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Want to leave corporate America for a content site career

 5:35 pm on Aug 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

I've followed this and many other forums for several years. I recently have become much more active in them because I am interested in leaving the corporate world and entering the online word permanently.

Like the agent in the matrix talking to Morpheus; "I must get out of this place"

I have several sites and have tested many ideas. Including, seo, directories, online marketing. I have enough programming and business background to get it done. I do however understand the value of a good team and community. Thats where this forum comes in.

I'm thinking a how to type of site with constant fresh content that will be complimented by a network of relevant supporting sites.

Any advice from anyone who has made this leap? Or anyone who has not is very welcome. Thanks.



 9:40 pm on Aug 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

re: Marketing plans

Thats been covered and is a living subject.

Good. Because marketing plans need to be kept alive. One way to keep up to speed on such things is to volunteer your services for local charities. Generates goodwill too.

The local food bank might be a good place to start. And you might well meet some other hopeful web entrepreneurs there. Always good to have some live like minded folks to share your hopes and dreams face to face with.


 1:13 am on Aug 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

I heard a saying when I started out that has stuck with me whenever I read about someone just starting out. "People are taught to ask questions, leaders are self taught to question the answers" and believe me, the search engines keep everyone questioning everything.


 9:17 pm on Aug 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

kmb40 I have been doing both day job and my website work now for 5 years.
I am geting close to the point of being able to move to my website/franchise work but without the support of my day work I would not have made it especially the last 18 months. I did it by working nights, weekends, holidays, vacations, sick, happy, sad, depressed, happy and on and on.

Yhe point being. Get something off the drawing board and into the www and test different ideas, thoughts and find the real direction you want to go.

I strongly recommend getting the website work going while you have some money coming in and can afford some of the expensive software, programming, hosting, secure certificate and many more expenses that come with the new business. People have no clue as to how expensive building and maintaining a site really is.

DO NOT put your family and yourself at risk until you see it will work and support your needs. Nothing is worse than having a great idea and fall short because it takes longer to become a mature revenue generator longer than 24 months.

24 months in net time is nothing. Your site may not mature for 60 months what will you do then.

KEEP YOUR JOB get to work on weekends, evenings, holidays, vacations get the site idea put to life and then and only then will you be able to determine the true potential of your idea.

Talk, thoughts, ideas are cheap anybody can dream the REAL deal comes when you put the talk, thoughts, ideas into action.


 12:19 am on Aug 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

The weird thing about being in the corporate world for to long is that it really is like the matrix.

You can't believe any more that you can do it without them, so that's what you get.

[edited by: MrHard at 12:43 am (utc) on Aug. 26, 2009]


 3:28 am on Aug 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

The weird thing about being in the corporate world for to long is that it really is like the matrix.
You can't believe any more that you can do it without them, so that's what you get.

wow..That's really got to be the quote of the day. Thanks 'MrHard'!


 5:20 am on Aug 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

I've been self-employed for 45 years. It is a tough row to hoe... but can be done. I am self-employed at several trades (musician, teacher, antique instrument sales, author, web) and over the last 20 years have put all those trades on-line. Some make money, some make a bit more money, and one makes quite a bit of money because I had 10 years of one site live and sufficient sales to capture some venture capital. While that biz is not a wild international success, the VCs got their return and 17% and remain available should expansion of current offering makes sense.

It won't happen overnight. Never does...but for the "web" or "media" it will look like overnight should that happy overnight sensation happens.

Meanwhile, don't give up the day job... even if it is a self-employed job or a corporate job. Once you have a valid biz plan...one you can promote to either a bank or venture capital, and have a solid P/L, that's when you make that decision.


 1:30 pm on Aug 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

MrNard your statement is probably true for the "followers" but for "leaders" they are independent of the "being trapped" syndrone. Millions upon millions of men/women have ventured out of "corporate world".
I think we can all name 10 they know of that were in "corporate world" now independent self employed business developers.

If you really think about it there are 2 types of personalities Leaders and Followers. Neiter one is bad or above the other.


 10:10 pm on Aug 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

The Internet is a tool to leverage your business. It shouldn't be where your business is located in its entirety.

So in many cases, you build the tool that other people pay you to leverage. It can be far easier and more profitable if the whole business is online and generates revenue by generating sales as opposed to selling advertising. When you generate sales you aren't going to get cut out of the ad budget because you are money. If you run advertising you might generate sales but many time you don't know and in times like these as budgets get cut back, advertising can easily be a luxury that is cut by many companies.

