The Missing Puzzle Piece – IMP#012

March 22, 2013 , 31 Comments

In all of the online marketing/blogging/work from home niche, there seems to be a crucial topic that everyone’s silent about: basic financial sense.

It seems that we’re all so preoccupied with the idea of getting rich over night that managing finances is deemed unnecessary. Hey, by next week, I’ll be so rich it won’t matter anymore, right? I’ll just go ahead and put this $4,000 course on my credit card…

Here’s a dose of reality, for anyone who dares take it:

Podcast Video

Podcast Audio

Click here to download the MP3 file.


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About ​Shane Melaugh

I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better entrepreneur and product creator. Read more about my story here.

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  • This podcast came at a very apt time for me guys, thank-you.

    I’ve been back in NZ for three weeks and decided not to get a job and pursue several of my online projects with the hope of them providing sufficient income to live off while I’m here.

    It hasn’t worked out yet (and in reality probably won’t anytime soon) but I’ve been putting lots of pressure on myself to make it happen. Just like Paul says, I end up looking for shortcuts and doing a shit job of things which deserve far more effort.

    For whatever reason I had a massive flood of relief when you were describing how long it initially took for things to come together for you. It suddenly made my immediate goals look foolish but my longer term success seem so much more plausible.

    There really is such an insane amount of misinformation implying that what we do online *should* be quick, easy, and super lucrative – and all within a very short time frame.

    Even though I consciously know that’s a load of junk, I guess I got caught up in it all anyway.

    So I realize it’s very one way, but I really appreciate eavesdropping on these podcast conversations. Can’t over-emphasize that. My friends all ride mountain bikes, drive jetboats and go paragliding all day – try talk to them about internet marketing and their eyes just glaze over ;)



    • Thanks for your comment, Glen!

      I’ve noticed this problem as well. There’s just so much messaging telling everyone how easy it supposedly is to make a living online (if you know the “secret”, of course), it’s hard to ignore. Even if you know it’s all BS, there’s so much of it, you can’t help but be affected.

      If you look around in the IM and blogging scene, it’s all the stories of people making tons of cash in no time at all. If you look around in the startup scene, it’s the stories of a couple of kids working in a garage, who get bought out by Google for $150m.

      In the case of the startups, the stories are at least true, but there’s still a massive bias towards the successful outliars and you can easily forget that many businesses take years to build up momentum.

      As for your situation: if you can balance your job with some work on your online business (even if it’s a very small, but regular dose), you’ll be fine. If you can pull off this balancing act, you’ll be unstoppable.


  • Hi Paul and Shane,

    Start from 11.28, what Paul said is REALLY inspiring. “If you’re trying to build a business but at the back of your mind you’re thinking ‘how am I going to pay the bill for this month’, your decision making is completely different…”

    This is the biggest takeaway for me today. Looking back, I got to know about Internet Marketing when I was about 19. All I wanted was “quick cash” and “make money without investment”, I subscribed to a lot of free reports from JV giveaways. Seeking “opportunities” of promising overnight cash. One day I really felt tired about all different information that I got, I realised I kind of knowing many “business models” (different ways of making money) but I didn’t really build a skill sets along the way. All I had was information. One of the best decision I made after that was unsubscribed all the craps and deleted all the IM information from my desktop.

    Fast forward today, I’m working hard on my online business and having a full time job (which I plan to quit this year after I achieve several milestones) in a hospital.

    I certainly would like to quit my job, otherwise why am I working hard for now. But I totally agree with what you guys said, don’t quit it until you have a steady income flow from your side business.

    Entrepreneurs are not risk-taking people.

    Graduate about a year from university, I cleared about $10,000 study loan. First milestone achieved. Subsequently I want to have a reserve cash of at least $6000 in saving account AND a steady income stream of at least $2000 monthly from my side business.

    I will not quit my job until I achieve those. Even I already achieve one of both (my saving is passed $3000 now), I will continue to stay in my job until the second criteria is match.

