10 Bitter Truths No One Told You about Online Business

“Here’s how I’m making 4-figures monthly from my blog. I’ve quit my day job, and I’m now my own boss.”

“How I made thousands of dollars within one month selling information products.”

“Revealed: How I’m making at least $500 daily from Fiverr.”

“Here are my secrets: How I’m making $10,000 monthly through affiliate marketing.”

“How I make my living from website and domain flipping.”

I’m sure you’d have run into more than enough headlines like these. And I’m sure that each time you read such success stories, the zeal rekindles in you to kick-start your own online business.

Yes, you’ve learned — from hundreds of stories — that the internet is a goldmine, and that you can lead the lifestyle of your dreams by venturing into online business. My friend, that’s very true. But there’s more to online business…


There are many bitter truths about online business that most successful people leave out in their success stories (for reasons I just don’t understand). And I’ll be revealing those truths here.

After reading this post, you’ll be making either of these two statements to yourself:

  • “Oh I never knew it’s like this. Nobody told me all these before. I thought it was rosier. I’m no longer interested.”
  • “No problem. I know success doesn’t come easy. I’m ready to face the challenge.”

While the first thought will save you from getting frustrated and embittered when you begin to experience the harsh realities, the second will keep you going when things seem to have gone sour, and would spur you on to the point of success. So, both thoughts have advantages.

Now, let’s get started. Here are 10 bitter truths most online money-spinners never told you about online business:

1. Without traffic, your online business is dead

The major task before every online entrepreneur is to drive traffic. Only when you attract traffic can you make profit from your online business. Your blog’s useless if you only get unit count visits daily — from your siblings and friends.

To make real money — not crumbs — from online business, you need huge traffic. Think thousands to millions. The more traffic you generate, the more income you’ll make.

No business would thrive without customers, and online business isn’t an exception. So generating traffic is like attracting customers.

2. You’ll need determination and hard work

As of present, there are close to 1 billion websites and blogs on the internet. And 150,000 new blogs are created daily by people like you — those who want to make money online.

Those statistics imply that online business is a competition — one that only the dogged and undaunted can face. No matter what aspect of online business you’re eyeing, the truth is, several thousands of people are already into it.

So, it’s a survival-of-the-fittest thing. Only those who are ready to face the Darwinian test will succeed in online business.

3. Online business is not rosy, especially from the start

Have you been thinking that all you need to do is create your web page, publish some articles you copied off some other sites, litter your sidebar with ads and affiliate links, and sit back to watch your income soar? My friend, you’ve been dreaming! So wake up now. Online business is not that rosy.

You’ll need to set up a web page or blog that looks very professional and attractive. You’ll need to write and publish several articles.

Now, not just articles — unique, valuable, and error-free articles that will engage your audience and position you as an expert in your chosen niche.

You’ll need to spend time on monitoring your analytics and traffic, keyword research, finding new post ideas, experimenting with SEO techniques, and so on.

In short, you’ll need to spend lots of time, energy, and money. That’s the fact!

4. Google rules

Any online business not indexed by Google is not online. That’s the truth, my friend. Google is the most popular search engine. It is the most consistent source of traffic for high-ranking sites. And that’s why the battle for the top spots in Google’s rankings will forever remain a very fierce one.

The dream of online entrepreneurs is to see their websites in the top spots in Google’s rankings. And they’re all striving hard to realize this dream. If you’re serious about your online business, this should be your dream, too.

To get your desired online visibility, you must always play by Google’s rules. Any attempt to play games with almighty Google will leave you badly burned in the end.

4. Being specific is the shortcut to online business success

If you’re thinking of starting a blog on general health and wellness, I’ll advise you to drop that idea. Do you know why? Because that niche is very huge and already dominated by some monster sites (like WebMD, Mayo Clinic, Medline, etc.) that you can never topple in the rankings, no matter how hard you try.

Instead, streamline your focus by blogging on a smaller niche like health tips for pregnant women, weight loss tips for busy and lazy people, etc. This way, you’ll quickly achieve success due to the specificity of the niche.

So, it’s either you narrow your focus or you fizzle out!