I've done the corporate thing at the current agency for a little over 8 years. I've done the affiliate thing for about 6 and at times made multiples of the agency salary as an affiliate. I should have quit the job a long time ago when the cash was really flowing but for whatever reason I always thought I needed a job.

Along the way, I've learned content itself isn't worth much of anything unless you have a TON of it and make money on volume. Content that draws people in with intent to take action can be worth a fortune. This is why Google makes tons of cash and the twitters and facebooks are probably still bleeding money. People come to a search engine with intent to do, find or buy something and the engine organizes the content in such a way as to position itself between the buyer and seller. People come to facebook and twitter mostly to chat.

If Google, twitter and facebook were all in a coffee shop, Google would be the cash register collecting the receipts and twitter, facebook, most content sites and social networking sites would be the chairs and tables people sit on so they can chat and share pictures.

With enough bulk and addicted users (Facebook) a site can make a profit but most of us need users with intent cause it takes to many resources to get bulky enough to live on Adsense or ad network $1.00 CPMs.

I would not quit a day job until there is cash coming in, at least $1,000 per month to somewhat prove the idea/model will work and at least a year or two of cash in the bank to live off of. 1-2 years to monetization is probably about right and as there is more and more crap out there with everyone thinking they will get rich by starting a blog, there is a TON of noise to compete with.


 11:07 am on Aug 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

@skibum (or anyone else of course :-)):

How 'difficult' is it generally to make money with affiliate products? I'd love to hear your opinion on this..some people say every SEO/Online Marketer would be able to make far more money working for themselves (e.g. by promoting affiliate products) - others say for every affiliate marketer making money there are 100 affiliate marketers with nothing but (opportunity) costs.

I'm wondering what the success ratio would look like if only 'serious' people were considered (experienced online marketers/SEOs who one day start their own sites, not get-rich-quick people).

Is affiliate marketing (if 'done right') usually almost as good of a business model as selling your own products (considering building your own product limits you to a handful of niches, where you might actually be able to build a decent product)?

Content that draws people in with intent to take action can be worth a fortune.

I've been thinking that three keys to having success with affiliate sites were that

1) you need to create the kind of site that - as you say - draws people in...that turns first-time visitors into repeat visitors, etc. - so that you can then recommend say one (truly useful) 'must have product' in your niche to those people, who are a lot more likely to buy upon your recommendation than a first time visitor (who never comes back).

2) be in a niche where the affiliate pay-out is high enough - e.g. software, etc. the kind of products that have a decent conversion rate (thus no high-ticket items like yachts, that nobody buys online :)) & can afford to give their affiliates a big enough piece of the sales pie (because distributing their product - software, etc.) to any additional customer has almost zero additional manufacturing cost for them.

(and then they're making more money overall if they offer affiliates a big enough incentive to drive traffic)

and maybe 3) promoting an affiliate product that people can't buy offline, or won't (e.g. because it's embarrassing).

I've been thinking that not getting #1 and #2 right were the main reasons why most affiliate sites seemed to fail.

I'd love to hear anyone's opinion on this who has experience with affiliate marketing!

Is affiliate marketing usually a bad business model, or does it simply have that kind of bad reputation because it attracts the 'get rich quick'-crowd?



 12:08 pm on Aug 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

I ventured out on my own 1-1/2 years back and now earning more than double what my day job offered me at that time. So I will say my very best wishes to you.
I would say that venture into few different things.
For example you may be specialist in Subject A, so take someone who is specialist in Subject B or C and so on. Ofcourse taking a partner or revenue sharing person is optional but then you can divide your risk by doing this. Also Mix online business with some offline stuff. As coachM said if you can write a blog on speciality subject then write in the local magzine or guide on that subject. This will give you credibility and authority in your subject.
I have seen what looks green pasture in the day job is not always so. I mean if you consider that you are earning say X amount in day job and Y amount from part time job and if you quit your day job you will earn (X + Y)*2 or 10 then be careful. As many people said here that be prepared to work hard for YOURSELF (now thats the big incentive atleast for me) for atleast 2 years.
All the best.


 12:35 pm on Aug 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

As well as luck, timing & contacts are also critical. Sure you need a good biz plan etc, lets assume *anyone* remotely considering this has sound biz plans

If you have access to finances & good contacts you can utilise timing and make things happen quickly when the opportunity is there.

