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|Friends and family want to become webmasters|
How do you tell them no?
If I ever tell someone that I have my own website or (God forbid) make money from the internet, the next thing I know is they are asking me to teach them. Even people like my mother who barely even used a computer in her life.
Most of them don't understand that they would need at least basic programming and server administration skills, not to mention marketing, SEO and other subjects. Also I think people are confused by sensational "make money at home" infomercials on TV and spam they get in the mail.
It's especially bad when someone comes to me after they lose their job saying "well, no problem, I'm going to make money on the internet just like you" and I have to tell them "oh no you're not". They just assume I'm greedy and don't want to let them in on some secret.
Does anyone else ever deal with this problem?
I usually give them a copy of some 900 page book on learning HTML and tell them when they have that mastered, we will move on the the next step.
They usually don't ask again.
|norton j radstock|
Why not set them up with a blog site and leave them to it?
|Why not set them up with a blog site and leave them to it? |
I'd love it if some of my friends or family would have an interest in doing the same kind of work, but so far I can't get any one interested.
I have a basic email I send to people who express an interest with some general links on how to get started. I do suggest they start with blogger and then move on from there. I thought blogger was pretty simple to use, but so far no one has made it to even the first blog entry.
I don't think you need any server or programming skills to have a successful web site - a lot of people seem to do just fine with Front page or even just blogs.
When speaking about programming skills, Nick may be referring to top-producing sites that generate thousands of dollars a day in revenue. I may be wrong, but I don't think there are many personal blog-sites pulling in that kinda money. Most high producers are sites created with some type of web development skill.
So, I guess I agree with Nick. Most people are caught up in the, "I want to work from home" idea and don't adequately prepare for what true web developing is.
Of course starting a blog is fun and can probably make a little money with Adsense or Yahoo, but most folks who think about working at home dream about hitting million dollar jackpots.
Besides all of that, I'm way too lazy to try and coach someone something that takes a few years to master.
Ask them what they plan to sell. They have no webmaster skills so (so they can't sell those).
If they really are "friends" or family, then I tell them I would be happy to help them. But first I warn them that it usually takes people almost a year from the starting point before they may be making good money. I explain that it's a good deal of work and you will not get paid well for a while. If they are sure they have the patience to work for months and months before seeing any rewards, then I have the patience to teach them. I have taught a few people, all for free with the understanding that they will provide me with links whenever they create a site that is relevant to one of my own.
I always take the time to show everyone who asks how I do what I do, though I have found precious few that will actually spend the time to actually do it.
I started a long time ago with no internet skills what-so-ever. I read a basic HTML primer online and away I went from there. Had my first webpage up about a week later on geocities. Who are you to say they can't teach themselves these skills if only you would take a moment to point out what skills they need to start learning. Beyond that, I have met people who can barely put a webpage together who are making money online. Don't assume that just because you use all those skills that other people need them too to succeed.
If you take a few moments to show them what you do and give them links to resouces where they can learn how to do it (I have a standard list now), they can have no cause to be angry with you.
I think pointing your enthusiastic friends and family to web resources, suggesting books for them to read, and giving them general encouragement is the way to go.
If they choose not to stay the course then it will never be necessary for you to discourage them yourself - and if they make a success of it, then discouraging them would have been doing them a disfavour.
At present I have four friends who observe how I work and want to do something similar. Two have yet to start, one has started planning and one is already making pocket money from his site. At no point do I want to discourage any of them.
|When speaking about programming skills, Nick may be referring to top-producing sites that generate thousands of dollars a day in revenue. I may be wrong, but I don't think there are many personal blog-sites pulling in that kinda money. Most high producers are sites created with some type of web development skill. |
The average household income in the U.S. for 2003 was around $43,000 ($118 a day), so most people would not have to make thousands of dollars a day in order to make a living from the web. Most doctors don't make more than $200,000 a year, which would be $547 a day.
I know people who make a lot more than $118 a day and don't know anything more than Front page.
I don't recommend to my friends that they try to make a living from blogs. I recommend they start with a blog and then if they like doing that type of work they can move up from there.
"....... and I have to tell them "oh no you're not"
That is utterly patronizing.
If your friends want to take the time and have the patience, they don't need you to get started. Most of us started on our own and many have done very well.
I ask them what they are going to build a site about, or what products they are going to sell.
Normally it takes many months to come back.
If they come back straight I ask them what ecommerce package they are going to use then point out the pit falls of that package.
If they want to keep coming and asking Ill help, but im here in an advisory capacity only.
No one seems to realise the amount of work you have to put in.
I've already encouraged my brother to start his own chocolate e-com site selling chocolate gifts and 3 months into it (with my adwords tips) he's already generating £100/day in revenus.
I did tell however if he wanted my full services that he would need to SHOW ME THE MONEY ;-)
I guess the trick is having friends or relatives who are actually serious about doing the work, sticking with it, and generating revenues.
I would never discourage anyone from pursuing web development for whatever reason they wish to pursue it. I don't assume people are dumb, and have no ability to survive on the web.
