Winning on the internet is life-changing.
It means you either build an audience, build a reputation, or earn all your income online. If all three happen then you’ve got a trifecta.
I’ve done all three, but I’m not that impressive. I have no business degree. I’m not an entrepreneur, salesy content turns me off, and I have average IQ.
All the success p*rn online makes it hard to succeed.
Every day there’s some flogger flashing a Lambo or their 8 and 9-figure business. I will never own a 9-figure business or be a billionaire. Why?
One, I’m not smart or driven enough. Two, I don’t give a damn about being rich. Perhaps you’re like me. Average. But still keen to succeed online on your own terms. If so, here’s my best advice for how to win on the internet.
Don’t let the spotlight effect destroy your potential
This one’s huge.
I’ve met too many people who won’t start building something online because they suffer from the spotlight effect.
The spotlight effect was coined by psychologists. It’s when people become obsessed with who’s watching.
They think they’re being noticed more than they really are. They may even be delusional enough to think they’re becoming ‘known’ or dare I say it, famous.
Here’s what I’ve learned after 1B+ views of my content: 99% of people won’t notice you online.
People rarely come up to me in the street. Leonardo DiCaprio isn’t inviting me over to eat popcorn and hang out with his 25 year old girlfriends. I’ve never been to a red carpet. And my family don’t know what I do.
People aren’t focused on you. They’re too busy dealing with their own problems that occupy all their mental space.
Now you’re free to win on the internet.
Double down on a single focus
Using multiple platforms is a good diversification strategy.
Write here. Post there. Be careful in case you get banned.
It’s all good advice. The problem is when you try and show up on too many platforms it becomes exhausting. It starts to feel like a full-time job and that sucks all the joy out of it.
When I started building on the internet I had a demanding full-time job with a douchebag boss who wanted to ride me hard. In that situation it’s hard to be on all these platforms.
Time is limited. Busyness is the default.
So I started by focusing on one platform (a WordPress blog). When you focus all your time and energy into one thing, the results tend to stack up faster. Worth considering.
Hidden selfishness gets you nowhere
I’ve met a lot of people on the internet. Most of them never succeed. Why? They have hidden selfishness.
Here’s what it looks like:
- “I better be careful not to share my tactics in case anyone copies them and it takes money away from me.”
- “I won’t publish a free book. It must be paid.”
- “That writer is such an idiot. Who do they think they are? They’re such a sellout. Selling a course is stupid.”
- “If you like my writing you should buy me a coffee or purchase a paid subscription to my newsletter.”
The problem: they always think about themselves. They’re focused on what they can get, not on what they can give. So they never make any money and it makes them real mad when people like me do.
So they chuck my name in a headline because they’re jealous I made it work by giving instead of making people support me out of obligation.
Learn the art of selflessness.
Be a standout human being
The people I’ve met who win on the internet are all nice.
When you see their posts and then talk to them on a Zoom call they’re the exact same. They write like they talk. They’re normally kind too.
They don’t charge everyone for everything. They reply to comments. They try to offer free solutions when they can. And they don’t have giant egos or think they’re more famous than Elon Musk.
Being ordinary and human is underrated.
Build after hours
The hustle culture haters dislike people who win on the internet.
They’re mad that it’s done after hours. It’s overworking, they say. I never paid attention to them. You can’t win on the internet without hard work.
My friend Dan Go tweeted 300 times a day and made 7 figures after 12 months. Yes, it’s hustling hard, bro, but for him it was worth it. He wanted a rapid transformation and to quit his low-paying personal training job.
Doesn’t mean you have to do what he did. But you have the option to. In the online world you have the choice to go as fast or slow as you want to go. That’s not a bad thing.
I’m about to hit my 10 year anniversary building on the internet. I made very little progress in the first 5 years. Some say I’m a little slow. But this is as fast as I could go, yo.
Go at your own pace.
Form a quirky group
This tip is often ignored.