In 12 years being self-employed I have been most successfull when working with known contacts who are already successful, when taking risks and funding much bigger projects that the competition were too scared of or couldnt access them.

fyi - affiliate marketing, is not a business model, its just internet marketing like seo, sem,e-marketing, banner advertising


 1:46 pm on Aug 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

Why is affiliate marketing not a business model? I would say there are three main business models on the web:

- selling advertising space
- promoting affiliate products
- selling your own product

I certainly understand that getting the traffic to such sites (using SEO, PPC, w-o-m, etc.) is pretty critical ;-).

Am I misusing the term "business model"? (not that I care too much about semantics, but I'm curious, now ;-))

OH...I meant MONETIZATION using affiliate ads...NOT driving traffic using affiliate marketing.


 1:55 pm on Aug 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

The bad PR associated with affiliate marketing is affecting me too. Now, that I have quit job to try making a career online, I want to do legitimate things, not only because it is the right thing, but also because I don't want my near and dear ones to suspect I am some #*$! trader or some scammer ;)

I think affiliate marketing can do well, but the bad PR associated with it is making me hesitant in taking the move. Ok, none of my dear ones know anything more than Google and Facebook, but still I feel hesitant for God know why!


 2:13 pm on Aug 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

If you really want to take the plunge, go ahead and do it and do not look backwards. Most people make the mistake of not taking the plunge because they are scared. Think of it this way, worse comes to worse you can always go back to the corporate world.

You will never know how successful you can really be unless to make an attempt. Just make sure it is something you really want to do and the products you sell you actually have an interest or passion in. Otherwise, years down the road it could become boring.


 2:56 pm on Aug 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

If you really want to take the plunge, go ahead and do it and do not look backwards.

This advice works great for folks who are prepared, have 6-12 months of expenses saved up, and have a plan in place.

This advice does not bode well for someone who is the sole supporter of a family (financially) and does not have any side business already in the works and producing income.

Don't take the jump just to take the jump. If you want to start a new venture, do it... but do it first in your free time on the side. Keep you day job until you are making enough money on the side to support yourself and family... Until then, it is not worth it. In today's economy folks can't just return to their corporate jobs so easily. You might find your job was filled and no one is hiring.

Just my 2 cents...


 3:20 pm on Aug 30, 2009 (gmt 0)


One of my biggest concerns and hurdles is that corporate is demanding more and more time because the headcount has been decreased steadily over the last few years.

And the work doesn't leave with the headcount, it stays for those left behind to address. Nor are there more than 24 hours in a day.

Ultimately today's work force is being asked to do more with less and that eats into my venture time.


 3:44 pm on Aug 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

that eats into my venture time

That's a problem, but even an hour a day is enough to make progress if you're well focused on practical action.

From early in the thread:

Do you have any sites making money at all now after two years of part time work on several sites? If so, what percent of your day job income have you replaced in those two years?

If you answered those questions I missed it.

If you have what it takes to make a living online, you will have a positive answer to those questions. (The numbers do not need to be large, but they do need to be positive.)


 5:18 pm on Aug 30, 2009 (gmt 0)


I put in the hours when I can but I am constantly distracted by my day job and obviously need to spend some time with my family as well.

Im generating a fraction of the salary of my day job today.


 5:45 pm on Aug 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

Brett (owner of this site I think) has a great one year plan to make your website(s) successfull somewhere on this site and it still applies to this day (for me).

Two years is too long to just "plan" a website business plan. You have to keep up on daily search engine changes as part of your business plan in action.

Just go for it! If at first you don't succeed, try & try again.

I started working for myself since the dot com bust when people and friends said the internet is just a fad but what a wonderfull fad I have been running to this day.


 5:45 pm on Aug 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

kmb40, buckworks

We are obviously discussing an issue which cannot be uniform throughout. To some, having a day job gives security which energizes them to put in the hours of part-time. For some, the same hours of day job frustrates them that they are not able to put in the same for their own job

There is no looking back now. kmb40 (and me too) have taken the plunge when time was probably not ripe enough, and there is no gainsaying in telling us that we were probably wrong or something.

