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How Changing My Intentions Made Me Money

This guest post is by Roman from how this website makes money.

Two years ago I stumbled across the concept of blogging for money.  Instantly it hit me as the perfect thing: sit behind a computer, design a site, write, be my own boss, work from home, what could be better? I knew nothing about traffic, SEO, backlinks, Pagerank, or keywords.  I knew nothing about how to make money with a website.  So what did I do next?  I registered the domain name howthiswebsitemakesmoney.

Looking back all I can do is laugh at my arrogance.  Like thousands before me and thousands who will come after me, my first attempt at blogging was a site about making money online.

Two years later, I know how to start a site, I know how to write content, I know about SEO, I know about backlinks, I know how to add advertisements … but I still do not know how to make good money online.  The site makes dimes a day, not dollars.

The site has been two years of disappointment.  Two  years of waking up in the morning and seeing the same green egg in AdSense.  Two years of waiting for a four-digit affiliate check with my name on it.  Two years of working without pay.  Two years of scratching my head.

So I asked for advice, and every time the reply was the same: create a site about something else. Create a site about what you know and what you enjoy.  Do not create a site with the intent to make money, create a site with the intent to help people by doing something you enjoy doing.

What happened when I changed my intent

Six months ago I created a new site.  This time my intent was pure pleasure.

I live in Prague and I love it here.  So I made a little site about how great Prague is and what people should do when they come for a visit.  It was built in a month.  In a gust of activity I designed the site and wrote the content.

It was so easy.   I did not agonize over what to write about.  The content flowed effortlessly from my head to the keyboard.  I did not have to take long walks with the dog or waste water standing dazed in the shower coming up with new ideas.  I just sat down at the computer and wrote about what I know.  It was so easy I actually looked forward to it.

As an afterthought, I created a simple page where people can order a real postcard from Prague.  Visitors select a picture of Prague and fill out a form indicating what they want written on the postcard.  After they hit the Submit button I get the request by email.  I grab a postcard and, like an ancient scribe long before computers, lick the tip of the pen and write.  After pounding a Prague stamp on the postcard I toss it into the mailbox on my way to work. I charge $4.00 for this five minutes of work.

I created this site with no aspirations of becoming rich, no day dreams of shaking hands with Oprah, no imagined scenes of telling my employer to find some other donkey to kick around. I created the website because it was easy for me to do and I enjoyed it. I made it because I needed a break from my ‘real’ website. I expected nothing to happen.

Again, I was wrong.

My hand is ink blue from all the postcards I have written.

I wrote a postcard from a son playing a trick on his mother: “Hi, Mom!  Sorry for not calling in last few days.  But I am in Prague with friends.  Having a great time and the beer is sooo cheap.  Say hi to Dad.”

I have written postcards to countries all over the world.  Some of them in languages other then English—I have no idea what I am writing. Fortunately, the order form does not allow Chinese characters!

I get emails from people thanking me for the information they found on the site, thanking me for the postcard, asking for more information.

I feel like I am making the world a better place.  I made a website about something I know about and am interested in and people are thanking me. Emotionally it is a soft, warm, fuzzy ball.

And yes, I am making money.

Intend to enjoy and you might make money

I learned a lot about making money online not from my site about making money, but from licking postage stamps.

New arrivals to the make-money-online scene go through the same initiation—they start out with the intent to make money, then fail to make more then a pile of pennies.  For some it means the end and they quit, but for others this brutal introduction teaches them that their intent needs to change.

Of course, making money is about traffic, clicks, affiliates, backlinks SEO, but it’s also about finding something you enjoy doing.  If your intent is only to make money the odds are stacked against you: you will probably quit.  But if your intent is to do something you enjoy then you will keep moving forward until one day, you will be surprised to find that you are making money.

What’s your intent?

Roman intends to figure out how this website makes money.  He has been trying to do that for two long years, so when he needs a break and do something fun he goes onto his other website to send a real postcard to his mother who misses him very much.

