Why You’re Not Making Lots Of Money

September 17, 2008

Do you have a goal of making lots of money? You’re not alone. When I was using Google’s Keyword Tool before, there’s a ridiculous amount of searches done on making money every single day.

Trouble is, lots of these searchers will never make much money at all. When you’re focusing your attention on making lots of money and nothing else, you’re liable to run into a lot of mousetraps. So how do you identify them and prevent them from snapping shut on your tail?


The problem: Mediocre ideas are never going to do well. And the reason people keep coming up with these ideas for making lots of money, is because they focus on the money and nothing else. And when one idea doesn’t make them rich within a few weeks, they move onto the next crap money making idea.

If you’ve fallen into this trap, there’s a good chance that you’ve been focusing on a way to make money fast, without thinking about what people might actually want to buy from you.

Solution: Take the time to do some research and find out what people are actually looking for and what will make you stand out from the competition. And once you’ve made a plan, persevere. Don’t expect life changing results over night.


Problem: Through desperation, people will type phrases into Google like “making lots of money”, “how to make money fast” and “how to get rich”.

And all the scammers of the day know that desperate people use those search terms. So they dangle a chunk of cheese in front of you, in return for a handful of cash.

The searcher doesn’t make a bean in return, never mind the ridiculous amount of money they’ve been promised. But often, they’ll move from one scam to the next, in their desperation to make lots of money as quickly as possible. And they wind up wasting a small fortune on trashy products that don’t make them a penny.

Solution: Lose the get rich quick mindset and think long term. Is there a special reason why you need to make half a million by next month? Unless you’ve got some seriously massive bills to pay, you probably won’t need it, as you’ll be working too hard on your business to spend money anyway.

Once you stop focusing on making lots of money fast, you’ll find it far easier to come up with a product or service that will provide value to your customers.

Blurred Vision

Problem: If money is your only goal your vision becomes blurred. It’s fine to have financial goals. But at the end of the day, money is just a tool to help you do other things. And your goals are just a number you want to achieve. Eventually, you get bored with these numbers and you’ll need to find something else to focus on, or you’ll never get what you want.

I used to focus on financial goals, because they were the only thing I could think of to aim for. It wasn’t the actual money I wanted – it was the pat on the back I could give myself for reaching my targets.

But focusing on financial goals stopped me from looking at the big picture. And although I achieved some pretty outrageous targets, I didn’t achieve much else. Had I set different goals, I might have had time to go on that relaxing holiday, or go for a massage every week, or spend more time with my children etc. . Instead, I spent all my time working to ensure I achieved the financial targets instead.

Solution: While you do still need to set yourself financial goals, to ensure your business stays on track, don’t limit yourself to these. Set yourself goals that mean something to you. And as well as setting huge long term goals, set small term ones too. What do you want more of in life? Do you want to spend more time with your family, take a world cruise, move into a bigger house, or play golf once a week.

Unrealistic Goals

Some people – especially those who’ve only made money through working for others, set out with unrealistic short term goals. I’ve seen these a lot on the Internet. They’ll begin working part-time and set themselves a ridiculous goal of $1 million turnover in a year, even though they’re investing very little time or money. And these people are setting themselves up for a fall. While some would argue that it’s important to think big, it’s important to think smart at the same time.

Instead of starting out like this, it’s far better to make a long term, realistic plan stretching 3 to 5 years ahead. Then work out what you need to do to achieve those goals. It’s no good setting yourself a financial target, if you don’t know how many sales you need to make to achieve it. So work all that out first and break it down into weekly or monthly targets so it’s more achievable.

What other mistakes have you seen people make, when they become obsessed with making lots of money? What advice would you give them?

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Image Credits

Internet Scammers: D70Focus
Mount Everest: Rupert Taylor-Price

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31 Responses to “Why You’re Not Making Lots Of Money”

  1. Jim Gaudet on September 17th, 2008 4:12 pm

    I wonder now how you rank on these phrases;
    “making lots of money”, “how to make money fast” and “how to get rich”.

    ~ Jim

    Jim Gaudet’s last blog post..?It’s spelled F-O-O-T-B-A-L-L not F-Ú-T-B-O-L?

