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Who says it takes money to make money?

Updated on October 3, 2013

This is the follow up to the bet.

The question no longer is, can a person start an online business without money and without borrowing. The question now is can a living be made with what has been started. Getting the first paycheck was much easier than earning the second one.

There are sites everywhere on the net offering (get started free). It’s just a matter of choosing what is right for you, and reading very carefully. The main thing you need to do is make up your mind that its going to work, then do what it takes to make it happen. My goal unlike most people’s was to make money without spending any.

Becoming a multi-millionaire was not even considered. Watch out for the sites which make you believe this is possible as their owners may become millionaires if too many people buy into “what they are selling”. None of the free sites chosen said anything about becoming a millionaire. They all said if you follow what you are shown you will make money.

The first and most important program is a list builder

Only one is as easy as advertised, and it is making money. Like with most things there is a learning curve but you can pick up enough of the basics within an hour to get started building your list. With this program you join both the list and another free program which is supposed to pay for everything else you need. They advertise an auto responder which they say you need but also say you can survive without one. It is the only one that lets you put another URL on the site. It took me a long time to figure out where your URL went, so it makes me wonder if anyone going to the site will even find it.

With this program you get a website just like the one you sign up on. They also give you several splash pages to use for advertising. The idea with this program is to build a list. It is an effective program as long as you follow up within a few hours, and keep following up until your referrals "get it". Income is enhanced by people on your list joining the other program they are referred to on the site.

The best thing with this one is you get help from the people above you. It's always easier to learn if you can ask questions from someone who knows more than you. My mentor in this program is really appreciated because what he shows you works anywhere. He only sends one auto respond message the rest he does himself. This program is supposed to take about ten minutes a day, and does once you learn enough.

From failure to success

The saddest thing in the world is to realize big money (for me) was spent to try to earn money online and it's the simple free things, like replicated sites, free advertising, publishing on line, and joining a social network which pays, that actually did the trick. These (free things) are also sending people the other sites which were paid for. Granted it’s taken many hours sitting at a keyboard and trying to figure out how to get things done in a way that other people understood.

Let me tell you, more than once the thought of quitting crossed my mind. Too many twenty hour days wear on a person. Trying to keep up with living, take care of children, and doing all else required can really wear a person down. One morning, my roommates woke me up with "have you paid any of the bills yet?" Sorry to say my answer was no and one ended up being one day late. If the business isn't the driving force, something a person is willing to give up for success is much harder.

The day which changed everything for me was the day there was a message in my inbox saying there was a deposit ready to be made to my paypal account. The paid sites all pay by direct deposit into a corporate checking account so this money had to have been made from a free site.

We now have seven websites

One free program quickly grew to five. Each was free to join and no money has been spent on any of them. They each compliment the base "paid for" program. This means if done properly money can be earned five times while enhancing a companies profit margin.

Each is business to business with one program working for individuals also. From the internet came a hard earned lesson. This is offer something either free which has value or inexpensive to gain interest. This gains trust, once you have that trust you can show them other more expensive ways to increase profits. With these five programs its simple. The first is free and they each increase in cost from there. Each is something which will increase profit if used properly. They get training to do just that as part of the package.

Losing time is all right if there is enough value

My experience shows all of these free things take, your time. The value they provide is worth this time loss. Most have upgrades which you can choose to use if you feel the need. Since this was part of a bet (Money had to be made without spending any) nothing was upgraded. One of the things learned is, its a good idea to have an auto responder (we found a free one that works) or use an email address which let you send automated messages. Some mail servers let you auto respond if you press vacation somewhere in the inbox. If you don't have this service with your email provider find one who does. Make a new email account so your main account isn't on vacation. For us this wasn't necessary at first because someone checked the email account often. By often we mean 5 or more times a day.

Free advertising,Traffic exchanges and safelists

The best places to find free (and low cost advertising) are salesspider and IBOtoolbox. in a salesspider you can do regular advertisements and post ads to a forum. Forum posts are often found by search engines, some of ours are on page one under the company name. This forum, advertising real time in IBOtoolbox and the blogging platform there do more for us than anything.

Traffic exchanges work well for list builders as long as you learn what works well and what doesn't. What works best is offering something of high perceived value free. What people on traffic exchanges perceive to be of high value are ways to increase their lists or sales. It pretty much doesn't matter what your site, splash page, or opt in page look like for this to work but to be more effective you really need to look at what works well and what doesn't. People read websites and opt in pages left to right then down the right side of the page. You want the opt in form above a fold if there is on on the right side of the page right below something that captures interest. This has been tested and proven to work with about a 60 percent sign up rate.

