The Modern-Day Gold Rush:  Internet Business

By the time I started trying to make money on the internet, I had a lot of friends on Facebook, and one of them introduced me to my first internet business.  She had me watch a series of videos, and it looked good to me.  So I signed on.

Zeek Rewards

Zeek Rewards was a penny auction site with a twist.  When people signed up, they had a job to do on a daily basis – post ads in free online newspapers.  Every day when they turned in a report to the company, they received money in their account.

They also purchased shares in the company, and the more shares, the more revenue they received.

In the meantime, the auction site was selling everything from clock radios to brand new Mustangs.  We could buy bid tokens if we wanted, but I never did.

I had reached the point where I had $1,000 in my account and planned to transfer the money to my bank.  When I logged in that morning, the site was down.  I learned that the SEC had shut the company down, calling it a Ponzi scheme.

The issue is still in the courts after 6 years.  The internet businessowner, Paul Burke, got a 14-year prison sentence. I didn’t suffer too much because I hadn’t invested much in the company, but there were people who had invested all the money they had.  Some of it has been returned.  I never filed in the class action lawsuit because I didn’t have a big loss.

Lesson Learned:  If an internet business seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Empower Network

Empower Network was an internet business that combined blogging with information seminars turned into products.  Dave Wood and Dave Sharpe were the owners.

When you signed up for Empower Network, you were given a blog.  The only problem was that it was not your own blog under your own control.  It was an Empower Network Blog/your name.  That made it very difficult for people to build their brand and get noticed.  Money was made by getting people to join Empower Network under you.

It was also expensive – $1,000 to join at the top, plus they had the other products that were costly.  The two Daves bullied people into buying more products by saying that you were a ‘wussy’ if you didn’t.

I am a Latter-Day Saint, and when I found out Dave Wood was, too, and had served a mission for our church, I was turned off.  He was always dressed in shorts and skimpy tank tops and cussed like a drunken sailor.  Before young men serve missions for our church, they make very solemn promises before God.  I felt that if he could just blow off his covenants, he probably wasn’t very trustworthy.

At any rate, time came when the internet business was no longer updated, Dave Sharpe went his own way, and Dave Wood’s downward spiral included divorce, a mistress who left with their baby and drugs.  Because Empower Network was more a cult than an internet business, in August 2017, D.W. filed for bankruptcy.  He left a couple of very weird videos on YouTube, but I had long before kissed my money goodbye.

Lesson Learned:  Find out something about the owners BEFORE you invest.  If you don’t like and respect them, walk away.

YOBSN

YOBSN stands for ‘Your Own Branded Social Network’.  A friend talked me into joining when it was just starting out.  It was supposed to be a social network better than Facebook and a platform for people to advertise their own businesses.

As an internet business, it multi-level marketing – your income is determined by who you enroll under you and who they enroll under them.  It was very hard to understand, and the launched rolled out with all the speed of a sloth.

I got tired of waiting for something to happen and didn’t want to continue to pay the monthly fee.  I still occasionally see ads for it, but I don’t know if anyone has made serious money.

Lesson Learned:  I never want to be involved in an internet business startup again.  I was also a member of a diet supplement startup that never got off the ground.  Though the product was touted to be all natural and healthy, my blood pressure started going through the roof.  My doctor looked the product up online and found that one shot had caffeine equal to two Mountain Dews, and the company was always in launch mode until it folded.

Startups razzle dazzle you with the ‘get in so you’ll be in at the top’ hype, but they have no proven track record and may drop out of the sky in no time.

Business Success Alliance 

Also known as Automated Money Machine and Millionaire Marketing Machine, I was approached by a guy on Skype who told me about Millionaire Marketing Machine, as it was called then.  I was intrigued by the idea of marketing information products, since I love them myself (you should see my hard drive!).  I also liked the sound of the commissions, which at that time were 100% of $1,000 to $25,000 for each sale.

Owned by Robert Abrams, who also uses the name Robert Vitale, BSA is different than a lot of other internet companies, as you buy the business for yourself.  You are free to run it any way you want, as long as you don’t give people discounts on the packages.

The guy who sold me told me that the company had spent a ton of money on their information products.  When I joined and got into my back office, I found there was a lot of cheesy stuff, some of it very old, some of it available online, and some videos that were SWF. (I think most people who buy in never look at the products or use them) However, I had bought in, so I was going to do my best to work it.

I had another problem besides the low quality of the products.  I discovered that I HATE direct sales.  Cold calling was torture.  I’d have to work on myself half the day to get the courage to pick up the phone. Safelists didn’t bring any leads to my inbox. I found some other people with the same sponsor, and they were all failing miserably.  But you can’t get your money back.

A few years ago, they renamed it Business Success Alliance, and now I think it’s just The Alliance.  They updated some of the programs and restructured it so the highest package is $50,000.

I wasted more money to join another team.  I was instructed to go with autodial, and although I got leads, most of them had no money, and autodial was very expensive.  Before long, I was $34,000 in debt, and I pretty much had a nervous breakdown.  That was when I walked away from internet marketing for a year.

I also had bad feelings about the kind of money people had to pay to get some not-very-good products.  It seemed unethical.

Lesson Learned: Don’t get in over your head by going into debt to buy into a program. Try to determine if you really can make the program work.  They make it sound easy to market a high-ticket program, but it was totally the wrong program for me.  I am not good at direct sales.  But if you are, contact me, and maybe we can work something out, as I’ll own this business until the day I die.

A Quick Recap

So there you have the story of my experiences in internet business.  I’m still paying off my debt, and I wish the money I spent was back in my savings account.  However, I was taught not to cry over spilled milk.  I got out the mop, cleaned up as much as I could, and moved on.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go back into internet business, but I wasn’t happy with the income I receive from Social Security.  I knew I didn’t want to go back to teaching music lessons or work as a Wal-Mart greeter.  So I tried again and found a program that I joined.  I did my due diligence and found that it was a program I could live with:

  • It’s an ethical program I feel good about promoting.
  • I like the guy who owns it. He’s not your typical guru, as he freely gives out his email, phone number and address.  I called him up the day after I signed up, and we had a nice conversation.  I’ve never been able to talk on the phone with any of the so-called gurus I was with before.
  • It’s not a startup. This program has been around since 2008, and it is continuously updated.
  • It doesn’t involve direct sales, is marketed in a way that is comfortable to me, and it is designed so that you can start small and level up.

And I’ll tell you all about it in my next blog post.

What experiences have you had?  We’d love to hear about them.  Please leave a comment below and share with your friends.

Warmest wishes for your success,