  2. cathlawson on September 17th, 2008 5:07 pm

    Hi Jim – probably not to well for the second two, but hopefully quite well for the first one. That way I get to save some people from scammers – I hope. Mind you, they’ll probably click something like “Make $100k a month in your underwear” or something instead.

  3. Wendi Kelly-Life's Little Inspirations on September 17th, 2008 6:13 pm

    I’m still so new in blogging that I don’t even know how all of these google ads work. I don’t even know how to get thm on my site- even if I want them there.
    Sigh- I still have a lot to learn.

    Wendi Kelly-Life’s Little Inspirations’s last blog post..Dirty Dishes in the Sink

  4. cathlawson on September 17th, 2008 6:23 pm

    Hi Wendi – If you’ve already signed up to Google Adsense and you have a wordpress theme – follow the instructions to make an ad, then copy the code. In wordpress click code, where you want the ad to go, the copy and paste your ad and click /code.

    If you want to add adsense code to your sidebar and you have a widget enabled blog, go into design, then widgets, drag one of the php code widgets to the place you want it to show up in the sidebar.

    Then click edit, paste your adsense code and click save changes.

    I know it’s complicated at first, but you’ll get there.

  5. Vered - MomGrind on September 17th, 2008 7:08 pm

    I agree with unrealistic goals, and another aspect of that is impatience. People who want the business to succeed right away, never realizing that it takes work, time and patience.

    Vered – MomGrind’s last blog post..Wordless Wednesday: Mona Lisa, Enhanced

  6. cathlawson on September 17th, 2008 7:31 pm

    Hi Vered – I know that impatient feeling well. It’s a shame – any marketing you do can take about three months to produce results. But folk don’t realise that and expect everything now.

    I felt a bit like that in my fire and flood restoration business. I was sending letter after letter to the same people over and over. I even got to the stage where I amended the financials in my business plan. I thought nothing I was doing was working.

    And a few days later. everyone needed me and the work flooded in from all those people. I hit my targets and did more than $500,000 turnover that year, so it was worth being a bit more patient.

  7. Graham Strong on September 17th, 2008 8:07 pm

    Hi Cath,

    There are too many “get rich quick” schemes out there. I’m always suspicious of their claims, yet — and this is the real problem — the allure of “Make $10k in a month” is almost irresistible.

    It comes down to the old saying: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is…

    Someone needs to come up with a “Get Rich Slowly” scheme…


    Graham Strong’s last blog post..Writer’s Block: Proper Diagnosis and Treatment

  8. Melissa Donovan on September 17th, 2008 8:22 pm

    I never really understood the five-year plan until I actually started my own business. It’s too easy to get sucked into the dream of overnight success. However, those get-rich-quick schemes never drew my attention and I’m not sure how anyone falls for them, especially with all the warnings and information about scams nowadays. This is a good reminder of how success and satisfaction can truly be achieved ;)

    Melissa Donovan’s last blog post..Behind the Scenes: Writing as a Business

  9. Brad Shorr on September 17th, 2008 9:28 pm

    Cath, Being shortsighted and cutting corners get in the way. Also, having an overly transactional mentality can be disastrous. Some people simply can’t give in order to get – everything has to be a trade. I think you have to be more patient and be willing to invest some time and money to build long term customer relationships.

    Brad Shorr’s last blog post..Reflections on a Sinking Economy

  10. Kelly@SHE-POWER on September 17th, 2008 9:50 pm

    I remember when I was exploring the idea of making money online and I just couldn’t believe anyone paid attention to the ads whcih promised you extraordinary riches within a few months or less. Who seriously thinks this is possible?

    I’m not saying you can’t make great money quickly, because bloggers we know and love have done. But the work they put in first for a long time with lots of trial and error is what got them the “quick money”. It’s like when people call an actor an overnight success. Most of the time, they’re not really. They’ve been in ads, on tv, in classs or on stage for years, but one breakout movie role and everyone says “Overnight Star”. There must be something about people that we need to believe this is possible. I don’t really get it myself.

    I keep thinking there has to be some way I can earn money online that I would enjoy, but so far I am not sure what that is. Every time I think of monetizing my blog I just don’t feel good about it. I do keep thinking of e-books, but then I come back to “What to write?”