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Comments

  1. This is a really fantastic post. When I was younger (although I guess I’m still quite young…) I realized that money is easy to come by if you just stop worrying about how to come by it. Naive? Perhaps. However my projects are a lot more fun when I stop thinking about them as cash schemes. =)

  2. Jen Gresham says:

    Really nice post, Roman. It’s amazing, isn’t it, what small things it takes to make the world a better place? Who cares about the money? Keep writing those postcards…

  3. Hi Roman,
    Firstly Prague is a fantastic city, I have been many times and would recommend to anybody.
    I love Blogging, so for me it was a easy choice, follow your passions and interests and the rest will follow.
    Chase money and you will forever, have a clear goal and follow it.
    I always like the reference of a ship. It starts at A and has to get to point B, it does it, but it will have to change course many times during that journey. Our journey should be no different.
    Pete

  4. Nice post!… I’ve always had the big plan to manufacture toys, so the blog on my site is really to build a community and a potential list of toy buyers!…

    The money making websites are old news…

    David Edwards

  5. Jef Menguin says:

    People will not pay you because you write everyday. They will pay because you provide them something of great value.

    Thank you.

    Jef Menguin
    Philippines

  6. Kevin Kale says:

    Well, it’s a very good post Roman!
    I liked the way you changed your mind.
    Yah!!!
    Everyone wants to make money, but money is not the only thing in this world, there are many more…….
    I’m also a blogger and i live my work!
    I’m doing it to make people learn what i have learned, in the past.
    And for me, these thanks and cheer ups, by readers will be more then enough for me.

    @Pete”BloggingGenius”Carr
    ‘Chase money and you will forever, have a clear goal and follow it.’

    Dude! You are 100% right!
    If any one tries to chase money, he will always be chasing it, but will never be successful, until he loves his work……….

    Well, what to say!
    This is a really good article.

    Everyone take care!

    Best Regards,
    Kevin Kale

  7. A different intention from your heart to make money. It is true that being too focused about money will disappoint us a lot if we don’t succeed. I enjoyed reading your article, but somehow I find it a bit depressing when I read that your website didn’t make money even after two years. But yes, passion is so vital!

    Jane.

    • Roman says:

      It was not intended to be disappointing :) Two years is not that long to start making money online – especially if it is your first try. It took me four years to get a philosophy degree and that is still not making me any money.

  8. Joe abal says:

    Nice post Roman. Very informative. Hope you have continued sucess. Your postcards must be really cool.

  9. Vincent Chow says:

    Being thanked for a blog post or article is truly empowering. It makes you feel that you are affecting someone’s life positively, however minor. I’m not talking about spam bots posting “Thanks for this useful information” in the comments, but readers that describe how happy he or she is to finally found a solution to a problem, or how much they like your recommendation after trying it out.

    Comments like this made me smile, wide.

  10. Sher says:

    Hi Roman,
    As a fellow expat and Praguer I share your love of this city! Your post has so much truth in it…and love this idea you have developed of sending postcards all over the world! :)

  11. As Roman awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a successful blogger.

  12. Mike CJ says:

    Roman – my old friend! Nice one on the postcard idea. I may just steal it as it would work pretty well from The Canary Islands too! Pleased you’re doing well.

  13. Jhay says:

    It’s just a matter of sorting out your intentions, motives and objectives in blogging. Make these clear to your readers, then they’d stick around and journey with you.

  14. Alain says:

    I am pretty sure every single blog segment makes more money than money bloggers. The only difference is, those who make money talking about lipsticks dont brag about it because it would bring a horde of money blogger in their market!

    Just look at the number of photography blogs created because Darren said how much he is making with his site!

  15. That was great…I love the kid sending one to his mom.

  16. Shivam Vaid says:

    Fantastic post. I cannot agree more with what you said. But I still feel you were fortunate. It was indeed possible that even your second site would not have worked even though creating content was easy for you in that very case. I think it’s more about working on your strength areas with an open mind and be relentless and committed in your efforts to work out the right niche for you( that can be monetized). What do you think?

    • Roman says:

      That is exactly it. You can never be certain an idea will work. But if you are using your strengths in a niche that you enjoy your odds increase greatly – no guarantee, but better odds.

  17. Lovelyn says:

    I have a few blogs that I’ve started in the past just to make money. They didn’t do too well. You’re right about changing your intention. The visitors to your site can tell how enthusiastic you are about a subject. Reading stuff that is written by someone with real passion about the subject is much more interesting than reading stuff just written for the search engines.

