Money on the internet - From Rags to Reasonable

This is not a how-to.

For those of you who may have only skimmed the title, you’ll find no answers here. This is just a second year blogger honestly wondering “how the heck do you make money on the internet?”

I started Rags to Reasonable just over a year ago, and it wasn’t just because I wanted to spend 20+ hours a week making pictures and writing about finance. I was trying to start a side business. Something that would help supplement my life as an artist.

On some levels I’ve been successful. I did start …. something. I wrote articles (I think some of them might have even helped people) and 10s of thousands of people passed through my little corner of the internet this year.

But it’s not really a business.

Businesses make money.

Wait… no… that’s not entirely true. Not all businesses make money… but all businesses are trying to make money.

The things that I haven’t told you

My family and friends know that I have a bad habit of leaving things out when I share news.

In fact, I often leave out the most important bits, or throw them in at the last second.

“Things are good. Weather has been cold. You should have seen the sandwich that I ate yesterday … also I’ve been dating a girl for two years and I’ve never felt this way before.”

…. Wait… what was that about a sandwich?

So you’ll excuse me if I’ve kept the business side of R2R completely private for the last year. Part of the reason was that I didn’t want to scare you away, but the other bigger part was that I know so little about making money on the internet I didn’t want to fail quite so publicly.

But what’s failure if it’s not spectacular, right???

So here’s what’s been going on behind the scenes:

Money on the internet - From Rags to Reasonable

I’ve been taking finance courses. I’m actually one course and two exams away from getting a certification in financial planning. Why? Well… for two reasons:

  • I don’t want to talk out of my ass about finances. I want you to have the best possible advice and information
  • I want to work with individuals, families, artists, freelancers, and anyone else who struggles getting their finances in order. I want to coach you through making budgets, and debt plans, setting up your insurance, and preparing for when you’re working less. I want to help you create a stable framework so that you can spend less time worrying, and more time actually living your life.

I’ve been doing workshops with schools, young artist programs, and freelance groups.

I absolutely love getting in the classroom with a group of people and initiating what is often the first actually positive, empowering conversation around money that people have encountered.

It’s a rush. It’s a privilege. And it’s the only thing I’ve been doing with the blog in the last year that could actually be called business activity (that’s right… ’cause I don’t do it for free).

Lastly, I’ve been making stuff. Workbooks, courses, all kinds of stuff. And you know what?… I really like that, too.

The more questions that come up, the more I’ve been thinking about tools that can help you with those questions. Some of them I’ve offered for free (which I will always continue to do), and some of them have been part of my workshops or I haven’t even released them yet.

How do you turn something that you ‘like to do’ into something that makes money?

Everyone has their baggage about money. That baggage is the main reason why I’m here…and as I’ve made abundantly clear through many posts… I’m not an exception to that rule.

I think it’s a pretty common artist/freelancer problem to not know how to price your skills. To not know how to turn a thing that you enjoy doing… into something that actually pays the bills.

Money on the Internet - From Rags to Reasonable

That’s the problem that I’m facing with this project right now. And man… is it hard to talk about. I’ve been waffling back and forth all week about whether or not I should put these thoughts out there into the world.

But I’ve decided to talk about it, because it’s such a classic freelancer/artist/creative entrepreneur problem.

It’s also one of my big projects for this year.

The R2R money goals for 2016!!

A few nights ago, I couldn’t sleep. I was staring at the ceiling and thinking about … money (you know the feeling). I was trying to wrap my head around trying to make a decent income off of a website.

Look, I know people do it. The internet is full of articles telling you how… but it still seems like magic to me.

I thought of Stefanie O’Connell, a fellow artist and personal finance blogger (yes… there are two of us) who just wrote a piece on how to make your first 100 dollars

But, can I be honest? (sorry Stefanie)… 100 dollars seemed insanely daunting.

So, after a few hours of busy brain I eventually settled on a realistic goal for me in the month of January.

1 dollar.

I’m going to try to make 1 dollar online this month.