For all the safelists we belong to since they are free we have to look at others emails and sites to gain credits to show our offerings. In most cases you don't get paid for referring as a free member. It is often better to take their one time offer when you join if it's at all possible. It is hard to research what the best offers are without going to at least 20. You can often do well with ones whose current numbers are low and growing. We managed a free JV membership in one that is up and coming, and bringing results.

My mistake

While in this process only one thing was done that was against the rules, and wasn’t realized, was putting a link to a “not allowed site” on hub pages. This was soon rectified, it was never my intention to do anything against anyone’s rules. For those of you who don’t know Hub pages has a list of No No’s which pops up if you make a boo boo.

Earning using free methods is by design. Design in this case means you have to create a plan.
Earning using free methods is by design. Design in this case means you have to create a plan. | Source

For those who want more information

Since my business sells to brick and mortar businesses this should not be considered trying to sell anyone anything. You can however gain information which can help you with an online business. There will be no charge.

How many people wondered what is this man up to?

Did you believe anyone could succeed at making money without spending any?

See results

May 3, 2013 update

After a year of mostly 20 hour days exhaustion set in and business was hurt badly.It was time to re-think and re-work everything to where less time could be spent working. In the first year in spite of making about every mistake a business could make online we did continue earning.

The biggest lesson learned, talk to those who sponsor you if possible before you opt in. You should be going to work with them until you learn to duplicate their success. This includes those who sponsor you into a free program.

The most important question you need to ask your sponsor is; what method do you use on social media? They should answer, entertain, inspire, give/share information, and share links sparingly, If they don't talk to you about "telling not selling" RUN the other way. They don't know what they are doing.

© update May 3, 3013 6:50 AM CDT Dennis Thorgesen for Lisech eMarketing, All rights reserved.


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    • wheelinallover profile imageAUTHOR

      Dennis Thorgesen 

      8 years ago from Beatrice, Nebraska U.S.

      Chuck Thanks for adding your hub to ours. We agree, wasted time can be turned into productive time. It, we believe is up to each person to decide how their time is best spent. If their goal is to earn and they have a passion to share, then a time and or money investment is a good idea as long as they are motivated to succeed.

      When we consult we look for the motivating factor (the reason a person wants to succeed). If it is strictly money based we advise them to keep their day job. It is better to not accept someone who is going to fail than take their money for nothing. Investing money in business is a motivator, however the want to earn is not. It takes a reason, which must be highly motivating and will remain so for a person to succeed in any business. We also believe sharing a passion has to be involved for a person to succeed in business.

    • Chuck profile image

      Chuck Nugent 

      8 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      I agree with the comment by AgesMGMT about time being money. There is no free lunch and to make money you have to invest something. While money is the most common vehicle for investing, other things like time and work ("sweat equity)can also be used.

      While time has value, the value is not the same for all types of time. If one quits a five day a week, eight hour a day job paying $10, $20, etc. per hour and spends those eight hours a day writing for a site like HubPages it is the equivalent (ignoring taxes) of investing your former paycheck in the business and is probably too expensive.

      However, if you use time away from your full time paying position and there are no other paying positions for that time, its value could be zero. If you have to give up other things you enjoy doing the value depends upon how much these other activities are worth to you.

      In economics this concept of choosing between two or more things and determining the time value of the choice by the value of the next best choice that you rejected. With money it is easy so if your boss offers to pay you $20 to work an extra hour but you decline and instead to use the time to take your wife out to dinner then the opportunity cost of the dinner with your wife is the $20 you could have earned plus the cost of the dinner.

      For me one of the great appeals of HubPages has been the fact that I have been able to start a part-time business earning money without having to invest any money. When I started, I worked days and my wife worked nights so I was alone with a TV set at night which made the cost of my time near zero (actually negative given that most of the shows were re-runs). When my wife was able to change to days putting us on the same schedule the value of my evening time increased. So I just gave up an hour and a half of additional sleep in the morning and used that time to do my writing before going to my day job.

      The result has been a nice side income from my investment of near zero value time in writing for HubPages.

    • wheelinallover profile imageAUTHOR

      Dennis Thorgesen 

      8 years ago from Beatrice, Nebraska U.S.

