Website Income

How to Make Money Online – The Formula for Success!

I can guess that like me when you first started your journey to making money online you came across ebooks/courses/gurus who promised fast money with little effort!

Hopefuly you quickly moved past those without wasting much money and realized they were all bull shit!

So is there really a “secret” or “blueprint” or “formula” to succeeding at making money online?

I do believe there is a formula for online success and it is NOT a secret!

In this post I am going to share…

  1. My journey to discover this “formula”
  2. The Formula for Online Business Success
  3. Testing the formula against several hypothetical people and predicting their eventual success.

My journey to discover this “formula”

I have shared a lot of details about my LONG journey from 2007 to now with my online business.

When I first got started there was many very high ticket courses that seemed to be promoted everywhere and promised to have the secret to making millions online. Butterfly Marketing, Product Launch Formula, Mass Control to just name a few of these blockbuster internet marketing course releases.

On top of these there were thousands of EBooks and smaller courses which made similar promises.

Fast forward 9 years and not a lot has changed in the world of selling high ticket courses online and questionable eBooks. However, I do believe today there are a lot more people sharing free useful actionable information!

My journey to finding what I believe is the formula for online success was not direct. In hindsight even though I never purchased any course/ebook I was guilty of chasing shiny objects and believing people when they talked about how easy strategy (blank) was.

The formula, like most things in life, is a little messier than the often quoted motivational sayings.

These statements although partially true are WAY to simple...

  • Content is king
  • The money is in the list
  • You just need 1 great idea
  • Work hard and the rest will take care of itself
  • Always add value
  • Its not what you know but who you know
  • It takes money to make money
  • Recurring revenue is the only way to build a profitable business
  • You need to build funnels
  • Focus on your mindset and everything else will take care of itself
  • Just follow your passion

Many of these have some truth but their simplicity is dangerously misleading and induce a mild gag reflux!

So what is the formula to build a successful online business?

The formula for online success as I like to think about it is the following…

This is the way I like to think about my online business.

If I am improving my knowledge and skills using the resources(money/team) I have with the connection I have built up and working my ass off on an important/substantial problem/good idea I will achieve success!

What Does This Formula Mean for You? Will You Succeed Building an Online Business?

When you thinking through your online business how are you doing at maximizing your rate of achieving success?

  • Knowledge - Do you have knowledge that you can bring to your business that puts you in a unique situation? For example are you a sourcing agent and looking to move into the FBA business model? There are a ton of possibilities of what knowledge you can bring to your online business.
  • Skills - Do you have or are you gaining a skill that you can be one of the best at in the world? Are you an expert or becoming an expert at SEO, conversion rate optimization, Facebook advertising, driving traffic from pinterest, guest posting etc (thousands of possibilities)
  • Resources - Are you bringing resources to your business? Whether that is capital, a team or something else. 
  • Work Effort - Are you busting your ass? Are you pushing through the pain and working on your business consistently?
  • Size of Problem / Quality of the Idea - Do you have a good idea for solving a meaningful problem for a large number of people. The bigger the problem you are solving the fewer people you need to reach and vice-versa... the smaller the problem you are solving for people the more you will need to reach. 


Will Carl Succeed?

Meet fictional person Carl… Carl is an experienced corporate manager who is looking to exit his corporate job and pursue an online business to spend more time with his family.

Will Carl achieve his goals? Is he achieving success?

(Knowledge (little relevant knowledge) + Skills (very capable manager) + Resources (has funds to deploy) + Connections (building connections to leverage))


(Work Effort (working everyday on his business))


(Size of Problem/Idea (tackling businesses with a large potential))


Rate of Achieving Success

Based on this assessment he is deploying his captial in a well managed way working on his business everday and tackling a large potential business. I would be confident that his rate of success will result in him achieving his goals of replacing his day job income!

Will Steve Succeed?

Steve works in an office and is very interested in online business. Has been reading and gaining a lot of knowledge. His goal is to quit his day job, travel the world and work from his laptop.

So will Steve succeed?

(Knowledge (very knowledgeable about all facets of internet marketing) + Skills (has not focused the development of any skill to a world class level) + Resources (does not have any capital to deploy) + Connections (friends with others online but no strategic connections))


(Work Effort (does not work consistently, works for a few nights and then takes a weak off))


(Size of Problem/Idea (focusing on “passive income” sites and micro niche sitesl))


Rate of Achieving Success

Based on this I am confident that UNLESS Steve does a few things he will NOT achieve success!

  1. Steve doesn’t have connections or resources so he NEEDS to develop a Skill to a world class level!
  2. Spotty and inconsistent work effort is a guaranteed way to not succeed!
  3. Trying to nibble on small problems/ideas without truly helping anyone is a guaranteed way to ensure the rate of business success will remain small.

The key takeaways I wish I had known when I was getting started…

  1. It is ok if you don’t have resources but you need to bring something to the table. If you don’t have connections, money or knowledge than you better develop a skill to a world class level!
  2. Nothing happens without hard work. All the knowledge/skills/resources and connections mean nothing if you don’t work hard.
  3. Your idea doesn’t have to be “great” it just can’t be terrible. Especially if you are getting started the opportunity cost of not getting started while you wait for a “great” idea is a bad decision. Everyone shifts direction as they go through their business and getting started is the only way to know which direction to shift. If you have a decent idea just get started.

If you liked this post than the post about an idea being a multiplier of success is great and the book The Millionaire Fastlane(shady sounding title but awesome book) would interest you.

I talk a lot about developing a skill, the only way to do this is with deliberate practise. A great book about the importance of deliberate practise is Talent is Overrated.

Tackling big project with massive effort can be daunting… a great book to get people in the right mindset for this kind of effort is 10X rule by Grant Cardone (his style is not for everyone and took me a bit but I really like the message)

My Final Thoughts

This post was written out of frustration for the massive discrepancy I see out of people who contact me. Some very obviously are setting themselves up to be successful and it is just a matter of time, while other are violating so many parts of this formula that I simply know unless they change they will fail!

Making a business successful online is not complicated but it is HARD!

I encourage you to honestly test where you are at on this formula and identify which blocks you can increase to increase the rate you are achieving success.

You may have noticed that I wrote “rate” of success multiple times in this post. I don’t believe success is a static point in time. Someone who has been wildly successful but is now falling apart (drugs/selling out etc) is no longer a “success” while someone who is achieving success at a rapid rate but is early on their journey is a “success”.

This is paraphrased from Earl Nightengale...

Earl Nightingale

Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal. 

If you are on the journey to being successful and you based on the formula above you are checking most of the boxes congrats! 

If you don't think you are checking enough of the boxes in the formula that it may be time to really consider why you are building an online business and if the sacrificies necessary to be able to check enough of the boxes is worth it! 

I would be very interested to hear what you guys think of this formula both the good and the bad!​

About the Author Jon

I am a 33 year old husband, father of 3, engineer and a huge fan of developing systems to build useful and profitable websites. The reason I build online businesses is to provide financial independence for my family and yours AND so I can spend time outside skiing and biking with my family.
Jon Gillham, Online Entrepreneur

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