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Is It Easier or Harder to Make Money Online Today?

We’ve read countless stories about the dot com boom and how several lucky individuals were able to cash out big as a result. We’ve also heard some people tell us that the ship has sailed and it’s far too low to jump on board. Are they right?

Long before anyone knew John as this hugely successful Internet marketer, he had a rather humble presence on the Internet. The design of the site was practically nonexistent, especially by today’s standards. Here’s a screenshot from 2001. This was years before he had even considered making money from the site.

It’s not like I was immune to this condition either.

Actually, truth be told, I ended up being your typical Geocities user at the time, throwing everything including the kitchen sink in there, including flashing graphics, scrolling marquee text, and rollover images. Now That’s Entertainment was actually my second ever website (the first was a professional wrestling fan site). Here is a screenshot from 2004. I’m naturally quite embarrassed by it today.

Certainly, there were opportunities to make money on the Internet in the 1990s and into the early 2000s. The problem is that most of these methods were either shrouded in secrecy or required a very high level of technical knowledge, to the point where the opportunities were inaccessible by the vast majority of users.

Remember the “paid to surf” craze best popularized by the AllAdvantage browser bar? I had a friend who managed to make a few hundred dollars working that system, but he was the exception and it was hardly a sustainable business model. It was a fly-by-night, smash-and-grab kind of scenario.

In this way, it was “easier” to make money online in the earlier days of the Internet, because you faced far less competition and you were stifled by far fewer restrictions. The huge challenge is that your options were limited and you had to figure it all out for yourself. But that started to change in the early part of the 2000s.

By far the biggest change was the arrival of Google AdSense in 2003. Suddenly, the contextual ad network opened up the opportunity for practically any web publisher to quickly and easily monetize his content. No longer did you have to deal with overly complex code and you didn’t have to solicit advertisers yourself. Just copy and paste some code and wait for the ad revenue to come rolling in.

It’s not quite that simple, of course, but it is a heck of a lot easier than what web publishers had to do in the years prior.

Since then, it has become easier and easier to monetize nearly any tidbit of content you publish on the Internet. Affiliate networks, like the hugely popular and robust Amazon Associates program, are more numerous than ever. You can leverage your reach through influencer networks, there are more CPC networks to consider, and the list just goes on and on.

You have far more tools and resources available to you today than what was around in the 1990s. The Geocities interface is decidedly primitive by today’s standards, as WordPress and other content management systems like it have made web publishing so much more accessible for everyone. Indeed, you don’t even need a website of your own when you can be making money through YouTube, Instagram, and other channels.

But this has resulted in a double-edged sword. Because all these tools and resources are so widely available now, you face a lot more competition from a lot more web publishers and content creators. Cutting through the noise so people even notice your signal in the first place has become a far greater challenge than the days of Usenet… when no one really monetized anything.

So, is it easier or harder to make money online today? The short answer is yes. To both.

It’s easier in that you don’t need to have the same level of technical know-how in order not only to get started with Internet marketing and making money online, but even to thrive under the paradigm. But it’s harder in that everyone else is trying to do the same. It’s certainly not too late to get started, however, as we could be on the cusp of a new golden age.

The power of the online influencer is growing and the opportunities are growing alongside it. So go out there, grow your YouTube channel, develop your online presence, publish your ebooks, run your online courses, and take advantage of every chance you get to make a few bucks online. You never know what things might look like ten years from now.

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