Overnight Success in Internet Marketing: Fact or Fiction?


You’ve probably read stories about overnight success in internet marketing. But are they just that? Stories? Or is it really possible to make money fast?

As always, the answer isn’t exactly straightforward.

If you can start something that grabs people’s attention then it’s possible to make money faster than you ever dreamed possible – Alex Tew did it in 2005 with the million dollar home page and the “overnight” part of that took a couple of months for it to start making reasonable money.

But in Alex’s own words, “The idea only works once and relies on novelty”

There have been other similar one-off ideas before and since.

But, almost by definition they’reĀ  the exception, not the rule.

For most websites, overnight success is measured in years.

And – to a fair extent – that’s probably better than being a shooting star, burning bright and then sinking into oblivion.

Nowadays, unless you’re targeting a very obscure keyword phrase, it seems to take Google forever to show your page in the results.

There are a number of reasons for this:

  • The volume of pages Google has to index and make sense of. This is growing all the time and it’s not an easy task to work out all the necessary factors for ranking pages for every conceivable possibility and then deliver the results in a split second.
  • The competition is high. Even if you’ve got one of the best possible pages for a given search, there’s an excellent chance that quite a few other people will have equally good pages. And if any of those were shown on the first page of the results, searchers would probably be happy with the page they were sent to. So you have to be the best of the best of the best.
  • Google would prefer that you paid them money. This isn’t mentioned as often but it’s got to be a big factor. Google don’t make money directly from the regular search results. In fact, increasingly, the regular search results are being treated like the “editorial” in a free magazine or newspaper – a necessary evil to be able to get advertisers to pay money. Not only would Google prefer that you pay to be on the first page of the results, they’d almost certainly prefer that the results those advertisements lead to are at least the same quality as the regular results, ideally better so that people are encouraged to click the adverts. That’s at least some of the reason for the AdWords quality scores.

What this means is that “overnight success” on the web – whether it’s in internet marketing or any other area – is likely to take time and determination.

I see a lot of people give up too early. That includes myself on some projects where I had an initial enthusiasm that (for whatever reason) diminished and the diminishing feeling was almost certainly helped by the lack of any reaction on the part of the website I was working on.

This site has been reasonably actively updated for about a year even though I’ve owned the domain since 2006.

I’ve made a conscious effort in the past few months to write content (hopefully good content!) on a close to daily basis.

I’ve also started creating more YouTube videos and adding articles to EzineArticles and – very occasionally – ArticlesBase.

At the time of writing (mid October 2013), most of the traffic this site gets is from emails I send to my list and click throughs from YouTube and EzineArticles.

In the past 30 days, the search engines have sent me 50 visitors out of the 447 reported by my WordPress stats. Just under 2 per day on average. The rest came directly from emails I sent out, via YouTube (I sent out links to some of my videos which then link to my site) and a few from EzineArticles.

Not big numbers and cetainly not an overnight success.

But a lot more representative for a relatively new website that’s having some content created and promotion done for it.

My current way of thinking is that the “traditional” way of doing internet marketing – building a website and hoping to get traffic to it – is becoming obsolete unless you’ve got a lot of time and a lot of persistence. And maybe a dash of good luck as well.

Is it worth it?


Is it overnight?

Almost certainly not.

Is it hard work?

Usually. Black hat marketers would disagree and then they’d go off and use a convoluted piece of software with a high learning curve and a short lifespan. Or create their own custom software.

But for anyone based in the real world who doesn’t like playing at – or beyond – the edges of Google’s rules, hard work is almost certainly the route you’ll need to follow.

The other route that’s often promoted is to piggy back on other sites: put videos up on YouTube (I do that and it can work well), create a Facebook page (I’ve only done that half-heartedly and need to re-examine it), use third party sites that encourage you to add content (I used to use EzineArticles regularly but have found the traffic has dried up. For other sites it seems their rules change almost as often as Google’s rules) and other routes such as Twitter, Pinterest, etc.

I’m experimenting with some of those routes but the biggest issue I have with them is that they’re not in my control.

HubPages changes its rules and sometimes decides that pages that were acceptable when they were created are no longer welcome. It seems to want to earn money as a site but doesn’t seem to like the idea of you earning much.

YouTube is owned by Google and has been known to remove videos or even complete channels if its software takes offence to something.

I’ve not heard whether or not it’s happened but I’d be surprised if Facebook didn’t do something similar – it’s in the nature of big companies and is often forced on them by people pushing boundaries that were never intended to be pushed.

So I don’t like to rely entirely on third parties – I’ve been there, done that with AdSense and whilst it’s fine when it works, it’s not pleasant when it stops working and you need to reinvent the wheel and start over.

All of which is a bit of a ramble – sorry – but comes back full circle.

Overnight success in internet marketing is a fact. But it’s a relatively rare fact. For every overnight success story there are thousands – maybe tens of thousands – of stories that didn’t make it at all or didn’t make much.

But generally the ones that do make it – even if it’s not overnight – are those that persist.

For instance, back in April 2013, John Shea interviewed me. I was the fourth interview he’d done at that stage. At the time of writing, he’s done 30 interviews and is starting to see a trickle of money coming in as a result. All credit to him for persisting.

Mike from Maine has done rather more interviews (187 at the time of writing) and as far as I’m aware that’s working its way into a commendable amount of traffic.

Both of those put information about their latest interviews on Facebook. And they both have YouTube channels. And they probably promote themselves elsewhere in ways I’m not aware of but that reach different segments of their potential market.

And that’s probably the biggest message in this post.

The internet market is fragmenting.

Much faster than radio or television or printed media ever fragmented.

With that fragmentation, it’s hard for even large firms to be heard, MySpace spent $20 million in June 2013 to relaunch and I’ve yet to meet anyone who noticed.

So we all need to work smarter and laser target the people we want to reach, using as many different methods as make sense.

That way, you can be a big fish in a small pond and I personally think that’s a much better idea than striving for an almost impossible overnight success in internet marketing.

Feel free to add your comments below – it would be nice to hear from you!




1 thought on “Overnight Success in Internet Marketing: Fact or Fiction?


    I understand the frustration of trying to start an online business. I set up two or three websites a couple of years ago in the hope of making money as an affiliate. To be fair the time I have been able to devote to my affiliate marketing projects has been limited to date. This however should change as I have now retired and intend to devote a lot more time to my web based businesses.
    Like most people I have bought a number of products that have been promoted as giving inside information that will miraculously turn my business around. Most of what I have bought has been virtually useless and many of the so called ‘new products’ are simply revamps of information published elsewhere. To be fair there have however been one or two products that have been both interesting and worthwhile.
    The problem when you set out internet marketing is that your knowledge of what to do and how to do it is extremely limited. You need to gain knowledge and buying these ‘how to’ products seems to be an easy and quick way to learn.
    One of the main problems with web marketing is trying to gauge whether what you are doing is right or wrong. I have been involved in a number of ‘normal’ businesses throughout my life and it is relatively easy to gauge your success and analyse the results you are getting. Making the necessary changes is then straightforward.
    Internet marketing is completely different! You can spend months working on a website only to find that google is reluctant to rank it. You have no real way of knowing what the problem is so you do not know what to do to put things right. All you can do is carry on and effectively hope for the best. You continue to add content, write articles, create facebook pages etc in the hope that you will stumble upon the winning formula. It is extremely easy to get disillusioned and throw in the towel.
    I am not naieve enough to believe that I am likely to make a fortune overnight (I am too old and world weary for that) but do believe that there is still money to be made if you can only navigate your way through the minefield of do’s ans don’ts and give yourself a chance to get your message in front of your audience.

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