5. You can’t make money overnight

You’ve come across adverts like, “start making thousands of dollars within 24 hours”, or “fill up your bank account at the click of a button”. Yes, I’m sure you’ve come across them. But do you need someone to tell you that they’re nothing but blatant lies and scams?

See, you can’t make money overnight from online business. Darren Rowse (ProBlogger), John Chow, Seth Godin, and others who are earning 5-figures monthly from their online businesses never succeeded overnight. It took some of them 3 – 4 years of dedication and hard work before they struck gold.

Now, I’m not saying you can’t start making money within a shorter timeframe. In fact, you can start making money 6 months after starting your online business, or even sooner, depending on the type of business. But keep in mind the fact that you won’t start making money immediately.

For a start, keep away all ads (because blatant advertising is counterproductive) and focus on building a large audience, building trust, and positioning yourself as an expert in your chosen niche. Once you’ve achieved all these, you’ll easily convince people to take whatever action you want from them. And that’s when your profit will start flowing in ceaselessly.

But, once again, you’ll need to build trust and establish your expertise. You can’t achieve these overnight. No you can’t.

6. You must be ready to write frequently or pay someone to do that

Google ranks websites based on content and back-links. The more articles you write around your target keywords and publish, and the more frequently you publish new articles, the higher Google ranks your blog. That’s one thing you should keep in mind.

Another thing is that, in order to attract and convince your audience to stay glued to your blog, you must publish high quality, unique articles that readers will find valuable.

Truth is, for each topic that you can think of writing about, thousands of articles have already been published about that same topic. So, to wow your readers, you must present your content from a fresh perspective that will engage them. If you publish crappy articles, you’ll only raise their bullshit detectors and repel them.

So, to succeed in online business, you must be ready to write high quality content. Better yet, hire a professional writer to do the job for you.

7. Shortcuts are dangerous

Many people think they can adopt various dubious techniques and get away with them. Remember, on the web, Google is not just a king; it’s also a strict cop. So, if you play any funny games, you’ll get busted!

Avoid publishing content stolen from other websites. If you do, Google will penalize your website or blog for duplicate content. Of course, Google has a way of finding out the original owner of a post (perhaps, by the date of publication). So, websites featuring stolen content are either demoted or delisted from the rankings.

Also, avoid building spam back-links. There are many programs online promising to create thousands of back-links to your website or blog within hours. Avoid these like a plague. If you use them, you’ll get burned in the end.

In short, avoid any tactic that seems to be a shortcut. Of course, you may get good results from such, but your joy would be short-lived, I’m telling you.

8. SEO and traffic tips “live” and “die”

This is another bitter truth. As of present, I still see many webmasters wasting their precious time on search engine optimization and traffic generation tactics that have long lost their effectiveness.

Fact is, most SEO techniques that worked magically few years back are no longer effective. Similarly, the effective techniques of present may lose all their significance in the coming months or years.

So, you must keep abreast with latest trends in SEO and traffic generation. No tactic is guaranteed to retain its effectiveness permanently.

9. Tactics that worked magically for others may not work for you

That’s just it! If I reveal should how I’ve been making a living from freelance writing for the past one and half years, and you were to adopt all my tactics perfectly, you still may end up not making any money. So, no tactic guarantees success in online business. (I think that’s where some traces of luck come in.)

Similarly, if Darren Rowse were to explain in full detail how he built a blog that now earns him 5-figures monthly, and you were to replicate his steps, you may end up making much less — even though you did everything he did. But it’s a two-sided thing. You may also end up making more than he did. That’s possible, too.

Does that mean you shouldn’t learn from the experts? No. Follow their steps, but keep in mind the fact that there’s no guarantee you’ll succeed with the same tactics.

So, don’t cry foul after you’ve paid for a coaching course and the tactics you learned don’t seem to work. It happens.

10. Online business involves lots of trial-and-error

Yes, you’ll need to carry out many experiments if you want to succeed in online business. Sometimes, you may have to risk losing money, just to find out what will bring results and what will not.

As I stated earlier, not all proven techniques will work for you. So, you need to keep trying different ones to know which works. If you’re the type that hates experimenting, I’m sorry, online business isn’t for you.

Bottom line…

Now, you’ve read it all. You’ll agree with me that these truths aren’t encouraging. But I have to reveal them because nobody else is doing the same.

