About Stephen Spry
I’ve been self-employed on the Internet as a web designer since 1995. There have been heaps of ups and downs, but despite them I’m still here. Hopefully that means I’m beginning to work out what it’s all about…
This page is a snapshot of my 12+ years of being self-employed, and using the Internet to try to make a living.
Despite the too many times when I’ve had to borrow from Peter to pay Paul (ahhh… cash flow!) I do feel that I am much better off (maybe not financially) in lots of other ways, than if I was still in my “day job”.
And the finances? Well… I’m still working on that:)
One certain thing from my experience online, is that you certainly can NOT get rich quick using the Internet!
Back in 1995, I left a 17-year career as a high school Careers Adviser to go online with a very innovative (for the time) web site called Careers OnLine. Selling virtual “space” in an online Careers Market originally monetized this site. However, back in the very early days of the Internet, this idea was far too radical to work…
Careers OnLine continues to provide valuable information to around 70 – 90,000 job seekers every month!
In mid 1997 I turned to doing web design work for clients as I had to pay the bills! To promote myself and my clients I established a “local portal” web site called SydWest (no longer operational because I moved away from Sydney’s Western suburbs). It was one of the first regional portals in the world, even beating Citysearch to the punch!
Another niche portal site, the Small Business Support Network was also established in 1997. It is still going strong today, providing lots of updated, realistic ideas, advice and ongoing support to help small business operators stay competitive on today’s Internet.
Another earlier country based directory site, Come On Aussie was established in early 2000. Then, as now, it showcases new Australian web sites and provides excellent opportunities for those Aussie businesses who choose to list their sites there.
The biggest problem back then (a decade ago) was that it WAS the early days of the Internet. That meant I had to educate a lot of people about everything… including even what www. meant… And while the web design work did flow, it came ever so slowly as many business were very reluctant to jump into this murky big pond…
These bigger sites I had designed DID add to my credibility substantially when it came to chasing new small business clients, so somehow I managed to scrape by until July 2003, despite the fact that new software meant that pre-teens could call themselves web designers (and charge ten bucks for a web site!)
In July 2003 Google released their Adsense program which meant that web site owners like me had the chance to show advertising on our sites, and actually get paid for it! Believe me, I HAD tried to sell ad spots before, and THAT is a hard slog!
And the results were astounding!
Google was my saviour in 2003, and five years on still significantly contributes to my current income, as I do have several large, long-established content sites that attract over one million people every month!
While I’m still doing web design work for clients, it’s a job that is becoming extremely difficult. Mainly because there are far too many people who expect to pay peanuts to get a web site that actually WORKS for them.
And you know what you get if you pay peanuts don’t you… Monkeys!
So over the past few years my focus has been to develop even more web sites to place Adsense ads on – and NOT those spammy, thousands of page sites that offer no real value to people… My sites attract traffic through useful content, and automatically grow over time, to produce a reasonable income from Adsense.
But Are There TOO Many Eggs In The Google Basket?
For some strange reason, I decided I was relying too much on Google as my main source of income, so I looked for a Plan B or Plan C to supplement my income… and build something else that could eventually take over if (perish the thought) Google ever died (something which appears extremely unlikely now).
For an even stranger reason, I even ventured back into the real world… and set up a real “bricks-and-mortar” business as an Internet Service Provider. After a little over two years in that business, as it was starting to reach the point where it was almost profitable, my wholesale supplier decided to go belly-up… That collapse left a total of 80+ Aussie ISP’s (including me) out of business!
So all I can really say about Plan B – my venture into the “real” world of small business (as opposed to the online world) – is that is was a very expensive lesson!
I have enormous respect for those that go into a bricks and mortar business and who can survive in that world with all the huge expenses like rent, electricity, public liability insurance, bank fees, etc. It seemed like everywhere I turned as a small business owner, SOMEONE had their hands out expecting money!!!
So I’m now back at working from home… and the time has been better spent working on a new Plan B…
My New Plan B?
Now I’m looking at doing something with the TRAFFIC my web sites generate. I literally have over one million people every month coming to my various web sites, so I should be able to flog some stuff to them you’d think?
I’ve developed a small collection of niche “toolbox” sites that will piggyback on some of that traffic. These sites all use WordPress as their content management system (CMS) because of the immense flexibility that platform provides for social marketing and all the Web 2.0 stuff, along with fast search engine indexing.
And I’m incorporating some best practices for affiliate marketing, promoting stuff with PLR (Private Label Rights), and including Adsense advertising where appropriate. I can see my future is a little rosier than it has been lately.
While I really don’t anticipate being an online millionaire – and the truth be told, I can’t see how many of those people making those claims are telling the truth – I certainly will be better off financially and spiritually than I have been.
And that can only come from doing something that you love – working hard at it, and working from home!
Should you take advice from an Internet veteran who is NOT a multi-millionaire, and who has technically “failed” more times than you can poke a stick at?
That’s up to you to decide…
All I ask is that you at least “consider” that the content I provide might contain a useful smidge of information here or there that you can use… and that I’m not making any attempt to pull the wool over your eyes and fleece you for your last red cent!
This is a no bull zone… I am so over all of that, and I’m certainly not going to foist any of it on you here.
You’ll only get solid, factual, truthful information here, which, if you apply it, should help you get a reasonable start with your online business!
That said… you should also read this disclaimer to make sure you understand what goes on here…