Now that might seem like I’m setting the bar way too low. But the truth is, 1 dollar or a thousand dollars, the initial excuses are the same. I honestly don’t understand how to create income off of my website.

Yes, I’ve read all the lists and how-tos. 99% of them are the same. There’s lots of advice, but just like anything… it’s always different when it’s your project.

So even though 1 dollar isn’t very much, I still have no idea how it’s going to happen. And since I’m being honest with you… just thinking about it for the last while has made my brain jump into overdrive with excuses. Things I ‘should’ do instead… things that ‘have to’ be done right now.

I am clearly terrified of trying to make even 1 dollar off of my little piece of the internet.

But I’m going to try anyway. And it’s not going to stop there.

After the one dollar, the year’s plan is to play a game of ‘2048’. You know that fun little phone game? If you haven’t heard of it, you basically double up on numbers until you reach 2048. Here’s how it plays out in terms of my money goals:

Money on the Internet - From Rags to Reasonable


Top 4 ways the internet says I should make 1 dollar

In my mind… that chart fits squarely in the ‘ridiculous goals’ category. So I went where anyone with ridiculous goals and no money goes… TO GOOGLE! (the source of all the helpful advice and mentorship I’ve been craving since the demise of ‘Ask Jeeves’)..

Here are the helpful hints that the internet provided in response to my Google search of: how to make 1 dollar on the internet (and why they’re not that helpful):

Money on the Internet - From Rags to Reasonable

Money on the Internet - From Rags to Reasonable

So, those were the top 4 results that came up in so many lists. There were other suggestions as well, and to tell the truth there were also some really rational, thoughtful articles on how difficult it is to make money online… about the time it takes, and that there are no one-size-fits-all methods.

I guess I’ll have to keep figuring it out on my own.  So much for the internet solving all my problems.

It’s all about the money… except, of course it isn’t

It feels weird to talk about trying to make money on this site. R2R is generally a place where we don’t talk about the ‘how’ of making money… but focus on the ‘what to do’ after you’ve made it.

That will remain the focus, but I wanted to bring you all into the process, as this site continues to grow.

There are so many marketing guides out there that talk about creating product funnels, and how to seemingly ‘trick’ people into buying things.

I’m not trying to make money off of you.

But yes, I am trying to make money off of this project, and I need to learn not to be ashamed of that.

It doesn’t have to be a secret, and it doesn’t have to be something that messes up our (you the reader, and I the maker of stuff) relationship.

I want to make awesome shit for you. Courses. Workbooks. Talks. One-on-one coachings. Individual plans. And tons more blog posts.

I want you to have a better relationship with your money, and I really want to help you get there.

How’s this going to work?

I’m a big podcast guy, and one of my favourite podcasts right now is “Start Up”, a really open, honest look at how to start a business (a big tech start up type business). I love how they don’t shy away from talking about the parts of business that normally happen behind closed doors.

We’re going to do it that way here at R2R as well.

This year I’m going to try to make some money online. I know talking about the income that we make isn’t something that makes anyone comfortable, but for the sake of learning… we’re going to make this an open experiment.

I’ll keep you in the loop as to whether I’m meeting my goals, and I’ll keep developing things that I think you might find useful.

Your job?… let me know what you like and what you don’t. Tell me if there’s a tool or course that you’d really love to see. Tell me if something I made really helped, or was a complete waste of your time.

What can you buy for a dollar? 

So this week I’m launching a fun NEW MENU ITEM!! YAYYYYY!!

Tools and Courses!

And if you find your way over there you’ll discover the 1 dollar deal for January.

It’s a 20 page workbook to help you tackle your debt. It’s downloadable, printable, and honestly… worth more than a dollar…

But since I’m wading into the shallow end of monetization you get to benefit.

Getting Started with your Debt

If you’re tired of your debt, or if debt-free sounds like an intriguing concept for you… check it out.

… it’s only a dollar… what do you have to lose?

And you’ll help me fulfil my January dreams.

Do you guys struggle with pricing your work? What solutions did you come up with… inquiring minds would love to know :-)!