    Of course I set those goals based on my financial situation, calculated monthly expenses. I just feel safe to have both before I quit.

    Talking about financial sense, one of the books I recommend is Ramit Sethi’s I Will Teach You To Be Rich. A lot of things he teaches in the book are not applicable due to my location. But the psychology part is making a lot of sense. I followed his advices and automate most of my financial stuffs.

    Another good article I want to share about startup is

    One of the advices from Vishen is – don’t quit your day job too soon. Another important lesson is – don’t build crap for the sake of making a buck.

    And to those who are having a full time job like me – if you hate your job, think again, think of your job as if it is your VC or Angel Investor. They are giving you money to build your business. :) I learnt it from Pam Slim’s webinar.

    Oh, regarding the $4000 investment in getting information. I would say hire a personal coach or get a mentor. I joined Rob Toth’s 6-month group coaching with $600. In fact I traded my service with him and hence paid lesser than that in cash. Now I have chance to work with top marketers like him and his friends and get to know a bunch of other members who are from different business background.


    • Thanks for your comment, Hazel!

      Congratulations on clearing those first few milestones! And also on being among the few who “get it” and are willing to put in the work required to build a real business.

      I like the idea of looking at your job as an investor. I can see how this can add a new sense of purpose to your work, even if you’re in a job you don’t like.


  • Hi Shane, The video makes a lot of sense, but it doesn’t go completely together with the title of your case study on the same page:
    “6 figure bussiness built from scratch in six weeks”

    Doesn’t that put people on the wrong leg as well?


    • Yes, that’s true.

      Two things to consider:
      1) The name was chosen via testing. I.e. it leads to the highest conversion rates, even though it was my least favorite name of the ones I tested.

      2) In the report, I’m very transparent about exactly what I did and how much work was involved. I’m not promising push-button money, even though the title may kind of hint at it.

      Also: you’d be surprised at the percentage of the IM crowd you can chase away by mentioning even as little as six weeks of work. No matter how big the promised payoff is, this kind of time investment is strictly off limits for a large portion of the people in IM.


  • Shane and Paul,
    It’s good to hear someone that recognizes the realities of starting a business. This is my second time in starting a business, the first time it took me 15 years to get to the point where I could sell and walk away. I hope I’m a bit faster this time, although the market is bought.

    For other of your followers, struggling with finance 101, the best book to get your financial priorities in order is “The Richest Man in Babylon”. I highly recommend reading this as you think about your financial future.

    Thank you for your dose of reality.


    • Hi Kent,

      That’s the second time I’ve heard of that book in the past couple of weeks. Adding it to the reading list. :) Thanks for the recommendation!


  • Shane, recently I was asked to evaluate a product. I do not want to discuss the software but I do want to talk about the missing piece. How many keyword tools have we seen that show by color code how easy a niche is to enter.

    Lets set aside the basic copy-writing skills necessary or anything technical.

    Here is what is missing – The Math

    It is not rocket science. This software told me an item with 1900 searches a month would be a doable niche based on the competition. The selling price would be less than $100 and that would make the commissions about $4 per sale.

    Lets break this down. If you achieve a #1 position you can expect 40% of the traffic. So 1900 * .4 or 760 visitors a month. If we assume a single conversion and a 1% conversion rate it means I could make 7.6 sales or $30 a month. That is based on having a number 1 position. How much does it cost to get and keep that #1 position. In most cases more than the $30 a month.

    So this result violates my simple question: Is the juice worth the squeeze?

    Before you do anything make sure the math works.

    I run an outsourcing firm and I get those desperate calls. I can tell this guy is trying to save his house. When I tell him this – and I tell him this is not the answer – about 75% of the time he rushes to push the button. Crisis breeds irrational judgement.

    My 2 cents.


    • Thanks for your comment, Jeffrey!

      I agree that running the numbers and, more importantly, measuring and tracking what you do are important. However, the kind of math in your example is dangerous to do.