What can be said is how to make the best use of this new found time and freedom.

man in poland

 5:51 pm on Aug 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

kmb40 - with all due respect, are you sure you are ready for this? The change of life from a 'corporate' to an 'entrepreneurial' one is totally dependant on your character. If, after 2 years, you are still thinking about this, I doubt it is for you. Don't make the jump to get away from the 'Matrix' and your unsatisfying job - make the jump because you are so excited about your idea that you cannot sleep, and you want to destroy the competition.

Those who say you need to keep your day job going until your project is up and running are giving poor, but well-meaning advice, in my humble opinion. Be honest to yourself and to your employer. Either work for your employer whole-heartedly, strive to make your employer's business a success (and your role within that business satisfying and rewarding financially) and spend your spare time with your family, or get out of there and start up your own business without looking back. Burn your bridges. Make it so your new business simply has to succeed.

I have a brother in the corporate world - works hard, gets well paid, finds the 'Matrix' frustrating but appreciates the security that comes with it. I've never worked for anyone else. I started a business 6 years ago, funded by my credit card, with a wife and two young children to support. Now I employ 30 people. It has worked out great for both of us, but only because I believe both I and my brother understand our respective characters well, and are not trying to be something we are not.

Horses for courses. Be honest to yourself, and good luck!


 6:12 pm on Aug 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

what Coachm probably means is that you are limiting yourself and your website's potential if you are only going to think of it as a mere website. If you think of all things you can possibly do had it been a brick and mortar store, then you will end up finding a lot more revenue streams.

There's a lot more to the Web than e-commerce, affiliate sites, or online presences for brick-and-mortar businesses. Some of us (such as (Ken_b, or yours truly) do quite well as Web publishers. In some highly profitable niches, there's a shortage of quality ad inventory, and CPMs for display ads are climbing steadily even in the current recession.

The secrets of success in Web publishing aren't really secrets at all: Target the right audience, publish content with intrinsic value that will attract both readers and advertisers, and find a way to sell advertising (whether on your own, with a rep firm, or via ad networks).

ADDENDUM: People who hope to generate income with Web sites needs to ask themselves two questions:

1) "What are my abilities?" An expert on air travel who's a writer might be able to succeed with airline reviews, news, and other information; an expert on air travel who lacks writing skills might be able to succeed with a site that serves up data in a way that hasn't been done before (such as the augmented airline seat maps with "good seat," "bad seat," and "be aware" seat captions at Seatguru.com, which had instant value for air travelers when the site launched a number of years ago).

2) "What can I do that hundreds of other sites aren't already doing?" The public isn't clamoring for another hotel-booking site or fare-search site, but what about a hotel-booking site for soccer fans who are attending out-of-town matches (one such site was launched a few years ago) or a flight-search site that helps travelers find last-minute seats on low-occupancy flights where they'll have a better chance of an empty seat next to them or a first-class upgrade?

Too many Web businesses fail because there's nothing special about them and there's no reason why they should exist, let alone succeed. And to compete with existing Web businesses, you need to offer something they don't. It isn't enough to be like the guy who decides "Hey, I'll open a coffee shop!" and spends fifty grand building a new coffee shop on the same block as Starbucks and Caribou.


 7:03 pm on Aug 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

There is some great wisdom in this thread from many perspectives.

Don't quit day job too soon, Save some money, Diversify, Start with the end in mind, Start now don't plancrastinate.

I left a big corporate job & have been happily self-employed since 1993.

My advice is YOU WILL FAIL

But that's okay...plan on it...don't let it surprise or devastate or embarrass or impoverish you. You will learn from these failures and improve.

It's only when we have a single-minded concept and no thought of the reality that it may not work in the way we envisioned that we get knocked out of the game for good and have to go groveling back to the slavemasters.

I think it was Guy Kawasaki or somebody who was relating his experience as a VC talking to start-ups and he said his main question was always "So what's your plan B when that doesn't work?"

One other thing is I would envision my desired work day / environment and plan backwards from there. I know from personal experience that you can create a very successful business that you totally hate if you don't. The biggest ahole slavedriver you ever work for can sometimes wind up being you.

Your biggest risk is not that a business would fail...if that happens you can try something else. Your biggest risk is that it would KIND OF work. Then like a Las Vegas hobo it makes you just enough to keep you hanging on and takes up years of your life. If you are at least spending your work days in an enjoyable way you won't mind that.


 7:40 pm on Aug 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

Im generating a fraction of the salary of my day job today.

Then you have a real beginning to build on.