Maybe I'm too lazy (because I know what it takes to become a good web developer) to show them the ropes. Or maybe I believe that if they really want to learn something bad enough.... they'll start on their own.
Would I lend advice?
Will I sit with them for 4 hours a day, 3 days a week while they try to grasp the concepts of a while loops and if-then-else statements?
But I'm from the, "old school" of programming (before Frontpage, Dreamweaver, etc.) where you actually had to learn how to code all of that stuff.
Nowadays, there are so many site-generating programs that allow just about anyone (with the desire) to setup their own website.
Ive had several "friends" ask me to show them how to make money online.
The problem is they want all the info and know-how without a thought to how I spent hundreds of hours just reading and reading or the thousands of pounds I've lost along the way learning the hard way.
I like many others have just learned as I've went along, made mistakes, some very costly, and learned from it all.
I certainly wouldn't be handing out that kind of info to a free loading friend or relative.
That would be the same as me building my own home from scratch moving in then my cousin says "Oh I like your house, can you build me one?" Sure I say. For him to tell me I need to buy all the materials and do all the labour and work.
|I certainly wouldn't be handing out that kind of info to a free loading friend or relative. |
I will, happily. Although, I don't see any of my friends as free loaders, or I simply wouldn't hang out with them.
I've tried about 4 times, and their enthusiasm wanes once they find out how much work and learning this stuff really takes.
They are free to come back whenever they want and start where they left off. (which is basically nowhere.)
I'm out there competing with millions of people. Why not have an extra one be a friend or family member? I've made many friends out of competitors, but still haven't made a competitor out of a friend.
Do I tell everyone everything I know? Of course not. Only one of me can take over the world.
I do tell friends and the GF to tell people that I "just build websites" if the subject comes up outside of my circle. I'll decide if an "outsider" needs to know more than that, or to what extent. I define "outsider" rather liberally... pretty much anyone who doesn't already know. If someone is talking to me directly, I make those determinations on the spot.
I will, happily.
|I certainly wouldn't be handing out that kind of info to a free loading friend or relative. |
So will I.
One of my friends is good at Salsa and used to work in her spare time as a Salsa teacher - she shows me how to dance better.
Another friend speaks better Russian than I do and can help me to increase my vocabulary.
Another friend can is an excellent cook and helps me improve my cooking.
Yet another friend has more experience in business and can give me excellent tips.
We all have our own skills which we spent time learning while others were engaged in different activities. If we can't help our friends and family by giving them the benefit of knowledge we have accrued in fields they are less familiar with, who can we help?
|We all have our own skills which we spent time learning while others were engaged in different activities. If we can't help our friends and family by giving them the benefit of knowledge we have accrued in fields they are less familiar with, who can we help? |
Yeah, but think about this: Most people (friends or family) who come to you with the bright-eyed question, "Teach me how to build websites so I can make money like you!", are looking for a quick (easy) way to bring in extra cash. Those of us who are pure, hardcore programmers with experience, degrees and lots of webmastering skills, know that this type of work is easier than it was 8 years ago, but still takes a lot of effort.
When I say, "this type of work", I don't mean throwing up a 5-page site with a couple of graphics and a paragraph or two. If friends and family want to design those types of sites, they can figure it out with a web tutorial or a book, and be done in a couple of days.
But those Frontpagers who know nothing about web programming, but have been persistent enough to start making money online, are rare. (IMO)
Now, I understand the analogies...(teaching a foreign language, or teaching someone Salsa)... but you would have a pretty good idea of what it takes to learn those. People who just want to "make money" building websites haven't a clue.
.... and I'm too freakin' lazy to teach them! LOL
|But those Frontpagers who know nothing about web programming, but have been persistent enough to start making money online, are rare. (IMO) |
I think you are ABSOLUTELY wrong about that.
I have helped people get going who have done very, very well, all they needed was the initial push and then someone to bounce things off as they learned more themselves, though a lot do not have the staying power.
I also direct them here and tell them that its all in here, all they have to do is look, read and learn.
If I had those types of people asking me...(those with a true desire and dedication to be successful in creating a website or two)...then I would certainly help them.
I just believe that most (not all) of those who ask, are only looking to make a "quick buck". They see it as a means to make money without putting up a huge effort....(the big "dream" many seem to have)
Granted, no one wants to slave over a job with little pay, but the same people most likely won't ask you to show them how to dig ditches for extra money.
That's not as glamorous or appealing, and probably doesn't appear as easy to them.
If there is one nagging problem in this industry, it's the perception that what we do is easy.
Wait. actually, it is, isn't it? I once had a temp job sorting garbage at a recycling plant. That was awful, nasty, smelly hard work. I lasted almost a week. Look at the job I have now. I have flexible hours typing at a desk, doing work that is intellectually stimulating and creatively fulfilling. Sure there's an amount of stress at times, but it's easier to cope with than the smell of garbage and the physical exertion of loading trucks with bins full of broken glass.
Our industry does have a problem with saturation - in the 90s being a "web designer" became a chic career, millions of people rushed to take college night courses, and forced themselves into a job market where their Web Basics 101 diploma and experience at Foot Locker wasn't enough to get them their dream job.
