No Money, No Product, No Problem: A Decade of Struggle in Internet Marketing

rebusrenald

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This is my unedited story through the world of internet marketing. I hope it helps someone. I've been failing hard at internet marketing for a decade now. I don't have any money left, I don't have anything to sell, just a story to share, and a commitment to keep going.

I first got into IM in 2012 just after leaving high school. I moved to a different city and 6 months in was utterly miserable in my office job and looking for some "quick cash" (little did I know...) and dived headfirst into affiliate marketing, selling life insurance quotes using Google Adwords and a landing page.

We'd get £12-£15 per email address! Back then all you needed was a different landing page for each brand of life insurance.

I'd title the ads something like "GET your *brand name* life insurance quote now". This worked for about 6 months, though it was very competitive and I only managed to break even. At the time I was working an office job with about £1,000 disposable income, and my Google Ads spend was about this each month.

I didn't continue long enough to gather enough data to improve my ads for two reasons - I started receiving cease & desist letters from certain life insurance companies.

Being 18 at the time, I found this pretty hilarious, and I thought I must be onto something... But the shiny-object-syndrome of the IM world took me and I turned off my ads and started pouring money into...

Forex Trading. I spent hours and hours pouring over eBooks and trading strategies and worked out my own genetic algorithm for testing and combining different trading strategies on previous price data... I learned to code in order to do this by watching Python tutorials on YouTube (more on this later).

I was sure I'd cracked the code. Soon I would be a gazillionaire! I started pouring what little savings I'd made over the last 18 months into my trading account. Only small amounts at first. Many times I'd win a trade, only to risk too much on the next trade and bottle it before it could reach profit. Even when I had stop losses and take profits in place, I hadn't yet learned the self control and discipline necessary to succeed.

I soon become discouraged (a recurring theme in this journey) and decided to look elsewhere... I tried all manner of things next... adult tube sites, spamming twitter with affiliate links, eBay, drop-shipping, writing erotic eBooks to sell on Kindle, more than I can remember. I couldn't handle the adult stuff, it possessed my thoughts and it never sat right with me (each to their own). But I kept coming back to coding, it seemed like in everything I did, being able to write my own scripts would give me that edge I needed.

Around this time I fell in love with an amazing woman, we ended up staying together for a few years. I thought it would last forever, but I was still very immature. Luckily I hadn't blown all my savings just yet, and spending time with her soon occupied all my attention outside of work. This was a blessing I later realised.

In between reading about trading and different IM strategies I thought, well what am I going to spend all this money on once I hit the jackpot? I must have something to work towards besides the Aston Martin...

My family was pretty poor growing up and we never went on vacations outside of the UK, so I'd always dreamed I'd one day go travelling. I read an article on "digital nomads" and back then, the idea of working from my laptop sat on the beach seemed so revolutionary.

I quit my two office jobs and got a one way ticket to Southeast-Asia for two months. I told myself I'd just figure out how to be a digital nomad along the way. It was meant to be six months but alas, I came back to the UK be with my girlfriend. Those weeks motorbiking in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos (my favourite) and Vietnam were truly incredible... heaven.

I returned to the UK with no money, no job, no idea what I would do next but after living on the beach for two months knew I couldn't go back to sitting inside at an office job.

I slept on my girlfriend's sofa for a couple of weeks while I learned coding online and started applying for work on freelancer and upwork.

My first job was making a reddit bot for $100. It was very basic follow-like bot but the guy was happy with it and he gave me a good review which boosted my visibility when applying for jobs. I kept grinding and made $20,000 doing python jobs, learning networking, javascript, Linux, building websites and apps. Enough to keep me going, but not enough to support me and my girlfriend and so she had to keep working. We did manage to save a little bit and went travelling again a year later.

During this time I was offered a place at the University of Edinburgh to study a Bachelor's degree in Artificial Intelligence.

I changed my mind at the last minute, and decided to do a Permaculture Design Course. I was sick of staring at a screen all day and wanted to get my hands dirty and be out in nature - as we had on various work exchanges we'd done while travelling.

Around 2017 I started smoking weed and socialising more. I'd never been into drink or drugs, but was always curious about psychedelics as I was curious about meditation and spirituality. This took me on a very weird journey over the next few years. I went to festivals, started playing music again, and joined an already successful band and toured the UK as their guitarist.

During this time I was completely broke. I slept on friends floors, lived in my car, in a tent, in a caravan on the side of the road. I skip-dived food, and I saved up what little money I made from playing weddings and festivals to get my driver's license and buy a van on eBay. I did this as the local goverment kept evicting anyone living on the roadside and I needed somewhere I could live without constantly getting moved on by police and council officials. Rent in my city was extortionate.