  18. Nichole says:

    Great post! I just starting blogging. My intent is to help others begin a freelance writing career and be successful.

    Great idea on the postcards. I wonder what else I could offer to help people in their writing.

    • john says:

      Roman,
      Congrats… Your article reads like a Zen inspired work. I find what you say is true for all of human endeavours. The little things we do and love to do for their own sake often times produce amazing results.
      Praga is a great city and you certainly are a good booster for your city/country. Nice touch with the postcards. BTW, Chinese are traveling your way so learn those pictograms !
      Good Holidays to you and yours.
      All the best JP

  19. Maaike Quinn says:

    Thanks for this post! I just checked your website (the postcard one lol) and I almost couldn’t resist to send a postcard to myself, just to see your handwriting. Maybe I even come back to do it anyway. This is a truly awesome idea!

    • Roman says:

      Before you, the last person who want to see my handwriting was my grade 3 hand writing teacher and that was over 25 years ago!

  20. Roman,
    Your idea is simple and brilliant. You are an inspiration. Now all the Make Money Online sites are going to be converted into Send A Postcard from XYZ sites!

    Continued Success to you,
    David

  21. I have had the opposite effect with my blog about making money. I guess my success is based on the fact that I already had the knowledge to make money online which helped me greatly, along with my technical and design expertise. I just started a new blog though that I really love because it allows me to discuss more personal and fun topics. I shall see if fun by itself is truly the way to go.

  22. Helen says:

    You are SO right. The problem with so many blogs out there is that the second you start reading you can tell that they’re trying to find something to say – and it comes across as exactly that, meaningless words intended to fill the page. When you are knowledgeable or passionate about a topic though, the words come easily and the content is engaging. Simple! The only problem is finding that one subject that you love! Happy that you are one of the lucky ones.

  23. randy says:

    In my opinion that’s the key to a successful blog , many people asre obsessed by wrtiting the right content for the right keyword but is a waste of time.

    ty for this post as usual

  24. John Garrett says:

    This does seem to be the case. It’s always a “win/win” when you enjoy what you’re doing and also make money from it.

    I restarted my site about 5 times in the past, each time with a new “clever” scheme on how to monetize it, but only when I restarted it with the only intention of sharing my knowledge and artwork did I start gaining readership.

    After I realized people were interested in what I had to offer only then did I start monetizing.

    Thanks for the post!

  25. Kathy says:

    What a cool idea and I’m glad it was/is such a success for you. My intent is to entertain people with my humor blog. After that, if I make a little cash on the side, I’m a happy camper.

  26. Mike says:

    Its simple, it took me years and about 100 different domains to figure out…write about something that you already enjoy and do!

  27. Aggie says:

    What a genius idea, mate. What is it that’s said about the simple ones .. ? That being the case I must be a genius idea personified; ’bout as simple as they come. Great post Roman, enjoyed it thoroughly!

  28. Arun says:

    Hi Roman great post I enjoyed reading it, a refreshing idea to make money online. Thanks to Darren as well for providing articles that are pure pleasure to read. Cheers mate!

  29. Stephen says:

    What a great post! I love the postcard idea – that is an absolute gem. The line about the kid who asked you to send a postcard to his mother made me laugh.

    Best of luck to you!

  30. Bec says:

    As the previous commenters have said, great post. I really enjoy hearing people’s unique ideas, the post cards are fantastic, not something most people would ever have thought of doing. Good on you and good luck!

  31. Andy Merrett says:

    Brilliant. A real product coming from a decent site that you have passion for! You know, I reckon you could put your postcard prices up a bit :)

  32. yatra says:

    I enjoyed your post.Simply great journey.
    Two years of failure made you a successful man.
    Failure does work.
    Success comes after failure.
    I earn little but I enjoy doing my work.

  33. What an awesome post. It just helps to support one of my mottos, “live your dream rather than dreaming to live.” Find what you love and do it because you will do it well, you will work hard at it, you will enjoy it and that will cause you to move to the top and naturally make a good living. People who take jobs simply because of the money end up dreaming of someday rather than living today. Way to go! Blessings to you!
    Debbie

  34. Sarah says:

    Hi Roman,
    I appreciate this blog for many reasons.Firstly because I identify with you,if not only because Im struggling to make money from my blog,because I love what Im writing about.Like you Im an expat.I live in Madrid since 5 years and my blog is about all things cheap and free to do in Madrid.I have achieved to be encouraged and to start thinking about cross marketing taking into accoutn that my blog is a destination information centre!I sent you mail,hope to hear from you soon!
    More success to you,I have been to Prague and its a beautiful city!!!