I catch myself looking through resumes and feeling pity for them. I catch myself doing that, and remind myself that I'm being a pompous jerk. Where was I when I started? Sorting garbage!
Sure, this industry is competitive, but everyone deserves that opportunity to compete. If someone asks me what it takes to make money on the web, I try to be honest and give them genuine advice.
"Honest" is the key word there. I won't tell them it's easy. And I will not hold their hand for the next two years while they learn the ropes (though an occasional pitcher of beer over "shop talk" is always welcome). If they want to make it, they will need ingenuity, skill, dedication, patience, and discipline. They can follow a winning formula (blog + Adsense = $10) or they can risk doing something new. Who knows - maybe my brother-in-law will come up with the next million dollar homepage!
I agree, httpwebwitch. I wouldn't discourage anyone who has a strong desire to get into this business. But more times than not, they're looking for easy money.
I once worked for a medical transcription company and often traveled to distant hospitals to repair various technical problems on their computer systems. One of the transcriptionists who worked there, always had her 8-year old son with her...(guess she didn't have anyone to watch him after school)
Anyway, he was probably one of the most tech-savvy 8-year olds I'd ever met. He was ALWAYS asking me questions like, "Did you know that the latest IE patch caused another vulnerability to pop up? I figured it out after I installed the patch and checked to see if the Shockwave Object was still there."
(Okay...that wasn't actually an issue, but it was questions like that which I found interesting about this kid.)
He would constantly ask me to "teach him something" about computers...(when he already knew plenty!)
He didn't care about money; or status; or how long it would take him to learn it.
He just had that fire and desire to learn it.
If they are looking to make some money on the net, but not willing to go through all the "stuff" associated with building, promoting and running a website, why not see if they will write copy for you. You probably aren't going to find a "top notch copywriter" or "A list blogger" but if they can generate 10-20 decent articles for which you pay them, seems like a win-win to me.
I find that telling people to come to webmaster world and start reading and then come back to me if they have any questions makes them understand what a wide breadth of skills and information that it takes to "make it". So far, nobody has come back with any questions.
I would discourage them in a second - if only to save them from the emotional strain starting a business involves.
Let's be realistic here people - the web is no better than Tv's Pop-Idol. It's an 'open' invitation to anyone with a PC to attempt to make money, and they all think it's an easy ride with instant web fame and the money just pours in.
There has never been a more 'joke' of an idea than others convincing complete nobodys with their 'How To Courses' and 'Secret 9 formulas of instant Success'. lol.
All I see on the web is a bunch of sales, gift and reseller site that look so amateurish - the only thing they are good for is to laugh at. It's so sad to see probably and hopefully intelligent life, become sucked into such a wirlpool of deception, lies and dragons and the only winner is the very few. Meanwhile the average surfer's 'experience' is interupted by some pop up or other intrusive ad selling porn or some very illegal substance.
The web was once good but now it's not so good. Grind out those few dollars, you can do it, it'll just take you about 10 years. You know I hear at least 3 times a month someone say "How's your web business going?" or "I want my own web site, Amazon does it!" I just smile and cringe at the same time, as I know they don't have the ability or cash to do what Amazon does.
I tell them about the right idea
I say they need expertise and web skills would be nice
I mention the hundreds of hours involved and the lack of profit - and they still think it's easy.
They won't listen, oh well. I can see myself launching, working on this for maybe 5 years and then selling up, more out of the stress than anything else. Lifes too short and health is more important.
I set blogs for my relatives and they learn how to publish and learn about Adsense. It was a year ago. Now it's time for them to move to regular site.
He just had that fire and desire to learn it. - In my experience thats all that is needed to succeed at almost anything.
Fire in the gut.
I have been in the uncomfortable position of getting business proposals from a relative. I'm digesting a Thanksgiving feast, and get cornered by kin with an idea for an online business.
Does the following sound familiar?
"I have everything all planned out in my notebook here, and sketches of what each page will look like, all I need is for someone to build it into a website. I can't pay you anything right now, but since you'd be a partner in the company we'll share all the profit"
What do you do in that situation?
My standard answer leverages a lack of time; sorry, I just have so much going on, I'm not getting involved in any outside projects right now.
I've done the 900 book page thing when I was asked by my girlfriend to teach her to do sites/money. She did not knew how to read her Yahoo mail back then and now after 3 years she makes 3K from affiliate programs. Smart girl.
Teach them the basics, "exploit them" and make them to do small jobs for you at the beginning and its very possible that they will make it. Afterall they are your family.
|"I have everything all planned out in my notebook here, and sketches of what each page will look like, all I need is for someone to build it into a website. I can't pay you anything right now, but since you'd be a partner in the company we'll share all the profit" |
What do you do in that situation?
I tell them that it takes about $200 / hour to get me to do anything right now, I'm a few weeks behind, and don't forsee it changing for quite some time.
I'll still carefully listen to their idea, kick it around with them, and try to tell them what I think will or won't work. I'll also tell them how they could go on without me. I don't think anyone has ever given me the sort of detail you're talking about.
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