      Brett.Tesol we have to say we are a phoenix corporation. Bankruptcy looked like the most viable option one month after incorporating. Yesterday we were told we have an A+ credit rating. There are two hosted websites being created now.

      After a little over a year of learning and meeting a few of the right people we are now going into personal and corporate branding, website design, and media marketing for others.

      We still use salesspider daily, and IBOtoolbox when time permits. As the internet has changed rapidly in the past year safelists and traffic exchanges are not doing what they have been. Both IBO an salesspider offer what is working, which is networking.

      Three days ago we joined an up and coming program similar to IBO based out of the Netherlands. It is in beta stage and still has quite a few bugs, but translates on site. To succeed now you have to be international and able to translate.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett C 

      8 years ago from Asia

      It is possible. Excluding my paid for websites, I make most of my online money from Hubpages, Web Answers (you can read my review if you are interested), and freelance writing. However, unless a business really catches on, it always takes effort (or money to pay others for their effort) to make money. Nice hub and some interesting points, I am trying out a site you recommended.

      Thanks for SHARING.

    • wheelinallover profile imageAUTHOR

      Dennis Thorgesen 

      9 years ago from Beatrice, Nebraska U.S.

      Even those who write for hub pages are investing time. The trick seems to be for writers at least is the most time at the start should be in finding a niche with enough readers, and one where your hubs will rank on the first page of Google.

      The current trend seems to be usability by internet capable phone apps. I personally don't know if you can read hubs on one of these phones but am sure readership would improve if they are or could be.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      more time.

    • wheelinallover profile imageAUTHOR

      Dennis Thorgesen 

      9 years ago from Beatrice, Nebraska U.S.

      AgesMGMT you hit the nail on the head. It does cost to start any business either online or offline. Even a simple businesses of any type. The price is time, money or both. Either way the time you spend could be used in another way like being an employee. One thing about being in any kind of business is, if your not already you have to become an expert in your field. Even that takes time.

    • AgesMGMT profile image


      9 years ago from New York

      the thing is if you are making money without spending money then what you are spending is time. Time is money so I think no matter what you are investing. Online business are just like that, you need a large initial investment of time, or money, and then you can reap the long term rewards.

    • wheelinallover profile imageAUTHOR

      Dennis Thorgesen 

      9 years ago from Beatrice, Nebraska U.S.

      Richieb none of the businesses are based entirely on MLM there are ways to earn without a downline in any of them. For me this was a must. The bet had a 6 month time limit and I had never tried to build a downline before.

      One of them put money in my paypal account within 45 days of signing up. I do have an affiliate site which was paid for before the bet started. Setting up an affiliate site on a free website failed several times.

      You are right of course if you want to compete with the pro's it takes money. It was never my intention to compete with them. A couple grand a month is possible and not that hard with the programs I use now. That is with no downline whatsoever. All but one are business to business and that one does business and private individuals.

    • Richieb799 profile image


      9 years ago from Cardiff, Wales UK

      Yes it is possible to make some money in Affiliate marketing without spending but to compete with the pros you need to invest I believe!

      I think MLM websites are an easy trap to fall into online, they usually crash and burn before the bottom levels see any of the cash.

    • wheelinallover profile imageAUTHOR

      Dennis Thorgesen 

      9 years ago from Beatrice, Nebraska U.S.

      This hub was revised 7/2/2011

    • wheelinallover profile imageAUTHOR

      Dennis Thorgesen 

      9 years ago from Beatrice, Nebraska U.S.

      earnestshub, this hub is about starting the business not maintaining it. The idea here is getting started and making enough income to pay for the things you need to keep moving forward. I am adding to the hub thanks for reminding me. An auto response system is important if you can't check your email many times a day.

    • earnestshub profile image


      9 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Very honest hub with good advice. It can get a bit hard when you get some size on though. When my daughter's self help book got over 30,000 subscribers to the newsletter she put up, we needed better and better tools and bandwidth including a paid autoresponder and dedicated hosting, but it can be done.

      A very useful hub.

    • wheelinallover profile imageAUTHOR

      Dennis Thorgesen 

      9 years ago from Beatrice, Nebraska U.S.

      Rebecca after reading your hub today I know its going to take time for Hub pages to really help me especially since I can't find the time I would like to write. I do have other sources of income some online, some off. I also had an offer of help which I am taking. These twenty hour days are getting to me again.

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 

      9 years ago from Canada

      a great hub, and so true I did the same thing, it takes longer, but for some reason it's more rewarding.


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