    Kelly@SHE-POWER’s last blog post..Note To Self: 28 Ways To Love Your Day

  11. Ian Denny on September 17th, 2008 10:44 pm

    You are so right.

    Keeping the focus through the bleary eyes of passion (for your business), doing TOO much in it, and making sure all the sums add up is so hard.

    And at times, you’ve given me too much credit – far more than I ever deserved – for “making it”.

    Well, I’ll tell you now that I haven;t “made it”. In fact it;s still hard work. Daily.

    However, I’ve started to see the green sprouts of freedom.

    If you have a passion for your chosen trade – which is crucial – then you have to learn to delegate to others.

    Not in a text-book way where you are a 4-hour week person with an automated business. I mean a real business where others take responsibility.

    And they REALLY do. So much so that you could leave it alone for an hour. And then 2 hours. Then, let’s be brave, an entire week. Then a fortnight.

    And it’s possible.

    But it isn’t easy. And if it was, we’d all be rolling in cash.

    Ian Denny’s last blog post..PA/Management Vacancy – Not For The Faint-Hearted!

  12. Barbara Swafford on September 17th, 2008 10:53 pm

    HI Catherine,

    I think a lot of people dream of making money fast, and with the sluggish economy in the US, many are trying to save their homes. Although there are plenty of “get rich schemes” online, that’s all they are…schemes.

    Too often people think money will solve problems that can only be solved by looking within. Although money will ease stresses in life, it will not buy happiness.

    Barbara Swafford’s last blog post..How Can You Tell If They Are Real

  13. Cath Lawson on September 17th, 2008 11:33 pm

    Hi Graham – I know – but so many people seem to fall for them. Somebody already did Get Rich Slowly and it’s an excellent personal finance website: http:www.getrichslowly.org

    Hi Melissa – A five year plan is definitely more sensible isn’t it. Like you say – that’s the way to achieve success and satisfaction. The journey is the most enjoyable part.

    Hi Brad – Building a long term relationship is a lot more important than making a sale isn’t it.

    Hi Kelly – Exactly – people assume some of these people are an overnight success but it’s rarely the case.

    For an ebook topic, I guess it’s a case of monitoring what folk are reading on your blog and around the Internet to see what they’re looking for.

    It shouldn’t take you too long to write one. Ebooks and books in general seem to be getting a lot shorter. I’ve seen a couple of good ones that were less than a hundred pages. And I just got the ebook version of Steve Pavlina’s book to review and it’s only around 150 pages.

    Hi Ian – If it was easy it would be boring wouldn’t it. I know you’ve still got to work hard, but you’ll get there. I reached the point where I could go on holiday for a couple of weeks. But it was quite stressful. I’d be busy playing catch up before I went.

    And although the business did run while I was away, folk used to plonk all the stuff on my desk that they’d “got stuck on” – or rather couldn’t be bothered to do. Then there was the time when a lot of my equipment got stolen while I was away.

    It was a real headache to be honest. But you’ll get there in the end. I think you’ve just got to be a bit more careful than I was and make it clear you’re not coming back to do other people’s work for them.

    Hi Barbara – That’s a good point. I guess folk are more vulnerably when they’re at risk of losing their homes and some people will try anything.

    Like you say – money can’t bring you happiness. I guess it does ease some stresses in life, but they’re often replaced with other ones.

    Cath Lawson’s last blog post..Why You’re Not Making Lots Of Money

  14. Patricia on September 18th, 2008 12:35 am

    hello again -
    You are not only reading my posts your must be reading my mind…I have been avoiding making any kind of a business plan…I am all about doing what I love to do and not on making any money at all…but when I really love something I just keep working and working at what is the best …
    I avoid money and yet I am focused on it all the time
    My life is about giving myself away rather than giving of myself
    Today I am working on how I email bloggers who want private responses but don’t email me? I have not figured it out…made no money but have been doing lots of research…I think I get the email address from my web person? Am I right?
    Thanks again for jogging my mind with some new learning

    Patricia’s last blog post..PTSD Part 3: Who Do You Trust? Let’s Revive The Old Game Show

  15. Natural on September 18th, 2008 1:05 am

    being desperate is so true. you will not make a lot of money or any because you will fall for every scheme, looking for the one that’s going to take you over the top.

    i guess the get quick rich scheme is where people lose money a lot and even the lottery – just not gonna happen.

    i would tell them to do work they love. slow and steady.

