This is the most important aspect that can affect your success and I wanted it to be my first post.
There are many ways people try to make money online and offline with less than fair tactics and motives. Even normally fair and honest people get caught up in it. It is very tempting. The money can come in fast sometimes, or at least appear to, but it can quickly dissapear.
Doing business over a computer people sometimes forget where the money they are making comes from. The Internet isn't a river of money where all are free to drink. Every dollar you make online generally came out of someone else's pocket and you should never forget that.
Being honest means you won't attempt to cheat or defraud anyone. There are many benefits to being fair to those you receive revenume from.
When you start a business or side project to make money online, think of how you would act if you were dealing with people face to face and act accordingly. If you're going to be opening up an online store, treat it how you would if you were opening up a real store in your neighborhood. Your customers know where you are and can come back with any grievances.
If you provide quality products and/or services and treat people fairly, you will most likely be rewarded by their repeat business as well as their recommendations to their friends and family. If you are defrauding people, you need a constant supply of suckers. While there are many people online and the supply of people to con seems infinate, word spreads fast and you're in a constant race to stay ahead of bad publicity. Eventually you'll have to move on to the next scam when the current one is no longer effective.
Starting a business is difficult and time consuming. If you do something well and make money at it, you want to keep that going as long as you can and it eventually builds it's own momentum. If you are being dishonest, you constantly have to keep cranking to make it work and will eventually have to start over. Put the effort in to do things right.
Every business has to deal with competition and even competition by unscrupulous individuals, but when you're in an unscrupolous market, ALL your competitors are shady.
Wiktionary defines earnest as "Seriousness; reality; fixed determination; eagerness; intentness; To use in earnest; Ardent in the pursuit of an object; eager to obtain or do; zealous with sincerity; with hearty endeavour; heartfelt; fervent; hearty;".
If you're trying to make money online you have to realize that it takes work and you have to put in a sincere effort to do the work.
In the begining it may seem fruitless. Few people flick a switch and watch the money pour in right away. You need to develop a good reputation and that doesn't happen overnight. Have well defined goals of what you're trying to achieve and come up with a plan to achieve them. Keep an eye on your progress and constantly work to improve.
Your main goal shouldn't be money. Profits are an indicator of your success, not the definition of it. What I mean by that is your goal is to create the best business you can and the revenue will follow.
I recently ran across a forum post where two people were attempting to create a series of websites with the goal of making $30,000 a month through AdSense, Google's advertising program for publishers.
They developed a number of sites, and looks like they paid for a good bit of Press Releases and talked about it quite a bit. After about a month they were only making $100/month. There are many people that would be happy to be making $100 a month through AdSense but those people probably don't have close to 100 websites or have paid to promote their efforts. Shortly thereafter, there was an announcement that they had a falling out and the project was abandoned.
Where I believe they failed is that they were focusing on the money and not as much as providing quality websites that diferentiate themselves from the competition. So they seem to have been putting out a large quantity of low quality sites. That's a very difficult thing to do but so is finding the one or two good opportunities out there. Sometimes you need to cast a wide net to try and catch something worthwile, but casting a wide net to just catch a lot of minnows isn't always effective.
Even if you do everything right you may have picked the wrong type of online money making business, at the wrong time. Not everything you do will be successful. If something isn't working out you have to know when to quit or when to scale back. The nice thing about online businesses though is you can easily manage more than one in many cases.
I hate to say that last part. It's what some people say to keep you hooked on their product while you're trying to make money. It's true, but it's also used as a way to give you false hope. You need to understand what you're trying to do and how to go about it and that's something that they don't give you. They're happy for you to keep buying their services while you try and find your way.
But if scams aren't profitable why are they still around?
I never said they weren't profitable. Many are, but only for a few. Many scams all you have to do is the same thing that you did. Sign up for the scam. Then get those people to sign up others. Some people even think "Well if someone as smart as me was stupid enough to fall for this, surely I can get others." Some don't even want to accept that they have been scammed and they work on trying to earn back their money to prove it wasn't a mistake. Many times, they just wind up losing more.
I remember when I was much younger, probably before high school. Most people didn't know what the Internet was and Tim Berners-Lee hadn't yet invented the world wide web then but there were still scams and I ran across one.
There was an classified in the paper that read something like "Make $xxx a week stuffing envelopes from home." It sounded easy enough. I didn't know any better. I figured people didn't want to buy expensive envelope stuffing machines or something. The money sounded good and it only cost dollar or so to get the information to get started.
So the cash goes out (the amount was so small it wasn't worth getting a money order) and eventualy an envelope comes in. It contains a letter that has been photocopied many times and was barely legible. They describe how you need to make a copy of the letter you received, put ads in your local paper, and then wait for people to be as stupid as you. It probably worked, I never tried it, but eventually everyone heard about it and it also happens to be illegal.
Some people probably made a ton, but most like myself didn't bother continuing for obvious reasons. This envelope stuffing scam is apparently still going on today.
So why not get in on some of that action? It's pretty simple. It might be a crime, it's unethical and there's no satisfaction in it. Running a legitimate business is hard enoguh without worrying about getting arrested, constantly looking over your shoulder and feeling like a jerk.
The big scammers are few but the big honest businesses are many. There's a reason for that.