      Google traffic isn’t nearly as predictable as that anymore. Also, you tend to get a certain amount of traffic for the target keyword, plus an amount of traffic for related (long tail) keywords. In some cases, the long tail traffic is more than the “direct” traffic for the target keyword.

      Personally, I try to assess market size and potential reach, to see how many people I can realistically reach with my business.


  • Hi,

    I enjoyed this video, a lot of not so common sense spoken.

    I followed the Amazon course $4000 launch thingy, and you do get caught up in the hype, but the price was eye watering, so I skipped it, as you say many will have whipped out their already straining credit cards for this.

    Jim Cockrum of Silent Sales Machine has a similar course for $397 by the way.

    Paul mentioned a blog a couple of times, sounded like “Salty Joy” or something (don’t laugh).

    Could you put a link here, thanks



  • Hi Shane/Paul,

    Great Podcast. I have felt that desperate NEED to make money fast, but you know what? I only got into a position to quit my job after I stopped trying to get rich and started taking advice.

    Taking advice seems to have gone out of fashion lately, as it usually means following a plan that requires some WORK. I’m so grateful for what I have now, and I have tried to help beginners get off on the right foot, but most of them seem to be interested only if they can “make money by next week.”

    If you can’t enjoy the ‘work’ required to earn a living online, it probably isn’t for you.

    Thanks again,



    • Hi John,

      That’s a very good point. All successful entrepreneurs I know personally, have two things in common:

      1) They work hard and usually long hours.

      2) They enjoy their work.

      People who are just in it for the money usually don’t get far.


  • Hi Paul and Shane,

    This is close to home for me, as I have been swept up in the excitement (desperation) of replacing my job with a magic internet business. A hard dose of reality is needed.

    Love your videos BTW, but why do guys pretend to be in different locations as you are clearly in the same house/apartment?

    Is there a strategic reason for this?


    • Haha, we don’t pretend to be in different locations. :)

      It’s just the easiest way for us to record these things with Paul being in his office and me being in mine. That way, we don’t have to set up a camera and mic where we can both record in the same location.

      Glad you are getting good value out of the videos!


  • Great content guys,

    For a long time I got caught up in the fever of making a lot of money fast through internet marketing, and it took me a while to finally realize that I was not using basic financial common sense.

    Once I started thinking more realistically about my online business activities, I stopped wasting my precious time and money on “shiny objects” and get rich quick gimmicks.

    If people are desperate for quick money, get a regular job and do your online business after work. You’re asking for trouble if you’re totally depending on your IM income, especially when it’s not earning you a decent monthly income.

    If people are working their IM business plan, it will provide a structure to keep you on track. It helps you stay organized and reach your milestones on schedule.

    If you get distracted by things that take you off your business plan, it’s probably safe to say that you will postpone reaching your goals by months or even years! The business plan is designed to keep you on track.

    Creating and committing to a personalized IM business plan strategy, is another related topic that is rarely mentioned or considered.


    • Thanks, Randy!

      You’re right, business planning is another one of those really un-sexy topics that seem to be untouchable in IM.


  • Another great podcast guys. It’s always good to hear the truth.

    I went from full time work, to part time work (which just paid the bills) while I built my model train membership site. It took a year to get it to make a reasonable amount of money, and only then did I give up my day job as an electrician.

    However, going into IM full time actually hurt my business initially. When I had a job, I would be thinking during the day what I needed to be doing. By the time I got home I only had a few hours, so I was focused and would get the 2 or 3 things done that I needed to get done.

    When I went full time into IM I started reading, listening and researching much more. I was exposed to so much more information and started procrastinating really badly… I questioned my strategy and was going backwards fast.

    I believe that I had developed a fear that I would miss out if I didn’t read and listen to everything I could get my hands on. I bought product after product and basically wasted a lot of money and 6 months of my time learning stuff that would only make a very, very small improvement to my business.

    In desperation I broke this cycle by hiring a coach who quickly made me realise that I already had every skill I needed to build a very profitable business… I just wasn’t implementing! He helped me remove the overwhelm and the fear of missing out by getting me to unsubscribe from every list. Such a simple solution, but I wonder how many other people are caught up in the same (self-inflicted) overwhelm situation?

