The questions you ask before you make money


Starting from next week, I am going to try to do nothing every now and then. I am beginning to get the idea that inspiration is scared off by constant activity.


This is the problem with the idea, the belief that everything is within your reach, that you can do anything: Suppose it is true, what do you do and what do you leave? And how do you decide?


If you want to make money, there is a series of questions you’d have to answer before you can move forward. First, you need to decide whether you want to make money by

A. selling something – physical items, a service, your time;

B. making investments and waiting for a dividend; or by

C. speculating, to increase the money you already have.

Now, if you do not have enough money for B or C, you don’t really have a choice – you have to sell. (You can of course borrow money for option C, but that is such a bad idea that it doesn’t warrant serious consideration.)

Having made peace with the notion that you’d have to sell, you are faced with two new questions:

1. WHAT are you going to sell? and

2. to WHOM?

Considering that the market dictates the “what”, it boils down to you needing to determine “who” your market is. Or, considering some other factors, which is the market whose needs you would most want to meet?

A basic demographic profile of your market – location, age, income, gender, and so on – will bring you to the next set of questions: What is your market already doing? What do they want to do? What would they like to do more often? What thing do they already have of which they would like more? Is there something that they do that they would like to be easier? What benefit would they like to enjoy without actually doing much, or without learning to do something themselves?


Not that I had been deliberately thinking about it, but the idea came to me late this afternoon that one of the reasons why I am not making much money with any of my Internet projects, is identity.

Fact is, what I wrote about myself and identity in 2003 and 2004 was written with a particular environment in mind: myself as a foreigner in Taiwan, with friends and family and acquaintances as part of my world, and me being part of an abstract “wider community”. In this world, I knew who I was; I even asked somewhat arrogantly, “Do you know who you are?”

What I have been referring to since 2006 as the “Internet” is an entirely different world. Almost overnight I was faced with possibilities, risks, and opportunities to develop my talent and potential. I also have opportunities to be part of forum communities where no one knows who I am, and where I have to prove myself as someone who can make valuable contributions to the specific community. Can I? To be honest, I can add a few comments if the conversation is about identity or religion or other serious matters, but what about when it comes to freelance writing markets or sports betting or social networking?

And since we are on the subject, who or what am I – e-book author or so-called e-book reseller? Am I a “short report” producer, or a contextual advertising guy?

In 2004, I would have answered: It is not who you are, it is simply what you do for money. Was I just a little bit wrong, or did I miss the target completely? After all, there are people who say, “Listen, I’m not a sales rep. A shop owner perhaps, maybe a taxi driver, but I’m definitely not a sales rep.” Is it not true that there are people who can say that with absolute certainty?