One of the biggest problems building anything online is it’s lonely. It’s easy to get in your own head and tell yourself it doesn’t work. This is how it was for me. It’s a miracle I kept going after years of no progress.
When we go it alone we eventually reach a point of frustration. For some it takes a year, for others it takes 7 days haha.
At around the 5 year mark I joined a group of other creators. It supercharged my results. I got out of my head and started presenting my problems to the group.
Turned out my problems weren’t unique.
As a group we solved our biggest challenges with writing and running online businesses. We shared best practices too.
On the hard days, when I felt like giving up, I told the group. They talked me off the ledge.
The lesson here is to join a group of like-minded people. Build on the internet together. Share what works and what doesn’t. Because if you don’t, I can almost guarantee you’ll get frustrated and give up. Sad but true.
Not all groups are equal
Most groups suck.
Wait, what?! Yep. They’re full of amateurs who are nothing more than fortunetellers.
“I made 55 more cents on my article because it said ‘yeah!’”
They have no freaking clue what they’re talking about. Many groups online focused on social media are even worse. They like each other’s posts. They spend the whole day commenting on stuff.
As a result they never make any money. Bad strategies are bad strategies.
It’s one reason I prefer paid masterminds. The entry fee gets rid of all the non-serious people. And it attracts people who are patient, and not looking for growth hacks that spray bright yellow piss in your face.
Nothing beats being around people with a similar goal.
Chase obsession while holding a rubber ducky
(Not sure about the rubber ducky. I’m holding one my daughter just handed me. Sorry.)
People who win on the internet are obsessed. Not with success, but with a topic or idea. They can’t stop thinking about it.
They write or talk about it because they’re doing it anyway. It doesn’t feel like work. On their days off they’re still surrounded by their obsession.
They seem weird, a little cultish. Most people don’t understand them. And the people who do are all they need to win online.
Obsession over everything.
Don’t be afraid to sell something
“Ya bloody sell out, Denning!”
That’s a comment I got when I sold my first digital product. I didn’t want to be salesy or one of those internet marketing gurus. The thought of clickbait scared me because I didn’t want to be “that guy.”
Eventually I learned to change my mind.
If you develop a skill there’s no reason you can’t make money from it. What you build online should become a side income. And if you do it for long enough it should become your full-time gig.
We sell our skills to an employer for a salary. Why can’t we sell our skills to the internet and get paid? It’s the same damn thing.
The people who talk you out of charging money for something are just pissed off because they’re not doing it. Or they’re jealous.
Your skills have value. Your content has value. You can charge for it.
Ignore people with a scarcity mindset.
There’s only one path and it may piss you off
Let’s finish here.
I got a weird DM yesterday. “Hey, can I earn a living and write online without social media?”
I don’t think you can unless you’ve got venture capital money to blow on Zuckerberg ads or a trust fund. Otherwise you need people’s attention.
Using social media can feel stressful. There’s this weird desire to try and keep up. It feels like you have to chase trends and have some superhuman output.
And you can feel like you’re a monkey performing street tricks in Thailand to get dollar bills thrown at your feet and be ever more impressive than the last trick. A fear of judgement might be part of it too.
Don’t get me started on bosses. You may feel if your boss sees what you’re building online, they’ll fire you.
Then there’s the “I’m average and have nothing interesting to talk about.” Yes you do. People freaking love average. Almost all internet success is based on writing.
Blog posts? Writing.
Cold emails? Writing.
Social media captions? Writing.
Landing pages? Writing.
Product descriptions? Writing.
Course modules? Writing.
Client communications? Writing.
Customer resources? Writing.
Ads of any form? Starts with writing.
YouTube videos? Done best with written scripts.
Instaglam reels and TikToks? Like reading well-written tweets.
Images on Instaglam? Usually designed from a well-written quote or saying.
Any other form of online marketing, advertising, or entertainment? Starts with writing. Everything that your audience, customers, and network see starts with writing — Dan Koe
You can’t escape writing. And you don’t want to because writing makes you a better thinker and talker.
To win on the internet, start writing daily (even if you’re average).