From your earlier comments it wasn't clear that you had something actually up and running.

Even if it's modest, if you have a site that's generating positive cash flow, that's a checkmark in the "go for it" column.


 8:34 pm on Aug 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

It has two principal question:

How to get investors or debt?

How to return money back, to meet their expectation, and then get exemption from debtors?


 8:39 pm on Aug 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

How to get investors or debt?

If you want to be on the cover of Inc you have to worry about issues like that, but if you just want to replace an average corporate salaried income with some content sites you can do that just with free blogspot blogs and literally zero expenses, except for your time, upfront.


 9:12 pm on Aug 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

I agree with that Jane_Doe..I might be wrong, but I have yet to hear that for most online-based businesses having investors is crucial (as opposed to time & hard work).

The bad PR associated with affiliate marketing is affecting me too. Now, that I have quit job to try making a career online, I want to do legitimate things, not only because it is the right thing, but also because I don't want my near and dear ones to suspect I am some #*$! trader or some scammer ;)
I think affiliate marketing can do well, but the bad PR associated with it is making me hesitant in taking the move.

Personally, I didnt really mean a negative reputation of affiliate marketing when it comes to people who are unfamiliar with online marketing....but rather the bad reputation affiliate marketing has (as a monetization model) among webmasters.

I was wondering if that bad reputation (of 'affiliate marketing usually not working' so-to-speak) had some truth to it...or if the amount of failures in affiliate marketing was ridiculously inflated because of so many get-rich-quick'ers being attracted to it (and thus affiliate marketing being a good monetization model, 'if done right').


 9:17 pm on Aug 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

Just a thought - regarding quitting the day job. For some people there is a satisfactory intermediate step. Approaching the boss about working part time, or working as a freelancer/consultant. Obviously depends on your current job!


 10:19 pm on Aug 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

KEEP YOUR JOB get to work on weekends, evenings, holidays, vacations get the site idea put to life and then and only then will you be able to determine the true potential of your idea.

All I hear is work work work and no time for the family.

Bad idea, bad plan, give up one or the other and give that time back to the family.

Otherwise, you'll end up divorced and lonely and/or your kids will resent you for ignoring them over that "stupid website".

Pick two of 3, job and family or web and family.

You really can't have all 3 because there simply isn't enough time in the day if you intend to do a good job at any of it.

Otherwise, one of them will suffer, most likely the job will notice, which will fire you first before the wife leaves you for getting fired.

Not trying to be negative because I gave up my job in '98 and never looked back so I'm all in favor of it if it makes sense, if you can support yourself, just don't set yourself up for failure.


 12:25 am on Aug 31, 2009 (gmt 0)

You really can't have all 3 because there simply isn't enough time in the day if you intend to do a good job at any of it.

Some studies show that many people spend an average of 4 1/2 hours a day watching TV, so that is an activity many people could use instead to build up a side business and still have time for their family and a day job.


 12:54 am on Aug 31, 2009 (gmt 0)

Agreed. There is time for all 3 if you are good at managing your time. Take for instance my scenario (when I was doing all three):

1. Woke up at 6am, about 1 hour before everyone else. Got some work done on my website. (about 5 hours/week)

2. Spent my lunch hour at Panera (free wifi) working on my website (about 4 hours/week total)

3. 2-3 nights a week I would stay up late after everyone went to bed (10-midnight) for a total of about 5 hours/week.

4. Weekends you can find a few hours here and there (2-3 hours).

This is roughly 15-16 hours/week of work that is only sacrificing my own time, with almost no family time being sacrificed.

Heck, I don't even work a full 15 hrs/week anymore... so that is plenty of time to get a website going... =)

Telling someone who has a family and is the bread winner for that family to quit their day job before they have something working in place is careless in my opinion. We all know the success rates for online businesses/websites is low, just as they are for a brick and mortar business.

If 10 newbies reading this thread go out and quit their day job tomorrow to start a website... 9 of them will fail within a few years. This may not be the exact statistic, but you know it is close... If you ever spend a few minutes on DP, you will find hordes of newbies trying to make a living off websites and only able to scrape up a few dollars a day...

Getting to the point where you can support your family from a web venture is no easy task for a newbie... and please don't take this the wrong way, but 2 years experience is still a newbie in my opinion... In a field where most of us have been building websites for 15 years...

[edited by: maximillianos at 1:06 am (utc) on Aug. 31, 2009]

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