    Ian McConnell
    Western Australia


    • Thanks, Ian!

      You’re so right about that and I’ve never thought of it that way. Working a job while building a business adds a time constraint and that can be really good for productivity.

      I know I still suffer from the open-ended nature of the projects I work on…


    • I can definitely relate to this – sometimes simply cutting your working hours can really bolster your productivity.

      I’ve always been a deadline guy and seem to be my most productive when there’s a strict time constraint.


  • Mark Rudder says:

    Great information.
    Thank you both very much.

    What did you use to record the video and to switch between
    the both of you as each is talking?


  • As a professional financial planner, I really appreciate this video/podcast. 90% of people out there have the same 3 problems:

    1- Not saving enough (I tell most folks it should be >20% of income). Even people that make lots spend too much.

    2- Spending too much on crap that’s not important, and

    3- Having unrealistic expectations (investment returns, small biz success, that you’ll get in shape, win the lottery, etc.)

    The other 10% that have these areas under control are the ones who are the “Millionaire Next Door” (and some have many millions). One of the keys to their success is also having the processes and systems in place to monitor and take care of the money. Not that they’re ultra-frugal, they just make sure they’re getting great value for the money they spend.

    For anyone interested in maximizing their savings, reducing spending and getting outside the box on traditional retirement thinking, try reading Mr. Money Mustache ( for an eye-opening approach.

    Anyway, thanks for the video and forum!


    • Tommy-

      +1 to the Mr. Money Mustache blog!

      I found it a few months ago. Excellent advice that anyone can apply at a variety of levels to increase your financial security.

      A lot of the young affiliate marketer “ballers” would be well served to heed MMM’s advice. I guarantee they will wish they would have in 15 years!


    • Thanks for your comment, Tommy!

      Those first two points seem so simple. Put some money aside and buy less crap. It’s crazy to think how much most of us struggle with them.

      Then again, I guess it’s like staying in shape: “exercise regularly and don’t eat junk” is easier said than done…


      • Shane,

        I just consider human nature to be job security for me!

  • Hey Paul, Hey Shane

    At the 24 minute mark Paul talks about one of his friends who got a payday loan and the trouble it got him in.

    I help people get out of debt with payday loans. So I know exactly what he is talking about.

    I have noticed more and more people are in trouble with payday loans because they have spent money on these get rich push one button internet programs promising overnight wealth.

    And now they don’t have the money to pay their rent or pay their monthly bills – and the payday loan has them in even more financial trouble.

    The problem and it has been for so long and I fear it will be for a long time to come – is the illusion that you can make your fortune over night online.

    So not true –

    Another problem is many people starting out don’t see building a business online as they see building a business in the real world.

    Online you can’t touch or be “in” your business, so to many it’s not really a real business like a brick and mortar business that you can touch and be “in” and feel the products and have a true sense of it.

    Building a business online takes just as much hard work and dedication as building a real world business.

    But as you, Paul and I know – as long as there are people pitching this illusion of overnight wealth online and telling people exactly what they want to hear people will go into debt for these useless products and services.

    Great job on shining a light on what no one wants to talk about.

    And you’re first marketer that I know of to say “I don’t want your money if you can’t afford my stuff”.

    Stand up honest guys – very rare – good on both of you.



  • Hi Guys,

    i’d like to listen to your VPs, but 45 or 35 minutes is much too long,
    would you invest that time in someone else episodes? why not come to the points in 10 minutes?



    • Because that’s not what the podcasts are about.

      All our other content is highly distilled and we invest a lot of time and effort into communicating the most important points as effectively as possible in the shortest time possible.

      The podcast is for people who want to dive a bit deeper or maybe have some time to listen in during a commute. There’s a place for refined, edited content and there’s a place for unfiltered content. You don’t have to like them both, of course.


  • Brother I agree so much with this its crazy. So many people mislead that they don’t want to see the truth.


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