What it Takes to Achieve Your Goals

When I first got into working online I struggled. A lot.

But being up against it forces you to review your values, your priorities and what it is you’re really trying to achieve in life.

I’m glad, now, that I struggled but I’m much more glad that I didn’t join the 95% of people who try to make money online and walk away empty handed.

Just being here today, with all my income coming from my work online, gives me a great sense of achievement.

Back then, as I was struggling through the process of getting everything going, I wrote a lot of articles that focused on what I thought you needed to do to be successful.

Most of those articles described my thoughts, feelings and resolutions at the time as I wrestled my way through, and many of them struck a chord with others judging by some of the comments that were left.

I was reviewing them earlier today and I recognized that, having achieved the goal I set myself back then, I owed it to the people who left those comments to offer some thoughts from ‘the other side’.

Most of us who were interacting back then were in similar positions: fighting to get an online business working to the point where it could constitute our full time income.

I know, from the broken links that I’m alerted to on this site, that many of those people gave up and moved on to something else.

Every time one of their sites closes I’m alerted to a new broken link. And, inevitably, it’s the link in a comment someone left back then, but which now returns a ‘site not found’ error.

How Did I Make it Through

So, for those who are in a similar position today to the one I was in then, and to any of those friends from back then who still happen to drop in here from time to time, here are some reflections on why I think I managed to make it through, and how I approach my business today.


Attitude is a seriously over-used expression which devalues its importance. In my case ‘desperation’ would probably be a better term.

Back then I was in my early 50’s, saddled with a ton of debt, living in Hong Kong (an expensive place to live) without any great savings and a couple of pensions that had been wiped out.

Furthermore we have no social security system here to speak of. If you don’t earn, you don’t eat.

After the transition from British to Chinese rule (in 1997) there was an inevitable process of localization which meant that jobs and career opportunities for ex-pats were disappearing fast.

So I needed my own business that would support me for the next 30 years or so (life expectancy here is in the mid 80’s) and it needed to be independent of local Hong Kong businesses.

Without that my prospects were, frankly, scary.

Desperation driven by circumstances like those focuses the mind, and that was what kept me going through the frustrations and set-backs of those times.

So whether you call it attitude, desperation or anything else, your mind must remain totally focused on what you’re going for. Lose your focus and you lose the plot.


One of the things that I had always lacked during my corporate career was a specific, marketable skill.

I could talk business processes, corporate plans and annual budgets until the cows came home and I was a dab hand with MS Project.

But so could a gazillion other people, and they were local.

So I set out to develop my skills in building websites, SEO and marketing online to the point where I could sell them with a straight face.

Today I’m heavily focused on WordPress and Thesis and, using those tools as the platform, I earn a good chunk of income building and maintaining WordPress based websites for both businesses and individuals.

Without those skills I’d be living off bread and water.

So develop your knowledge as far and as deep as you can.

Develop a wide understanding and awareness of working online but focus on some specific area and get to know it sufficiently well that you become an expert in it.


Value is another term that’s so over-used it’s lost its impact.

For me it’s about making sure I over-deliver wherever I can. And I actively look for ways to over-deliver.

So in all the contracts I sign with people (or businesses) to set up and maintain their websites, I offer Service Level Agreements that are better than what they’re currently getting.

And then I make sure I beat those SLA’s every single month.

I also look for ways I can help to grow their business for them.

For example, I have a client who runs a bar and when holidays or special occasions are approaching I contact them and suggest promotions that could be put up on the site.

Nothing too pushy, but just letting them know I’m aware of their business and keen to help them do well.

Another example: I recently signed a contract to do a course on Adwords and set up the first campaign for a local company.

But they had a lot of business decisions they needed to take before an effective Adwords campaign could be set up, so I acted as a pure management consultant for a while to help them through those decisions, and then did the Adwords campaign.

All included in the original price.

Look for ways you can over-deliver to your clients – the extra business you get through recommendations will more than compensate for the extra time you put in.


I also earn a steady income from my Affiliate Marketing activities and I’m focusing on growing this area.

This wraps in a whole bunch of skill sets:

  • Copywriting
  • SEO
  • PPC
  • Page design
  • Email marketing

This is important because it enables me to deliver good, relevant and current advice to my consulting clients – something that can’t always be said for consultants (in any field).

And that gets me both repeat business and referral business.

So make sure you keep abreast of new developments, so that you’re introducing new ideas to your clients, not the other way around.


Let me promise you this: it ain’t easy, so please don’t fall for those scammers and spammers who say it is.

But anything that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Acquiring the knowledge I referred to above meant that most days I started work at 6:00 in the morning and eventually finished at around 1:00 the following morning (I still had my day job in those days).

My relationships suffered. My health even suffered, because I wasn’t getting out and hiking on the weekends, something I’d done for years.

But I’ve restored the balance to my life now and I can honestly tell you that I’m happier and more relaxed than I’ve been for a very long time.

So let me just re-phrase those things that contributed to me actually getting through to the goal I’d set myself:

  • Desperation (attitude)
  • Feverish learning (knowledge)
  • Over-delivering (value)
  • Constantly learning and gaining experience (staying current)

And, of course, as I said in a lot of those early articles, you first have to have a properly funded plan for your business. That’s always the starting point.


Martin Malden

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