I'd gotten myself into debt and knew I needed to get a "real job". I dusted off my old CV and applied for Python developer roles in the city. Somehow I got one, working at an ecommerce startup. It was good money, and I had my own office - which I quickly turned into a music studio.

This lasted for about 18 months before the late night rehearsals and parties at "the studio" became too much and... I got fired. I had more money than sense, but I don't regret a second of it. We made a lot of great music and great memories during that time.

There were no hard feelings between me and my boss. He knew I still wanted to pursue music and he gave me a good redundancy payment and reference. Then COVID hit, and I went into lockdown with my bandmates, lived in an old abandoned school, and played music every day until the redundancy money ran out.

It was during this time I met my wife, and I'd like to say my whole perspective changed, but it didn't. I continued smoking and drinking and not taking responsibility for my life. We soon welcomed a new addition to the family (my son) and we moved into a very small house and I became a dad.

I was very motivated to provide for my family and during this time learned lots of new skills. I wanted to improve my songwriting process, and so I wrote scripts to help me write songs for my band (melody generators, lyric generators), and I got deep into machine learning, large language models, SEO and display ads. I ran a few niche websites, which worked for a few months until my sites got hit with a Google penalty. Man was I pissed off when that happened.

Then I tried music streaming bots for a while. Again, this worked pretty well until they cracked down on my methods, but this is the game of IM - adapt to survive. This requires mental flexibility, which was impeded by...

I never got into "hard drugs" but smoking weed really messed up my confidence, mental capacity, social skills, and I went into a sinister, downward spiral into depression, and really drove a wedge between me and my wife.

Our son suddenly and tragically passed away, aged one. The last few months since his passing have been absolute living hell, for me and my wife. I've never been religious but my faith in God is the only thing that's kept me alive.

I managed to kick all of the habits that were blocking me - tobacco, alcohol, weed, psychedelics, porn, social media. I knew I couldn't blame any of those things on what happened to us, but I had to eliminate them to be sure.

The hardest habit of all I've yet to break - being a victim. There's always something or someone you can blame for your situation, whether it's an addiction, a "toxic" friend or relative, a traumatic event, lack of money, a diagnosis, your feelings, whatever it might be... you still have to get up and do the absolute best you can. There's always someone who got dealt a worse hand than you who's making it work.

These lessons dawn on you more profoundly as you get older. You might think it sounds obvious, but I can't change what's happened to me, I can't change what other people think, and I can't (directly) change how I feel.

I would do anything to be with my son again. But all I can do is get up each day as early as I can. And study, and learn, and try my best to not give up. Because my son wouldn't want me to give up, and my wife and my family need me to be strong.

Happiness is for women and children. Life as a man is fucking hard, it always has been, and I wouldn't wish an easy life on my worst enemy. Challenge builds character for when you really need it, which you will. You can't get away with anything in this life.

I have a lot of code on my computer and a lot of ideas that I would one day like to turn into a SAAS, but I have to stop hustling online for a bit. I have debts to pay off and I need to support my wife better. I've applied to over 100 python developer jobs on LinkedIn today, but the market's looking a lot busier than a year ago, so we'll see.

God bless you, whoever you are, and thanks for reading.
 
Welcome to bhw.

Sorry to hear about your struggles - most of us in IM have had a number of ups and downs along the way, some more than others.

Great story to read, I am sure it will help someone somehow.

Good luck going forward!
 
Wow, very inspirational man. All I can say is keep going. I'm hoping for an update from you, and a happy ending to the story!
 
Your story made me realize I'm not alone with the depression and problems.

Hopefully it'll end up getting better for you and for me too.

Good luck on your future endeavors!!!
 
I have also been trying to succeed online since last 14 years. I had failed multiple times in approx 20 projects/sites/apps. But i am doing IM in my free time along my regular job, in a hope that one day i will be successful in IM and will be able to resign from job.

Keep trying, I will also not give up!
 
Welcome to the BHW. All I can say is just keep working on yourself and never give up. I know it might sound like easy to say but hard to follow but yeah many internet marketers go through this phases until they find that one hit. Just keep moving.
 
I have to say thank you for your story, it really brings a lot of positive energy. I have more motivation to develop your team now
You're so excellent. I feel that there are nothing that can be difficult for you and there is nothing that you cant do.
In addition, I would also like to send my condolences to your child and your passion for music
I just can give you my best wishes!
 
Welcome! This is almost like a full journey rather than a simple introduction.
Sorry to hear about your loss.
Best of luck, you seem to have remarkable grit, you'll pull through!
 
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