    Natural’s last blog post..EntreCard Therapy

  16. Natural on September 18th, 2008 1:07 am

    Found your blog, well not really, I’ve been here before, you’re in my reader, but this portion of my dropping is for commenting as well as dropping. happy to see you again, will add you to my favorites.

    Natural’s last blog post..EntreCard Therapy

  17. Marelisa on September 18th, 2008 2:35 am

    Cath: I completely agree that you should think big in the long run but small in the short run. And predators know the keywords being typed in by people who are in dire financial need. I was just watching on CNN how everyone from Donald Trump to McCain are blaming Wall Street’s greed for the drop in the stock market, the mortgage crisis, and the problems that banks are finding themselves in. Thinking that you’re going to make a million dollars overnight without providing much value is greedy and unrealistic and you’ll most likely end up paying for it.

    Marelisa’s last blog post..Success – On Your Own Terms

  18. Stephanie on September 18th, 2008 8:02 pm

    It always amazes and saddens me how many people have the ‘get rich quick’ mentality when they look at starting a home business. They see all the ads proclaiming this to be an easy thing, and it isn’t.

    I expect the situation to get worse with the way Wall Street has been going. Lots of people are losing tons of money and some will try foolish ways to make it up.

    It’s a really hard point to get across to some people. I had one person email me 3 times asking if an opportunity was legit. Each time it was a different site, but the same essential scam. Took her that many tries to understand what I was telling her.

    Stephanie’s last blog post..Is a Recession a Bad Time to Start a Home Business?

  19. 09/18/2008 Writing Jobs and Links : PoeWar.com Writer’s Resource Center on September 19th, 2008 4:31 am

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  20. cathlawson on September 19th, 2008 4:58 am

    Hi Patricia – I guess a lot of folk feel that way – they want to help and feel guilty not making any money from it. But i guess that eventually you’ve got to make something, so you can spare the time to help even more.

    You don’t always have to charge folk for helping them – you could accept paid ads and sponsorships.

    LOL Valerie – I knew what you meant. Thanks for introducing me to Entrecard by the way. That is good advice – “Do work the love. Slow and steady.”

    Hi Rita – Lets just say, I may have been inspired by a particular person.

    It sounds like your father was a real entrepreneur and it paid off. I’m guessing you’ve learned a lot from him.

    Hi Mare – that’s so true – too much greed can backfire in a big way. It amazes me when some of these companies are in financial trouble and the fat cats still feel that they’re entitled to mega salaries.

    Hi Stephanie – it’s a scary thought isn’t it? Trouble is, when the stockmarket goes down, I guess people have this sense of perceived loss. They look at the highest a particular stock has gone and if they’ve got to sell for any lower – they think they’ve lost money.

    As you say though – lots of them get desperate and try to make it back in other ways. It’s really sad.

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  27. Eric Transue on June 12th, 2009 10:30 pm

    Definitely agree that to many start off with unrealistic goals and soon get discouraged when they aren’t making what they thought they were.

    It’s very possible to make money online, but your goals must be in reach and you need to be determined and diligent in making them happen.

    Eric Transue’s last blog post..Don’t Be Fooled by Fools

  28. Steve Call on November 15th, 2009 12:06 pm

    Thank you for your superb post. But I had difficulty navigating past your site because I kept getting 502 bad gateway error. Just thought to let you know.

    Steve Call’s last blog post..How can you get a free call from santa for a child?

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  30. stian tokle on March 1st, 2010 3:18 pm

    I do really agree with you, that to focus on only financial goals your vision gets blured.

  31. Sharing GDI Sign-Ups on April 15th, 2010 1:44 am

    Very good explanation of how people lose their shirts trying to make money!! It’s sad that people usually need to waste money before actually finding something (or someone) to help them see the light of what actually works. I’m proud to say I’m done looking around and am finally sticking with something that works.

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