I have to let you know what online business entails before you plunge into it. And I’ve done just that — in about 2000 words. Now I feel like I’ve jettisoned a big burden that I’ve been carrying on my head for some time.

I’m sure one of the two thoughts I talked about earlier is lingering in your mind right now. I mean, right now you’re either thinking of dumping your online business idea or considering taking the bull by the horns. Which of these thoughts are you nursing in your mind right now? And what do you plan to do next? Share your thoughts in the comments section 🙂

Hey, wait a minute…

Are you new to this blog? Well, here’s where I just started sharing tips on how to make money online in Nigeria — realistically. With each new article, I’ll be revealing more facts, tips, and tactics related to making real money online the realistic way.

I’m sure you won’t like to miss out on subsequent articles. So, follow this blog by subscribing to latest post updates (see upper right), follow me on Twitter, and like our Facebook page (see right). This way, you’ll get instant notifications when subsequent posts on this blog go live.

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Abass Toriola

I'm a seasoned freelance writer, internet marketing strategist, and online business coach. And I'm a university graduate, doctor-in-training, husband, and father.

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Updated: January 29, 2014 — 5:48 am


Add a Comment
  1. E no easy ooo. But forward ever backward never. Tnks Abass

  2. These bitter truths you just revealed did not only teach me some lessons but i have also been encouraged to hold fast to the hope of succeeding. Thank you Abass.

    1. You’re welcome, Marvis. I hope you would start your online business as soon as possible.

  3. Hmm, abass,
    you are building my intelligent with great stuff, and surely i must say thank you.
    Well, giving up is not something that a real man can do, but, as you said, ‘taking the bull by the horn’ shall be the case.
    I will try my best, even if i fail, will still move forward ‘cos i have a very big dream in online business.
    I will always look forward for your advice.

    1. Samuel,

      Thanks for your nice and encouraging comment. I’m glad you’re loving the content I share on this blog.

      BTW, I noticed you’re running a blog on the .wordpress.com platform. I’d advise you to switch to Blogger or the self-hosted wordpress (WordPress.org) ASAP!

      1. Please I will like to know why you want SAMUEL to switch to blogger from wordpress.com. Reason being that I’ve Blogs On Both but they are free hosted blogs. If you don’t mind stating some for you to tell me which is the best to use for free hosting, until I am ready for self hosted and get my own domain instead of subdomain. I have only bodjetstarwrites.blogspot.com on blogger for now and channelofvirtue.wordpress.com thegreatvalue.wordpress.com and two others of different niche on wordpress.com
        I did these because the blog I created in 2007/2008 was deleted by blogger when Nigerians Were Banned From Using AdSense And Gmail Which Prevent Me From Blogging Until The Issue Was Resolved That They Are Now Verifying To Approve. The Blog Used To Experiment WordPress.com Then is still in existence till today. This experience makes me to have majority of my niche-specific blogs on wordpress.com but I am having some pros and cons on these two platforms which i want you to give me a convincing advice…..

        1. I was referring to the self-hosted WordPress (wordpress.org) not wordpress.com.

  4. Thanks Mr. Abass.
    Normally I quietly read your blog and go about my business but as someone who has found this article very very useful, I must say u did a good job with honesty and integrity. I’ll be a regular at your blog.
    Pls I need to know about Facebook Autopilot. Tricks and tweaks to getting clicks on it, and the right groups to join. Hope it’s not beyond the scope of your blog. Thanks.

    1. Elijah, thank for checking out my blog.

      As for Facebook autopilot and related tricks, I’m not a fan of such–because most of these businesses involve many tactics that are deemed unethical in the online business world.

      The only ethical way–which I know of– to make money on Facebook is to create a Facebook page aimed at a particular cause or topic. You will then need to grow this page–organically–by posting lots of valuable information until you get thousands of fans. You can then make money from the page by recommending products as an affiliate marketer.

  5. Nice write-up. Will try my best, will soon go into blogging. Using blogger or wordpress, which one is better? Thanks!

    1. WordPress is better–by far.

  6. Very good as yet to beging online bussines,i found ur post very useful infact,all ur explanation above about headline of sme internet guru of succes overnight ,are true thank u once again

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