to give up my coffee addiction, my priorities have changed over the years. During my obsessive working phase, I was young, single, and relatively free of obligations. But I really enjoyed what I was doing — and that’s a really important distinction to make. Workaholism isn’t a bad thing if what you’re doing doesn’t feel like work.

Fast Forward

At the time of this writing, I’m nearly thirty, engaged, and building a business centered on long term stability. Fly by night, questionably legal/ethical advertising campaigns for rebillable weight loss products or dating sites just ain’t going to cut it for me anymore.

I’ve been involved with the “make money online” scene for nearly ten years. I think the biggest takeaway for me has been that in terms of general happiness, time and mobility trump money every single time. It is far more important to me to have time to spend with my fiance (and soon a family of my own) rather than working 16 hour days to make a marginally larger paycheck.

Since I never made the mistake of buying a house, we have the opportunity to move anywhere we want. If I had been tied down to a house and a traditional 9-5, I wouldn’t have even had the opportunity to meet my fiance, let alone finance the kind of lifestyle we have where it is possible for me to take a day off with her to go shoot pictures, rummage around in thrift stores, or sleep in until noon.

And that’s just it — isn’t the whole point of this make-money-online, work-at-home thing all about freedom?

Don’t get me wrong. When you’re just starting out, long days and sleepless nights are part of the deal. But my advice to anyone in that position would be to work toward stability. Ask yourself if what you’re working on will have relevance in a year. Five years. Ten. If your projects aren’t building a valuable, stable asset or developing useful skills for later pivoting, you’re busting your ass to build a sand castle.

I know this because that’s a mistake I’ve made. Other than a general knowledge of the industry and a rather rudimentary web development skill set, very little of the work I was doing six or seven years ago has any relevancy to my current projects.

All of Your Eggs in One Basket = Dumb

I first started thinking about long term stability after reading a post on a then-popular internet marketing forum I used to frequent. I’d link to the post but I have no clue who wrote it or exactly when, and I doubt it’s still live anyway. The post isn’t what’s important, it’s the story behind it.

In a nutshell, the post was written by a guy who built a niche site and SEO’d the hell out of it. He was new to internet marketing, but managed to find some killer keywords and rank on the first page of Google’s SERPs. He was making a ton of money every month for a few months… until big G decided it was time to do an algorithm update.

In a matter of seconds his site was bumped back to page seven or eight. As I recall, it never quite recovered. His income from the asset dried up to practically nothing overnight.

As I recall, people told him that he had a good run and to carefully reinvest his earnings into his next project. Smart, I hope he did.

This story is not unique at all. So many people (myself included) enter the internet marketing industry and related industries only to build a big, fat, alarmingly ethereal house of cards.

Diversification is Paramount

perceived-job-security-graph

Having a single source of income is dumb.

My apologies to everyone with a “real job,” but job security don’t exist no more, son (if it ever did). As Jacob Morgan from the linked article succinctly (and accurately) puts it, “Job security is a complete myth, as is long-term employment. Companies lay off employees in droves…by the thousands! They just make sweeping cuts when they need to. The average employee tenure is under five years and for millennials it’s under three years.

Fun fact: 88% of Fortune 500 companies that existed in the 1950s are gone.

If you’re working a 9-5, my suggestion would be to start working a side hustle and find a way out. Nobody can fire you if you’re your own boss.

Assuming you’re building online assets in the form of web properties, and it’s likely that you should be if you’re at all interested in the topics I discuss on this site, diversification is ridiculously important. More than one property is good, but multiple sources of traffic should be a requirement.

The mistake the guy made in the story I told above was that his primary source of traffic was from SEO. SEO is all fine and dandy, but unless you think it’s a good idea to let Google have total control over your income — because they’re known as a benevolent and generous bunch, right — it can’t be all you do. Social media marketing, email marketing, advertising, networking… all of these components should coalesce into an overall traffic strategy.

Get to the Point, Man

Here’s more or less what I’m getting at here:

  • If you like the idea of personal freedom, time and mobility are important. Your work should provide you the opportunity to enjoy both.
  • Your long term projects should focus on stability.
  • Note that I said projects, not project. Multiple sources of income are an inseparable part of financial stability and security.
  • If you haven’t already, start diversifying. If you’ve only got one web property, start building another. Start finding new sources of traffic.

Tl;dr, your work should provide you with the freedom a traditional job can’t. Diversification of assets is how you can protect that freedom.

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