My father, a retired math professor, is nearly 80, has an interest in blogging, and has been supportive of my online career. When he retired over ten years ago, he took up his old interest in homeopathy and naturopathy . He has been writing a couple of books and short articles since. He’s written math books before, as part of his career as a professor. People who know me well know I’ve designed and co-written a book on web programming, have run a magazine, and written a great deal in print before I started blogging. So my father wanted to explore writing online to get out of the “stagnation” he has been feeling very recently.

A while back, I persuaded him to take up an interest in blogging about health. Except that I  haven’t had time to develop his blog for him, and he hasn’t had time to learn about promotion, etc. I’ve started and scrapped his blog a few times now. And maybe it’s my own poor health, but i seem to have an aversion to working on his blog. (Yes, I have loads of guilt about this.)

The net result, after almost two years of him waiting for me is that he went to a local seminar a few days ago, run by some snakeoil hucksters. They must have taken down his phone number, because the next day, my father emailed me and said they gave him “an offer he couldn’t refuse.” Instead of asking for US$4200, they offered him their online business package for $3500. He bought it.

Except that their online business package consists of some articles and a dozen or so screencast videos. No website, no content nothing. No assistance. Just how to build your site (use “meta tags”!!!), how to find drop shippers, and how to get traffic to your site. They left out the most important aspect: how hard it can be to have a successful commerce site.

Needless to say, I was peeved when I heard this (I’m on the verge of being a website/ domain broker for various people, and he knew this but didn’t consult me because he thought I was busy). Actually, I was more peeved at myself for not helping my father with his blog and blame myself for his spending that money. Half of the information in that info pack is probably wrong (meta tags? – give me a break), and all of it is free online, somewhere. Okay, if you don’t have the time to spend (took me two years) to learn everything, you may think it’s worth it. My father even told me in late 2005 to create my own info pack to sell to newbies. I considered it, but not for a $4,200 price tag.

Thing that really bugs me, though, is that my father is a busy man, despite being retired. He may think he saved $700 by spending $3500. But I could have taken that $3500 and bought my father income earning websites, or a few nice domain names on speculation, and he would have made money far sooner than he ever will with that bullcrap package of info.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you have $3600. You could buy a website income with a site earning $300/m that is selling at a 12-month multiple. Hold it for 6 months and you’ve earned $1800. Sell it for $4000, and you’ve earned an extra $400, for a total of $2200. That’s a pretty good return, provided that that income comes with very little effort on your part. If it takes time away from other income-earning activities, then you have to rethink your strategy. Maybe you’re better off being a domain mogul, which requires trend smarts and great analytical and speculative skills, but takes far less effort than trying to make a living with a new website.

So to those of you planning to make a full or partial income online, please don’t spend ~$4K on an info pack. Drop me a comment, tell me what you would really like to do, what topics you really know a lot about or enjoy enough to learn. Then I’ll give you some suggestions on what you might try. And it won’t cost you anything.

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