  35. Brilliant post. I am moving to Paris! I have several blogs and websites about making money online but I have been secretly thinking about creating a blog about something I am truly passionate about martial arts. I have articles running through my head all the time. I could write about it without any effort. I understand what you mean when you say the ideas flowed. What a creative marriage of old school and new school ideas. I also love postcards. They are more personal than emails. Thank you!

  36. Edwin says:

    Woah am I looking at my twin? I did the same thing. I started a website on Webs.com (please spare the jokes) and “taught” people how to make money. What a failure. Than I started a new site and truly followed my passion and the money started coming in. Awesome post

  37. RandyNose says:

    Thanks. That settles a lot of my mental dancing that I’ve been doing. And it makes it quite apparent that the first rule of blogging should be

    1: Write about what you know and love.
    Then:
    2: Be yourself.

    Life can surprise you when you’re having fun. That’s the thing that keeps me going. And I’ve decided not to be so worried about the future, but to log on, and blog on with things. :)

  38. This is quite a brilliant post and thans for the eye-opening lesson.

    Krizia

  39. I believe when your intentions are true and from the heart, good things will happen. You really found a great little niche by promoting the city you love. Great job! Thanks for the post.

  40. ANSHUL GUPTA says:

    nice story…

  41. Well, this is hopeful. I write because I love it and maybe I can make money with a simple idea such as this. Hmmm….

  42. dan dees says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed it rather than investing time for it because of the return. Well, you can do both but make sure that you just loving each time of the time spent when writing. I personally believe that our intention should be to deliver and help people find important information they need. Of course we are still thinking about the money here but it is just the second priority.

  43. Nadeem says:

    HI Roman,
    Thanks for writing such a good post. Its like reading own story. Yes, I am also going to change my intention now.

    Regards
    Nadeem

  44. Roman, this is a powerful message. Thank you for the reminder that it’s all about energy, focus, and vibration, not about desperation, frustration, and pounding away with effort. I love your story!!

  45. Sinea says:

    Reading this inspires me to keep in mind as to why I love to write about organizing tips, family and even school. This is what I know, this is what I love and I love to share it. I do want to check out your other website, now, Roman. You got me!

  46. Rahul says:

    If you have interest in some topic and if you know some thing about seo, keywords etc. You can probably make money. But still i am also scratching my head to earn some more money in affiliate marketing. My next target is to achieve financial freedom in next one year from affiliate marketing.

  47. Jeremy says:

    Wow, what an amazing inspirational article! That was the best piece I have read all day and trust me, I have been roaming through blogs like this all day long. I have nothing better to do with my Saturday while my wife is off on the boardwalk with her Mother shopping for the holidays.

    When I feel like giving up I will come back to this post and read it again. I have it bookmarked on my toolbar so it’s easy to see titled “Dont give up, Click here!” Yes it looks like one of those “get rich quick” titles but it’s catchy and I like it.

    Thank you very much!
    Jeremy

  48. Marci says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience with blogging and how writing what you love has made all the difference – in more than one way.

    I would love to make money blogging directly or indirectly, but I started with the intention of inspiring others, sharing what I have learned, and inviting good conversations. I blog to encourage others to take small steps for big change – by discovering the liberating power of choices. Roman, I think you found the choice that liberated you :)

  49. Jim Cheng says:

    Thanks Roman. After read this article, my eagerness to make money online is back. Although my involvement in making money online is just a few months old but i already losing steam after failed to generate lots of money. Passion is the most important in blogging.

    • Roman says:

      Passion and realism. A few months is too short a span to ‘generate lots of money.’ Give it time and make the wait bearable by doing something you enjoy doing.

  50. So impressed by this post. I salute. I am struggling to make money and this post help me a lot, truly. I am doing good on it. I share this thing with my friends related to computer and internet they too were impressed. This post has given me more hope and a power.